This article is part of our DFS Tournament Guide series.
The Week 3 main slate features two games with over/unders in the 50s — one at 56.5 and the other at 55.5. The disparity between these two contests and the others on the slate means we'll likely see a lot of similar stacks in tournaments,
As always, I'm happy to discuss strategy in the comments below, or on twitter (@RotowireNFL_JD).
Note: All prices listed come from DraftKings, but most of the logic can be applied to other sites across the DFS industry. Discussion is limited to players from the "main slate" of games kicking off at 1:00, 4:05 and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday. The strategy below is meant for large-field tournaments, where payouts typically are limited to ~20 percent of lineups, with the vast majority concentrated at the very top.
These are the players with the best projections relative to their DK salaries — good plays both for cash games and large-field tournaments. While we don't want our tourney lineups to look like cash-game lineups top to bottom, there's nothing wrong with using a few "chalk" picks. These players, along with a couple passing-game stacks, tend to form the core that remains fairly consistent throughout my lineups.
- RB Miles Sanders vs. CIN ($6,400)
The Bengals were last seen on Thursday Night Football giving up 234 total yards and four TDs to Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Three days later, Sanders put up 21.1 PPR points on 77 percent snap share against the Rams, getting 20 carries and seven targets in the process. His hamstring doesn't seem to be an issue anymore, and the Eagles can't afford to ease up on their lead back as they search for their first win of the year. Sanders is good chalk — an underpriced, three-down RB in a favorable matchup at home.
- RB Devin Singletary vs. LAR ($4,900) — Late Addition
I didn't realize Zack Moss (toe) was actually expected to sit out, but now that the Bills have made it official, Singletary is neck and neck with Sanders as the top cash-game play on the slate. I'd be wary of using a Singletary-Sanders backfield with a chalky Dallas-Seattle stack, but it's a solid tourney strategy if you're using lower ownership picks at other positions.
- WR KJ Hamler vs. TB ($3,000)
It's been a while since a min-priced player on DraftKings actually was worth considering. Hamler does have a tough matchup and a bad quarterback conspiring against him, but he's a speedy second-round pick who should see a handful of targets — possibly even more. With Jerry Jeudy almost strictly working from the slot, it was Hamler who led the Denver wide receivers in both snaps (31 of 39) and targets (four) during the second half of last week's loss to the Steelers. The post-halftime stats hold some significance because Courtland Sutton suffered a season-ending knee injury in the second quarter, leaving Hamler, Jeudy and Tim Patrick as the lead trio at wide receiver.
Stacks are the centerpiece of any tournament lineup, seeking to take advantage of positive correlations between players. It rarely makes sense to use a quarterback without one or two of his pass catchers, even if the player in question scores a decent portion of his fantasy points with his legs. Ideally, a stack also includes a pass catcher from the other side of the contest, hoping to take advantage of a tight game where both teams are still chucking the ball around late in the fourth quarter. (Implied team totals are listed in parentheses.
Cowboys (25.75) at Seahawks (30.75)
Dallas was second in both overall pace and neutral-situation pace last season, and now sits first in those categories after two weeks of play. Seattle, on the other hand, is at 32nd and 31st , respectively, down from last year's 20th and 24th. Of course, the Seahawks still end up in plenty of shootouts, because their defense isn't especially good and their passing offense is super efficient.
You already know the deal with Dak Prescott ($7,200), who had six games with more than 28 DK points last season and just put up a career-high 43.8 last week. Of course, he won't come cheap, nor will last week's leading pass catcher, TE Dalton Schultz ($4,500). I'd rather stick with the wide receivers, and while Amari Cooper ($6,500) is always the safest bet for volume, it's CeeDee Lamb ($5,400) who has the best individual matchup as the slot man in the Cowboys offense.
Michael Gallup ($5,500) is also a solid choice, likely coming with lower ownership than Cooper and Lamb after a slow start to the season. Even if he really is only the third option, Gallup will average more than five targets per game in the long run. And he tends to see passes downfield, with a 12.4 aDOT last year and 16.3 aDOT so far this year. Using Gallup instead of Cooper is one way to make those Cowboys stacks slightly less chalky (Granted, I said the same thing last week before Gallup torpedoed some promising Dak lineups,)
The 2020 Seahawks have come out throwing early in games, and it's hard to see why they'd do anything different after getting such good results. Russell Wilson ($7,300) appears headed for a career-best fantasy season, with DK Metcalf ($6,500) and Tyler Lockett ($6,400) doing the heavy lifting on the receiving end, as expected.
Greg Olsen ($4,200) and Chris Carson ($6,600) are the other guys who have run routes on more than half of Wilson's dropbacks, while No. 3 receiver David Moore ($3,600) scored a TD last week but has seen only six targets on the year. Olsen is overpriced for someone with five targets in two games, but Carson is a solid play after his snap share (63 percent), touches (20) and routes per dropback (.60) all shot up in Week 2. Don't expect the receiving TDs to continue, but there's no reason he, Wilson and one of the WRs can't all have huge point totals in the same game.
- Best Stack: QB Wilson + WR Metcalf + WR Lockett + WR Lamb
Lions (25) at Cardinals (30.5)
The Cardinals are seventh in overall pace and third in neutral-situation pace; the Lions are eighth and 10th, respectively. Both teams also were top 12 in both metrics last year, so it isn't just a small-sample fluke (and we know the Cardinals love to go no-huddle). The Lions do seem a bit more run-oriented this year, but circumstances have Matthew Stafford on pace for exactly 600 pass attempts.
T.J. Hockenson ($5,300) destroyed the Cardinals in Week 1 last year and is off to a nice start this season, but man is that a high price for a guy with nine targets and .62 routes run per QB dropback. Jesse James is still poaching some snaps, plus the Lions use Hock as a pass blocker a few times per game.
Kenny Golladay ($6,200) and Marvin Jones ($5,800) provide better value in terms of expected volume, though it isn't entirely clear Kenny G will be back from a hamstring injury. Cardinals CB Patrick Peterson may be past his prime, but it's still less than optimal to draw him as a shadow. While he loses some of his target projection if Golladay suits up, Jones could face softer coverage in that scenario. D'Andre Swift ($5,000) and Danny Amendola ($4,600) are the other options, but they're a little pricey given their limited roles. And Quintez Cephus ($4,000) wouldn't be the worst play if Golladay is out again (wouldn't be the best play, either).
Kyler Murray ($6,800) is a little cheaper than Russ and Dak, despite offering more rushing potential while playing in an offense that's tied with Seattle for the top implied total of the week. Murray is my preferred choice for cash games, and also a solid foundation for a tourney lineup.
Target-hog DeAndre Hopkins ($7,900) is the obvious stacking mate, while Christian Kirk (groin) appears unlikely to play. Kirk has been used (unsuccessfully) as the deep threat this year, with a 20.4 aDOT on only nine targets, accounting for five of the seven Murray passes that have gone 20 or more yard downfield (per PFF). The other two went to backup RB Chase Edmonds and No. 4 receiver Andy Isabella ($3,800), with the latter striking big for a 54-yard gain. A deep completion goes a long way toward helping Murray hit his ceiling, and Isabella's price goes a long way in offsetting the cost of the Murray-Hopkins stack. We could see Isabella in an every-down role if Kirk is out.
(No disrespect mean to Larry Fitzgerald, but I'm not paying $4,600 in a tournament for a guy who only sees short passes and currently has a 16-game streak with no more than 15.1 PPR points.)
- Best Stack: QB Murray + WR Hopkins + WR Isabella + WR Jones
Bengals (21.25) at Eagles (25.75)
The Bengals are second in overall pace but only 25th in neutral-situation pace, as they've tried to slow things down and run more but have then reverted to all-pass, all-the-time when trailing. They were sixth overall and seventh in neutral-situation pace last year, albeit with a downward trend throughout the season.
The Eagles are 12th overall and eighth in situation-neutral pace, up from last year's 19th and 17th, respectively. We can't assume either team will come out moving fast the way the Cardinals do, but both are capable of being sucked into an uptempo game without much running. This could be the hidden stacking gem on a slate where the Cowboys-Seahawks game figures to get so much attention.
Joe Burrow ($6,200) has been inaccurate, but he's also shown good pocket presence and rushing ability. While the rookie isn't a bad tourney play, I'd rather take the discount with Carson Wentz ($5,800) when stacking this game, as the Eagles are favored by 4.5 points and facing a defense that's even worse than their own.
With A.J. Green ($6,000) likely drawing Darius Slay in shadow coverage, Tyler Boyd ($5,900) has the relative advantage in his primary matchup with slumping slot corner Nickell Robey-Coleman. That looks like a great spot for the Bengals to pick on, as Boyd (6-2, 203) is on the big side for a slot receiver, while NRC (5-8, 180) is one of the smaller players in the league at any position.
The other reasonable WR option is Tee Higgins ($3,900), who bumped up to 65 percent snap share and .62 routes per dropback last week, moving ahead of both John Ross and Mike Thomas. Then we have TE Drew Sample ($3,500), filling in for C.J. Uzomah after a season-ending Achilles injury. Sample had a spurt of short receptions in last week's comeback effort, so he's a decent add-on if you're looking for a third wheel with Burrow and Boyd.
Wentz is cheaper than usual, and rightfully so given his weak start to the season. However, he should be looking at cleaner pockets this week, as the Bengals are expected to play without DTs Atkins (shoulder) and Mike Daniels (groin) again. Wentz dealt with Aaron Donald last week and Washington's pass-rushing horde in the opener, so Sunday's matchup should be a welcome sight. Note that the Eagles have an implied total of 25.75 points, which seems a little out of whack with Wentz's sub-6k price. (Then again, Miles Sanders should have a day on the ground.)
DeSean Jackson ($5,100) is a reasonably priced deep threat who has seen 16 targets in two games, so you're probably doing tournament lineups wrong if you don't have him in there as part of a Wentz stack. With Jalen Reagor (thumb) sidelined, the other viable options are tight ends Zach Ertz ($5,100) and Dallas Goedert ($4,900). The two have converged in terms of both real-life usage and DFS price, but I still have to favor the veteran when he comes this cheap and his role appears fundamentally unchanged from last year.
Given the favorable prices here, a mega-stack that also features Sanders is a reasonable option. All four having ceiling games in the same week is extremely unlikely, but we did see Wentz, Sanders and Alshon Jeffery all blow up in the same Week 13 game at Miami last year, with Goedert going for six and 66 in the same contest. Cool things can happen for the other players if the team is able to score a lot of points without throwing many passes to the second and third options at wide receiver (J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward, most likely).
- Best Stack: QB Wentz + RB Sanders + WR Jackson + WR Boyd + TE Ertz
We can pair a running back with his team's defense to double our bet on favorable game script in certain matchups. Just keep in mind that the scoring correlations aren't nearly as strong as those between quarterbacks and pass catchers, so it isn't worth forcing into a lineup unless the prices for each individual commodity make sense. We also need to account for specialized backfield roles, e.g., using David Montgomery rather than Tarik Cohen in conjunction with the Chicago defense.
- Jonathan Taylor ($7,000) + Colts D/ST ($4,100) vs. NYJ
Paying up for an RB/defense stack isn't the best feeling, but the circumstances here are a bit unusual, with D/ST prices generally looking harsh on the Week 3 slate, and the Colts favored by 11.5 over the injury-riddled Jets. Taylor got 19 carries and two targets before halftime last week, so he's set up for another Derrick Henry-type workload Week 3.
Honorable Mention: Miles Sanders ($6,400) + Eagles D/ST ($2,800) vs. CIN
- Calvin Ridley vs. CHI ($7,200)
The Chicago defense is looking good so far, but it isn't the monster we saw two years ago, and it probably won't be enough to slow Ridley down. Averaging 8-120-2 on 11 targets, the third-year pro could see even more work if Julio Jones (hamstring) is absent or limited. Even in a suboptimal matchup, it's worth paying the rising price for this type of volume and talent.
Fading the Field
Every week we see at least one or two players carrying high ownership without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. Recency bias is often to blame, but in some cases it even makes sense to fade a player with a strong projection, particularly when there are good alternatives at the same position and price range.
- WR Adam Thielen vs. TEN ($6,900)
Thielen's dominant share of the Minnesota passing attack is tempting, but this looks like the type of game where he could be stuck with 5-7 targets instead of pushing double digits. Both the Vikings and Titans love to run the ball, and neither team is likely to play at a fast pace unless they're forced into catch-up mode. Maybe that happens and Thielen has a huge day, but the more likely scenario is a reasonably close game with lots of running plays draining the clock. There are plenty of similarly talented wideouts with cheaper price tags in games that have better volume outlooks.
The SMASH Spot
Volume may be king, but we still need to account for efficiency, pinpointing situations that are likely to lead to impressive production in terms of YPA, YPC or YPT.
- Allen Robinson at ATL ($6,200)
Robinson has already disappointed in two favorable matchups this season, but his usage hints at a huge game around the corner, as he's top 10 in target share (28.6, 9th), air yards (239, 8th), air-yard share (40.1, 6th) and targets drawn 20-plus yards downfield (six, t-2nd). A trip to Atlanta sets up nicely for a Week 3 breakout, as the Falcons have been terrible against wide receivers even if we cut them some slack for the tough matchups (Seattle, Dallas). They've allowed a league-high 11.6 YPT on throw to WRs, with starting cornerbacks Isaiah Oliver, Darqueze Dennard and A.J. Terrell each allowing triple-digit yardage into his coverage, per PFF. The Bears move Robinson all over the formation, so he should get his chances against each of them.
The Bargain Bin
QB Carson Wentz vs. CIN ($5,800)
QB Mitchell Trubisky at ATL ($5,700)
RB Antonio Gibson at CLE ($4,700)
RB Tarik Cohen at ATL ($4,300)
RB Rex Burkhead vs. LVR ($4,000)
WR Mike Williams vs. CAR ($4,300)
WR N'Keal Harry vs. LVR ($4,200)
WR Damiere Byrd vs. LVR ($3,000)
WR KJ Hamler vs. TB ($3,000)
TE Logan Thomas at CLE ($3,700)
TE Jordan Akins at PIT ($3,400)
D/ST Giants vs. SF ($2,700)
D/ST Panthers at LAC ($2,200)
The "Sunday Scramble" doesn't need to be stressful. We can plan our response ahead of time for various scenarios that could emerge once inactive lists are released.
My best guess is that all three are fine and will play, but it's at least something we'll have to keep an eye on if the Friday injury report lists them as questionable. Devontae Booker ($4,000) is the one who has been subbing in behind Jacobs on the rare occasions he's been taken off the field for a breather on early downs.
- RB James White vs. LVR
With White out for personal reasons last week, Rex Burkhead ($4,000) got six carries and six targets on 71 percent snap share. It seems like nobody noticed because there wasn't much production to along with the volume bump, but I'll certainly take notice if White is out again.
Akers appears likely to miss the game with a rib cartilage injury, while Brown is on track to play after having finger surgery earlier in the week. However, it's fair to wonder how many snaps Brown will see if he can't catch the ball with ease. Ideally, we'd get some kind of update from Rams beat reporters before Sunday. More likely, we'll have to guess at the workload split between Brown and Darrell Henderson ($5,400). Henderson was more effective last week, but Brown is only two weeks removed from a big game.
- WR Julio Jones vs. CHI
Jones was ineffective last week and then missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday. He's always dealing with some injury or another, but the current hamstring issue seems a little more serious. Ridley we already discussed as a strong play in any scenario, while Russell Gage ($5,100) and Hayden Hurst ($4,700) also get on the map if Julio is out.
- WR Kenny Golladay at ARZ
This one was discussed above in the game stack section. It looks like Golladay is on track to return, and his price ($6,200) is pretty appealing given the matchup.
- WR JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. HOU
JuJu played a full game last week but was then held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday with a knee injury. A Week 3 absence would provide a boost for Diontae Johnson, who already looks like one of the stronger plays on the slate, especially for cash games. We can also give James Washington ($4,100) a look if Smith-Schuster is out.
- WR Christian Kirk vs. DET
This is another one we already discussed in the game stack section. Andy Isabella ($3,800) figures to join the starting lineup and serve as the deep threat if Kirk misses Sunday's game with a groin injury.
- TE George Kittle at NYG
Reports last week suggested Kittle ($6,300) would return from his knee injury for Sunday's game. If so, he should see plenty of targets from back QB Nick Mullens, whose previous starts were filled with mistakes but also plenty of yardage. Kittle's price is down $900 from Week 1, and he should see plenty of targets if he's able to play. If not, Jordan Reed ($4,000) should see some work, though his 46 percent snap share suggests he'd be a long shot to come anywhere close to last week's production again.
As of Friday morning, forecasts look good in every NFL city. No precipitation, no extreme heat, no heavy winds.