This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
It looks like the Broncos-Patriots game is the only potential COVID postponement this week, which means the main slate for DFS will include either 10 or 11 games. Five of those have over/unders in the fifties, including three where both teams have implied totals of 25 or more.
There's no shortage of stacking options — most of which are fairly obvious — so our game-stack section this week will pick one likely shootout and one other contest that may be flying under the radar. Some of the other top options, including the Jags-Lions game (MEOW) will be touched on in the other sections below.
As always, I'm happy to discuss strategy in the comments below, or on twitter (@RotowireNFL_JD).
Note: All prices listed come from DraftKings, but most of the logic can be applied to other sites across the DFS industry. Discussion is limited to players from the "main slate" of games kicking off at 1:00, 4:05 and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday. The strategy below is meant for large-field tournaments, where payouts typically are limited to ~20 percent of lineups, with the vast majority concentrated at the very top.
|Over/Under||Road Team||Road Implied Total||Home Team||Home Implied Total|
|56||Green Bay Packers||28.5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||27.5|
|54||Detroit Lions||28.5||Jacksonville Jaguars||25.5|
|54||Atlanta Falcons||25||Minnesota Vikings||29|
|53||Houston Texans||24.75||Tennessee Titans||28.25|
|51||Cleveland Browns||23.5||Pittsburgh Steelers||27.5|
|48||Baltimore Ravens||27.75||Philadelphia Eagles||20.25|
|47||New York Jets||18.5||Miami Dolphins||28.5|
|46||Cincinnati Bengals||19||Indianapolis Colts||27|
|45||Denver Broncos||17.5||New England Patriots||27.5|
|44.5||Chicago Bears||21.75||Carolina Panthers||22.75|
|42.5||Washington Football Team||20||New York Giants||22.5|
(Bold for over/unders of 50+ and implied totals of 25+)
These are the players with the best projections relative to their DK salaries — good plays both for cash games and large-field tournaments. While we don't want our tourney lineups to look like cash-game lineups top to bottom, there's nothing wrong with using a few "chalk" picks. These players, along with a couple passing-game stacks, tend to form the core that remains fairly consistent throughout my lineups.
- RB David Montgomery at CAR ($5,800)
Montgomery played 85 and 81 percent of snaps in the first two games with Tarik Cohen (ACL) out of the lineup, but he took only 10 carries in each contest, struggling to find green grass in matchups with two of the best run defenses (Colts, Bucs) in the league. Monty did see six and eight targets in those two games, and he should have more success on the ground this week against a Panthers defense ranked 29th in DVOA against the run (6.3%), 31st in YPC allowed (5.4) and 32nd in DK points allowed to RBs (37.4 per game).
- RB Myles Gaskin vs. NYJ ($5,400)
Gaskin hasn't quite been on Montgomery's level in terms of snap-share dominance, but the unexpected lead back in Miami did play 63 percent or more each of the past five games, and he got a nice fantasy-value boost last week when goal-line vulture Jordan Howard was listed as a healthy scratch. Gaskin responded with four red-zone carries, three red-zone targets and his first TD of the season, finishing with 20.1 DK points after landing between 9.2 and 14.5 in each of the first four games.
The Jets haven't been too bad against the run on a per-play basis (4.2 YPC, 9th in DVOA), but their status as 10-point underdogs suggests Gaskin should get plenty of work. The only caveat is that Gaskin gets downgraded from an 'A' play to a 'B+' play if Howard is active this week.
Stacks are the centerpiece of any tournament lineup, seeking to take advantage of positive correlations between players. It rarely makes sense to use a quarterback without one or two of his pass catchers, even if the player in question scores a decent portion of his fantasy points with his legs. Ideally, a stack also includes a pass catcher from the other side of the contest, hoping to take advantage of a tight game where both teams are still chucking the ball around late in the fourth quarter. (Implied team totals are listed in parentheses.
Chicago Bears (21.75) at Carolina Panthers (22.75)
Overall Pace: Bears - 19th (27.80 seconds), Panthers - 28th (28.96)
Neutral-Situation Pace: Bears - 28th (31.81), Panthers - 22nd (30.83)
Neither of these offenses has been fast-paced, but we do have some cause for volume optimism if we look at the run/pass splits. Chicago ranks fourth in the league with a 64.6 percent pass rate, while Carolina sits quite a bit lower at 18th (57.5 percent), but with the stipulation that the Panthers were nursing leads for the better part of their past three games. Both teams have favored throwing, relative to what the average team would do in the same situations:
Nick Foles ($5,800) brings one big thing to the table, but it ain't competent QB play. Fortunately, the Panthers defense isn't a whole lot better, and it's now facing the added challenge of potentially playing Sunday's game without two of its top three pass rushers. DE Brian Burns (concussion) is on track to play, but DT Kawann Short (shoulder) and DE Yetur Gross-Matos (ankle) have been placed on injured reserve.
David Montgomery ($5,800) in his new three-down role might be my favorite play of the week at any position, and deep threat Darnell Mooney ($3,000) is the best min-priced option on the slate. Mooney drew 19 targets the past three weeks, including seven that traveled 20 or more yards downfield (sixth-most in the league over that stretch, per PFF).
The rookie only needs one big play to make good on his price tag, while Montgomery and Allen Robinson ($7,000) can pile up volume. Jimmy Graham ($5,000) is also a big part of the offense, but the price doesn't quite seem right relative to his 5.6 targets per game, as he doesn't seem to offer much upside in terms of yardage.
Teddy Bridgewater ($6,000) has been hovering around 300 yards per game all season, with a flukish lack of touchdowns preventing him from putting up big fantasy totals until the past two weeks. A matchup with the Bears isn't ideal, but the potential for a closely contested game could put Teddy somewhere near 40 pass attempts, and his rushing stats have added an extra 2.7 points per week so far (one TD, 73 yards).
Also consider that the Chicago defense has benefited from some good injury luck in its early matchups, facing the Lions without Kenny Golladay, the Falcons sans Julio Jones, and the Bucs without a slew of key contributors (including Chris Godwin). This will be the first time all season the Bears have faced a healthy offense with a competent QB.
Plus, we have a darn good idea where the ball will be going, as Mike Davis ($7,000), Robby Anderson ($6,300) and DJ Moore ($5,900) have absolutely dominated the touches in this offense. Anderson's recent role makes him a must for any Bridgewater stack, while Davis and Moore are more of optional inclusions.
- Best Stack: QB Bridgewater + RB Montgomery + WR Anderson + WR Moore + WR Mooney
Houston Texans (24.75) at Tennessee Titans (28.25)
Overall Pace: Texans - 7th (25.69), Titans - 4th (25.00)
Neutral-Situation Pace: Texans - 9th (28.77), Titans - 5th (28.28)
Most football fans won't really think of these two teams as uptempo, but the Texans have always been average or faster during the Watson era, while Titans OC Arthur Smith seems to be embracing the juggernaut he created, moving away from the slow-paced, underdog strategy of years past and shifting full-throttle into butt-kicking mode.
As much as I like the snap/pace potential for this game, it's hard to get behind Watson at $7,000 in a road game against a respectable defense, especially when the QB on the other side also adds some rushing stats and comes $1,100 cheaper.
However, the Houston pass catchers are worthy of our attention, with each of Will Fuller ($6,800), Brandin Cooks ($5,000) and Randall Cobb ($4,400) having his merits. Cooks probably makes the most sense as the bring-it-back for a Titans stack, as his points are most likely to be of the quick-strike variety that sends the ball back to the other team's offense.
Cooks is tied for ninth in the NFL with nine targets traveling 20-plus yards downfield, while Fuller — for whatever reason — only has seen six. Fuller is the better real-life player, and probably more of a TD threat, but Cooks actually has more targets (33-to-30) and a considerably cheaper price.
Tannehill at $5,900 — with an implied team total of 28.25 — is my favorite QB play for cash games. It's also a good option for tournaments, though it'll no doubt be chalky to pair Tanny with top receiver A.J. Brown ($5,700), who also appears considerably underpriced after putting up 7-82-1 on nine targets Tuesday night.
Jonnu Smith ($5,200) is an awesome player, but I'm skeptical his production will continue given the nature of his role... something I discussed earlier this week in the infamous Hidden Stat Line: Targets, Routes & Snaps. Jonnu is a good play for the upside when ownership is low, not someone you lean into when you know he'll be in a lot of lineups.
The other option is Derrick Henry ($7,300), who theoretically might seem to conflict with Tannehill and Brown, but in practice has shown the ability to have a huge game in the same week as his passing-attack teammates. We saw all three top 25 DK points in the same game twice last year: Week 11 vs. Jacksonville and Week 13 vs. Oakland.
- Best Stack: QB Tannehill + WR Brown + WR Cooks
We can pair a running back with his team's defense to double our bet on favorable game script in certain matchups. Just keep in mind that the scoring correlations aren't nearly as strong as those between quarterbacks and pass catchers, so it isn't worth forcing into a lineup unless the prices for each individual commodity make sense. We also need to account for specialized backfield roles, e.g., using Jonathan Taylor rather than Nyheim Hines with the Colts defense.
- RB Myles Gaskin ($5,400) + Miami Dolphins D/ST ($2,900) vs. NYJ
I guess it's boring to mention Gaskin twice, but the alternative was writing about a strategy I'm not actually sure about using. This duo should be popular in cash-game lineups, and it's a strong enough play that I prefer biting the high-ownership bullet rather than fading in tournaments. The Dolphins have already seen a nice payoff from their offseason overhaul on defense, ranking 10th in DVOA against the pass and piling up 11 sacks and six takeaways the past three weeks. They've still been terrible defending the run, but that shouldn't be too much of a problem when favored by 10 points over a team using 37-year-old Frank Gore as its lead runner.
- TE Mark Andrews at PHI ($6,500)
It wouldn't normally be the best idea to allocate $6,500 on a guy averaging 5.8 targets per game. But Andrews is a bit different given his prolific touchdown scoring, and it's an ugly slate overall for his position. Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle are all out of action, while the likes of Mike Gesicki ($5,500), T.J. Hockenson ($5,300) and Jimmy Graham ($5,000) also seem overpriced relative to the target volume they've seen. Hockenson makes sense as part of a Lions-Jags game stack, but I otherwise find myself leaning toward Andrews or Eric Ebron ($4,100), both facing defenses that have struggled to cover the middle of the field.
Fading the Field
Every week we see at least one or two players carrying high ownership without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. Recency bias is often to blame, but in some cases it even makes sense to fade a player with a strong projection, particularly when there are good alternatives at the same position and price range.
- WR Davante Adams at TB ($8,000)
Adams always has a high floor thanks to his dominant share of the Green Bay passing game, but he's a suboptimal tourney play as the most expensive player on the Week 6 main slate, likely coming with at least 15 percent ownership despite drawing a challenging matchup against the rock-solid Tampa defense. Sure, Allen Robinson had a nice fantasy game against the Bucs last Thursday, but he needed 16 targets to reach 90 yards. Top cornerback Carlton Davis already has three interceptions this season, and the Bucs have used him in shadow coverage on both Robinson and Michael Thomas. Expect Adams to get the same treatment.
The SMASH Spot
Volume may be king, but we still need to account for efficiency, pinpointing situations that are likely to lead to impressive production in terms of YPA, YPC or YPT.
- WR Keelan Cole vs. DET ($4,900)
The Lions have done a terrible job defending the pass — 30th in DVOA, 25th in NY/A — and they've been especially bad at guarding the slot, where the absence of veteran nickelback Justin Coleman (hamstring) has forced a slew of different players into inside coverage. Six defensive backs have seen at least 10 slot-coverage snaps for the Lions, allowing a combined total of 403 yards and six TDs through four games (per PFF).
Meanwhile, Cole has run 70 percent of his routes from the slot, landing between 8.3 and 17.8 PPR points in every game. His role doesn't exactly scream 'high ceiling' most weeks, but he could be looking at extra volume on top of the favorable matchup, as DJ Chark (ankle) may not be able to play and Laviska Shenault continues to fight through a nagging hamstring issue.
The Bargain Bin
QB Ryan Tannehill vs. HOU ($5,900)
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. NYJ ($5,900)
RB Frank Gore at MIA ($4,000)
WR Randall Cobb at TEN ($4,400)
WR Chris Conley vs. DET ($3,600)
WR Darnell Mooney at CAR ($3,000)
TE Austin Hooper at PIT ($3,900)
TE Logan Thomas at NYG ($3,300)
D/ST Minnesota Vikings vs. ATL ($2,300)
The "Sunday Scramble" doesn't need to be stressful. We can plan our response ahead of time for various scenarios that could emerge once inactive lists are released.
- RB Adrian Peterson at JAX
Peterson missed Thursday's practice with a non-COVID illness. He should be ready for Sunday, but if not, we'll likely see Kerryon Johnson ($4,000) serving as the lead runner against a soft Jaguars defense, with D'Andre Swift ($4,500) potentially also getting more work. It isn't quite clear how the split would break down without Peterson, so we'll need to keep an eye on the Detroit beat writers if it turns out AP is in serious danger of missing the game.
This one was mentioned above in relation to Keelan Cole ($4,900), but Chris Conley ($3,600) is also an option if you hate yourself enough to get burnt by Chris Conley again. I'll take a shot on him if both Chark and Shenault sit out, but I'll probably just stick to Cole if it's only one or the other missing this game.
It looks like Tom Brady ($6,500) may have all his key WRs available for only the second time this season. Mike Evans ($6,900) is more expensive than Godwin ($6,400), and also more likely to draw coverage from Green Bay's top cornerback, Jaire Alexander. Godwin spends a good chunk of his time in the slot, where the Packers typically use beatable players like Chandon Sullivan and Will Redmond. Of course, we do need to make sure Godwin is actually playing!
- WR Diontae Johnson vs. CLE
Johnson's back injury last week instigated the Chase Claypool ($5,200) experience, a four-touchdown journey that included 11 targets and four rush attempts. Common sense suggests James Washington will be the odd man out when all the Pittsburgh wideouts are healthy, but we'll still feel much better about Claypool's Week 6 projection if Johnson is inactive.
- WR Jarvis Landry at PIT
Landry screwed himself out of a 100-yard game with a couple drops last week, but he did have season highs for both yards (88) and targets (nine), and his price ($4,900) is as low as I can ever remember seeing. He's a solid play if he's able to fight through his rib injury, while Odell Beckham ($6,400) gets a boost if Landry can't go. None of the backup Cleveland wideouts is worth messing around with, but Austin Hooper ($3,900) would one of the better cheap options at TE with Landry out of the lineup.
- WR Julio Jones at MIN
Calvin Ridley ($7,800), Russell Gage ($4,800) and Olamide Zaccheaus ($3,200) all get boosts if Jones misses another game with his hamstring injury. The wide receivers also happen to have good matchups against a struggling Minnesota secondary, but the Atlanta offense has had some issues of its own this season, especially when Jones hasn't been on the field.
- TE Jordan Akins at TEN
With Akins inactive last week, Darren Fells ($3,800) played 86 percent of snaps and ran routes on 71 percent of Deshaun Watson's dropbacks, catching two passes for 57 yards and a touchdown. Fells isn't enough of a priority in the passing game to warrant consideration in most lineups, but he makes sense as part of a Watson stack, especially if we look at his track record of red-zone usage (nine TDs in 21 games with Houston, including eight in the red zone).
It looks like another clear week for weather, with the possible exception of some showers in Miami. We saw light rain in a few games last weekend, but there still hasn't been a game this season with strong winds or heavy precipitation. Regardless, it's never a bad idea to check RotoWire's NFL weather page at some point Sunday morning.