Each week this column will focus on projecting ownership percentage in DraftKings’ large field GPPs, and identifying players to target in each ownership tier. If you’re unsure how you should be factoring projected ownership percentage into your tournament roster construction, go back and read the introduction to this series, or this blog post on the topic.
The projected ownership ranges that appear in this space were derived in part from Footballguys’ proprietary algorithms, which take into account historical data, projected scoring, and player salary. Projected ownership percentages for every player, on every slate, can be found each week on our FREE Daily Crusher Mobile App. As always, I’ll be supplementing the algorithms with industry research to create the projections. Please be warned that the projection ranges shown below are by no means infallible and are only meant to be used as guidelines. Ownership percentages in your actual contests will vary.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS
In the spirit of full disclosure, here are last week’s hits and misses. Actual ownership percentages were taken from the Millionaire Maker.
|Player||Projected % Owned||Actual % Owned||Fantasy Points||Value|
|Sam Bradford||< 5%||0.80%||13.44||2.36|
|Ryan Tannehill||< 5%||0.96%||16.48||3.10|
|Joe Flacco||< 5%||3.0%||26.34||4.79|
|Marshawn Lynch||< 5%||0.3%||12||1.79|
|Jonathan Stewart||< 5%||2.11%||15.1||3.51|
|Rishard Matthews||< 5%||3.9%||14.7||3.13|
|Cecil Shorts||< 5%||0.85%||4.6||1.53|
|Jermaine Gresham||< 5%||0%||10.6||4.24|
Moving on to this week's slate...
5% Projected Ownership and Under
Alex Smith - $5,000 @ SD
Smith has scored at least 14.54 fantasy points in seven out of nine games this season, and gone over 20 points three times. It’s a bit puzzling that DraftKings continues to offer him at the quarterback minimum, but it makes Smith my favorite cash game QB this week. He’s listed here as a GPP play because a matchup with San Diego can unlock his proven 20+ point upside. The Chargers are the 27th ranked pass defense per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metrics (adjusted for down, distance and situation). San Diego has trouble pressuring the quarterback (bottom-10 in sacks per game) and give up the fourth-most yards per completion (12.1). An Alex Smith-Jeremy Maclin stack counts for only 20% of your cap and has upside given the matchup.
Mark Sanchez - $5,000 vs. TB
Buying in early on Mark Sanchez as the Eagles starter was the key to my entire 2014 DFS season. Maybe I’m just being sentimental, but besides a few inevitable interceptions (which only lose you one point on DraftKings) there’s not much to dislike about Sanchez at home vs. Tampa Bay. Before playing against Matt Cassel last week, the Bucs had let up averages of 307.5 passing yards and 2.75 touchdowns to the previous four quarterbacks they faced (Blake Bortles and Kirk Cousins included). When Sanchez entered last week’s game against the Dolphins, he looked much the same as last season -- capable of sustaining drives, testing the defense deep, and making mind-blowingly bad decisions. It was enough for Sanchez to average 15.74 fantasy points per game last year and throw for multiple touchdowns in six out of nine games. With Philadelphia a heavy home favorite and projected to score 26 points, Sanchez has a clear 20+ point ceiling.
Frank Gore - $4,700 @ ATL
Gore isn’t an incredibly high-ceiling option, but he’s cheap enough to pay off his price tag in a matchup with the Falcons. In Rod Chudzinski’s first game as offensive coordinator against Denver two weeks ago, Indianapolis had more rushing attempts (40) than passing attempts (36) for the first time all season. Gore handled 81% of the team’s running back touches, finishing with a season high 28 carries. Gore (and Ahmad Bradshaw to a lesser degree) should be leaned on more heavily with Andrew Luck on the shelf. Indianapolis is expected to score about 21 points and a league-high 48% of the touchdowns Atlanta has allowed this season have come via the run.
Jordan Matthews - $6,000 vs. TB
Prior to last week’s matchup against Matt Cassel, Tampa Bay had allowed a wide receiver to either accumulate 100 yards, catch multiple touchdowns, or do both in seven out of eight games played. If any Eagles receiver has a shot at starting a new streak against Tampa Bay it’s Jordan Matthews. Matthews’ 22.41% target market share leads the Eagles by a significant margin, and it improves to 32.35% when the team gets in the red zone. You’ll recall Matthews showed great chemistry with Sanchez last season. His fantasy points per game increased by 66% in Sanchez’ nine games played vs. seven games with Nick Foles. Matthews has burned DFS players so many times this season, he’s unlikely to eclipse 5% ownership despite the great matchup and favorable quarterback change.
Jeremy Maclin - $5,000 @ SD
If you’re rostering Maclin in tournaments you have to believe Alex Smith will throw for multiple touchdowns for only the third time all year. But Maclin’s price has bottomed out (down $1,900 since Week 1) and the matchup with San Diego bodes well for his chances at a monster game. The Chargers rank 26th in pass defense DVOA to opposing WR1s. They also struggle containing receivers after the catch, ranking as a bottom-six unit in yards after catch allowed per game. Maclin’s YAC per attempt have slipped this year (4.2), but there’s room for positive regression -- he ranked fourth among qualifying receivers in YAC per attempt (6.0) as recently as last season. Kansas City’s implied team total is nearing 24 points, which suggests Charcandrick West won’t be the only Chief to post significant fantasy numbers.
Golden Tate - $4,600 vs. OAK
I’m assuming we’ll see plenty of Matthew Stafford-Calvin Johnson stacks, making Stafford-Tate an interesting less expensive, low-owned pivot. In terms of projected receptions per dollar, only Danny Amendola is a better value than Tate this week. Oakland ranks 26th at defending opposing WR2s per DVOA and Tate will line up in the slot against PFF’s lowest graded cornerback, D.J. Hayden. Tate looks safe for between seven and ten opportunities to turn high percentage targets into long gains. Oakland’s secondary allows the most yards after catch per game in the league.
Jimmy Graham - $4,900 vs. SF
Graham’s 28.75% target market share is the eighth-highest in the league over the last four weeks, proving Russell Wilson and the Seattle coaching staff are making an effort to get him more involved. Seattle’s implied team total is over 26 points, so we should see plenty of production from their passing game against the 49ers 31st ranked pass defense (DVOA). Graham’s price has gotten low enough (down $1,200 from its 2015 peak) he may not need a touchdown to return 4x value in this matchup, but eventually his 45% market share of Seattle’s red zone targets will begin resulting in touchdowns.
Clive Walford - $2,500 @ DET
Walford has only played on a third of Oakland’s offensive snaps this season, and his playing time has actually been in steady decline over the last three weeks. While he hasn’t been seeing the field all that much, the rookie out of Miami has carved out a role as the Raiders primary red zone option. Over the last four games, Walford’s four red zone targets and two red zone touchdowns lead the team. He also had a 23 yard touchdown in Week 7 against San Diego. Projecting touchdowns is risky business, but Detroit has played more defensive snaps per game in their own red zone than any team in the NFL. In a week Oakland should have no problem generating scoring opportunities, Walford has a strong chance to catch his fourth touchdown in the last five games, and only needs two catches for 20 yards to reach value if he does in fact hit paydirt.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Russell Wilson ($5,900 vs. SF), Tony Romo ($6,000 @ MIA), Sammy Watkins ($4,800 @ NE), Zach Ertz ($3,100 vs. TB), Garrett Celek ($2,500 @ SEA)
6%-10% Projected Ownership
Matthew Stafford - $5,400 vs OAK
A home matchup with Oakland has all the makings of a “get right” game for Stafford. The Raiders have allowed four quarterbacks to throw for at least 330 yards and two touchdowns in the same game this season. Raiders-Lions has this week’s second-highest over/under, and Stafford has been significantly better in homes games this season. His average fantasy point per game improve by 30% in games played at Ford Field.
Carson Palmer - $6,700 vs. CIN
Palmer is white hot and may have earned matchup-proof status with his 26.32 fantasy point performance at Seattle last week. The Bengals are another tough test (top-10 pass defense DVOA), but Palmer should be up for the challenge playing in front of his home crowd for the first time since Week 7. And if you enjoy the occasional stroll down #NarrativeStreet, this is a noteworthy tweet:
Carson Palmer on a conference call with Bengals media: "This isn't just another game for me. I'm not going to lie to you."— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) November 18, 2015
If Michael Floyd returns to full practice on Friday, he should end up higher than 10% owned. He’s got five touchdowns in his last four games and has eclipsed 100 receiving yards in each of his last two. How Floyd can still be priced under $4,000 is baffling, but as of this writing he looks legitimately questionable with a hamstring injury. The Cardinals are playing on Sunday night, making it unlikely we’ll get full clarity on Floyd before 1PM on Sunday. I don’t hate the idea of rostering Floyd and simply pivoting to Jaron Brown if Floyd ends up sitting, despite the $800 in salary you’d be leaving on the table. When Floyd left last week’s game, Carson Palmer looked to Brown on several key plays, and Brown (a tremendous athlete) stepped up with three crucial catches for 38 yards. Given John Brown’s murky status and how well Palmer has played at home this season, Brown is capable of producing at least 80% of what you’d expect from Floyd in this matchup, and he won’t exceed 5% ownership.
Marshawn Lynch - $6,700 vs. SF
Marshawn Lynch is a touchdown maker in home games regardless of opponent, but that’s especially true with the 49ers visiting CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks are whopping 12 point favorites against Blaine Gabbert and company in a matchup their defense figures to dominate. It should lead to a heavy second half workload for Lynch as Seattle looks to salt away the game. The only concern is Lynch’s health, and the possibility the Seahawks coaching staff would rest him if the game turns into the blowout Vegas is predicting. But Lynch was in on 80% of the snaps last week, and ran well despite his availability coming down to a game-time decision. If Seattle builds a big enough lead to pull their starters, chances are Lynch will have scored multiple times before then anyway.
Latavius Murray - $5,600 vs. DET
Speaking of teams who let up a lot of rushing touchdowns, Detroit leads the league with 12 touchdowns allowed to opposing running backs. Players from the Detroit-Oakland game are going to be popular targets this week (48 point over/under), but most entrants are likely to key in on both team’s passing games, making Murray a forgotten man. Murray has underperformed based on price expectation by varying degrees since destroying the Cleveland Browns awful rush defense in Week 3, but his workload hasn’t wavered. On the season, Murray has handled 39.5% of Oakland’s team touches in the games he’s started -- the fourth-highest workload share in the league. He should have multiple scoring opportunities against Detroit, who have allowed the second-most rushing plays from inside their own 10 yard line this season.
Jonathan Stewart - $4,400 vs. WAS
Stewart checks off all the DFS running back boxes this week. He’s playing at home, his team is favored by a touchdown, he’s a lock for a heavy workload (Adrian Peterson is the only running back with more carries since Week 6), he doesn’t lack scoring opportunities (Stewart’s 10 rushes from inside the opponent’s 10 yard line are the third most by any running back since Week 6), and his matchup is fantastic. If Mark Ingram hadn’t been limited to five carries last week, it’s very likely he would have become the fifth consecutive running back to rush for at least 129 yards against Washington. Lack of involvement in the receiving game is the only knock on Stewart, but the matchup and game flow point to a 20+ point performance via rushing stats alone.
New York Jets Defense - $3,000 @ HOU
There is a reason T.J Yates hasn’t started a regular season game since 2011. When Yates was last pressed into a starting role, he was sacked three times per game and barely completed over 60% of his passes. He’s going to have a tough time getting anything going against the Jets, who let up the third-fewest yards per pass attempt and fourth -lowest opponent passer rating in the league.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Tom Brady ($8,500 vs. BUF), LeGarrette Blount ($5,000 @ NE), Calvin Johnson ($7,200 vs. OAK), Travis Kelce ($4,700 @SD)
11% to 15% Projected Ownership
Todd Gurley - $7,600 @ BAL
All signs point to this being the week to finally fade Todd Gurley, which is exactly what makes him an excellent GPP play. The matchup against Baltimore is admittedly terrible. T.J. Yeldon’s 61 rushing yards last week were the most the Ravens have allowed at home to an opposing running back this season. Case Keenum may take a blowtorch to the Rams sorry excuse for an offense (outside of Gurley), the rest of the running back position is priced very softly, and Gurley’s price is at an all-time high despite coming off a mediocre game against Chicago. It all adds up to what should be Gurley’s lowest ownership since he became the Rams’ starter in Week 4. But unless the game goes completely off-script for St. Louis (Vegas opened the line at Baltimore -1), Gurley is a lock for 23-27 touches. He's clearly talented enough to take one (or more) of those looks for a long touchdown regardless of the defense he's facing. If paying up to be contrarian is your thing, Gurley should be on your short list this week.
Darren McFadden - $5,000 @ MIA
McFadden is the best projected dollar per touch value on DraftKings this week, and the efficiency of those touches is about to increase. Tony Romo’s return means the Cowboys can get back to sustaining long drives and visiting the red zone with far greater frequency. It also means no more stacked boxes for McFadden, who will continue to see a massive workload. The Cowboys have proven their game plan is built around running the ball to control time of possession, and Miami’s defense should accommodate. The Dolphins have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and over 72.6% more fantasy points per game than the league average over the last three weeks.
Brandon LaFell - $4,300 vs. BUF
Danny Amendola is the New England wide receiver generating the most buzz in the wake of Julian Edelman’s foot injury, but LaFell will also see an uptick in opportunity, especially in the red zone. Here’s Rotoworld’s Justin Bailey on the red zone target market share now up for grabs in the league’s highest scoring offense:
Edelman and Dion Lewis combined for 37% of the Patriots' market share of targets. Edelman also led NE with 16% market share of RZ opps.— Justin Bailey (@jBails_3) November 17, 2015
Last season, the 6’3’’, 210 lb. LaFell finished with only two less red zone targets than Rob Gronkowski and two more red zone touchdowns than Edelman (who led New England in red zone targets). Buffalo cornerback Stephon Gilmore is a cause for concern, but LaFell is guaranteed between seven and 10 high-yield targets on the best passing offense in the NFL.
Steve Johnson - $3,900 vs KC
Johnson’s price is up $700 since the Chargers last played in Week 9, but his salary still doesn’t reflect his role as San Diego’s WR1 in the wake of Keenan Allen’s season ending injury. In the Chargers’ first game without Allen, Johnson was targeted 10 times, including twice in the red zone. If he sees similar volume against the Chiefs (who have given up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers this season), cash game value is a mortal lock and Johnson’s baseline projection isn’t terribly far off from his 15.6 point GPP target score.
Antonio Gates - $4,800 vs. KC
No one needed the bye week more than Antonio Gates, who hasn’t looked like himself since returning from a knee sprain in Week 8. We discovered Thursday he’s also been dealing with a compensatory hip issue, but assuming he’s in better shape than he was in Week 9 (when he still managed a 40 yard run and had a touchdown called back), Gates has as high a ceiling as any non-Gronk tight end. The Chargers are projected to score three touchdowns this week and 87% of their scores have come via the pass, which leaves room for both Gates and Johnson to hit value in GPPs.
Carolina Panthers Defense - $3,400 vs. WAS
I hope Kirk Cousins enjoyed his moment in the sun against the Saints pass defense because he’s about to get a reality check. Carolina ranks third in both pass defense DVOA and opponent points per play allowed. Washington has done a solid job protecting Cousins this season, but they’ll be tested by a strong Panthers defensive front averaging three sacks per game. I’m expecting Carolina to get out to a big lead and force Cousins into catch up more against their elite secondary, which cannot possibly end well for Washington.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Lamar Miller ($6,200 vs. DAL), Cam Newton ($6,900 vs. WAS)
16%+ Projected Ownership
The following players are this week’s chalk. They’re all highly recommended for cash games, but can be used as foundation pieces in tournament lineups because they’re likely to finish among the week’s top scorers. Just be aware you’re not sneaking any of them past your opponents and if you use them in GPPs, you’ll need to differentiate your line-ups with lower-owned players at other positions.
Devonta Freeman - $8,400 vs. IND
Freeman is awfully pricy in comparison to the other top backs on the board this week, but he’s got clear 30+ point upside in a home matchup with the Colts. Atlanta has the second-highest implied team total on this week’s slate (26.75 points), Indianapolis is a bottom-10 team in opponent rushing touchdown percentage, and Freeman leads the league in both rushing touchdowns and carries from inside the opponent’s 10 yard line.
Adrian Peterson - $6,800 vs. GB
You’re likely to be rewarded for chasing Peterson’s 32.6 fantasy point performance against the Raiders last week. Devonta Freeman is the better play, but are their projections really so different that Freeman should cost $1,600 more? Peterson is easy to fit under the cap and he’s in a sneaky good spot at home against Green Bay. Thanks to the Packers shocking loss to the Lions last week, Minnesota is actually a slight favorite this week, so the game flow should favor rushing production for the Vikings. Green Bay allows the fourth-highest rushing touchdown percentage in the NFL (40%) and Peterson always seems to get up for games against his division rival. Over his last six games against the Packers, Peterson has averaged 23 carries, 140 rushing yards, and a touchdown.
Charcandrick West - $4,500 @ SD
West will be this week’s mega-chalk thanks to his affordable price tag and 31.1 fantasy point explosion against the Broncos last week. Even though he’ll be owned by about 50% of the field, West is a tough player to fade. Since Week 7, he’s the fourth-highest scoring running back on DraftKings despite playing in only three games due to the Chiefs bye week. I have his baseline projection at 18.1 fantasy points, which already exceeds his GPP target score. West is all upside in a matchup against San Diego’s league-worst rush defense.
Mike Evans - $7,300 @ PHI
Over the last four weeks Evans has seen an absurd 40% of Tampa Bay’s targets. How he doesn’t have more than one touchdown over that span is a bit of mystery considering his red zone target market share is also over 40%. He has a strong chance at finding the end zone against an Eagles team that has a 79% opponent passing touchdown percentage. In particular, the Eagles struggle to contain opposing WR1s. Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall, Brandin Cooks, and Dez Bryant have all gone for at least 80 yards and a touchdown against them this season. With Vincent Jackson already ruled out and Austin Seferian-Jenkins once again unlikely to suit up, Evans will continue to hog targets. I’d put his chances at another eight catch, 120+ receiving yard performance at better than 50%.
Amari Cooper - $6,800 @ DET
Both Cooper and teammate Michael Crabtree will likely check in around 20% owned due to their matchup with Detroit’s exploitable secondary. Of the two, I’d prefer Cooper by the slightest of margins. Crabtree and Cooper’s target volume is nearly identical (they even have the same number of red zone targets over the last four weeks), so it makes sense to lean towards Cooper, who averages more yards per target. Cooper is also more likely of the two to exploit one of Detroit’s biggest weaknesses. The Lions secondary allows the third-most yards after catch per game and Cooper has racked up the sixth-most yards after catch among wide receivers.
Rob Gronkowski - $7,700 vs. BUF
Gronkowski’s price came down $300 from last week despite the 5-113-1 receiving line he dropped on the Giants. It’s a discount I’ll gladly take in matchup with Buffalo, who Gronkowski crushed for 27.3 fantasy points back in Week 2. Like LaFell, Gronkowski will be called on to fill the void left by Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis. I’m fully expecting double digit targets and another huge game for Gronk.
Seahawks Defense - $4,000 vs. SF
Blaine Gabbert may have looked like an NFL quarterback in his first start of 2015, but that was at home against Atlanta’s awful defense. Things will turn out differently in Seattle for Gabbert, who completed 49% of his passes, threw one touchdown against seven interceptions, and was sacked 12 times in three games during his last prolonged stint as a starter.
Other recommended GPP/cash game plays in this ownership tier: Derek Carr ($6,300 @ DET), Julio Jones ($9,300 vs. IND), Michael Crabtree ($6,000 @ DET), Danny Amendola ($4,000 vs. BUF), DeMarco Murray ($6,000 vs. TB)