The most popular stack I used in Week 8 was Drew Brees/Brandin Cooks/Ben Watson. I’m not saying that to brag—I was also very bullish on Andy Dalton—but because I think the double-stack is underutilized.
Most players avoid pairing a quarterback with two pass-catchers because of a perceived lack of upside. It is true that it’s tough for two or more receivers on the same team to have monster games, but so are the chances of winning a big GPP, right? If the odds of a massive Saints-esque performance outweigh the odds of winning a tournament, you might as well take the correlated play.
Looking for a different position? Check out the rest of the positional targets:
Cream of the Crop
Michael Crabtree, Oakland (at PIT) – $4900
There’s a whole lot to like about Michael Crabtree—a player we always knew is talented but hasn’t really ever been paired up with a capable quarterback. He’s seeing a lot of targets—29 in the past three games—and he’s in a quality matchup in Pittsburgh. The Steelers have allowed 2.5 points per game above salary-based expectation to opposing receivers over the past 16 games. Only the Eagles have been worse.
Stefon Diggs, Minnesota (vs STL) – $5300
Diggs hasn’t scored fewer than 21 points in a game since becoming a starter for Minnesota. The Rams have a good defense—and they can get after the passer—but they also have struggled somewhat on the outside, allowing 1.5 points per game above expectation to opposing receivers.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh (vs OAK) – $8100
When Brown has Big Ben under center, he’s going to see a number of high-percentage targets. Pittsburgh is projected at over 26 points and, without Le’Veon Bell, they’re going to rely more on the passing game, especially against a defense in Oakland that can get lit up on the outside.
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver (at IND) – $7300
It will be interesting to see how the Colts deploy Vontae Davis against the Broncos. It’s likely he’ll either shadow Demaryius Thomas or no one at all, so I think Sanders is underpriced at $7300 no matter how the Colts use their top cornerback.
Middle of the Pack
Julian Edelman, New England (vs WAS) – $8200
Edelman is just so safe that you can justify overpaying for him in cash games. He has double-digit fantasy points in every game this season and at least 16.5 points in all but one contest. Washington has been one of the worst defenses in the NFL against the pass since last season, and we know the Pats like to pick on opponent weaknesses like no other offense in football. This is the one player I almost always use in cash games.
Martavis Bryant, Pittsburgh (vs OAK) – $5500
I wouldn’t trust Bryant in cash games, but he’s the prototypical big-play GPP threat. One thing to keep in mind is that even if you view Bryant as an obvious value, it’s a big risk to go all-in on him in tournaments because he’s so big-play-dependent; if he doesn’t have a long touchdown, there’s a good chance he won’t return value or give you much opportunity to take down a GPP.
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay (vs NYG) – $6800
Evans is always going to be a boom-or-bust option due to the nature of his game. He sees long targets and relies on touchdowns, so he’s extremely risky as a cash-game play. I love his tournament upside, though, and this game script should work in his favor to see double-digit targets.
Brandon LaFell, New England (vs WAS) – $3200
LaFell has just six catches in two games since returning to the Pats, but he also has 15 targets. He’s a tough player to assess because he might not see enough targets to make him GPP-worthy, even at this price tag. However, I think the upside of this offense—currently projected at a season-high 33 points—is enough to make it worth rolling the dice on LaFell in a good matchup.
Rest of the Field
Randall Cobb, Green Bay (at CAR) – $6800
There’s a strong negative correlation between changes in salary and fantasy value, i.e. as salary decreases, value tends to increase. Cobb’s price has dropped $1200 since the start of the year. This initially appears to be a tough matchup, but note that cornerback Josh Norman—Carolina’s top player on defense—probably won’t be matched up on Cobb in the slot.
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago (at SD) – $6700
Dating back to last season, Jeffery has scored in eight of his past 10 games. He’s an elite talent in an offense that is going to need to rely on him in Week 9. The Bears are 3.5-point road dogs facing an offense that loves to air it out.
Odell Beckham, NY Giants (at TB) – $8800
Julio Jones, Atlanta (at SF) – $9300
I think you could make an argument for Jones over Beckham in GPPs. The latter will almost assuredly be in more lineups due to the $500 discount and last week’s eruption in New Orleans. I don’t fault anyone for using OBJ in their tournament lineups, but Jones sees even more targets and is in a pretty similar matchup. This is a perfect example of “pay up to be contrarian.”
Jonathan Bales is the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, and most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.
Follow him @BalesFootball.