This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Sunday's slate includes 10 games thanks to byes — a bit smaller than the 12 or 13 that we're used to. It doesn't change much, but if anything the chalk will be slightly more popular than usual, so make sure you fade some of it in tournaments. Remember to focus on passing-game stacks for GPPs and avoid rostering too many players who project to be popular. The chalky options are rarely that much better and the leverage afforded by fading them is the No. 1 factor when it comes to winning large-field tournaments. Good Luck!
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, 4:05 and 4:25 p.m. EDT 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.
|46.5||Cincinnati Bengals||25||Detroit Lions||21.5|
|45.5||Minnesota Vikings||24||Carolina Panthers||21.5|
|43.5||Houston Texans||16.5||Indianapolis Colts||27|
|48.5||Los Angeles Rams||28.75||New York Giants||19.75|
|51.5||Los Angeles Chargers||24.5||Baltimore Ravens||27|
|44||Green Bay Packers||24.75||Chicago Bears||19.25|
|55||Kansas City Chiefs||30.75||Washington FT||24.25|
|49.5||Arizona Cardinals||23||Cleveland Browns||26.5|
|44||Las Vegas Raiders||20.25||Denver Broncos||23.75|
|51||Dallas Cowboys||27.25||New England Patriots||23.75|
These are the players with the best projections relative to their 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 Kareem Hunt vs. ARI ($6,200)
With news that Nick Chubb (calf) is out, Hunt is in line for a considerably larger role and he's already been putting up big numbers even with Chubb healthy. He's topped 25 fantasy points in two of his last three games and has only scored less than 16 once this season. He already has five rushing touchdowns through five weeks and combined with his usage and effectiveness in the passing game, he looks the best RB on the slate from a point-per-dollar perspective.
- RB Darrel Williams at WAS ($4,900)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire (knee) was placed on injured reserve this week, meaning Williams should take over the lead running back role. He played 77 percent of offensive snaps after Edwards-Helaire exited in the third quarter last week. The Chiefs have the highest implied total on the slate, giving Williams considerable touchdown equity. His salary is just too cheap for his expected role in this spot.
- TE Travis Kelce at WAS ($7,000)
The salary on Kelce is a bit puzzling. He was priced higher than $8,000 in each of the first four weeks of the season, so this is a significant drop. The Chiefs are sure to be passing against a Washington defense that's given up big plays all season. With Edwards-Helaire out and Tyreek Hill banged up, Kelce could even see extra targets that usual, not that he needs them to make good on his discounted salary.
Other Cash-Game Options
QB Lamar Jackson vs. LAC ($7,400)
QB Justin Herbert at BAL ($7,300)
QB Taylor Heinicke vs. KC ($5,800)
QB Carson Wentz vs. HOU ($5,400)
RB Christian McCaffrey vs. MIN ($8,800)
RB Austin Ekeler at BAL ($7,900)
RB Jonathan Taylor vs. HOU ($6,600)
RB D'Andre Swift vs. CIN ($6,300)
RB Darrell Henderson at NYG ($6,000)
WR Davante Adams at CHI ($9,000)
WR Cooper Kupp at NYG ($7,800)
WR Terry McLaurin vs. KC ($7,100)
WR Keenan Allen at BAL ($6,400)
WR Courtland Sutton vs. LV ($6,200)
WR Robert Woods at NYG ($6,100)
WR Marquise Brown vs. LAC ($5,900)
WR Adam Thielen vs. CAR ($5,800)
WR Brandin Cooks at IND ($5,800)
WR Michael Pittman vs. HOU ($5,500)
TE Mark Andrews vs. LAC ($5,200)
TE Ricky Seals-Jones vs. KC ($3,000)
D/ST Detroit Lions vs. CIN ($2,100)
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.)
Kansas City Chiefs (30.75) at Washington Football Team (24.25)
Patrick Mahomes ($8,300) ranks No. 1 in the NFL in passing TDs, fantasy points and QBR. Washington's defense has been terrible against the pass. It ranks bottom of the league in fantasy points allowed to QBs and WRs. The Chiefs are in must-win spot and they have the highest implied point total on the slate. Tyreek Hill ($8,500) can explode in any matchup, but this one is especially good. He's already put up 40-plus fantasy points twice this season. Mecole Hardman ($4,200) saw 12 targets last week. This is the first Sunday slate that we've seen Travis Kelce ($7,000) priced below 8K and he seems much too cheap for this spot. Clyde Edwards-Helaire is out injured, which gives another slight boost to the passing game and an opportunity for Darrel Williams ($4,900) to step up at RB. There's really nothing not to like about the Chiefs this week.
Taylor Heinicke ($5,800) has topped 23 fantasy points in three of his five starts this season and Washington will likely be playing from behind in this game meaning it should be a pass heavy game script. The Chiefs defense has been bad, allowing at least 29 points in every game. Terry McLaurin ($7,100) has seen double-digit targets in three of five games and put up 30-plus fantasy points twice. He has the upside to be the highest scoring WR on the slate. Ricky Seals-Jones ($3,000) caught five of nine targets last week filling in for the injured Logan Thomas. Three of his targets were in the end zone. Even Dyami Brown ($3,300) and DeAndre Carter ($3,000) are in play for larger field tournaments. So is J.D. McKissic ($4,800) as he has 10 catch upside in the likely scenario that Washington go behind early and are forced to pass for the entire second half.
- Favorite Stack: QB Mahomes + TE Kelce/WR Hill + WR Hardman + TE Seals-Jones
Los Angeles Chargers (24.5) at Baltimore Ravens (27)
Baltimore is underpriced this week due to DraftKings releasing the salaries before Monday night's impressive comeback win over Indianapolis. Lamar Jackson ($7,400) looks much improved as a passer and is already the best running QB in football. Marquise Brown ($5,900) gets behind the defense a few times per game and Jackson has been throwing a great deep ball. Brown has put up 19-plus fantasy points in four of five games this season. Mark Andrews ($5,200) exploded last week, catching 11 of 13 targets for 147 yards and two scores. The matchup against the Chargers has the second-highest total on the slate and has shootout potential.
Justin Herbert ($7,300) is coming off 45 fantasy points in last week's statement win over the Browns as the Chargers hung 47 points on one of the better defenses in the league. Baltimore's defensive has been vulnerable against the pass and coming in on a short week won't help. Austin Ekeler ($7,900) is the definition of a dual-threat RB. He caught at least five passes in three of the last four games and already has seven total TDs this season. Mike Williams ($8,100) topped 22 fantasy points in four of five games, going off for at least 36 in two. He's also appealing because people won't want to pay the high price tag when Keenan Allen ($6,400) is $1,700 cheaper. Allen is averaging 10-plus targets per game and a salary in the low 6K range is likely the cheapest we'll see. Jared Cook ($3,200) has seen at least five targets in three of five games and his salary has dropped to a season low.
- Favorite Stack: QB Jackson + RB Ekeler + WR Brown + TE Andrews
Other Stacks to Consider
- RB Austin Ekeler at BAL ($7,900)
Ekeler has topped 22 fantasy points in four consecutive games. He has six touchdowns in that span and has seen at least five targets in each of those games. He's likely to go somewhat overlooked based on his salary and the perceived tough matchup away to Baltimore. He also fits perfectly as a run back in lineups with Lamar Jackson.
- WR Tyreek Hill at WAS ($8,500)
Washington has allowed the most fantasy points in the league to WRs, including a league-high 10 TDs. Hill won't be as popular as he should be due to being questionable to play. We've seen him put up 40-plus fantasy points twice already this season, and he doesn't need to be 100 percent healthy to be the highest scoring WR on this smaller 10-game slate.
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.
- WR Cooper Kupp at NYG ($7,800)
This isn't about me not liking Kupp. He's one of the best WRs in football and he's enjoyed an incredible start to the season, seeing 10-plus targets in every game. The matchup looks good as the Rams are big favorites against the Giants but I'm worried that the game won't be competitive long enough for Kupp to hit a big ceiling. I don't expect the Rams to be airing it out in the second half if they have a double-digit lead. When I spend up for a WR, I'm looking to target matchups that have shootout potential, and the Giants just aren't very appealing this week. I still expect Kupp to have a good game, I just don't think he has many great ones in this spot and that's what you need for $7,800.
The Smash Spot
Players in favorable positions to significantly outperform their salary.
- RB Kareem Hunt vs. ARI ($6,200)
I highlighted Hunt in the point-per-dollar section. We've been waiting for a spot like this as he's expected to have a three-down role in the absence of Nick Chubb.
- WR Marquise Brown vs. LAC ($5,900)
Both Brown and Mark Andrews are too cheap this week. Their salaries would be higher had the Ravens played on Sunday as DraftKings had already released the prices for this week before the Monday night game against the Colts. The Ravens are morphing into more of passing team and Lamar Jackson has shown significant improvement throwing the deep ball. Brown has got behind the defense for big plays in every game this season and if it wasn't for a few costly drops, his numbers would look even better. The matchup against the Chargers has the second-highest total on the slate and I'm expecting Lamar, Brown and Andrews to carry over the momentum from Monday night's big comeback win.
The Bargain Bin
QB Carson Wentz vs. HOU ($5,400)
QB Jared Goff vs. CIN ($5,100)
RB Chuba Hubbard vs. MIN ($5,900)
RB Devontae Booker vs. LAR ($5,400)
RB Khalil Herbert vs. GB ($4,600)
WR Darnell Mooney vs. GB ($4,300)
WR Mecole Hardman at WAS ($4,200)
WR Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. CIN ($4,200)
WR T.Y. Hilton vs. HOU ($4,100)
TE Ricky Seals-Jones vs. KC ($3,000)
Note: Often, relevant injury news comes after this article is published. As of now there are more than 20 players listed as questionable. I will update on Saturday night or Sunday morning if there is anything significant.
- RB Saquon Barkley vs. LAR
Barkley is expected to miss Sunday's game. Devontae Booker ($5,400) is expected to see most of the work at running back. Even in a bad matchup against the Rams, he's viable for GPPs as a three-down back who should catch some passes.
- RB Damien Williams vs. GB
Williams tested positive for COVID-19 and is unlikely to play Sunday. With David Montgomery still out, the Bears will be thin at running back. Khalil Herbert ($4,600) is expected to get the bulk of the carries and would be somewhat popular based on his cheap price tag.
Nothing to be overly concerned about this week.