This article is part of our Run 'N' Shoot series.
Do you want to win a million dollars playing fantasy football? Sounds too good to be true, right? Last week, I was one roster spot, a defense, from winning the million dollar first prize on DraftKings. Yes, playing Broncos D/ST instead of Packers D/ST was the only reason I didn't collect the million.
I know, you could care less about my fantasy teams. I get it. But we're talking about a million bucks. Here, check this link out - that's my team from last week.
What did I do to come so close to a life-changing amount of cash? I explained my strategy a bit in last week's article, here. Basically, I try to find one or two low-salary players who will go off, then fill the rest of the lineup with studs. Last week, I hit on Jonas Gray at $3,300 - barely above the minimum, started in just 0.6% of lineups - letting me play studs everywhere else. Combine Gray's 4 TDs with studs at other positions and there's a lineup knocking on the door of a million cash.
Coming that close, I can't help but come back and try again. As I do, please realize - these aren't normal fantasy suggestions (though some of the information could be used as streaming options for deeper leagues). These are suggestions for DraftKings Millionaire contest (or similar DFS contests), with an eye towards trying to win a big tournament.
If you've never played daily, it's a load of fun, particularly if your normal teams are out of the running for the playoffs. Trust me - get into it.
Given the nature of these players and their salaries, a lot of these suggestions won't pan out this week. We're talking about players who nobody wants - they're minimum salary (or close to it) for a reason. But like with Gray (and particularly if you're willing to play a bunch of lineups - I did 90 lineups last week), all it takes is one or two good calls to be in the running for a million.
Kyle Orton, $5,600. Buffalo's offense has been terrible the past couple of weeks, but that was against two top defenses (Dolphins, Chiefs). The game before that, Orton threw four TDs against this week's opponent, the Jets. New York's secondary has been among the worst in the NFL all year, and their 25 passing TDs allowed is dead last. Another 4-TD game is well within reach, yet many will shy away because of the Buffalo snow and weather concerns. Not me - I'll have Orton in plenty of lineups (paired with a nicely-priced Sammy Watkins for $5,600).
Eli Manning, $5,800. Eli laid a 5-INT stinkbomb last week, but that's why he's only $5,800. Eli had 248 yards, 3 TDs and 0 INTs in his first matchup with Dallas; a repeat of those stats would give him an excellent chance of being in the winner's lineup this week. Odell Beckham's emergence and the Giants crummy defense make me like Eli even more, as does Larry Donnell's reasonable price tag. Remember, when you're starting a QB in a DFS tournament, you typically need to pair him with at least one of his targets.
Zach Mettenberger, $5,200. I've been as unimpressed by Mettenberger so far as anyone. But a matchup with the Eagles gives Mettenberger 3-TD upside, and that's really all you'd need at this price. Plus, I like the prices of two of Mettenberger's targets in the passing game (more on that below).
Isaiah Crowell, $3,800 and Terrance West, $3,400. Ben Tate was just waived and the Falcons are terrible against the run. Crowell and West might be my two favorite plays of the week - just don't ask me which one. I'll play Crowell in a bunch of lineups, West in a bunch of others, and both of them together in some lineups. (Against Atlanta, maybe they both go 15-80-1 on the ground). Gun to head, if I had to pick this week's Jonas Gray, I'd say it's Crowell.
Theo Riddick, $3,200. Riddick was a disappointment last week against the Cardinals stout defense, but he's been solid in full-point PPR formats in games where Reggie Bush was inactive. This week, Bush and Joique Bell are both questionable (at present). It wouldn't be hard to see the Lions playing from behind in New England and Riddick catching a lot of checkdowns. 7-80-1 out of the backfield would be just fine for $3,200, and I bet most people will be off Riddick after last week's poor showing. And that's just what you want - a cheap option who goes off that most others in the tournament aren't starting.
Tre Mason, $4,200. It's rare to get an established feature back on any team at this price - that's part of why I liked Gray so much last week. The Rams offense isn't nearly as appealing as the Patriots, of course, but the Chargers aren't playing well right now, so I'm not scared of the matchup. I'll mix Mason into some lineups and hope for a 2-TD game.
Justin Hunter, $3,800. Hunter has yet to have the breakout game so many pundits anticipated this preseason. Why not this week against the Eagles? I'll be pairing Mettenberger and Hunter in a lot of lineups this week - if they go off, and you can play studs at the other positions, that's a winning formula.
Kenny Stills, $4,200. Brandon Stills' targets are going to go somewhere, the Saints are playing at home, and the Ravens have the 30th ranked pass defense. If Graham draws double coverage, who is Brees going to throw to? I like Travaris Cadet at $3,000 for similar reasons (that's really digging deep, yes, but Cadet is sure to be under 1% played).
Cordarelle Patterson, $3,500. At this price, it only takes one play (say, a 50-yard TD) for Patterson to turn a profit. Patterson has the talent to score one long TD eventually, right? Right?
Allen Hurns, $3,200. Hurns already has two games this year with 30(+) fantasy points. In other words, he's already been part of a winning formula for a million bucks. Twice. Playing in Indy, in a dome, in a game the Jaguars are sure to be throwing most of the second half, Hurns is as likely as any of the cheap WRs to do it again. Injuries to other Jaguars receivers don't hurt the cause, either. Hunter and Hurns are probably my two favorite cheap receiver options this week.
Davante Adams, $3,100. One reason I liked Gray last week was that he plays for the Patriots. The potential for a multi-TD game is so much greater when you're playing for a team that's going to score 4 or 5 TDs. Adams hasn't had that breakout game yet, but on the Packers, it could happen any week. Yes, he hasn't been getting many targets, but he's on the field a ton, and suppose Jordy gets hurt in the first quarter. If you're going to beat 80,000 other lineups, funky stuff has to happen sometimes.
Delanie Walker, $3,100: Walker has been priced around $5,000 much of the year, yet is just $3,100 this week after missing last week with a concussion. He faces the Eagles, too - a good matchup given their pace of play and suspect defense. The concept of playing Mettenberger and two of his targets might sound a bit extreme, but if Mettenberger somehow has a 4-TD game, with 2 each to Hunter and Walker, or even 3 TDs among those two, and you hit on all three at these prices, you're going to finish in the top 1% regardless of which studs you play at the other positions. Come Sunday morning, I'll have locked in a few lineups with all three Titans, a few with Mettenberger and Walker, a few with Mettenberger and Hunter, and a few with just Walker, and a few with just Hunter. We never know how the game flow will go, but there's profit potential for the Titans this week at these salaries.
Larry Donnell, $3,900: Donnell already has a 3-TD game this year, so he's proven he can do it. And why not against Dallas, which is 31st in yards allowed and 28th in TDs allowed to opposing tight ends? Many who start Eli will pair him with Odell Beckham, but Eli and Donnell might be more of an off-the-radar value.
Vernon Davis, $3,000: I know. Believe me, I know. But this is the bottom-of-the barrel, absolute minimum salary and the Redskins defense is terrible. No matter what he's done in recent weeks, Davis has the upside for a 2-TD game.
What about defenses, you ask? Well ... if I knew how to pick a defense for this contest, I'd have cashed my million dollar check already. Or maybe I figured out the strategy for a defense but am hesitant to reveal that secret, lest you swipe the cash from me this week. ;-)
Next week, I'll go back to a more traditional RunNShoot. Hopefully this column gives you the mindset that I think is necessary to take down a big DFS tournament - or, at least, have fun trying.
Happy gaming, gamers.