This article lays out my favorite ways to take advantage of positional correlations in DFS scoring. Factors that go into this strategy include the implied team total, the talent of the players, the opposing defense (especially any funneling tendencies), and the likely popularity of the players.
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Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson, Mark Ingram, Marquise Brown/Mark Andrews
I’m not going to ignore the chalk this week just because it’s chalk. Lamar Jackson showed that his arm works just as well or even better than his legs in Week 1, and is facing what is going to be one of the most generous secondaries in the league for Week 2. He has a bevy of receivers to throw to, like Brown (five targets, two TDs) and/or Andrews (eight catches on eight targets, TD)), so going against the grain is one way to make this Ravens stack a bit more unique and lower owned. For example, slotting in Willie Snead (three targets, TD), Miles Boykin (one target, TD) or Hayden Hurst (three catches on three targets) puts you in a more risk/reward spot. Mark Ingram did significant damage against the Dolphins before the game got out of hand, when Gus Edwards took over the bulk of the carries. Baltimore will continue to rely on the run game despite the passing explosion we saw in Week 1, so Ingram has a ton of upside again in a home game where the Ravens are 13-point favorites (per MyBookie). Another way to make this stack unique is to use Jackson and Ingram with Larry Fitzgerald or Christian Kirk, who left a lot on the field last week (per Next Gen Stats, Kirk had an average targeted air yards of 12, but caught only four of 12 passes thrown his way in Week 1).
Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup or Randall Cobb
I’m not saying that Prescott will be perfect every week, but he certainly gets a good chance to replicate his Week 1 numbers against a Redskins Defense that allowed 313 passing yards and three touchdowns to Carson Wentz last weekend. I’m going with the passing stack here mostly thanks to Elliott’s high salary. I think there are RBs in better spots that eat up far less of the salary cap this week. Cooper and Gallup accounted for 16 targets and almost 260 receiving yards last week, while Randall Cobb nabbed a touchdown pass on one of his five targets, similar to the role he’s played throughout his career when healthy. While the total on this game is a bit lower than some others (46.5 points, per MyBookie), CBC Sports notes that the over has hit in the Cowboys last four games overall and their last five against the NFC East.
Los Angeles Chargers at Detroit: Philip Rivers, Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, T.J. Hockenson/Kenny Golladay
The volume to be had by Ekeler and Allen with both Hunter Henry and Mike Williams out of the lineup on Sunday has me salivating. Ekeler was outstanding in Week 1 and his salary didn’t come up nearly enough in my opinion (especially on DraftKings, where he is even more valuable as a pass-catcher). Allen is pricey, but worth it as we saw ageless Larry Fitzgerald get it done vs. Detroit with a far less-seasoned QB at the helm. Rivers is boring, cheap, and always lower-owned in DFS. Go all in here on what could be a shootout (47.5 point total, Chargers minus-2.5 per MyBookie) by adding Golladay or Hockenson, who each accounted for over 30 percent of Detroit’s Air Yards market share. There’s arguably no one hotter than Hockenson right now, so Golladay would be the differentiation roster move this week.
Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City: Derek Carr, Tyrell Williams, Travis Kelce
Carr has been an obvious play to me since I started researching the slate earlier in the week. In fact he headlines the Bargain Bin this week. So I was surprised to see Rich Hribar tweet that many experts have him ranked in the 15-24 range among QBs this week. That’s why I put this under contrarian, because people clearly don’t trust Carr or the Raiders after last season. A matchup with the Chiefs was as good as it got last year for all-around fantasy points, and the combination of Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew made a strong case in Week 1 that 2019 will bring more of the same. Real football defense is not a priority for the high-powered Chiefs. Besides that, Carr looked really good vs. Denver, throwing deep and accurately. I exclude Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller from this stack because I think they’ll be highly owned, not because I have any objection to either; the price and matchup are right! Williams is an obvious volume play but has to be included here, so to differentiate more, I’m stacking the Oakland pass game with Kelce, who was a big DFS disappointment in Week 1. Kelce’s salary is still high, which will help drive ownership down, and the public will be all over Evan Engram, Hockenson, Andrews, or Waller to fill TE slots.
Pittsburgh Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Donte Moncrief
Week 1 makes a huge impact on our rest-of-season thinking and the Steelers’ vulgar primetime loss is going to make them a huge turn off for a lot of people going forward. This is the time to pounce, as the Steelers are home (you know the splits) and facing a Seahawks Defense that just gave up 418 passing yards to Andy Dalton on their vaunted field. Smith-Schuster and Moncrief combined for 18 targets but made only nine catches for 85 combined yards and no scores. Gross. I don’t have a lot of concern over the fact that James Washington, as the deep threat, accounted for most of Roethlisberger’s air yards. The Patriots excel because they take you out of your game plan, they take away your best option, and the Steelers have been susceptible on the road for years. I love a huge bounce-back effort here from this trio.
New England Patriots: Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, James White
This wouldn’t be at all contrarian on a normal week, given how good Brady and the Pats looked on Sunday Night Football. Philip Dorsett and Josh Gordon were the real stars of that game, but Edelman and White are the consistency Brady turns to again and again. The Antonio Brown issue is going to keep a lot of people off this team altogether, as might the overwhelming spread in New England’s favor (minus-18) as they face the lowly Dolphins. The second point isn’t a bother to me; Bill Belichick has no qualms running up the score. Another reason for people to fade the Pats is the running back committee headache, led by Rex Burkhead instead of Sony Michel last week. I’ve said it before, a lot of what makes them great at real football makes them suck for fantasy. Keeping it simple with the core of three is an affordable contrarian stack that allows you to include various higher-profile players like Saquon Barkley, Michael Thomas, or Alvin Kamara.
Houston Texans: Deshaun Watson, Keke Coutee, Will Fuller
The Texans are fun to watch when everyone is healthy. DeAndre Hopkins is conspicuously absent from the headline here, not because I don’t think he’s one of the best WR in the game or because I’m worried about a minor rib injury, no, it’s his salary that concerns me. We never want a core stack to drain the salary cap to the point that we are surrounding it with high risk longshots. Also, we are looking to go against the grain with these contrarian stacks. If you can make Hopkins work, go for it, albeit at higher ownership, but I’m more excited for the probable return of Coutee. Every single time he’s returned from injury he’s been anything but eased in. September 30, 2018: 15 targets, November 18, 2018: nine targets, January 5, 2019: 14 targets. Jacksonville proved vulnerable at the hands of a capable pass attack in Week 1, and I think the Texans will look to take some deep shots to Fuller for sure.