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.
Matt Stafford - DET DK $5500
I wish this wasn’t what the numbers and my gut were telling me. I really wish I could find a way to build just one lineup that doesn’t come back to Matt Stafford. But alas, I am not that strong of a man.
Let me be clear here. If this was just a question of playing Stafford (the league leader in deep balls thrown and second in air yards thrown) against a shaky Eagles secondary in a game they may be playing from behind, he would be a no-brainer.
The risk in this situation is largely gleaned from the pencil-wielding, logic-ignoring man who runs the team.
Matt Patricia is currently third in the odds to be the first coach fired, which may actually be a fantastic bet (although Bill O’Brien is aggressively chasing the title). The reason for these odds is that Patricia believes that his team is a ground and pound, defensive minded club. What he fails to realize is his offensive is actually an explosive air raid offense that has a gunslinger at QB, two freak athletes at wideout, an electric open field runner in the backfield, and an explosive presence at tight end.
If he either realizes this, or more likely is forced to act upon it, Matt Stafford could have a huge day against an Eagles secondary that has yielded such to Case Keenum and the corpse of Matt Ryan.
It’s scary to bet on Matt Patricia coaching well, but that just might be the best way to win money. Or lose all your hair.
Ezekiel Elliot - DAL DK $8900
A home match-up versus Miami might be cushier than Zeke’s training camp in Cabo.
There are plenty of ways that this play could go sideways, especially if the Cowboys are up 28 in the blink of an eye and Jason Garret wants to turn to Tony Pollard instead, but there is plenty of evidence out there that blow outs do not affect production.
Without diving too deep into the numbers, the argument goes like this: The starters are the ones who make it a blowout, and they often stay in longer than you might think.
If Zeke gets three quarters of work and if the Cowboy put up their implied total of 34 (!!!) we can expect Zeke to be on the field for four touchdowns, with any number of them going to him.
Don’t be scared away by a blow out, and come join me for a relaxing Sunday in Miami making money off the suffering of Dolphins’ fans.
Keenan Allen - LAC DK $7000
This is easy, so let’s dive right in.
Houston has displayed a shaky defense that was torn apart by professional receiver Mike Thomas and semi-exploited by the Jacksonville receiver core and Gardner Minshew.
Keenan Allen is a professional receiver. Keenan Allen should tear up Houston.
He is averaging 10 targets and 8 receptions a game, and is playing in an offense that has lost its tight end and has an injured #2 wide receiver.
This game could shootout, but even if it doesn’t, the two ways the Chargers will move the ball are on the ground and through the air to Keenan Allen. Let’s load up on those targets, knowing that Allen could easily hit pay dirt two times.
Evan Engram - NYG DK $5200
Two weeks into the season, and there’s no non-Josh Allen player who has made me more money than Engram. He is a target hog and someone who the entire offense revolves around when the ball isn’t going to SaQuon.
So far this season, Engram has racked up the second most targets in the league (22) and leads the league in receptions (17).
On the flip side, Tampa Bay has shown little ability to stop tight ends, allowing Greg Olsen to top 100 yards, even with Cam Newton falling apart mid-game. Plus, for those readers of the “What Didn’t Happen” article, you’ll remember that they surrendered two George Kittle touchdowns in Week 1, only to have them both called back.
Whether or not you are a believer in Daniel Jones’ ability to lead this offense, you should be a non-believer in every other pass catcher for the Giants. The targets will be there, the matchup is there, and the play should be considered for any lineup you’re building.
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.
Patrick Mahomes - KC DK $7600
Yes, he is the most expensive quarterback, and that might mean he doesn’t fit easily into your lineup, but getting him in there is essential.
Against the Raiders, Mahomes threw four TDs of 40+ yards...IN THE SECOND QUARTER ALONE. That is something that has only been done once before in a game, and he did it IN A QUARTER.
Every game, Mahomes is a lock for multiple touchdowns and 300 yards. In a potential back and forth affair with Baltimore, he could top that IN A QUARTER.
Dalvin Cook - MIN DK $7800
Honestly, running back is a bit of a mess here, and I do not have total cash game faith in anyone available. With that being said, Cook has looked like one of the best running backs in the league in one of the best running schemes in the league.
He is averaging a league best 132 yards/game and has scored a total of three touchdowns in that span. Last week against a stout Green Bay defense, he manage to rack up 191 total yards on only 23 touches.
After watching Kirk Cousins go 14/32 passing, it is my guess that the Vikings will be in no rush to return to the passing game, and a game script against the Raiders should comply. If the Vikings can get out to an early lead in this one, then Cook should approach 200 total yards again. If the Vikings fall behind, then Cook is their best bet to get back in the game and should approach 200 total yards again.
Kenny Golladay - DET DK $6600
This is directly connected with my Matt Stafford pick coming later, but also a little different.
Golladay is an elite talent at wide receiver going against a defense that has yet to show any ability to slow down receivers. In fact, through two weeks, they have given up three 100 yard receiving games (Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Terry McLaurin in his first NFL game) and two 300 yard passing games ( Case Keenum and the corpse of Matt Ryan).
Suffice to say that Matt Stafford can sling it as well as either of those two, and that Golloday can hold his own talent wise with those receivers.
This is a long winded way of saying he is a virtual lock for 100 yards, especially factoring in that he leads the league with 7 deep targets and has posted a ridiculous 298 air yards through two games. If the Lions go down in this game, Golladay could rapidly exceed his very high floor.
All in all, Golladay is very hard to stop and the Eagles can’t stop anyone anyway. Put him in your cash games and consider him for all your lineups.
Mark Andrews - BAL DK $4600
This dude is no longer a sleeper. After back to back 100 yard weeks and TDs in both games, Andrews should be on everyone’s radar as a for real option week in and week out. This fits perfectly into a cash game build as we aren’t afraid to eat the chalk (meaning play the highest played players) because we want safety and guaranteed volume.
The reality of the situation, however, is that perhaps the schedule and the gameflow has propped Andrews up a little bit. Miami covered no one and Arizona has given up massive games to tight ends in each of its first two contests (see GPP TE plays).
So then why is Andrews a cash play? Because Kansas City is also a tight end filter. For years, KC’s D has been known as one that focuses its attentions on skill players and the boundaries, leaving the middle of the field open. Given this history, it would not be surprising to see KC spy on Lamar Jackson so he doesn’t run, swing safeties towards Hollywood Brown to prevent big plays, and stack the box to bottle up Ingram and the running game.
Whether this turns out to be true or not, Andrews is going to get targets, opportunity, and a defense with a history of weak tight end defense.
GPP - Large Field, Guaranteed Prize Pool Tournaments
These are players with higher upside and often are less chalky, but whose flamout 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.
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 .
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:
Kyle Allen - CAR DK $4000
Oh boy. I might need to take a cold shower after this one, because Kyle Allen checks all my GPP QB boxes:
Last name Allen - Check
Back-up QB - Check
Playing Arizona - Check
To go through those in more depth: He reminds me of Josh Allen, he gives me a case of BackUpQBitis (as documented in last weeks picks), and he plays the fastest paced team that also happens to have no cornerbacks.
From a pure DFS play standpoint, Allen has some other things going for him. Due to the fact the Panthers spent most preseason playing Will Grier, many DFS players, no matter how serious, will no know Allen, driving his ownership down even more.
From a pure talent standpoint, there is reason to think that Allen could do something with this Carolina offense. In one start (Week 17) last season he threw two touchdowns while racking up 266 yards and running for another touchdown. His college career is a mess that includes getting benched for Kyler Murray, a transfer, and a subsequent second benching. With all that said, though he has the arm talent and athleticism that made him a top ranked QB coming out of high school.
He isn’t quite a dart throw, but as with any low priced, backup QB, he could flame out. My money, however, is on the fact that the Panthers need a win, the Cardinals play fast on offense and loose on defense, and that Kyle Allen has it somewhere in him to be a baller.
For the second week in a row, I have BackUpQBitis, and the only cure is more Kyle Allen.
Marlon Mack - IND DK $5800
There are three players averaging 100 yards rushing a game: Dalvin Cook (everyone plays him), SaQuon Barkley (everyone plays him), and Marlon Mack (no one plays him).
Mack is the centerpiece of the Colts’ new look offense, and he gets a home matchup against an Atlanta squad that yielded a massive game to Mack’s 100 yard/game friend Dalvin Cook.
I have to acknowledge that I might have some rose colored glasses on for the Colts, as they have won me money in both Weeks 1 and 2, but I actually think they are underrated. If Adam Vinatieri was making the kicks he’s made since the late 90’s, the Colts would be 2-0 with two road wins.
Now, heading home against an Atlanta team that really should be 0-2, the Colts could be playing from in front and Mack could be getting carries from start to finish. Even if the Colts do fall behind (as they have in each of their first two games) running with Mack is clearly the start and end point of their offense.
Sometimes teams and names do not appear to offer the upside people look for in GPPs, and so they go under owned. Mack may not be sexy, the Colts may not be flashy, but you win these tournaments by having high scoring players who are not widely owned.
That’s Marlon Mack.
Devin Smith - DAL DK $3400
Here’s a super cheap, super talented wideout in one of the league’s best offenses going against the worst team most people have ever seen.
I’ll take two please.
With Michael Gallup out with a knee procedure for the next 4+ weeks, the Cowboys have the ability to slide Smith directly into the role Gallup was playing. In that role, Gallup was fifth in the league in receiving yards and ninth in receptions.
In filling this role with Smith, the Cowboys are getting a player who was highly touted coming out of Ohio State, but who has been derailed injuries his whole career. Since the beginning of the preseason, though, he has flashed the speed and size that made him a second round pick coming out of college. Last week he was able to catch all three of his target for 76 yards, including a 50 yard touchdown bomb.
This upcoming week, Smith will get the benefit of Miami’s none Xavien Howard cornerbacks, who have been roasted repeatedly in Weeks 1 and 2.So far, loading up against the Dolphins has been easy money. If we’re looking to do that at a lower price and with lower ownership, Devin Smith is our man.
Michael Thomas - NO DK $7400
Mike Evans - TB DK $6600
I know this is meant to be the section where I tell you about an underpriced, off-the-radar wideout who has boom or bust potential, but these plays are just too good to pass up.
First, Thomas. With a backup quarterback in the game and a poor offensive showing fresh in everyone’s mind, Michael Thomas will go criminally under-owned, and he has a potential to put up big numbers.
I have documented incessantly Seattle’s secondary woes, and last week was no different except for the fact that Pittsburgh lost its starting QB. They still proceeded to give up 26 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Mike Evans has dropped below Chris Godwin in price despite seeing only two less targets and posting 30 more air yards. Yes, Godwin is having the season we all thought he would and yes, Mike Evans is not producing, but the numbers will come.
Add in the fact that the Giants have a secondary that has not stopped a single wide receiver in either of the first two weeks, and all signs are indicating that Evans could bust out this week. Again, it is not without risk, as the Bucs were more run heavy in Week 2 and Jameis could forget how to throw passes at any point, but to get a stud this low owned and this cheap is a great point of leverage.
Given the way that both of the defenses these guys are playing have performed, and given the bad taste in everyone’s mouth, these have the potential to be plays that everyone looks back on and can’t believe they missed.
Everyone, that is, except you.
Greg Olsen - CAR DK $3700
You know I can’t leave my man Kyle Allen hanging.
If we really are going to go in on playing the back-up QB, then we have to assume his success is going to come from passing to someone.
Although it is a small sample size, in his Week 17 start last year, Allen peppered the the tight end position so that Ian Thomas ended up leading the team in receptions.
Add into this the fact that Olsen topped 100 yards last week and is now getting the premium tight end matchup in football (Arizona has allowed 100 yards and a TD to both tight ends they have faced so far) and Olsen might just be more than a GPP play.
In this case, though, he is the perfect pairing for an Allen play and a nice foundation for $1,000,000 lineup.