Core Plays - For any lineup, any contest, anywhere
These are the players who have a high probability of paying off their price but also have the high upside to anchor a tournament winning lineup. They should be a part of your GPP and Cash considerations.
Josh Allen - BUF
The love affair continues.
It genuinely baffles me how easily we forget that this guy is a potential GPP winner game in and game out while also having a fairly secure floor due to his running.. I have already written far too many words about how his turnovers in Week 1 are not the type to worry about moving forward, but it is also important to note that Week 1 saw him hurdle a linebacker for a first down and unleashed a bomb to John Brown for the game winning score.
The Giants are slow on defense and just got torched up and down by Dak Prescott. We could easily see Josh Allen do the same while also adding chunks of yards and score on the ground.
Maybe he doesn’t do it throw for 300 and run for 100, mixing in a few TDs, but at worst he will be asked to do a lot against a defense that doesn’t seem capable of stopping anyone. He is consistent enough to help you cash, but he also might just win you a tournament.
Alvin Kamara - NO
Recap, Christian McCaffrey torched these same Rams despite the fact that no one else on his team could do anything offensively.
Another recap, Kamara torched the Texans and only avoided an even more massive game because Latavius Murray sniped a touchdown off of his plate. He looked explosive and played a higher snap share than he did in the average game last season.
Looking ahead, then, Kamara is playing in a shootout (total 52) against a team who just gave up a huge day to a #1 RB after having a huge day himself. Let’s not overthink this.
JuJu Smith-Schuster - PIT
Juju is close to as fast as John Ross, a player who repeatedly torched Seattle’s secondary for long gains and chunk plays.
Juju has better hands than John Ross, a player who dropped multiple passes against Seattle’s secondary.
Ergo, Juju is in line for volume and has the potential to rip off multiple deep touchdowns. He gets to play with home Ben Roethlisberger, a known baller, and he plays for an offense desperate to reassert itself after being embarrassed by New England. Add in the fact that Seattle will be scoring itself, and he will be in for a large workload, and a high floor game.
Mark Andrews - BAL
Sometimes a play just falls in your lap, and in this case we should take it and run.
You could easily argue Travis Kelce in this spot and I couldn’t push back, but Andrews’ price ($3800), Week 1 production (8 catches for 108 yards and one of PFF’s highest grades of the week at any position), and matchup (the Cardinals, who just surrendered 100 yard receiving game to rookie TJ Hockenson) make it hard to pass him up.
Add in the fact that this should be a high scoring, high pace game, and he has the potential to outdo his Week 1 totals.
CASH - Double-ups, 50/50s, Head-to-Heads
These are players with high floors to consider adding to your core plays. Often times in cash it is best to eat the chalk and differentiate elsewhere. Since lineups are safer and more similar in Cash, this allows you to avoid missing out on what big games, but you can still survive a grenade because everyone else will be in the same boat.
Let’s not try to overthink this too much.
If you’re not going to go with one of the top two options in terms of price (Mahomes or Jackson) then Dak is a cheaper but equally as high floor play.
Kellen Moore is currently the mayor of Dallas for what he showed in Week 1, and Washington presents another opportunity for the Cowboys to show off the full compliments of their arsenal.
Currently Dallas has an implied total of 28, so if you’re worried about Zeke taking all of Dak’s opportunity you can rest assured that there should be at least a couple of touchdowns with Prescott’s name on them.
Sweetening the deal is the performance Washington put up in Week 1, which highlighted a big play offense (keeping the Cowboys on their passing game) as well as a secondary that can be taken advantage of (DeSean Jackson thanks you, Washington).
Worst case scenario, Dak has around 300 yards and a couple of TDs as his floor. Best case scenario we’re looking at QB1 for Week 2.
Giovani Bernard - CIN
Raheem Mostert - SF
I couldn’t pick one, so you get two running backs from the same game. Each one has a little confusion around them, but each is an excellent spot at a rock bottom price.
If Joe Mixon is out, Bernard is my preferred play as he will operate as the number one back. This situation has fallen in Bernard’s lap before and he has risen to the occasion each time. In this current situation, playing an inconsistent Niners D at home, Bernard is look at 15-20 carries and 5-8 targets. That volume at that price tag ($5,300 on DK) means that his value is too much to pass up.
Mostert is a little more difficult to unpack, but his lower price ($3,800 on DK) makes it feel worth it. With Tevin Coleman down, the backfield is just Mostert and Breida, and the two saw a fairly equal workload in Week 1. This backfield belongs to neither, but also offers opportunity for both. Given Mostert’s depressed price tag, he is almost guaranteed to return value and he has the potential to put up a number that takes care of your lineup for the week.
Either way, choosing either running back from this game should allow you cap flexibility, high volume against a suspect defense, and the opportunity to compete with any cash lineup out there.
Will Fuller - HOU
Christian Kirk - ARI
Both of these players had somewhat mild Week 1’s by there box scores, but the deeper analytics show the potential to break out against secondaries that may be focused elsewhere.
Fuller had three targets on Monday night, which would be pedestrian if those three targets hadn’t gone for 111 air yards. That translated into just two catchers for 69 yards, but represents HUGE potential against a Jacksonville secondary that just gave up a huge week to Sammy Watkins. Jalen Ramsay will like cover Hopkins, leaving Fuller to battle the much slower and less talented members of the Jag’s secondary.
Kirk is the same, as he racked up 12 targets for 132 air yards that only translated into four catches for 32 yards. You can hem and haw about the catch rate, or you can see that Baltimore, already down Jimmy Smith, will be keying in on the hyper productive Larry Fitzgerald while Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray get another week to grow into a tandem that will optimize Kirk’s use. Arizona will likely be behind in this game, as well, which stands to benefit Kirk’s usage and seems to ensure a solid floor while possibly leading to a massive game.
Darren Waller - OAK
The beauty of this play is that he was priced blindly, but we can play him having seen him get 100% of the snaps and repeatedly outwork Denver for significant plays.
Granted, Denver is historically a TE funnel, but you know who else has that reputation? Kansas City. In a high scoring game, he will be one of the top options for Derek Carr. At his price with his guaranteed workload, he is an easy cash play.
GPP - Large Field, Guaranteed Prize Pool Tournaments
These are players with higher upside and often are less chalky, but whose flameout potential is higher as well. They make for high risk high reward plays that can tank lineups or push them to the top of the leaderboard.
Somethings to remember:
Stacking games is the most efficient way to win big tournaments, especially when you stack a game that is not one of the highest totals of the week (cough cough SEA @ PIT/ARI @ BAL cough cough).
Often times building a core and revolving the high risk players around that core is the best way to attack a slate where you are entering multiple lineups (h/t headChopper, the newest fantasy millionaire).
If you are entering a big number tournament, you have to do something different. A lot of these picks are different in some way from what you might first suspect. They might fail, but you don’t win money by straddling the fence. You win money by turning the fence into a ramp and gunning it in your Ford Mustang.
So with all that in mind, here are stackable, non-core, ramp building players:
Gardner Minshew - JAX
Those of you who are relatively new to DFS will undoubtedly come down with the affliction that eventually gets us all:
This condition is untreatable and there is no known cure, but essentially it is a condition where DFS players see the talking heads dump on a backup and declare the team dead, driving us to build that QB up in our head in the hopes he will deliver on whatever promise got him the job.
Sometimes it works (Nick Mullens, Nick Foles, heck even Brock Osweiler won someone a million dollars last year) sometimes it doesn’t (Deshone Kizer), but it does present an opportunity to zig when everyone else zags.
In this case, I actually like Minshew independent of this disease. He was a productive college QB in Mike Leach’s quazi-pro system at Washington State, and was a top five Heisman candidate.
In Week 1, he looked capable of handling the offense and in Week 2 get a Houston defense that looked lost against (an albeit much more talented) Saints team.
He has weapons in Dede Westbrook, DJ Chark, Chris Conley, and Leonard Fournette. He will be in a positive game script. He has a mustache. He might throw for double digit yards, or he might just throw three touchdowns and return his $4,800 price tag.
I love pairing him with Dede Westbrook given the Texans struggles against the slot, but honestly a Jags onslaught might just be different enough to win you whatever you want.
You can use your winnings to join a BackupQBitis support group.
Justice Hill - BAL
There is a fine line between faith and stupidity. We have all seen someone put their faith in the wrong person and get burned, but when you pick the right person that faith can be rewarded ten fold.
Justice Hill is my person.
If you saw even a glimpse of him in college, at the combine, or in the preseason, you know the dude is an explosive force. The fact that he fell into a run first team with a 30 year old Mark Ingram and the bowling ball this is Gus Edwards means that there is a pre prescribed role for him as a pass catching, change of pass lightning bolt.
In Week 1, the Ravens did not have to unveil anything except Hollywood Brown’s speed, and even he only played 14 snaps. This week against Arizona, there is the potential for this team to need to score quick and often while also controlling the ball.
Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff are already on record multiple times as saying that this is closer to a committee than most people realize, and that the hot hand will dictate the touches. This bore out in week one as the touch distribution was Edwards 17, Ingram 14, Hill 7 with none of the players seeing a target.
Admittedly, trying to learn anything from that game is like walking into a McDonald’s and trying to learn how to cook, but it is nonetheless a data point that touches in this backfield are up for grabs.
Certainly Hill could put up a stat line that nabs up five points, but to win a tournament you need to hit on a cheap, low-owned player. What better than one in an explosive offense, playing in a high scoring game, that could take any play to the house?
Ryan Switzer - PIT
The Pittsburgh wideout played as the #3 in the offense, and although as a team they did very little, he got six targets and played 88% of his snaps in the slot.
He is by no means a boom or bust player in the sense that he is going to rack up 100 yards, but catching 10 passes and scoring a touchdown are certainly within the realm of possibility. On a PPR site like DraftKings, and with a price tag of $3100, this can set you up for a unique lineup construction while also saving you plenty of money to go after the players at the top of your board.
Elevating these thoughts even more is the inconsistent play of Donte Moncrief as the #2 WR and the time share between James Washington and Dionte Johnson. Quite honestly, I would be willing to make a few lineups that mix in all the Pittsburgh WRs because of the volume I am projecting for the passing games here, but I prefer Switzer. He is the only one with a role that is relatively unchallenged, and with Seattle’s poor secondary shifting resources around to attend to the deep threats in the system, he may have a lot of room to work underneath.
Irv Smith - MIN
CJ Uzomah - CIN
Let’s end this article with a bang, shall we?
Irv Smith is one of the most contrarian plays on the board, but one that could pay off in a big way. Playing in half of the teams snaps in Week 1, he was not targeted largely because Kirk Cousins threw 10 passes total. But looking forward to Green Bay, I have a sneaking suspicion that both of these defenses are not as good as they appeared in Week 1. The Packers benefited from Chicago’s QB play and Minnesota benefited from a one dimensional Atlanta offense that is ineffective without Julio Jones and Matt Ryan playing at their optimal level. With all that said, there should be points to go around, Irv Smith should be on the field, and Kirk cousins should be passing. It is a high variance bet, but if it hits, you’ll be vastly different than the pack.
Meanwhile, a slightly safer pick is CJ Uzomah. He played twenty more snaps than Tyler Eifert and was wildly more productive (5 for 66). He was a big part of the Zac Taylor offense that featured some double TE looks. Heading into a matchup with San Fran, we know from my “What Didn’t Happen in Week 1” article that the Niners actually gave up two TE TD’s to the Bucs, but both were called back by penalty. With John Ross taking the top off of defenses and San Fran’s decidedly uneven defense, Andy Dalton should be able to move the ball and CJ could be looking at a multi-TD game.