It is very difficult to craft daily fantasy lineups sometimes and feel safe. It is easier in cash games (50/50s and head-to-head) because you don't need to have players near the top of the list in every category; you just have to have your guys pulling their weight in terms of points per dollar.
These are not guys you on whom you will want to be all-in or have exposure rates of over 50%. These are mostly the guys we plug into that last spot where we are low on money after stacking studs and are feeling stuck.
That said, Derek Carr and Michael Crabtree stacked in top-10 lineups would not shock me.
Derek Carr at Steelers ($7,000)
Since Week 1, Carr has thrown for 249 yards and/or multiple TDs every week with 8.7 adjusted yards per attempt, which would be tied with Aaron Rodgers for 4th in the NFL. He has thrown for multiple TDs in five of those six games and accumulated over 26 fantasy points in four. He is coming off of a near-38-point game against an elite Jets defense. We really only need around 24 points from him to pull his weight and we should expect north of that against an inconsistent (therefore, average) Steelers pass defense.
Jay Cutler at Chargers ($7,100)
Carr is the better QB, but Cutler has the better matchup and a backup RB starting. If you want to hedge against Jeremy Langford ($6,400), the only way to not have a Bears passing lineup is to believe that the Chargers defense will stop somebody for the first time all season.
San Diego has allowed at least 24 points in every game. The Bears defense is difficult on which to bank for points and if Langford is not startable, those three TDs have to come from Cutler. Chargers opponents are: gaining 6.3 yards per play, second-worst only to the Saints (6.4); and passing for 7.4 net yards per attempts (NY/A), tied for third-most, only 0.3 behind the league-worst 49ers;
Jameis Winston vs. Giants (6,700)
We really should not have to sink this low, even in the microstakes, but if absolutely cannot decide which of those $8,000+ studs to leave out of your lineup, gambling on Winston to just surpass a 22-point benchmark against the Giants at home is not so bad. The over-under on this game is 49.5 and the Buccaneers are only three-point dogs. Any time, Vegas sees a team with cheap talent like the Bucs scoring north of 21 at home, we have to be intrigued because huge garbage time production is the worst case scenario against this pass D allowing as many NY/A as the Bears.
The biggest problem with Winston in cash games is his bust potential, so risk has to be all the more minimized in the rest of Winston lineups. The problem with Winston in GPP is that his primary stack partner, Mike Evans ($7,500), is also very risky. With this stacking issue and Winston's risk, Winston lineups are mainly for those making a high quantity of entries, as his exposure should be minimal.
LeGarrette Blount vs. Washington ($6,400)
The Patriots are enormous favorites against Washington (-14). The biggest of blowouts belong to Blount. His floor is probably in the 70-yard range, but he has a ceiling of 25 carries for 90-100 yards with three TDs. A very realistic median is probably in the range of 17 carries for 75 yards and a TD. There has to be so many scenarios in which he scores two TDs that it is difficult to leave him out of a lineup.
Danny Woodhead vs. Bears ($6,000)
Danny Woodhead is the ninth-highest scoring RB per week in 0.5 ppr scoring per week (13.4), of all available Week 9 backs, yet is the same price as C.J. Anderson and cheaper the T.J. Yeldon ($6,400) against the Jets. The Bears are fifth-worst in yards per carry allowed (4.7), but Woodhead's primary volume is in the passing game. With Keenan Allen on IR and Antonio Gates ($6,000) maybe or maybe not healthy, stacking Woodhead with Rivers is an alternative to guessing on either Malcom Floyd ($6,100) or Stevie Johnson ($5,400).
Orleans Darkwa at Buccaneers ($5,300)
There is nothing to like about the Giants running game. Not even so sure we can like Darkwa. But there is a small chance that the Giants get out to a huge lead and Darkwa should be their lead back. This is extremely risky and only for minimal exposure where we are playing a high quantity of entries and surrounding him with studs. Translation: If you cannot resisting stacking Tom Brady ($9,500), Julian Edelman ($8,000), and Rob Gronkowski ($8,500), Darkwa is the cheapest primary back, behind Antonio Andrews ($5,700), ignoring the 49ers, of course.
Michael Crabtree at Steelers (5,800)
The Steelers have allowed more yards per game to #2 WRs (70.4), according to FootballOutsiders.com (FO), than any other Week 9 team. We love Carr and Crabtree is actually leading the Raiders in targets (68) and receptions (40). Where we cannot decide between Julio Jones ($9,200) and Odell Beckham, Jr. ($9,000), why not start both with Crab?
Brandon Lafell vs. Washington ($5,200)
It is safe to say that the Danny Amendola thing is over with Lafell healthy and back in play. He has had 15 targets during the last two weeks he has played with his snap count% up to 82% from 71%. The Patriots are 14-point favorites in the week's only game with an over-under over 50 (52). Washington is 30th in DVOA (58.1%) against #2 WRs, according to FO. Superstacking Patriots is easier with Lafell than Edelman-Gronk.
Marquess Wilson at Chargers ($4,800)
Just look at the notes I had for Cutler. Alshon Jeffery ($7,900) is fantastic, but is he 275 yards and three TDs fantastic? Maybe. But, if he isn't, there is another chance for Wilson to shine with Eddie Royal out for Week 9. In Weeks 4 and 5, Wilson had 12 catches for 165 and a TD in 17 targets; then, his snap count went back under 80%.
Dwayne Harris at Buccaneers ($5,300)
We have seen the TD-dependent Harris exploit the last three terrible pass defenses he has faced for double-digit 0.5-ppr fantasy points--the Bills in Week 5 (13.6), the Niners in Week 6 (10.2), and the Saints last week (17.2). His ceiling is very break-even, but where we are stacking studs: he is more likely to score than the Giants WR2, Rueben Randle ($5,500); and his Week 9 opponent, Tampa, has the NFL fourth-worst DVOA against the pass (26.7%). If you want to be cute and replicate what Week 8 GPP winners did, superstacking Harris with Eli Manning ($7,800) and Beckham is something almost no one will do.
Darrius Heyward-Bey vs. Raiders (4,900)
The Raiders are awful against TEs. Every TE scores on them. This, we know.
Maybe, they are not just bad against TEs, but there is little attention given to opposing TEs because they are focusing safeties on helping against the primary and secondary WRs. I don't know this for sure, as I have not watched panoramic views of dozens of Raiders snaps, but FO's breakdown of who performs well against them in the passing game is interesting.
Oakland is 8th in DVOA against #1 WRs and 14th against #2 WRs, but 16th against the pass, in general. They are actually outside the top-five in most YPG allowed to TEs, but have allowed the fourth-most YPG to "other WRs" (64.4).
DHB is a terrible football player (this, we also know), but in the two full games before Ben Roethlisberger went down, DHB caught eight balls for 135 yards and a TD in 12 targets. That was without Martavis Bryant, yes, but in Bryant's three games, DHB has been on the field for nearly a third of the snaps.
I know, I'm reaching and this is uber-YOLO!, but if Antonio Brown ($8,700) and Martavis Bryant ($6,900) are covered, Heath Miller ($5,800) won't get all of those balls and DeAngelo Williams is not the receiver Le'Veon Bell is. If you insist on high exposure to Ben (e.g. 12 of 20 lineups), DHB can find a spot in one or two surrounded by studs.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. Giants ($5,200)
Jared Cook can very well get 65 yards and a TD against the Vikings, who are allowing over 62 YPG to TEs, but the risk of 60 yards and no score is so huge. Jacob Tamme can have an 85-yard game on eight catches against a 49ers teams which is not covering anyone well, but it is difficult to predict a score and this may just be one of those games where Julio Jones sees north of 40% of Matt Ryan's targets because Ryan should have no problem getting Jones the ball.
I bring up those two because they are both the same price as Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Vincent Jackson will likely be out on Sunday, so Sef-Jenk will be the de facto #2 WR for the Buccaneers against a Giants team allowing an NFL-worst 86.4 YPG to TEs. To put that into perspective, only the Chiefs are allowing more than 71.1 YPG to #2 WRs, according to FO, and even that lowly Chiefs secondary is allowing less (81.5 YPG) to those WRs than the Giants are to TEs.
If we want to stack Brady and Julian Edelman for $17,500 and $9,200 on Jones, there is no way we can afford to stack Gronk there. It is easy to want to fade a 14-point dogs like Washington, Sef-Jenk can give you less volume than Reed's ceiling, but can get us the yards and a TD where we have too much exposure elsewhere and need the extra $300 to upgrade our DST or crack the $6,000 range on both RB slots.
Jordan Reed at Patriots ($5,700)
Reed is a very talented TE, but he is also one of the biggest garbage time feasters in the league. As 14-point dogs, Washington will then have to pass a ton and Reed gobbles up all of the relevant targets. Without a TD, he may be a sure thing for 13 FD points, which is great because he doesn't need two TDs for value. The problem with Reed is that he only has six TDs in 25 NFL games, despite 130 receptions. But this game has a 52-point over-under. Even if New England scores 45 in this one, someone has to score for Washington and Reed is still the best bet.
Martellus Bennett at Chargers ($5,400)
The Chargers have only allowed 51.1 YPG to TEs, but Bennett may become the de facto #2 WR. Bennett is only $400 cheaper than Heath Miller, but Miller is going to be widely owned. Where we want to superstack Cutler with Jeffery and Bennett, we also have a contrarian play attached to the stack at a deep position where so many players over $5,500 will have higher starting percentages.
The Panthers at $4,400 are tempting, but Aaron Rodgers does not turn the ball over often enough and nothing can be as bad last week. Even if the Packers struggle again, the upside is low. That said, the Panthers are safe. Would rather gamble on the Giants at $4,500 against Winston because of the high sacks and INT potential, despite Tampa maybe scoring three TDs. This is a week to spend over $4,500, though, on the Falcons ($4,900) against Blaine Gabbert, the Patriots ($4,900) against Kirk Cousins in the biggest blowout of the week, or the Jets ($4,700) against Blake Bortles.
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.