Welcome in to a new year of Ben’s NFL DFS Building Blocks for DraftKings and FanDuel! In this article, I will highlight my favorite NFL DFS plays at each position for small-field tournament formats. If you’re interested in signing up for premium access, which grants you Core Plays for every slate, projections, Final Thoughts player pool + expert picks and our premium Discord click HERE. You can also sign up for our plethora of AI-driven sports betting tools and access to my weekly betting card by clicking HERE. Let’s get into the plays…
It was an amazing start to the NFL season with my premium Core Plays taking down tournaments on the first slate of the season!
I finally put things together in Week 6 and gave it a strong run in tournaments. One of my three-max teams finished with a score of 184.88 turning around $200 entries into over $2,400 and finishing two points away from a King of the Beach seat. I feel as if I’m really getting dialed in as we progress into the season, and am looking forward to an even better Week 7! Most users will hate building teams on this slate, we have just 10 games and a ton of low totals. The Dolphins, Eagles and 49ers are all off the main slate and these are are the types of slates I love. We are all dealing with the same players and games at the end of the day, and I feel like the grosser the slate the bigger edge I have as someone that puts in the hours to grind this out.
QB ownership looks pretty spread out — with Geno Smith, Patrick Mahomes, Jordan Love, Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson leading the way in pOWN%. Smith looks like the best mix of safety/upside and price for me in cash games. Given that I will likely use him in cash games, I doubt I end up with him on a three-max entry team.
I’m interested in spending up in tournaments this week. 2023 DFS has reverted us back to saving money at the QB position, but this is a week that I want to spend-up on guys like Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. With how low these totals are this week, there’s a big chance that 30+ DK points from your QB could win you a slate and these are the two guys capable of doing it. Allen has a perceived tough and gross game environment against the Patriots, but make no mistake, he has OWNED Bill Belichick. Typically, Patriots team plays a lot of man coverage which is great for rushing quarterbacks. On top of that, Allen has 13 touchdown passes compared to just one INT against the New England Patriots since the start of 2021. New England has been very banged up in the secondary this year, and Buffalo is still sporting a 24.5 team total.
As for Jackson, he sets up in a strong spot at home against the Lions. Detroit has funneled a lot of work to opposing passing offenses this season — ranking top-five in opponent pass rate through six weeks. They also play a very zone-heavy defensive scheme, which is great news for Lamar. Jackson is one of the best QB’s in football in dissecting zone-coverage, throwing to almost 9 YPA in the split. This total has dropped since open, but the Ravens still have one of the higher team totals on the board at 23. We know he has a ceiling with his legs, and I think both he and Allen are fantastic plays this week that allow us to flip builds in GPPs with most users looking to save money.
Outside of the spend-ups, the guys I’m most interested in are Matt Stafford (again) and either of Sam Howell / the Giants starting QB. Everyone that reads this article has been on Stafford with me for weeks, and we STILL haven’t gotten a ceiling game from him. He was pretty chalky last week, so this could be the spot in Week 7. Stafford has been elite this season from a clean pocket, with the Rams offensive line being the only con for this match-up. TJ Watt is a game-breaker on defense, but the Steelers still rank outside the top-12 overall in QB Knockdowns and Hurry%. The Steelers secondary has been cooked all season, and with a more man-heavy approach — they could have a long day against Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua who can both get open at alarming rates. If everyone wants to jump off Stafford this weekend, I will happily go back to the well.
And finally, I think this WAS/NYG game is sneaky. Weather looks sketchy here, but I have loved attacking Washington all season and my best lineup last week was a Desmond Ridder stack. Washington plays fast, and has one of the worst pass defenses in football. I’m not sure if Daniel Jones/ Tyrod Taylor can expose that — but I wasn’t sure that Desmond Ridder could either and he threw for over 300 yards. They allow 23 DK points per game to opposing QB’s — so count me in on the NYG stack once news breaks on who will be starting.
Last week I really liked the chalk running back plays, and felt very comfortable playing them even in tournaments and getting weird elsewhere. That is the case this week — with all of Josh Jacobs, Kenneth Walker, Isaiah Pacheco, Jahmyr Gibbs and Rachaad White popping for heavy expected ownership. Walker is my favorite of the bunch — SEA are installed as big home favorites here and it looks like Zach Charbonnet will be out. Arizona has been hapless on defense in recent weeks, and Walker has one of the best red-zone roles in football.
I think all those chalky guys are great plays, and I will likely just play them since I will be using these lower-owned stacks this week. Some of the lower-owned options I like are Brian Robinson, Saquon Barkley and Aaron Jones. Although, I will note, Jones seems likely to pick up some extra ownership as a trendy pivot off the chalkier mid-tier plays. Both Robinson and Barkley are interesting in game-stacks or one-offs. NYG are giving up over 25 DK points per game to opposing running backs, and the third-most rushing yards per attempt this season.
If playing Rachaad White, I like stacking him with the Bucs defense in tournaments.
I also think Jerome Ford is an interesting cheap play, but he seems at risk of becoming chalkier as the weekend goes on.
Zach Evans is another player popping for ownership, which I think is a mistake. He may not even be the Rams lead back with Darrell Henderson and Royce Freeman also lurking. I will be full fading the Rams backfield in favor of their passing attack.
This is such a fun slate, and despite the games being gross I think there are some really strong WR plays. As of now, these are the highest projected owned WR’s: Cooper Kupp, Keenan Allen, Hollywood Brown, Josh Palmer, Terry McLaurin, Zay Flowers, Tyler Lockett and Christian Watson. Everyone knows I love Cooper Kupp — I’ve played a ton of him both weeks he’s been back and he was once again low-owned last week and on my best team. He will be much higher-owned this week, but I will once again be overweight and force him into a few of my builds.
All of the other chalkier guys are fine options — I will be underweight on the KC/LAC game I think but they can all be used in game-stack or mini-stack situations depending on how your builds pan out. Of those guys listed — Christian Watson is my favorite of the bunch. Denver has been horrific at defending deep balls this season. They’re bottom of the league in Air Yards gained per pass attempt and Watson has already been targeted down the field a ton by Jordan Love.
Two options I’m very interested in this weekend are Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams. Diggs is carrying around a 13% ownership mark, but I feel like it could be a bit lower than that with people wanting to play Kupp and Allen. Obviously I wrote up Allen, but Diggs has also roasted the Patriots defense averaging 94 yards per game and 6 total touchdowns in 6 career games against them. Adams is looking like he will be potentially 5% owned despite a massive squeaky wheel narrative. He has come out and complained multiple times this week about his role in the offense growing smaller – and there’s no better time to get him going than against the Bears. He dropped 150 and 2 with Jarrett Stidham at QB last season, so I’m not worried about the Brian Hoyer affect and I think you can play Jacobs and Adams together without Hoyer in small-field just fine.
I also want to note that Puka Nacua has still been just as good with Kupp back – and still has seen 30% of the Rams targets in those games. He’s viable in all formats for me this weekend.
My favorite run-back on a Stafford team – or mini-stack with Kupp/Nacua is definitely Diontae Johnson. Diontae should fly a bit under the radar this weekend but is underpriced across the industry. LA has been vulnerable to WRs this season, and Johnson has now gone 19 games without scoring a touchdown. He has to eventually get in the box, and I’m going to take a stand and hope its this weekend.
Rashee Rice continues to ascend in the Chiefs offense, and he would be my favorite play from that game in GPPs. You could easily mini him with a Chargers piece in all formats. With Justin Watson out, you could even look at Marquez Valdes-Scantling but that would be a milly maker field size play only.
I didn’t include him in the chalk section, but Wan’Dale Robinson will likely be high-owned as a punt as well. He’s a great cash game play due to his high-floor in PPR formats, but I wouldn’t be playing him in GPPs at high-ownership. Given my interest in that game, I will be stacking the Gianst with Darius Slayton. He matches up perfectly against this Commanders secondary – and I think one of him or Jalin Hyatt has a big game here.
I also like Jaxon Smith-Njigba in all formats this week — if DK Metcalf is out I will consider him in cash games and if he’s in I will still look at him in tourney formats.
It’s gross, but the Packers have been very vulnerable in the slot with Jaire Alexander patrolling the outside so I would be looking at Jerry Jeudy as my mini with Watson/Jones. We also have the narrative that they are looking to audition him for a trade still.
My biggest stand of the week will be on Diontae!
Happy National Tight End Day! Tight Ends could be finding the end zone this weekend on National Tight End day, but that doesn’t really change my lack of excitement to play them in DFS. We currently have Travis Kelce as the highest-owned option at the position, with Luke Musgrave not far behind. After those two, Mark Andrews and David Njoku feature pOWN% numbers higher than 10% as well. Kelce is a tough fit for me at $8,000 — when we have guys like Diggs and Adams that I like around the same price-tag. I understand why he will be high-owned, but I’m likely going to come in under his 22% pOWN% number in my personal exposure. Musgrave looks like a great play in cash games to me, but I don’t ever love playing a 20% owned punt TE in tourneys. Andrews would fit into a Lamar stack obviously, or could be used as a one-off or mini-stack option.
After the chalkier options, Michael Mayer and Trey McBride stick out as strong punt plays. If I’m not using this position in my stack this week, I will be looking to spend as little as possible and both of these guys check in below $3,000 on DK.
As of now, I’ll likely only have Kelce on one of my four or five builds so it looks like another week of punting TE for me.
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)