This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
The Week 7 main slate is a throwback to the golden age of DFS, with some late schedule adjustments from the NFL giving us a Sunday night game as part of the main slate (woot, woot). It also happens to be the game (SEA-ARZ) with the second-largest over/under (56) of the week, so there's stacking appeal even after we consider how a primetime kickoff could contribute to slightly higher ownership for the players in that contest.
As always, I'm happy to discuss strategy in the comments below, or on twitter (@JerryDonabedian).
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 (though the Week 7 slate also includes SNF). 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.
|Over/Under||Road Team||Road Implied Total||Home Team||Home Implied Total|
|1||57||Green Bay Packers||30.25||Houston Texans||26.75|
|2||56||Seattle Seahawks||29.75||Arizona Cardinals||26.25|
|3||55||Detroit Lions||26.5||Atlanta Falcons||28.5|
|4||52||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||27.75||Las Vegas Raiders||24.25|
|5||51||Carolina Panthers||21.75||New Orleans Saints||29.25|
|6||50.5||Cleveland Browns||26.75||Cincinnati Bengals||23.75|
|7||50.5||Pittsburgh Steelers||24.5||Tennessee Titans||26|
|8||49||Jacksonville Jaguars||22.5||Los Angeles Chargers||28.25|
|9||46||Dallas Cowboys||22.5||Washington FT||23.5|
|10||46||Kansas City Chiefs||28||Denver Broncos||18|
|11||45||Buffalo Bills||28.5||New York Jets||18.5|
|12||44||San Francisco 49ers||21.25||New England Patriots||22.75|
(Bold for over/unders of 52+ and implied totals of 26+)
Point-Per-Dollar Value / Cash-Game Stars
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 Kareem Hunt at CIN ($6,800)
Hunt hasn't yet capitalized on Nick Chubb's absence, with the past two weeks bringing highly difficult matchups against the Steelers and Colts, both in the Top 5 for defensive DVOA and fantasy points allowed to RBs. Cincinnati, on the other hand, is 14th in FPs allowed to running backs and 18th in defensive DVOA (24th vs. the run) — a step forward from last season, sure, but still not good. While Hunt's workload was hurt by a blowout last week, he got 23 touches and 70 percent of snaps in the win over Indianapolis a couple weeks back. Expect a similar workload Sunday, this time against a softer defense.
- WR Terry McLaurin vs. DAL ($5,700)
McLaurin's stat line looks similar to what D.J. Moore did last season, prorating to 96 catches for 1,299 yards and 2.7 touchdowns over 16 games. The lack of TDs is largely related to playing in a bad offense, but we can still expect a little more going forward, as McLaurin has accounted for 27.5 percent of the Washington targets, 36.6 percent of the receiving yards and only 16.7 percent of the receiving scores. This week he'll face a Cowboys defense that ranks 21st in DVOA against the pass and 31st in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers.
Other Cash-Game Plays
QB Kyler Murray, ARZ vs. SEA ($7,100)
QB Joe Burrow, CIN vs. CLE ($5,500)
RB Alvin Kamara, NO vs. CAR ($7,900)
RB Aaron Jones, GB at HOU ($7,200)
RB James Conner, PIT at TEN ($6,700)
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN vs. CLE ($4,500)
WR Stefon Diggs, BUF at NYJ ($7,000)
WR Keenan Allen, LAC vs. JAX ($6,200)
WR Robby Anderson, CAR vs. NO ($6,000)
WR Tyler Boyd, CIN vs. CLE ($5,400)
WR A.J. Green, CIN vs. CLE ($4,300)
TE Travis Kelce, KC at DEN ($6,300)
TE Hunter Henry, LAC vs. JAX ($4,500)
D/ST Washington Football Team vs. DAL ($2,500)
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.)
Seattle Seahawks (29.75) at Arizona Cardinals (26.25)
Overall Pace: Seahawks - 23rd (28.90 seconds per play), Cardinals - 6th (25.73)
Neutral-Situation Pace: Seahawks - 30th (31.87), Cardinals - 2nd (26.22)
The Cardinals remain uptempo, with a 45 percent no-huddle rate in neutral game script putting them far, far ahead of every other team (the Rams are second at 18 percent). The Seahawks, on the other hand, like to play at a slow pace, but they've also been throwing the ball more often and have arguably the most efficient offense in the league.
Seattle has run 60.4 plays per game on offense, while facing a league-high 75.6 per game on defense. Some degree of regression to the mean seems inevitable, but it does make sense for there to be a disparity, given their style of play. The offense regularly picks up huge chunks of yards, while the defense has struggled to defend short and intermediate passes.
The Arizona defense has actually been kind of good this year, but it's hard to imagine that holding up now that top pass rusher Chandler Jones (biceps) is out for the season. This will be Arizona's first matchup with an upper-echelon offense, having previously faced San Francisco, Washington, Detroit, Carolina, the Jets and Dallas.
Russell Wilson ($8,000) has put up 24.9 or more DK points every week this year, leading the NFL in a slew of efficiency stats while playing in an offense that has the eighth-highest pass rate (59 percent) in neutral game script (excludes the fourth quarter, final two minutes of first half and anything when the point differential is more than seven). Wilson is the most expensive QB this week, but there's an argument for using him if you're comfortable with discount options at other positions.
The stacking options are pretty obvious, with DK Metcalf ($7,200), Tyler Lockett ($6,600) and Chris Carson ($6,400) the only guys on the team averaging four or more targets per game. TE Greg Olsen ($3,600) can work as a punt for a Wilson stack, but he's averaging only 7.0 DK points and 3.8 targets, so he's actually overpriced relative to other bargain options at tight end.
The Cardinals have only used CB Patrick Peterson in shadow coverage once this season — against Terry McLaurin — but it is possible Peterson follows Metcalf this Sunday. Meanwhile, Lockett has run 63 percent of his routes from the slot, where Arizona's Byron Murphy has allowed 1.25 yards per cover snap, ranking 11th out of 22 defensive backs who have 100-plus snaps in that capacity, per PFF.
In terms of the WR v. CB matchups, this isn't really a clear upgrade or downgrade for either Metcalf or Lockett. We've seen only two instances of both receivers reaching 20 DK points in the same week out of their 21 games playing together, but the usage so far this season suggests it should happen a few more times before the end of the year. They're accounting for 48 percent of team targets and 74 percent of air yards, with Metcalf alone handling 50 percent air-yard share.
Kyler Murray ($7,100) hasn't been nearly as good as Wilson from a real-life standpoint, but the fantasy production (28.1 DK average) has been outstanding thanks to 370 rushing yards and six TDs. While he isn't likely to sustain 7.3 YPC or one TD for every 8.5 rush attempts, there's no doubt sophomore-year Murray is more of a rushing threat than the rookie version.
In terms of stacking, DeAndre Hopkins ($8,200) leads the NFL in target share but also leads the Week 7 DFS slate in price. His volume has cooled down a bit in recent weeks, so he's probably a fade for any lineup that doesn't have Murray at QB. The ownership will be high, per usual.
Christian Kirk ($4,900) is the only other Arizona pass catcher worth using, as Larry Fitzgerald ($4,200) has gone 20 straight games without topping 15.1 DK points, averaging 6.9 yards per catch this season. Kirk got only three targets last week, but two of them resulted in touchdowns, and his role increased from a route/snap standpoint.
- Best Stack: QB Murray + WR Hopkins + WR Lockett
Houston Texans (24.75) at Tennessee Titans (28.25)
Overall Pace: Packers - 32nd (30.62), Texans - 9th (26.10)
Neutral-Situation Pace: Packers - 19th (30.15), Texans - 8th (28.76)
The Packers are a slow-paced team, but one with a highly efficient offense (kind of like Seattle, only less explosive). The Texans are less efficient and faster-paced, including the sixth-highest no-huddle rate (10 percent) in neutral game script. They may not be able to run the ball or play decent defense, but Deshaun Watson at least tends to keep games competitive.
Aaron Rodgers ($7,000) should bounce back from last week's clunker in Tampa Bay, but we'll also note that his red-hot start to the season was aided by a streak of favorable matchups (MIN, DET, NO, ATL). The price feels like a lit, especially when superior rushing threats such as Murray and Watson land right in the same range.
Aaron Jones ($7,200) will be a popular DFS play after Derrick Henry eviscerated Houston last week, and Davante Adams ($7,900) also figures to attract plenty of ownership. That's not to say either is a bad option, but Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($4,100) makes for a nice pivot, quietly averaging six targets per game while sporting the deepest aDOT in the league (18.5) among qualified pass catchers. With Texans CB Bradley Roby having a strong season and likely shadowing Adams, there's an opening for MVS to have his first big game since Week 1.
The Packers' defensive struggles seem to be flying under the radar outside of Wisconsin, with a rebound season from Rodgers dominating the headlines. Green Bay is 30th in defensive DVOA and 24th in yards allowed per play (5.9), struggling to defend both the pass and the run. However, the fantasy numbers for opponents haven't been gaudy, with the Packers facing only 59.2 plays per game on defense.
Deshaun Watson ($6,800) had his two best games of the season the past two weeks, and he should have an advantage over this Green Bay defense if his team can manage not to get dominated in time of possession. Maybe that means getting stops, or maybe it means allowing Rodgers to score quickly. Whatever the case, Watson always offers potential for 30 or more fantasy points, even with his rushing stats down a bit this year.
Will Fuller ($6,800) has been extremely productive, but Brandin Cooks ($5,200) actually has one more target and topped 20 DK points the past two weeks. While it makes sense to use both in a Watson stack, Cooks is the sharper play for any other lineup, given the huge cost disparity. The last option is TE Darren Fells ($4,100), who put up 2-57-1 and 6-85-1 the past two weeks with Jordan Akins (ankle, concussion) unable to play. Fells is a reasonable choice for Watson stacks if Akins misses another game.
- Best Stack: QB Watson + WR Fuller + WR Cooks + WR Valdes-Scantling
Other Stacks to Consider
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 Jonathan Taylor rather than Nyheim Hines with the Colts defense.
- RB Antonio Gibson ($5,000) + D/ST Washington Football Team ($2,500) vs. DAL
I made a case for Gibson's breakout game in my Week 7 matchups article earlier this week, noting that the rookie has nine or more carries in every game and exactly five targets each of the past three weeks. His team spent the better part of the past five weeks playing from behind, but Gibson's 61.1 percent share of RB rush attempts in that stretch hints at upside for 15-to-20 carries in better game script. That's where the Washington defense comes in, playing at home against a Dallas squad with a backup QB and an O-line that's been ruined by injuries.
- Alvin Kamara vs. CAR ($7,900)
Despite slowing down a bit in his final two games before a bye week, Kamara still hasn't gone any lower than 19.9 DK points this year, averaging 12.2 carries and 9.0 targets. He could be the most heavily rostered player on the Week 7 slate, but there isn't a ton of upside in fading when a guy's non-injury floor is safely in double digits. New Orleans has the third-largest implied total (29.25) on the slate, while Carolina ranks 31st in DK points allowed to RBs, 26th in run-defense DVOA and 27th in YPC allowed (4.9). The talent, volume and matchup all check out.
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.
- Julio Jones vs. DET ($7,100)
Jones gets a great matchup on the heels of a dominant performance, but he still comes with some added in-game injury risk, and his target share in his three full games has been a modest 21 percent. Calvin Ridley ($7,300) is slightly more expensive, but he'll also be on fewer rosters, and he has a 29-to-26 target advantage (plus better fantasy production) in those three games where both wide receivers started and finished the contest.
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.
- Hunter Henry vs. JAX ($4,500)
Given his price and his seven-target-per-game average, Henry would be a good play this week even if he was facing a tough defense. A matchup with Jacksonville makes him one of the best values at any position, as the Jaguars rank dead last in pass-defense DVOA and net yards allowed per pass attempt (8.2), allowing 10.6 YPT and five touchdowns to tight ends.
Honorable Mention: WR Kenny Golladay, DET at ATL ($6,700)
The Bargain Bin
QB Joe Burrow vs. CLE ($5,500)
QB Kyle Allen vs. DAL ($5,200)
RB Justin Jackson vs. JAX ($4,900)
RB Kenyan Drake vs. SEA ($4,800)
WR Mike Williams vs. JAX ($4,700
WR Laviska Shenault at LAC ($4,500)
WR Marvin Jones at ATL ($4,400)
WR A.J. Green vs. CLE ($4,300)
WR Diontae Johnson at TEN ($4,200)
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling at HOU ($4,100)
WR Breshad Perriman vs. BUF ($3,700)
WR Demarcus Robinson at DEN ($3,400)
TE Logan Thomas vs. DAL ($3,500)
TE Drew Sample vs. CLE ($3,200)
D/ST Washington Football Team vs. DAL ($2,500)
D/ST New York Jets vs. BUF ($2,000)
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.
- WR DeAndre Hopkins at SEA
Hopkins missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, listed on the injury report with an ankle issue. The Cardinals likely are just being cautious, but it's at least worth keeping an eye on the situation. Christian Kirk ($4,900) will be an obvious play, especially for cash games, in the unlikely event Hopkins doesn't suit up.
- WR John Brown at NYJ
Brown played through his knee injury Monday night, finishing without a catch on four targets. He put up only 42 yards over his last three games, while Stefon Diggs ($7,000) continued to produce at a high level. A Week 7 absence for Brown could give Diggs a slight target-share boost, and it also would put Gabriel Davis ($3,600) on the map as a punt play.
- WR Keenan Allen vs. JAX
Back spasms forced Allen out of the MNF game Week 5 at New Orleans, but he should be able to play after a bye week. If not, Mike Williams ($4,700) becomes one of the top values on the slate, and Hunter Henry ($4,500) also gets a boost. If he does play, Allen's $6,200 salary looks awfully attractive in a matchup with the Jags.
- WR Michael Thomas vs. CAR
It looks like Thomas could miss another game, possibly due to a hamstring injury rather than the ankle sprain that kept him out in the first place. Emmanuel Sanders ($5,100) reached 15 PPR points in each of the past three games, averaging 9.3 targets in that stretch. Tre'Quan Smith ($4,000) will be a tournament option if Thomas is ruled out again, and the same goes for TE Jared Cook ($4,300). You could even make an argument for Cook in cash games, but I'm too in love with Henry to go there.
- WR Jamison Crowder vs. BUF
You might never feel good about using Breshad Perriman ($3,700), but he'll have double-digit-target upside at a sub-4k price if Crowder's groin injury keeps him out. Backup slot receiver Braxton Berrios ($3,200) could also work if you're really looking to dig deep, while Crowder himself is a solid choice at $5,900 if it turns out the groin isn't a real concern.
- WR A.J. Brown vs. PIT
Brown is probably fine, but we should at least mention that he was held out of practice Thursday, listed on the injury report with a knee issue again. If it turns out to be a real thing, Corey Davis ($4,800) would come into play as a solid tournament option. Davis averaged 6.3 targets and 14.9 DK points over the first three weeks of the season with Brown out of the lineup. (Davis was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list Monday.)
A cold front is moving toward Denver, potentially giving us our first snow game of the year. The forecast suggests it'll likely only be a couple inches of snow, with wind gusts expected to stay below 20 mph and temperatures in the 20s. That's really our only weather concern this week, but it could be a significant one if the winds pick up or the snow is worse than currently expected. FWIW, the over/under opened at 48.5 but had dropped to 46.0 by Friday morning.
The Toilet Bowl
This is a new feature for Week 7, and something I hope to keep doing through the end of the year if there's any interest. Basically, it's a DraftKings contest where the goal will be to have the LOWEST point total rather than the highest.
There's no way to make a paid contest of this sort on DK, but I can promise that the winner each week will get a shoutout in the following week's tournament guide. I'll also give you a shoutout on twitter, but I don't have any clout, so don't get too excited. And if anyone manages to win the contest in two different weeks this season, I'll make a $50 donation to the charity of their choice.
First, we need to establish some rules.
- All lineups must use at least $49,500 of the salary cap.
- No using players from the New York Jets, including the D/ST. Automatic DQ for a violation.
- Any player with zero points automatically adds 3x of their salary to your point total. So you can put Christian McCaffrey ($8,300) in your lineup, but then we're adding 24.9 points to your final score. The same goes for players who aren't injured but nonetheless finish with zero points. However, negative scores are allowed — in fact, they're encouraged — free of any penalty.
OK, here's the link: https://www.draftkings.com/draft/contest/94985066