Time is flying by as we pass the one third mark of the season. Injuries and byes are stacking up, which only makes our DFS roster construction tougher. We’ll need to get even more creative in our search for unique teams to build stacks around. Since it’s been several weeks since the first article, and it’s easy to get caught up the flurry of stats in season, let’s take a moment to restate our guiding principles.
For QBs, we seek players who either provide frequent value with their legs or are in the top echelon of passing volume in order to unlock slate breaking ceiling potential. When choosing the WR to pair with that QB, there tend to be two archetypes we look at. The first requires paying up for the alpha WR in that passing offense, one seeing at least 25-percent Target Share. The second involves targeting ancillary receivers in condensed offenses, ideally the ones who have splash play potential through higher Average Depths of Target. As with all decisions in GPP tournaments, these plays aren’t made in a vacuum. How popular those players will be is also a critical consideration.
Week 6 Review
Last week’s first stack featured Kyler Murray and Rondale Moore. With so much attention going to Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, Murray checked in at only 5.1-percent rostered and finished with over 25 DK points. Given the lack of a fight from the Browns, this was a solid finish for Murray, but didn’t hit the ceiling we’ve seen from him. Moore was quiet, with less than six points at a 7.0-percent roster share.
The next two stacks came from the same game that did turn into a late-game shootout like we hoped. Dak Prescott went off for almost 32 points at under 5.0-percent. We looked to pay down while still getting his top target in Amari Cooper. Unfortunately, CeeDee Lamb was the main beneficiary this week. Cooper ended with 10.5 points at only 7.2-percent.
On the other side of the field, we looked at Mac Jones and Jakobi Meyers as a budget option. Jones played decently with two touchdowns, but none that counted to Meyers. Jakobi continues to be held out of the end zone, and at over 10-percent played became a popular option, often as a Cowboys bring back.
Week 7 Overview
One of the biggest storylines this week is the bye situation. Several of our favorite teams to stack (Cowboys, Bills, and Chargers to name a few) are unavailable. That should condense the field on fewer plays. Over the last few weeks, we’ve used this space to highlight the games with the highest totals and declare them too popular to play in GPPs. Generally, we’ve seen the popularity of those shootouts follow as expected.
This week shapes up differently. For one thing, many of the highest-total games project to be blowouts. That tends to scare away fantasy gamers. Other of those high-total games feature running backs that will be extremely popular based on recent performance and defensive matchup, namely Derrick Henry. That opens up additional possibilities. Our main stayaways due to projected popularity for this week are Rams and Chiefs stacks. The narratives around Matthew Stafford in a revenge game and Patrick Mahomes against the beat up Titans secondary will push those players to too high a roster share to be comfortable playing in GPPs. Here are a few alternative options.
Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown
Lamar Jackson kicks us off this week. On the season as a whole, he’s been absolutely dealing. With his legs, he’ll never lead the league in passing volume, but that hasn’t stopped him from putting up eye-popping numbers in the air this year. On only 194 (No. 21 among qualified quarterbacks) pass attempts, Jackson ranks No. 10 with 1,686 passing yards, fueled by 9.7 (No. 2) Air Yards per Attempt and 31 (No. 4) Deep Ball Attempts on a 7.9 (No. 6) Accuracy Rating. He gives us everything we look for in our high end QB plays: aggressive and efficient passing combined with rushing production.
Marquise Brown has established himself as the WR1 in this condensed Baltimore passing attack. His 23.6-percent (No. 23) Target Share just misses that 25-percent threshold we gave earlier for alpha status. Similar to his QB, Brown is not a volume play though. His targets come in the deeper quadrants of the field where his 11 Deep Targets rank No. 7. It may not be consistent, but that’s the profile of a splash play, slate breaking WR under $6k.
None of that is unique to this week though. Now is the time to play this particular Ravens stack for two reasons. First, Lamar was massive chalk last week (~15-percent) in what was supposed to be a back and forth fantasy bonanza against the Chargers. Instead, he finished with only 14 DK points as all three of the Ravens’ ghosts of RBs past scored touchdowns. The same excitement to play Jackson won’t be there this week. Second, the Ravens activated Rashod Bateman last week, and the rookie showed encouraging signs. At only $3.4K this week, he will become the WR punt du jour. Hollywood gives us leverage off of Bateman and the popular Mark Andrews this week.
Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown
Leaning into another big leverage play, we have the Titans stack with Ryan Tannehill and A.J. Brown. Tannehill has underwhelmed so far in 2021 relative to his first two seasons with the Titans. A big factor there is touchdowns. He’s averaging only one per game after throwing over two per last year. On a per throw basis, 6.9-percent (No. 4) of Tannehill’s throws last year resulted in touchdowns. That’s been cut in half this year at 3.0-percent, outside the top 25. His receivers haven’t been healthy, and Derrick Henry is breaking off long touchdowns seemingly every week. Henry’s 4.3-percent Touchdown Rate in 2020 is up to 5.6-percent this year.
This week sets up great for Tannehill to get back on track. His lead WR is finally healthy and they get a Chiefs squad in a game with an astounding 57.5-point total while everyone will be jamming in $9.2K Henry. Once again, we’ll chase that leverage opportunity to play the passing game in what could be a back and forth Game Script between two good offenses and terrible defenses.
Derek Carr and Henry Ruggs
The final stack features Derek Carr and Henry Ruggs. Carr is playing some of the best ball of his career this year and doing so in a way ideal for fantasy owners. His 1,946 Passing Yards rank No. 2, driven by 2,118 (No. 3) Air Yards, 38 (No. 2) Deep Ball Attempts, and 1,137 (No. 2) Completed Air Yards. The main beneficiary of this play has been Ruggs. He’s turned the No. 2-ranked Average Target Distance (18.8 yards) into 350 (No. 9) Completed Air Yards and 445 (No. 14) receiving yards. He’s looking like the un-guardable deep threat promised out of Alabama last year.
What hasn’t hit yet for this pair is the touchdowns. Ruggs only has two so far this year. A constant refrain of this series has been to lean into TD variance. This Raiders-Eagles game has one of the higher totals on the slate at 48.5-points. One or two Deep Balls connecting for long touchdowns is certainly within the range of outcomes for these two in a projected shootout environment. Play them and open yourself up to positive variance, vaulting you up the leaderboard in tournaments this week.