This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Winning large-field tournaments in DFS is about embracing risk and variance. Welcome the unknown of these first few weeks by trying to find spots where the industry has developed a consensus that might be unwarranted and then go the other way. Remember that the focus should be on building lineups that correlate and have leverage as opposed to worrying about who are the "best plays." These slates are big, so there are always plenty of viable options to choose from; no one is a lock and everyone can be faded. Good luck this season!
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.
|49.0||Seattle Seahawks||26.00||Indianapolis Colts||23.00|
|52.0||Arizona Cardinals||25.00||Tennessee Titans||28.00|
|45.5||Jacksonville Jaguars||23.75||Houston Texans||20.75|
|47.0||Minnesota Vikings||25.00||Cincinnati Bengals||22.00|
|48.5||Pittsburgh Steelers||21.00||Buffalo Bills||27.50|
|48.0||Philadelphia Eagles||22.50||Atlanta Falcons||25.50|
|45.0||San Francisco 49ers||26.25||Detroit Lions||18.75|
|45.0||San Diego Chargers||22.00||Washington FT||23.00|
|44.0||New York Jets||20.00||Carolina Panthers||24.00|
|54.5||Cleveland Browns||24.50||Kansas City Chiefs||30.00|
|49.0||Green Bay Packers||26.25||New Orleans Saints||22.75|
|41.5||Denver Broncos||22.25||New York Giants||19.25|
|43.5||Miami Dolphins||20.25||New England Patriots||23.25|
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 GPP lineups to look like cash-game lineups top to bottom, there's nothing wrong with using a few chalky plays. These players, along with a couple passing-game stacks, tend to form the core that remains fairly consistent throughout my lineups.
- RB Christian McCaffrey vs. NYJ ($9,500)
McCaffrey is the best running back in DFS because of how many passes he catches and because of the special plays he's capable of making whenever he touches the ball. There are still some weeks when he isn't a great play, but this isn't one of them. He's playing at home against a bad team, that is also starting a rookie quarterback. Don't overthink it.
- TE Kyle Pitts vs. PHI ($4,000)
Pitts has so much going for him in this matchup. Fantasy consideration aside, by all accounts he's a generational tight-end talent. The Eagles were bad on defense last year and funneled opposing offenses to the middle of the field, which is good for tight ends. The Falcons lost Julio Jones, and now Matt Ryan will be looking for a new top target. Pitts is considerably too cheap; he will be a $6,000 player soon.
Other Cash-Game Options
QB Kyler Murray at TEN ($7,600)
QB Josh Allen vs. PIT ($7,400)
QB Jalen Hurts at ATL ($6,400)
QB Joe Burrow vs. MIN ($5,700)
QB Sam Darnold vs. NYJ ($5,000)
RB Dalvin Cook at CIN ($9,100)
RB Alvin Kamara vs. GB ($8,600)
RB James Robinson at HOU ($6,400)
RB Joe Mixon vs. MIN ($6,200)
RB Chase Edmonds at TEN ($4,600)
WR Davante Adams at NO ($8,300)
WR Keenan Allen at WAS ($6,900)
WR Tee Higgins vs. MIN ($4,700)
WR Michael Pittman vs SEA ($4,100)
WR Marvin Jones at HOU ($3,600)
WR Marquez Callaway vs. GB ($3,400)
TE Travis Kelce vs. CLE ($8,300)
D/ST Denver Broncos at NYG ($3,300)
D/ST Jacksonville Jaguars at HOU ($2,700)
D/ST Atlanta Falcons vs. PHI ($2,000)
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 game, hoping to take advantage of a back-and-forth shootout. (Implied team totals are listed in parentheses.)
Arizona Cardinals (25) at Tennessee Titans (28)
This looks like the best target of the slate; it has the second-highest total and is projected to be competitive. More importantly, it offers so much flexibility that you can stack it any direction and the lineup will look good.
Kyler Murray ($7,600) is basically matchup-proof for DFS purposes because of his running ability, and playing Tennessee is especially appealing because the Titans are weak in the secondary. DeAndre Hopkins ($7,800) is in a great spot here and has big ceiling potential, while Rondale Moore ($3,000) is an exciting rookie that the Cardinals plan to use in a variety of ways. He has big-play upside and a minimum salary. Chase Edmonds ($4,600) is expected to share time with James Conner, but Edmonds' pass-catching ability and cheap salary make him a logical pairing with Murray.
Ryan Tannehill ($6,500) projects to be one of the better values at quarterback this week. The Cardinals secondary is arguably even worse than the Titans, and A.J. Brown ($7,100) and Julio Jones ($6,800) seem a bit under-priced in this spot. Even Anthony Firkser ($3,200) is viable for a near-minimum salary. Meanwhile, Derrick Henry ($8,800) is -225 to score a touchdown, according to DK Sportsbook. We saw him break multiple slates last season and the Titans figure to be in the red zone often on Sunday.
You could stack either side of this game, with as many as five players or even just three. Both running backs are in play too, which isn't often the case for passing-stacks.
- Favorite Stack: QB Murray + WR Hopkins + WR Moore + RB Henry
Green Bay Packers (26.25) at New Orleans Saints (22.75)
The Packers-Saints matchup features elite players who possess high ceilings on both sides. Both teams also have cheap receivers who are likely to outperform their salaries. Just note that this game was relocated to Jacksonville due to Hurricane Ida.
Aaron Rodgers ($6,700) and Davante Adams ($8,300) are capable of being the highest scoring QB-WR duo on any slate, and a matchup against the Saints is nothing to fear. Rodgers force-fed Adams in the red zone last season and looked to him in goal-line situations as well. Aaron Jones ($6,800) has considerable upside for his salary, as his receiving potential makes him a sneaky-contrarian in stacks, as few will opt to pair him with Rodgers. Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3,700) is always a deep threat and Robert Tonyan ($4,200) is coming off a breakout season in which he scored 12 TDs.
Alvin Kamara's ($8,600) fantasy prospects received a boost when the Saints named Jameis Winston as starter. I'd still expect Taysom Hill to play, especially near the goal line, so I'll avoid both quarterbacks. The big news is the absence of Michael Thomas, which makes Marquez Callaway ($3,400) the No. 1 receiver, and his cheap salary will make him a relatively popular option. Thomas' absence should also mean more targets for Kamara, giving a boost to his already high ceiling.
- Favorite Stack: QB Rodgers + RB Kamara + WR Adams + WR Callaway
Other Stacks to Consider
- RB Derrick Henry vs. ARI ($8,800)
As mentioned above, Henry has a TD prop of -225. He had three 200-yard games last season and scored a whopping 39+ fantasy points four times. The main reason I'm including him here is because of the potential leverage he could bring, as McCaffrey, Cook and Kamara are all expected to be more popular.
- WR Davante Adams at NO ($8,300)
Adams is likely to be less popular than he should be for two reasons: first, there is a plethora of cheap options at wide receiver, which means most people will spend up at running back. Second, the Saints have a top corner in Marshon Lattimore and some will choose to fade that matchup.
Fading the Field
Every week we see at least one or two players who are very popular 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.
- RB Najee Harris at BUF ($6,300)
Industry experts have been touting Harris all summer, and he's supposed to be the bell-cow this season. That may be true, but it's been awhile since I trusted a Steelers running back, and they're big underdogs on the road in Buffalo, which doesn't bode well for the running game. I prefer James Robinson ($6,400) and Joe Mixon ($6,200) in that range.
The Smash Spot
Players in favorable positions to significantly outperform their salary.
- TE Kyle Pitts vs. PHI ($4,000)
The Falcons offense is in need of another play-maker after the off-season departure of Julio Jones. They don't have much of a rushing attack either. Pitts has the talent to help fill those voids, and I'd expect Matt Ryan to look his way early and often. The matchup against a porous Eagles defense should be the perfect setting for a notable NFL debut. The $4,000 salary seems much too cheap.
The Bargain Bin
QB Teddy Bridgewater at NYG ($4,800)
QB Mac Jones vs. MIA ($4,400)
RB Antonio Gibson vs. LAC ($5,900)
RB Mike Davis vs. PHI ($5,400)
RB Damien Harris vs. MIA ($5,200)
WR Jerry Jeudy at NYG ($4,800)
WR Rondale Moore at TEN ($3,000)
WR Elijah Moore at CAR ($3,000)
WR Terrace Marshall vs. NYJ ($3,000)
TE T.J. Hockenson vs. SF ($4,900)
- RB Austin Ekeler at WAS
Ekeler missed practice Wednesday and Thursday due to a hamstring injury, so keep an eye out for Friday's news. If he were to miss, Justin Jackson ($4,000) and Joshua Kelley ($4,000) would be in line for expanded roles. Both are the minimum salary and rostering either (preferably the starter) would be a fine gamble in tournaments.
There are some other questionable tags floating around but nothing the figures to have a significant impact on the slate as things stand.
Later in the season, when it gets a bit colder, there could be some weather implications, but nothing stands out as a concern this Sunday.