NFL key big three
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.
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, Allen Lazard
As expensive as Davante Adams is, Aaron Rodgers is objectively underpriced relative to his efficiency with the best wide receiver in the league and that makes this stack more affordable than it should be. Green Bay currently has an implied team total of 27.5 and are 8.5 point favorites over the Eagles and we can reasonably expect that team total to be bet up a bit before the end of the week. Although Green Bay isn’t as pass heavy in the redzone as they have been this year (currently at just a 56.76% pass rate) they are still projected for 1.66 passing touchdowns and it’s very easy to make assumptions on where those passing touchdowns will go to.
With a price of $20,800 on Draftkings this week, this three-man stack is relatively affordable when you look at the other high powered offenses on the slate. According to my simulations, this stack has a 15.66% chance at being the top scoring overall stack of the slate, and all the ownerships are sitting under 10% at the moment, which means that the field is seriously undervaluing them. The Eagles have gotten roasted by elite wide receivers all year and are coming off a dismantling at the hands of D.K. Metcalf so we can expect Adams to have his way with this paltry secondary. The only question you have here is whether there is enough value on the slate to get to a reasonable lineup with Rodgers and Adams locked in. If you are planning on running this stack, there are big question marks about the passing efficiency of the Eagles and who gets the targets, so it may be better to avoid a game stack and focus on secondary correlations instead.
Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown, Corey Davis
It’s looking more and more like it’s going to be a Derrick Henry chalk week, which means that we need to give serious consideration to a Titans stack in GPPs. The Titans face the Browns and are implied for a pretty lofty team total of 29.5 (bet up from an open of 27.75) which gives them the second-highest mark on the slate as of this writing. Most people make the assumption that a high total for the Titans means a lot of scores for Derrick Henry, but in reality, they have been more than willing to get creative in the RedZone and on the goal line rather than just handing it off. In fact, they pass the ball considerably more in the RedZone than they do between the 20s, with a 56.76% pass rate near the endzone and just a 48.22% pass rate otherwise, which gives them a passing touchdown expectation of 1.78 and a rushing touchdown expectation of 1.36.
Considering Derrick Henry is over $9,000 on Draftkings this week, this stack costs just twice as much and you get more upside overall as well as leveraging the field in a direct way. We talk all the time about Henry being a fade candidate when popular and considering the prices involved and the touchdowns expectations, this is a perfect week to consider just that. The stack has a 45.12% chance of scoring 20+ fantasy points for each player involved and just 27.55% combined ownership, which leads to a high leverage score of 9.37%. There’s also a clear cut gamestack piece from the Browns with Jarvis Landry, who is averaging 37% of the air yards and 30% of the targets over the last five weeks, So making it all fit together is a piece of cake. There’s a lot of risk in this stack but it’s something that you take advantage of in weeks like this.
Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray, Deandre Hopkins
The Cardinals were a serious letdown last week against the Patriots in a spot that had them at single-digit ownership in a high upside spot, but that’s okay because it’ll only help to suppress their ownership again as they come into yet another solid spot. They face a Rams team that has been up and down across the year when it comes to defense, as they have been able to shut down good teams but also gave up 40 points to the Dolphins, so you have to make considerations for that when you are considering avoiding them. The team total for the Cardinals is currently pretty low at just 22.75, so it’s important to consider the downside of this combo when you are building on Sunday morning.
The downside that you are accepting when you look at the team totals for the Cardinals is pretty heavily offset by the massive ownership discount that you get, with all players under 6% owned in aggregate ownership projections. When you consider that Kyler Murray is a top 5 fantasy QB and DeAndre Hopkins can win in any given matchup, those ownerships are extremely attractive. The added benefit here is that you can build a “skinny” stack with just Murray and Hopkins, since Murray has so much upside unlocked by running the ball and doesn’t necessarily need two receivers to reach his ceiling. There’s a 63.14% chance in the models that both of these players score more than 20 fantasy points and it allows for some high upside secondary correlations along with a game stack that takes advantage of one of Robert Woods, Josh Reynolds, or Cooper Kupp depending on your preference. However you cut it, this is a solid GPP stack with low ownership and high upside that needs to be on your radar this week.
Three key players
Dalvin Cook: Fade
We had a couple weeks where Cook was nearly automatic based on a massive workload and the Vikings offense moving the ball exceptionally well, but all good things must (regress) come to an end. He only had 18 carries last week and the coaching staff is well aware of the toll that the workload is having on him as a player and have come out and said that they need to do a better job monitoring that. This, of course, is coach-speak for “He’s not going to get as much volume” which seriously curtails his ceiling. Considering his incredibly high price across the industry, if he ends up getting just 20-25 opportunities instead of 30-35 he’s going to have a hard time making value with a lot of touchdown luck. Just to add another negative, his efficiency has gone way down in recent games, with three of his last five games sitting at under .85 fantasy points per touch. When you add in his ownership projection being over 30% once again, it’s an obvious situation where the general public isn’t considering a changing of the guard and it’s going to be lucrative to jump off the ship now. Fade.
Brandin Cooks: Fade
Will Fuller was popped for PED usage and will miss the rest of the regular season (as well as one game next year) which leaves the Texans drastically short at the wideout position. It’s basically just Brandin Cooks and Keke Coutee along with practice squad bodies, and that’s not exactly a good thing for anyone on the offense. Yes, it should lead to more opportunity for Cooks who has shown that he can thrive in this offense, but we haven’t seen him in the WR1 role running the routes that Fuller was responsible for. Considering his price and his expectation of around 7-10 targets and a median expectation of 17.80 fantasy points, he’s going to be a solid play in cash game formats and his floor is likely around 10-12 fantasy points, but is the ceiling really there? We have only seen one great game back in week five and the Texans offense has struggled badly in the past without Will Fuller to stretch the field, so he is a bit less awesome than assumed. At significant ownership, it’s likely worthwhile to avoid him in GPPs. Fade.
David Montgomery: Fade
Ah yes, the lasting tradition of people wanting to play David Montgomery when his price gets down into the mid-$5k. This is something that people will fall for a couple of times a year because they think that Montgomery has some unseen ceiling based on some combination of excuses, but it’s never realized. He will have a good game once a month to remind everyone of what variance is, and then go right back to having 75 all-purpose yards on 15 touches and 13 fantasy points the next game. This is a player that averages well under 1.00 fantasy points per touch and has a median expectation of between 13-17 touches in a game on a team that passes 80% of the time in the RedZone which even further lowers his ceiling. Furthermore, if there’s ever going to be a popular player on the Bears, it’s going to be more profitable long term to fade that player, because it’s the Bears. Fade.
Three key values
Jordan Akins: Fade
This is kind of a weird one, because people are talking up Jordan Akins as a big winner for the Fuller suspension based on an assumption of more two TE sets. While that would indeed lead to greater opportunity for Akins, it would also lead to more opportunity for Darren Fells, but Akins is projected at 15% ownership and Fells at just .5% ownership, so that’s one weird part. The other weird part is the pure assumption of more two TE sets, and even past that the two TE sets being utilized efficiently. He’s projected for 7.10 fantasy points and a 14.20% chance at 5x his salary, but that’s not even the top value mark on the slate and the pricetag isn’t even that much better than other TEs on this slate. It’s a very weird popular spot on Akins that is easily avoidable in GPPs, though he’s going to be a valuable play in cash games just based on the ownership. Fade.
Keelan Cole Sr.: Play
Jacksonville is still going to be without top wideout D.J. Chark as well as Chris Conley for this week, which will once again elevate Keelan Cole and Laviska Shenault to the top of the pecking order. Although the implied team total is very low for the Jags at just 21 points, the price is right to continue to accept the risk on these guys based on the assumed negative game script which will lead to passing in the second half. Keelan Cole is definitely the one you want, with 31.18% of the air yards and 18.18% of the targets last week and a track record of being a consistent producer in this offense when given the opportunity. Collin Johnson technically had more air yards last week, but a lot of it came on one pass late in the game, so I’m willing to bet that doesn’t happen again. On a slate that is essentially starved of value, Cole represents valuable salary relief in GPPs and isn’t getting near the attention that he deserves with an ownership projection of just 3% right now. Load him up in a secondary correlation stack with Adam Thielen or Justin Jefferson and hope for a shootout while you fade Dalvin Cook.
N’Keal Harry: Play
The Patriots offense just continues to be devoid of any upside in the passing game and the addition of Harry isn’t going to open things up any farther. He’s been active for a couple of weeks now and started gaining a bit of opportunity which has eaten into Jakobi Meyers ceiling and pushed Damiere Byrd a bit to the side. His 17% air yards and 17% target share are meager with how infrequent this team throws, but he has started to be involved in the RedZone a bit and that’s something they used him for in years past as well. A median projection of 11.60 is pretty solid based on his opportunity rising and the price is very forgiving and mitigates a lot of the downside you take on by rostering him. He’s a longshot play, but considering the Patriots should be playing from behind against a great Chargers team with a lot of correlation pieces you can use with him, Harry is somebody worth considering in large-field tournaments. Play.