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.
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 Dion Lewis, TEN (vs. NE), ($4,600 DK; $5,800 FD)
The Titans wisely came out of their Week 8 bye with a new plan on offense, allowing Lewis to handle a season-high 59 snaps (84 percent) in a 28-14 win over Dallas on Monday. The game script perhaps should've favored Derrick Henry after halftime, but the Titans finally seemed to accept that they're simply a better team with Lewis on the field. We can safely expect another heavy dose of Lewis this weekend against his former team, as the Titans are 6.5-point underdogs and the Patriots have been a friendly opponent for backfield pass-catching production. Only three teams have allowed more receptions (57) to running backs, and only the Chiefs have given up more receiving yards.
WR Marvin Jones, DET (at CHI), ($5,500 DK; $6,200 FD)
Things obviously didn't work out with Kenny Golladay ($5,100 DK; $5,800 FD) last week, but there's no way I'm giving up that easily on the prospect of heightened volume in the absence of Golden Tate. It's now time to take a shot on Jones, who went for 6-66-0 on eight targets last week after exploding for 7-117-2 in the final game before Tate was traded. Sure, the Bears have been a tough matchup in terms of efficiency, but their strong defense also has the effect of forcing opponents to pass more often. Allowing just 3.7 yards per carry and 85 rushing yards per game, Chicago has given up 254 passing yards and 1.9 passing touchdowns per game despite holding opponents to 6.9 yards per attempt. I don't want any part of Matthew Stafford, but I'll happily invest in the possibility of double-digit targets for Jones and/or Golladay.
It's hard to recall a slate with so little game-stacking appeal, as we have just one contest (Tampa-Washington) with an over/under above 47 and a spread of less than 5.5 points. Given my hesitance to invest in the injury-ravaged Washington offense or a Cincinnati offense without A.J. Green (toe), the best remaining option is to hope the Browns (+5.5, 50.5 O/U) can keep things close against Atlanta.
Matt Ryan ($6,200 DK; $8,500 FD) has proven to be a decent tournament option in any type of matchup after last week's unexpected explosion at Washington, now sitting on pace for 5,370 passing yards and 38 touchdowns. We'll cover Julio Jones later as one of my favorite plays of the week, facing a Browns secondary that may be missing top cornerback Denzel Ward (hip). Tevin Coleman ($5,400 DK; $7,300 FD) makes sense in a triple stack on DK, and the Browns will almost certainly need a big game from Jarvis Landry ($6,200 DK; $6,400 FD) and/or David Njoku ($4,200 DK; $5,400 FD) in order to keep the Ryan-Jones stack busy after halftime. Ryan-Jones-Landry is my preferred stack on FD, while the Ryan-Coleman-Jones-Landry ultrastack works on DK.
I'm otherwise looking at two/three-player stacks based on price, including Jared Goff ($8,100) + Cooper Kupp ($6,500) on FD and Mitchell Trubisky ($5,600) + Allen Robinson ($5,000) + Marvin Jones ($5,500) on DK. We can also look at Andrew Luck ($5,500) + T.Y. Hilton ($5,700) on DK, though Marlon Mack ($6,000) is the more natural Indianapolis play based on the matchup with a Jaguars team ranked 1st in pass defense (190 YPG) but 24th in run defense (123 YPG),
Lewis + Tom Brady ($6,000 DK; $8,300 FD) + Josh Gordon ($6,000 DK; $6,700 FD) is reasonably priced on both sites, though it may be a bit optimistic about last week's trends carrying over. Gordon does deserve a lot of attention, in part because he'll spend much of the afternoon matched up against former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, who has been a complete disaster in Tennessee.
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.
Peyton Barber ($3,500 DK; $5,400 FD) + Buccaneers D/ST ($2,000 DK; $3,300 FD)
This isn't something I expected to target at any point this season, but it somehow makes a lot of sense as a way to capitalize on the injury woes in Washington. Already playing without LT Trent Williams (thumb), pass-catching Chris Thompson (ribs) and slot man Jamison Crowder (ankle), the Redskins lost WR Paul Richardson (shoulder), LG Shawn Lauvao (knee) and RG Brandon Scherff (pectoral) to season-ending injuries during last week's 38-14 home loss to Atlanta. I know the Tampa defense is truly hideous, but I'm still not buying into the idea of Washington reaching its implied total of 24 points. There's real potential for a complete meltdown on the road in Tampa Bay, even with turnover-averse Alex Smith under center. Barber likely would handle a large workload in the event of a blowout, as Ronald Jones (hamstring) isn't available to poach carries. While we shouldn't expect much in terms of per-carry efficiency against a solid Washington defense, Barber has the potential to vastly outperform his price tag on the basis of sheer volume and scoring opportunities.
WR Julio Jones, ATL (at CLE), ($8,300 DK; $8,700 FD)
Jones provides an unmatched combination of floor and ceiling, making a run at the single-season receiving yards record after putting up a minimum of five catches for 62 yards in every game during the first half of the season. You probably already know that he ended his infamous touchdown drought last week, and he now gets to face a Cleveland team that will be playing with top cornerback Denzel Ward (hip) either out of the lineup or at less than 100 percent. The Browns have played good defense on the whole, but they've also allowed 193 scrimmage yards per game to wide receivers, including big games from Mike Evans and Antonio Brown over the past three weeks. But this is still about price more so than matchup, especially on DK where Jones gets a full point for each reception and is always a decent bet to hit the 100-yard bonus.
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 DFSers subconsciously overestimate the predictive value of recent results.
WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, GB (vs. MIA), ($5,000 DK; $5,400 FD)
The price on FanDuel is awfully tempting, but it isn't quite enough to make up for the combination of high ownership and shaky volume. Looking to build on a streak of four straight games with either triple-digit yardage or a touchdown, Valdes-Scantling may end up settling for three or four targets in a contest the Packers (-10) should win handily. While his recent stretch of production has undeniably been impressive, the rookie fifth-round pick has no real chance to sustain his season marks of 21.1 yards per catch and 10.8 yards per target. MVS accounted for just 16.4 percent of team target share the past four weeks, with that number dropping to 15.1 percent the past two games once Randall Cobb was back in the lineup. Running back Aaron Jones ($5,000 DK; $6,500 FD) is the best tournament play from Green Bay's offense, averaging 15 touches and a 60 percent snap share in his last two games.
The Bargain Bin
QB Blake Bortles, JAX (at IND), ($4,900 DK; $6,800 FD)
QB Marcus Mariota, TEN (vs. NE), ($4,700 DK; $6,700 FD)
RB Peyton Barber, TB (vs. WAS), ($3,500 DK; $5,400 FD)
RB Isaiah Crowell, NYJ (vs. BUF), ($4,200 DK; $5,400 FD)
RB Elijah McGuire, NYJ (vs. BUF), ($3,400 DK; $4,900 FD)
WR DeVante Parker, MIA (at GB), ($4,200 DK; $5,400 FD)
WR John Ross, CIN (vs. NO), ($3,900 DK; $5,600 FD)
WR Jermaine Kearse, NYJ (vs. BUF), ($3,500 DK; $4,600 FD)
WR Cameron Batson, TEN (vs. NE), ($3,000 DK; $4,500 FD)
D/ST Saints, (at CIN), ($2,200 DK; $3,200 FD)
D/ST Buccaneers, (vs. WAS), ($2,000 DK; $3,300 FD)
Pricing Discrepancies Between FD and DK
My strategy looks pretty similar between the two major sites this week, but there are a few noteworthy differences worth commenting on:
Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,900 DK; $7,600 FD) is a stronger play on FanDuel, and the same is true of Mike Evans ($7,000 DK; $7,500 FD) as well as Redskins TE Jordan Reed ($4,400 DK; $5,200 FD). I like Fitzpatrick-Evans-Reed as a FanDuel-only stack if you aren't using the Barber-Bucs D/ST strategy outlined above.
Other players with better prices on FD include RB Melvin Gordon ($8,900), RB David Johnson ($6,900), WR Cooper Kupp ($6,500), WR Jarvis Landry ($6,400), WR Larry Fitzgerald ($5,800), WR Christian Kirk ($5,400) and the aforementioned Valdes-Scantling ($5,400).
The DK list features RB Todd Gurley ($9,400), RB Marlon Mack ($6,000), RB Tevin Coleman ($5,400), RB Aaron Jones ($5,000), RB Jordan Howard ($4,700); RB Mark Ingram ($4,500), WR T.Y. Hilton ($5,700), WR Allen Robinson ($5,000), WR Maurice Harris ($3,900),TE Trey Burton ($3,900) and TE Austin Hooper ($3,800).
Injury Situation(s) to Monitor
Carson (hip) was part of this list last week, ultimately handling just 10 snaps and five carries before he aggravated his injury. Mike Davis ($4,300 DK; $5,800 FD) stepped up with 107 yards on 22 touches (seven catches) in a 25-17 loss to the Chargers, displaying the same form he showed in Week 4 (124 yards, two TDs) when Carson missed a game against the Cardinals. A road matchup with the Rams might seem concerning, but the Seahawks have shown commitment to their backfield this season regardless of game script or injuries. We should also note that the Rams have given up 4.7 yards per carry and 105.3 rushing yards per game, including a 19-116-0 line from Carson and a 12-68-1 line from Davis in a 33-31 win over the Seahawks back in Week 5. More simply put, Davis will be an elite DFS option if Carson doesn't end up playing. Absences from practice Wednesday and Thursday suggest the second-year back is less than 50-50 to suit up.
There's no projection for precipitation as of Friday morning, but we do have one game (Detroit-Chicago) with potential to be impacted by wind. The current projection of 15 mph winds and a game-time temp of 35 degrees Fahrenheit isn't too concerning, so I'm not feeling any pressure to downgrade passing-game players from the Lions or Bears. We can give them a slight bump down while giving Jordan Howard ($4,700 DK, $6,500 FD) a slight bump up if things look uglier Sunday morning.