STLCards' NFL DFS Picks - Core Stacks: Week 1

Stacking in daily fantasy football can be the key to winning a large-field tournament. In this space, GPP master Justin “STLCardinals84” will detail his favorite correlations to help you optimize your DFS lineups.

Week 1

Hey there, Grinders! The NFL season is upon us, and this is always an exciting time of year for DFS.

In this article (which is new for 2019), I will detail some of my favorite GPP correlation plays of the week. This could be anything from full game stacks to simple QB/WR combinations to RB/DEF combinations to anything in between. I will include some chalkier builds and some lower owned builds throughout the article, and I will touch on our pOWN% figures along the way. This will align closely with our MLB Core Stacks concept, and we can hopefully make some nice cheddar along the way.

After that 10-3 snooze fest between the Packers and Bears on Thursday night, there’s nowhere to go but up! Let’s get there!

Core Stack #1 – Jameis Winston + Chris Godwin + Tevin Coleman (or Matt Breida)

Projected Ownership (DK) – 13% / 27% / 10%
Projected Ownership (FD) – 13% / 30% / 8%

The San Francisco / Tampa Bay game is one of the clearest spots to target offensive players this week. Tampa Bay’s offense has been getting publicity all summer, particularly on the passing game front given the sad state of the team’s backfield. Chris Godwin impressed as a fill-in player a year ago and now has an every down role under a great offensive-minded coach in Bruce Arians. He’s too cheap on every site and gets a likely matchup with a bad corner in K’Waun Williams. The RotoGrinders WR vs. CB matchup chart has this graded as the best overall matchup for a WR for the entire week. Pair Godwin with Jameis Winston and you have a ton of upside at an affordable price.

I’d like to take this correlation one step further by playing a running back on the San Francisco side of the game, thereby hoping the 49ers get a lead. This would allow them to focus on the run, while Tampa Bay takes to the air. The question becomes whether or not to take Matt Breida or Tevin Coleman. Breida is gaining steam after being announced as the “starter” on the depth chart, but I would expect both players to land around 15 touches. I simply prefer whichever one will be lower owned come Sunday, and I get a sneaky suspicion that Coleman might be that guy.

However you slice it, there’s tons of upside in this game. You could even throw O.J. Howard into the mix at tight end if you want to go more toward a full game stack.

Core Stack #2 – Rams/Panthers Game Stack

The Rams/Panthers game doesn’t quite have a total matching the aforementioned contest, but it’s close. Should the game turn into a shootout, you have fantasy appeal all over the field. Just take a look at the options:

— Two high upside QBs in Goff and Newton.
— Perhaps the fantasy star of the year in Christian McCaffrey
— A low owned, lower priced, potentially healthy Todd Gurley
— Three LAR wide receivers that soak up a good chunk of the team’s targets
— A potential breakout WR candidate in Curtis Samuel
— Another budding star WR candidate in D.J. Moore

The reason this game is a little harder to stack than the SF/TB game is because it’s a little more difficult to peg the production. Will Cam Newton vulture rushing touchdowns? Do we need to pair Newton with a WR? Can we trust Gurley’s knee? What about the tight ends?

These questions will keep overall ownership on this game stack down to a level lower than what you would expect to see on the surface. I’m not a big Gurley fan and I’m not convinced that he will see a lion’s share of work, but this is the one scenario where I’m willing to give him a look. Think of all the ways you could stack it up:

Newton + McCaffrey
Newton + Samuel
Newton + Moore
Goff + any of his 3 WRs
Newton + WR + Gurley
Goff + WR + McCaffrey
Newton + 2 WRs + Gurley
Goff + 2 WRs + McCaffrey
Newton + McCaffrey + Gurley

The possibilities are almost endless here, and that’s also part of why people will be scared to do it. My advice: if you are building 100 lineups this week, stack this game up 6-8 different ways. There’s going to be some potential in this one. If you are building just two or three lineups, I would still give consideration to prioritizing this game in one of them.

Core Stack #3 – Baker Mayfield + Nick Chubb + Rashard Higgins

Projected Ownership (DK) – 5% / 11% / 3%
Projected Ownership (FD) – 7% / 17% / 1%

This is a spot where we can get some risk/reward potential. Put simply, the Tennessee Titans are likely going to have a horrendous secondary this season. Adoree’ Jackson, Logan Ryan, and Malcolm Butler are an underwhelming trio at this point in their respective careers. The whole WORLD is on Odell Beckham this week, too, but recent reports have been a little skeptical about his health.

For that reason, I like the idea of potentially stacking up the “non Beckham” Browns this week. If Beckham is operating at less than 100%, we could see more touches go to guys like Nick Chubb and Rashard Higgins. I like Higgins as a deep GPP play at sub-4% ownership and basically minimum salary this week. He will likely match up with Butler the most, and all it takes is one big play to pay off that price tag. Throw Mayfield in the mix and hope Cleveland goes nuts with no touchdowns to Beckham. If that happens, it’s hello cash town.

Core Stack #4 – Chris Carson + Tyler Boyd

Projected Ownership (DK) – 20% / 20%
Projected Ownership (FD) – 30% / 30%

This is one of the chalkier stacks that I am including this week, but I like the idea of playing these players TOGETHER wherever you can instead of playing them on separate rosters. If you are going to fade them, fade them. If you are going to play them, play them together.

Game flow should work well here, as Chris Carson should take on much of the load for the Seattle rushing attack. I am fully boarding the Carson bandwagon. Rashaad Penny looked terrible throughout the preseason. Buzz is building on Carson. The Seahawks run the ball more than any other team in the league. The Bengals allowed the second-most fantasy points to running backs a year ago. Geno Atkins is great, but the rest of this front seven leaves a lot to be desired at defending the run, and I don’t have one iota of faith in Cincinnati’s linebacking corps. I like his odds of snagging 20+ touches in this game, especially if the Seahawks are milking a late lead. I’ll gladly take the over on Carson getting 60%+ of the touches out of this backfield, and he is one of my favorite mid-range DFS plays on the entire slate.

As for Boyd, expect him to get somewhere in the neighborhood of a 25% target share on a team that is likely going to be forced to the air. I have some concerns about his efficiency with A.J. Green off the field, but he makes for a fine combination stack with the Seattle running game if you want to bank on game flow here.

Core Stack #5 – Carson Wentz + Eagles Defense

Projected Ownership (DK) – 12% / 15%
Projected Ownership (FD) – 8% / 13%

This stack will likely make you think for a minute, but it’s an interesting way to think about differentiating your lineups. After all, most DFS players will stack a QB+WR (or TE) and a RB+DEF. This potential stack involves a QB+DEF. That’s generally not positively correlated, and you obviously aren’t getting points from both the quarterback and the defense on the same play. However, there’s potential here.

Consider this: Washington is a team in disarray. They are without their best offensive lineman in Trent Williams. Their secondary is a disaster. The Eagles should be able to get some sacks and turnovers in this game, setting up short fields for Wentz and the offense. I expect Philadelphia to control the time of possession. We never know who to trust for backs and pass catchers on this team, outside of Zach Ertz. The best way is to run a “naked” Wentz without a receiver pairing, and hope the team simply dominates the game.

Certainly, you could consider a traditional Wentz/Ertz or Wentz/Jeffery (assuming he is healthy) pairing, but I like being a little frisky with this spot.

Core Stack #6 – David Johnson + Matthew Stafford + Kenny Golladay

Projected Ownership (DK) – 8% / 1% / 10%
Projected Ownership (FD) – 12% / 1% / 4%

I have saved perhaps my favorite for last. I am salivating at all of these players being <12% owned everywhere. David Johnson got a ton of preseason buzz as a top five fantasy player in a new offense, but yet his ownership isn’t going to be super high here. Why is that? Well, we have other under-priced running backs like Dalvin Cook and Leonard Fournette stealing the ownership. That’s fine by me. DJ should have more open space this year with an athletic quarterback and the “spread it out” nature of a Kingsbury offense. It’s also worth noting that Johnson is a capable pass catcher who once caught 120 passes in a season in 2016. That pass catching ability will likely be needed to spread the field against a stout front line for Detroit. Kingsbury surely knows that, and he should scheme to avoid the middle and work on the boundaries offensively. Johnson is athletic enough to break a big play or two. While this may not look like the best matchup on paper, I really like David Johnson in this spot.

Then, we move to the Detroit side. Naturally, this is a team that wants to play slow and bleed clock, but we have seen this narrative before. What happens when they fall behind? The run can be abandoned quickly. Patrick Peterson is out due to suspension, and that puts the Stafford-to-Golladay connection on my radar, especially when you see the ownership. Golladay is an immense athletic talent, and my hope is that the Lions fall behind early. While that is definitely not a certainly, it’s very possible — and the ownership on these skill players is simply going to be too low.

These are only a handful of my favorite stacks this week. There are tons of viable options out there, so don’t be afraid to go in a number of different directions if you are building a lot of lineups.

Good luck!

Image Credit: USA Today Sports Images

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