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 Dak Prescott, Cowboys ($37)
WR Amari Cooper, Cowboys ($24)
WR CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys ($23)
WR Keenan Allen, Chargers ($29)
Full-game stacks are very much in order in a game with rare upside — over the five previous seasons, there have only been 14 instances of a game with an over/under of at least 55 and a spread of 3.0 or less as BetMGM shows for this contest. Only one four-man stack has a higher ceiling than this combo according to 4for4’s Stack Value Report.
Some DFS players might be hesitant to spend 57 percent of their salary on four players until they recall that just a week ago, a three-man Mahomes/Tyreek/Kelce stack accounted for 54% of salary. This foursome could very much corner all of the scoring just like the Chiefs’ Big Three did in Week 1.
The Cowboys opened the season by throwing on 82% of their plays in neutral game script with Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb combining for nearly 55% of targets; no other player was given more than 12% of targets. Michael Gallup’s move to the IR suggests that Cooper and Lamb could meet or exceed their Week 1 target share this week against the Chargers.
Bringing it back with Keenan Allen gives fantasy managers a player who was targeted 13 times in Week 1, 28% of Justin Herbert’s passes. While Mike Williams ($23) is just as enticing as a run-it-back option after his 12 targets last week, Allen’s shine comes from the fact that the Cowboys allowed 159 yards on 14 catches to players lined up in the slot, both bottom-five numbers in Week 1.
Given this game’s uncommon point total and spread, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a Justin Herbert ($33)/Allen/Williams/Cooper stack has a top-three ceiling on 4for4. No matter the actual stack, anyone firing at this week’s Baller should have some exposure to the Cowboys and Chargers.
Other players worthy of stacking are Cedrick Wilson ($10), Dalton Schultz ($13), Ezekiel Elliott ($31), Jared Cook ($13), and Austin Ekeler ($29).
QB Tom Brady, Buccaneers ($41)
WR Chris Godwin, Buccaneers ($28)
It can be difficult to decide when to game stack and when not to, especially with winning Baller lineups trending towards as much correlation as possible. Conditions suggest that this may be a game to focus on just one offense — the over/under is above 50, but Tampa Bay’s implied point total is 32 while Atlanta’s is just 20. The Buccaneers looked as explosive as expected in Week 1 while the Falcons and their first-year head coach rolled out a team that struggled mightily on both sides of the ball.
Chris Godwin stands out as the player to pair with Brady for multiple reasons. He may be slightly undervalued after Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski went off for over 20 Yahoo points each in Week 1 but it was Godwin who saw over 30% of Brady’s targets. Additionally, we saw Godwin’s spike-games last season coincide heavily with Brady’s, shown by the 4for4 Correlation Tool.
In a spot where rostered rates could be spread thin among Bucs pass-catchers, it should be relatively easy to be overweight on Godwin — pairing just two players here and looking for strong correlations elsewhere in your lineup could be a unique approach while others stack heavily on both sides of this game.
RB Damien Harris, Patriots ($23)
Patriots DEF ($19)
Stacking a running back with his defense is a strategy that has shown up multiple times in winning Baller lineups over the years but this one may fly a bit under the radar. Although the Patriots are six-point favorites, there are six teams on the main slate favored by at least five points, including two double-digit favorites. New England’s salary near the top of the list could keep them off rosters, as well. In a game projected for just 42 total points, Baller entries might not be looking to roster offensive players from either side of the ball here.
In Justin Edward’s 4for4 write-up, he pinpoints the Patriots’ defensive line as a unit with one of the best matchups of the week, especially after the Jets lost left tackle Mekhi Becton. Only three defenses posted a higher pressure rate on opposing quarterbacks than New England in Week 1. That matchup should help the Pats get out to a lead and a game script that invites more rushing for an offense that already ran at an above-average rate in neutral game script last week. The result of that game plan was Damien Harris finishing with 42.4% of his team’s touches, the eighth-highest touch share of any player in the opening week.
Contrarian Plays to Target
RB Derrick Henry, Titans ($35)
In this week’s GPP review, I discussed the concept of not just looking for players who offer leverage but players who offer the most leverage — spots where you can benefit from multiple unexpected events with just one player. Derrick Henry is one of those players this week.
After the Titans grossly underperformed expectations in Week 1, they will likely be an unpopular team to target in DFS in Week 2 — especially Henry. Even in one of the worst game scripts possible though, Henry was given 48% of Tennessee’s touches last week. This week’s opponent, Seattle, allowed the eighth-most running back points in Week 1 despite maintaining a large lead for most of the game.
The Seahawks will be a popular passing game to stack in tournaments and if any Titans are rostered, it will likely be the pass-catchers opposite those Seattle stacks. Henry is a sneaky bring-back because of his high correlation with opposing passers.
In addition to offering leverage against the popular Seahawks, Henry is a salary pivot in a range that includes popular running backs such as Alvin Kamara, Dalvin Cook, and Nick Chubb.
WR Jarvis Landry, Browns ($22)
Rostering Jarvis Landry gives GPP players contrarian exposure to an offense with the second-highest implied point total on the slate (30.5). When DFS players do target the Browns, it will likely be with Chubb, who is expected to carry one of the highest rostered rates of the week.
Cleveland’s passing game didn’t do any scoring in last week’s shootout against Kansas City but Baker Mayfield did throw for 321 yards with the third-highest yards per attempt (11.5) on the week. Landry should be Mayfield’s primary option with Odell Beckham out even though Mayfield heavily targeted his tight ends in Week 1. Against Houston's defense last week, Jacksonville receivers combined for two-thirds of their team’s targets.
Cash Game Strategy
Value is concentrated around the middle salary tier at all positions this week. While there are some spots to pay down to get to the elite running backs, we have enough evidence from Week 1 contests to trust that some mid-salary running backs will offer high-end volume. Balancing that value with getting exposure to the elite, high-scoring offenses is the key to cash games in Week 2.
QB: Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott
RB: Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Chris Carson, Darrell Henderson, Najee Harris
WR: Amari Cooper, Cooper Kupp, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyler Boyd, CeeDee Lamb, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Cole Beasley, Chris Godwin
TE: Darren Waller, Tyler Higbee, Jared Cook, James O'Shaughnessy
DEF: Seahawks, Browns, Buccaneers, Bears, Patriots, Saints
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.
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