Following the discovery of what won people the Milly Maker in each week throughout 2020, I now dive into 2021. Starting this early gives us an advantage in finding the best Week 1 Milly Maker stacks. Dusting off ole’ veterans and uncovering the future stars takes time. Of course, without the completion of the preseason, there are still questions to be had. However, with uncertainty comes opportunity.
Pricing on players for the first few weeks on DraftKings is moderate. For Week 1, a player like Davante Adams is only $8,300, which might seem high. However, after his first four games in 2020, he never saw a lower price. Likewise, with the uncertainty surrounding Saquon Barkley’s workload, we might never see his price lower than the $7,800 for the rest of 2021.
Just because the pricing is moderate for most doesn’t mean you should dive right in, however. For example, Austin Ekeler will see his fourth-lowest pricing since Week 1 of last season, but they are playing Washington. His usage is unknown, but an even bigger deal could be Washington’s DOCE – Dump Off Containment Efficiency – Score.
Washington played 13 pass-catching running backs in 2020. They allowed a score of 11.3 to the running backs, which put their DOCE Score at 0.80 (No. 13). Landon Collins is healthy, Kam Curl will be entering his second season, and they drafted Jamin Davis. The defense should improve significantly and we should see an even better DOCE Score come 2021. Although Ekeler’s price is low, he’s a player I have no interest in.
Find the values from the moderate pricing is critical.
Overpaying for certain players could allow you to make contrarian decisions, but this piece is purely focused on undervalued stacks I plan to target for Week 1.
Week 1 Milly Maker Stack
Packers @ Saints
Aaron Rodgers – $6,800
Davante Adams – $8,300
Allen Lazard – $4,000
Salary: $19,100 (38.2-percent)
The chalk of Week 1 Milly Maker stacks has arrived. Storylines surrounding Aaron Rodgers will undoubtedly result in a high roster percentage. Additionally, the pricing crushes any hope of leading with a Rodgers-Davante Adams stack. However, playing the stack with a third member of the offense might help eliminate some other shareholders. Aaron Jones, Robert Tonyan, Randall Cobb, and even Marquez Valdez-Scantling are all appealing, but Allen Lazard is the correct answer.
Allen Lazard Week 3 Highlights vs the Saints@AllenLazard #GoPackGo pic.twitter.com/ik2EeFwNRX
— Alexander Basara ??? (@Basaraski) September 28, 2020
In Week 3 of 2020, Lazard hung six catches for 146 yards and a touchdown on a Saints team struggling in the secondary moving into 2021.
After losing Janoris Jenkins and Justin Hardee to free agency, they now have Patrick Robinson retiring. So now the Saints will decide who they should start on the outside.
The Saints brought Brian Poole in to exclusively play slot. He has just 36 snaps on the outside over the past two seasons. If they decide he gives them their best chance and move him outside, then they are stuck with a combination of P.J. Williams and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson in a repeat of 2020. It was easily their weakest position on the field, and teams attacked it. There’s a reason they brought in Poole to play the slot corner role. However, if they leave Poole inside, it could be worse.
The replacements on the outside are Prince Amukamara and rookie third-round pick Paulson Adebo. Amukamara spent half of 2020 on the Cardinals practice squad; meanwhile, Adebo opted out in 2020. Although the latter was known as a ballhawk in college, he struggled significantly against double moves and got beat deep regularly in 2019.
Tonyan offers a safer floor; meanwhile, Valdez-Scantling’s deep prowess is tempting. Rodgers could make it a point to get Cobb in the end zone. However, I’m going with the player who should be lining up opposite Adams in Lazard and getting the majority of snaps.
Need I say more about Rodgers and Adams?
Likelihood to hit: Strong, but one must diversify the rest of the lineup if using these Week 1 Milly Maker stacks. The Rodgers-Adams stack will have significantly high ownership levels and fading the stack is more likely to leave you high and dry than with a winning lineup.
Week 1 Milly Maker Stack
Eagles @ Falcons
Jalen Hurts – $6,400
Jalen Reagor – $3,700
Zach Ertz – $3,800
Salary: $13,900 (27.8-percent)
I don’t expect the Falcons to be terrible on defense for long. New defensive coordinator Dean Pees is a genius. However, they are rolling out the same talent, outside of Dante Fowler, that they rolled out in 2020. This is the same talent who gave up the sixth-most explosive plays and the twelfth highest explosive play rate.
Coupling the lack of talent with the uncertainty of how the Eagles offense operates could lead to the highest-scoring game of the weekend. Vegas had this game at their fifth-highest total on the main slate with only a 3.5-point spread. Say it with me now: Shootout. It’s like looking at two teams in the mirror. The Eagles secondary is almost as porous as the Falcons.
The bad version of the Falcons defense in two plays. Watch the linebackers on this Taysom Hill scramble. pic.twitter.com/IGO2JeWHLX
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) December 6, 2020
The prices increased for Jalen Hurts in 2020, but it never got high enough. The pricing at $6,400 looks like it’s following suit. After averaging almost 30 points a game, look for this to be another explosive performance. If the Eagles offensive line falters and the Falcons can get pressure on Hurts, you could see him aggressively scramble for similar numbers to Taysom Hill against the Falcons last year. Although the Falcons only faced three, arguably four “mobile quarterbacks” in 2020, they still allowed the sixth-most rushing yards to the position and the third-most rushing touchdowns.
Rolling out Hurts naked makes sense. However, there are two other intriguing options to be monitored.
Jalen Reagor at $3,700 is an excellent high-upside, low-floor play. He’s almost more attractive in cash games, as his payout to return value is so incredibly low.
In the games Hurts didn’t play last year, Reagor averaged just over four targets per game. However, in the three full games Hurts did play, Reagor averaged slightly above six. The concerning aspect was Hurts only attempted seven deep passes across those three games to Reagor and didn’t complete a single one. Still, if their chemistry improved even minutely across the offseason, this connection could lead to a massive discount in Week 1.
As for Zach Ertz, he is just as hard to trust as Reagor. Although the pricing of this stack is extremely attractive, the volatility is not. It should lead to low ownership, which is good, but it might be better to split the Hurts-Reagor-Ertz stack into just Hurts-Reagor or Hurts-Ertz. Regardless, Ertz seems to be winning the battle out of camp, and although Dallas Goedert is the starter, there are routes to Ertz putting up a great fantasy day. The Falcons were No. 28 against the tight end in 2020 and head coach Nick Sirianni averaged over 30-percent of his snaps with multiple tight ends over the past two seasons.
Ertz could be traded before the season starts, but if he’s not, look for him to be a sneaky tight end play at just $3800. The camp reports about Hurts finding his tight ends are glowing.
Likelihood to hit: Low as a stack, but the values you can build around them make this a sneaky contrarian-type play. Hitting on a stack with low cost and low ownership is rare, but it could smash as far as Week 1 Milly Maker Stacks go.
Week 1 Milly Maker Stack
Cardinals @ Titans
Kyler Murray – $7,600
DeAndre Hopkins – $7,800
Rondale Moore (If Breon Borders plays the slot) – $3,000
Salary – $18,400 (36.8-percent)
This Titans defense is going through a masked rebuild. They lost 11 defensive players to free agency, five of them starters. They brought Jenkins and Bud Dupree through free agency while drafting Caleb Farley, but this team is far from a defensive stalwart. In terms of defensive efficiency, what happened with the Vikings in 2020 could happen with the young Titans.
From 2014 to 2018, the Vikings were top 10 in passing yards allowed. In 2017 and 2018, they were top five. As their defensive backs struggled to stay healthy in 2019 while the defensive front seven aged significantly, their defense finished No. 14, forcing them to rebuild. They lost six starters to free agency and eight in total. The result was finishing bottom 10 in passing yards and touchdowns allowed.
If the Titans follow a similar trajectory, they will be the defense to attack in 2021.
Week 1 is a great starting point with an expensive combination of Kyler Murrayat $7600 and DeAndre Hopkins at $7800. Although the stack feels like a lot as they are both top five at their positions, it’s still well short of their ceilings. Before Murray got banged up and suffered multiple minor injuries, he was priced at $8200 and Hopkins at $8500.
The correlation between what the Cardinals want to do versus what the Titans will allow teams to do makes this matchup even sexier. The addition of Dupree to replace Jadeveon Clowney is brutal for running backs. Before the Dupree injury, the Steelers only allowed two big games to running backs. Following the injury, they allowed over 20 points to the position in five of six. The only one they didn’t was to the Bills.
The Titans will essentially funnel offenses to pass. If this were later in the season, those prices would likely be higher than Murray and Hopkins saw last season. In addition, the way the Titans used Malcolm Butler in 2020, shadowing certain receivers, could be the way they use Jenkins. However, there’s a significant issue.
Jenkins struggles against receivers with significant height advantages. The Saints did a phenomenal job of masking his flaws, but will the Titans do the same? Against the Vikings, Jenkins covered the 6-3 Adam Thielen, who caught five passes on five attempts for 53 yards and a touchdown while Jenkins was in coverage.
If the Titans put Jenkins across from Hopkins, it could be a career day.
I prefer not to stack any of the other running backs against the Titans, and trusting Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, and Rondale Moore seem too risky. However, keep an eye on the nickel slot for the Titans. If it is Borders like projected, Moore could have a field day. With Borders’ subpar athleticism, he got burned regularly by speed guys. The one game he didn’t was when Lamar Jackson missed Marquise Brown on multiple shots downfield.
Moore might be a rookie, but with 4.37 (95th-percentile among qualified wide receivers) 40-yard Dash, a 135.3 (96th-percentile) Burst Score, a 10.78 (94th-percentile) Agility Score, and a 10.18 (73rd-percentile) Catch Radius, Borders will be dust. Keep in mind that in 2019, just two years ago, three rookie receivers went for over 100 yards. The aforementioned Brown stole the day with 30.7 fantasy points.
Likelihood to hit: This is one of my favorite Week 1 Milly Maker stacks and if people are sleeping on how bad the Titans defense will be, the trio might be lower rostered than expected. Regardless, Hopkins should see a high roster percentage, so rolling him out with Moore should give some variance to the lineup.
Side Note: One catch for five yards and a touchdown would lead to a return on investment for cash games.
Contrarian Milly Maker Stack
Jets @ Panthers
Sam Darnold – $5,000
D.J. Moore/Terrace Marshall (whoever plays the slot) – $6,100/$3,000
Christian McCaffrey – $9,500
Salary: $20,600 (41.2-percent)
Typically when you get north of 40-percent of your roster tied into one stack, the rest of the it becomes somewhat volatile as it limits the top options across the rest of the lineup. If this game hits below 50 total points, the chances are this lineup bombs. The scoring in this game will be addressed at the end of this section.
Regardless, if D.J. Moore is in the slot, he should undoubtedly be played in a decent amount of lineups, even if you’re not using these as one of your Week 1 Milly Maker stacks. However, if Moore looks to be lining up outside in preseason, I’m pivoting to the rookie in Terrace Marshall.
The Jets are surprisingly good at not allowing deep balls. The 2021 defense is different from 2020. However, there are many of the same players in the secondary. The one area the secondary took a hit is the loss of the aforementioned Brian Poole. 2020 undrafted rookie Javelin Guidry will look to take over the slot role.
Guidry held his own in 2020, but he rarely saw opportunities. He does have superior speed, running a 4.29 40 (100th-percentile), but his 5-9 stature could hurt his ability to contest catches, especially in the red zone. He allowed nine catches on nine targets and a touchdown in a limited sample size of only 69 routes defended. Although he only had a 13.0-percent Target Rate, I expect it to skyrocket in 2021.
It also doesn’t hurt to be the slot receiver when you’re playing with Sam Darnold.
In four of the eight games where Jets slot Jamison Crowder play with Darnold, he hit over 20 fantasy points. In two of the four games Braxton Berrios replaced Crowder with Darnold playing, he scored at least 16 points. Needless to say, you want whichever underneath pass-catcher is attached to Darnold.
Also needless to say, you want Christian McCaffrey.
The workload reportedly won’t be altered and McCaffrey has left those injuries in the rearview mirror. The Jets had the third-worst DOCE Score from 2020 as they allowed the most receptions to running backs. They are getting C.J. Mosley back and head coach Robert Saleh is transforming the defense so it could put a damper on the satellite back pass party. However, McCaffrey isn’t a satellite back. I expect McCaffrey to do McCaffrey things which also boosts the floor for Darnold.
With Darnold at $5,000, he doesn’t have to put up 400 yards and five touchdowns. Getting him to the 25-point threshold can win you some money and the 30-point thresh hold could mean you’re in the running for the Milly Maker. Three touchdowns with 300 yards passing will get you there.
300 and three sound like a massive jump for Darnold. However in 2020, Carolinas quarterback Teddy Bridgewater flirted with 300 yards constantly. He had at least 270 yards in six of his contests and hit 300 in three of them. Head coach Matt Rhule opted to go with Darnold over Bridgewater, so if Rhule is correct, 300 yards against a rebuilding Jets defense shouldn’t be a problem. We could see McCaffrey alone getting 100 of them.
Likelihood to hit: Low. There’s a reason using the Panthers Week 1 Milly Maker stacks is contrarian. However, if it does hit, you will see very low ownership percentages. Although Vegas has this game with suboptimal scoring, with the Panthers bottom ten in explosive pass rate allowed, there’s a slight chance it can turn into a shootout.
Others to consider:
Jaguars @ Texans
Trevor Lawrence – $6,200
D.J. Chark – $5,800
James Robinson– $6,400
The fantasy outcomes could go in thousands of different directions with all the receivers they have. I’ll feel more comfortable as we close in on preseason and see how these guys are lining up. However, there have only been two quarterbacks who have hit the magical 30-point threshold in their first career game—not promising for Trevor Lawrence.
49ers @ Lions
Jimmy Garoppolo – $5,500
George Kittle – $6,300
Raheem Mostert – $5,800
The Lions may get swallowed up by the 49ers defense. Jimmy Garoppolo would be left with short fields and opportunities to score. Cheap quarterbacks rarely work out, but four touchdowns is in the realm of possibilities. When Raheem Mostert is healthy, he gets targets, and the Lions have the ninth-worst DOCE – Dump Off Containment Efficiency – Scoree. Meanwhile, don’t pay mind to the “4th” against the tight end ranking. The Lions allowed a whopping nine touchdowns to the position, while Logan Thomas was arguably the best one they faced.
One thing to keep in mind is how the preseason goes and injuries play out. There is more value to be had with stacks, but situations are still working themselves out in camp and preseason. Stay tuned for the next piece when I dive into significant values at running back and defense in the next DFS article.