WATCH: IS MARIOTA A SOLID PIVOT PLAY IN WEEK 9?
Some weeks the best stacks jump out and are easy to find. Some weeks require a bit of digging, but I end up with more combinations than I have space to write about. This week is neither of those. The quarterback market is fairly priced – I only spotted two clear discounts, and one (Matt Stafford, $6,100) plays Monday night. So I’m taking a few risks in here, but trying to identify QB-WR stacks with maximum upside to make up for their riskiness.
Without further adieu, let’s get to the recommendations.
5. Tom Savage ($4,600) – DeAndre Hopkins ($9,200)
The last time Savage started a game, he was pulled at halftime for Deshaun Watson (knee). Savage’s average yards per target was 4.8. He was outplayed by Blake Bortles. So why on Earth could I possibly be recommending him, especially when Hopkins is the most expensive receiver by more than $1,000?
First, this is very much a contrarian move. Hopkins’ price and Savage’s Week 1 ineptitude could keep both players’ as unpopular options. Second, while Savage was bad in Week 1, one of Hopkins’ best games in 2016 came in the limited time Savage was under center. Third, in Week 1, when Savage struggled, there was an able and ready first round pick waiting to step in – in Week 9, Savage’s backups are Matt McGloin and T.J. Yates, both of whom were not on an NFL roster before Watson’s injury Thursday, four days before the game. Barring injury, government intervention or alien invasion, Savage is playing every snap Sunday.
Finally, the Colts defense is very, very bad. With the exception of the Browns, the top-three wide receivers on every team have combined for at least 30 DKFPs against the Colts. On the 49ers narrowed target tree, their top-two WRs combined for more than 30 DKFPs against the Colts. As for the Browns, despite their complete lack of receiving threats, the WR who got the most targets scored 14.4 DKFPs.
Savage will throw every pass he can to Hopkins, and Hopkins is good enough to catch most of them. If Savage is merely mediocre on Sunday, this combination could go crazy in this matchup.
4. Drew Brees ($7,000) – Michael Thomas ($7,200)
This pick isn’t all that risky, rather, the problem here is that both players are likely to be popular. The Buccaneers defense has been very bad all season, especially their pass defense. Brees and Thomas are both pretty fairly priced, but for an indoor home game against a favorable opponent, fairly priced can be good enough. I like this stack better in cash games, in part due to the popularity, but also because the Buccaneers defense is finally getting healthy, so while they are still an opponent to target, they’re not as attractive as they were three or four weeks ago. Brees has scored at least 19 DKFP in four of his last six games, while Thomas has at least 13 DKFP in five of his seven games.
3. Dak Prescott ($6,700) – Dez Bryant ($6,400)
As was true of the Saints stack above, this stack isn’t all that risky, but both players are likely to be widely used. WR1s have absolutely lit up the Chiefs this season – Amari Cooper scored 47.0 DKFPs, Antonio Brown scored 32.5, DeAndre Hopkins scored 27.2 and Alshon Jeffrey scored 22.2 against them. Three other WRs scored more than 19.0 on the Chiefs, and six more put up double-digits on them. They currently rate as the most favorable opponent for a WR. With the exception of last week’s rain game in Washington, Prescott has been unstoppable this season, scoring at least 17 fantasy points in every game.
2. Jamies Winston ($5,800) – Mike Evans ($7,700)
Haven’t you heard? “The Saints defense is good now.” This myth is gaining widespread acceptance, but I just don’t see it. A team slows down the overrated Panthers, the Dolphins, the Brett Hundley Packers and the Bears and the NFL community is ready to give them a parade? The Panthers, Dolphins and Bears are all in the NFL’s bottom 12 in yards per game and bottom 10 in points per game. Those four good defensive efforts (against bad offenses) from the Saints surround a Lions game in which Matt Stafford threw for 312 yards and three TDs. The Saints defense may be generating enough fantasy points off turnovers and sacks to be usable, but they aren’t good enough to fade an opposing stud – I’m still targeting them when possible. And all the hype surrounding their alleged improvement could drive Watson’s and Evans’ ownership down.
Evans is a target hog, averaging 9.7 per week. Rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore looks very good, but Evans is already great. The Saints have allowed five wide receivers to score at least 18 DKFPs against them, two of which were their team’s top wide receiver. Winston has had two really rough games recently, but both came against actually good defenses, and he put up at least 20 DKFPs in the other four of his last six. The Saints are a great matchup for a QB – they rank as favorable despite playing nearly half their schedule against Jay Cutler, Hundley and Mitch Trubisky.
1. Jared Goff ($5,500) – Sammy Watkins ($4,200) – GPP
Jared Goff ($5,500) – Robert Woods ($4,300) – Cash Games
Of all of the stacks in this article, this one is probably the most obvious, but I had to put it first since it is the only one I’m deeply confident in. Goff is the only QB playing in Sunday’s main slate who strikes me as a legitimate discount. The Giants have been a favorable opponent for QBs, and they enter Week 9 without their top cornerback, Janoris Jenkins (suspension). While Goff struggled against some high-quality defenses recently – the Jaguars and the Seahawks – he has at least 18 DKFP in four of his other five games. This is a great spot for Goff.
Especially in light of this week’s QB market, I’m really happy to pair any of Watkins, Woods or rookie Cooper Kupp ($4,500) with Goff. Watkins is the most talented by far, but he’s mostly struggled this season. Woods leads the team in targets and receiving yards, giving him a solid floor, but he’s barely used in the red zone. Kupp is in between the two – he’s more exciting than Woods, but without the upside of Watkins; he’s more consistent than Watkins, but without the floor of Woods. The Rams mix up their offensive packages, but Kupp is more of a slot WR, and the slot is where the Giants’ pass defense is best with Jenkins out. All three are reasonable plays, but I recommend Watkins for GPPs and Woods for cash games.
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.