WATCH: Preseason Grades: Which quarterbacks hit the mark?
This is a weekly series where I break down my favorite weekly tournament plays. I’m going to be focusing on high-upside, low-owned plays and stacks from the main Sunday slate that (hopefully) can really pay off big for your fantasy football lineups in a large-field tournament.
Patrick Mahomes ($6,000)/Tyreek Hill ($6,500)/Keenan Allen ($7,500)
“Be bold when others are fearful” — that’s the overall message here. Despite the tough-looking matchup for the Chiefs’ offense, this game has a 48-point game total and small 3-point spread (in favor of L.A.), meaning both teams are expected to put up at least 22 points. Mahomes completed 31 passes in preseason for the Chiefs, and 14 of those completions went to the speedster Hill. The Chargers have a tough secondary, but Hill’s dynamics make him nearly matchup-proof (five receptions, 88 yards, TD against L.A. in Week 15 last year), and he now has a QB who wants to feed him the ball relentlessly.
On the other side, the Chiefs’ secondary gave up the most fantasy points to opposing WRs last year and lost its best corner this offseason. Allen (102 receptions last year) is in a great spot in this game, regardless, but if the Chiefs’ offense does get an early jump, he could see GPP-winning volume this week. There’s a lot of unknowns with the Chiefs and Mahomes, but waiting on him could mean missing out on a huge Week 1 and dealing with higher ownership the rest of the year.
Just Missed — Ben Roethlisberger ($6,600)/Antonio Brown ($8,600)/Jarvis Landry ($5,500)
Jimmy Garoppolo, SF at MIN, $5,700 — The matchup for Garoppolo this week is better than it appears. The Vikings allowed Drew Brees and Nick Foles to put up a combined 646 yards, 6 TDs and 2 INTs in their final two games of 2017 and struggled at times containing elite QBs. The loss of running back Jerick McKinnon (knee) hurts, but it could also mean the 49ers use the short pass game more to compensate, which would help Garoppolo’s path to a big game. Even with the loss of McKinnon, San Francisco has multiple receiving weapons who could break a big score for Garoppolo, and given the 49ers are 6.5 underdogs, there’s a great chance he’ll be throwing late into this game. Stacking him might be difficult due to having so many options (although pairing him with Marquise Goodwin ($4,600) looks tempting), but he’s firmly in play for those looking for a cheaper QB with upside.
Just Missed — Dak Prescott ($5,500)
Derrick Henry, TEN at MIA, $5,400 — The presence of Dion Lewis ($4,900) means Henry’s PPR totals are unlikely to rise this year, making him an ultimate boom-or-bust candidate most weeks. However, the boom factor exists with Henry. In the three games he received 14 or more carries last year, he averaged 19.46 DK points. More early-down work should flow to Henry this year as Lewis is better suited for a strict third-down/two-minute role and, with that in mind, the matchup this week against the Dolphins looks mouth-watering. Miami gave up the most rush yards per game in the preseason (151 yards per game) and is coming off a year where it was bottom 10 in rush yards and rushing TDs allowed. If Tennessee gets ahead early, we could see Henry come close to 20 touches and deliver a massive opening game.
Joe Mixon, CIN at IND, $6,100 — There’s a definite “Bengals theme” to the column this week, and it starts with Mixon. The second-year back will cede some passing down work to Gio Bernard ($4,400) but should be the main bell cow the Bengals turn towards to salt away games. The Colts have holes almost everywhere on defense and gave up the sixth-most yards rushing in the league last season. Mixon is also a huge threat out of the backfield as a pass-catcher and dropped 91 yards receiving on the Colts in a limited role last season. Striking here early with Mixon in a great matchup makes a ton of sense, as many will choose to take a wait-and-see approach to determine his true usage. He makes for a great stack with the Bengals defense ($2,700) this week, too.
Just Missed — Matt Breida ($4,600)
Kenny Stills, MIA vs. TEN, $4,700 — With DeVante Parker (finger) ruled out, the Dolphins’ receivers have some appeal this week. Danny Amendola ($4,200) might have a safer floor in DraftKings’ PPR scoring, but Stills should bring lower ownership and has a better shot of landing you the DraftKings’ 100-yard bonus and a TD. While he struggled making a connection with Jay Cutler last year, Stills was fantasy gold with Ryan Tannehill ($5,300) in 2016, producing seven games with more than 40 yards and a TD that season. Tennessee added some depth in the secondary this year with Malcolm Butler, but Stills and his sub-4.4 speed means his potential for a big play exists against all but the most elite corners. He should see plenty of targets with Parker out and is great value for the upside he brings.
John Ross, CIN at IND, $3,900 — If the Bengals are serious about giving Ross lots of snaps this year, he will be in play for a long TD every week — not that he will catch one every week, but you get my point. The 4.22 speedster looked much improved this preseason, forcing the Bengals to cut veteran Brandon LaFell. Ross might struggle against better defenses, but he has one of the best matchups a guy could hope for Week 1. The Colts gave up the eighth-most fantasy points per game last year to wide receivers and have almost no run game to speak of right now, meaning we should expect a quick pace and s few extra possessions for the Bengals’ offense. With a sub-$4k price tag and now locked into regular snaps, Ross makes for a perfect boom-or-bust target in GPPs.
Just Missed — Cordarrelle Patterson ($3,500)
O.J. Howard, TB at NO, $3,100 — Howard exceeded 50 receiving yards five times as a rookie, and two of those games came with Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,000) under center. The second-year TE is coming off a great camp, and his talent edge over teammate Cameron Brate ($3,000) should shine through this year now that he has a year of integration under his belt. The Buccaneers are 9.5-point underdogs this week at the Saints, who possess a pair of solid-to-elite corners who could push more garbage-time targets towards Howard. Tampa Bay threw the third-most times in the league last season, so while the split with Brate is worrisome, it should help lead to lower ownership on Howard in a game where there almost certainly will be a ton of passing targets on the Tampa Bay side up for grabs.
Just Missed — Ryan Griffin ($2,800)
DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS
NE vs. HOU, $2,400 — Generally, it’s not smart to target DSTs in the game with the highest point total of the week, but the Patriots offer big savings on DraftKings for Week 1 and some increased upside as a unit this year. Cordarrelle Patterson ($3,500) already has five return TDs in his career and gives this unit a better shot at landing a return TD every week. Additionally, stacking Patterson with the Patriots’ DST gives you a low-cost correlation that would mean big things if the rare “double-dip” return TD event occurs. Texans QB Deshaun Watson ($6,700) had a strong game against the Patriots last year but also was picked twice. This will be his first start after his ACL injury last season, and if he is going to struggle, it likely will be in his first couple games back. It’s risky, but using the Patriots’ DST would be the ultimate contrarian move in big tournaments, as the offensive players in this game should all be very popular targets this week.
Just Missed — Bengals ($2,700)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is wavegoodbye) 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.