This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
There isn't much cheap value at wide receiver and running back this week, so I'd expect that leads to more people favoring balanced builds over stars and scrubs. Remember to get off the chalk in tournaments. It's fine to use a few popular players in your lineups, but make sure the cumulative popularity isn't too high; around 100 percent for the lineup as a whole is a reasonable number. Just about every week we see winning lineups have multiple players with single-digit percentages in terms of their popularity. Half of the chalk is almost always going to fail, and the leverage off the chalk is what vaults lineups to the top. Instead of locking in certain players, focus on building a lineup that correlates and has some leverage; avoid entering cash-game lineups in tournaments. Good Luck!
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.
|41.5||New York Giants||17.25||New Orleans Saints||24.25|
|54.5||Kansas City Chiefs||30.25||Philadelphia Eagles||23.75|
|47||Houston Texans||15||Buffalo Bills||32|
|51.5||Carolina Panthers||23.75||Dallas Cowboys||27.75|
|51.5||Cleveland Browns||26.5||Minnesota Vikings||25|
|42.5||Indianapolis Colts||20.75||Miami Dolphins||21.75|
|45||Tennessee Titans||25.75||New York Jets||19.25|
|41||Detroit Lions||19.5||Chicago Bears||22|
|47.5||Washington FT||24.5||Atlanta Falcons||23|
|55||Arizona Cardinals||25.25||Los Angeles Rams||29.75|
|52||Seattle Seahawks||24.75||San Fransisco 49ers||27.25|
|45.5||Pittsburgh Steelers||19.75||Green Bay Packers||25.75|
|45||Baltimore Ravens||23.25||Denver Broncos||21.75|
These are the players with the best projections relative to their salaries — good plays both for cash games and large-field tournaments. While we don't want our GPP lineups to look like cash-game lineups top to bottom, there's nothing wrong with using a few chalky plays. These players, along with a couple passing-game stacks, tend to form the core that remains fairly consistent throughout my lineups.
- WR Robert Woods vs. ARI ($5,300)
Woods played 88 percent of the offensive snaps last week, and there is now a $2,500 gap between him and Cooper Kupp ($7,800), the largest we've ever seen. Woods is ready for a breakout game, as Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay have the Rams offense firing on all cylinders. There isn't nearly as much cheap value this week, and that makes Woods really stand out.
- RB D'Andre Swift at CHI ($6,200)
Swift has caught 19 of 23 targets in the passing game through three weeks; those are big numbers for a running back. The Lions are in a nice spot against the Bears, who have really struggled on offense, which means Detroit should find themselves with better starting field position than usual. Head coach Dan Campbell suggested earlier in the week that Swift could be in line for an increased role. I'm not sure what that means, as he's already had a big role, so anything more would be a bonus. Not only does he seem like a relatively safe option, he has considerable upside in this spot as well. If you'd rather target the other side of this game, that would also make sense with David Montgomery ($5,800).
Other Cash-Game Options
QB Josh Allen vs. HOU ($8,000)
QB Matthew Stafford vs. ARI ($7,000)
QB Jalen Hurts vs. KC ($6,900)
QB Dak Prescott vs. CAR ($6,700)
RB Derrick Henry at NYJ ($8,800)
RB Najee Harris at GB ($6,800)
RB Ezekiel Elliott vs. CAR ($6,500)
RB Antonio Gibson at ATL ($6,100)
RB Chuba Hubbard at DAL ($5,900)
RB David Montgomery vs. DET ($5,800)
WR Davante Adams vs. PIT ($7,900)
WR Cooper Kupp vs. ARI ($7,800)
WR Calvin Ridley vs. WAS ($7,000)
WR CeeDee Lamb vs. CAR ($6,700)
WR DJ Moore at DAL ($6,600)
WR Amari Cooper vs. CAR ($6,000)
WR Odell Beckham at MIN ($5,800)
TE Kyle Pitts vs. WAS ($5,000)
TE Tyler Higbee vs. ARI (4,600)
TE Evan Engram at NO ($3,000)
D/ST Atlanta Falcons vs. WAS ($2,300)
D/ST Detroit Lions at CHI ($2,200)
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 game, hoping to take advantage of a back-and-forth shootout. (Implied team totals are listed in parentheses.)
Arizona Cardinals (25.25) at Los Angeles Rams (29.75)
Kyler Murray ($7,800) is the No. 1 fantasy quarterback through three weeks, Tom Brady shredded the Rams defense for 446 all-purpose yards last week. DeAndre Hopkins ($7,700) is dealing with a rib injury and likely will see shadow coverage from star cornerback Jalen Ramsey this week. That's ok though because he's expensive anyway and the Cards have three other WRs that have been impressive to start the season. Christian Kirk ($5,300) caught seven of eight targets for 104 yards last week, A.J. Green ($4,500) has seen six targets in every game and topped 100 yards last time out, and Rondale Moore ($4,600) is an exciting rookie with big play upside who's averaging five targets per game. Even Chase Edmonds ($5,500) can be paired with Murray after he caught seven of eight targets last week. Maxx Williams ($3,000) is in play as well after catching all 10 of his targets over the past two weeks.
Matthew Stafford ($7,000) continues to excel in Sean McVay's offense, as he's averaging more than 300 yards per game and has nine TDs with just one INT through three weeks. The Rams offensive line has been good as well. Cooper Kupp ($7,800) has been the best WR in football, seeing double-digit targets in every game, and he already has five TDs while averaging 100+ yards. Robert Woods ($5,300) seems like a bargain this week even though he's yet to top 13 fantasy points in a game this season. One of these weeks he's going to break out and now the price has come down. Van Jefferson ($3,900) and DeSean Jackson ($3,800) are both in play as cheap options, especially after Jackson caught three balls for 120 yards and a TD last week. Tyler Higbee ($4,600) looks like one of the better TE options on the slate, as he's caught five passes in two of three games and found the end zone last time out.
This game is appealing because it features elite players on both sides and the highest total on the slate. It can be stacked multiple ways and there are viable options at every position. Normally we don't stack a QB with three pass catchers but I did it last week with the Rams and it's definitely viable again. There isn't much for cheap WRs this week, so consider adding Jefferson or Jackson.
- Favorite Stack: QB Stafford + RB Edmonds + WR Kupp/WR Woods + TE Higbee
Kansas City Chiefs (30.25) at Philadelphia Eagles (23.75)
After disappointing losses in consecutive weeks, the Chiefs are in a bounce-back spot against an Eagles defense that got lit up by the Cowboys last week. Patrick Mahomes ($8,100) has been a bit underwhelming by his lofty standards, but he still has three TD passes in every game this season while averaging 300+ yards. Travis Kelce ($8,100) is the top TE on the slate by a wide margin and the Eagles defense ranks poorly against the position. Tyreek Hill ($8,000) has the upside to break any slate and won't be as popular as the other WRs in his price range. Mecole Hardman ($4,400) has seen 15 targets through three weeks and even Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($5,400) got involved in the passing-game last week, catching a TD.
Jalen Hurts ($6,900) has been a top-10 fantasy quarterback in each of three weeks and gets a matchup with the Chiefs defense that's been crushed by QBs. The game script sets up well as the Eagles figure to be trailing and Hurts has big rushing upside as well. DeVonta Smith ($5,700) and Jalen Reagor ($4,700) are his top options at WR. Each has seen at least five targets in every game. Quez Watkins ($3,500) has shown big play upside as the No. 3 WR, while Dallas Goedert ($4,800) and Zach Ertz ($3,400) continue to share time at TE. Most had written Ertz off, but he's cheap and caught four of seven targets including a TD last week.
- Favorite Stack: QB Hurts + WR Smith +WR Hill/TE Kelce +/- TE Ertz
Other Stacks to Consider
- RB Derrick Henry at NYJ ($8,800)
Both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones are listed as questionable. Not that Henry needs a boost, but if one were to sit, Henry would be counted on even more and the Titans are in a great spot against the woeful Jets. He has a whopping 72 touches in the last two games and continues to be involved in the passing game. He's an elite option no matter what this week, but if the Titans are short at WR, Henry becomes a lock in cash games for me.
- WR Cooper Kupp vs. ARI ($7,800)
Kupp has been incredible through three weeks, as the Rams passing game looks unstoppable with the addition of Matthew Stafford to go along with Sean McVay's brilliant offensive schemes. Kupp has seen at least 10 targets in every game, resulting in 25 catches and five TDs. It's one of the best starts we've ever seen from a WR.
Fading the Field
Every week we see at least one or two players who are very popular 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.
- RB Alvin Kamara vs. NYG
It isn't that I don't like Kamara this week; he's in a great spot at home against the Giants, who've given up 5.1 yards per carry on the season. He will be a popular option but you can't roster everyone. The Saints play slow and the game has a low 41.5-point total. Taysom Hill saw a season-high in snaps last week and could always vulture a TD. There isn't as much cheap value as we've seen in recent weeks, and if I'm spending up for Henry and some of the elite WRs, Kamara ends up the odd man out.
The Smash Spot
Players in favorable positions to significantly outperform their salary.
- WR DJ Moore at DAL ($6,600)
Moore has seen 31 targets through three weeks, the Panthers are still missing Christian McCaffrey and Sam Darnold looks much improved. The likely game script sets up perfectly, as they figure to be trailing and passing often against a potent Cowboys offense. Moore has the upside in this spot to be the highest-scoring WR on the slate.
The Bargain Bin
QB Justin Fields vs. DET ($5,200)
QB Jared Goff at CHI ($5,200)
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire at PHI ($5,400)
RB Mike Davis vs. WAS ($5,100)
WR Robby Anderson at DAL ($5,100)
WR Corey Davis vs. TEN ($5,000)
TE Dawson Knox vs. HOU ($3,600)
TE Anthony Firkser at NYJ ($3,100)
- RB Dalvin Cook vs. CLE
Cook's status is the most important injury situation to monitor this week. Should he miss, Alexander Mattison ($6,600) would become an elite option, even in a tough matchup. Mattison had 26 carries and caught six of eight targets last week. He'd be good enough for cash games if Cook is out.
- RB Darrell Henderson vs. ARI
If Henderson plays, he will likely share time with Sony Michel ($5,200). If Henderson sits, Michel becomes a viable option after getting 20 carries and four targets last week.
- QB Andy Dalton vs. DET
The Bears have yet to name a starting QB this week. If Justin Fields ($5,200) get another start, both he and the opposing Lions defense would be viable options in the cheaper range of their respective positions.
Nothing to be overly concerned about this week.