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
Buffalo Bills: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs
The most obvious stack of the week is also the one with the highest median projection, which is always a bit annoying when it comes to these shorter slates. The Bills have the highest implied team total on the slate at 29.5 and are 6.5 point favorites over the Indianapolis Colts and Josh Allen has a projection of nearly 30 fantasy points as the Bills look to continue their torrid performances of late into the playoffs. The main stack here is going to be Allen with Diggs, and the numbers on it are phenomenal with a 77.13% chance of both players having over 20 fantasy points and a median of 53.26. The ownership also appears to be the highest on the slate as Diggs looks to be in the 60% range and Allen is pushing 30% at most sources. The hardest part of this stack is going to be the game-stack component, as the Colts have been a nightmare all season long when it comes to deciding who is going to get the touchdowns. The best bet for upside is going to be TY Hilton, but Michael Pittman is a cheaper option with considerable upside and either of them can catch a 50 yard touchdown. It would be easy enough to skip the game-stack piece, but the leverage you gain on this game being a shootout is huge considering Jonathan Taylor, another popular play, would be all but removed from the game environment if that happens. This isn’t a secret to anybody, but the Bills stack is the optimal path this week, and being different elsewhere is the best route towards building.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady, Chris Godwin
This one is a bit of an unknown because of the Mike Evans injury situation, but the Bucs are undoubtedly one of the top options on the slate and will come in at much lower ownership than they deserve because of the Bills. With a team total of 26.75, Tampa is currently listed as 8.5 points favorites over the Washington Football Team in a primetime game, and thanks to a 60.87% pass rate in the RedZone they are implied for the second-most passing touchdowns on the slate at 1.73.
Brady has been playing as effectively as ever and should be well-rested and ready for another playoff run with the lone issue that this is a night time game. Brady has been considerably worse when playing past his bedtime, but everyone knows that and is considering that factor when they build their stacks this week, so the ownership discount is going to be nice.
The stack that you should start with is Brady and Godwin, which has a combined cost of just under $14,000 on Draftkings and projects for 42.63 fantasy points. Depending on the health of Mike Evans, you’ll want to use him or Antonio Brown since they both have huge upside alongside Godwin. The easiest game-stack here involves Terry McLaurin, but I personally like using Logan Thomas instead as he should be lower owned and removes the need for you to worry about the tight end position. However you decide to stack it up, this game should be entertaining and we all know how good Brady is in the playoffs.
LA Rams: John Wolford, Robert Woods
It’s very unlikely that Jared Goff ends up being healthy enough to play tomorrow, so we should get another game of John WolFORD F-150. It’s not as big of a downgrade as some people may think, as Wolford showed last week that while he may be prone to mistakes he offers a different look to an offense that is built on deception and creativity. With Cooper Kupp returning and Cam Akers having more time to heal, the Rams look to be in a much more competitive position. Now, I understand that the Rams have a very low implied team total of just 19.5 points, but it’s important to remember that with a rushing QB the team total matters less since they have more upside from rushing touchdowns. The bigger part of this stack is actually the comeback option, with DK Metcalf representing some of the highest upside on the slate and being available thanks to how cheap this stack is to build. The combination that I’m most comfortable with is Wolford, Woods, and Metcalf which will cost less than $20,000 on Draftkings and has as much upside as any other group on the slate. This stack is much more risky than the others listed, but you have to be different on short slates and I think this one can do well if things go right.
Three key players
Stefon Diggs: Play
It’s not necessarily that Diggs is the best play on the entire slate, but he is a part of the best stack on the slate and is a natural pairing with Josh Allen, so it’s important that you consider him for your builds. Diggs projects for the second-most fantasy points on the slate at 24.00 and has a 51.76% chance to exceed 20 fantasy points overall.
The Bills are one of the more pass-heavy teams in the RedZone with a 63.49% pass rate which gives them a passing touchdown expectation of 1.96, and Diggs demands a solid market share of the targets inside the 20 with at least 20% of his looks coming in the RedZone in seven games this year. Granted, the combination of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs is likely to be the most popular pairing for this slate, so you’ll have to look to be different in other places, but it’s popular for good reason. The price point and projection are appropriate for the upside that Diggs offers and having him in your lineups is going to be a great start to any build. Play.
Jonathan Taylor: Fade
We got, by far, the best possible game from Jonathan Taylor that was realistically possible last week and now he’s going to demand some high ownership in a spot that doesn’t necessarily speak to running back upside. Situations like this where we have a player coming off a career day make for prime fades in GPPs since recency bias is going to play a big part in decision making. As the most expensive running back on the slate, he projects for 21.64 fantasy points, but for nearly $8k that median outcome is a bit lackluster. Likewise, He’s going to need an excellent game script in order to find his full upside and make those that don’t have him pay the consequence and he’s not in a position to have that going up against the Bills.
The Colts aren’t even a heavy rushing team in the RedZone, as they are about an even split between pass/run thus making it a risky prop to consider Taylor a lock for a touchdown. Yes, the recent run has been fantastic for him, and the fantasy points per touch is being maintained around 1.00, but to me, this seems more like a 15-17 carry, 2-4 catch game than a 20+ carry one so I’m fine with fading him and hoping he flops. Fade
Chris Carson: Play
I understand why Carson is getting the attention that he is, but I would be lying if I said I was comfortable with him as one of the highest owned players on this slate. Projected for around 19 fantasy points, Carson is one of the cheaper top option running backs on this slate, but he’s far from a “bell cow” option as he never demands the vast majority of running back work on the Seahawks. Last week, he had 11 carries while Rashaad Penny had six (Alex Collins had five) and he hasn’t surpassed 20 total carries once this season. He’s not even used the most in the RedZone, as every week but one since Week 5 that he’s been active another back has taken more RedZone carries. It’s certainly fair to say that the game script here against a battered Rams team should give Carson some extra work in the second half, but with how the Seahawks have been using their backs this year I don’t think it inspires confidence that Carson is the guy getting those extra touches. He’s relatively cheap and projects well, but I have to fade a popular play that isn’t getting work where it counts. Fade.
Three key values
John Wolford: Play
Things were not incredible for the Rams in Week 17, as the entire offense looked a bit stagnant with Wolford at the helm. However, the results don’t matter quite as much as the upside, and the upside offered by a mobile QB is extremely important and even more so on a short slate. He had 38 passing attempts for 231 yards and no touchdowns, but he also had six rushing attempts for 56 yards and managed to somewhat salvage his day for fantasy. If you consider that outcome as his floor (200 passing yards, 50 rushing yards) then his median expectation is pretty good should he pass for a touchdown. If he passes for one and rushes for one, then you have a $4,900 play that is very low owned that has 20+ fantasy point upside. He’s currently projected for 15.6, which is respectable for the price, but the upside is much more when you take into account the different ways that you can reach his ceiling. As mentioned in the stacks, you can pair him with one or two of his receivers and have a bunch of salary and upside to surround him with. Play.
Cam Akers: Fade
Most people are going to end up playing one of Jonathan Taylor or Chris Carson, but Cam Akers is going to be rather popular himself as one of the cheaper options that has upside. He’s $5,100 on Draftkings, which is a pretty nice price if he ends up getting the lions share of the work as he was doing before the injury. In week 17 he had 21 carries and four targets for just 12.6 fantasy points but that kind of volume for somebody at his price makes for a very intriguing option. The biggest issue with Akers is the uncertainty at QB and the efficiency of the offense as a whole, as he hasn’t been effective as a runner outside of just two games and will live or die on touchdowns. Considering this is such a short slate and he’s a very volatile play that is gaining popularity, I would much rather fade the crowd and try to focus on salary relief elsewhere. Fade.
John Brown: Play as Leverage
John Brown being back for the Bills is both good news and bad news. It’s good news because the dude is a baller, and we like to see talent overcome injury. It’s bad news because the bills have been a much less attractive fantasy option when he has been healthy, as his targets directly hurt Stefon Diggs and make the target tree wider, thus making predictions on who does well more difficult. When Brown has played, Diggs has received less than 25% of the targets on average, vs. 30%+ when he hasn’t. Considering that Diggs is going to be the most popular play on this slate, playing John Brown instead makes a lot of sense in GPPs. He’s going to be less than half as owned, is $3,000 cheaper, and has similar air yards numbers to Diggs when they both play. He projects for 15.10 fantasy points and has a 7.34% chance to 5x his salary, so he’s a solid play in every way. Use him as leverage off of Stefon Diggs in your Bills stacks and hope you catch the 50 yard TD. Play.