This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Sunday's Week 3 slate features 12 games and the first thing that stands out is the Chargers-Vikings matchup and it's 54-point total. It's a touchdown higher than any game and the logical target for stacks. It rightly will be very popular, which presents the dilemma of whether to play it. If I end up deciding to stack it, I'll make sure to fade the cheap chalk as that's about the only way to get the necessary leverage it takes to win a GPP. Fading that game altogether would make a lot of sense too if that's the route you're considering. There are a few other games that have some appeal and plenty of players in good spots who won't be popular. I tried to highlight most of that in this article. 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 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.
|Over/Under||Road Team||Road |
|Home Team||Home |
|44.5||Houston Texans||18.75||Jacksonville Jaguars||26.5|
|42.5||New Orleans Saints||20.25||Green Bay Packers||22.25|
|43.5||Buffalo Bills||25.25||Washington Commanders||18.75|
|54||Los Angeles Chargers||27.5||Minnesota Vikings||26.5|
|39.5||Tennessee Titans||18||Cleveland Browns||21.5|
|36.5||New England Patriots||19.5||New York Jets||17|
|46.5||Atlanta Falcons||21.5||Detroit Lions||25|
|44||Indianapolis Colts||17.75||Baltimore Ravens||26.25|
|48||Denver Broncos||20.75||Miami Dolphins||27.25|
|42||Carolina Panthers||18||Seattle Seahawks||24|
|43||Dallas Cowboys||27.5||Arizona Cardinals||15.5|
|48||Chicago Bears||17.5||Kansas City Chiefs||30.5|
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.
- RB Joshua Kelley at MIN ($5,400)
I wouldn't worry too much about Kelley's 39 rushing yards and no catches last week against Tennessee. The Titans are arguably the worst matchup in the league for running backs. This week he finds himself in the best game environment on the slate against a weak Vikings defense. We just saw D'Andre Swift tune them up for 175 yards. I know the Kelley isn't Swift, but he saw a 79 percent snap share for one of the best offenses in the league and his price tag is still cheap. He projects best among the value RBs and will be popular in cash games with Austin Ekeler out. If you want to pivot, you could look to Miles Sanders ($5,700) instead. It's encouraging to see he's been involved in the passing game, catching seven of 11 targets through two games. The Panthers have a relatively favorable matchup against the Seahawks and Sanders' prospects might be helped by Andy Dalton stepping in for Bryce Young.
- WR Mike Williams at MIN ($6,000)
It's easy to understand why Williams is expected to be the most popular WR on the slate. He caught eight of 13 targets last week and everyone wants to target the Chargers prime matchup with the Vikings. Him and Keenan Allen ($7,600) have safer floors and higher ceilings when Austin Ekeler is out. If you're looking for cheaper value, Tank Dell ($3,600) stands out after catching seven of 10 targets for 72 yards last week. The Texans are passing at one of the higher rates in the league and should be playing from behind at Jacksonville.
Other Cash-Game Options
QB Kirk Cousins vs. MIN ($6,900)
QB Geno Smith vs. CAR ($5,700)
RB Tony Pollard at ARI ($8,000)
RB Travis Etienne vs. HOU ($6,900)
RB Jahmyr Gibbs vs. ATL ($6,600)
RB Kenneth Walker vs. CAR ($6,200)
RB Alexander Mattison vs. LAC (5,800)
RB Miles Sanders at SEA ($5,700)
RB Zack Moss at BAL ($5,500)
RB Joshua Kelley at MIN ($5,400)
WR Justin Jefferson vs. LAC ($9,300)
WR Tyreek Hill vs. DEN ($9,000)
WR Keenan Allen at MIN ($7,600)
WR Mike Williams at MIN ($6,000)
WR Tank Dell at JAX ($3,600)
TE Travis Kelce vs. CHI ($7,200)
TE Zach Ertz vs. DAL ($3,500)
D/ST Buffalo Bills at WAS ($2,900)
D/ST New York Jets vs. NE ($2,800)
D/ST Washington Commanders vs. BUF ($2,400)
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.)
Los Angeles Chargers (27.5) at Minnesota Vikings (26.5)
This matchup is sure to be popular as it features the highest total on the slate and some of the top point-per-dollar value at the skill positions. It's 54-point total is such an outlier that I'm strongly considering eating the chalk and trying to differentiate elsewhere. I mentioned that Joshua Kelley ($5,400) and Mike Williams ($6,000) are standout cash-game options and thus will be popular in GPPs too. As will Keenan Allen ($7,600) after his 111-yard, two-touchdown outburst against the Titans last week. The Vikings defense isn't very good and Justin Herbert ($7,500), assuming he's an elite QB, shouldn't have too much trouble picking them apart in a dome. I'd be wary about rostering the TEs though. Donald Parham ($2,700) has slightly outperformed Gerald Everett ($3,800) through two games and neither has drawn more than three targets. If forced to choose I'd go with Parham for the salary savings but I'd rather look elsewhere at TE.
Kirk Cousins ($6,900) just went into Philadelphia and threw for 364 yards and four TDs. The Eagles have one of them better defenses in the league while the Chargers have allowed the leagues most passing yards through two games. The Vikings don't have much of a running game, so it's likely going to be up to Cousins to keep pace. It's easy to see why both sides of this matchup project so well. Justin Jefferson ($9,300) continues to look like the best WR in football as he's started the season with back-to-back 150-yard games. Promising rookie Jordan Addison ($5,500) already has TDs of 62 and 39 yards, showing off his big-play ability. K.J. Osborn ($4,000) won't be popular but he's drawn six targets in each game and would offer nice leverage in the largest-field tournaments. T.J. Hockenson ($6,500) leads all TEs with 17 targets and is coming off two TDs against the Eagles. He won't be overly popular either considering Kelce and Andrews are priced directly above and below him. Alexander Mattison ($5,800) projects well because he's cheap and the Vikings have a healthy implied total but he hasn't looked the part and the Vikings traded for Cam Akers as a result. Nonetheless, Mattison is a viable option and makes sense in certain stacks.
- Favorite Chargers Stack: QB Herbert + WR Allen + WR Williams + WR Jefferson or TE Hockenson
- Favorite Vikings Stack: QB Cousins + RB Kelley + WR Williams + WR Jefferson + TE Hockenson
Houston Texans (17.25) at Jacksonville Jaguars (26.25)
It's rare that I'll highlight a game where one team has a 17-point implied total, but there's no clear second-best option after the Chargers-Vikings matchup and some numbers that say this game might be sneaky. Only two teams have more snaps than Houston as they seem to have let C.J. Stroud ($5,300) loose already. They rank fifth in situation-neutral pass rate and it's resulted in Stroud leading the league in dropbacks through two weeks. I don't necessarily have interest in Stroud. but his WRs have been reaping the benefits. Nico Collins ($5,300) is blossoming into a WR1. He's drawn 20 targets and is coming off 146 yards and a TD last week. Tank Dell ($3,600) looks like one of the best cheap value options on the board after seven catches for 72 yards and a score. Don't forget about Robert Woods ($4,400) either. He'll go overlooked but had six catches in each game on 19 targets. Even Dameon Pierce ($5,200) seems like a decent option, if only for the salary savings and leverage he'd bring. The same could be said about Dalton Schultz ($4,000), who caught four of seven targets last week. The bottom line is that the Texans have some nice, cheap pieces to work with if you're interested in stacking Jacksonville.
Jacksonville's highly touted offense has gotten off to an underwhelming start, but this sets up to be a get-right spot against an average Texans defense that's missing some key players, specifically in the secondary. Trevor Lawrence ($6,800) showcased Calvin Ridley ($7,200) in Week 1 and Christian Kirk ($5,400) in Week 2. Kirk put to rest a lot of worries about his usage after catching 11 of 14 targets for 110 yards against the Chiefs. Zay Jones ($4,500) missed another practice Thursday and if he misses Sunday, Kirk would seem like a bargain. Jones being out would also benefit Evan Engram ($4,800), who caught six of eight targets for 57 yards last week. Regardless of who you stack, the TE position is a good spot to look for leverage. Travis Etienne ($6,900) projects as one of the better point-per-value options at RB and will be relatively popular as a result. If you fade Lawrence and the passing game, rostering Etienne with a Texan or two makes sense.
- Favorite Texans Stack: QB Stroud + RB Etienne + WR Dell + WR Collins +/- WR Kirk
- Favorite Jaguars Stack: QB Lawrence + WR Ridley/WR Kirk + Dell +/- TE Engram
Other Stacks to Consider
- WR Justin Jefferson vs. LAC ($9,300)
Jefferson has 309 receiving yards on 20 receptions through two weeks, though he's been unlucky not to find the end zone yet. That's likely to change Sunday as he gets a matchup against the Chargers' porous pass defense, which we saw concede 215 yards to Tyreek Hill ($9,000) in Week 1. The Vikings haven't had any success with their running game and you'd figure Jefferson needs to have a big game if they have any hope of beating the Chargers. It's worth noting that Jefferson is likely to be twice as popular as Hill, so if you'd rather take a chance on the Dolphins' star playmaker, it makes plenty of sense, especially if Waddle ends up being out.
- RB Tony Pollard at ARI ($8,000)
On paper this looks like a smash spot for Pollard. He's coming off 32 touches, including seven catches against the Jets last week. He has a league-high 12 carries inside the 10 and should have plenty of opportunities to score as the Cowboys are big favorites against the Cardinals, who are now without two of their starting defensive linemen. Pollard also stands out because this slate has no Christian McCaffrey while Austin Ekeler and Nick Chubb are injured, giving him a clear path to finish as the highest-scoring RB.
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.
- QB Patrick Mahomes vs. CHI ($8,300)
It's never comfortable fading Mahomes in these spots. The Chiefs have the highest implied total on the slate, and he could put up 30-plus fantasy points in three quarters. I'm just worried that the Bears won't keep it competitive long enough and that it might be a better spot for Isiah Pacheco up against a bad defensive line. I also think it makes more sense to pay all the way down at QB rather than spend up. Stacking someone like C.J. Stroud ($5,300) and cheap pass-catchers allows you to afford the likes of Jefferson, Hill, Pollard, Allen, etc., much easier.
The Smash Spot
(Players in favorable spots to significantly outperform their salary.)
- WR Amari Cooper ($5,700) vs. TEN ($5,700)
Highlighting Cooper is mostly about matchup and a little bit about price. The Titans continue to prove they're the biggest pass funnel in the league. The consistently stuff the run while giving up big plays in the passing game. Nick Chubb is out and it's hard to imagine the Browns have much success on the ground without him. I understand that Deshaun Watson hasn't looked very good, but this a good opportunity to succeed if he has anything left. I have interest in Elijah Moore ($4,700) for the same reasons. He's drawn 16 targets through two weeks. Both him and Cooper are cheap for the upside they possess.
The Bargain Bin
QB C.J. Stroud at JAX ($5,300)
QB Gardner Minshew at BAL ($5,100)
RB Isiah Pacheco vs. CHI ($5,400)
RB Dameon Pierce at JAX ($5,200)
RB Jerome Ford vs. TEN ($4,800)
WR Drake London at DET ($5,000)
WR Marquise Brown vs. DAL ($4,900)
WR Jahan Dotson vs. BUF ($4,900)
WR Elijah Moore vs. TEN ($4,700)
WR Josh Reynolds vs. ATL ($4,200)
WR K.J. Osborn vs. LAC ($4,000)
WR Jayden Reed vs. NO ($3,800)
TE Dalton Kincaid at WAS ($3,400)
TE Luke Musgrave vs. NO ($3,300)
TE Kylen Granson at BAL ($3,100)
TE Durham Smythe vs. CLE ($2,900)
Injuries to Monitor
- RB Austin Ekeler at MIN
Both Jones and Watson remain questionable with hamstring injuries. If Jones is out, AJ Dillon ($5,700) becomes a viable tournament option. If Watson is out, Jayden Reed ($3,800) and Luke Musgrave ($3,300) would remain solid options, as they've been the first two weeks.
- RB David Montgomery vs. ATL
Montgomery is expected to be out, which should pave the way for Jahmyr Gibbs ($6,600) to be more involved. His range of outcomes is wide but he has big upside for GPPs in a favorable matchup at home against the Falcons.
It might be windy and rainy on the east coast. The Jets-Patriots game seems like it would be affected the most. It's tough to predict at the time of this writing. Baltimore might be wet and windy too, so I'd check the forecast Sunday if planning to play Lamar Jackson, Mark Andrews or Zay Flowers.