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Daily fantasy mailbag: Strategies before Week 1

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Welcome to the first edition of the FanDuel DFS mail bag. Every week I'll take questions on Twitter pertaining to daily fantasy strategy and particular players on FanDuel. If you'd like to have your question featured, just shoot it to me on twitter (@MattHarmon_BYB), and it may just find its way into the mailbag.

The concept we're exploring here is "stacking," wherein you play both a quarterback and at least one of his pass catchers in the same daily lineup. The objective is to exploit good matchups and favorable passing game scripts and maximize the points scored. If a quarterback projects to score a high amount of fantasy points against a poor secondary in a shootout-type game, his receivers (especially the No. 1 target) will be the mutual beneficiary. Finding the optimal stack for a given week can vault you to the ranks of top scoring lineups. We'll take this exploration in every edition of the weekly Friday FanDuel DFS Roundup column here on NFL Fantasy.

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As for this particular question, I prefer a Tony Romo/Dez Bryant stack for Week 1 DFS. Romo is the superior quarterback to Matthew Stafford, both in fantasy and reality, and when stacking you always want to side with the superior passer when the values are close. The matchups and projected point totals only serve to tilt the scales further in the favor of the Cowboys' players. Romo and Bryant will face the Giants, whose already average defense was decimated by injuries and other personnel losses in the offseason. The Giants signed Brandon Meriweather and Stevie Brown in the last few weeks, and both may be forced into big-time contributions in Week 1, due to a litany of injuries at the safety position. To put the final nail in the coffin of this debate, the Giants and Cowboys matchup projects to be one of the highest scoring games of Week 1. You always want to default to passing-game players in shootouts when making your DFS lineups.

We just covered stacking, and now Michael is taking it to the next level with the rare "triple-stack." In matchups where you imagine the offense is truly going to barnstorm an opposing defense, or in shootouts, you want to stack a team's quarterbacks with more than one of his weapons. Gamers who stacked Peyton Manning/Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders or Ben Roethlisberger/Antonio Brown/Martavis Bryant won a number of weeks last year. The challenge is squeezing all of those players into your lineup, and managing where you have to sacrifice in order to make it happen.

While I do think you can manage getting all these Bengals into your lineup, I'm going to tell you to go elsewhere. The Bengals should secure a win in this game early on, and while these three players will be a part of the effort, the biggest factor is Jeremy Hill. The Raiders allowed the most fantasy points to running backs last year, and have not done much to improve. When Cincinnati moves ahead early, they'll salt the game away with a big dose of Hill. I like using the triple stack if you're shooting for the stars in DFS, but this is not one I'll look to use much in Week 1. Instead, I'll anchor plenty of lineups with Jeremy Hill.

My love for Allen Robinson's ability is well-known, and I am a big fan of Amari Cooper as well. Both players should receive a healthy amount of targets all season, but especially in Week 1 as their squads play catchup against superior teams. However, I prefer Davante Adams on FanDuel for Week 1, because he's the best value. His target share of the offense will likely go up by more than 50 percent in the wake of Jordy Nelson's injury. He has the best matchup out of the three facing the Bears, whom the Packers are projected to beat handedly in Week 1. Most importantly, Adams plays with clearly the best quarterback among this trio, which is always important in a daily game. Even if you believe Adams will be a volatile season-long asset, as I do, the stark difference in the values of these three players makes this a no brainer.

Jimmy Graham is the top tight end on FanDuel for the Sunday slate, and as such, I actually won't be playing him in any of my Week 1 lineups. The Rams/Seahawks tilt will be one of the lowest scoring games of the weekend. My favorite tight ends for Week 1 are Greg Olsen, Jason Witten and Richard Rodgers way down the line. Olsen is the only game in town there in Carolina, at the moment, and faces a favorable matchup playing Jacksonville at home. Witten should see plenty of targets in that aforementioned Cowboys vs. Giants shoot out. Rodgers should see an uptick in targets with Nelson out of the picture, and is a sneaky option to score a touchdown in a game where the Packers should firestorm the Bears. When you can't play Gronk and are looking for value play outside of the Olsen/Witten tier, you're essentially just looking for a random touchdown from your streamer. It's what drives the fluky tight end scoring from week to week. There's no reason to go with Graham when there are far better values out there.

Sam Bradford is one of my favorite quarterback plays of the weekend. I've been a known Bradford apologist since his St. Louis days, even when his career was in the pits. Back then, everything about his situation was a disaster, and now he's in quarterback heaven, also known as the Eagles offense. Bradford's ball placement and still lively skill set were on display in the Eagles' third preseason game. We no longer need to question whether Bradford is going to be a good fantasy play, from a performance standpoint. For Week 1, FanDuel has him listed in the same neighborhood as players like Andy Dalton and the rookie quarterbacks, making him quite the value play. The Falcons and Eagles game could be the highest scoring game of Week 1, so you want players in that contest.

I'm not a big Brandin Cooks fan for season-long leagues, but I love him for Week 1 DFS. He's a decent value and the Saints and Cardinals will trade points all day. However, if this is your choice, you cannot play Todd Gurley in Week 1. We do not have the clarity needed to play him, and the Rams have insisted he's unlikely to be a big factor early. I like Ameer Abdullah at his value, and Mike Evans does carry week-winning upside. Tennessee's pass defense struggled last season, and they head into this game undermanned. Evans is not one of my top wide receiver plays for the week, but I like that combo much better.

Adams versus John Brown is an interesting debate. I think Adams is the favorite for more targets, but Brown can do more with his opportunities. Adams is the slightly better value on FanDuel, but its close enough that you could fit Brown over him into a lineup with only making a slight sacrifice somewhere else. Both of their games project to be high scoring contests, but the Saints and Cardinals matchup will be the closer one. With Brown in the game that features more "trading blows," I'd give him the slight nod. If you can fit him in your lineup, over the better value in Adams, I like that. However, either choice works.

Allen Robinson and John Brown are both favorites of mine, but I prefer Brown as the upside player for Week 1 DFS. Both are similar values, but Brown faces the better matchup. The Saints ranked 27th in terms of allowing fantasy points to wide receivers last season, and now their top corner, Keenan Lewis, is on the shelf for the start of the season.

We'll talk more about this next week in the first edition of the weekly FanDuel DFS Round up, but if you're not playing Tyrod Taylor in the near majority of your lineups, you're doing this wrong.

It depends on the nature of the life you want to live. One that involves winning daily fantasy? Probably not. One that's filled with Sundays concluding with throwing up in the toilet and crying yourself to sleep? Certainly. Remember, folks, daily fantasy is not for the faint of heart. Side note: I see now why I'm the one writing the DFS columns for NFL Media.


Matt Harmon is an associate fantasy writer/editor for NFL.com, and the creator of #ReceptionPerception, who you can follow on Twitter @MattHarmon_BYB. He's going to be tilting with you all year in DFS, and couldn't be happier about it -- until about November, that is.

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