Welcome to the NFL Big Three! This article is going to look at the NFL daily fantasy sports main slate and go over three different areas: Stacks, important players, and value pieces. There will be three additions to each area as we look to give you the best preparation for the week ahead. Hopefully you find this info valuable no matter your skill level and we can find consistent success through the season!
Models and disclaimer
The majority of the information that I’m going to be using in these articles is based on freely available information that you can find yourself, but there will also be information and data that is pulled from the models at my daily fantasy sports site which look to use predictive algorithms to find valuable info in important stats.
Of those models, I’ll be looking at things like a range of outcomes dataset, expected touchdown rates, as well as aggregated yardage calculations which pull together a lot of predictive info to create more manageable statistics about every player in the league. Using a model that creates a range of outcomes rather than a single median projection is much more applicable to sports and is something that I encourage any stats or analytics nerd to pursue, and it’ll be the basis of a lot of the decisions I make here.
Likewise, using predictive stats rather than descriptive ones is imperative to success in this field, and expected touchdown rates matter a lot to me since they are such a large part of fantasy football and swing a significant portion of winnings. My expected touchdown model takes into account league average rushing and receiving touchdown production from all points of the field and normalizes player rate to produce how many touchdowns we should expect based on what they should have accomplished.
All in all, The data here tries to look forward and get an idea of the best spots to attack.
Three key stacks
Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams
The dynamic duo of Rodgers and Adams is coming off of a dismantling of the San Francisco 49ers in primetime where Adams went off for 173 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions. The Packers look to be in another spot to succeed, as their Vegas implied total is the highest of the entire week at 31.75 (though that’s down from an opening total of 34.5) and the spread finds them as 13.5 point favorites over the Jaguars. The workload here is never in question as the floors of both Rodgers and Adams are some of the highest at their positions, and the only thing to think about with this stack is the incredible cost you have to pay.
The combination has the second highest two-player projection of any stack on the slate, sitting at 57.38 along with a whopping 76.12% chance at both players hitting more than 20 fantasy points. There’s still solid leverage here even though Adams is slated as the highest owned wideout on the slate with a positive leverage score of 26.75% so fading in GPPs wouldn’t be because of the ownership involved. With Rodgers having just two games this season below 23 fantasy points and Adams having 30+ in four out of his six games played, it’s one of the most consistent stacks you can roster. The price associated is a gaudy $16,100 on Draftkings, which costs more than most three player stacks this week, but that cost grants you possibly the best foundation for upside of any combination.
There is one issue here: For being the most expensive combination on the slate, you shouldn’t have the second highest two person projection. Likewise, the ownership associated with Davante Adams when Aaron Jones is back and taking up a significant portion of the scoring equity makes it even more difficult to justify when there are other spots worth attacking with more upside for less cost. For instance, the Cardinals combination of Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins has less combined ownership, a higher median projection (61.07) and a better leverage score (37.13%) for less cost! When you take everything into consideration, this is a solid stack with an easy game stack environment where you can take DJ Chark as a correlation piece, but the cost and ownership makes it less of a priority in GPPs. Should you have the salary it’s an awesome option, but don’t break the bank for it.
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, John Brown
The Bills are going to be a popular stack this week, or at least they should be. They’ll be going up against the Cardinals who are one of the fastest paced teams in the league and have been involved in some bangers over the last couple weeks. Implied for 27.25 points by Vegas, the Bills have also seen the largest jump in their team total with it rising from 23.5, an increase of 3.75 points to date. Josh Allen is one of the highest upside QBs in the league when things are going right, with four games over 30 fantasy points, but his downside is worse than other elite arms with four games under 20.5. The cost you have to pay is certainly leaving room for the ceiling, but not by much, so there’s some decisions to be made in terms of ownership and leverage if necessary.
The combined cost of Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and John Brown is pretty prohibitive at $21,300 on Draftkings but obviously comes with massive upside. There were questions about the ability of Brown and Diggs to coexist, but as we have discussed before, the high passing volume will lead to receiver upside and there is slated to be a lot of passing from the Bills. The combined projection here is 70.69, which is a solid foundation to build around, and John Brown or Stefon Diggs can be dropped from the stack if you want more flexibility in terms of secondary pieces. When it comes to rushing QBs like Allen, stacking him with just a single receiver is fine since his upside comes from multiple paths, and specifically with the Bills, he spreads it around so much that sometimes only one receiver comes out GPP relevant.
As discussed with Allen, there’s some boom or bust going on here and it’s worth keeping that in mind in GPPs. When the Bills have bad games, there’s not a lot that can be salvaged, and if the ownership starts trending into the 20% range with both Diggs and Allen, it might be better to avoid it. That being said, this is an awesome stack, and bringing it back with DeAndre Hopkins after he had a bad game (three receptions for just 30 yards) makes for a nice point of leverage on Davante Adams who looks to be much higher owned. There’s plenty of reason to take a secondary stack of Diggs/Hopkins in compliment to a lower priced stack as well, which would give you plenty of the upside in this one while avoiding the floor of Josh Allen. Any way you cut it, you should have exposure to pieces of this game.
Carolina Panthers: Teddy Bridgewater, Robby Anderson, Curtis Samuel
It is impossible to look at the slate with any sort of projection system and not see how grossly underpriced Mike Davis is for the Panthers considering Christian McCaffrey is out. And this isn’t a regular pricing value, he’s the minimum price on Draftkings. It’s going to lead to historically high ownership in large field GPPs, and that’s something that the bold can take advantage of if they are willing to take on the risk associated with fading him. Thus, we need to talk about a Panthers stack in GPPS as leverage on some heavy, heavy Mike Davis chalk. The Panthers are only implied for 22.5 points, but that total has risen 2.25 points as of this morning as people push the over. They are also pretty decent underdogs of five points, which in theory leads to a passing game script.
The stack that I’m going to propose here is Bridgewater with two pass catchers, since he has to pass for 3-5 touchdowns to really give you a chance at a GPP takedown, and that’s more likely to come on the back of multiple receivers than just one. Pairing him with Robby Anderson and Curtis samuel is a slightly different route than you would assume, since D.J. Moore has been the other higher volume receiver and not Curtis Samuel, but Samuel is used in unique ways that give him more upside in this circumstance. Specifically, Samuel has gotten at least one redzone carry in every game over the last six weeks as well as an average of 15% his targets coming in the redzone. He’s the true direct leverage to Mike Davis in this stack because he has the best chance to steal touchdowns when in the redzone, which is where Mike Davis will make or break this slate. The stack is cheap, only costing $17,100 on Draftkings, and is guaranteed to be minimally owned. Though the projections don’t speak well to it, this is a game theory stack, not one that you play for raw baselines.
The goal here is to directly leverage Mike Davis, who is likely to be north of 50% owned. This is not something that you should do if your hope is to just cash a GPP, since there are a lot of things working against this stack in terms of medians and likely outcomes. The reason this stack is so good for GPPs is the amount of relative points and value that you are gaining for every touchdown that Bridgewater throws to somebody not named Mike Davis. Every time that happens, you are gaining points while the field is being negatively affected by the outcome. Should you go this route, it’s a good idea to use either Rob Gronkowski or Chris Godwin in a game stack so that you maximize the outcomes of a strong Carolina passing attack.
Three key players
Mike Davis: Fade
As just discussed with the Panthers stack, Mike Davis is going to be by far the highest owned player in DFS this week, but it’s for very good reason. From week three to week six he was averaging over 15 carries and nearly seven targets per game while McCaffrey was out of action and is going to be projected well again this week in similar circumstances. He has a median projection of 21 fantasy points and is the minimum price on Draftkings which allows you to make some downright killer lineups for GPPs. Granted, when the Panthers have lost games he averages just nine fantasy points per outing, so there is going to be risk involved in rostering him especially considering the astronomical ownership involved. In cash games he is the first guy you plug in, but in GPPs it’s a different story. There is very little to gain from taking any player in NFL at over 50% ownership and much more to gain in fading them and hoping they fail and drop half the field with them. Fade.
Davante Adams: Play if possible
We haven’t seen a wideout of this caliber in terms of fantasy for a while, but Davante Adams is nearly automatic every week. His combination of volume (11.17 targets per game) and redzone usage (27% of all his targets are in the redzone) make it so his floor and ceiling combination are unmatched in the league. All of that being said he is $9,000 and projected at 27% ownership, which is priced appropriately, and it makes for some difficult decisions should you end up fading some of the more popular value plays on this slate. Still, he has the second highest projection on the slate at 32.00 and a 20.80% chance to be the highest scoring player overall (highest on the slate) which both justify his price tag. More than likely you are only going to play Adams if you are correlating with Aaron Rodgers at QB, but if you do end up playing him in a secondary correlation your stack will have to be very cheap to allow it. He’s the highest upside play on the slate, so you absolutely play him if possible, but it’s okay not to have him if it makes your lineup considerably worse. Play.
Cooper Kupp: Fade
It seems that people are going to flock to Kupp after having an outlier game against the Dolphins where he got 19 targets and 22 fantasy points. Some quick math tells us that isn’t really all that awesome, and we can confirm that from his points per snap (.23 on the year) being mediocre at best. His ceiling appears to be around 25 fantasy points this year and his median projection as of the time of writing is only 15, making him a play that is well below average for GPPs. Again, we see the field tripping over themselves to roster a receiver against the Seahawks, and whenever a player is only popular because of a defensive matchup it’s always a good time to fade. Now, it’s fair to say that the team total for the Rams (28) is high and Kupp is the top dog on this offense, but with the Rams only passing on 54% of their plays in the redzone it’s unrealistic to assume that he is going to receive all the benefits. Fade.
Three key values
Robert Tonyan: Play
There was an instance for a couple games where Robert Tonyan was a viable tight end in the fantasy landscape and it’s tempting to look to those instances when the Packers have such a high implied total. However, with Davante Adams back, he’s been getting much less attention in the redzone, which is one of the biggest things about upside for tight ends in general. Still, he has games with four or more targets and has shown to have the trust of Aaron Rodgers when it matters, which is going to lend him upside when the Packers are supposed to score a lot of points. His median projection is pretty great at 13.90 fantasy points and he has the second highest chance to 5x his salary at 23.94%. The best part is the leverage he offers over those who roster Adams or Jones, as the touchdowns that he would grab would come in the redzone which would render the ceiling of those players significantly lower. Play.
Chase Edmonds: Play
Look, he was a bit of a disappointment last week, but that’s only because of the fantasy outcome and has nothing to do with the huge workload that he received. Sure, he only got three targets, but he got 25 carries! That’s a season and career high for Edmonds and it showed us that the Cardinals are more than happy to give him all the work should Kenyan Drake miss the contest. Projected for 25.08 and a top finish percentage of 13.08%, he’s by far the best value outside of Mike Davis and he’s not getting near the ownership he deserves since he “burned” so many people last week. The workload, projection, ownership, and leverage that Edmonds offers on this slate makes him one of the best GPP plays available so long as Drake is out. Play.
Diontae Johnson: Play
You might as well just call this article “The Diontae Johnson is always a value” piece because he’s always underpriced relative to his workload. Granted, it’s because the dude is made out of very thin glass, but that’s a risk that you accept when you have such a massive workload when healthy. In four games where he didn’t have an injury, he has managed to average over 11 targets on average along with 31% of the air yards and 29% of the targets, and this week he’s not on the injury report. Projected for 17.20 and just 7% ownership, his upside far outweighs the downside of him stubbing his toe, and he’s a worthy piece of any secondary correlation stack you have in GPPs. Sure, it’s a bit risky, but his value and baseline workload is too much to pass up. Play.