5 NFL FanDuel Stacks for Week 1
If you're new to daily fantasy football, then you'll have to make some changes to your fantasy football strategy. You don't have "your guys" on a weekly basis -- and you need to adjust to each and every matchup.
A big part of building your roster is weekly quarterback selection. In terms of salary, passers range from the top of the player pool to the bottom, with some replacement-level passers at the same price point as kickers and defenses on FanDuel.
Along with those quarterbacks, though, you have the option of pairing pass-catchers with your signal caller, and per 4for4's Chris Raybon, a quarterback's top receiver has the strongest positive correlation to quarterback success -- and his tight end and second receiver are next in line.
If you're going to stack, though, you need to have a purpose. If you're trying to win a big tournament, you'll want to find a combination that can put up points in bunches -- all while possibly being underowned. Which teammates might fit the bill in Week 1 on FanDuel's main slate, which excludes the Thursday and two Monday games?
This stack won't go under-the-radar, but it probably won't be as heavily owned as it should be, given the matchup against the Green Bay Packers' secondary. Baldwin should draw a significant number of snaps across from slot corner Damarious Randall, who ranked as ProFootballFocus' 107th-ranked cornerback in 2016. According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics, Green Bay ranked 32nd in Reception NEP per target and Success Rate allowed to wide receivers in 2016.
It's a fairly pricey stack, but with so much value generated by early slate postings, you can make it work. Plus, it's certainly no Ben Roethlisberger-Antonio Brown or Matt Ryan-Julio Jones stack, though they're certainly in play this week. And to be clear, a stack featuring Roethlisberger plus Brown, Le'Veon Bell, and/or Martavis Bryant is only omitted simply because we should expect them to carry some of the heaviest ownership marks of any Week 1 stacks on the main slate.
The Seattle Seahawks' 3-point underdog status in a game with an over/under of 51 points gives them an expected point total of 24 points. That'll play, considering the numerous question marks the Packers have in the secondary.
Quarterback: Matt Ryan ($8,500)
Wide Receiver: Julio Jones ($9,000)
Ryan is the most expensive quarterback on the slate, and Jones is the second-most expensive receiver. Like I suggested with Wilson and Baldwin, this stack won't go under-the-radar. However, Roethlisberger and Brown could command a significant portion of the ownership if other DFS players opt for a high-priced stack.
In 2016, Ryan led the NFL in Passing NEP per drop back and in Passing Success Rate, the percentage of drop backs that led to positive expected point gains. Regression is going to hit him and the Atlanta Falcons offense -- they scored 540 points last year after all -- but it probably won't start against the Chicago Bears in Week 1.
None of the Bears' corners ranked inside of ProFootballFocus' top-50 in terms of coverage grades last year, and Jones was the most efficient receiver by Reception NEP per target among 41 receivers with at least 100 targets in 2016. And Atlanta's implied total of 28.25 points is the highest of any team in Week 1.
Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals get a pretty nice matchup in Week 1 to ease into 2017, as the Detroit Lions continue to boast one of the NFL's weaker pass defenses, even if the draft investment into the secondary helps turn things around. The Cardinals are 1.5-point favorites in a game with a total of 48 points (they opened as 1.5-point underdogs, for what it's worth). That means it should stay close either way and provide plenty of scoring chances for Palmer at just $7,300 on FanDuel.
Fitzgerald has been starting hot before fading down the stretch in recent seasons. In 2016, he scored five times in his first five games (two of which were multi-touchdown games, including Week 1) and then didn't reach the end zone again until Week 17. Still, despite being one of the least efficient high-volume receivers in football last year, Fitzgerald's 20 red zone targets ranked eighth in 2016, and his 12 targets from inside the 10 were second.
Easing the efficiency concerns, Fitzgerald should draw a hefty amount of Quandre Diggs in coverage in the slot. Diggs ranked as one of the worst coverage corners by ProFootballFocus grades in 2016.
The tight end position on the Week 1 main slate -- despite not offering us Thursday/Monday players Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Kyle Rudolph, Coby Fleener, Antonio Gates, and Hunter Henry -- is pretty loaded. One guy who might go a bit overlooked, then, is Walker, whose Tennessee Titans have added a good handful of pass-catchers this offseason.
That's a legitimate concern, but the Oakland Raiders haven't done nearly enough to remedy their inability to cover tight ends after they allowed the fourth-highest Reception Success Rate to tight ends last season. Sure, Jelani Jenkins got cut, but Cory James and run-stopping rookie Marquel Lee should man the middle of Oakland's defense.
Walker ranked top-10 among 32 tight ends with at least 50 targets last year in both Reception NEP per catch and per target. His full-season and Week 1 output isn't easy to rely on, but he should have the path of least resistance for Tennessee this week.
As 2-point favorites, the Titans' implied total sits at 26.25 points, fifth-highest of all teams on the main slate. A high implied total and favorite status are both good signs for tight ends from a DFS perspective.
Los Angeles Rams
Yeah, we're going there. The Indianapolis Colts will be without Vontae Davis in Week 1, and their other cornerbacks -- aside from Darius Butler -- aren't anything to be afraid of by any means. The team total for the Los Angeles Rams (22.5) isn't worth getting overly excited about, but the matchup is.
Goff comes at a steep discount off of nearly any other starting quarterback in Week 1, already making this a viable stack, but he has a few options to pair with him. The first is the big-play threat in Watkins, and the second is Kupp, who had a stellar preseason and is listed at just $400 above FanDuel's minimum salary.
Of course, you have to trust Goff to take advantage of the opportunity. His 33.77% Success Rate in 2016 was worst among 34 passers with at least 200 drop backs (nobody else was below 41.00%), and his -0.28 Passing NEP per drop back was also worst (nobody else was below -0.05). But he's now outside the clutches of Jeff Fisher's offense-hating ways. Goff and Watkins or Kupp open up a ton of room to stack studs everywhere else on your roster.