This article is part of our DraftKings NFL series.
Many sharp DFS players will argue that Week 2 offers the biggest edge of the season because there is too much consensus of "what we know" based off a one-game sample, and that overconfidence can be exploited. The best DFS tournament players make most of their money by embracing variance when the field isn't. Playing NFL DFS profitably isn't about predicting the outcome of games; pay attention to how many "sure things" go wrong every week. Focus on building lineups that correlate and have leverage, rather than worrying about who's a "lock" to have a great game. There's no such thing as a lock. Remember that the worst thing you can do in large-field tournaments is to enter a lineup that's filled with all the popular plays.
Note: All prices listed come from DraftKings, but most of the logic can be applied to other sites across the DFS industry. Discussion is limited to players from the "main slate" of games kicking off at 1:00, 4:05 and 4:25 p.m. ET on Sunday. The strategy below is meant for large-field tournaments, where payouts typically are limited to ~20 percent of lineups, with the vast majority concentrated at the very top.
|45||Denver Broncos||25.5||Jacksonville Jaguars||19.5|
|48||Buffalo Bils||25.75||Miami Dolphins||22.25|
|48||Houston Texans||17.75||Cleveland Browns||30.25|
|45||Cincinatti Bengals||21.5||Chicago Bears||23.5|
|50||San Fransisco 49ers||26.5||Philadelphia Eagles||23.5|
|45||New Orleans Saints||24.25||Carolina Panthers||20.75|
|47.5||Los Angeles Rams||25.5||Indianapolis Colts||22|
|48||Las Vegas Raiders||20.5||Pittsburgh Steelers||26.5|
|43||New England Patriots||24.5||New York Jets||18.5|
|51||Minnesota Vikings||23.75||Arizona Cardinals||27.25|
|52||Atlanta Falcons||20||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||32|
|55.5||Dallas Cowboys||26||Los Angeles Chargers||29.5|
|53.5||Tennessee Titans||23.5||Seattle Seahawks||30|
These are the players with the best projections relative to their salaries — good plays both for cash games and large-field tournaments. While we don't want our GPP lineups to look like cash-game lineups top to bottom, there's nothing wrong with using a few chalky plays. These players, along with a couple passing-game stacks, tend to form the core that remains fairly consistent throughout my lineups.
- RB Najee Harris vs. LV ($6,300)
Harris played all 52 of Pittsburgh's offensive snaps last week, and while he struggled against the Bills, he has a softer matchup Sunday. The Raiders gave up 142 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Ravens' backup running backs last week. The Steelers offense should find itself in favorable starting positions as they're a six-point favorite and have a strong defense. The expected game script sets up great for Harris.
- WR Cooper Kupp at IND ($6,000)
Kupp was Matthew Stafford's favorite target last week, catching seven of 10 targets for 108 yards and a TD. The matchup looks good after the Colts gave up two big touchdowns to Seahawks slot receiver Tyler Lockett. Matchup aside, Kupp is just too cheap for his role in this offense. Head coach Sean McVay is one of the league's best offensive minds and Stafford is a significant upgrade from Jared Goff; I'd expect Kupp to be a $7,000 player soon.
Other Cash-Game Options
QB Josh Allen at MIA ($7,200)
QB Dak Prescott at LAC ($6,800)
QB Justin Herbert vs. DAL ($6,700)
RB Christian McCaffrey vs. NO ($9,900)
RB Dalvin Cook at ARI ($9,100)
RB Alvin Kamara at CAR ($8,800)
RB Chris Carson vs. TEN ($6,100)
RB Darrell Henderson at IND ($5,700)
RB Damien Harris at NYJ ($5,400)
WR Keenan Allen vs. DAL ($7,000)
WR Amari Cooper at LAC ($6,800)
WR CeeDee Lamb at LAC ($6,400)
WR Ja'Marr Chase at CHI ($5,000)
TE Darren Waller at PIT ($7,600)
TE George Kittle at PHI ($6,400)
TE Noah Fant at JAX ($4,200)
TE Tyler Higbee at IND ($4,100)
DST New York Jets vs. NE ($2,200)
Stacks are the centerpiece of any tournament lineup, seeking to take advantage of positive correlations between players. It rarely makes sense to use a quarterback without one or two of his pass catchers, even if the player in question scores a decent portion of his fantasy points with his legs. Ideally, a stack also includes a pass catcher from the other side of the game, hoping to take advantage of a back-and-forth shootout. (Implied team totals are listed in parentheses.)
Dallas Cowboys (26) at Los Angeles Chargers (29.5)
This looks to be the best target of the slate on paper. The game features two good quarterbacks, affordable receivers and Sunday's highest total. It has shootout potential written all over it, and lineups look good and way you stack it.
Dak Prescott ($6,800) is averaging over 50 pass attempts in five games under Mike McCarthy. Despite not being 100 percent healthy, he looked incredible last week as Dallas nearly upset Tampa Bay. Amari Cooper ($6,800) and CeeDee Lamb ($6,400) are too cheap for this spot, especially considering the Cowboys will be without No. 3 WR Michael Gallup. His replacement, Cedrick Wilson ($3,100) has big play upside and for the minimum salary, can be included in any stack. Ezekiel Elliott ($6,200) is more affordable than we're used to seeing and has considerable TD equity; he would make sense in lineups with Herbert.
Justin Herbert ($6,700) threw for 337 yards in Week 1 against a good Washington defense. The Cowboys defense got shredded by Tom Brady last week and will be missing top pass rusher DeMarcus Lawrence (foot) on Sunday. Both Keenan Allen ($7,000) and Mike Williams ($6,100) are coming off big games; Allen saw 13 targets while Williams got 12. Those numbers are very encouraging. It's a bit concerning that Austin Ekeler wasn't targeted in the passing game last week, and while I'd expect that to change, it makes me hesitant to pair him with Herbert. He makes more sense opposite Prescott.
All of the players I mentioned are good options on their own, and considering the game has the highest total, I'd expect it to be the most popular target for stacks. If you decide to go this route for tournaments, use less popular players in the other roster spots to differentiate.
- Favorite Stack: QB Prescott + WR Cooper/WR Lamb + WR Allen + WR Wilson
Minnesota Vikings (23.75) at Arizona Cardinals (27.25)
This game is appealing to stack because it features the top QB on the slate, one of the top three RBs and elite WRs on both sides. The 51-point total is Sunday's fourth-highest.
Kirk Cousins ($6,200) threw the ball 49 times for 351 yards in Week 1. This week's matchup against the Cardinals sets up well as the Vikings are expected to be playing from behind again. Justin Jefferson ($7,400) underwhelmed last week with five catches on nine targets for 71 yards while Adam Thielen ($7,100) exploded for nine catches, 92 yards and two TDs. Neither was popular last week and both figure to go somewhat overlooked again. Dalvin Cook ($9,100) struggled on the ground but caught six of seven targets to finish with 104 yards from scrimmage and a TD. He has slate-breaking upside almost every week.
Kyler Murray ($8,200) was among Week 1's standout performers, throwing for four TDs and running for another en route to 34.56 fantasy points. He's the top projected scorer at the position this week. DeAndre Hopkins ($8,000) and Christian Kirk ($5,000) each caught two touchdowns last week while promising rookie Rondale Moore ($4,500) caught five of six targets for 68 yards. Chase Edmonds ($4,900) had 12 carries and four catches, and his pass catching ability and cheap salary make him viable on either side of the stack.
I don't expect Murray to be quite as popular as usual this week considering his high salary and the abundance of other appealing targets on this slate. Pairing him with Hopkins and Cook seems to be a bit cost prohibitive, so I'd look for other combinations.
Favorite Stack: QB Murray + WR Jefferson/WR Thielen + WR Moore + RB Edmonds
Other Stacks to Consider
- RB Nick Chubb vs. HOU ($7,800)
People avoid playing Chubb because of his timeshare with Kareem Hunt but this matchup against Houston is one of the best spots that Cleveland will be in all season. They're also without Odell Beckham, which could have them leaning heavily on the run in a game where they're 12-point favorites. Chubb has a great chance for 100+ rushing yards and multiple TDs.
- WR Keenan Allen vs. DAL ($7,000)
If Allen's salary was $8,000, he'd still be appealing as the Chargers have arguably the most favorable matchup on the slate. Sunday's game against the Cowboys is expected to be fast paced and high scoring. Allen is coming off nine catches on 13 targets last week and the Dallas defense is below average and banged up.
Fading the Field
Every week we see at least one or two players who are very popular without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. Recency bias is often to blame, but in some cases it even makes sense to fade a player with a strong projection, particularly when there are good alternatives at the same position and price range.
- RB Christian McCaffrey vs. NO ($9,900)
I like McCaffrey as much as the next fantasy football player, but there are plenty of reasons to fade this week. First, he's almost always popular. Second, he's the most expensive player on the slate. Third, the Saints defense shut down the potent Packers offense last week. And lastly, there are a plethora of worthy options at RB, including more than usual in the mid-range, and it will be important to save salary in order to afford some of the elite WRs.
The Smash Spot
Players in favorable positions to significantly outperform their salary.
- WR CeeDee Lamb at LAC ($6,400)
Lamb has everything going for him this week: his salary is too cheap for a matchup against the Chargers that features the slate's highest total, and from a talent perspective, he already looks like one of the best receivers in the league. He was targeted a whopping 15 times last week and now the Cowboys are without Michael Gallup, making Lamb an even safer bet to see big volume again.
The Bargain Bin
QB Teddy Bridgewater at JAX ($5,400)
RB Elijah Mitchell at PHI ($5,000)
RB Chase Edmonds vs. MIN ($4,900)
WR Emmanuel Sanders at MIA ($4,000)
WR KJ Hamler at JAX ($3,800)
WR Cedrick Wilson at LAC ($3,100)
TE Adam Trautman at CAR ($3,000)
- WR Odell Beckham vs. HOU
Beckham will miss a second consecutive game as he continues to recover from knee surgery. Jarvis Landry ($6,300) and Kareem Hunt ($5,800) get bumps. Donovan Peoples-Jones ($3,000) will get another start while rookie Anthony Schwartz ($3,300) played 53 percent of snaps and saw five targets in Beckham's absence last week.
- WR Michael Gallup at LAC
Gallup saw seven targets in Week 1 but injured his calf and has been placed on IR. Cedrick Wilson ($3,100) will step into Gallup's role and makes for an appealing punt option for tournaments. He has big-play upside for near the minimum salary in a game that's expected to shoot out.
- WR Jerry Jeudy at JAX
Jeudy will miss 4-6 weeks after spraining his ankle in Week 1. Tim Patrick ($4,600) will take over the No. 2 WR role while KJ Hamler ($3,800) should see a few more looks operating from the slot. Jeudy's absence also gives a slight bump to talented TE Noah Fant ($4,200).
Later in the season, when it gets a bit colder, there could be some weather implications, but nothing stands out as a concern this Sunday.