DFS Core Four and Value Stacks: Week 12
This Week 12 NFL DFS article consists of two parts, the "Core Four" and value stacks. The Core Four are my four favorite plays on the main slate for any game format, regardless of price or projected percent rostered. All four will almost assuredly be in my cash lineup and be an integral part of my GPP core plays (though they probably won't all be in the same GPP lineup).
For the value stacks, I’ll be using 4for4's Stack Value Reports to find stacks that can take down a tournament. I like building contrarian stacks around my chalkier core of players because you only have to get one instance correct for it to hit. Though there may be a chalkier player or two within the value stack, I will usually add a piece from the game that makes the stack a bit contrarian.
For example, if we hit on a contrarian quarterback play while having a pass-catcher or two from that same game, the positive correlation of those stacks is technically getting one contrarian play correct despite filling multiple roster slots. I feel this is easier than having a chalkier stack while trying to hit multiple individual low-rostered plays throughout the rest of your lineup. Keep in mind that these are contrarian stacks, so you don’t have to use these stacks in a large percentage of lineups to be overweight on the field. They should be used in tandem with a chalkier core of players.
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Core Four Plays
RB Christian McCaffrey ($9,700 FD/$9,000 DK)
McCaffrey's usage is nearing its glory days despite the fact he's being eased back onto the field. In his first two weeks back he saw around half the snaps, but last week he took a big jump to 90% of the offensive snaps. He's going to get the bulk of the carries and as always a hefty amount of targets. He's been targeted 18 times in the last two weeks and I expect that rate to continue. The Dolphins matchup isn't scary as they rank 17th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) against running backs. The only downside to McCaffrey at this point is the touchdown vulturing by Cam Newton at the goal line, but he's getting so much usage in the passing game he's hitting value fairly easily even in weeks he doesn't find the end zone. With Jonathan Taylor facing the Buccaneers, McCaffrey is the guy in cash this week.
QB Cam Newton ($5,600 DK) / Jimmy Garoppolo ($6,500 FD)
It's viable to play both Cam and McCaffrey on DraftKings because they failed to price him up like the rest of the industry did. Most other sites vaulted Cam somewhere near a top-three quarterback. With him sitting at $5,600 on DraftKings, he's a pretty safe bet in cash games to hit value and even potentially 4x or 5x. The Panthers showed they're willing to let Cam run the ball at the goal line, which boosts his ceiling tremendously. He looked really solid against the Football Team, completing 21-of-27 passes and connecting on multiple touchdowns in Week 11. With a combined salary of only $14,600 on DraftKings, Cam and McCaffrey aren't too prohibitive in cash.
On FanDuel, Jimmy Garroppolo is in the same boat as Cam on DraftKings. He's just severely underpriced. In a game with the Vikings that should feature a good bit of back and forth with points scored, I expect Garoppolo to throw multiple touchdown passes. He has all his weapons back on the field with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle healthy. The Vikings rank 27th in aFPA to quarterbacks and Garoppolo rates out first in our FanDuel value metric at the position.
WR Diontae Johnson ($7,100 FD/$6,600 DK)
Johnson has exactly 13 targets in four of his last five games. That type of usage normally comes with a massive price on DraftKings and FanDuel. The issue seems to be that Johnson's targets are mostly low target depth, which results in solid stat lines, but never an off-the-chart ceiling. I don't think that matters for core cash plays. We'll take 8-80 as a median projection and hope that he gets into the end zone. The Bengals are middle of the pack in aFPA to wide receivers, ranking 16th. It's really tough to not play a guy that is a virtual lock for six receptions. The Steelers will be without Eric Ebron again and obviously, JuJu Smith-Schuster remains sidelined so Johnson projects to be the top target-getter once again.
WR Laviska Shenault ($5,600 FD/$4,400 DK)
The Jaguars are talking up more involvement for Shenault with the injury to Jamal Agnew. Shenault went 5-50 last week and had eight targets the week before. We've seen this story before with Shenault getting a ton of publicity and not producing, but a home game against the Falcons seems like it would be the spot for Shenault to have his best game of the season. I wouldn't normally consider Shenault as a core cash play, but everything is relative in daily fantasy. There is not much value anywhere on this slate, so with Agnew out, I expect Shenault to work the short-yardage stuff that would normally go to Agnew throughout this game.
Value Stacks to Target
QB Tom Brady, Buccaneers ($8,200 FD/$7,400DK)
WR Mike Evans, Buccaneers ($7,500 FD/$7,200 DK)
TE Rob Gronkowski, Buccaneers ($6,500 FD/$4,400DK)
WR Michael Pittman, Colts ($6,600 FD/$5,600 DK)
Brady and his receivers are extremely enticing given the context of the slate. With only 10 games and several studs not playing Sunday afternoon, it amplifies the odds the Buccaneers' offense lands as the optimal tournament stack. I like leaving Godwin, who is a very good cash play, out of this stack. The Colts have been beatable on the outside, so there is a chance that Godwin is not the top option this week. Last week, Evans saw 28% of air yards and 23% of targets. We can see a similar share this week against the Colts.
Rob Gronkowski racked up 6-71 in an eight-target effort in his first game back. The special aspect of Gronk's game is his average depth of target. Normally, tight ends work the short-to-intermediate part of the field, and touchdowns are needed to solidify a solid fantasy day. Gronk not only sees the end zone targets but will also run routes down the field. He's become an excellent target on seam routes and corner routes in this Bucs' offense.
Michael Pittman may be somewhat chalky because of his cheap price, but at the same time, I could see him coming in under-rostered due to his minimal targets in the last few contests. Jonathan Taylor has been running roughshod on the competition as of late, but the Buccaneers are one team that could put a stop to that. If this game starts to get away from the Colts, I think we may see a game like Pittman had last month in which he racked up double-digit targets and multiple touchdowns. The Buccaneers are a pass-funnel team so it won't be unusual if this is a Pittman game for the Colts.
QB Jalen Hurts, Eagles ($8,400 FD/$7,300 DK)
WR DeVonta Smith, Eagles ($6,400 FD/$6,400 DK)
TE Dallas Goedert, Eagles ($5,900 FD/$4,800 DK)
This stack is more for small-field tournaments rather than something like the Millionaire. Notice there is no bring back in this stack. The Giants are a mess offensively with injuries, a new play-caller, and just overall ineptitude across the board. I like to find these spots and leave the bring back off of the stack in hopes most people will force it. I reference this a lot, but an absolute offensive explosion by the Chiefs was ruined in a previous season because everyone forced a Jets' bring back. The Jets barely mustered any offense and those who sharply left Jets out of their stacks took home the money.
This is leverage of what could be a popular Miles Sanders. He's cheap and saw a ton of work last week, that has created buzz around the industry. I'll gladly pivot to Hurts and the Eagles' passing offense in this game. Hurts is adding an average of 10 fantasy points with just his legs in each game this season. On this slate, with very little to work with, Hurts getting a couple rushing touchdowns may be enough to land in the optimal lineup.
DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert dominate the targets in this offense, especially since Zach Ertz was shipped off to the desert. They've combined for 66% of air yards and 60% of targets in those games. We are hoping for a game in which variance swings towards the passing attack of the Eagles. Hurts throwing for 250+ yards and three touchdowns, all of those going to Smith and Goedert, while also running in a touchdown is the ceiling here and that's what we are hoping to capture