We have a 12 game main slate with seven totals of 50 or over, which affords us plenty of options for our NFL DFS Week 7 picks. I’ll outline my favorite games to stack, values at each position, and my favorite leverage spots within the slate.
Before we get to the content, I want to reiterate some of the points I touched on at the beginning of the year regarding ownership. Below is a copy and paste from our Week 1 DFS article.
“Ownership percentages are essential but don’t get hung up on them.
While you need low-owned players to separate yourself in large tournaments, it is not a sin to play “chalky” (popular) players. I don’t worry about quarterbacks’ ownership, as they hardly ever reach a point where they are too chalky. For running backs, I think it’s acceptable to play popular ones as volume drives so much of their projection.
Where I look to differentiate is at wide receiver and tight end. WR production and projection are the most volatile of all of the positions. Pivoting to lower-owned players with similar or just slightly worse projections is an excellent way to differentiate your line up. As for tight ends, their production comes mostly from touchdowns, so it’s good practice to pair your QB with his TE.
As for defenses, it is a crapshoot every week. Just play one you don’t expect to be popular that can get pressure on the opposing QB. It would be best if you chased sacks and turnovers, not point prevention.”
I’m copying this because we had a perfect example last weekend of a popular play not panning out in Alexander Mattison. If your process led you to play Mattison in cash games, don’t question your strategy. He was a good play in cash formats, a home favorite, with a high implied team total, in a dome on a run-heavy offense in a soft matchup. It was reasonable to project him to lead the Minnesota backfield in carries and targets with Cook out.
That said, if you did not play the Vikings passing game in large-field tournaments, you need to question your process there. It was a case where Mattison projected well, but his median projection (which is what projections are) did not justify his ownership. Knowing what our opponents will do is just as important, if not more important, than knowing who projects to do well in large-field tournaments.
Mattison came in at an average of 30% ownership in all contests on DraftKings. When you see a player who will be that popular, you need to start thinking of how to leverage off of him in large field contests. If Mattison does well, who does that negatively impact? The passing game. So, the same rings true for the reciprocal. If the Vikings pass game does well, it’s likely Mattison fails to meet expectations. And if that is true, then the Falcons passing game is expected to do well.
However, if you’re already targeting a low-owned game stack (from last week, let’s use Baltimore/Philadelphia as an example), you can play “chalkier” players to round out your lineup. Heck, in that same game as Mattison, the Falcons passing game came in at practically zero ownership. It’s befuddling because Mattison correlates well (from a game-flow perspective) with the Falcons passing game, yet no one played them. People were rostering Mattison, but not the opposing passing game!! I can’t make sense of it!
I understand if you aren’t playing several lineups, it can be challenging to pinpoint who will do well. You can’t be afraid of losing. In top-heavy contests, you need to be aiming for first. If you’re entering $10 large field contests and are scared of not cashing every lineup, you probably shouldn’t be playing those contests.
To summarize, in large field GPPs, don’t be afraid to lose. Look for leverage off of the most popular players, but don’t be scared to play those players if your lineup is different in other places.
There’s my soapbox. We have a lot to sift through for this Week 7 slate. Because of that, the formatting will be a little different this week. Without further adieu, let’s get to some Week 7 NFL DFS picks.
Week 7 NFL DFS: Top value picks at each position
QB production correlates heavily with their implied team total. But it would be best if you also considered rushing upside as well.
Aaron Rodgers ($7000) / Deshaun Watson ($6800): The analysis for these QBs is mostly the same. Both offenses pass at an above-average rate, they play in the highest total on the slate, and it is only a three and a half point spread. They bring with them some rushing upside as well. I think both are cash game viable and, I’ll touch on this more below; they play in my favorite game to stack this week.
Ryan Tannehill ($6200): This price is egregious for how good Tannehill has been playing this year. His team total isn’t great given the slate’s context, but it is still a respectable 26. He has some rushing upside, and the Titans dont project to succeed rushing the football given the loss of tackle Taylor Lewan and the stout Pittsburgh run defense. I worry about his efficiency as they could be in several third and longs in this game, but this offense is too talented, and Tannehill has been playing too well not to be considered in this spot.
Joe Burrow ($5500): The Bengals pass at one of the highest rates in the league, while Cleveland has ranked 21st in defensive passing success rate. Burrow can deliver some modest rushing upside as well. His team total isn’t great by any means, but his price reflects that. Burrow has paid off this price (delivering 3x his salary in fantasy points) in every game this season, Baltimore aside.
What is most important to me when it comes to RB is volume, talent, and matchup. I’ll highlight players I prefer for cash games, followed by viable GPP pivots in each range.
Alvin Kamara ($7900): We started off expecting a hit to his target share with the “return” of Michael Thomas. Those worries are gone, however, with both Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders expected to miss this game.
Aaron Jones ($7200): Unlike Kamara, Jones already has his star WR teammate back on the field. His target share against Tampa Bay was 7%, down 10% from his season-long figure. It’s only one game, but we saw the same pattern last season when Adams was in and out of the lineup. That said, he is still one of the top plays of the slate given the matchup and his massive red-zone role. Monitor the calf injury leading up to lock, as Jones’ status will determine the slate’s context. I’d suggest having some Jamal Williams ($4000) teams on standby if Jones doesn’t play.
Kareem Hunt ($6800): The Browns have the eighth highest team total on the slate, run at the fourth-highest rate in the league on early downs in neutral game scripts (46%), and are above average at doing so (52% success rate, league average is 51%). Cincinnati is 16th in success rate against early-down runs. Hunt has dominated the rush share since Nick Chubb’s injury (33/49 rush attempts) and held onto his role in the passing game. He’s one of my favorite plays on the slate but will also garner plenty of ownership.
David Johnson ($5300): I’m not sure why Johnson is priced so low. He’s still dominating the Houston backfield opportunities and has the eighth-highest implied team total on the slate. Most players will flock to the RB below, but Johnson is probably a superior play in every regard.
Giovani Bernard ($4500): In cash games, Bernard is as close to a lock as you’ll ever get. In tournaments, you should be looking to gain leverage off of Bernard in spots where you can. I don’t mind being overweight on Bernard in tournaments, but it doesn’t hurt to have a small percentage dedicated around the Bengals passing game. He’s easily the top value pick of the Week 7 NFL DFS slate.
GPP RB pivots
Derrick Henry ($7500): People will shy away due to the matchup and Kamara and Jones being priced right next to Henry. He still holds plenty of touchdown equity in a game I expect to be high scoring.
James Conner ($6700): He doesn’t project as well as Hunt, but if the Tennessee/Pittsburgh game is as high scoring as I think it’ll be, Conner could be in line for a monster day with some touchdown luck. He averaged one more opportunity per game than Hunt.
Chris Carson ($6400): Carson is good leverage off what should be a very popular Seattle passing game this weekend. His 30.1% opportunity share (16th in the league, 11th on the slate) is nothing to scoff at either.
Josh Jacobs ($6300) / Ronald Jones ($6200): This is a reminder that both players are indeed on the main slate. Jacobs has the second-highest opportunity share in the league, while Jones has a terrific matchup on the ground against the Raiders defense. Both are worthy considerations in your GPP player pool.
James Robinson ($6200)– People will play the Chargers passing game but won’t run it back with Robinson, despite it making sense to do so. His 31.5% opportunity share ranks 13th in the league, 10th on the slate.
Joshua Kelley ($5100), Antonio Gibson ($5000)– Both of these players are viable pivots off Jackson. Kelley being in the same game on the same team could easily earn most of the work. Gibson could outperform Jackson, regardless of what happens with Kelley.
Volume is significant, but talent trumps it, in my opinion, when it comes to the WR position. Most of our WR’s in tournaments will come from our game stacks, but I’ll list some one-offs I think are viable.
Julio Jones ($7100): He dominated the targets in his first game back against Minnesota, and it’s reasonable to project a similar workload for Week 7. He and teammate Calvin Ridley ($7300) are both in line for a monster week.
Keenan Allen ($6200): Allen ranks third in the league in target share (30.8%) and fourth in weighted opportunity (WOPR) at 69.16%, according to FTN Daily. He will be popular, but he’s too cheap to warrant a full fade. Just be sure to differentiate your lineup elsewhere before rostering Allen.
Terry McLaurin ($5800): We’ve been playing him the past few weeks; unfortunately, the rest of the field will be hopping this week. He’s second in WOPR and eighth in target share and is too cheap for his role. He finally gets a good matchup to boot. As with Allen, you can’t play McLaurin if you’re not differentiating elsewhere. He projects very well, however.
D.J. Chark ($5500): He received 14 targets last week. 14!! You can’t project him for that much, but he’s by far the best receiver on this team. It’s a tough matchup against the Chargers, but that will only lower his ownership. Chark heads into Sunday without an injury designation, making him one of my favorite Week 7 NFL DFS picks.
Tyler Boyd ($5400) / Tee Higgins ($5300): Both projects similarly and average over a 20% target share. The Bengals lead the league in pass attempts, so their 20% target share is more impressive than other players who receive 20% of their team’s targets.
Mike Williams ($4700): Williams’ massive 17.55 average depth of target (aDOT) gives him a weekly ceiling on par with anyone. Jacksonville ranks last in passing success rate against in the season, so feel free to fire up Williams in tournaments. I’m not sure I can trust him in cash game formats.
Tim Patrick ($4600): He’s received seven and eight targets in Denver’s previous two games. That volume is hard to ignore in a matchup where Denver will have to throw to keep up with Kansas City. There could be inclement weather, however, so keep that in mind. It’s wind you want to monitor. Cold and snow aren’t ideal, but not a reason to fully fade a player.
Diontae Johnson ($4200): He was a full participant in practice this week, which means he will be on the field this Sunday. I like this game more than the consensus does, so I’m fine rolling out Johnson in all formats. I don’t expect him to average a 30% target share, but he’s too cheap for his potential role in this offense.
Tre’ Quan Smith ($4000): No Thomas or Sanders should afford Smith more targets against a beatable matchup.
Breshad Perriman ($3700): Perriman saw eight targets in his return to action in Week 7. I know it isn’t sexy, but he’s cheap enough to be considered.
Living, breathing, with a path to score points. Those are the qualifiers I put at the tight end position. When in doubt, pair your QB with his TE in tournaments.
George Kittle ($6500) / Travis Kelce ($6300) / Darren Waller ($6100): You should have some roster constructions where you pay up at TE. Waller leads the position in target share (28%), Kittle leads in WOPR (61.12%), while Kelce leads in raw targets (52). My favorite of the trio is Kelce, though he also projects to be the most popular. If I were to choose a pivot, it’d be Waller, while Kittle would be the fade due to a poor projected offensive environment.
Hunter Henry ($4500): He ranks fifth amongst TEs in target share (21.2%) while the Chargers have the fifth-highest team total on the slate (28.25).
Logan Thomas ($3500): He’s probably a staple in this article from here on out. He’s cheap and has a 17.67% target share. Thomas showed some life last week in scoring a touchdown, but I’m probably not rostering much, if any, of Thomas.
David Njoku ($3000): Austin Hooper has been ruled out of this game, opening the door for Njoku to garner most of the opportunities at TE.
Chase pressure, not point prevention.
Los Angeles Chargers ($3400): The Jaguars are a bottom third team in Football Outsider’s adjusted sack rate, while the Chargers welcome back Melvin Ingram this week.
Green Bay Packers ($3100): The Texans rank 29th in adjusted sack rate, while the Packers rank sixth in getting to the QB. There should be plenty of volume in this game, which means more sacks and turnovers.
Washington Football Team ($2500): If the Cardinals sub-par pass rush can do what they did this past Monday night, what will the Washington unit do to this squad? Washington is my favorite NFL Week 7 DFS picks on the main slate.
Houston Texans ($2200): The Packers have done an excellent job of protecting Rodgers this season. Still, they will be without All-Pro offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, which doesn’t bode well against the fifth-ranked defensive line in adjusted sack rate.
Week 7 Game Stacks
Green Bay Packers (-3.5) at Houston Texans / Total 57
This game has the highest total on the board and will not be the most popular game people attack. Davante Adams ($7900) and Aaron Jones will see their fair share of ownership, but no one on the Texans is expected to be overly chalky. You can stack this game any which way, and I have no problem with it. I apologize for the simplistic analysis; I truly feel everyone is in play in this game.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Los Angeles Chargers (-7.5) / Total 49
I’m baffled to see that Justin Jackson ($4900) is projected to be one of the most owned RBs on the slate. I realize he had a solid showing last Monday night in New Orleans, but there’s still plenty of ambiguity regarding his role in this backfield and how things can shake out game to game.
The simplest way to gain leverage off of Jackson is to play Kelley. However, I prefer the method that involves stacking the Chargers passing game. D.J. Chark ($5500) and James Robinson ($6200) are my preferred runbacks in this spot.
By this logic, the Jaguars passing game is also in play. I don’t think Minshew is good enough to win a tournament, but stranger things have happened.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans (-1.5) / Total 50.5
I like this game for two reasons: The Titans’ defense has been atrocious, and Ryan Tannehill has been phenomenal. Tannehill ranks fourth in adjusted net yards per attempt (ANY/A) and second in touchdown percentage. I sound like a broken record saying regression will come for this Titans team, but who knows when that will actually be.
Ben Roethlisberger ($6600) has played well in his own right: 11th in ANY/A and eighth in touchdown percentage. My preferred way to stack this in tournaments is to double stack Roethlisberger with two receivers and run it back with a single Titan. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool ($5700) are my preferred targets, but you have to include JuJu Smith-Schuster ($5500) if you’re making multiple tournament teams.
If you’re making only 10 teams or so, I’d avoid JuJu and prioritize A.J. Brown ($6300) and Jonnu Smith ($4700), assuming they both suit up, as my Titans on the other side. Henry should also be in this mix, but it’s an extremely tough matchup for him on the ground, and he doesn’t see the targets to make up for it. Not many people will be on this game, making it one of my favorite Week 7 NFL DFS game stack picks.
Week 7 Leverage Spots
Alvin Kamara: Kamara projects to be the most popular choice on the entire slate. I agree that he’s a fantastic play in his own right, his ownership percentage most likely over projects that.
This spot would be more comfortable if Michael Thomas were playing. Instead, we’re targeting Jared Cook ($4300) and Tre’ Quan Smith. I’m not excited about rostering Drew Brees ($6100), but he could easily throw four touchdowns here and ruin the Kamara dance party. I don’t have a preference between D.J. Moore ($5600), Robby Anderson ($6000), and Mike Davis. Play all three in your Panthers stacks.
Giovani Bernard: Bernard will make his way into plenty of lineups this weekend. Much like I suggested with the Saints and Chargers, targeting the passing game is what you do to gain leverage off of Bernard.