This week, we'll discuss the following topics:
The staffers we talked to this week are Phil Alexander, David Dodds, Dan Hindery, Justin Howe, Devin Knotts, BJ VanderWoude, and Mark Wimer.
Tom Brady’s Return
Hester: Brady makes his much-awaited 2016 debut this week and gets a very tasty matchup as New England hosts Cleveland. How much Brady exposure will you have in cash games? Is that number so high that he's an avoid in GPPs?
Furthermore, Rob Gronkowski has been a huge disappointment so far between his injury and lack of usage in the offense since his return. How do you view the prospects of Gronkowski and the other New England offensive players this week?
Alexander: This looks like a week to pay up at quarterback in cash games with Brady, Ben Roethlisberger, and even Andrew Luck all in fantastic spots. Personally, I love playing Roethlisberger any time he's at home. The fact he's matched up against the Jets 30th-ranked pass defense (per DVOA) makes him completely irresistible. But I wouldn't blame anyone for choosing Brady in cash games or GPPs. The Patriots have both the week's highest implied team total (28.5 points) and projected margin of victory (10 points). Even coming off an extended absence, Brady should have no trouble dicing up a Cleveland defense that has allowed multiple touchdown passes in all four of their games this season.
The trick to getting Brady right in GPPs will be choosing the correct stacking partner. Julian Edelman's 6.8 target per game average figures to rise with Brady returning, Martellus Bennett's team leading 247 receiving yards can't be dismissed, and of course there's the matter of the most dominant fantasy football tight end of our time – Rob Gronkowski – returning to 70% of the snaps last week. Bennett and Edelman both qualify as strong plays, but I see this as a week Gronkowski can win you GPPs. After being targeted a combined three times in two games since returning from injury, no one knows quite what to make of him.
But after starting the season 3-0, I can't imagine the Patriots would have risked him on 70% of the snaps last week if he weren't closing in on full health. Even though Gronkowski's price is down about 20% from Week 1 across the industry, he's still not easy to fit into lineups due to this week's tighter pricing. Brady is back, and the Browns have allowed monster games to Dennis Pitta and Jordan Reed. But I don't see the crowd rushing to roster Gronkowski as the TE2, coming off a one-catch game. It adds up to a spot where I believe you can roster the Brady-Gronkowski stack at fairly low ownership and what's likely to be their lowest combined price of the season.
Wimer: I have been impatiently awaiting the beginning of the Brady/Gronkowski Revenge on the NFL Tour 2016. The intangible but very real desire to tee off on all comers on the part of Brady should give him extra focus/motivation here in Week 5. I agree with Phil that in DFS, Gronkowski is likely to be as cheap as he's ever going to be with Brady back in action now, so if you're going to invest in that stack, this is the week to do it. The Browns have enough offensive talent to keep the game within reach (and after he got blanked by Rex and Rob Ryan's Bills last week, I don't see a piqued Bill Belichick taking his foot off the gas in any case), so this one should be a high scoring game for the Patriots. It's a risk but one I'm going to take with some good replacement players (like Terrelle Pryor now that Josh Gordon is in rehab instead of on the field in Week 5, and Jordan Howard with Jeremy Langford sidelined) lined up for good games to fill in the other spots on the Brady/Gronkowski rosters..
Howe: There’ always concern over game flow when we see an 11-point spread, and we have more worry here than in most contests. Rust isn’t a big worry, as Tom Brady is Tom Brady, and his game isn’t an instinctive one. But New England has succeeded all season with its power running game. The Browns have been gashed notoriously by the pass, but also by the run, so it makes sense to hedge against the possibility the Patriots keep LeGarrette Blount rolling. I flip around again, though, when I realize that the Patriots don’t play much turtle-ball; historically speaking, they throw more in the second halves of wins than any other team.
So, all told, I’m on board with Brady in cash games. His volume projects anywhere from acceptable to high, his weapons are healthy, and he’ll be a very chalky pick in cash. But I think there’s stronger upside in tournament play. Phil is right to target Roethlisberger at home, as he carries as much huge-game upside as anyone when playing there. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a shrewd low-ownership play on the other side of the field; the Steelers pass rush and secondary remain poor, and there should be garbage-time opportunity in a high-paced game. Brian Hoyer comes cheaply and faces the jet-lagged Colts, and he’s been a touchdown machine through two relief starts. Eli Manning is playing on a short week himself, but he’s absurdly cheap on some sites and faces a decimated Packers secondary.
Dodds: I expect huge things from Brady this week. This game is setting up similarly to the Kansas City-Pittsburgh game last week where a quality offense was embarrassed the week prior. Last week, New England suffered a rare shutout at home against an inferior opponent. Look for the Patriots to come out clicking on all cylinders. We all know that Brady has been breaking down film on this Cleveland matchup since the suspension was announced. Other players can't look ahead. But he most certainly was.
Carson Wentz, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, and Kirk Cousins have combined for 10 passing touchdowns in four weeks against Cleveland. The question isn't whether Brady will do well, but rather how much exposure you will have with him. I suspect he is the most owned quarterback by a lot, but there are some other cash options that could do as well based on their lower salary. As for GPPs, I will be avoiding Brady. If he ends the day as the top quarterback, the scores required to win the GPP will be too high for my liking.
As for Gronkowski, he just does not look right to me yet. This could be his breakthrough game, but I won't be rostering him yet. Once he breaks through, he will likely be the top tight end in DFS going forward.
Knotts: Brady is without a doubt going to be the highest owned player this week, but for GPPs, I think the answer is to just avoid him. There is simply too much risk to start a quarterback who has not practiced with his team in four weeks. The Browns defense is absolutely atrocious, but people are starting Brady as if there is a narrative that he has to break every record in this individual game as a way to get back at the NFL for suspending him. Cleveland can be a tricky place to play as the winds come directly off the lake. Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees – three of the best quarterbacks in the league – have never thrown for 300+ yards at Cleveland Browns Stadium, a stat that makes it difficult to start a player who is going to be as highly owned as Brady will be this week in GPPs. If the narrative of Brady coming back from suspension weren't in play, this game would have "Blount game" written all over it. He is the guy I want in GPPs as I believe that Brady will treat this similar to a preseason game and ease back into the lineup with his teammates and hand the ball off quite a bit with Gronkowski still banged up.
Hindery: I will not own Brady much this week. I’m leaning towards going with bargain-priced quarterbacks in Week 5 since the pricing is so much tighter at other positions and it is much tougher to find value at the RB and WR positions. If I do pay up, I prefer Roethlisberger, who looks like a slightly safer option and saves a few dollars. The implied team totals for both New England and Pittsburgh are hovering around 27-28 points. But the differentiating factor for me is where the relative strengths of the opposing defenses lie. Cleveland is not great against the pass (21st in DVOA) but is even worse (28th) against the run. The Jets are brutal against the pass (31st) but very strong against the run (third). It’s realistic that the New England offensive production will be split up evenly between run and pass (Matt Jones just rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland just last week, for example). On the other hand, Pittsburgh is going to have to throw the ball early and often against the Jets stout run defense and, Roethlisberger is more likely than Brady to have a hand in most of the yardage and touchdowns, given the matchups.
There are some conflicting reports out there about Gronkowski and how much progress he has made in recovering from his hamstring injury. "How are you guys not paying more attention? This guy is not right," a source told Mike Garafolo of NFL Media. "That hamstring has not come along like they thought it was going to." Gronkowski acknowledged as much saying it was “obviously” holding him back. But Gronkowski also sounded somewhat optimistic, noting that he was making progress every day and that “hopefully this week, [it’s go time].” Unless we get some really strong indications in the coming days that Gronkowski has made major progress, he looks almost unplayable in daily fantasy.
Hester: To win a GPP, you need a roster where absolutely everything falls the right way, including multiple players who score multiple touchdowns. If you had to bet the proverbial "house" on a non-quarterback scoring two or more touchdowns this week or a quarterback passing for four or more touchdowns, which player would you choose?
Alexander: The stock answer here would be Antonio Brown at home against a Jets secondary that has no answer for him. But if I had to bet my whole bankroll, I'd follow the stats. Despite playing one fewer game than most of the field due to Green Bay's Week 4 bye, Jordy Nelson is tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns, red zone targets, and targets from inside the opponent's 10-yard line. His 67% red zone target market share leads the league by nearly 10% over the next closest player and he's been efficient with those looks, converting four-out-of-six into touchdowns. The Packers are at home, where they showed in Week 3 they're a much better team, and Vegas has them projected for 28 points against a banged up Giants secondary, playing on a short week. Nelson is just rounding into form after an extended absence, and the bye week should have helped him get back to 100%. I expect we'll start seeing some trademark chunk plays from Nelson in addition to his plentiful short scoring opportunities.
Knotts: I would have to go with Melvin Gordon as having the best chance to score multiple touchdowns, as he is facing an Oakland defense that is the second worst in the league in allowing rushing yards this season. Gordon is not the greatest running back in the league as he only is averaging 3.2 yards per carry so far this season, but with the injury to Danny Woodhead is the only running back option in San Diego. He is on pace for 24 touchdowns this season, and should have the best opportunity to score multiple touchdowns this week.
Wimer: Atlanta's secondary has allowed 13 passing touchdowns in just four weeks. Either Emmanuel Sanders or Demaryius Thomas has a legitimate shot at two receiving scores in that game at friendly Mile High Stadium. A super-stack of Trevor Siemian with Sanders and Thomas might be in order, depending on how Siemian's sore shoulder responds to treatment this week. For a quarterback who should throw four or more touchdowns, I think Ben Roethlisberger is the obvious choice this week. The Jets secondary looks just awful, and they are averaging two passing scores allowed per game facing such luminaries as Tyrod Taylor, who threw for three scores against them. Aaron Rodgers also has a shot at four touchdowns for the reasons Phil outlines.
Howe: Devin nailed down Brown and Gordon as the week’s top two bets to find the end zone. I also agree on Sanders; for what it’s worth, my projections like him to churn out the most touchdown production this week. Over the last three games, no one has seen more looks from inside the 10 than Sanders’ 6. We know the Falcons secondary is a mess, save for Desmond Trufant, who won’t shadow Sanders Sunday. There’s a floor firmly in place, as he’ll see some Trufant, but the touchdown-generated ceiling is high.
DeMarco Murray has to be mentioned here; he’s tied with Gordon in runs from inside the 10 (six) over the last three games. And I’m all over Kelvin Benjamin in tournaments. His ownership will likely crater after another low-profile performance, but he remains the Panthers’ engine near the end zone. And while he’s gone a few weeks without catching a long ball, he remains an elite weekly threat to create something downfield. I like his chances against a set of whipping-boy Buccaneers cornerbacks.
Dodds: The guy I think has a super high floor this week is David Johnson. The Cardinals will be without Carson Palmer, so you would have to expect them to lean heavily on their best player. The San Francisco defense is crumbling a bit having given up 100+ rushing yards to the last three runners they faced (Fozzy Whitaker, Christine Michael, and Ezekiel Elliott). Michael scored twice while Elliott added one. The 49ers will be down seventh-overall pick defensive end Deforest Buckner, who has been a big component at stopping the run so far this year. Despite Palmer now officially ruled OUT, the line in this game has barely moved. That's because the game plan was to RUN, RUN, and then RUN some more with Johnson. And when Drew Stanton does pass, my bet is on Johnson getting a lot of those targets as well.
Ringing the Bell Again?
Hester: LeVeon Bell's return in Week 4 was a dominant performance, and Pittsburgh did not ease him back into action. But with Bell now being the most expensive running back on most DFS sites and other high-end backs having great matchups, is he a lock for your cash game lineups this week, or are you avoiding the tough New York Jets run defense?
Alexander: I see absolutely nothing wrong with using Bell in cash games, despite the tough matchup. Bell was in on 88% of the snaps and handled 82% of Pittsburgh's backfield touches in his first game back, so opportunity won't be an issue. The Steelers opened as a 7.5 point favorite against the Jets and are projected by Vegas to score 28 points, so game flow doesn't figure to be a problem either. Even if Bell is stifled on his rushing attempts, Pittsburgh's willingness to line him up all over the formation and feed him targets out of the backfield will provide a safe floor. Although it's probably due to a random small sample, it's also worth noting the Jets have allowed three receiving touchdowns to running backs this season, which is the most in the league.
The reason I'm probably avoiding Bell in cash games has more to do with roster construction than his talent and situation. I want one of Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, or Andrew Luck as my quarterback this week, none of whom are cheap. Antonio Brown – the most expensive player in DFS – is a borderline must-play in all formats against the Jets 30th-ranked pass defense. And there are several other high-priced wide receivers in great spots this week (Odell Beckham Jr. and Jordy Nelson come to mind) I'd rather roster than Bell, given his price point. With backups-turned-starters like Jerick McKinnon, Terrance West, and (to a lesser extent) Jordan Howard still underpriced, it seems like a week to pay up at wide receiver and quarterback.
Knotts: As has been previously mentioned, the Steelers are projected to be one of the highest-scoring teams in the league this week at 28 points. Bell is a running back that does so much in the offense that it makes him hard not to play. However, I think I am going to go in a different direction this week on non-PPR sites. The primary reason for this is that I believe the Steelers are going to throw the ball a lot this week to beat the Jets. The Jets defensive splits have them as one of the best defenses against the run and one of the worst defenses against the pass. There are a number of running backs that I like that provide salary relief such as Theo Riddick, Jerick McKinnon, and the aforementioned Howard. Bell is still one of the top running backs on the board, so if you can fit him in with a team that you like on PPR sites, I think he is a great play. But on non-PPR, I would prefer to go with someone in a better matchup if I am going to pay up, someone such as David Johnson is in a better spot this week especially with Chris Johnson recently placed on Injured Reserve.
Wimer: I am with Devin on seeking other, less expensive options at running back. John Fox stated he's going to ride Howard hard, and I believe he will with Jeremy Langford out. Though the Indianapolis rush defense isn't a pushover, it isn't puissant either, and I like Howard's opportunity as a featured back. For PPR sites, Bilal Powell is worth a look as Matt Forte looks like he's hitting the 30+ years old wall leaving Powell the best option for the Jets (and Powell is a good pass-catching back in a game where the Jets probably chase the Steelers all day long). Powell has seen 16 targets for 12/95/0 receiving over the last two games. He had four carries in each of those games as well and gained 56 yards on those touches (seven yards per carry), while Forte posted 14/27/0 rushing during Week Four (under two yards a carry) and two targets for 2/16/0 receiving.
Howe: Matchup isn’t something that concerns me often with Bell. He’s a through-and-through workhorse whose floor of 18-20 touches is intact throughout any possible script. But there’s reason for pause when his salary is through the roof despite a crushing run-defense matchup (and the Jets are certainly that; they’ve given up just 3.09 yards per rush and one rushing touchdown all season.) Consider that, dating back to 2014, Bell has finished nine games under 4.0 yards per rush and averaged “just” 16.1 PPR points. That’s a sexy floor, of course, but it’s well below what we expect (and pay for); he has averaged 25.6 over the other 14 games. There’s a solid chance we’ll see the big receiving usage we love and the game script go his way, yet he still fails to reach his lofty desired value marker. In other words, in cash games, paying this handsomely for a tough matchup isn’t the stablest move.
But while his fantasy output has dipped in those games, his workload hasn’t. Most runners see their touches scaled back while slogging through a tough matchup, but not the multi-gifted Bell. Across those nine games of sub-4.0 rushing, he still saw an average of 22.1 touches.(and as we know, a Bell touch is about as high-upside as anyone’s). That means that, in tough matchups, his cash value takes a modest hit, but his GPP usefulness stays intact. Many DFSers instinctively skip the salary options at the very top of the list, meaning Bell’s tournament ownership could stay low enough (10-15% or so) to make him a one-man wrecking crew.
Dodds: The Jets are stingy to running backs, having yielded just one runner over 60 rushing yards in four games (Spencer ware managed 75 yards on 20 carries in Week 3). When a player is priced at the top of the pricing chart, I have to see an excellent matchup to want to play him. Bell is likely matchup-proof, but at his price this week, he feels way too risky for my liking – especially considering Melvin Gordon, Riddick, and Howard's prices across the industry (in very plus matchups). As mentioned in the "Multi-Touchdown Upside" topic, I also think Johnson puts the Cardinals on his back this week and is a better option at the top price tier of running backs.
Hindery: On paper, this isn’t a great matchup for Bell. The Jets have the third-best run defense in the NFL according to FootballOutsiders DVOA. However, Bell is one of the few running backs in the league who is such a multi-dimensional threat, he is essentially matchup proof. According to ProFootballFocus writer Nathan Jahnke, Bell lined up at wide receiver on 12 of his first 32 snaps in Week 4. He is not only the Steelers lead running back; he also functions as the de-facto second receiver. Against a poor Jets pass defense, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bell catch seven or eight passes. Because of his heavy workload (especially in the passing game), Bell is one of the strongest cash game options on the slate.
VanderWoude: My esteemed colleagues have made very good points regarding the game script, Pittsburgh's high team total, as well as the difficult matchup Bell is facing this week against a strong Jets run defense. David's point regarding his high volume of targets in the passing game is the deciding factor for me in cash games. In GPPs, we are looking for upside more than anything, but in cash games, if you are spending up at running back, you need to be able to justify a solid points-per-dollar return at the highest price points. Bell's floor is as high as any running back, but more importantly, his floor is stable due to his prominent role as a pass-catcher.
The difficult rush matchup affects Bell's ceiling, but in many ways, it reinforces his floor because Pittsburgh will move him around and come up with creative ways to get the ball in his hands in space. He runs high percentage routes, and if he sees ten targets, you know you are getting seven or more receptions. Due to Pittsburgh's ability to attack the Jets secondary, Bell will also have opportunities to convert short touchdown runs in the red zone, so there is a good chance he can reach the salary multiple his owners need without eclipsing 65 rushing yards. Bell remains a more viable cash game option in full point per reception scoring systems, but his opportunities in the red zone compare favorably with other running backs in more advantageous matchups, so he remains a strong play across all formats.
Hester: Give us one "conventional" stack (QB-WR, for instance) and one non-conventional/contrarian stack. Tell us why you like those players this week.
Alexander: Since I'm the first to answer, I'll go ahead and pluck the low-hanging fruit. Ben Roethlisberger-Antonio Brown can't miss this week. Pittsburgh is a huge favorite, with a 28 point implied team total, facing a defense that forces teams to pass on them, but can't defend the pass. Since the start of the 2014 season, Roethlisberger has averaged an absurd 30 fantasy points per game in 16 home contests – over 68% higher than his average in 16 away games. Not surprisingly, Brown has seen his fantasy points per game average increase by 47% in the 16 home games he's played with Roethlisberger over the same span. Don't overthink it – build around this combo in cash games and GPPs.
For my contrarian stack, I'll go with Tom Brady-LeGarrette Blount. As I mentioned earlier when discussing Brady's return, it's going to be difficult to peg the receiver to pair with him in GPPs. So why not stack him with Blount, and enjoy points every time the Patriots score an offensive touchdown? There's room enough in this game script for three passing touchdowns from Brady and two more on the ground from Blount if all goes according to plan. Brady will be a popular option, but very few will pair him with Blount, who most people figure will take a back seat to "Angry Tom" and is coming off a bad game.
Knotts: Phil took the obvious one, but I'm going to go with Carson Wentz and Jordan Matthews as one of my favorite stacks this week. The Lions have allowed the second-most passing touchdowns so far this season, and Matthews and Wentz have established a great connection so far. Matthews only had three targets in his last game against the Steelers, but this was primarily due to game script (a blowout) and situation (the Steelers have done a good job this year against number one receivers). Coming off the bye week with Wentz continuing to develop, I expect the Eagles duo will get back on track this week; Matthews should see nine or more targets as he did in his first two games.
My non-conventional stack is going to be Brady and Martellus Bennett. A lot of people are going to gravitate towards Rob Gronkowski, but I don't feel that his hamstring is even close to 100%. The Patriots don't have to use Gronkowski to win this game as they are big favorites against the Browns this week. Bennett has had two of his four career games over 100 yards this season, and the games that he didn't have 100 yards he was asked to stay in and block against two of the better pass-rushing teams in the league in Houston and Arizona. The Browns only have six sacks this season, so the Patriots will be able to utilize Bennett in a variety of sets, and he will be under-owned with some of that ownership going to Gronkowski.
Wimer: I like the Derek Carr-Michael Crabtree connection to continue in the Black Hole this weekend against the giving San Diego pass defense. San Diego averages 289.5 net passing yards allowed per game, with seven passing scores allowed this season, and Carr really found a groove last weekend against the Ravens in Baltimore. At home, the Raiders continue to rock behind Carr and Crabtree.
For my non-conventional stack, Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray look enticing to me. The Miami pass defense is reeling after their demolition by A.J. Green and Andy Dalton last weekend, and Mariota should get Delanie Walker back on the field for this game. Murray has been a fantasy beast for the entire first quarter of the season, and Miami averages 129.8 rushing yards allowed per game coming into this contest (Murray has caught two touchdowns from Mariota this season, too). I can easily see 28-35 points for Tennessee.
VanderWoude: If you are looking for the closest thing to a guaranteed touchdown from your QB-WR stack, you have to be looking at Cam Newton (or Derek Anderson) and Kelvin Benjamin going against Tampa Bay this week. To take it even one step further, I would strongly consider super stacking Greg Olsen along with Benjamin whoever is playing quarterback for Carolina. Through four games, Tampa Bay has allowed nine touchdowns to wide receivers, and it is not just number one receivers who are feasting on the Tampa secondary, but secondary receivers as well. Here is how the top two receivers from each team going against Tampa Bay have fared through the first four games.
Week 1: Julio Jones (4-66-1) and Mohamed Sanu (5-80-1)
Week 2: Michael Floyd (2-8-1) and Larry Fitzgerald (5-77-1)
Week 3: Tavon Austin (5-82-1) and Brian Quick (2-53-1)
Week 4: Demaryius Thomas (6-94-1) and Emmanuel Sanders (8-88-1)
On average, the top two receiving options are churning out nine receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns per game, or roughly 34.7 fantasy points per game. Quarterbacks are averaging 266.5 yards passing with 2.25 touchdowns per game or roughly 24.25 points per game against Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have yet to allow a touchdown to opposing tight ends, but considering Olsen is used in more of a wide receiver role for Carolina, he certainly fits the bill as a second receiver in this context. If Newton does not play, Anderson – at minimum salary – becomes a very nice value play.
For a non-traditional stack, I like the idea of pairing Joe Flacco and Terrance West. Washington has allowed 290.1 passing yards and 20.4 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Flacco is averaging 268.8 passing yards per game, to go along with two total passing touchdowns and two total rushing touchdowns. While Flacco has only had one game with multiple passing touchdowns, he is averaging a healthy 42.5 attempts per game, so the game script sets up well for him to surpass 300 yards passing and hit minimum value with only one passing touchdown. The Redskins have been getting beat up on the ground so far this season, allowing monster games to DeAngelo Williams (143 rushing yards and two touchdowns), Ezekiel Elliott and Alfred Morris (90 yards and two touchdowns combined), Shane Vereen and Orleans Dwarka (120 yards and two touchdowns combined) and Isaiah Crowell (120 yards and a touchdown).
If rookie Kenneth Dixon is active this week, the Ravens will most likely bring him along slowly, which should allow West to take advantage of a porous Redskins run defense that is allowing 5.3 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Flacco and West will both contribute heavily in the yardage department, but pairing them together allows you to effectively corner the market on Baltimore touchdowns. This is especially enticing going against a Washington defense that has allowed 12 total touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks and running backs.
Howe: The week’s strongest-looking and likely most popular stack will be the Steelers passing game, and I won’t try to talk anyone out of it. The Jets secondary looks inept and this has all the trappings of a 300-yard, multi-touchdown Roethlisberger game. And what’s great is that we can identify top-choice stacking options in that offense. Brown dominates the show, of course, so he makes all the sense in the world.
I’m also a big believer in cross-stacking a matchup. Once you identify an expected script for a game, it’s easy to project the strong producers. Take the Chicago-Indianapolis matchup, for example. The Colts are an absolute mess at the moment, on both sides of the ball. And this is the first instance of a team playing a London game and not enjoying their bye the following week. This game looks ripe to stay close – the Vegas line has already started to adjust a bit toward Chicago – and that means both teams should throw the ball with serious volume. Simply put: it's hard to imagine a game script that doesn’t include both passing games producing. As a result, T.Y. Hilton remains a strong play, but it’s also a smart idea to add some smatterings of Zach Miller and Alshon Jeffery. If Hilton is scoring, then so likely will be the Bears passing game, which has been decimated by injury news this week.
A similar cross-stack involves finding likely blowouts and pairing the winner’s running game with the loser’s cheaper receiving options. The logic goes that a team who wins 34-13 will likely spend the second half grinding things out on the ground, while the losers spend that time furiously throwing into prevent coverages. But since we know there’s a directly negative correlation between heavy underdogs and top-tier quarterback production, this is trickier than it seems, and it doesn’t pan out all that often. Still, it’s sometimes an intriguing call, and I do like the potential in stacking LeGarrette Blount with the New England defense. If the Patriots indeed hammer the Browns, we’ll likely see Blount post a big second half and find the end zone at least once. I also like the idea of pairing Minnesota’s dominant defense with Jerick McKinnon, who’s owning the backfield and even getting the bulk of short-yardage work.
Dodds: The conventional stack I am really warming up to is Derek Carr-Amari Cooper. The San Diego secondary was already giving up huge chunks of yards and now will be without Jason Verrett (torn ACL). Three of the four quarterbacks this year have already torched the Chargers for 300+ yards passing in a contest. To me, Cooper is the better receiver talent in Oakland and more likely to take a big score to the house. He could be looking at a career type day against the Chargers.
For an unconventional stack, I like the stack of Brian Hoyer-Jordan Howard. Kevin White was placed on IR Wednesday; Miller and Jeffery both are not 100% and have missed Wednesday's practice. Both are expected to play but could be significantly less than 100%. The Colts play equal-opportunity bad defense (horrible against the pass and run) and will play this game after a trans-Atlantic match in London. Vegas has the game at 47.5 points implying a lot of scoring on both sides. Both Howard and Hoyer are priced well enough to be cash options but are an unlikely duo in GPPs.
Ameer Abdullah, Theo Riddick, Melvin Gordon, and T.J. Yeldon are all backs that have caught four or more passes and added 40+ receiving yards against the Colts. In just four games, the Colts have managed to give up six touchdowns to running backs (four on the ground and two through the air). It's not that far of a stretch to imagine Jordan Howard scoring rushing and receiving touchdowns to make this cheap stacking option very successful.
Hindery: A stack of Roethlisberger and Sammie Coates is a nice contrarian move this week. It lets you get GPP exposure to the explosive Steelers pass offense without having to pay way up for Brown (who will be one of the highest-owned players on the slate). The Jets have proven vulnerable to big plays against opposing deep threats with speed (Marquise Goodwin for example, who torched the Jets for a long score), so this is an especially strong spot for Coates. Besides differentiating from all of the Roethlisberger-Brown stacks, there are a few other benefits to this strategy. First, we know Roethlisberger probably needs 350+ yards and three or more touchdowns to reach GPP value. He is going to have to get receivers other than Brown involved if he is going to have a big day. Second, Coates is close to minimum value this week. With tight pricing, taking a swing on a guy like this in a GPP really opens up our cap to target other high-upside plays that would otherwise be difficult to fit in.
Running back-defense stacks can be profitable, and the Rams defense paired with Todd Gurley is an intriguing GPP play this week. Buffalo has looked surprisingly decent on offense since losing Sammy Watkins, but this is a tough road spot for a Bills offense lacking any real threats in the passing game. In recent weeks, the Rams have been able to stuff the run and force teams to go extremely pass-heavy. They’ve been able to pin their ears back and rush, which has allowed them to generate seven takeaways over the past two weeks. If the Rams (as home favorites) can limit the Bills offense, Gurley could have his first big game of the season. He is off to an incredibly slow start, which has caused his pricing to fall substantially, and he will come with very low ownership considering how talented he is. Like Julio Jones last week, Gurley is one of the league’s best talents and is due for a get well week.
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