This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Sunday's 10-game slate features three matchups that stand out. Chiefs-Jaguars is the only game with a total higher than 50 and Patrick Mahomes is coming off back-to-back big games. Dolphins-Browns has shootout potential as Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill have helped form the most exciting offense in football. And then there is Justin Fields coming off a historic game. His Bears have a prime matchup at home against the Lions. As far as the slate in general, there is one glaring difference. We've been spoiled for options this season at running back, especially in the $6K range. There isn't much to like in that range this week and almost nothing cheaper either. Dameon Pierce stands out as good value and will be popular as a result. Other than that, a couple Raiders will be popular as Mack Hollins and Foster Moreau are underpriced for their roles in the absence of Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. My best advice for tournaments is to fade some of the chalk and look for leverage to separate from the field, which is easier to do on a slate like this that doesn't have the smash spots we've seen in recent weeks.
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 p.m., 4:05 p.m. and 4:25 p.m. EDT on Sunday. The strategy below is meant for large-field tournaments, where payouts typically are limited to ~20 percent of lineups, with the majority concentrated at the very top
|38.5||Denver Broncos||17.75||Tennessee Titans||20.75|
|49.5||Cleveland Browns||23||Miami Dolphins||26.5|
|40.5||New Orleans Saints||21||Pittsburgh Steelers||19.5|
|48.5||Detroit Lions||22.75||Chicago Bears||25.75|
|43||Minnesota Vikings||20||Buffalo Bills||23|
|41||Houston Texans||18.25||New York Giants||22.75|
|51||Jacksonville Jaguars||20.75||Kansas City Chiefs||30.25|
|41||Indianapolis Colts||18.25||Las Vegas Raiders||22.75|
|40.5||Arizona Cardinals||19.5||Los Angeles Rams||21|
|44||Dallas Cowboys||24.25||Green Bay Packers||19.75|
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, combined with passing-game stacks, tend to form the core that remains fairly consistent throughout my lineups.
- QB Justin Fields vs. DET ($6,500)
Fields is coming off an incredible performance against Miami last week when he broke the single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 178 yards. He also added three touchdowns through the air that helped him score a massive 45 fantasy points. Now he gets one of the best matchups in football as the Bears play host to the Lions. It might've seemed like Detroit shut down Green Bay last week, but that wasn't quite the case as Aaron Rodgers threw for a season-high in yards only to ruin three drives with interceptions in the end zones. We know all about Fields' ability with his legs, but this should be a spot to show off his arm as well.
- RB Dameon Pierce at NYG ($6,300)
Running back isn't quite as loaded as it's been in recent weeks. From a point-per-dollar standpoint, only Alvin Kamara ($7,400) projects better than Pierce. The reason being the sheer amount of volume that Pierce is expected to see. He's had at least 24 touches in three of his last four games and his salary is just a bit too cheap if he's going to see that type of work against the Giants. There isn't much to like this week below Travis Etienne ($7,100), which makes Pierce stand out even more.
Other Cash-Game Options
QB Patrick Mahomes vs. JAX ($7,900)
QB Tua Tagovailoa vs. CLE ($6,700)
QB Justin Fields vs. DET ($6,500)
QB Daniel Jones vs. HOU ($5,700)
RB Saquon Barkley vs. HOU ($8,600)
RB Derrick Henry vs. DEN ($8,300)
RB Josh Jacobs vs. IND ($7,600)
RB Alvin Kamara at PIT ($7,400)
RB Travis Etienne at KC ($7,100)
RB Dameon Pierce at NYG ($6,300)
WR Tyreek Hill vs. CLE ($9,100)
WR Davante Adams vs. IND ($8,700)
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown at CHI ($6,900)
WR Mack Hollins vs. IND ($4,200)
TE Foster Moreau vs. IND ($3,200)
D/ST Arizona Cardinals at LAR ($2,700)
D/ST Minnesota Vikings at BUF ($2,200)
Stacks are the centerpiece of most tournament lineups, 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.)
Jacksonville Jaguars (20.5) at Kansas City Chiefs (30)
This matchup has the highest total on the slate and the best chance to shootout if Trevor Lawrence ($5,400) and the Jags can push the Chiefs a little bit. I probably won't roster Lawrence as I'm not sure that his ceiling is high enough, but he's quite cheap and makes sense as a contrarian option, especially in larger-field tournaments. Kansas City's defense has given up the most touchdown passes in the league, which bodes well for their cheap receivers. Christian Kirk ($5,500) caught eight of nine targets for 76 yards and a TD last week. He caught seven of 10 targets two weeks prior and that type of volume would make him a bargain for less than $6K. Zay Jones ($4,400) is averaging seven targets per game and we've already seen a big ceiling game from him earlier this season. He'd offer some leverage off of the similarly priced Mack Hollins ($4,200), who will be the chalk in that range. Evan Engram ($3,300) played only half the snaps last week as he dealt with a back injury. He's expected to play but were he to miss, Dan Arnold ($2,500) would look good for minimum salary. Outside of maybe Kirk, the best option on the Jags is Travis Etienne ($7,100). Kansas City's defense was torched by Derrick Henry on Sunday night. It allows 4.7 yards per carry and the most receptions in the league to running backs. Etienne won't be as popular as he was last week either.
Patrick Mahomes ($7,900) attempted a whopping 68 passes last week, fourth-most in NFL history as he threw for 446 yards. It was his second consecutive game throwing for 400-plus yards and has now topped 30 fantasy points in three of his last four. Sunday's matchup at home against the Jags should be a great spot and Chiefs stacks are never as popular as they should be because their top two players are expensive and the rest is difficult to pinpoint. Travis Kelce ($7,900) continues to be on a torrid pace. He drew a season-high 17 targets last week, catching 10 for 106 yards. He averages more than 22 DK per game and has a chance to crush the entire position this week as the only elite option on the board. JuJu Smith-Schuster ($6,000) also caught 10 passes last week. He's put up 18-plus fantasy points in three consecutive games as he's clearly established himself as Mahomes' second-favorite target. Mecole Hardman ($4,500) has five TDs the last three games, but he's yet to practice this week with an abdominal injury. We're he to miss, you could take a chance on newly acquired Kadarius Toney ($5,000) or Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($4,100). If Hardman is active, I'd have the most interest in him out of the three.
- Favorite Stack: QB Mahomes + WR Smith-Schuster + TE Kelce + RB Etienne and/or WR Kirk
Cleveland Browns (23) at Miami Dolphins (26.5)
Cleveland's games have produced the fourth-most total points this season and they're coming off a season-high 32 against the Bengals. Fresh off a bye, they should keep pace with the Dolphins and the market agrees as this matchup features a close spread and the second-highest total on the slate. I don't have much interest in Jacoby Brissett ($5,400), but he's been surprisingly decent this season and the big plays are what's really stood out. He's completed a pass of 30 yards or longer in seven consecutive games and a 50-yard pass in his last two. Amari Cooper ($6,500) and Donovan Peoples-Jones ($4,300) have been on the receiving end of those big plays. Cooper has a 50-yard catch in back-to-back games. Peoples-Jones actually has a 37-yard catch in three straight. This should be a good spot for the passing game as Miami's defense ranks second to last in that department. They're one of the better units against the run, though, which is why I'm likely to avoid Nick Chubb ($8,100). He's been fantastic this season, however, averaging more than 100 yards and a TD per game. We've seen him have big games in these spots many times before and the fact that he isn't going to be popular this week is what makes him most appealing.
Miami has looked like the most explosive offense in the league at times this season and Cleveland's defense gives up a lot of big plays, which could be recipe for a high-scoring affair. Tua Tagovailoa ($6,700) leads the league in yards per attempt and passer rating. He's coming off back-to-back games with 300-plus yards and three TDs. He still seems a bit underpriced too, making him look like one of the best QBs on the slate this week. Another nice thing about the Dolphins is that they're easy to stack, with most of the volume going to Tyreek Hill ($9,100) and Jaylen Waddle ($7,600). Hill has been on fire, topping 30 fantasy points in three of his last four games. His salary has risen to a season high, which will keep enough people off him. Waddle's salary is also at its high point and he'll be even less popular than Hill. We've seen multiple ceiling games from him already this season, which makes him one of the better leverage options on the board when you combine those facts. Mike Gesicki ($3,500) is cheap enough to include in double stacks. He's been inconsistent but still has four TDs this season and will be among the least popular tight ends in that salary range.
- Favorite Stack: QB Tagovailoa + WR Hill + WR Peoples-Jones or WR Cooper
Other Stacks to Consider
- RB Saquon Barkley vs. HOU ($8,600)
This Texans run defense is among the worst in recent history as running backs are averaging a staggering 188 yards against them. They rank bottom of the league in rushing yards allowed and consequently, rushing touchdowns allowed. They just gave up 314 yards on the ground to Derrick Henry and the Titans and provided little resistance to a career game from Josh Jacobs the week before. This should be the perfect spot for Barkley as he and the Giants are fresh off a bye and looking to build on their impressive first half of the season.
- WR Tyreek Hill vs. CLE ($9,100)
Hill continues to put up gaudy numbers and this should be another nice spot for Dolphins passing game at home against the Browns. Hill has scored at least 30 fantasy points in three consecutive games. He's had least 143 receiving yards in five of nine games. To put those numbers in some context, Cooper Kupp hasn't scored 30 fantasy points since Week 2 and hasn't topped 128 receiving yards all season. What I'm saying is that Hill has the higher ceiling. His numbers could actually look even better but somehow he's only managed three TDs on the season.
Fading the Field
Every week we see at least one or two players who are popular without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. 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 Josh Jacobs vs. IND ($7,600)
A home matchup against the Colts, who are without star LB Shaquille Leonard, looks like a pretty good for Jacobs and he's going to relatively popular as a result. It's not that I don't like Jacobs, I just prefer Alvin Kamara ($7,400) and Travis Etienne ($7,100) for cheaper. And just in general, I have a difficult time paying that price for Jacobs when someone like Derrick Henry ($8,300) is only $700 more. Jacobs' salary has reached an all-time high and I'm still unconvinced that it's warranted.
The Smash Spot
(Players in favorable spots to significantly outperform their salary.)
- WR Mack Hollins vs. IND ($4,200)
With Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller on injured reserve, Hollins is set for a prominent role in the offense as Derek Carr's second option behind Davante Adams. Hollins proved he had a ceiling in Week 3 when he exploded for eight catches, 158 yards and a TD. Waller was healthy and played in the game too. Hollins has drawn at least eight targets three times this season and his path to that type of volume is now clearer than ever. The Raiders are home favorites and should have plenty of opportunities to score points against the struggling Colts.
The Bargain Bin
QB Daniel Jones vs. HOU ($5,700)
QB Derek Carr vs. IND ($5,600)
QB Trevor Lawrence at KC ($5,400)
QB Jacoby Brissett at MIA ($5,400)
RB Jamaal Williams at CHI ($5,900)
WR George Pickens vs. NO ($5,000)
WR Wan'Dale Robinson vs. HOU ($4,700)
WR Kalif Raymond at CHI ($4,400)
WR Donovan Peoples-Jones at MIA ($4,300)
WR Mack Hollins vs. IND ($4,200)
TE Dalton Schultz at GB ($3,800)
TE Greg Dulcich at TEN ($3,400)
TE Foster Moreau vs. IND ($3,200)
Injuries to Monitor
- QB Josh Allen vs. MIN
Coach Sean McDermott has said that Allen's status is "hour-to-hour" as he deals with an elbow injury. I'd have no interest in the Bills at all if Case Keenum ends up getting the start.
- QB Matthew Stafford vs. ARI
Stafford is listed as questionable while he makes his way through concussion protocol. Cooper Kupp's viability hinges on Stafford's status. If John Wolford starts at QB, Kupp would be almost unplayable at his high price tag.
- The only spot of real concern this week is in Buffalo, where it's expected to be cold and windy with a chance for rain/snow. Things could change a bit, but it's looking like enough to impact the passing-games some.