WATCH: Why Julio Jones is Among Sunday’s Blazin’ Picks
Week 3 is an interesting slate, especially as it pertains to QBs and WRs. For the first time this season, the players I have the most confidence in are all very expensive, while the best discounts have some important drawbacks. Coming up with a list of five pairings was easier than it was in Weeks 1 or 2, but ranking those pairings 1-5 was significantly harder. If you’re more convinced by the case made in support of the Jaguars’ duo than the Panthers’ pair, don’t let the fact that I have them swapped here dissuade you – all five of these are very closely grouped this week.
The concept behind stacking a QB with his WR is simple; both players benefit from each completion, doubling the benefit of that play for your fantasy lineup. As Adam Levitan pointed out this offseason, 79 percent of the lineups that won DraftKings’ Fantasy Football Millionaire contests used a QB stack in their lineup. With the significance of stacking in mind, this article aims to highlight the best stacking options for Sunday’s main slate.
So, without further ado, let’s get to the recommendations.
5. Blake Bortles ($5,600)/Keelan Cole ($5,600) or Dede Westbrook ($4,600), JAX vs. TEN
When did we get so scared of the Titans? They “hold” two bad offenses to 44 combined points and all of a sudden we’re intimidated? They’ve played the Texans and the Dolphins – not exactly a murderer’s row. Bortles is currently seventh in DKFP per game among QBs, but he’s priced as the 20th most expensive QB? DraftKings Pricing Algorithm, I’m mad at you for making me look like someone who thinks Bortles is a good player. The discount here is too crazy to ignore, even for Bortles’ skeptics (myself included).
Whether you pair Bortles with Cole or Westbrook should be determined primarily by your format – Cole is better for cash games, while Westbrook is better for GPPs in Week 3. Both players are discounted, but Cole’s price is much closer to fair. The Titans have a legitimately top-tier secondary, and safety Kevin Byard might be the best player among that talented group. Skill-wise, I think Cole and Westbrook could be used almost interchangeably, but that’s not what the Jaguars have done so far this season. Cole has been the more frequent target, while 68 percent of Westbrook’s Fantasy value has come from just three plays. Westbrook has the ability to put up a big game, but he’d need to get the better of the Titans’ safeties at least once to do so, making it a lower probability outcome. Meanwhile, Cole’s steady usage should provide him with a strong floor, regardless of the potentially difficult matchup.
4. Drew Brees ($6,400)/Michael Thomas ($8,900), NO at ATL
If we broke format and focused instead on RB Alvin Kamara ($9,500), then the Saints stack would be higher ranked here. That’s because the biggest mark against Thomas this week is the presence of his versatile teammate. Thomas is the most expensive WR on the slate, but we’re getting our money’s worth – he leads all flex options in DKFP, and he’s second only to Antonio Brown in targets. Though Brees used to have a reputation for spreading his passes around, there has been no sign of that tendency in 2018, as Thomas has a 40 percent target share after two games. Thomas is likely to be locked into a large workload against an undermanned and mediocre defense. Despite his high cost, he’s a solid cash games option.
I’d avoid Thomas in GPPs, however, because of Kamara. The Falcons’ defense focuses on preventing big plays along the outside, preferring to funnel all action to the middle of the field. Over the last few seasons, teams tended to have the most success against this strategy by attacking the middle with short passes to RBs. The Falcons have become one of the most favorable opponents for receiving backs, and that has only been exacerbated after their early-season injuries this year. If Kamara takes a larger share of the Saints offense, that takes a little bit of the appeal off of Thomas – enough that, combined with his high price, I’m avoiding him in GPPs.
As for Brees, the argument is simple – his salary is way too low. He cost $6,800 and $7,200 in Weeks 1 and 2, against similarly favorable opponents, and performed well.
3. Mitchell Trubisky ($5,500)/Allen Robinson ($5,400), CHI at ARI
This is the pick that could most easily come back to bite me, but these salaries are too attractive to ignore. Yes, Robinson is very much in danger of getting Patrick Peterson’ed into oblivion, but let’s not forget that Robinson is an immensely talented player in his own right and Peterson does not always shadow a single WR. Robinson has emerged as a target hog through his two games as a Bear, soaking up 21 of Trubisky’s 69 pass attempts (30 percent). At first glance, it may appear as though Robinson’s strong Week 2 is white-washing a much poorer Week 1, but he led the Bears in targets and receiving yards in both games. Trubisky hasn’t inspired much long-term confidence through two games, but as a DFS play, he’s been stable and solid. Bolstered by his 12 total rushes for 56 yards, one TD and 11.6 DKFP on the ground, he’s provided break-even value in each of his first two games. Now he faces a Cardinals team which is so bad it is in danger of relegation to the NCAA. With Robinson as his go-to safety valve, the pair could be in line for a fantastic Sunday.
2. Matt Ryan ($5,700)/Julio Jones ($7,900), ATL vs. NO
As usual, the first thing to notice about this pairing is both are underpriced. Ryan is the 17th most expensive QB in Week 2, but he’s in a good matchup. Ask yourself, do you think there are 16 QBs better than Ryan? And speaking of the matchup, the Saints defense has reverted to its 2014-through-early-2017 self. Their abrupt midseason turnaround in 2017 from one of the worst defenses in the league to one of the best never made complete sense, so I’m buying the idea that at least some of these early 2018 struggles are indicative of lasting problems. They’ve given up the fourth-most passing yards in the league so far this season, while Jones is sixth in receiving yards. If you’re looking for a top-notch resume but can’t afford to spend on the Saints’ stack, Ryan and Jones are an excellent alternative. Furthermore, while I’d rather have the Saints’ pair in cash games, the Falcons’ better salaries make them a far superior GPP option.
1. Cam Newton ($6,000)/Devin Funchess ($5,000), CAR vs. CIN
The Bengals defense is a complete unknown. It’s impossible to make meaningful conclusions because their first two games were both blowouts against very bad offenses – the Colts and the Ravens. They were one of the tougher pass defenses in 2017, but they are also currently somewhat banged up and gave up a lot of yards to the Colts and the Ravens (though a lot of that was in garbage time). I recommend calling the matchup “neutral” and moving on.
The salaries here, on the other hand, are anything but “neutral”. At this salary, Newton becomes cash-game profitable once he hits 15 DKFP – a mark his has exceeded in nine of his past 10 games. Depending on the week and the contest, his GPP profitability starts at roughly 18 DKFP – which he has hit in six of his last 10. This salary is write-DraftKings-a-thank-you-letter low. Funchess’ salary is a tad more reasonable, but more reasonable than Charlie Sheen can still be pretty crazy. Funchess is second on the Panthers in targets, behind only RB Christian McCaffrey ($7,800), and Funchess is averaging five catches on seven targets for 59 yards and 10.9 DKFP. While 10.9 DKFP is not quite enough to profit at this salary, adding a TD to that production would give him appeal in both cash games and GPPs. The Panthers are without Greg Olsen (foot), Funchess is 6’5”, and he’s already accounted for one-third of their red-zone targets. TDs are coming for Funchess eventually.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is arikleen) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.