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Correlations are very relevant in NFL DFS, as we like to pair up quarterbacks with their top receiving options. While the running back and defense stack is not as high of an upside stack as using a passing game, it is still viable with the right plays around it, and still brings a small correlation of upside. Game stacks can often be overlooked, but why wouldn't you want exposure to the team trying to keep up or chasing your favorite passing offense? There are ways to be contrarian by still targeting a top offense projected with higher ownership. Shifting from the popular WR1 to a WR2, TE, or even RB is going to help you get exposure at slightly less ownership. WR1, RB1, WR2, and TE1 in that order stand the highest chances of generating the most fantasy points in a stack. This is at least for two man stacks. We will dive into more multiplayer stacks below. Volume, Vegas, opposing defensive stats, pace, and pricing are all calculated into my stacks below. You will find my top, value, contrarian, and game stacks within the article. You can find me on Twitter at @JGuilbault11 to help with the week's slate, or questions/comments about the article.
New Orleans Saints - Implied Total 29.25
We won't be fooling anybody here, but New Orleans comes in with the highest implied total of Week 1. A lot of us will be looking at Alvin Kamara as a pay up option, especially with Mark Ingram suspended the next few weeks. Kamara comes in as our highest projected running back.Using a QB/RB1 stack here can be a high upside move, mainly because of Kamara's overall usage. He saw 6.3 targets per game last season, posting 81 receptions on 100 targets. This is all in addition to him being a lead back and likely seeing 15+ rushing attempts. He torched Tampa Bay last season, posting nearly identical games in the two meetings. In the first meeting Kamara posted 32.2 DK points and 28.2 FD points. In the final game of 2017, Kamara put up 30.8 DK points and 27.8 FD points. I am not going to be one of those people who talks about Kamara's efficiency and touchdown regression for this season, because I simply don't care on a Week 1 basis. This Tampa defense ranked 25th in DVOA against backs in the passing game, allowing 48 yards per game and saw 6.6 passing attempts against. It is hard to envision Kamara not seeing at least five targets in the passing game this week. Tampa wasn't awful against the run, but ranked 19th in DVOA. I do like some of the names on their front seven, but New Orleans offensive line is a damn good one ranking 2nd in adjusted line yards last season, and New Orleans running backs averaged 5.1 yards per carry, which led the league. Tampa Bay ranked 21st in second level yards, and 24th in open field. Both are areas New Orleans ranked inside the top three in.
On the passing side of things, Drew Brees is going to be an option to pair up Kamara with, mainly because he works so well as a pass-catching back. This Tampa defense allowed the 10th most fantasy points per game. While we saw Brees' upside a bit hindered last season, it did have a lot to do with the rushing production they had in the scoring department. They ranked 31st in DOVA and 29th in yards allowed per pass. This stack is pretty straight forward with Michael Thomas as using a Cameron Meredith or any other WR/TE combination seems a bit of an excessive push to be contrarian within a popular stack. Tampa was the easiest defense to generate fantasy points against if you were a wideout. Thomas racked up 19 targets in two games against Tampa, but failed to find the end zone. If we get some regression for the backs, we will likely see Brees and Thomas with a few more touchdowns come season's end. Thomas was ranked inside the top ten in points per snap last season, and finished seventh in targets. He is the clear WR1 on this team, and has established himself as a premier wideout.
Note: Not going too in depth about the New England Patriots, but they are going to be another popular stack with Tom Brady, Rex Burkhead, James White, Chris Hogan, and Rob Gronkowski being the selection to choose from. Houston's secondary was abysmal last year, and New England's offense will expose it this week. Pittsburgh is heading into Cleveland with brutal weather, stacking is not looking optimal.
Cincinnati Bengals - Implied Total 22.75
If I was making totals, Cincinnati would be in the 25-26 range this week, going up against a bottom five defense in a dome. The value on these guys might heighten ownership, and it would not surprise me to see Andy Dalton be popular in all formats. How is it possible for Indy to have a worse secondary than last season? They ranked 32nd in DVOA and 32nd in yards per pass allowed, and this is an area that could stick in 2018. They failed to upgrade the cornerback position, although getting Malik Hooker to 100% and back in this defense will help somewhat. We are looking at Kenny Moore, Nate Hairston, and Pierre Dessir as the starting corners for this week. A.J. Green and John Ross standout as wide receiver options, coming in at opposite ends of the pricing spectrum. Ross is an absolute burner who dealt with injuries early last season, and then Marvin Lewis once healthy. Ross is dirt cheap across the industry, and while the floor is still somewhat low, he is one home run play from being one of the better points per dollar plays of Week 1. Green comes in slightly cheaper than some of the more popular wideouts this week, as Antonio Brown and Michael Thomas will suck up a lot of ownership in this tier. He was eighth in points per snap last season, despite the Bengals being a subpar offense. He was inside the top 25 in average depth of target. Tyler Eifert is looking healthy, but will need to stay that way this year. You shouldn't expect a heavy workload, but enough for him to pay off the price tag. He comes third when choosing receivers to pair him with.
I am a bit higher on the passing game in this spot, although Joe Mixon needs to be talked about. This run defense wasn't bad last year, but they are not going to rank 10th in DVOA again this season, and be inside the top ten in yards per carry allowed. They likely won't jump to bottom ten, so this is a fairly average matchup when you really look into it. The offensive line should be improved from last year, If Andrew Luck can bring even the slightest bit of pressure to Cincinnati, it will keep the throttle on. Indy allowed 18 touchdowns to backs last year, 15 coming on the ground. There was a lot of positive game scripts for backs against the Colts, but they truly needed that volume to hit value some weeks. Mixon is viable within the stack, but there are an abundance of running backs this week in better spots and the passing game is going to get the bump over him for me.
T.Y. Hilton is someone to potentially pair with this stack, given he is at home where his success has been for most of his career. The Colts do not have a true playmaker outside of Hilton, which is actually going to bring some frustrating weeks because the focus will be on him. I am predicting Cincy to score plenty, and Hilton is going to find himself in a lot of chasing games this year. Week 1 could be one. Jack Doyle is viable in this spot as well, but whenever a team has two viable tight ends things can be a bit tricky. I do believe Doyle is best suited for PPR sites, but with the lack of options I would not be surprised to see Doyle take on a prominent role again. Cincinnati was below average against tight ends last season, ranking 30th in DVOA.
Los Angeles Chargers - Implied Total 25.75
The Chargers come in as a pretty affordable stack this week, going with their main weapons. This game could shift into a shootout with some defensive members missing on both sides, but more so the Chargers. Joey Bosa is now doubtful for the game, and Eric Berry is as well. This Kansas City defense is already projected to be in the bottom tier this season. They ranked 23rd in DVOA against the pass last year, and the same in yards per pass allowed. Sending away Marcus Peters and no Berry is going to be a real problem. Philip Rivers just continues to chug along at his age, throwing for over 4,000 yards again last season. Rivers finished inside the top ten in fantasy points, and the volume was there ranking second to Tom Brady in attempts. This is a great spot for Rivers to get going again. Keenan Allen is going to be looked at this week by quite a few, and while he isn't a downfield threat, he will rack up receptions and yards against this defense that could struggle to limit big plays on quick releases. I do like this pair a bit more on DK, where I would be more inclined to use just Melvin Gordon on FD. To clarify Gordon is playable on all sites, but looking at the team as a whole, I am going to limit my exposure on some sites. Back to Allen for a minute, one of the reasons he is more of a DK play is he ranked third in points per snap on PPR scoring. He didn't drop far off in standard scoring, but on sites like FanDuel and Yahoo there are some higher upside plays in the range.
Gordon stands out with the Chiefs ranking 32nd in DVOA against the run last season, but were middle of the road in fantasy points allowed. They do not have a strong front seven, and the Chargers offensive line has an advantage over Kansas City despite being one of the poorer ones in 2017. I do expect some improvement as long as everyone stays healthy, which is tough to do when you play for the Chargers. Gordon was a workhorse last year, seeing over 280 carries and 70 targets. Austin Ekeler might steal some snaps and targets away from him this season, but not enough to draw any concern. Gordon wasn't the most efficient back, but we want the volume, and Gordon will give it to us.
There are some enticing counter pieces to this stack, although Los Angeles held tight ends to less than six fantasy points per game. That puts Travis Kelce in a tough spot, although he certainly can beat anyone. Sammy Watkins is not in play for me this week, likely drawing coverage from Casey Hayward. It is a no for me there. Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt are the interesting pieces of this offense, Hill's speed and creativity within the offense makes him a threat each week. Hunt should see some more usage in the passing game, so if this game does in fact get out to a lead for Los Angeles, Hunt won't be dead.
Tennessee Titans - Implied Total 23
Tennessee is my deeper contrarian stack this week, going on the road against Miami. Given everybody is showing up to a half empty in white jeans, this is not really a threatening road environment. Miami ranked 29th in DVOA against the pass, although fantasy points did not really correlate with it last year. The Matt LaFleur hire is going to help out what was dormant offense last season. Xavien Howard is really the only fearful corner to stay away from on this defensive side, which doesn't help the Corey Davis floor, but the upside is still there. Davis saw plenty of volume over the last quarter of the season in 2017, and if healthy, I will be looking for a big year out of him in year two. Davis is by no means a cash game play as none of these Titans are, but if you are looking to zag in large field GPPs, I like the upside. Taywan Taylor is the other name here, yet the role is somewhat unclear heading into Week 1. He has a lot of potential and the talent is there, but jumping into a new offense for a new player carries risk. I would be more inclined to take Delanie Walker going up against a Miami team that allowed the second most fantasy points per game to tight ends. They were one of three teams to allow over 1,000 receiving yards, and Walker has been a go-to for Marcus Mariota in his career. Walker was one of five tight ends to see over 100 targets last season, and posted another top eight year at the position.
Mariota had an injury ridden 2017, and as long as he is healthy, Mariota is bound to come back to better numbers. This new offense is going to be much more modern, as last season's disaster was really a waste on a season. We don't get a huge bargain on Mariota for Week 1, which is a little disappointing, but ownership will be down. With Mariota's health back to 100%, the running upside should be there. The red zone success was a forte for Mariota, and that will need to improve this year. I don't mind jumping on board here, because price and ownership could rise very soon.
There are too many running backs I would rather use than trying to get Dion Lewis or Derrick Henry right. I am more interested in the passing game here, despite Miami being a mediocre defense.