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 positional strategies that you can implement in any size tournament. These concepts include stacking, finding pivots off of popular players, and looking for leverage in other spots. While it’s important to implement these into your lineup-building approach, the foundation of any tournament lineup is a solid core — usually players you would use in cash games.
Stacks To Target
QB Matthew Stafford, Rams ($31)
WR Cooper Kupp, Rams ($34)
This will be far from a unique stack but this is arguably the most favorable passing matchup that we have seen this year. Los Angeles throws at a top-10 rate in neutral game script and is one of four teams with over 15 passing touchdowns on the season. Their 33-point implied total is the highest on the slate and a huge percentage of that scoring should come through the air against a Lions defense allowing the most fantasy points per pass attempt.
Matthew Stafford has a top-five ceiling projection but his salary is $9 lower than the QB1 on the slate, putting him in the sweet spot for quarterback salary based on other Baller winners this season. That salary saving makes it easier to pair Stafford with Cooper Kupp, who is the only player with over 25% of his team’s targets in every game and leads the league in targets inside the 10-yard line.
Lineups that opt for this stack will have to be contrarian elsewhere but rostered rates might not get out of control with three other teams projected for 30 or more points. With this game being in the late window, teams off to a slow start have the advantage of being able to late-swap off of this popular correlation play if needed.
QB Daniel Jones, Giants ($27)
WR Sterling Shepard, Giants ($19)
One trend that has been prominent at the top of Baller leaderboards this season is a combination of contrarian and affordable stacks. Of the six Baller winners this season, five have used a quarterback with a sub-five-percent rostered rate and only one has used a quarterback over $34. All of the winning quarterback stacks have been with a pass-catcher on 8% or fewer of rosters and only one of those pass-catchers has had a salary above $20.
The Giants stack fits this mold against a Panthers defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks with a QB that has the added value of rushing upside. With New York’s banged-up receiving corps, Sterling Shepard saw 29% of the Giants targets in Week 6, the third time in three full games played that he has commanded at least 25% of his team’s targets.
This stack isn’t going to win tournaments on its own but it will allow rosters to load up on high-salary, popular stars elsewhere while bringing down the average rostered rate of the lineup.
RB Miles Sanders, Eagles ($19)
TE Dallas Goedert, Eagles ($17)
Many of the highest-scoring Baller lineups have implemented correlations that include running backs, tight ends, or both. Miles Sanders is a top-seven ceiling value against a Raiders defense ranked in the bottom 10 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to running backs. Over the last two weeks, Sanders has at least 84% of the Eagles backfield touches.
A positive game script for Sanders should also benefit Goedert, the clear-cut TE1 with Zach Ertz now in Arizona. Jalen Hurts has thrown to his tight ends on 26% of passes, the eighth-highest tight end target share of any team. The Raiders rank 27th against tight ends when adjusted for schedule strength.
Contrarian Plays to Target
WR Terry McLaurin, Washington ($25)
After busting as the chalk in Week 6, Terry McLaurin will likely be largely ignored by tournament players in Week 7, despite being a fine correlation option in lineups that decide to roster any Packers with Green Bay’s high implied total. Over the last three weeks, McLaurin ranks second in expected points among all pass-catchers according to the 4for4 Breakout Reciever Model, and he gets the advantage of playing against the Packers’ depleted secondary. McLaurin is dealing with a hamstring injury, but he played 95% of snaps with the same issue last week.
WR Mecole Hardman, Chiefs ($15)
It would be a disservice to not mention the game with a total of 57.5, an over/under more than seven points higher than any other game on the slate. Hardman will probably be in more than 10% of lineups but he will still be under-utilized relative to his teammates. Hardman is best used in heavy game stacks that don’t include Tyreek Hill, since Hill usually hits by dominating games himself. Looking to the Titans side for ancillary players is a futile effort since they concentrate touches so heavily on their top players, especially if Julio Jones is out.
Cash Game Strategy
While there are a handful of quarterbacks in dream spots, many of their salaries are so high relative to the cap that they hurt the overall floor and ceiling of lineups. Most of this week’s value comes from mid-tier running backs.
QB: Jalen Hurts, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr
RB: Derrick Henry, Darrel Williams, Cordarrelle Patterson, Darrell Henderson, Leonard Fournette, Josh Jacobs, Chuba Hubbard
WR: Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Jaylen Waddle, Henry Ruggs, Brandin Cooks, Mecole Hardman, A.J. Brown, Sterling Shepard, Darnell Mooney, Jakobi Meyers
TE: Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, Dallas Goedert
DEF: Rams, Packers, Ravens
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.
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