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|
|Alex Smith||< 5%||1.1%||14.64||2.87|
|Matthew Stafford||< 5%||1.3%||17.3||2.98|
|Eddie Lacy||< 5%||5%||24.8||5.28|
|Chis Ivory||< 5%||4.1%||14.7||2.94|
|Anquan Boldin||< 5%||4.2%||4.2||1.05|
|Golden Tate||< 5%||2.0%||28.5||6.33|
|Austin Seferian-Jenkins||< 5%||26.3%||6.1||2.26|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||16+%||26.4%||38.6||4.24|
Moving on to this week’s slate...
5% Projected Ownership and Under
Tyrod Taylor - $5,600 @ WAS
With no shortage of high-end quarterbacks in great matchups, Taylor will get overlooked on the road in Washington. If you throw out their Week 13 meeting with Matt Cassel, the last three quarterbacks to play Washington (Cam Newton, Jay Cutler, Eli Manning) have averaged 294 passing yards and three touchdowns against them. Taylor has the deep ball working beautifully with Sammy Watkins, which should play well against a defense that ranks bottom-third in opponent yards per pass attempt and opponent passing touchdown percentage. As an added bonus, Taylor is running again (42.3 rushing yards per game in his last three) which pads his floor and raises his ceiling. Prior to last week’s 19.2 fantasy point “let down”, Taylor posted 27 and 29 fantasy points against the much tougher Kansas City and Houston defenses.
Ben Roethlisberger - $6,400 vs. DEN
Roethlisberger is coming off his first sub-25 point performance since Week 8 and he’s matched up with the best defense in the league. As a result his price is down $400 and his ownership will plummet, making Roethlisberger an interesting contrarian play. The matchup with Denver is less than ideal of course, but would Roethlisberger score 25 fantasy points (his GPP target score) at least 5% of the time if this game were played 100 times at Heinz field? I’d wager yes, considering his fantasy points per game have increased by 70% in home games since the start of the 2014 season. It’s best to limit your exposure, but make sure you have at least one Roethlisberger stack in your portfolio this week.
Jeremy Hill - $5,000 @ SF
With Andy Dalton sidelined for the foreseeable future, I expect the Bengals to emphasize their running game. While that may prove difficult against some opponents, the 49ers don’t figure to offer much resistance. San Francisco has allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, including a ridiculous 77% more than the league average over the last five weeks. Cincinnati’s team total is a respectable 23 points and they’re favored by more than a field goal. The implied game script points to Hill being on the field for about 60% of the Bengals snaps. When he saw similar playing time in Week 12 (against the Browns equally rotten defense), Hill rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown.
Malcom Floyd - $3,500 vs. MIA
Floyd received nine targets last week and I'd expect him to remain San Diego's most heavily targeted wide receiver for as long as Stevie Johnson is sidelined. He gets a dream matchup against a Miami pass defense that has allowed over 40% more fantasy points than the league average to opposing wide receivers over the last five weeks. The Dolphins rank dead last in pass defense DVOA against opposing WR1s. Floyd may not fit the description of a WR1 perfectly, but he's as close as it gets for the Chargers. At the very least, he’s a legitimate downfield threat who has great rapport with his quarterback. Expect a trademark splash play or two in what could be Rivers’ final game in San Diego before the team is moved (#NarrativeStreet).
Gary Barnidge - $5,000 @ SEA
Everyone will look at Barnidge’s matchup with Seattle (and the Browns’ dismal 14.5 point implied team total) and run screaming from Cleveland skill position players. I’ll gladly roster Barnidge around 4% owned in a sneaky good spot against a Seahawks team that ranks 28th in pass defense DVOA to opposing tight ends. Barnidge has gone for 6-65-1 and 5-84-1 in Johnny Manziel’s last two starts and he’ll once again serve as Manziel’s go-to receiver when this game invariably enters garbage time. I’m not expecting many (any?) scoring opportunities for Cleveland, but it’s a plus for Barnidge that Brian Hartline -- the team’s second-most targeted receiver in the red zone -- is out for the year. Barnidge already leads the Browns in red zone target market share and has converted over 41% of his red zone looks into scores (seventh-best conversion rate in the league -- minimum 10 targets), which at least keeps the possibility of a touchdown in play.
Steelers Defense - $2,700 vs. DEN
The Broncos are going to have a hard time running the ball against Pittsburgh’s 7th ranked run defense (DVOA), which will put pressure on Brock Osweiler to keep pace with an offense that averages over 30 points per game at home. We saw for the first time last week what it looks like when the game goes off-script for Osweiler, and it was a complete disaster (two fumbles lost, five sacks, one safety). The Steelers field one of the hottest defenses in the league (at least 16 fantasy points in three of their last four games) and are capable of applying enough pressure (16 total sacks in last four games) to make life miserable for Osweiler.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Alex Smith ($5,100 @ BAL), Martavis Bryant ($5,500 vs. DEN), Latavius Murray ($4,500 vs. GB), Travis Kelce ($4,400 @ BAL)
6%-10% Projected Ownership
Carson Palmer - $7,000 @ PHI
The Eagles have allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks over the last five weeks and Palmer has averaged nearly 24 fantasy points per game this season. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Expect Palmer to check in near the high end of this ownership tier, but with Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Matthew Stafford, and Blake Bortles also in great spots, he won’t exactly be a chalk play. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve seen Palmer return 4x value at this price tag, but the Eagles secondary has no chance at keeping up with all three of Arizona’s stud wide receivers, especially Michael Floyd and John Brown on the outside.
DeAngelo Williams - $6,600 vs. PIT
Williams is likely to be relatively low-owned (think closer to 10%) due to a matchup with the Broncos, who allow a league-low 3.3 yards per rush attempt. But if you look past the matchup and focus on the implied game script, few backs are in better spots this week. Pittsburgh is at home where they average 30.1 points per game (as opposed to 22.2 points per game on the road). They’re a six point favorite, with an implied team total north of 25 points. If the Steelers defense can get after Brock Osweiler half as well as the Raiders did last week, Williams will be set up with plenty of short fields and scoring opportunities. It’s worth noting, Denver has allowed the sixth-highest opponent rushing touchdown percentage this season. And even if Williams’ rushing totals are held in check, heavy involvement in the passing game is likely to bail him out.
LeSean McCoy - $6,300 @ WAS
McCoy’s disappointing 14.9 point performance in his big revenge game against the Eagles last week will cause his ownership percentage to dip. But he remains one of the few backs in the league who can be counted on for 20+ touches each week, which should result in success against Washington’s suspect run defense. In the five games a running back has taken at least 19 carries against Washington this season, they have allowed averages of 133.2 rushing yards (5.74 yards per attempt), and 0.6 rushing touchdowns per game. Washington has stiffened up against the run over their last three games, but that includes matchups against the Giants non-existent rushing “attack” and the Cowboys anemic offense. Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford combined for 137 total yards and a touchdown at Washington last week, proving the matchup remains exploitable.
A.J. Green - $7,900 @ SF
Green’s ownership percentage will get dinged due to Andy Dalton’s broken thumb, which is great news headed into a road matchup with the 49ers. San Francisco allows 7.7 yards per pass attempt (third-worst in the league) and A.J. McCarron has proven he’s not afraid to throw the ball downfield. The opportunity for chunk plays (like the 66 yard touchdown he caught from McCarron last week) should be there for Green, who warrants consideration any time he’s on the road. Since coming into the league, Green’s fantasy points per game increase by 50% in away games. Bump Green up another notch if Tyler Eifert is forced to miss this game with a concussion -- he stands to inherit at least a portion of Eifert’s team leading 27.6% red zone target market share.
Randall Cobb - $6,300 @ OAK
It’s no coincidence Cobb set season highs in targets (12) and receptions (eight) in Mike McCarthy’s first game calling the plays this season. Now that he’s been reinstalled as a focal point for the Packers offense, Cobb is in position to exploit Oakland’s talent-deficient coverage unit. The Raiders have allowed the most opponent red zone plays in the NFL this season and Cobb is the Packers top red zone target (29.5% target market share). Over the last four weeks, Cobb has only converted 17% of his red zone looks into touchdowns, which is roughly half of his career conversion rate. I expect we’ll see positive touchdown regression begin this week in a plus matchup with Raiders cornerback T.J. Carrie in the slot.
Odell Beckham Jr. - $9,200 vs. CAR
There’s certainly a chance Beckham’s six game string of 100+ yard receiving performances and endless number of SportsCenter highlights will raise his ownership percentage above 10%, but Josh Norman’s performance against opposing WR1s has been everywhere you looked this week.
CAR CB Josh Norman has allowed 89 COMBINED yards to DeAndre Hopkins, Mike Evans, T.Y. Hilton, Dez B & Julio Jones this season. Next up: OBJ.— Kimberly Jones (@KimJonesSports) December 16, 2015
When you combine that damning statistic with Beckham’s price tag ($500 more than the WR2, Antonio Brown) it’s a safe bet the crowd will fade him. There’s no questioning how great Norman has played this year, but I’m reminded of last season when Beckham went into Seattle and dropped a 7-108-0 receiving line on the Seahawks (beating Richard Sherman for a 44 yard gain in the process). We know the Giants are going to force Beckham the ball (his 29% target market share is roughly double Rueben Randle’s) and we also know he makes at least two catches every week that can’t be defended by anyone. The odds of a 30+ fantasy point game are admittedly low, but I wouldn’t bet against something within range of a 6-100-1 receiving line, which would do just fine if Beckham ends up 6.5% owned like he was in Thursday Fanduel GPPs.
Ben Watson - $4,800 vs. DET
Watson has developed into one of the most consistent fantasy tight ends. He’s finished with less than 9.3 fantasy points just once in his last six games, and has averaged eight targets per game over that span. The Lions rank 30th in pass defense DVOA to opposing tight ends and have let up the fifth-most fantasy points to the position this season. Detroit vs. New Orleans is tied for the week’s highest over/under (50.5 points) which indicates there will be plenty of passing game production to go around. Watson’s touchdown upside is substantial as well -- he’s seen 28% of the Saints red zone targets over the last four weeks and the Lions allow nearly four red zone scoring attempts per game (third-most in the league).
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Tom Brady ($7,800 vs. TEN), Charcandrick West ($4,800 @ BAL), Eddie Lacy ($5,200 @ OAK), Richard Rodgers ($4,300 @ OAK), Eric Ebron ($3,000 @ NO), DeAndre Hopkins ($8,500 @ IND), Allen Hurns ($5,600 @ JAX)
11% to 15% Projected Ownership
Blake Bortles - $6,100 vs. ATL
I would expect Bortles to be higher-owned than Carson Palmer and Tom Brady by virtue of his comparatively low price, but all three quarterbacks qualify as chalky plays this week. Bortles has now exceeded a 4x multiplier at this salary in three consecutive games and the setup is there to make it four in a row. As usual, Jacksonville’s awful defense, pass-happy game plan, and Bortles’ propensity for mistakes should guarantee at least 35 pass attempts. The Jaguars implied total sits at 26.5 points and 79% of their touchdowns have come via the pass this season. Atlanta has allowed the seventh-fewest fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but have faced a laughably easy quarterback schedule to this point.
Lamar Miller - $6,300 @ SD
After the first half of last week’s Monday night game, I would have told you Lamar Miller would be the most heavily-owned running back in Week 15. But after rushing for 69 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries in the first half, Miller saw only five carries the rest of the way. Dolphins Head Coach Dan Campbell blamed Miller’s puzzling lack of touches on an ankle injury (which Miller denies) and poor down & distance situations, both of which come off as lame excuses considering how often the team has mismanaged Miller’s workload this season. Coaching malpractice concerns and a fairly steep price tag (RB6) should cap Miller’s ownership ceiling headed into a dream matchup with San Diego. While the Chargers haven’t allowed a running back to top 60 yards on the ground in the last three weeks, they’ve still allowed 4.63 yards per carry over that span. If the heat Campbell has taken for not using Miller in the second half last week finally results in rational coaching, Miller has the upside to finish as the RB1.
Brandon Bolden - $3,200 vs. TEN
This may be shooting a bit high on Bolden’s ownership considering the crowd’s reluctance to trust the New England backfield, but is any running back in a better spot for fantasy production this week? The Patriots are projected to score over 30 points at home and beat the Titans by two touchdowns. LeGarrette Blount averaged 19.5 rushing attempts per game in the four games New England won by double digits this year -- those carries have to go somewhere. I won’t pretend to know exactly how the touches will be distributed between Bolden and James White, but Bolden’s 16 carries in Blount’s absence last week should count for something. At only $200 above minimum salary, any risk Bolden splits touches down the middle with White is mitigated by his cost (basically free).
Michael Floyd - $4,400 @ PHI
Floyd is the most glaringly mispriced player on the board this week, yet he may not exceed 15% owned due to the misguided theory it’s impossible to tell which Arizona receiver is going to have a big game from week-to-week. It’s time to recognize Floyd for the fantasy WR1 that he is. He’s gone over 100 receiving yards in four out of his last five games and scored four touchdowns over that span. The Eagles secondary is hemorrhaging fantasy points to wide receivers (10 wide receiver touchdowns allowed in the last five weeks) and their greatest weakness is on the outside, giving Floyd (and John Brown) the edge over more heavily targeted teammate Larry Fitzgerald.
Chiefs Defense - $3,700 @ BAL
Kansas City’s defense has scored less than 12 fantasy points only once since Week 7, and they get the mother of all matchups this week, regardless of who starts at quarterback for the Ravens. The only reason they won’t be the chalk play of the week at the position is because those paying up for a defense will be trying to get to Seattle.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Cam Newton ($7,800 @ NYG), John Brown ($4,900 @ PHI), Matthew Stafford ($6,100 @ NO), Sammy Watkins ($6,200 @ WAS), Ted Ginn Jr. ($4,600 @ NYG), Rob Gronkowski ($7,700 vs. TEN)
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 in a few spots with lower-owned players at other positions.
Russell Wilson - $7,000 vs. CLE
It could turn out Wilson, Cam Newton, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, and Matthew Stafford vulture enough of each other’s ownership to keep any of them from venturing into 16%+ territory, but I’d be mildly surprised if Wilson didn’t end up on about 20% of rosters. Wilson has strung together three consecutive 30+ fantasy point performances and has thrown a ridiculous 16 touchdowns (against zero interceptions!) in his last four games. With both Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls on the sidelines, Wilson will have no choice but to do the heavy lifting in this one. Seattle has an implied team total of nearly 29 points and is favored to win by 14.5, which suggests another huge performance is on the way against a defense that has allowed Philip Rivers (358-3-0), Carson Palmer (374-4-1), and Ben Roethlisberger (379-3-1) to go bonkers this season.
Adrian Peterson - $7,100 vs. CHI
The last time Peterson failed to rush for at least 100 yards against the Bears was on October 16, 2011 (six games). Peterson has handled nearly 48% of the Vikings offensive touches (carries plus receptions) this season, the heaviest workload in the league by a significant margin. He also has the third-most carries from inside the opposing team’s five yard line, but has converted only two of those 13 opportunities into touchdowns (15%). The league average conversion rate for goal line carries is 36%, which suggests Peterson could experience some positive touchdown regression before the year is out. With the Vikings hosting the Bears as five point favorites and projected for a solid 24 point team total, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Peterson’s third multi-touchdown effort of the season to go along with at least 100 rushing yards.
David Johnson - $5,700 @ PHI
Johnson’s price shot up $1,400 from last week, which is a strong indication he’ll be heavily owned, but make no mistake -- this is NOT the week to fade him. The Eagles have allowed nearly 58% more fantasy points per game to opposing running backs than the league average over the last five weeks. They’ve been especially bad defending running backs in the passing game, which suits Johnson’s skill set perfectly. Since Week 10, Philadelphia has allowed averages of 73 receiving yards and 0.8 receiving touchdowns per game to opposing running backs. A nuclear performance has been bubbling just under the surface for Johnson since he took over as Arizona’s starter and this is just the matchup he needs to break through.
Julio Jones - $8,500 @ JAX
Look for Jones to get right against the 27th ranked Jaguars pass defense (DVOA). Opposing wide receivers have had little trouble getting behind Jacksonville’s struggling secondary lately. Stevie Johnson went for 7-92-1 against the Jags in Week 12, followed by Dorial Green-Beckham (5-119-1) in Week 13, and T.Y. Hilton (4-132-0) last week. The Jaguars finally benched cornerback Dwayne Gratz in favor of Nick Marshall -- a converted college cornerback who had played just four snaps this season prior to Week 14. It was Marshall who got burned on Hilton’s 52-yard reception last week, and while Jones will primarily draw Davon House in coverage, he’ll see a bit of the inexperienced Marshall as well. After three consecutive games with less than 20 fantasy points, Jones should check in right on the borderline of this ownership tier, and possibly as low as 12%.
Golden Tate - $5,500 @ NO
At only $5,500, it's a safe bet Tate will be chalk play in a matchup with New Orleans' league-worst pass defense. Rostering Tate may feel a bit like point chasing since he's coming off a GPP-winning 28.5 point explosion, but there are reasons to think he can keep it up that have nothing to do with his great matchup. Since Week 10 (one game after Jim Bob Cooter took over play calling duties for Detroit), Jarvis Landry is the only receiver with more receptions than Tate's 36. Tate has been his usual remarkably efficient self over that span, hauling in 84% of his targets. He's scored at least 14.6 fantasy points in each of his last four games, making a 16.5 point cash game target score look more like a baseline projection, when you consider the soft matchup.
Jordan Reed - $5,900 vs. BUF
Reed is sure to be high-owned coming off a 30 fantasy point outburst against the Bears last week. His floor is always among the highest at the tight end position thanks to a steady stream of targets (at least eight in each of Washington’s last four games), and Reed’s ceiling should once again rival any tight end not named Rob Gronkowski due to his featured role in the red zone. Buffalo has struggled to defend tight ends in their last three games. Travis Kelce and Ryan Griffin caught touchdowns against them in Weeks 12 and 13 respectively, and Zach Ertz had five catches for 98 yards vs. the Bills last week. It helps Reed that this game is being played in Washington where Kirk Cousins and company average a full six more points per game than they do on the road.
Seahawks Defense - $4,200 vs. CLE
Johnny Manziel has been sacked 15 times in his four starts this season and is completing only 61% of his passes. Opposing defenses have averaged double digit fantasy points against the Browns in Manziel’s starts (even the 49ers awful defense managed eight fantasy points in a road against him last week). Here’s everything you need to know about the chances Vegas gives Manziel of having success in Seattle this week.
Seattle favored by more than Cleveland’s implied total. That’s… not typical.— Pat Thorman (@Pat_Thorman) December 14, 2015
Other recommended GPP/cash game plays in this ownership tier: Calvin Johnson ($6,900 @ NO), Denard Robinson ($4,600 vs. ATL), Doug Baldwin ($5,800 @ CLE), Jeremy Maclin ($5,500 @ BAL)