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By TJ Hernandez, 4for4
Special to Yahoo Sports
Whether you are playing in the biggest tournament of the week on Yahoo or prefer to play in smaller GPPs, there are some general positional strategies that you can implement in any size tournament. These concepts include stacking, finding pivots off of popular players, and looking for leverage in other spots. While it’s important to implement these into your lineup-building approach, the foundation of any tournament lineup is a solid core — usually players you would use in cash games.
Stacks to Target
QB Kirk Cousins, Vikings ($33)
WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings ($32)
TE T.J. Hockenson, Lions ($18)
This slate is one of the most intriguing of the year in that there are quite a few games that are very stackable along with a handful of tremendous values, especially at the running back position. One way to differentiate from the field this week is by pivoting from those popular running backs to their respective passing games. Alexander Mattison ($18) will surely be among those popular running backs — if not the most popular — against Detroit’s putrid run defense but the Vikings can attack the Lions just as easily through the air as they can on the ground. Their upside is evidenced by their 26.75 implied point total but that may go overlooked with six teams on the slate projected for at least 26 points, including two with implied totals over 30.
Detroit has allowed the second-most fantasy points per pass attempt this season and Minnesota is willing to push the tempo, averaging the sixth-most plays per game of any offense. Kirk Cousins is consistently rostered at a low rate no matter how good of a spot he is in and his relatively high salary, sandwiched between Justin Herbert and Matthew Stafford, should keep that trend going. Teams that do target this passing game might opt for Adam Thielen ($25) over Justin Jefferson, who has the second-highest salary among wide receivers this week. Only five pass-catchers have more expected fantasy points than Jefferson over the last three weeks.
T.J. Hockenson is a salary-saving bring-back who doubles as a leverage play since Jamaal Williams ($16) should be quite popular with D’Andre Swift inactive. Teams could also consider replacing Hockenson with Josh Reynolds ($13), who led the Lions in targets last week and leads the league in share of team air yards since joining Detroit.
Full game stacks that include either value running back are viable here, as well.
QB Taylor Heinicke, Washington ($26)
WR Terry McLaurin, Washington ($22)
TE Logan Thomas, Washington ($19)
Another tremendous leverage opportunity this week is off of Washington running back Antonio Gibson ($21) who will be among the highest-rostered players on the slate after touching the ball 36 times in Week 12 but still carrying a salary lower than 11 other running backs.
This game is one of three on the slate with an over/under of at least 50 points and the Raiders have allowed four of the last six quarterbacks that they have faced to exceed 20 Yahoo points. Taylor Heinicke has flashed upside with two three-touchdown games and he averages just over 25 yards per game on the ground.
In Logan Thomas’ first game since being injured in Week 4, he and Terry McLaurin combined for almost 40 percent of Washington’s targets and over 80 percent of their air yards. Thomas could end up being a leverage play off of Foster Moreau ($11) who will be a trendy play if Darren Waller is unable to play.
Lineups that really want to squeeze value out of this stack can replace McLaurin or Thomas with DeAndre Carter ($13) after he was given a 15% target share and 25% air yards share in Week 12.
Las Vegas offers a plethora of game-stack options. Moreau was already mentioned, Hunter Renfrow ($18) is a top-five wide receiver value on 4for4, and DeSean Jackson finally popped in silver and black on Thanksgiving. Lineups that really want to double down on leverage, though, might consider including Josh Jacobs ($19) in-game stacks instead of Gibson.
Contrarian Plays to Target
WR Van Jefferson, Rams ($14)
The Rams are one of two teams with an implied total of over 30 points, so they will be a popular offense to stack but Van Jefferson could go overlooked after Odell Beckham broke out with a 5/81/1 line on 10 targets in Week 12. That didn’t come at the expense of Jefferson, though, as he had nine targets and actually led the team in air yards. Over the last three weeks, Jefferson ranks in the top five in 4for4’s expected points model.
WR Chase Claypool, Steelers ($18)
Pittsburgh and Baltimore only project for 44 total points but this game may have sneaky upside as the Ravens profile as a team that will push the tempo. They lead the league in plays per game (71.2) and struggle against the pass, ranking 21st in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and 20th against both wide receivers and tight ends. Teams throw at the second-highest rate in neutral game script against Baltimore.
Claypool is the under-the-radar DFS target, ranking second in expected fantasy points among all pass-catchers over the last three weeks. Baltimore is the ideal defense to attack with a player such as Claypool as their defense allows the third-highest QBR on passes of 20+ air yards, according to SportsInfoSolutions.
Cash Game Strategy
This week offers a ton of value, especially at the running back position. Cash game players should lock in affordable, high-volume running backs and load up on playmakers in the highest-scoring contests.
QB: Lamar Jackson, Taylor Heinicke, Tom Brady, Justin Herbert
RB: Alexander Mattison, Antonio Gibson, Jamaal Williams, Elijah Mitchell, Leonard Fournette
WR: Tee Higgins, Darnell Mooney, Brandon Aiyuk, Hunter Renfrow, Terry McLaurin, Keenan Allen, Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, Cooper Kupp, Adam Thielen, Diontae Johnson, Michael Pittman Jr.
TE: Foster Moreau, Cole Kmet, T.J. Hockenson, George Kittle, Rob Gronkowski
DEF: Dolphins, Rams, Raiders, Ravens
TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.
More from 4for4.com: Running Back Market Shares: Week 13 Report