I’m going to open up this week’s article by tooting my own horn for a minute….I was able to take down the $20 3-entry max Pickem tournament in Week 3. I’m not showing you screenshots to brag (maybe a little), but it’s really to let you know that this article can help you construct tournament winning lineups. If you read my Week 3 article, you would know that I brought up every player that made my roster. If I don’t win, I hope it’s you readers that win all the monies.
Draftkings has decided AGAIN to change the Pickem format. I hope that this is the final big change and we can start to really figure out the best ways to attack the Pickem games. For Week 4, we are back to having two quarterback tiers, which is nice. The bad change? The main Pickem slate is now 1 pm only games… This makes for one hell of a sweat. The one takeaway I have right now is that with a smaller slate of games, we should be trying to correlate our plays more than before. I’m going to be using full game stacks with quarterbacks and receivers from both sides (when applicable).
Now let’s dive into the tiers for Week 4…
For entering multiple lineups, my favorite approach for these 3-man tiers is to play 66% my favorite play, 33% my second favorite, and fade the final guy. In tier 1, my Week 3 cover boy A.J. Green is the 66% play. Green saw 48% of the Bengal’s targets in Week 3 and posted a 10-111-1 stat line. On the road against the Browns, Green is in another dream matchup. The Browns, 26th in pass defense DVOA (Football Outsiders), have given up the following stat lines to #1 receivers: 7-153-1 to T.Y. Hilton and 11-182-0 to Antonio Brown. I look for the Bengals to continue feeding their best player and Green to have another monster game. Tyler Eifert and John Ross have both been ruled out again. To be honest, I might be all in on A.J. in the tier, but if I do have ownership on Antonio Brown or Julio Jones, it will be Brown. I think they are both in play to have big games in their respective matchups, but Brown is going to be lower owned in tournaments; this is the leverage spot for Brown. I would, however, not play both Brown and Le’Veon Bell in the same lineup, as the Ravens have a good defense and the Steelers have been bad on the road. They have the potential for big games at low ownership, but it would be difficult to project ceiling games for both Steelers weapons in a game with a 42 point total after falling 3 points early in the week.
LeSean McCoy and Ezekiel Elliott are going to be two of the most popular running backs on the week in classic salary contests, so I expect that ownership to travel to Pickem as well. I will project this tier to be about 40% McCoy, 40% Elliott, and 20% Bell. This situation works out well for me because I have little interest in playing Shady McCoy this week (when factoring in all the other great RB plays this week). When it comes to tier 2, I can safely project a better raw-fantasy points output for Zeke than Shady; I will play 66% Zeke and play 0% Shady. I’m not saying Shady is a bad play by any means, but in order to win a tournament, you have to take a stand. If McCoy at 40% ownership crushes this tier, I’m just gonna lose and I’m OK with that. If you read my Week 4 Stacks Report, you will see that Zeke is my favorite RB on the week if you take away pricing. Just like Antonio Brown, I expect Le’Veon Bell to be the odd man out. His touches have been back to 2016 Bell, so the real concern is matchup. The Ravens just got torched by the Blake Bortles led Jaguars in London. I still am a believer in the Ravens defense (#1 ranked in DVOA), but Bell and Brown are good enough to overcome any matchup.
Coming off big games, I will be fading Stefon Diggs and Brandin Cooks in this tier. With running backs locked into touch volume, I don’t want to play Diggs or Cooks who will have elevated ownership after 35+ point games. Todd Gurley has a great matchup against the Cowboys, and I don’t hate the stack of Zeke and Gurley in the same lineup. As we saw last Thursday with Gurley and Carlos Hyde, stacking opposing RBs can work if they’re both involved in the passing game and we expect points. The spread has moved through 7 from Cowboys -7.5 to -6 (key movement), as well as the spread moving up 1.5 points from 46.5 to 48. I expect a high scoring close game, and it will be my heaviest stacked game in Pickem tournaments. Devonta Freeman is another one of my favorite plays of the week. The Falcons are 8-point home favorites against a Bills team that ranks 2 in defense per DVOA. The Bills defense might be for real, but they also faced the Jets, Panthers, and Broncos (traveling across the country). They are traveling to Atlanta in the dome to face a high-powered Falcons offense that has a team total of 28.25, which is the 2nd highest on the week. Tevin Coleman hasn’t seen double-digit touches since Week 1, so I’m not too worried about Freeman’s workload. I will have a few teams with Christian McCaffrey, especially if Kelvin Benjamin is ruled out. The Patriots will most likely jump out to a big lead against the Panthers, which sets up well for McCaffrey. As 9 point road underdogs, don’t expect much Jonathan Stewart action. McCaffery caught 9 passes on 11 targets last week against the Saints, and I think we can see similar usage in Foxborough.
Point-per-dollar, my favorite play of the week on Draftkings is Dalvin Cook. As home favorites against the Lions who rank 5th in pass defense DVOA and 16th in rush defense DVOA, I expect the Vikings to run early and often with their workhorse back. Last week against the Buccs, Cook had 32 touches (including 5 receptions on 5 targets). With Case Keenum set to start another game, the Vikings will lean heavily on the run if it’s working. Another volume back in this tier, Leonard Fournette, has scored a touchdown in each game of his season/career. The Jaguars have blown out the Ravens and Texans, and have been blown out by the Titans so far this season. We haven’t seen how the Jags will use Fournette in a low scoring close game, which I expect in this epic(ly bad) matchup with the Jets. I think you need exposure to Fournette every week he has a decent matchup, because of the volume and market share of the Jaguars backfield…all of it. I like DeAndre Hopkins, in general, this week, but will most likely be fading him in Pickem due to expected high ownership. We could see less than 5% ownership on Dez Bryant, who’s a great leverage play. After being able to score the past two weeks against Denver and Arizona, Dez has proven that he can beat difficult matchups and find the end zone. Also, he’s part of my favorite game of the slate as I previously stated. Stack up the Cowboys!
On to the quarterbacks. Like I’ve said in previous weeks, fill in the QB tiers last and make sure there’s some correlation to the rest of your lineup. Dak Prescott is going to be my main play in this tier (shocker) with all my Cowboys/Rams exposure. I also have interest in Marcus Mariota in stacks with Rishard Matthews. Matthew Stafford sees the Vikings defense, Ben Roethlisberger is on the road, Cam Newton is obviously not his 2015 self, and Andy Dalton is Andy Dalton. It’s an ugly tier/slate of quarterbacks after they removed the obvious plays, Tom Brady and Matt Ryan from the Pickem tiers.
Tyrod Taylor is going to be the most popular QB in this tier, and the only player you can stack him with is Shady. As a hedge stack from all my main lineups, I will have a Tyrod-Shady-Julio game stack…just in case. I also don’t hate a Blake Bortles to Allen Hurns stack on teams without Fournette. As you can probably expect, my main play in tier 6 is going to be Jared Goff. If you’re playing in the Cowboys/Rams game, welcome to my lineups!
Tiers 7 and 8 are much more difficult to assess, as many of these guys have similar upside. This is why I recommend using your conviction and fading a bunch of guys in tiers 1-4, so you can spread out exposure a little more in tiers 7-8. Adam Thielen is in play in a matchup where Stefon Diggs should see Darius Slay shadow coverage. Even though Quandre Diggs isn’t the dumpster fire cornerback he was last season thus far, Thielen has proven to be one of the best slot receivers in the NFL. He also can see a few additional targets, because of Digg’s matchup. Golden Tate should (hopefully) avoid Xavier Rhodes shadow coverage because he plays in the slot. I’m still a bit nervous to assume Rhodes shadows Marvin Jones, so I’ll have some but not in a crazy percentage of my lineups. Sammy Watkins is in play with my Cowboys/Rams game stacks coming off of a big game last week and appears to finally be getting in a rhythm with Goff. Because I won’t be playing Brandin Cooks or Rob Gronkowski in their respective tiers, I like getting exposure to the Patriots slate-high 29.25 team total through Chris Hogan. Hogan plays all over the field and should be schemed open against this Panthers zone defense. With 3 touchdowns the last 2 weeks, Hogan is also a good bet to be a part of the scoring. The last play I like in this tier is Joe Mixon. I expect him to be pretty popular because the hype is starting to pick up after his 21 touch game in Week 3. With a new coordinator calling the shots, Mixon should move into the workhorse role sooner than later. I will have exposure to him weekly until the breakout happens, which is possible as road favorites against the Browns.
I don’t love this tier, but it does have a bunch of similar plays. The three players I’ll be targeting are Rishard Matthews, Allen Hurns, and Mohamed Sanu. Matthews, like I said in my Stacks Report article, was actually the benefactor of Corey Davis missing last week as the #1 target for Mariota. With Davis out again this week, I’m gonna go right back to Matthews (just like I expect Mariota to do). Houston just gave up a massive game to Brandin Cooks, and I think Matthews has the highest ceiling (29% of team air yards per Airyards.com) in the Titans passing offense. A lot of love has been given to Marqise Lee this week, but he’s going to get a less than ideal matchup with Morris Claiborne, who hasn’t been bad dating back to last season with the Cowboys. The most exploitable matchup is in the slot against Buster Skrine; this is where Allen Hurns should feast. If the Jaguars aren’t able to move the ball effectively on the ground, I expect Bortles-Hurns stacks to pay off. Sanu should be low owned and is great leverage off of Julio. He does not have huge upside, but he’s very consistent and can be the top of this tier with less than 20 points.
Good luck this week, and feel free to reach out with questions/feedback on twitter @EvanRosenberg0. I would love to hear more thoughts on this new Pickem format.