Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Hey there RotoBallers! After a long off-season, the big day is finally here as the NFL regular season Week 1 kicks off. You have probably already been tinkering with daily fantasy lineups since prices were released last month but there's always room for more combinations. Get those lineups set on Sunday morning, sit back, and enjoy the glorious return of football!

The goal of this weekly column will be to locate some of the best DFS stacks each week. Stacking, or pairing a quarterback with one of his pass-catchers, is a great way to maximize point scoring. This method is generally viewed as a strategy in tournaments, but I also have no problem using safe, high-floor stacks in cash games, as well.

The top Week 1 DFS stacks will be listed below, loosely sorted by salary. The focus will be on the main slate (1:00 PM and 4:00 PM Sunday) games across both sites.

 

High-Priced Week 1 DFS Stacks

Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown @ Cleveland

Much has been made of Roethlisberger's home/road splits, which could scare just enough owners away to make this stack less popular than one would assume. That, plus Brown's preseason quadriceps injury makes it great for both tournaments and cash games. Due to the fact the sites released their pricing so early in the preseason, plenty of value has opened up which will allow DFS gamers to fit a solid lineup around Big Ben and AB. Don't expect that to always be the case after this week.

Roethlisberger might have to throw against the Browns more than he is accustomed to doing as Cleveland should have one of the better offenses they have had for a long time. Brown absolutely shredded Cleveland in Week 1 in 2017, popping off for 11 catches and 182 yards. The Browns will try to slow Brown with either Terrance Mitchell, who earned a 61.1 grade from Pro Football Focus in 2017, or rookie Denzel Ward. Neither will be able to prevent Brown from doing whatever he wants on Sunday. Who in the NFL really can?

Stacking Big Ben and Juju Smith-Schuster is an interesting way to differentiate lineups and could be a tournament winner if the Browns (or his quad issue), slows Antonio Brown.

 

New Orleans QB Drew Brees and WR Michael Thomas vs. Tampa Bay

Brees is coming off a down 2017 season, mostly due to a run-heavy offensive approach. Heading into his age-39 season, Brees has shown no signs of slowing down. The Buccaneers are a prime matchup for the veteran signal-caller as Tampa Bay employed one of the least-effective passing offenses in 2017 and didn't do much to improve the position for this season outside of drafting cornerback Carlton Davis in the second round. According to Football Outsiders, Tampa Bay's pass defense ranked 31st in the 2017 season.

Thomas' first two NFL seasons have been amazing as he's amassed 196 catches for 2,382 yards and 14 touchdowns. The only quibble with his production has been the relatively low touchdown totals, so far. Expect that to change in a big way in 2018 as he is primed for major positive touchdown-scoring regression. Thomas is expected to run most of his routes against Tampa Bay right cornerback Carlton Davis, a second-round rookie pick this past draft. Davis might develop into a fine NFL defensive back but it's a tall task for him to shut down an All-Pro talent such as Thomas in his first career start. Thomas will also get to take some shots against Bucs' slot corner Vernon Hargreaves, who has been a frequent burn candidate in his career.

 

New England QB Tom Brady and WR Chris Hogan and/or TE Rob Gronkowski vs. Houston

Brady should get off to a fast start as he takes on a Houston pass defense that allowed the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks in 2017. Those numbers are backed up by a No. 25 pass defense DVOA rank according to Football Outsiders last season. The Patriots have dealt with several injuries in the backfield this preseason, leaving pass-catching back James White as the only fully healthy option in the backfield. Sony Michel is unlikely to play and there are rumors the Pats could limit Rex Burkhead in Week 1. It is doubtful they would be willing to bang Jeremy Hill between the tackles 20 times in Week 1, so look for New England to deploy a pass-heavy approach in Week 1.

Both Gronkowski and Hogan are in play as stacking partners for Week 1. The Patriots head into the regular season with just four wide receivers of consequence, meaning both Gronkowski and Hogan should have very little competition for targets on Sunday. Because we can reasonably expect both pass-catchers to see plenty of work, there's nothing wrong with rolling out a three-man Patriots stack in Week 1.

 

Moderately-Priced Week 1 DFS Stacks

Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce @ Los Angeles Chargers

Mahomes heads into the 2018 season with plenty of hype after he delivered some long splash plays in the preseason and performed well against the Denver Broncos in his lone start last season, which came in Week 17. The Chargers boasted a strong pass defense in 2017 but the Chiefs are loaded at the skill positions and Los Angeles won't be able to cover all of them.

Kelce and Tyreek Hill are both in the conversation as stack partners with Mahomes but Kelce gets the nod due to an easier matchup. Hill will have to contend with coverage from either star corner Casey Hayward or excellent slot corner Desmond King. According to 2017 DVOA pass defense statistics, the Chargers were weakest against tight ends, ranking just 18th in the league in that metric. Kelce has shown throughout his career that he can have blowup weeks that can rival even the top receivers in the league.

For what it's worth, Mahomes and running back Kareem Hunt make for an interesting pairing, as well. Hunt showed he has excellent pass-catching skills in 2017, catching 53 balls and notching three receiving touchdowns. Furthermore, the Chargers were much more vulnerable against the run in 2017, ranking just 25th in run defense DVOA. A huge rushing game from Hunt plus a touchdown reception from Mahomes to him would be a real benefit for those who stack the two in Week 1.

 

Denver QB Case Keenum and WR Demaryius Thomas vs. Seattle

Keenum surprised many with a breakout season for the Minnesota Vikings in 2017. While he benefitted from a fantastic supporting cast in Minnesota, his teammates in Denver are pretty talented, too. While the Seahawks used to be a stay-away defense from a fantasy perspective, this is not the Seattle defense that powered the team to two straight Super Bowl appearances in 2013 and 2014. Keenum could go overlooked for a multitude of reasons this weekend, mostly by those who think the Seattle defense is still good, or those who think Keenum isn't. Don't make that mistake in Week 1, this is a solid play in all contests.

Keenum is the best quarterback Thomas has played with since the 2014 version of Peyton Manning. While Demaryius is getting up there in years, he is still a monster after the catch and can easily take a short reception to the house for a score. He figures to run most of his routes at Seattle left corner Shaquill Griffin, who graded out at 63 according to Pro Football Focus in 2017.

 

Bargain-Priced Week 1 DFS Stacks

Jacksonville QB Blake Bortles and WR Keelan Cole or TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins @ New York Giants

Bortles has been much-maligned as a real-life NFL quarterback but he has fluctuated between decent and excellent as a fantasy quarterback over his career. The Giants don't figure to have a very effective defense this season and Bortles showed that he has sneaky rushing upside last season.

Keelan Cole is in play simply due to his dirt cheap pricing across the daily sites. Pricing came out before the Marqise Lee injury elevated Cole to the WR1 in Jacksonville. He won't have to do much to hit value in Week 1 and has a real shot at crushing that value for the season opener.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins draws a beautiful Week 1 matchup against a Giants defense that has been atrocious against enemy tight ends over the past few seasons. New York allowed opposing tight ends to average 15.99 points per game against them in 2017. Look for ASJ, a monster of a man at 6'5", and 262 pounds, to come down with at least one score.

Special Note: Be sure to check practice reports on Seferian-Jenkins. He popped up on the early-week injury report with a core muscle injury, although he was able to practice on Thursday. Make sure he's active if you plan to use him.

 

Cleveland QB Tyrod Taylor and TE David Njoku vs. Pittsburgh

After several years in Buffalo, Taylor will play with the best skill position players of his career and always brings GPP-winning rushing upside to the table. He will lead a revamped Cleveland offense against the rival Steelers. While this "rivalry" has been lopsided of late, we know the Steelers have one of the best offenses in the league and should score often in this contest. That will ensure that Taylor has to throw plenty throughout the afternoon.

While many who are playing Taylor may lock in No. 1 wide receiver Jarvis Landry as his stack partner, tight end David Njoku is an interesting name to keep in mind. Pittsburgh's defense was dominant against tight ends in 2017, allowing the third-least fantasy points per game to the position. That being said, the unfortunate season (and perhaps career) ending back injury suffered by Ryan Shazier on December 4, 2017 changed how the Steelers defend the position. Shazier was excellent in coverage, which allowed the Steelers to shut down opposing tight ends without much trouble. Njoku showed in the preseason that he has multiple-touchdown upside whenever he takes the field.

 

"YOLO" Contrarian Stack

New York Giants QB Eli Manning and WR Odell Beckham, Jr. vs. Jacksonville

Many fantasy gamers will see the matchup against the Jaguars and immediately move on to someone else with an easier opponent. Jacksonville is expected to shadow Beckham with Jalen Ramsey, one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. That being said, Beckham is one of the top wide receiver talents in the league and doesn't really need much space to turn a short reception into a long touchdown. This isn't an option in cash games but if Eli Manning and Odell hook up for a long score or two, you could find yourself shooting up the leaderboard in DFS tournaments.