The time has finally come for our Sundays to be nothing but NFL games again, which means we will also spend a decent portion of our mornings putting together NFL DFS lineups. The nights when I would open the DraftKings app and make a fake lineup leading up to the regular season are now forgotten as Week 1 is upon us. Now it’s time to play for real dollars and cents.
Besides playing cash contests, you can play GPPs (guaranteed prize pools) in NFL DFS. Contrary to cash contests, you want to try to gain leverage over the field in GPPs by taking more calculated risks.
Every week of the 2022 season I’ll be sharing my top stacks and bring-back options for the main slate on DraftKings (check out my article on lineup construction for GPPs here). Without further ado, let’s jump into my five favorite stacks for Week 1.
Patrick Mahomes ($7,700) + Travis Kelce ($6,600) or JuJu Smith-Schuster ($5,200)
The Kansas City Chiefs are no longer an offense that is centered around Kelce and Tyreek Hill following Hill’s trade to the Miami Dolphins. Mahomes said himself that people are going to have to guess which pass-catching weapon will go off each week. So for those stacking the Chiefs, I’d recommend building a few lineups with different pieces from Kansas City.
Despite Hill no longer being part of the offense, Mahomes is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and the Chiefs have the highest projected team total in Week 1 in a potentially high-scoring matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. Smith-Schuster seems underpriced on DraftKings so he’s a great pairing. However, there could be multiple guys that perform well each week with Mahomes spreading the ball around more—think Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($4,700), Mecole Hardman ($4,600), or Skyy Moore ($3,800).
Bring-back options: James Conner ($7,000), Marquise Brown ($6,200), A.J. Green ($4,600), Zach Ertz ($4,400), Rondale Moore ($4,000)
On the other side of the field, the Cardinals figure to have another top offense with Kyler Murray under center. While DeAndre Hopkins will be sidelined for the first six weeks, that could help us narrow down who is going to get touches in the offense. Zach Ertz and Rondale Moore both missed practice on Thursday, so make sure to pay attention to their status for Sunday’s contest. James Conner, Marquise Brown, and A.J. Green could be extremely busy if those guys are ruled out, with Andy Isabella ($3,000) possibly seeing the field.
Editor’s Note: Rondale Moore has since been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs
Matt Ryan ($5,500) + Michael Pittman Jr. ($5,500) or Nyheim Hines ($5,100)
Leverage, leverage, leverage. That is what GPPs are all about and stacking the Indianapolis Colts could be a bit contrarian with a large group of people plugging and playing Jonathan Taylor into their lineups. The Colts own one of the highest projected team totals in Week 1 and not all of those points are going to be scored by Taylor (at least I don’t think).
Ryan is expected to inject life into the offense of the Colts this season and Pittman Jr. is severely underpriced for a player that should lead his team in targets. The Atlanta Falcons targeted running backs at the second-highest rate (26.3%) in 2021 with Ryan operating the offense, and with Hines expected to get more snaps, he could be the best leverage option to use in the stack.
It remains to be seen who steps up alongside Pittman, so Alec Pierce ($3,900), Mo Alie-Cox ($3,400), and Parris Campbell ($3,300) are nice low-rostered options to consider.
Bring-back options: Brandin Cooks ($6,300), Rex Burkhead ($4,900), Dameon Pierce ($4,800), Nico Collins ($4,200), Brevin Jordan ($3,100)
The Houston Texans are basically in the same position they were last year where they’ll be playing from behind in the majority of their games. Brandin Cooks is always one of the most consistent wide receivers and Nico Collins is firmly positioned as the team’s No. 2 wideout.
Dameon Pierce is listed as the starter at running back, but I expect Rex Burkhead to be deployed in obvious passing-down situations. Brevin Jordan is a solid GPP tight end for those that want to save salary at the position.
Justin Herbert ($7,600) + Austin Ekeler ($8,200), Keenan Allen ($7,000), or Mike Williams ($6,600)
The Los Angeles Chargers have the second-highest projected team total in Week 1, only behind the Chiefs. Herbert is a legitimate MVP candidate in 2022 and he has a dynamic trio to target in Ekeler, Allen, and Williams. In the two matchups versus the Las Vegas Raiders a season ago, Herbert combined for 52.7 DraftKings points.
I typically avoid stacking quarterbacks with running backs, but Ekeler is an exception as he led all running backs in routes run (365) in 2021.
Joshua Palmer ($3,800) could emerge as the No. 3 wide receiver in the offense and Gerald Everett ($3,800) has shown potential when he’s given consistent opportunities in an offense.
Bring-back options: Davante Adams ($8,100), Josh Jacobs ($6,300), Hunter Renfrow ($5,800), Darren Waller ($5,400), Zamir White ($4,700)
One of the most notable offseason additions was the Raiders acquiring Davante Adams via trade from the Green Bay Packers. The All-Pro wideout reunited with Derek Carr, who was his quarterback at Fresno State, which puts them on a similar wavelength as Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford eating breakfast together.
Josh Jacobs is the current starter, but rookie Zamir White is listed as the No. 2 running back, making both of them risky running backs in GPPs. Darren Waller is underpriced on DraftKings and Hunter Renfrow should continue being a solid option on the green site due to his PPR upside, though, he doesn’t have a massive ceiling with his lack of touchdowns.
Lamar Jackson ($7,300) + Mark Andrews ($6,800) or Rashod Bateman ($5,300)
Lamar Jackson is just THAT dude. There aren’t many slate-breaking quarterbacks in the NFL, but Jackson is always a threat to lead all quarterbacks in scoring in NFL DFS due to his dual-threat ability. While the former NFL MVP doesn’t have a plethora of weapons, targets should be funneled to Andrews and Bateman.
Someone is going to have to step up alongside Bateman, with Devin Duvernay ($3,800) and James Proche ($3,300) seeing the field more in 2022. The Baltimore Ravens are expected to defeat the New York Jets handily in Week 1, and if J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are both sidelined, the Ravens could lean more on Jackson to begin the season.
Bring-back options: Breece Hall ($5,500), Michael Carter ($5,100), Elijah Moore ($5,100), Corey Davis ($4,900), Garrett Wilson ($4,700), Tyler Conklin ($3,500)
We have a revenge-game narrative in this matchup with Joe Flacco starting for the Jets due to Zach Wilson recovering from a knee injury. Breece Hall and Michael Carter are expected to share the backfield workload, however, I’d side with Carter in Week 1 since he’ll likely see more usage in the passing game.
Elijah Moore proved he can excel without Wilson under center and Corey Davis is the highest-paid wide receiver on the roster, so he’ll see still be involved in the offense. Garrett Wilson and Tyler Conklin are newcomers to New York’s offense that could surprise in a game where the Jets are playing catch up.
Kirk Cousins ($6,100) + Justin Jefferson ($7,800) or Adam Thielen ($5,400)
Cousins isn’t a franchise quarterback you want to build a team around, but he’s a consistent producer in fantasy football. The offense of the Minnesota Vikings is expected to take a step forward in 2022 with Kevin O’Connell replacing Mike Zimmer as the team’s head coach. Jefferson is said to be in line for a Cooper Kupp-like role this season and Thielen is always a threat to score touchdowns.
K.J. Osborn ($4,900) is in a potential spot to break out in 2022, and if Irv Smith Jr. ($3,400) can remain healthy, the Alabama product could be poised for a productive campaign. Dalvin Cook is involved in the passing game, but I’d prefer stacking the other guys with Cousins as Cook only had a 21.9% TPRR (targets per route run) rate a season ago.
Bring-back options: Aaron Jones ($6,700), Allen Lazard ($5,600), AJ Dillon ($5,300), Sammy Watkins ($4,700), Randall Cobb ($3,400), Romeo Doubs ($3,000)
Aaron Rodgers has been talked about quite a lot this offseason and it’s not because of Adams no longer being his go-to target in the offense. The back-to-back NFL MVP now has a wide receiver room that features Lazard, Watkins, Cobb, Watson, and Doubs.
Jones and Dillon are going to see the field together more often in 2022, so there are going to be weeks where both of them succeed. Lazard is questionable to play on Sunday, so make sure to keep tabs on his status for the season opener.