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 Lamar Jackson, Ravens ($33)
TE Mark Andrews, Ravens ($22)
WR DJ Chark, Jaguars ($17)
Lamar Jackson has activated the upside that we saw in 2019 with a league-leading 30.8 Yahoo points per game over the last two weeks. He has accomplished that mostly on the ground, totaling 218 yards and three touchdowns via the run in those two games. Jackson could access the passing ceiling that he’s missed this year, however, against the Jaguars. Jacksonville ranks as a bottom-10 defense against quarterbacks when adjusted for strength of schedule, allowing at least 200 passing yards in each of their last 10 games and multiple passing touchdowns in every game since Week 7.
Mark Andrews has been a target vacuum and his deep usage is rivaled only by Travis Kelce. The Ravens tight end could see an increased workload in Week 15 with Marquise Brown placed on the reserve/COVID list and unlikely to play on Sunday. The matchup is suited for Andrews — SportsInfoSolutions points to the Jaguars as the defense allowing the fourth-most yards per target on passes in the middle of the field.
Jackson and Andrews won’t fly under the radar by any means but most DFS players will balk at bringing it back with DJ Chark. Jacksonville’s No. 1 receiver has scored single-digit fantasy points in four straight games but his usage is the stuff of tournament winners. Over the last month Chark’s 118 air yards per game rank sixth in the league — he’s one of four players averaging at least eight targets per game in that span with an average target depth over 14 yards. That type of usage is naturally going to have some huge dips but the spikes can be just as massive.
QB Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs ($38)
WR Tyreek Hill, Chiefs ($34)
WR Michael Thomas, Saints ($29)
Four games on the slate have an over/under above 50 points but this is the only one with a spread below 7.5; Kansas City is favored by 3. 4for4’s stack value report pinpoints the above stack as the highest ceiling of its kind but this game can be stacked heavily on both sides.
No matter which side you’re on, the primary pieces of both offenses will be popular. DFS players that stick to a three-man stack such as the one above will simply be forced to look for contrarian plays elsewhere but others can add additional players from either offense in order to build unique game stacks — the Saints side should offer some especially low-rostered plays while opening up salary.
Tre’Quan Smith ($10) is the only Saint besides Michael Thomas with at least six targets in each of the last two games while Emmanuel Sanders ($12) and Jared Cook ($13) have been Taysom Hill’s preferred targets in the red zone when he isn’t looking Thomas’ way. And now, Drew Brees is back and set to start, who loves Thomas. Cook is especially intriguing since the Chiefs allow the third-most schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends and he offers massive leverage off of Travis Kelce, who will be the most popular tight end on the slate by a wide margin.
Editor’s Note: Michael Thomas has been ruled out of Week 15 with an injury. Consider the other options (Smith, Sanders, or Cook) in his stead.
Contrarian Plays to Target
RB D’Andre Swift, Lions ($21)
This could be one of the biggest leverage plays of the season, let alone of Week 15. Derrick Henry could end up in upwards of 30% of lineups at $38 while Swift, the opposing running back, might barely be on 5% of rosters. Henry is obviously in a great spot but he needs a massive day to pay off his salary.
While Detroit is a big underdog, the Titans are one of two defenses ranked in the bottom 10 in schedule-adjusted points allowed to every skill position. It’s not a stretch for Tennessee’s defense to let this game stay uncomfortable close and Swift should get back to his big workload after being eased into action coming off an injury. If the Lions do have to throw Swift benefits as the pass-catching back.
WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals ($30)
The top tier of wide receivers is stacked with players in great spots this week. It’s conceivable that every wide receiver besides Hopkins with a salary of at least $30 approaches or exceeds a 15% rostered rate. With Kyler Murray looking closer to 100% than he has in a month, his ability to extend plays maximizes the entire upside of this offense. With Jalen Hurts reinvigorating the Eagles offense on the other side of the ball, this could be a sneaky shootout and Nuk could be one of the main beneficiaries in such a game.
TE Jonnu Smith, Titans ($13)
This is nothing more than a leverage play off of a popular offense at a terribly thin position. With Tennessee carrying the highest implied total of the week, they could have as many as four players on offense in over 10% of lineups, including the most popular play of the slate. Meanwhile, Smith will likely draw a sub-5% rostered rate. His volume has been way down in recent weeks but a play like this is solely in hopes of touchdown variance breaking to the tight end.
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.
The major decision this week is whether or not to spend nearly 20% of salary on Derrick Henry in a smash spot. The argument could be made that he is actually undervalued with a salary $2 below that of Dalvin Cook. With 2,000 yards on the horizon, I’m hitting the lock button on Henry in cash games. Salvon Ahmed ($14) could be a key to opening up salary if he ends up being active and Myles Gaskin stays on the COVID list. If both are out, DeAndre Washington ($10) is in play.
Cash Game Plays
QB: Lamar Jackson, Jalen Hurts, Ryan Tannehill
RB: Derrick Henry, Leonard Fournette, David Montgomery, Jeff Wilson, Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers
WR: Brandon Aiyuk, Lynn Bowden, T.Y. Hilton, Jarvis Landry, Tyreek Hill, Russell Gage, Calvin Ridley, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Keke Coutee
TE: Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Cole Kmet, Dallas Goedert
DEF: Titans, Rams, Seahawks, Ravens
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.