Welcome one, welcome all football is finally back! For all those that are ready to fire up their tournament lineups, stay tuned as this column will bring you through my favorite stacks and Running Backs this week! All pricing I mention is for DraftKings pricing.
The first stack I love for this week for large field tournaments is definitely a game stack of the Carolina Panthers at home vs the Los Angeles Rams. This is a rare case where I actually love this game so much, I will have a stack featuring both of these offenses. Let’s start with the home team. At QB we of course have Cam Newton at a semi-low projected 5% ownership mark. I believe this ownership is a bit lower due to the concerns surrounding Cam’s sprained foot. He is not on the Panther’s injury report, showing this concern is being way overblown. Although Cam is getting older, he still has amazing athletic ability that 99.9% of people do not have. Knowing the Panthers are also going up against a high-powered offense, they know they need to score early and often. This could easily turn into the shootout of the day, as I’m also in love with Christian McCaffrey, even at his $8,800 price tag. Even though he will be chalky, as possibly the best high end Running Back play this week, I’m more than willing to eat that chalk. Last but not least from the Panthers side, give me D.J. Moore at close to 7% ownership, over the extremely chalky Curtis Samuel, at an outrageous projected 24% ownership! The Curtis Samuel love has gone way too far. There is a reason DJ Moore was going far ahead of his teammate in fantasy drafts this year, because he has been seen as the better all around Wide Receiver by the fantasy community. Yes Curtis Samuel was the better value in drafts, but this is Week 1 now. Give me the better receiver at MUCH lower ownership in this one with DJ Moore.
Now going to the flip side of things with Los Angeles, really every single player in this offense is projected at low ownership. Jared Goff has an expected ownership hovering around 4%. All three receivers (Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, and Cooper Kupp) are around the 5% range, and Todd Gurley the back to back fantasy MVP is priced at $7,900 with a projected 7% ownership. Has the world gone completely topsy turvy on me? Las time I checked the Rams had the second best offense in the entire league. To start off the season they are going up against a defense that gave up 23.9 points a game last year (20th in the league), without any major additions to that defense it’s hard to not see a few of these guys go bananas. The Rams’ Wide Receivers are tough to pick and choose from. They all have great matchups as James Bradberry is Carolina’s best corner, and even then each Wide Receiver seems to have the advantage in that matchup. You could really flip a coin between each of the three, and your guess is as good as mine. Todd Gurley, on the other hand, would have been an absolute steal last year at this price tag of $7,900. If you can’t see the scenario of Gurley getting two easy touchdowns from within that five yard line, then by all means don’t play him. But we’ve seen that scenario all too often these past couple of years just to think a problem (his tendinitis in his knee) that he has had his whole career is now public would keep that situation from occurring. Bottom line, Gurley won’t be playing late in blowout games like last year. Fortunately, this game should stay high scoring and close. If Gurley sees his 15-20 touch workload with goal line opportunities, he has a chance to be the play of the week and smash his price tag.
Overall from this game, if I’m featuring the Panthers in this game stack, I’m going with Cam, McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, and I’m running it back with Gurley. When featuring the Rams, I’d most likely go Goff, Gurley, Cooks or Kupp, and run it back with D.J. Moore. The reason for running it back with D.J. Moore over McCaffrey is simply due to paying down at Running Back this week is a much easier task than finding good value in that middling range of Wide Receivers. Which we’ll talk about a little later in this piece.
The third and final stack I’m heavily leaning towards is the San Francisco at Tampa Bay game. Neither defense is particularly good, although the 49ers have added a couple of talented pieces such as Nick Bosa. On the other side, that Buccaneers defense still looks to be a bottom five unit in the league this year. Which is exactly why the third and final stack is going towards using Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers offense. Jimmy G is at a projected ownership mark of 5%, which is way too low considering the defense he’s about to face. The not so great preseason, and “6 picks in a row” story has been massively overblown, in my opinion. The 49ers still have one of the best offensive minds in the game calling plays in Kyle Shanahan, and Jimmy G has flashed before that he can be an elite Quarterback in this league. The pass catcher I’m starting with in every Jimmy G lineup is George Kittle. He showed us last year he is among the elites at the position, as his season total finished at 88 Receptions, 1,377 receiving yards, and only 5 Touchdowns, with Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard throwing him the ball. That touchdown total could in all honesty double, if things bounce the right way for Kittle and the 49ers offense this season. The other place many people will look to add onto this stack is Dante Pettis at roughly 12% ownership, and has apparently gone through his own growing pains this offseason. I am completely fine with that call, as Pettis truly came onto the scene late last season, and it seems he has now earned Shanahan’s trust despite the truly odd preseason of Pettis playing later than expected in certain games. The route I personally prefer to go is actually the Marquise Goodwin route at around 4% ownership. Goodwin is finally healthy, and is one of the fastest players in the league. Knowing all it takes is one deep bomb for him to change the slate makes him one of the more enticing plays. With this Buccaneers secondary still very burnable, that output is well within the range of possibilities.
For this stack I’m firmly going with Jimmy G, Kittle, and Goodwin. Since this game has shootout written all over it, I’d most likely run it back with one of the Tampa Bay receiving options. They all again have good matchups, so it really falls on how much salary you want to dish out to roster each of Mike Evans at $7,900, Chris Godwin at $6,200, or O.J. Howard at $5,000.
Ah, now to our Running Backs! The first back I want to mention is Leonard Fournette. As of right now, Fournette is hovering around the 20% ownership mark. The guy is an absolute bell cow, three down back, so even if the Chiefs get out to a big lead early, Fournette should still put together a great performance – thanks to his pass catching abilities, at his $6,100 price tag. That scenario seems to be worst case as well. He’s 100% healthy, he is going up against a defense who was dreadful last season against the run, and didn’t do much to address that issue this off season. Given Fournette gets his usual 20-25 touches, I simply cannot think of a scenario where Fournette busts this week. Fire him up in tournaments, and cash as my best play of the week at the position.
We’ve already discussed Gurley, who even outside of a game stack in Carolina, is firmly in play by himself as a one off. So, another back I wanted to touch on for this week is Chris Carson, who faces the Cincinnati Bengals at home at a price point of $5,700, and a projected ownership at about 22.5%. Carson was a guy who rocketed up draft boards this summer, and rightfully so. The reason Carson was so low to begin with was due to a minor operation on his knee. When unsure about his health, people tended to steer clear. Now that Carson seems to be at full health, he again has showed us and the Seattle beat reporters, in preseason and training camp, he is the superior back to Rashaad Penny. There has also been talk of using Carson more so as a pass catcher out of the backfield, which of course would only boost his value even more. Now to finally mention that this situation is of golden proportions, Carson should destroy his $5,700 price tag. Cincinnati finished the season allowing an average of 137.8 yards per game, which ranked 29th in the league. The Seahawks are also at home and favored by 9.5 points, which should put together a positive game script for Carson to run, run, and run some more. Again, Carson is of great value and can be played in both cash and tournaments.
Just to add on a couple more quick options/honorable mentions, Dalvin Cook is in a good spot as well. He’s priced at $6,000 and has a projected ownership of 36%. Cook should out produce his price tag. What is keeping me away is his ownership, which has absolutely sky rocketed. He’s a three down back who, regardless of game script, should produce. But on the off-chance Cook busts, you’ve essentially eliminated 36% of the field by taking guys such as Fournette, Gurley, or Carson. I’m all for Cook in cash, but with him now being far and away the highest owned back, I’ll likely steer clear in tournaments. My reason being, even if he does smash, I believe in other guys who can do the same. So even if Cook puts up 25-30 DK points, I know it won’t knock my lineups entirely out of contention, thanks to a plethora of other stellar Running Back plays this week.
Two cheap backs I’d like to mention are Matt Breida at $4,000 and Miles Sanders at $3,900. Breida is in an amazing spot, even with Vita Vea miraculously being able to play for the Buccaneers after he sprained his LCL. The upside with Breida comes from being able to catch the ball out of the backfield. Another positive is Kyle Shanahan loves to use his Running Backs in the red zone. The part that scares me away is we have no idea whether Breida or Tevin Coleman is going to get those red zone touches. But, if Breida can somehow manage to get into the end zone, he could make all the difference by cashing in on his price tag, AND allowing you to pay up for an elite wide out such as Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, Jr, or Mike Evans.
That same double whammy goes with Miles Sanders, as the Eagles should dominate their game against the Redskins, which should then provide a positive game script for Miles Sanders, making him one of the best cheap options on the slate. The problem with both is that other backs could swoop in and vulture touches, and even a touchdown or two. I won’t be playing either of these two in cash, but love them both in tournaments for their differentiation of lineup construction.