With a shortened main slate, landing just the right stack plays (in terms of cost, ownership, and output ceiling) may be a little less crucial to our DFS hopes than usual. But it's still key, of course, as GPPs are overwhelmingly won by the top game stacks regardless of slate size.
We've already discussed our cash-game quarterback targets. Now, let us in on your favorite traditional stack (QB-WR or QB-TE) and why it's GPP-optimal (or at least worth heavy consideration) in your eyes. Then suggest for us a strong stack that's not so conventional (say, RB-DST or QB-RB or QB-TE-oppWR, for example) but is one you'll be clinging to in your GPP portfolio.
Jason Wood: I'm excited for GPPs this week, particularly after studying Steve Buzzard's projected ownership levels. I'm all in on Aaron Rodgers returning to form this week. I was worried that would be the chalk view, but our ownership projections suggest otherwise. Rodgers is projected at 8% and 7% ownership at FanDuel and DraftKings, respectively. If he's not going to be top-3 in ownership percentage, he's instantly my favorite target for GPP stacks.
Now whom to stack him with? The safest move would be pairing Rodgers with Davante Adams, who managed to deliver valuable numbers with Brett Hundley whereas the rest of the passing game crumbled. A Rodgers/Adams stack will set you back $13,600 on DraftKings (27% of the budget) and $15,800 on FanDuel (26% of the budget). With Adams' ownership projected near 15%, the stack won't exactly be differentiated enough to lead you to a GPP top finish unless you find breakout performances and differentiation with the rest of your builds.
That's why I'm going with a Rodgers/Jordy Nelson stack. Nelson has been completely neutered by Brett Hundley, and that has the consensus thinking Nelson is no longer the best receiver in Green Bay. That's flawed thinking. Nelson isn't hurt. He didn't magically hit the age cliff six weeks ago. The only problem was Hundley's inability to see the field and throw his receivers open downfield. Nelson's struggles provide a rare, one-week opportunity to arbitrage.
Rodgers/Nelson will cost you $15,700 on FanDuel (26% of budget) and $13,100 on DraftKings (26% of budget). While the cost isn't much less than a Rodgers/Adams stack, Nelson's projected ownership is SIGNIFICANTLY lower. Steve puts Nelson's ownership at just 4% on FanDuel and 7% on DraftKings. If that holds, you're getting arguably the top scoring QB/WR stack on your roster for single digit projected ownership. We don't get that opportunity very often, much less this late in the season.
As to unconventional stacks, here are two I like for GPPs:
Latavius Murray ($4,900 DK / $6,200 FD) and the Vikings defense ($3,500 DK / $4,800 FD) intrigues me. The Vikings will be a chalky defensive pick, given the matchup against Cincinnati. However, Murray is projected with 1%-2% ownership as McKinnon is back in favor among DFS regulars. It would hardly be surprising to see Murray score multiple touchdowns in what should be a time-of-possession game that Minnesota wins fairly easily.
Jared Goff ($6,200 DK / $7,600 FD) is forecast at 2% ownership, far down the quarterback pecking order. I understand the reticence, but he's been borderline great this season and Seattle's defense is not what the reputation might suggest. Pairing a super-low ownership Goff with either Cooper Kupp ($6,200 DK / $6,500 FD) or Robert Woods ($5,700 DK / $6,700 FD) intrigues. Both Kupp and Woods are projected for sub-4% ownership, and yet either could have 100+ yards and multiple touchdowns.
Justin Bonnema: Jason took mine with Goff/Kupp. That's a great stack for tournaments because it will be 1) under owned, as Buzzard has Goff projected at 2% on both sites, and Kupp at 4% on FanDuel and 5% on DraftKings; and 2) this game could provide lots of fantasy points since neither defense is playing particularly well, especially Seattle’s. I normally fear taking quarterbacks on the road, but Blake Bortles just dropped 268 yards and two touchdowns on them, and Carson Wentz went to the Link and dropped 348 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 one interception. I think Goff has a high enough ceiling that we can consider him in GPPs, especially in a game that has the second highest over/under of the slate. The other thing to keep in mind with this game is that it has major playoff implications, since the winner could potentially be set up to win the NFC West.
For a nontraditional stack, I'm going to stick with Goff, but flip Kupp to Gurley. Gurley is not going to do us any favors in the ownership department, but Goff/Gurley lineups will be unique. On the season, Gurley is the sixth-most targeted running back, and over the last five games only Le'Veon Bell has seen more passes (47 vs. 30). Gurley's involvement in the passing game makes him viable in all formats, and I think we can ignore his ownership in tournaments given his multi-touchdown ceiling.
And a thought on Jason's Rodgers/Nelson stacks... I kind of like Randall Cobb in that game. He has the best matchup of the three wide receivers in taking on slot corner Captain Munnerlyn, who, according to Pro Football Focus, has allowed the fourth-most yards per coverage snap among slot corners, and a 79% completion rate. Nelson is the security blanket for Rodgers in his first game back, but Cobb is the GPP play.
Danny Tuccitto: OK, so this is outside the box, but my favorite stacking opportunity on DraftKings is the Cleveland passing game. Any combination of DeShone Kizer, Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, and David Njoku qualifies.
Since No. 1 cornerback Jimmy Smith suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the first half of their Week 14 game, Baltimore's pass defense has been shredded. In that second half against Detroit, it was mostly wide receivers that did the damage. But against Pittsburgh last week, it was Antonio Brown, Jesse James, and Vance McDonald that did it.
Similarly, ever since Gordon returned, Cleveland's pass offense has gone from producing 9 touchdowns in 11 games, to 4 touchdowns over the past 2 games.
There's a theme here, one that permeates statistical football analysis and is the focus of DFS tournament play. Namely, the absence or presence of some highly talented players don't just affect things in a "1 + 1 = 2" manner; they change them in a "2 + 2 = 5" manner. Whether it be the absence of Smith, the return of Gordon, the absence/return of Rodgers, the absence of David Johnson, the absence of J.J. Watt, the absence of DeShaun Watson, the elevation of Jimmy Garoppolo, yadda yadda yadda, there are players that have an exponential rather than linear effect on their units.
Therefore, I'm going with Kizer/Gordon/Njoku (and perhaps running it back with Mike Wallace) vs. a Smith-less Ravens pass defense. Of course, I couldn't end a roundtable comment without giving 4x value probabilities, so here they are: Kizer = 32 percent, Gordon = 10 percent, Njoku = 17 percent.
Dan Hindery: I like Blake Bortles/Dede Westbrook as a low-cost traditional stack. The duo costs just $10,800 on DraftKings and has a fantastic matchup. The Texans rank top-seven in most normalized fantasy points allowed to both the quarterback and wide receiver positions over the last five weeks. Westbrook has seen 27 targets in the 3 weeks since stepping into the lineup as a full-time starter and the rookie has consistently made plays. The small but speedy (4.34 forty-yard dash) Westbrook fits the archetype of receiver that has given the older Houston secondary trouble this season. The Texans have been torched by similar players like Marquise Goodwin (6-106), T.Y. Hilton (5-175-2), Paul Richardson Jr (6-105-2), Tyler Lockett (6-121), and Brandin Cooks (5-131-2) this season.
On FanDuel especially, I like the relatively inexpensive and lightly-owned three-man stack of Nick Foles/Zach Ertz/Sterling Shepard. Foles should prove a capable replacement for Carson Wentz. If he can produce even 75-80% of what Wentz did, he is vastly underpriced in a prime matchup against the New York Giants. The Giants have been awful against the tight end spot and the tight end is the go-to option for the Eagles in the red zone. Philadelphia tight ends scored three times last week even though Ertz was out. Ertz is the only starting pass-catcher still around from the two years Foles started in Philadelphia, and the duo should still have a nice rapport. Shepard has disappointed in recent weeks, which should keep his ownership low. However, in a game in which the Giants will likely be forced to throw a lot, he has plenty of upside. He posted a 7-133-1 line against the Eagles earlier this season.
Chris Feery: I’ve been zeroing in on two specific stacks as the week moves along, and I’m sold on the upside prospects for both of them. For the first one, I’m loving the potential output for Case Keenum and company when the Cincinnati Bengals come to town. The Bengals just got their doors blown off by the Chicago Bears, and they’ll be heading to the chilly confines in Minnesota to take on a team that has its sights set on locking down the top seed. I really don’t see how this one stays close, but I like the prospects of Keenum doing some serious damage before the dogs are called off. I’m seriously considering a power stack of Keenum/Adam Thielen/Stefon Diggs or Keenum/Thielen/Kyle Rudolph. The one that I land on will depend on how the rest of my lineup shakes out, but there’s enough salary left over to build a competitive roster regardless of which one I choose.
Next up, I’m in the camp that believes Jimmy Garoppolo is a perfect fit for the Kyle Shanahan offense, and I’m looking for him to further confirm that fact with another big performance this week. The Tennessee Titans have been hit or miss when it comes to defending opposing signal-callers, while the San Francisco 49ers are showing signs of life on offense since giving Garoppolo the keys. For a late season home game in what has been a lost season for the 48ers, I fully expect Shanahan to pull out all the stops to let the home faithful know there’s a lot to look forward to in the coming years. A contrarian stack of Garoppolo and speedster Goodwin could be quite fruitful, and it will provide you with a ton of salary cap flexibility to boot.
Justin Howe: The guys are taking all of the good ones. Rodgers/Nelson and Rodgers/Adams will be a big deal in my portfolio, for sure. I’m on board with Steve’s ownership expectations – DFS players hate to see that Questionable or IR tag on the board, and many will skim right past if only subconsciously. And if Rodgers posts 300 and multiple scores – you know, the Rodgers special – no one will be surprised in hindsight.
I also like a Goff stack, but I’m more interested in Woods than Kupp. When the two have played together, Woods has won the target battle 70-61. And this week, with their salaries and ownership both likely to check in as near-equal, I like that volume advantage. Goff and Woods have a special thing going, and I think he leaps back to the front end of the pecking order, if only marginally.
As a massive game stack, I like Tom Brady/Le'Veon Bell/JuJu Smith-Schuster on the expensive end, and a cheapish play on Titans-49ers. Something like Marcus Mariota/Rishard Matthews/Goodwin would blend the top receiving targets on each side of a game that runs plenty of snaps and should stay tight (currently SF -1).