Playoffs? Playoffs. We’re talking about playoffs.
Playoff DFS can be some of the most exciting slates for fantasy football managers. Unlike the regular season, managers can watch each game in real time, which drastically increases the fun side of fantasy. Additionally, the tighter slate makes it easier to create well-researched lineups, since you’re only preparing for four games, not 16. Wild Card Weekend opens with an enticing matchup between the Colts and the Texans, and continues through Sunday afternoon’s battle between the defending champs and 2018’s best defense. Especially with such a condensed slate, starting your lineup with a strong stack can be crucial.
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 this weekend’s main slate.
One quick note about this week’s stacks recommendations: I see a clear tier gap between the top two and the bottom three. I’m only using Nos. 3, 4 or 5 if I’m trying to save salary. If you’re starting your lineup from scratch, then stack Nos. 1 and 2 look like much better plays.
5. Nick Foles ($5,400)/Zach Ertz ($6,400) or Nelson Agholor ($3,800)
There is no logic-based argument I can make for rostering Foles against probably the best defense of the year. But, as Ryan Fitzpatrick reminded us at the beginning of this season, sometimes fantasy football is not logical, and you just need to believe in a little bit of magic. Foles is not a particularly good quarterback. The Bears allowed the second-fewest DKFP to QBs this season, and last allowed a QB to exceed 19 DKFP when the Eagles had a 3-4 record and were way outside the playoff hunt. But Foles is cheap, he’s scored 52.18 DKFP over the past two weeks, and nothing about his 2017 playoff run made any sense, either.
If you go with Ertz, at least you can have some confidence that you’ve got the best TE on the slate. If you want to double down and go full HAM on the sometimes-life-just-doesn’t-make-sense pick, Agholor is the perfect running mate. He’s led the Eagles in wide receiver targets the past two weeks, totaling 156 yards and three TDs.
4. Dak Prescott ($5,500)/Amari Cooper ($7,500)
Entering Week 8, the Seahawks looked like a nightmare QB matchup. They’d allowed only a single QB to top 20 DKFP, while holding three below 180 passing yards and 13 DKFP. A lot has changed since then. Five of their past eight opposing QBs have topped 23 DKFP, each throwing multiple TDs and just two combined INTs. The QBs who did not have good games during that stretch? Josh Rosen, Kirk Cousins and Nick Mullens. Any decent-or-better QB is a solid cash-game play against the Seahawks.
Cooper is a classic boom-or-bust play, as evidenced by him posting 473 yards over three games from Weeks 12 to 14, and following that up with a three-game stretch in which he totaled just 83 yards. If you’ve seen any of the Cowboys’ primetime games, you probably have seen the TV crews highlighting Cooper’s excellence as a route-runner. Those skills should help him batter an already-injury-ravaged Seahawks secondary.
3. Russell Wilson ($5,700)/Doug Baldwin ($6,200)
Russell Wilson’s career splits tell an incredible story:
Per game averages, Games 1-8: 1.5 TDs, 0.6 INTs, 5.3 yards per carry, 18.4 DKFP
Per game averages, Games 9-16: 2.0 TDs, 0.5 INTs, 6.0 yards per carry, 21.9 DKFP
Per game averages, Playoffs: 1.7 TDs, 0.9 INTs, 5.9 yards per carry, 19.7 DKFP
To translate those numbers into words: Wilson’s production improves over the course of the season. Then, when the opponents get harder during the playoffs, his play barely drops, hewing closely to his late-season numbers.
Coming off an ugly Week 17 and his second atrocious fantasy game in four weeks, Wilson’s salary has plummeted. But part of the reason for his salary drop is the opponent, an overrated Cowboys defense. Though the Cowboys have allowed the 10th-fewest DKFP to QBs, they’ve gotten worse as the season wore on. Three of their past four opponents, and four of their past six, scored at least 18.5 DKFP.
The Seahawks’ target tree is narrow — over the past four games, Baldwin (knee) has commanded a 28 percent target share, while Tyler Lockett ($5,300) and David Moore ($3,500) each have seen 15 percent. RB Mike Davis (foot; $3,700) is the only other player with more than seven percent during that time, and that number is heavily inflated by his eight-target game in Week 15. With that kind of target tree, it’s almost impossible for Wilson to have a good game without bringing Baldwin along for the ride. Wilson has scored at least 18 DKFP in four of his past six games, and Baldwin has also topped that mark in three of those.
2. Andrew Luck ($6,400)/T.Y. Hilton ($7,800) or Eric Ebron ($5,200)
This is the game to target. As Pro Football Focus’ Pat Thorman pointed out, games involving the Colts and Texans had the fifth- and sixth-most snaps per game, respectively. The Colts’ offense had the quickest seconds-per-snap pace while the Texans ranked ninth there. Both offenses ranked inside the top 11 for points per game and inside the top 15 for yards per game. Among teams playing on Wild Card Weekend, they rank first and fifth, respectively, in both yards and scoring.
This weekend’s four-game slate includes the two stingiest scoring defenses (Bears, Ravens) and five of the nine slowest offenses (Chargers, Bears, Eagles, Seahawks, Cowboys). All six of the other teams in action are on one or both of those lists. The Colts-Texans game is likely to see significantly more snaps, yards and scoring than any of the other games, and potentially by a wide margin.
The question of who to stack with Luck should be determined by whether you’re playing cash games or GPPs. Hilton leads the team in targets, receptions and yards by a significant margin. Even if we focus on the final five games — after Jack Doyle was placed on IR, which theoretically increased Ebron’s value — Hilton has twice as many yards as Ebron. In addition to his steady usage, Hilton has a history of playing well against the Texans, averaging more than 100 yards per game and catching nine TDs in 14 career contests. However, Ebron has dominated the red zone this season, with 13 TDs and 21 red-zone targets, compared to Hilton’s six and 17. In GPPs, where the lineup that scores the most TDs usually wins, Ebron is the better play.
1. Deshaun Watson ($6,700)/DeAndre Hopkins ($8,700)
As mentioned in the Luck blurb, this game should feature heavily in your lineup, regardless of whether you stack the Texans’ Watson and Hopkins. In terms of roster construction, Hopkins and the Cowboys’ RB Ezekiel Elliott ($9,000) are the only two players who cost more than $7,800, so it’s not like there are a ton of other places to spend your salary.
With Watson, you get a player who last threw a pick in Week 11 and is averaging 283.5 passing yards and 44 rushing yards per game over the past quarter of the season. Hopkins was second in the NFL in receiving yards, third in receptions and fifth in targets. And despite all that massive usage, he went the entire season without a single dropped pass.
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.