When you start to play daily fantasy sports for a little while, you realize that roster construction is really important. You want to specifically target or avoid certain player relationships within your lineup that will have an effect on the team’s ceiling and/or floor.
One such relationship is pairing a quarterback with at least one of his wide receivers. This is known as “stacking”, and it’s very popular in tournaments because it increases the upside of your lineup. Free tip: you should probably stack your lineups for the Millionaire Maker this weekend.
I looked at how the top-four and top-eight games (in terms of fantasy points) have been distributed for quarterbacks and their wide receivers over the past few years. If their play weren’t connected, we’d see 25 percent of a quarterback’s top-four game align with his WR1 and WR2′s top four games, and 50 percent of their top-eight games should align-just from random expectations alone.
Instead, we see this…
The relationship between a quarterback’s production and that of his wide receivers is a strong, positive one. That’s not surprising, but this shows you how strong the effect is; when a quarterback has one of his four best performances on the season, there’s a 40 percent chance that his WR1 will also have a top-four performance, which is 15 percentage points higher than the random expectation.
There are lots of ways to find the most formidable QB/WR pairings. A lot of users start with the quarterback, but I prefer to find undervalued, high-upside receivers because I think there’s a greater inefficiency in the wide receiver market that I can exploit.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the wide receiver options available to you in Week 5 on DraftKings.
Top Five Wide Receivers
Calvin Johnson, Detroit vs Buffalo, $8200 – Megatron is no longer an outlier in price at the wide receiver position, costing just $100 more than Antonio Brown. Johnson is actually averaging nearly 10 fantasy points per game less than Brown, so I’d actually expect the Steelers wide receiver to have higher usage. You always need to consider a Stafford/Johnson pairing since their play is so connected.
Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh at Jacksonville, $8100 – If you told me in the beginning of the season that Brown would be a good value at this price, I would have thought you were crazy. He has such amazing week-to-week consistency, however, and he’s one of the few smaller receivers with a high ceiling to accompany it; Brown can score from anywhere on the field and, because of his reception count, can give you elite upside with just one touchdown.
In this matchup, you have to hope that Le’Veon Bell doesn’t score some early touchdowns that result in few Pittsburgh pass attempts in the second half. I wouldn’t be too worried about Brown, though, since the Jags are the worst defense in the NFL against the pass and the second-worst versus opposing wide receivers.
Julio Jones, Atlanta at NY Giants, $8000 – After getting lit up by the Lions in Week 1, the Giants have actually been pretty good against the pass. Jones has been ridiculously consistent this year, though, and he’s very much a true No. 1 now with Roddy White on the decline. I don’t think New York has anyone who can stop Jones.
My fear is that the Giants will play Cover 2 or some other defense that forces Atlanta to run the ball. They might not actually run it, but it could make it difficult to get Jones the ball. Of course, the Giants tried that against the Lions, too, and we saw what Johnson did to them.
Dez Bryant, Dallas vs Houston, $7800 – When the Cowboys brought in Scott Linehan, I thought it was a move that would improve Bryant’s floor because I figured Linehan would find creative ways to get Bryant the ball when he’s doubled. We still need to see more of how Bryant is deployed under Linehan, but he currently has two games with no more than four catches for 55 yards. Outside of a 68-yard score two weeks ago, Bryant’s longest catch this season is just 22 yards.
Demaryius Thomas, Denver vs Arizona, $7400 – Thomas has only 141 receiving yards and one touchdown all season. While we’re all expecting him to bounce back in a big way at some point, it might not be in Week 5. The Cards figure to use Patrick Peterson to shadow the Broncos’ top receiver, which means we could see more production from guys like Julius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders.
Five Others to Consider
A.J. Green, Cincinnati at New England, $7400
Even though $7400 is a decent discount on Green in a vacuum, I really don’t like this situation. New England is famous for taking away a team’s top offensive weapon, and Green is clearly that for the Bengals. I’d expect the Pats to do everything they can to make Green a non-factor.
Brandon Marshall, Chicago at Carolina, $7200
Alshon Jeffery, Chicago at Carolina, $6700
Andre Johnson, Houston at Dallas, $6400
Percy Harvin, Seattle at Washington, $6100
Five Mid-Priced Wide Receivers
Steve Smith, Baltimore at Indianapolis, $6000 – The Colts have had one of the stingiest defenses in the NFL this year, but their numbers aren’t as good as they initially appear. They’ve had the ball so much on offense that the defense hasn’t had to face a huge number of plays. They’ve also faced the Jags and Titans in the past two games, which will help any defense. They got lit up by Philly in Week 2, so their only quality game was really against Denver in the opener.
I’m not a big believer in Smith. There’s no way he’s going to be able to keep up this pace (or the amount of luck he had in Week 4), so he’s a trade candidate in season-long leagues and someone I’ll probably continue to fade in daily fantasy.
Vincent Jackson, Tampa Bay at New Orleans, $5900 – Jackson hasn’t topped 52 yards all season and there are major concerns at quarterback, but things should get better with Mike Glennon and V-Jax is always a good bet to score-something he’s done in the past two games. He might or might not see more usage with Mike Evans out, but you have to like the matchup this week against a pass defense that has allowed the fifth-most points to opposing wide receivers.
Victor Cruz, NY Giants vs Atlanta, $5800 – After a slow start to the season, Cruz has 11 catches, 215 yards, and a touchdown in the past two games. He’s faced some pretty tough pass defenses over the first month of the season but still managed to be a mid-level WR2 on DraftKings.
The Falcons have given up the 10th-fewest points to opposing receivers, but that’s misleading since they’ve faced the Vikings and Bucs in the past two weeks.
Keenan Allen, San Diego vs NY Jets, $5800 – After finally posting big-time numbers in Week 4, Allen’s usage should be pretty high this week in tournaments. He’s a clear value at $5800 and faces one of the league’s worst pass defenses in the Jets. The Chargers aren’t going to be able to run the ball in this one, and even if San Diego gets up big, I’d still expect 40-plus attempts for Rivers. Consider Allen a favorite to find the end zone.
Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia vs St. Louis, $5600 – Maclin is arguably the most underpriced receiver this week. I wasn’t a huge fan of his coming into the season, but he’s seeing enough usage in Philly’s highly efficient offense (minus last week) that you have to like him at this price. St. Louis’s defense is underrated, but only one receiver who has averaged more points per game than Maclin is cheaper (Emmanuel Sanders).
Five Others to Consider
Pierre Garcon, Washington vs Seattle, $5600
Wes Welker, Denver vs Arizona, $5500
There are a lot of reasons to like Welker this week, particularly in cash games. First, Demaryius Thomas figures to get the Patrick Peterson treatment. Second, Welker is a bit underpriced since coming back from injury. Finally, he was second on the team in targets in his first game back last week, so he should see nice usage.
Marques Colston, New Orleans vs Tampa Bay, $5400
Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona at Denver, $5400
Michael Floyd, Arizona at Denver, $5400
Five Value Wide Receivers
Emmanuel Sanders, Denver vs Arizona, $5100 – Sanders is one of my favorite plays this week because I think he’s flying under the radar with Welker back. As mentioned, no one cheaper than Sanders has scored as many points per game as him this season. We saw him coexist with Welker two weeks ago in Welker’s first game back-actually, Sanders outperformed him with 11 for 149-and he should see extra looks with Peterson shadowing Thomas.
Golden Tate, Detroit vs Buffalo, $4900 – Tate is similar to Sanders in many ways. They’re both secondary options on explosive offenses. They’ve both produced at a high level this year. And while neither player is a big scorer, you’d expect them to find the end zone soon, which is something neither player has done this year.
Kelvin Benjamin, Carolina vs Chicago, $4800 – I have no idea how Benjamin is priced this low. With the looks he’s receiving in Carolina and the rookie’s ability to get into the end zone, you can bet that users are going to be all over this obvious value in Week 5. I’d recommend Benjamin for cash games, but this might be a situation to avoid in GPPs because usage will probably be quite high.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston at Dallas, $4800 – This is basically the exact same situation as with Benjamin, except with a second-year receiver. Hopkins has either 100 yards or a touchdown in all four games this year. Dallas’s secondary has been surprisingly good against opposing receivers, but don’t expect that to continue.
Eric Decker, NY Jets at San Diego, $4800 – Decker is admittedly a big risk in Week 5, so monitor his health throughout the week. If he practices in full, I love him at this price. You won’t find a No. 1 with his red zone ability at a cheaper cost.
Five Others to Consider
Torrey Smith, Baltimore at Indianapolis, $4800
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans vs Tampa Bay, $4700
DeSean Jackson, Washington vs Seattle, $4600
Anquan Boldin, San Francisco vs Kansas City, $4400
Justin Hunter, Tennessee vs Cleveland, $3700
Like I said last week, I’m going to list Hunter here until he breaks out. Literally every week.