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, Robert Tonyan
The theme of the article this week is going to be focusing on teams that have something to play for, and that all starts with the Packers who are in a rivalry matchup with playoff implications. Implied for 27.75 points, Green Bay is facing a Bears squad that wants to win for their playoff hopes, while the Packers are looking for the ever-important first seed.
This stack will cost quite a bit, although not as much as the Chiefs last week, but you are going to have a higher upside than any other stack on the slate thanks to a couple of different factors. The first being the Rodgers/Adams connection, which has produced the best fantasy season for a wide receiver in recent history. The second is a focus on the tight end position, whereas Robert Tonyan has more touchdowns than any other TE in Packers history. Finally, we take a stroll down narrative street, as Aaron Rodgers is a strong contender for the league MVP and it’s been pretty obvious that they are doing everything they can to let him throw for touchdowns instead of running them in. All of this combined gives this stack more upside than anything else available, with the only problem being that the rest of the field knows it and thus will inflate the ownership a bit. You can get different elsewhere as you ride the Packers into the sunset in week 17.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews
Another team with plenty of reason to push for a victory is the Ravens since there are a couple of scenarios where they miss the playoffs after having a lame mid-season slump. Lamar Jackson has 80+ rushing yards in three of his last four games, but more importantly, his QB rating in the last four games are all well over 100, which inspires confidence that the ceiling is well intact.
The team total sits at 28.25 as they face a hapless Bengals team that has been gashed by explosive runners all season long, and it won’t get any easier for them as the Ravens are one of the most potent running teams in the league. The biggest question here is if you double-stack Jackson with Brown and Andrews or just choose one of the two. In week 16, Andrews had by far the most targets on the team with 11 but only had 14 fantasy points, and Brown was effective once again with his fifth straight week above 12 fantasy points.
As it stands, I would prefer to take Mark Andrews since he has the most touchdown upside, but taking Marquise Brown or both and hoping that the Bengals have another high octane performance like last week is a way to be unique in GPPs while soaking up nearly all the upside the team has to offer. However, you decide to do it, stacking the Ravens in a spot that they have reason to play hard is going to be one of the better routes you can take this week.
Tennessee Titans: Ryan Tannehill, A.J. Brown, Jonnu Smith
Finally we have the Titans, who can win the AFC south with a victory over the Texans and will be playing at full strength to make that happen. They have the highest team total on the week at 32 and are 7.5 point favorites in this spot, which in theory sets up for the running game.
As we have seen in weeks past, that isn’t always the deal with the Titans, and their passing game is just as potent if not more effective than bashing Derrick Henry’s man-arms into the face of defenders. This stack has a 38.85% chance of having 20+ fantasy points and will be much less owned than that, with Jonnu Smith being a darkhorse at the TE position that people aren’t paying attention to.
Both A.J. Brown and Jonnu Smith had seven targets last week with Corey Davis having just two so there’s plenty of reason to go with the WR/TE combo instead of the traditional WR/WR here. Jonnu also has seven games this year with 33% or more of his targets coming in the RedZone which helps to cement his upside as an option. There’s nothing wrong with taking Derrick Henry instead, and I actually suggest doing that, but if you can’t afford Henry it would be a sharp move to pick a Titans stack instead as they push to finish the regular season on a high note.
Three key players
Alvin Kamara: Fade
The Saints have already secured the NFC South and are currently in the second seed with the Packers needing to beat the Bears to clinch the first spot, so they technically have reason to care here against the Panthers. That being said, it’s usually a pretty bad idea to chase a career game from a player, much less one where they tied an NFL record for touchdowns in a game.
The ownership of Kamara is going to be exceptionally high here after a primetime performance for the ages but the volume hasn’t exactly been stellar for him and the price has exploded. Yes, he had 22 carries last week, but if you look at his season-long at a distance that’s an obvious outlier. We should expect something like 12-15 carries and 6-8 targets, which is good, but it’s not “roster the most expensive player on the slate at the highest ownership” good.
Considering Derrick Henry is looking to be 10% less owned at essentially the same price, and Davante Adams being a higher priority to roster, Kamara is the odd man out for me in the stud category. Fade.
Davante Adams: Play
This is a pretty easy play to make and not one that you should overthink.
The Packers are in a position to secure the #1 seed for the playoffs so they’ll be playing at 100%, and that means that they’ll be feeding the best wide receiver in the league all that he can handle. Adams has the highest chance of being the top fantasy scorer on the week in my models at 21.12% and is projected for 30.10 fantasy points, so he’s objectively underpriced here.
Aaron Rodgers is looking for the MVP, so it’s pretty likely that they don’t run the ball at all in this game and just have him throw 50 times which bodes well for Adam’s upside, and it’s not like anybody on the Bears is going to be able to handle him anyway. With six games of 30+ fantasy points on the year along with a gaudy 3+ fantasy points per touch on 10+ targets per game, there are no good reasons to fade Davante Adams. I don’t suggest it often, but locking him in this week is a totally fair strategy. Play.
Derrick Henry: Play
As mentioned in the titans stack blurb, Derrick Henry is a terrific play for a team that is a touchdown favorite and implied to score the most real life points on the slate. His price tag isn’t forgiving at all, but with a projection of 28.06 and all the perceived value on the slate due to players sitting he’s somebody that is both accessible and valuable.
His volume has been some of the best in the league, with 20+ carries in all but four games that he has played this year and an average of just around .90 fantasy points per touch. There’s a thin narrative here that Henry is close enough to 2000 rushing yards that they try to get him there, but I’m not as interested in that as I am in the hard stats.
The Titans have a rushing touchdown expectation of 1.48 and Henry is their guy when in that position, so if they get a good lead I think we can expect him to do whatever he wants in the second half. With the ownership trending towards Kamara, this is a rare instance where we can actually gain leverage by taking Henry and I think it’s worth doing here. Play.
Three key values
Mecole Hardman: Play
Thus far we aren’t seeing big ownership on Mecole Hardman but I think that will change as we get closer to Sunday, because why would people not want to roster a sub-$5k wideout on the best team in the league with the starters sitting?
I understand that we won’t have Patrick Mahomes throwing him the ball, and that’s certainly a downgrade to the offense as a whole, but there’s something to be said for having Andy Reid at the helm and calling the shots. Hardman is projected for 16.50 fantasy points and has a 27% chance to score 5x his salary on Draftkings which represents incredible value. When we have seen Tyreek Hill unavailable, it’s been Mecole that has taken on the high-value routes and I expect that to happen in Week 17.
If people are going to be looking elsewhere for value, there’s going to be massive leverage in taking the burner for salary savings and upside. Play.
Malcolm Brown: Play
One of the more popular plays on the slate, Malcolm Brown is projected for 16.17 fantasy points at just $4,300 on Draftkings, making him one of the chalkier values at a projected 16.29% ownership.
This makes sense considering Darrell Henderson Jr. suffered a high ankle sprain and was placed on IR after week 16, and Cam Akers is unlikely to be ready to play, so it should just be the Malcolm show. Typically, this would be a fantastic situation, with the Rams wanting a win since it would secure them a playoff spot, but with Jared Goff injured and a lot of the team ailing due to attrition and COVID issues, the offense might be limping to the finish line.
Brown still has a 30% chance at hitting 20+ fantasy points, and the Rams are a team that much prefers to run in the RedZone with a 63.89% rush rate projecting them for 1.27 rushing touchdowns, so he’s going to be somebody that you make a priority. Play.
Mitch Trubisky: Fade
The last player we need to talk about this week is Mitch Trubisky, as the Bears are going to be in a battle against the Packers for their playoff hopes to stay alive.
The Bears have been looking really good lately, and a lot of that has come on the arm of Trubisky, but it’s also been against notably bad teams and it’s unclear how well Mitch can perform under these circumstances. Granted, The projections for him are fine at 20.61 with a 23% chance to hit 5x his salary, so it’s worth considering him especially since there’s a very high chance that the Bears are in a shootout trying to catch up to the MVP of the league.
The biggest problems here are that the Bears are not a pass-heavy team in the RedZone, with just a 52% pass rate, which doesn’t project well for Trubisky finding his ceiling, as well as the fact that the past four games are very likely not what we should expect from this team. When you consider that the Bears might be frauds, they are only implied for 23 points, and they don’t have a high chance of 3+ touchdown passes, it makes Trubisky a prime fade in a spot that should garner plenty of attention. Fade.
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