By TJ Hernandez, 4for4
Special to Yahoo Sports
Whether you are playing in the biggest tournament of the week on Yahoo or prefer to play in smaller GPPs, there are some general GPP strategies that you can implement in contests of any size. These concepts include stacking, finding pivots off of popular players, and targeting players that won’t be on many rosters.
While it’s important to implement these into your lineup-building approach, the foundation of any tournament lineup is a solid core — usually players that you would use in cash games.
Stacks to Target
QB Kirk Cousins, Vikings ($27)
WR Justin Jefferson, Vikings ($20)
WR Adam Thielen, Vikings ($30)
WR DK Metcalf ($31) or Tyler Lockett ($31), Seahawks
The Sunday night game currently has an over/under of 57.5 points, the second-highest total of the season. Not coincidentally, the highest total game also included the Seahawks. In addition to having the most efficient passing game in the league, Seattle has allowed the most passing yards of any defense, giving up the most deep-ball plays of any unit. This plays directly into the Vikings’ hands. According to SportsInfoSolutions, Kirk Cousins has thrown 15 or more yards downfield on 34% of his attempts, the highest rate in the league. With that, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson have combined for 74% of Minnesota’s air yards, the second-highest combined rate in football.
Rostering the Vikings passing attack will allow for exposure to what is expected to be the highest-scoring game of the week without the high rostered percentage of stacking the Seahawks. Like Minnesota, though, Seattle has an extremely concentrated passing attack with Metcalf and Lockett accounting for 72% of their team’s air yards. Tournament players using multiple lineups should rotate the Seattle receivers through their Vikings stacks.
QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs ($38)
RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Chiefs ($32)
WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs ($28)
TE Darren Waller, Raiders ($20)
This stack will account for a huge chunk of salary and it won’t be very unique but as we’ve seen in recent weeks, a couple of unpopular plays is enough to offset a popular stack. Projected for 34.5 points, Kansas City has the highest implied total of the week. The passing upside is obvious for the Chiefs but this is a week to include their running back with Mahomes and a receiver rather than doubling up on pass-catchers. Las Vegas ranks 29th against running backs in 4for4’s schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed metric and they have allowed the second-most receiving yards to opposing backs, giving Mahomes and Edwards-Helaire some correlation.
We usually prefer tight ends in winning game scrips, but Waller is a unique case, serving as the Raiders’ de facto WR1. Through four weeks, Waller’s 29.2% target share ranks fourth among all players. In a game where Las Vegas will almost surely be forced into a pass-heavy game script, the Raiders’ tight end should see double-digit targets for the third time in four weeks. As expensive as this stack seems, there is plenty of value on the slate to make it work comfortably.
QB Matt Ryan, Falcons ($29)
WR Calvin Ridley, Falcons ($34)
WR DJ Moore, Panthers ($19)
With six games on the slate carrying an over/under of at least 50 points, the rostered percentages might be lower than expected between the Falcons and Panthers. Carolina’s defense has funneled points to the running game but don’t expect that to deter Atlanta from their plans as the Falcons have thrown at a top-10 rate in neutral game script. Matt Ryan will be overshadowed by the elite tier of multi-threat quarterbacks on this slate and Calvin Ridley won’t be nearly as popular as he should be after scoring zero fantasy points on Monday night. With Julio Jones looking like he will miss another game, Ridley could lead the league in targets this week.
On the Panthers side, Robby Anderson has overtaken DJ Moore as the preferred wide receiver in the fantasy community but that’s exactly why tournament players should be on Moore. Despite seeing just 10 total targets over the last two weeks, Moore has accounted for nearly 43% of the Panthers’ air yards this season. Atlanta has allowed 17 completions of 15 or more yards this season, the second-most in the league, which plays to Moore’s strength as the deep target in Carolina.
Contrarian Plays to Target
RB Kenyan Drake, Cardinals ($22)
Drake has been one of the biggest fantasy disappointments this season and he’s coming off of a season-low 13 touches in Week 4. Even so, the Cardinals running back is still averaging 18 touches per game. Arizona’s passing game will be somewhat popular, making Drake a good leverage play against a Jets defense ranked 24th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs.
WR Darius Slayton, Giants ($19)
One of the most popular offenses to stack this week will be the Cowboys but don’t be surprised if DFS players are hesitant to use Giants in game stacks. New York is averaging the fifth-fewest passing yards per game and their two passing touchdowns are the fewest in the league. Dallas, however, ranks 22nd in schedule-adjusted points allowed to quarterbacks and is a bottom-five defense against wide receivers. Slayton’s 41% air yards share ranks eighth among all players and he ranks in the top 10 in red-zone targets.
TE Eric Ebron, Steelers ($14)
Pittsburgh is a seven-point favorite with a decent implied total above 25 but with so many teams in blow-up spots, the Steelers will go largely ignored. If they do draw any attention in GPPs it will likely be their running back and two primary wide receivers, leaving Ebron mostly ignored. Philadelphia’s weakness on defense has been against tight ends, as the Eagles rank 31st in schedule-adjusted points to the position. Ebron’s 10-yard average depth of target is high for a tight end, giving him upside value over many of his counterparts.
Cash Game Strategy
The backbone of my cash game approach is 4for4’s proprietary value metric, which goes beyond simple point per dollar projections. That value calculation extends to a player’s odds of hitting cash game value based on their implied volatility according to their floor, median, and ceiling projections.
There is an abundance of value at running back and wide receiver this week, making it a virtual must to pay up for an elite, multi-threat quarterback. With so many top-end tight ends in favorable spots, it makes sense to spend more salary than usual at the position in cash games this week.
Cash Game Plays
QB: Lamar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Josh Allen
RB: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Mike Davis, James Robinson, Jerick McKinnon, Devin Singletary
WR: Marquise Brown, Jamison Crowder, Will Fuller, Terry McLaurin, D.J. Chark, Justin Jefferson, Robby Anderson, Amari Cooper, Tyreek Hill
TE: Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Darren Waller, Jonnu Smith
DEF: Texans, Cowboys, Rams
Follow TJ on Twitter @TJHernandez
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TJ is a former full-time poker player who has been playing fantasy football for more than a decade. After online poker was outlawed, TJ ended his poker career and dedicated himself to fantasy football. His background in poker statistics and analytics translates to success in both daily and season-long fantasy football.