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DFS Building Blocks – Week 2

SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE:

Kittle out. Kamara likely out. Julio Jones out. Pittman out.

Pittman news the most impactful for us. I expect Taylor ownership to rise, giving us a leverage opportunity to go to Matt Ryan + Campbell/Dulin. That allows us to fit anything we want, including our CMC + Barkley stack.

Curtis Samuel + Chark is a nice mini stack to round out your lineups as you’re building.

Our Stafford lineup is still our primary lineup.


Starting this week with a quick recap of week 1 and some things we can take away.

There are two main ways we’re trying to win tournaments:

  1. Pick the game/team that is most likely to score a ton of points and take a unique approach to stacking it. Last week, that was Mahomes + CEH + Kelce. The QB + RB + WR/TE is always an under owned stack and can pay big dividends when a team puts up a lot of points. With our prediction that Arizona was in for a letdown game, it made it even easier to see a game script that had all three players hitting versus a game script where the Chiefs are in a back-and-forth passing battle or playing from behind.
  2. Pick a game/team that also has a good chance at scoring a lot of points but is projected to be under owned. Last week, because of the expected popularity of KC/ARI that game was LAC/LV. We didn’t need to get very unique with our stack because we already had ownership leverage just by targeting that game instead of KC/ARI. So, our Herbert + Williams + Waller stack was routine, but it came with good ownership leverage. We then sprinkled in mini stacks and individual plays (like CEH).
  3. BONUS: Go crazy and pick a totally unlikely game/scenario and hope you get lucky, as long as you use your stacking and correlations fundamentals to build a smart lineup. Optimze your chances of winning IF that unlikely scenario plays out.

Each week we’re going to have multiple viable paths to winning tournaments, meaning 1 and 2 above are going to be equally good options. We may settle on one at the end of the week and you may settle on another. That’s okay and that’s good. Your own risk profile, the tournament size you play in, the number of entries you play, and many other factors may influence you one way or the other. Don’t ignore your own gut and instinct just because we choose a different, but equally viable, lineup. There is enough variance in this game that you should use your own preference as a tiebreaker.

Some really great calls last week on some individual players and game scenarios. And some that were good calls from a game theory and DFS perspective, but just didn’t pan out. That’s going to happen. We just keep putting ourselves in position to benefit from positive variance.

On to Week 2.

It’s our first chance to take advantage of public overreactions.

I hate when my studs disappoint. But I also love when my studs disappoint. Because that means they’re going to be under owned the following week, giving us another opportunity to profit.

And, although the public is getting better about this, players who blew up the week before, tend to be over owned the following week.

We have lots of opportunities for each this scenario this week.

First Reactions

I started this week, not by looking at games, but by looking directly at the player pool. I like to do this Sunday night when the next week’s tournaments are released so I can make my initial reactions while all the prior weeks games are fresh in my mind.

My overall first reaction was with a few locks and not much else to like.

Rams defense to bounce back, especially against Atlanta after New Orleans defense showed some promise but disappointed. Hopefully the public is scared of the Rams after their poor opening night showing. But they may also bank on a bounce-back performance.

Allen Robinson seems like a lock. I hope the public doesn’t think so, but even if popular, may be a lock.

Stafford, Carr, Murray, Brady, Burrow, Wilson – the only QBs that really interest me.

Elliott + Cowboys DEF is a great play when NO ONE will be playing them.

Mixon + Bengals DEF a good play but could come with some popularity.

Rams, Cowboys, Bengals stoodout at DEF.

Mixon, Jeff Wilson, Gibson, and Jacobs stood out at RB.

Deebo Samuel will probably be the chalk of the week. And will probably still be a lock in our lineups.

CMC and Barkley may be chalk, making them likely avoids for us, unless we play them together giving us a unique lineup build.

Now, going back to checking out games…

WAS @ DET may carry high ownership levels. CAR @ NYG could surprise with a shootout. ARI @ LV may be the shootout that those two teams were looking for in week 1. CIN @ DAL suddenly a stinker of a game with Dak out and Cincinnati coming off a disappointing week 1.

Let’s dig deeper into each game and see what else we can find.

Game Overviews

ARI @ LV 51.5 (LV 28.5 – ARI 23)

If we’re looking at week 2 in a vacuum – not considering anything we know about week 1 – this game would be our obvious target. We saw the value of the QB + RB + WR stack last week with KC, but we can also gain leverage by over stacking. Most people will stack QB + WR + opposing WR. We can stack QB + WR + WR + opposing WR. Both TEs can be mixed in. One side could be RB + WR. If this game shoots out, a generic QB + WR + opposing WR stack will probably leave you missing other players from the game that are needed to win a tournament.

I want to lock in Waller as a great bounce-back candidate, although he may rise in popularity after Kelce’s big week against ARI last week. Ertz on the other side is also a great way to go if you wanted to target Jacobs + Adams instead.

Adams is always in play, but I don’t love his price. He needs to duplicate last week’s performance and then some and I don’t like chasing points. Although, if any week, this is the week to do it with the Raiders projected for 28.5 points. I’d rather save the money and bet on an Adams decoy leading to a Waller TD or two.

It’s looking like Carr + Adams is the hot ownership combo of the week giving us a clear path to leverage – we already talked about Waller but Murray + Brown also provides a ton of ownership leverage. The only problem is that if Murray + Brown blow up, it’s likely that Carr + Adams do too. Still, it’s the more optimal play to take the lower ownership route IF you think it’s a competitive shootout.

Last week we had some spots where we could find ownership leverage, but it wasn’t extreme. This week, Carr and Adams project at more than 15% and 25% ownership each. Those are massive numbers (less so with Carr) and give us a great opportunity to fade. Contrarily, if they hit – which is entirely reasonable – you’re in the 25% that have them and are ahead of the other 75% of the field.

All that said, with only one game review so far, this feels like a week where I’ll have two main lineups. One with a core Carr+ stack from this game. And one with at least Waller but a different QB core stack. Spoiler alert: it’s Stafford.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Brown + Waller

Carr + Brown + Waller

Murray + Brown + Waller (best game theory and ownership leverage play)

Carr + Adams/Renfrow + Waller (if playing Adams or Renfrow, get leverage by adding Waller)

Carr + Jacobs + Brown + Waller

Murray + Jacobs + Brown

Murray + Jacobs + Brown + Waller/Ertz

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Waller

Brown

Ertz

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Conner

Jacobs

Jacobs + LV DEF

Carr + Jacobs + Waller + LV DEF

Murray + Adams + Brown/Ertz

Carr + Hollins + Waller

Hollins (FD); Dortch (DK)

WAS @ DET 48.5 (DET 25 – ARI 23.5)

Gross.

Washington and Detroit as the second highest projected game total and with a tight spread. If the game above is the KC/ARI from last week, this game is the LAC/LV. Tight spread, with two teams that surprised with some points last week, although Detroit was mostly dominated through three quarters and Washington was playing against Jacksonville. Could be a stinker. Could be a shootout.

I don’t feel like chasing much from last week with these two teams. We nailed the Dotson call last week, but Gibson was a surprise. I’m most interested in Gibson from this game, but I should note that both McLaurin and Dotson are projecting to come in at extremely low ownership, making them very solid game theory targets. A Wentz + McLaurin + St. Brown/Hockenson stack or even a Wentz + McLaurin + Dotson (with the reminder that Dotson was very TD dependent last week) would be very viable plays this week.

If we were only focused on ownership leverage this would be the place to go this week.

I don’t love Swift. He put up points, but Williams was very involved, and Swift is a little banged up. This feels like, at best, a Chubb and Hunt situation, with Williams usually taking enough away from Swift that he doesn’t put up monster games. That’s another takeaway from week 1 – there were a lot more shared backfields than expected, although we pointed out that Burkhead wasn’t dead, Melvin Gordon wasn’t dead, Michael Carter wasn’t dead… point is, feels like better spots to target with RBs who aren’t in a timeshare.

I’m probably not putting a lot of focus here this week, outside of Gibson who may make some of my lineups. I may throw some fun (lottery) lineups in with full game stacks though, but overall I’d rather wait to see how these teams perform after weird games last week.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Wentz + Gibson + McLaurin/Dotson/Samuel + St. Brown

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Gibson

St. Brown

McLaurin/Dotson/Samuel

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Wentz + McLaurin + Samuel

Chark

Hockenson

ATL @ LAR 46.5 (LAR 28.5 – ATL 18.5)

I’ve already called another game the KC/ARI game from last week, but this one also has some of that feel, except the ARI letdown is already built into this spread, with the Rams a ten-point favorite over the Falcons.

I started my initial reactions with wanting to build around a Rams domination. I want Stafford. I want a super-cheap Allen Robinson. I want the Rams DEF. I want Henderson (although I’m scared they’ll try to get Akers going). At first glance, I wanted to over stack with Stafford + Henderson + Robinson + Rams DEF and not bring back any ATL piece, very similar to our thoughts with KC last week. With Pitts expected to be the top-owned TE, I’ll definitely fade him and fire up the Rams DEF, which is seeing surprisingly low ownership itself. Although that plays right into my opening remarks that hopefully the public is disregarding the Rams after their stinker against the Bills. Mariota is the spam version of Josh Allen. Bonus points if you see what I did there.

When considering ownership…

Stafford is okay – second highest to Carr. Not really a leverage play off of Carr.

Henderson projecting as the highest owned RB on some sites. Although, if you check out our Player Grid we’re expecting Barkley to lead the pack based on his performance last week. If Henderson approaches 25% owned it starts to feel too “extra” adding him to the stack, even vaulting Akers into lottery-pick territory. The challenge with Henderson is that he’s so cheap that he may simply be good chalk. TIP: It’s important to understand why a player is chalk. In the case of Henderson, he’s way underpriced for the role he played last week. So even at high ownership, he’s probably the optimal play and we’re making up for his high ownership by adding the other Rams to the stack. Our overall lineup will be unique.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Stafford + Henderson + Robinson + Rams DEF

Stafford + Robinson

Henderson + Rams DEF

Stafford + Kupp

Stafford + Robinson + Kupp

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Robinson

Henderson

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Higbee

Stafford + Henderson + Higbee

Pitts/London

Patterson

Mariota

Mariota + Kupp + Pitts/London

Mariota

Akers

Stafford + Akers + Robinson/Kupp

Let’s pause here. Some of you likely made your way here by seeing our post talking about a simpler (and smarter) way to build DFS lineups.

3 Steps to a Better DFS Lineup

1) Find a game with a high projected total and a close point spread. Select QB + WR from one team and a WR from the other team.

2) Find a game with a large home favorite. Select RB from the favorite and a WR from the underdog.

3) Find a game with a large point spread. Select DEF from the favorite. Bonus if you can also play the RB from the favorite.

We’ve got three game reviews in the books. Let’s see if we can build a lineup just from those three games and the three steps above.

  1. Wentz + McLaurin + St. Brown
  2. Jacobs + Brown
  3. Henderson + Rams

We’re left with RB and TE. Can double down adding Gibson or adding Waller or Ertz or Hockenson. Of course, in reality, we’d move down our list of games and find some other players, but let’s just keep building with our first three games.

Gibson + Hockenson fits.

Waller is preferred but then you drop down to Williams at RB.

Anyway, with just three games reviewed you can see how this plays out. We’ve found our way to a few of the situations we talked about above and even found some players with nice ownership leverage. Of course, we want to dive deeper and think beyond just those three steps. Let’s continue.

HOU @ DEN 45.5 (DEN 27.75 – HOU 17.75)

Something doesn’t feel right here. Yes, Denver is at a home and Russ got his Seattle game out of the way, but Houston just tied the Colts. Yes, I’m celebrating a tie. This line could be perfect. Denver could bounce back as you’d expect. And Houston could fall back to earth as you’d expect. But this seems like a line built on “what should be” not built on “what we’ve seen”.

Let’s assume we get the Russell Wilson bounce back that we deserve though.

Javonte Williams projected for relatively high ownership (and our weekly reminder that Melvin Gordon still isn’t dead). Jeudy relatively high. Sutton relatively high. Russ very low…

If not going to Stafford or Carr, fire up Wilson in a Broncos passing onslaught.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Wilson + Jeudy + Sutton

Wilson + Williams + Jeudy/Sutton

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Jeudy

Sutton

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Williams/Gordon

Wilson + Jeudy/Sutton + Cooks

Mills + Cooks + Jeudy/Sutton

Mills + Cooks + Williams/Gordon

Collins

IND @ JAC 45 (IND 24.25 – 20.75)

This game is the opposite of what I said earlier. This line seems based on “what we’ve seen” not on what “should be”. 

The Colts should be able to easily handle Jacksonville. Taylor should have another solid day, but he’s expensive. I’d only play if adding the correlated Colts DEF. The Colts passing game probably won’t need to do enough for us to consider them.

The place to focus here is on a game stack in a lottery-ticket lineup. Something like Lawrence + Taylor + Kirk + Pittman.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Taylor + Colts DEF

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Kirk

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Marvin Jones

Zay Jones

Hines

Lawrence + Taylor + Kirk + Pittman.

Ryan + Taylor + Pittman + Colts DEF

MIA @ BAL 44.5 (BAL 24 – MIA 20.5)

A fine real NFL game, but not one I want to target. We could go back to Bateman after seeing Duvernay explode last week. If building around a close game shooting out because of big plays you can stack up either side of the game.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Bateman

Hill

Waddle

Andrews

Edmonds

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Jackson + Bateman + Hill/Waddle

Jackson + Batemen + Hill/Waddle + Andrews

Tua + Hill/Waddle + Bateman

Tua + Edmonds + Hill/Waddle + Bateman/Andrews

TB @ NO 44 (TB 23.25 – NO 22.75)

This game feels like over projected by about ten points. Could see a slugfest. But could see both teams put up points with a tight spread. Not a strong reason to bet on either scenario though when we have other spots. I’d mostly stick to this game in lottery-ticket lineups.

I really wanted to come back to Kamara after a letdown, but not in this matchup. At this point, hoping for two down weeks in a row in order to keep his future ownership minimal.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Fournette + TB DEF

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Fournette

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Winston + Fournette + Thomas/Landry/Johnson

Winston + Kamara + Fournette + Thomas/Landry/Johnson

Brady + Fournette

Brady + Fournette + TB DEF

Brady + Fournette + Jones + Thomas/Landry/Johnson

CAR @ NYG 43.5 (NYG 22.75 – CAR 20.75)

The Browns were tough on Mayfield but he did get that deep TD to Anderson we were calling for. So, this week, let’s try out DJ Moore. And we can place a bet on a CMC bounce-back. The problem is, as predicted, he (and Barkley) are coming in as the top two and three highest owned RBs. They each need big games to pay off though, so I’d rather find a way to add another player or two and get more overall lineup leverage. You can do this buy rostering either DEF or hoping they’re part of the passing game and get some TDs (like CEH last week). Or, my favorite option this week, just play both of them as most people won’t play both RBs from the same game. Whatever you do, paying up for both isn’t in my top options this week, but it’s a feasible way to attack this game.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

CMC + Barkley

Barkley + NY DEF

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

CMC

Barkley

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

CMC + Moore

Jones + Barkley

Jones + Barkley + CMC + Moore

Mayfield + CMC + Barkley + Moore

CIN @ DAL 41.5 (CIN 24.5 – DAL 17)

What could have been. I talked about this game in the opening. Zeke + Cowboys DEF feels sneaky in million-dollar tournaments. Cincinnati DEF could be an option, which brings us back to our ‘initial reactions’ exercise. One of the reasons we take our initial look is because if we see situations that jump out as attractive, those are situations the public may view as attractive too. Cincinnati DEF is that scenario this week – they’re popular. Moving down from Dak to Cooper Rush is a drop, but it’s not enough to make the Bengals DEF an automatic play at the highest projected ownership. I’d much rather stick to the Rams DEF and let the public go here in what could just turn out to be a slow, low-scoring game. Remember, the Cowboys DEF is also very solid. If you want to play the Bengals though, do it with a Mixon + Bengals DEF stack.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Mixon

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Mixon + Bengals DEF

Burrow + Mixon

Elliott + Cowboys DEF

Hurst

Rush + Mixon + Schultz/Brown

NE @ PIT 40.5 (NE 21.5 – PIT 19)

No thank you.

You could play either defense. NE DEF is relatively popular this week, so I’ll be sticking with the Rams. If you need salary relief though, NE is fine. PIT DEF is the most expensive after last week, which is likely driving their ownership to near zero. They’re a solid play if you’re paying up to be different and you think they can replicated week 1, albeit without TJ Watt.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

NE DEF

PIT DEF

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Harris/Stevenson + NE DEF

Harris + PIT DEF

Jones + Myers/Parker + Johnson

SEA @ SF 40.5 (SF 24.75 – 15.75)

I expect Deebo to very popular but he’s worth it given his likely role in the rushing attack this week. I’m locking him in. I wanted to go to Deebo and Jeff Wilson – and I still may – because of the relatively cheap price on Wilson who “could” get a lot of rushing work too. The problem is this low total and the generally poor 49ers play. It could be very difficult for both Deebo and Wilson to get to 3x but Wilson, even in what essentially is a QB/RB/WR rushing timeshare is priced around other RBs in timeshares so you don’t gain a ton by moving away from him. And Wilson + Deebo will give you some leverage on the Deebo-only and Wilson-only lineups. And Wilson is projected to come in a shockingly low ownership this week, making this the optimal game theory play. In our lottery-ticket lineups we’ll want to target some alternative scenarios… Tyrion Davis-Price or Jordan Mason getting a lot of work. Lance + Aiyuk. Seattle DEF.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Samuel + Wilson

Samuel/Wilson + SF DEF

Samuel + Wilson + SF DEF

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

Samuel

Wilson

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Lance + Aiyuk

Penny + Seattle DEF

Seattle DEF

Davis-Price

Mason

NYJ @ CLE 39.5 (CLE 23 – NYJ 16.5)

Man, that’s rough. Chubb and Hunt ran all over the Panthers and the Browns are still only expected to score 23, but partly because that’s all they’re expected to need to put up. Flacco threw a million times last week and may need to again this week but we can’t really count on any Jets offensive player. This is basically a stay-way expect in lottery-ticket lineups.

Building Blocks (stacks to build around)

Individual Plays (players that can be rostered alone to fill out your lineups that are built around other stacks)

CLE DEF

Lottery Picks (stacks and individual players that can surprise in a large-field tournament)

Chubb

Chubb + CLE DEF

Moore

Lineup Build – FD

I’ve stayed pretty locked in to the below build since our first reactions.

Starting with Stafford, Robinson, Henderson, and Rams DEF.

Adding Waller and Brown.

Adding Gibson.

Adding Wilson and Deebo.

You can double up on Jacobs and Waller if you prefer instead of Gibson. You can price down on DEF adding Mixon + Bengals DEF. If going away from Rams DEF in that scenario you could move to Pitts at TE simply for the correlation.

Lineup Build – DK

Starting with Carr, Waller, Brown, and Dortch (super cheap).

Adding Mixon + Bengals DEF.

Adding Henderson.

Adding Barkley and DJ Moore.

Lineup Build – Yahoo

Starting with Henderson and Rams DEF.

Adding Waller + Brown.

Adding Deebo.

Adding Barkley + Moore.

Adding Gibson.

Adding Lamar Jackson.

Also playing around with dropping down to Wentz at QB, with Gibson + St. Brown stack.


The three lineup builds above are good examples of using the different pricing on the sites to diversify with different players you like. We’ve got stacks built around the three main games we talked about above.

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