Let’s welcome the 2016 NFL season as we finally get some meaningful games and large DFS prize pools to attack this weekend! My first article of the 2016 season will be breaking down the combinations or stacks that I think are in great spots. I will do this article on a weekly basis with the goal of getting it out to you on Wednesdays, even though it will very rarely contain any players from the Thursday game.
A little run down on how the article breaks down as you may be wondering what other stacks there are other than QB-WR? Within DFS we are always trying to find plays that have positive correlations (as in one benefits from the other). While the QB-WR combinations are the obvious ones, the others that have a positive correlation are the RB-DEF and the RB/WR who are a team’s return man-DEF stacks. Obviously when a QB is having a big game thru the air, his receivers are benefitting. When a RB has a big game, putting up yards and TD’s it helps his own defense by keeping them on the sidelines and well rested and then, due to game flow, generally has the opposition trailing late which means they have to drop back to pass more often which opens up the sacks and interceptions. The last stacking combination is the one that is tough to predict while also being even tougher to understand. The return man who is involved in a team’s offense can definitely be paired with his team’s DEF to take advantage of a possible Kick or Punt return for a TD. The obvious example in this and my favorite target from last year is Tyler Lockett of the Seahawks.
Let’s take a look at who I think we need to be targeting in our Week 1 lineups:
The QB-WR stack has become extremely popular and has been a staple for years when it comes to season long fantasy as you want that dual TD (Pass and Catch) to count for your total, whether it be DFS or season long. For week 1 there are a number of good possibilities to use as I like a number of offenses. I will try to limit this section to 3 or 4 choices, with one of them being an off the wall option that could surprise people. For this week, I will provide the obvious 4 choices that stand out due to the high projected totals, however for each one I will suggest a different receiver to use as a possibility to differentiate yourself. The obvious combination to me is Derek Carr and Amari Cooper traveling to NO to play in the Dome. I think you can swerve to Michael Crabtree at a much lower ownership and if you truly believe in the Raiders passing attack, why not pair them both with Carr?
On the other side of this game you have Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks. The nice thing with the Saints offense is that you can utilize a few guys with Brees as he likes to spread it around and I would expect Willie Snead, Michael Thomas and Coby Fleener to see some ownership and all make interesting pairings.
The other game that should see a lot of pass happy play is the Detroit-Indianapolis match-up. Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate will be the obvious Detroit combination, however I might look to sneak Marvin Jones in with Stafford. On the other side we get Andrew Luck and TY Hilton or Donte Moncrief as Luck makes his return to the field and has the Colts in a spot where they are projected to score the second most points this weekend.
Those four stacks are somewhat obvious and they certainly make great tournament plays, however if you want a combination that may be lower owned than it should be, I would look at Jameis Winston-Mike Evans. While I think Evans will be more popular on his own, I think there are so many QB options out there that Winston will get over looked.
Thanks to some injuries we only have a few real options in this category as we just are not sure as to who is going to benefit. A couple of the obvious plays are Adrian Peterson-Minnesota and Todd Gurley-St Louis. Minnesota’s defense is a very strong unit and with the QB issues they now have, they will rely on AP even more and that could leave Mariota and the Titans offense on the sideline for a large portion of the game. Also, with Mariota being a young QB that scrambles a bit, you have the ability to pick up a few extra sacks as well as a fumble recovery or two. Much like with Minnesota, St Louis is going to rely heavily on their stud RB and while I wish this game was at home, the defense should still be in a solid spot against a 49er offense that really lacks big players as they are starting Gabbert and their number 1 receive is Torey Smith. With St Louis there is also the threat of a return TD, which I will get into later on.
Lamar Miller-Houston should be a stack that we all consider, especially if we are not using DeAndre Hopkins. Miller has gotten a lot of fantasy hype as he showed flashes of dominant fantasy performances with Miami over the last two seasons. Houston’s defense should be one of the most popular picks this week as they should create a number of turnovers and are expecting to have the best defensive player in the NFL ready to go.
Pay attention to the RB situation in Seattle as Rawls apparently has not come back fully to this point and while Seattle’s DEF is always in a great spot, I think you could add either Rawls or Christine Michael to them to make a solid combo.
The last combination that I will have a decent amount of will be Spencer Ware-Kansas City. Ware should be the every down back in Week 1 for the Chiefs as I think Charles needs a week or two to be ready to go after his ACL injury last year. While the Chiefs D has a ton of upside, people might be afraid of the Chargers offense as they are capable of putting up points.
This is the one stack that is tough to predict, especially week 1 of the NFL season as we do not really know who the return men will be for a lot of the teams as they work things out via trial and error throughout the game. The obvious, as I have already stated, is Tyler Lockett-Seattle as he is a big part of their offense (expected to see an increase in offensive snaps this season) and we know how dangerous he is with the ball in his hands. I can almost guarantee this combination will be listed every week.
My second favorite combo is Tavon Austin-St Louis as Austin is a big part of the offense as they get him targets out of the slot as well as rush attempts throughout the game.
The last one I will list for week 1 has me not sure as to how they are going to do it, however in years past it made sense to pair Antonio Brown-Pittsburgh because of his huge receiving games. He also was the punt returner and could take one to the house at any point and the Steelers defense, while giving up yards, tended to end up with a few TD’s on a yearly basis. I have heard rumors that Eli Rogers might spell Antonio Brown at PR and if that is the case and Rogers gets a lot of action out of the slot on the offensive end, I think he makes an intriguing option.