This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Sunday's 10-game slate offers a number of interesting stack options, not to mention another case of a five-figure running back who will greatly affect lineup construction. The Cardinals and Buccaneers have the highest total of 52.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook, with more of that number seemingly coming from their poor defenses (at least Arizona's). Meanwhile, we could see a shootout between the Falcons and Saints in New Orleans, which has a 51.0-point total, though the Saints are 14.0-point favorites, one of three teams favored by double digits. Thankfully, there are some values who can open up enough salary space to jam in some higher-priced players, if we so choose.
Christian McCaffrey, CAR at GB ($10,500): Nope, $10,500 still isn't high enough to easily fade McCaffrey. After hitting an even $10,000 salary last week, McCaffrey piled up 40.6 fantasy points against the Titans, rushing 24 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns while also catching all three of his targets for 20 receiving yards and another score. McCaffrey has now scored at least 21.7 fantasy points in all but one game this season, including at least 30.5 in all games against teams that aren't the Buccaneers, and he now faces a Packers defense that's allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, in part due to 10 rushing touchdowns (the second-most in the league) and 53 receptions (fifth-most). There are a few values available that will make it easier to fit McCaffrey in, though none as good as Jaylen Samuels last week, so the expectation is that he'll once again by highly owned in cash games. Saquon Barkley ($8,800) is the second-most expensive running back, and he provides significant salary savings from McCaffrey, but it's tough to ignore that his highest fantasy score this season is the 28.3 he had against the Lions in Week 8 after rushing 19 times for 64 yards and catching eight of 10 passes for 79 receiving yards and a touchdown, a total that is 4.3 fantasy points lower than McCaffrey's average score this season. Barkley has a solid matchup against the Jets, even though they've statistically been good against running backs this season, allowing the fewest yards per carry, but he could be very active in the passing game because of injury absences to top wide receiver Sterling Shepard (concussion) and top tight end Evan Engram (foot). Rostering both McCaffrey and Barkley will surely be tried by some, but it doesn't seem like the optimal build given how much you sacrifice in every other position.
David Montgomery, CHI vs. DET ($5,300): No team has allowed more fantasy points to running backs than the Lions this season, and while it took a while to get going, Montgomery seems to have a very strong hold on the Bears' backfield touches. His two largest snap shares of the season have come in the past two games, which we already knew because we read Jerry Donabedian's Hidden State Line article this week, a span that saw him rush 41 times for 175 yards and three touchdowns while adding seven catches on nine targets for 48 receiving yards. There are actually a number of running backs in very good situations this week, but if you're unable to get off of McCaffrey (which is totally understandable), paying down for other running backs seems more viable, especially with wide receivers worthy of higher salaries. Additionally, there are multiple cheaper running backs to consider along with Montgomery, including the Bills' Devin Singletary ($5,000), who finally got the appropriate workload last week by rushing 20 times for 95 yards and a touchdown while catching three of four targets for 45 receiving yards, and Ronald Jones ($4,300), who has finally done enough to warrant more playing time from head coach Bruce Arians, though he does almost nothing on passing downs, which obviously hurts his target floor. There's also been some optimism about the Chiefs' Damien Williams ($4,900) after he rushed 12 times for 125 yards and a touchdown last week (91 came on one play), but the potential return of Patrick Mahomes ($7,000) could keep Williams' carry volume low. Playing two of these guys with McCaffrey seems like it could be a popular build for cash games, while the middle tier running backs seem more suited for GPPs.
Marlon Mack, IND vs. MIA ($7,000): This is a great week for running back differentiation in GPPs because there are a plethora of viable players at the position who can have big games. Mack is one of those options, as he's up against a Dolphins defense that has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs this season, but they've done that by giving up the fourth-fewest receptions (33) to the position, which works out well for Mack because he doesn't catch many passes. The 1,067 rushing yards allowed by the Dolphins are the most in the league, and they've done that in only eight games; the next five teams behind them have all played nine or 10. Mack has only rushed for more than 100 yards twice this season, but he continues to get a huge share of the backfield touches, and that should continue Sunday. The Titans' Derrick Henry ($6,400) is in a similar spot against the Chiefs' poor run defense, one that's allowed the second-most rushing yards this season, but if you're concerned Mack and Henry don't catch enough passes, you could stay in the price range and go with Jaylen Samuels ($6,300), who pretty much only catches passes but should get more carries because James Conner (shoulder) is out once again. That also doesn't include the strong matchups for Aaron Jones ($7,400), Alvin Kamara ($8,200), Mark Ingram ($7,100), Nick Chubb ($7,00) and Le'Veon Bell ($6,900).
Lamar Jackson, BAL at CIN ($7,300): Jackson is the most expensive quarterback on the slate, but he also has the highest floor because of his rushing ability. There is actually a strong case to be made for the top six quarterbacks in terms of price, but Jackson will always be the safest because of those rushing yards, not to mention a strong matchup this week against the Bengals. The potential return of Patrick Mahomes ($7,000) could have people going his way in a game at Tennessee, while Jameis Winston ($6,800) lines up against the Cardinals after throwing for more than 300 yards in three straight games. Additionally, Kyler Murray ($6,500) has a strong matchup against the Buccaneers' terrible pass defense, while Aaron Rodgers ($6,600) is looking to bounce back after getting smacked around by the Chargers last week. Oh, and we absolutely cannot forget about Drew Brees ($6,700) against the dumpster-fire Falcons defense in a game with the second-highest total on the slate (51.0 versus the 52.5 for Cardinals vs. Buccaneers). Paying up for McCaffrey doesn't make it easy to also pay up for a quarterback, but there's a clear separation between this group and everyone else, and Jackson has the highest floor.
Ryan Tannehill, TEN at KC ($5,100): Would you pay $5,100 for a quarterback who has thrown for more than 300 yards twice in the past three games and is lining up against a defense that's allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season? What if that quarterback also showed a rushing floor with 38 yards on the ground just last week? Well, that's what you're getting with Tannehill, and he comes in as one of the cheapest starters on the slate. Tannehill is far from a sure thing, which is why he's on the lower end of the salary scale, but if you don't want to pay up for a quarterback then you're left considering guys like Tannehill, Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,200) or the stellar New York duo of Sam Darnold ($5,800) or Daniel Jones ($5,700). They all have decent matchups, but the risk really doesn't seem worth the potential reward, at least in cash games.
Michael Thomas, NO vs. ATL ($8,300): There are a number of expensive viable wide receivers on the slate, but Thomas is the clear top option given his ridiculously high floor and potential ceiling for a team with the highest implied total. Having scored at least 16.4 fantasy points in every game this season, Thomas is highly likely to be heavily targeted yet again, and there's a reasonable argument that he's actually way underpriced despite being the most expensive player at his position. With a number of value running backs, wide receivers and tight ends, Thomas figures to be very popular in cash games, and the biggest reason to fade him in GPPs is leverage as opposed to other players clearly outscoring him. Thomas' popularity should make guys like Mike Evans ($7,600), Julio Jones ($7,500) and Chris Godwin ($7,400) a bit lower owned, though they aren't likely to be really low-owned because their games are easy to stack with cheaper players like Calvin Ridley ($5,400) and Christian Kirk ($5,200). If that's the case, it may give us some lower-than-it-should be ownership on Cooper Kupp ($7,300) and Davante Adams ($6,900), who both figure to get double-digit targets with ease (maybe the latter more than the former), with Tyreek Hill ($7,700) also in the conversation if Mahomes starts.
Jarvis Landry, CLE vs. BUF ($4,900): Landry was a popular cash-game target last week against Denver, and he finished with a solid six catches on 13 targets for 51 yards and a touchdown at a $4,500 salary. A bit more expensive this week with Cleveland a home favorite, Landry comes in with 23 targets in his last two games combined. There's been talk that the Browns want to force-feed Odell Beckham ($6,100), but their respective stats are so close to each other that it makes it tough to pay the extra $1,200, particularly against a good defensive team like the Bills. Landry's price range is actually filled with cash-game options that people will try to convince themselves are good, including Kirk, Jamison Crowder ($5,000), Zach Pascal ($5,300), D.J. Moore ($5,200), DeVante Parker ($4,800) and Tyler Boyd ($4,700), though all of them are a bit sketchy in their own right.
Darius Slayton, NYG at NYJ ($4,200): Among the even-cheaper group of wide receivers, Slayton jumps out facing a Jets defense that has simply been horrific against outside receivers. Golden Tate ($5,900) runs primarily out of the slot, where the Jets have actually been pretty good, but Slayton should be able to get open more often than not, which could hopefully increase his fairly limited target share. With Engram and Shepard out, there's reason to think Slayton's opportunities should increase, though that's probably why he's a bit more expensive than guys like Auden Tate ($4,000), Josh Reynolds ($3,800), Allen Lazard ($3,800) and Andy Isabella ($3,300).
Mike Gesicki, MIA at IND ($3,100): The injury absence of Preston Williams (knee) should open up more targets for Gesicki, who is coming off a great game against the Jets when he caught all six targets for 95 yards, his second game in the last four with at least six targets. The Colts have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season, but Gesicki at least provides some comfort since he's been used a bunch lately, he's cheap and you don't have to convince yourself that O.J. Howard ($3,300) is finally going to break out despite plenty of evidence that it's highly unlikely to happen, even against the hapless Cardinals defense.
Travis Kelce, KC at TEN ($6,400): Kelce is a solid option regardless of who starts under center, but his upside is much more likely to be seen if Mahomes is healthy enough to play. With Evan Engram ruled out, Kelce is joined by Austin Hooper ($5,500) and Mark Andrews ($5,200) in the upper tier, and while there is a clear salary separation, you're definitely getting less by paying less. Andrews just hasn't been all that productive recently, but Hooper could definitely have some ownership in cash games and GPPs, particularly as part of a game stack.
Cardinals at TB ($2,200): The Cardinals defense has been really bad this season, but you have to give any team consideration when they're lining up against Jameis Winston, who threw five interceptions as recently as three games ago, and he had two interceptions and three fumbles (two lost) two games ago. The high variance of defenses makes it tough to pay up, as the Ravens ($4,000) are likely to dominate the Bengals and the Colts ($3,500) should have little trouble against the Dolphins, but they can have strong defensive games and still not force any (or enough) turnovers if they don't score a touchdown.