This article is part of our DFS Tournament Guide series.
This guide focuses strictly on the main slate of Sunday afternoon games, with recommendations meant to be used for large-field, GPP tournaments. Player prices will only be mentioned for the two largest DFS sites, though much of what's discussed can be applied throughout the industry.
Point-Per-Dollar Value Plays
Variance and low ownership are desirable in large DFS tournaments, but we still need a few building-block players that are strong bets to outperform their price tags even if they don't have the highest ceilings and/or are likely to be popular plays. We'll also want to keep a close eye on injury situations with potential to create value for teammates (this is covered at the bottom of the page).
RB Sony Michel, NE (vs. MIA), ($4,500 DK; $5,900 FD)
Rex Burkhead (neck) was placed on injured reserve this week, leaving Michel, James White and Kenjon Barner as the only running backs on New England's 53-man roster. The rookie is left with no real competition for work between the tackles, heading into a game where his team is listed as a seven-point favorite with an implied total of 27.5. The Dolphins haven't given up many fantasy points to running backs, but a soft early schedule has been a big part of the equation, along with some help from a phantom holding call that wiped out a 61-yard Derrick Henry touchdown back in Week 1. Miami was hoping a deep group of defensive ends would help cover up weak spots at defensive tackle and linebacker, but the D-line rotation took a big hit when both William Hayes and Andre Branch suffered significant knee injuries last week. Michel should be able to exploit the soft underbelly come Sunday, kicking off his bid to become the 2018 version of Dion Lewis, who averaged 17.8 PPR points over the final eight weeks of last season. Lewis did all that while losing passing-down snaps to White and goal-line work to Burkhead.
RB Giovani Bernard, CIN (at ATL), ($6,300 DK; $6,400 FD)
The Bengals apparently don't have much faith in rookie fourth-round pick Mark Walton, considering Bernard handled an 88 percent snap share last week against the Panthers while Joe Mixon (knee) was sidelined. With Mixon seemingly headed for at least one more absence, Bernard is slated for another big workload in a matchup with an Atlanta defense that's well on its way to leading the league in receptions allowed to running backs for a fourth consecutive season. Gio is one of the league's better pass catchers out of the backfield, and he'll take aim at a defense that's already lost three starters — including S Keanu Neal and MLB Deion Jones — to severe injuries. The price here is much more favorable on FanDuel, but the PPR scoring on DraftKings makes Bernard a strong play on both sites.
WR Antonio Callaway, CLE (at OAK), ($4,300 DK; $4,500 FD)
Callaway is the unquestioned No. 2 wideout in Cleveland's post-Gordon era, coming off an ugly Week 3 performance with a 4-20-0 receiving line on 10 targets and a 90 percent snap share. I prefer to focus on the workload rather than the efficiency, given that the rookie parlayed four targets into a 3-81-1 line the previous week. Baker Mayfield should elevate the entire Cleveland passing game, and he won't have many options besides Callaway and Jarvis Landry unless David Njoku can finally get his act together. Callaway is a first-round talent who fell to the fourth round because of his various off-field issues.
Correlation plays are the centerpiece of any DFS tournament lineup, and this is usually where I start to focus on ceiling and ownership in addition to point-per-dollar projections. Not to say we can't also find value, but it's often worth a small sacrifice in that department to avoid the stacks that will crop up in a multitude of lineups. The ideal scenario allows us to match our QB with one of his primary targets as well as a pass catcher from the other team, hoping to capitalize on a tight, high-scoring affair in which both sides stay aggressive deep into the fourth quarter. With that mind, here are the games I'm focusing on for Sunday:
Saints at Giants
This game features two crucial elements we look for in a stack, combining a lofty over/under (50) with a high degree of predictability in terms of which players will get the ball. I maintain that Alvin Kamara ($9,600 DK; $9,100 FD) and Michael Thomas ($9,100 DK; $9,000 FD) can't possibly continue to dominate their team's touches and targets to this extent, but there's no doubt regarding their status as the best RB-WR duo in the league. On the other side of the game, Eli Manning ($5,600 DK; $7,100 FD) takes aim at a miserable Saints defense that's allowing far more yards per pass attempt (11.2) than what Drew Brees ($6,600 DK; $8,700 FD) is producing (8.4). With Evan Engram (knee) out of the lineup, there's a decent chance Odell Beckham ($8,700 DK; $8,600 FD) and Sterling Shepard ($4,900 DK; $6,200 FD) reach 20 combined targets. Pricing points to a Brees-Thomas-Shepard stack on DraftKings or a Manning-Beckham-Kamara stack on FanDuel, with Ted Ginn ($4,600 DK) a possible addition to the former and Shepard a viable fourth wheel for the latter.
Texans at Colts
I don't have much confidence in the offenses involved in this contest, but it still makes sense for a stack because we know which players will pile up fantasy production and we don't necessarily need 50-plus points for the passing attacks to come through with big stats. Neither team has gotten anything of substance from its backfield, and both feature No. 1 wide receivers with a target share above 25 percent. Deshaun Watson ($6,300 DK; $7,600) is one of my top point-per-dollar QBs on both major sites, and we can safely guess that more than half his pass attempts will go to DeAndre Hopkins ($8,400 DK; $8,600 FD) and Will Fuller ($6,800 DK; $7,600 FD). Andrew Luck ($5,500 DK; $7,300) should be similarly predictable in the likely absence of Jack Doyle (hip), forced to rely heavily on T.Y. Hilton ($7,000 DK; $7,300 FD) and Eric Ebron ($3,600 DK; $5,500 FD). Both teams have allowed opponents to complete better than 70 percent of pass attempts, thus confirming the preseason expectation of cornerback play being a major issue. An over/under of 47 doesn't stand out in the NFL's current scoring environment, but it does rank No. 4 among 12 games on the main slate, and the spread (Texans +1) is our tightest of the week. Per Football Outsiders, Indianapolis has operated at the league's fastest pace (23.9 second per play), followed by Baltimore (24.3) and then, you guessed it...Houston (24.7).
Bengals at Falcons
This game easily tops the main slate with a 53 over/under, ensuring it will be a popular target for game stacks. I thus feel obliged to at least mention it as an option, though my preferred strategy is to roster Bernard or while using Saints-Giants or Texans-Colts for a passing stack. The Bengals and Falcons rank 12 and 16th, respectively, for seconds per snap — and both have dealt with early schedules that encouraged passing over running. We also need to consider the Cincinnati actually has a pretty balanced roster in terms of talent dispersion between the offense and defense. The over/under in this game is driven by the Atlanta side of the contest, with at least some aspect of overreaction to last week's result against the Saints. I'd bet the under without hesitation (if i bet on game lines).
While not nearly as important as quarterback-receiver combos, RB-Defense mini-stacks present another opportunity to take advantage of positive correlations in tournament lineups. We're generally looking for teams that are comfortably favored to win, preferably with a starting running back who dominates goal-line and clock-killing work.
Jordan Howard ($6,800 DK; $7,200 FD) + Bears D/ST ($2,600 DK; $4,300 FD)
The Bucs are only allowing 3.6 yards per carry and have obviously put up a ton of points, but it's only a matter of time before their complete inability to run the ball leads to a blow-up outing for an opponent's RB-D/ST stack. The inevitable Fitzmagic regression started Monday against the Steelers with a three-pick, three-sack performance, and the Bucs now get a road game against a tough defense on a short week. Howard is struggling to the tune of just 3.4 YPC, but he's answered any questions about workload with a 53-14 carry advantage and 11-8 target advantage over Tarik Cohen. My one issue here is some minor frustration with pricing, as Howard is a much better play on FanDuel while the Chicago defense is a much better play on DraftKings. A quick look through the game logs from 2016 and 2017 confirms our expectation that Howard's huge performances would coincide with solid outings from the Bears defense.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL (vs. DET), ($7,700 DK; $8,200 FD)
Elliott has landed between 17.5 and 20 DK points each week this season while leading all running backs with a 94 percent snap share. His average of 19.7 touches obviously isn't bad, but he should push comfortably above 20 once we see some correction on the Cowboys' unsustainably low mark of 55 offensive snaps per game. Week 4 lines up as the perfect situation for a breakout, with Dallas favored by three points in a home game against a Lions team that's allowing 5.4 yards per carry and 149.3 rushing yards per game. In addition to obvious weaknesses at defensive tackle and linebacker, the Lions may have to play Sunday's game with star defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder) either absent or limited.
Fading The Field
Every week we see at least one or two players carrying high ownership without the backing of a top point-per-dollar projection. Recency bias is often the motivating factor, as many DFS players subconsciously overestimate the predictive value of last week's results. Our Week 4 theme is a pair of young wideouts coming off breakout performances that led to a price jump for Sunday's slate.
WR Calvin Ridley, ATL (vs. CIN), ($4,900 DK; $6,300 FD)
Ridley answered any questions about his talent last week, but he's still averaging just five targets per game on a 61 percent snap share, with both Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu getting more time on the field. The rookie now comes with a much higher price tag heading into a matchup with a Cincinnati defense that has William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick at cornerback. The Bengals have limited opponents to 6.4 yards per pass attempt, ranking just 18th in fantasy points allowed to wide receivers despite facing a ridiculous number of passes (44 per game) in a three-week sample. I'd rather target Ridley versus the Steelers in Week 5, when his ownership should come down for a matchup with a softer group of cornerbacks.
WR Tyler Boyd, KC (vs. SF), ($4,600 DK; $5,800 FD)
Boyd doesn't quite have the same red flags as Ridley, averaging seven targets per game while handling an 80 percent snap share. I nonetheless prefer to avoid the high ownership, considering Bernard and A.J. Green are much safer bets to pile up volume in a game that could be disappointing for cumulative offensive production. Boyd has scored twice in three games, but he's done so without accounting for any of Cincinnati's eight targets inside the 10-yard line (Green has four). We also need to account for the re-emergence of Tyler Eifert, who saw 12 targets and a 65 percent snap share over the past two weeks. Furthermore, the Falcons have a long history of funneling targets away from wide receivers and toward running backs under the guidance of head coach Dan Quinn. There isn't much reason to expect a reverse in the trend now that the middle of the Atlanta defense has been wiped out by injuries.
The Bargain Bin
QB Ryan Tannehill, MIA (at NE), ($5,500 DK; $6,800 FD)
QB Derek Carr, OAK (vs. CLE), ($5,100 DK; $7,000 FD)
RB Kerryon Johnson, DET (at DAL), ($4,400 DK; $5,700 FD)
WR Antonio Callaway, CLE (at OAK), ($4,300 DK; $4,500 FD)
WR Taylor Gabriel, CHI (vs. TB), ($3,900 DK; $5,000 FD)
TE Austin Hooper, ATL (vs. CIN), ($2,900 DK; $5,000 FD)
D/ST Cowboys (vs. DET), ($2,400 DK; $3,700 FD)
Pricing Discrepancies Between FD and DK
Lamar Miller ($5,000 DK; $6,500 FD) once again lands in the DK-only bucket, joined by Chris Carson ($4,600 DK; $6,400 FD), Quincy Enunwa ($4,300 DK; $6,100 FD), Larry Fitzgerald ($5,000 DK; $6,400 FD), Andy Dalton ($5,400 DK; $7,400 FD), Matt Ryan ($6,100 DK; $8,100 FD) and Drew Brees ($6,600 DK; $8,700 FD).
My FanDuel-only list consists of Kenny Golladay ($6,500 DK; $5,800 FD), Corey Davis ($5,300 DK; $5,400 FD) and Tyler Eifert ($3,800 DK; $4,600 FD), though it's also worth noting that Bernard, Howard and Callaway are both-site plays with more enticing prices on FD.
Injury Situations to Monitor
Allen (knee) was held out of practice Wednesday and Thursday, potentially creating a situation in which Mike Williams ($4,500 DK; $6,300 FD) and Tyrell Williams ($3,700 DK; $5,400 FD) would become top point-per-dollar plays in a favorable matchup with the 49ers. Allen has averaged 9.8 targets per game since the start of last season, and both of the Williams brothers have proven to be efficient with their opportunities. The San Francisco secondary has already been struggling and will now be forced to play without top cornerback Richard Sherman (calf). This is also a good time to mention that Melvin Gordon ($8,300 DK; $8,700 FD) is a strong play, though I do prefer Zeke and the extra cap space.
Backfield mate Tevin Coleman ($5,900 DK; $7,200 FD) will be a strong play for a third straight week if Freeman (knee) isn't able to return. I've already covered the Bengals-Falcons game at length, noting my preference to use Coleman or Giovani Bernard as a way to get in on the action while fading the Matt Ryan and Andy Dalton passing stacks we'll see in large tournaments.
Doyle (hip) seems to be on track for a second straight absence, likely leaving Ebron ($3,600 DK; $5,500 FD) as the top tight end in an offense without much other help behind Hilton. Rob Gronkowski roasted Houston to the tune of a 7-123-1 receiving line in the season opener, and Giants blocking specialist Rhett Ellison went for 3-39-1 last week. The Texans have allowed tight ends to post a cumulative 13-196-2 line on just 14 targets, surrendering 14.0 YPT in the small sample. Ebron has a shot to approach last week's total of 11 targets, and he should do much more with them this time around.
This looks like another clean week for weather, with forecasts across the league calling for mild wind and no precipitation as of Friday morning/afternoon. Regardless, it's always wise to check the forecasts Sunday morning.