This article is part of our FanDuel Fantasy Football series.
FanDuel has released its Week 1 salaries and there's no better time than now to dive in. We still have more than a month before kickoff, and no preseason games to make us unnecessarily adjust all of our expectations, but that doesn't mean we can't start some of our processes as we prepare for another daily fantasy football season.
One part of my DFS NFL process is to build blind stacks and see how their costs match with the team's implied points. Using implied points to determine which teams to target is a popular strategy, but occasionally my opinions get in the way and I end up fading a team that should (and does) score well. My solution is to build blind stacks and compare their prices and implied points to all other stacks on the slate. Doing this completely takes out my own biases and allows me to see if there are any cheaper stacks that are expected to post some of the highest scores of that week.
It's worth noting that a high number of implied points doesn't automatically mean that a QB/WR/WR or a QB/WR/TE stack will be the way those points are scored, but it still gives me a different way to view a slate and helps me see something I may have otherwise missed. That said, there are four stacks that jump out for FanDuel's Week 1 main slate that I probably would have glossed over had it not been for the blind build. Before they're revealed, here's how they look on my blind sheet (each column is sortable):
QB, WR1, WR2, TE
QB WR1, WR2
QB, WR1, TE
QB, WR2, TE
We have eight teams with at least 25.00 implied points (based on FanDuel Sportsbook's odds on Thursday, Aug. 6), and while four are in the top-six most expensive stacks, the other four are outside the top 12, including one that is cheaper than all but two other teams on the 24-team slate.
Let's work from the bottom up in terms of implied points and start with a team that's implied for 25.00 points and whose quarterback, top two wide receivers and tight end cost a total of $24,100, which equates to 40 percent of the salary cap. With that much left, we have an average of $7,200 per remaining position, which increases to $7,750 if we select the most expensive defense. For reference, there are 15 players on the slate who cost more than $7,750, six of whom are quarterbacks or tight ends who we can't roster anyway because we used the positions as part of our stack. Twenty-five points isn't really a huge score, so stacking four players from that offense, not including the running back, may not be optimal, but for the sake of this exercise we'll continue to focus on those four players (smaller stacks are included in the table above).
Based on the players within that stack, we get passing-game access to the team with the eighth-highest implied points on the slate but costs the 17th-most. That doesn't necessarily make them a tremendous value, but it's certainly a stack worth considering in larger-field tournaments.
The negative to this stack is the man missing, and who will give the stack away: Dalvin Cook. The Vikings are 3.5-point favorites at home against the Packers, with the 46.5-point game total tied for the fourth-highest on the slate. Plenty can (will?) change before Week 1, but a Vikings passing stack of Kirk Cousins ($7,200), Adam Thielen ($6,800), Justin Jefferson ($5,000) and Kyle Rudolph ($5,100) could certainly go under-owned, at least based on their implied points.
The next team we'll discuss has an implied total of 25.25 points, coming in as a 7.0-point home favorite in a game with a low 43.5 over/under, and yet the salaries of its quarterback, top two wide receivers and tight end cost only $23,300, leaving $7,925 per remaining position (again, including the most expensive defense). There are only seven non-QBs or TEs on the slate who cost at least $8,000, which means we can incorporate multiple upper-tier options while playing this stack.
Granted, a 7.0-point favorite likely has people considering the running back from that team because of an expectation that he'll get extra touches after the team gets a lead, but maybe you don't need that running back if your quarterback is Cam Newton ($7,300), who is throwing to Julian Edelman ($6,700), Mohamed Sanu ($5,200) and Devin Asiasi ($4,100) to get that lead. To look at this from a different angle, you can get those four guys for a combined $300 more than what you have to pay for the Jaguars, who have a 19.50 implied total as 7.0-point home underdogs, or $900 more than the cheapest stack on the slate, Washington, which has an implied total of 19.00, the third lowest of the 24 teams.
If you don't want to trust the Super Bowl LIII champions, then maybe the Super Bowl LII winners could do the trick. Coming in with an implied total of 25.50 (the fifth highest on the slate) as 6.5-point road favorites in a game with a 44.5 over/under, the Eagles' passing game could be incredibly interesting as a contrarian play, especially because Miles Sanders ($6,800) is likely to be considered one of the best values based on his expected workload and relatively low salary. The Eagles also have some significant injury issues to deal with, so this could all be moot when Week 1 comes around, but if everyone is healthy then Carson Wentz ($7,700), DeSean Jackson ($5,700) Alshon Jeffery ($5,000) and Zach Ertz ($6,600) could certainly deliver enough points as a relatively lower-owned quartet.
To put the Patriots' stack in more context, they currently have the same implied point total as the Seahawks, but only five stacks are more expensive than Russell Wilson ($8,400), Tyler Lockett ($6,800), DK Metcalf ($6,400) and Greg Olsen ($4,900). And both of those teams have a lower implied total than the Eagles, who are a full point behind the last team that jumps out, one that is expected to score the same number of points as the Saints, who are 3.5-point favorites against the Buccaneers in a game with a 49.5-point total, tied for the highest on the slate.
Think about that: there's a team on FanDuel's Week 1 main slate that is tied for the third-highest implied points (26.50) as 7.0-point road favorites in a game with a 46.0-point total and yet their quarterback, top two wide receivers and tight end cost less than all but six teams. It's another team dealing with injuries that could make this even better or much worse by the time Week 1 actually rolls around, but one team that really shouldn't be ignored by those who like to target lower-owned stacks is the Colts, with new quarterback Philip Rivers ($7,100) throwing passes to T.Y. Hilton ($6,400), Michael Pittman ($5,200) and Jack Doyle ($5,300). Using those four, plus the most expensive defense ($5,000) leaves $7,750 per remaining position, a healthy average for filling out the remaining spots.
We're still more than a month away from Week 1, and there will be plenty of changes to rosters, depth charts and the odds, but because salaries are locked we could see even more cheaper stacks become viable before kickoff. This list isn't to say these teams should absolutely be targeted, but it's always a good exercise to see which teams fit a particular threshold that we use to target in NFL GPPs and where we can find potential values in nearly identical situations.
|QB, WR1, WR2, TE||QB WR1, WR2||QB, WR1, TE||QB, WR2, TE|