Want to succeed in the daily fantasy football arena? It’s all about picking your battles.
The best performers in a given week often succeed by exploiting favorable matchups, so while there’s some luck involved with setting your lineup, a little research can go a long way toward winning big.
Below is our “optimal lineup” for DraftKings’ main Sunday slate (early afternoon and late afternoon games), which allots a $50,000 budget for a roster of nine players.
Quarterback: Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars ($5,500)
The Kansas City Chiefs are a wagon, but they also have a terrible pass defense that allows 328.5 yards per game to opposing quarterbacks. Bortles threw for 388 yards on 38 attempts last week with Leonard Fournette sidelined, and the star running back is out again in Week 5, making the Jags QB a great value play.
Running Backs: Melvin Gordon III, Los Angeles Chargers ($8,600); Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers ($4,300)
Gordon costs a pretty penny, but he’s worth the price tag. The Oakland Raiders haven’t been able to stop the run or pass this season, and Gordon plays a sizable role on both fronts. The dual-threat back also has three touchdowns in four career games against Oakland.
As expected, Jones is taking over as the Packers’ No. 1 running back, and the matchup is excellent against a Detroit Lions defense allowing an NFL-high 5.3 yards per carry.
Wide Receivers: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers ($7,700); Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons ($5,800); Amari Cooper, Raiders ($5,500)
Smith-Schuster continues to be a volume monster in Le’Veon Bell’s absence with 49 targets through four games. The banged-up Falcons defense should offer little resistance in a home game for the Steelers that could turn into a shootout.
Did we mention this game could be a shootout? Pittsburgh has allowed six touchdowns to wide receivers already this season, and we’ve seen enough from Ridley — six TDs in his last three games — to be convinced he’s no fluke.
We’re all in on former Alabama wideouts this week. The Raiders could find themselves in an early hole against the Chargers, and Cooper has been Derek Carr’s go-to receiver. Carr targeted Cooper 17 times in the last two games.
Tight End: Jared Cook, Raiders ($4,800)
Yes, we’re starting two Oakland skill players. The reason? L.A. just got lit up by George Kittle (six catches for 125 yards and a score) and could allow Cook to rack up some garbage-time points.
Flex: Dede Westbrook, Jaguars ($4,700)
Westbrook still can be had for cheap, and he looks like the No. 1 receiver in Jacksonville’s offense ahead of Keelan Cole after racking up nine catches for 130 yards last week. As mentioned above, the Jags could be throwing a lot Sunday against the Chiefs.
Defense: Carolina Panthers ($3,300)
Carolina’s defense has tallied at least 10 fantasy points in each of its two home games this season and welcomes an atrocious New York Giants offense that’s allowed 15 sacks in four games. Oh, and it also added a pretty talented safety last week.
Thumbnail photo via Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports Images