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 $1.2 Million Flea Flicker Championship.
|Player||Projected % Owned||Actual % Owned||Fantasy Points||Value|
|Jameis Winston||< 5%||3.1%||19.8||3.6|
|Lamar Miller||< 5%||3.0%||17.7||2.77|
|Adrian Peterson||< 5%||14.3%||21.9||3.00|
|Nate Washington||< 5%||1.7%||13.2||4.13|
|Zach Miller||< 5%||14.5%||14.9||3.48|
|Bills Defense||< 5%||8.8%||11||3.44|
Moving on to this week’s slate...
5% Projected Ownership and Under
Aaron Rodgers - $6,800 vs. MIN
Trusting the Packers offense has gotten me in plenty of trouble this year, but I can’t resist rostering Rodgers at $1,800 less than his Week 1 price. Despite his struggles this year, Rodgers still ranks as the cumulative QB8 and Green Bay is in a great bounceback spot after getting slaughtered on the road in Arizona last week. The stench of that ugly loss will keep most entrants off Rodgers, but he’s playing at home (where his fantasy points per game have increased by 25% over the last two seasons), the Packers are favored to win, and their implied team total of 25 points is enough to allow for a big game. Minnesota’s pass defense is solid, but 76% of the touchdowns they’ve allowed this season have come via the pass (third-highest in the league).
Rashad Jennings - $3,700 vs. PHI
Jennings has quietly returned between 3.3x and 5.6x his salary in each of the last three weeks, yet his price has barely risen, making him one of the best point per dollar values on the slate this week. Philadelphia has let up a startling 64.3% more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the league average over the last five weeks. With the Giants at home, projected to score 27 points, and playing a Philadelphia team that just lost its head coach, Jennings has game script on his side. His 14.4 point GPP target score isn’t far removed from a baseline projection.
C.J. Anderson - $3,700 vs. SD
Owners will be hesitant to roster Anderson despite his affordable price tag due to timeshare concerns. But when Anderson has been healthy, he’s clearly been the Broncos best running back this season (see last Monday night’s 39-yard touchdown run for the most recent evidence). With Denver in a must-win game for the division title, it would be rational for them to lean on the players who give them the best chance to win -- specifically in the running game where San Diego struggles most on defense. Football Outsiders ranks the Chargers 30th against the run (DVOA) and Anderson was on his way to skewering them in Week 13 before getting hurt and leaving the game early (60 total yards on eight touches at halftime). Denver is at home, favored by more than a touchdown, and their implied team total is right on the cusp of the 24 point mark I typically look for, making Anderson a solid target based on projected game flow.
Brice Butler - $3,000 vs. WAS
Brice Butler shines when NFL games are meaningless and there isn’t a more insignificant game on the slate than Washington vs. Dallas. If you’re degenerate enough to play preseason DFS, you’ll surely remember Butler’s 2014 preseason campaign with Oakland, in which he led all wide receivers in touchdowns. Of course preseason stats are meaningless, but when they’re tied to a 6’3’’, 215 pound player who runs a sub 4.4 forty, they’re at least worth noting. Butler saw a career-high nine targets last week (4-74-0) and with Dez Bryant out, the Dallas coaching staff figures to give him another long look. Washington has an awful secondary to begin with, but given the likelihood they’ll rest their starters, Butler should be running his routes against backup corners -- a spot in which he’s excelled in the past.
Travis Benjamin - $4,100 vs. PIT
I’m not recommending heavy exposure to Benjamin, who hasn’t broken double digit fantasy points since Week 12, but I like him as a pivot off guys like Willie Snead and Tyler Lockett who figure to check in between 6%-12% owned. No team has allowed more fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season than the Steelers and they’ve been especially bad lately, allowing 10 wide receiver touchdowns in the last five weeks. When these teams met in Week 10, Benjamin went for 7-113-0. If Ryan Mallett and the Ravens practice squad receivers can burn the Pittsburgh secondary in a home game, I see no reason why Austin Davis and Benjamin (who connected for a 42 yard touchdown in Week 12) can’t do the same.
Will Tye - $4,000 vs. PHI
The crowd should be off Tye after a 5.8 point performance on Sunday night, especially considering his price came up $500 from last week. But the dud was Tye’s first in the last six weeks and over the last four games he’s (almost) tied with Rueben Randle as Eli Manning’s second-most targeted pass catcher. Philadelphia has covered tight ends well most of the season, but have slipped recently, allowing four touchdowns to the position since Week 11. In a game with the second-highest over/under of the week, Tye has as good a chance of finding the end zone as any tight end.
Titans Defense - $2,500 @ IND
When you adjust for strength of schedule, only the Cowboys have allowed more fantasy points to opposing defenses than the Titans, which makes the Indianapolis defense a fine play in this game (especially since they’re at home and curiously favored to win by six). However, Matt Hasselbeck has shattered into sharp fragments and Charlie Whitehurst was placed on IR, leaving Josh Freeman or Ryan Lindley to quarterback the Colts (yuck). The Titans defense may be terrible, but they are quite good at getting pressure (third-highest sack percentage in the league), which often leads to turnovers, especially against bad quarterbacks.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Sam Bradford ($5,300 @ NYG), Stefon Diggs ($4,600 @ GB)
6%-10% Projected Ownership
Matthew Stafford - $6,200 @ CHI
Stafford is the cumulative QB6 since Week 11, but his price (QB10) still hasn’t caught up to his recent production. Over the last four games, the Bears have let up good-to-great fantasy performances against an unlikely group of quarterbacks. Blaine Gabbert dropped 25.34 fantasy points on Chicago in Week 13, followed by Kirk Cousins (25.3), Teddy Bridgewater (32.94), and most recently Jameis Winston (19.8). Stafford’s floor is somewhere close to 3x his salary in this matchup. With Calvin Johnson looking healthier and Golden Tate playing much better since Jim Bob Cooter took over play calling for the Lions, Stafford’s ceiling is 25+ fantasy points.
Darren McFadden - $4,900 vs. WAS
McFadden has rushed for at least 100 yards (OK, 99) in each of his last three games despite the Cowboys otherwise dysfunctional offense. Washington’s 23rd ranked run defense (DVOA) is suspect as it is, and they figure to be playing second stringers for most of the game. If Dallas is going to win (they opened as a three point favorite) it won’t be because Kellen Moore throws the ball 40 times. McFadden has handled 36% of the Cowboys’ touches (carries plus receptions) in his starts this year, which is the seventh-largest workload share in the league. If the game goes according to script, he’s a lock for 20-25 total touches, making him one of the strongest dollar per touch values on the site.
Eddie Lacy - $4,500 vs. MIN
The maddeningly inconsistent Lacy got back in our good graces with some hard running (88 total yards on 13 touches) in a blowout loss to Arizona last week. Although it’s been a month since he’s strung together two good games in a row, I’m willing to chance Lacy at relatively low ownership in a home matchup with Minnesota. The Vikings have a borderline bottom-third rush defense (DVOA) and Lacy had one of his better games this season (22-100-0) in the Packers 30-13 Week 11 win at Minnesota. While the Packers should be playing with a little extra pride coming off such a one-sided loss, the Vikings could be primed for a letdown following their lopsided victory over the Giants Sunday night. These could very well end up famous last words, but “I’m all in on the Packers offense this week”.
Eric Decker - $6,500 @ BUF
The Jets are among the teams who will be playing with the greatest sense of urgency, so it makes sense to have some exposure to all of their fantasy relevant players. Personally, I’ll have the most Decker, who comes $1,400 cheaper than Brandon Marshall and has every bit as much touchdown upside. Decker is the most heavily targeted red zone receiver in football, and at 6’3’’, 214 pounds, he poses a complete physical mismatch for Buffalo slot corner Nickell Robey who goes 5’8’’, 165. When these teams met in Week 10, Decker went for 6-85-1 on 11 targets.
Michael Floyd - $5,200 vs. SEA
Floyd has been one of the best values on DraftKings for about the last 10 weeks, and while his price is the highest it’s been since Week 1, it still doesn’t properly reflect his floor or ceiling. The matchup with Seattle’s secondary will be enough to put casual players off Floyd, but he was able to burn the Seahawks for a 7-113-2 line on the road in Week 10. This time around Floyd is at home, in a game the Cardinals need to win for a chance to be the top seed in the NFC, and he figures to match up with the burnable Deshawn Shead on the majority of his routes. Pro Football Focus grades Shead as the fifth-worst cornerback on this week’s slate. There’s some concern Arizona could pull their starters if they get out to an early lead (or they’re scoreboard watching in the Carolina game), but Bruce Arians says it will be all hands on deck. Make sure to monitor the knee injury that forced Floyd to miss practice on Wednesday and Thursday. If Floyd sits, J.J Nelson becomes an excellent punt play and John Brown gets a bump as well.
Zach Miller - $4,600 vs. DET
Miller predictably saw a season-high eight targets in the absence of Alshon Jeffery last week, which he parlayed into a respectable seven catches for 69 yards. He’s in a great spot to build on that performance against a Detroit team that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends over the last five weeks. With Jeffery, Martellus Bennett, and Marquess Wilson on IR, Jay Cutler literally has no choice but to continue feeding Miller, who has a little extra touchdown upside this week. Detroit allows 3.8 red zone scoring attempts per game, which is third-highest in the league. Like Floyd, Miller missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Pay close attention to his status leading up to the game.
Steelers Defense - $3,500 @ CLE
As tough as it is to trust the Steelers defense on the road after they made Ryan Mallett look like a world beater in Baltimore last week, I’m going back to the well. In Austin Davis’ only other start this year, the opposing defense (Cincinnati) racked up three sacks, an interception, and a fumble recovery while holding the Browns without a touchdown (16 fantasy points). The Steelers average 2.7 sacks per game (fourth-most in the league) and Cleveland allows 3.1 sacks per game (third-highest in the league), which doesn’t bode well for Davis. Pittsburgh will also be plenty motivated to bounce back from last week’s embarrassing loss with their playoff lives on the line.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Blake Bortles ($6,700 @ HOU), Ryan Fitzpatrick - $5,400 @ BUF, Brian Hoyer ($5,100 vs. JAX), Keshawn Martin ($3,000), Nate Washington ($3,600 vs. JAX), Chiefs Defense ($4,000 vs. OAK)
11% to 15% Projected Ownership
Tom Brady - $7,400 @ MIA
The Dolphins might not have the worst defense in the league, but it’s close. Before facing off with a hobbled Matt Hasselbeck and ice cold Charlie Whitehurst in Week 16, the last four quarterbacks to face the Dolphins (Philip Rivers, Eli Manning, Matt Schaub, and Ryan Fitzpatrick) combined to average 308 passing yards and three touchdowns per game. The Patriots need a win to secure homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs and Brady has said New England will go all out to ensure the road to the Super Bowl goes through Foxborough. The only playing time concerns for Brady would come if the Patriots are completely blowing the doors off the Dolphins by the third quarter (which is admittedly a possibility).
James White - $5,000 @ MIA
Over the last four weeks, White has seen a team-high 21.3% of the Patriots targets and scored a touchdown in every game. New England should be able to move the ball however they want to against the Dolphins, so if recent history is any indication White should have plenty of opportunity to attack a defense that has allowed 42% more fantasy points per game to opposing running backs than the league average over the last five weeks. Miami has also allowed a league-high eight receiving touchdowns to running backs, including three to Danny Woodhead two weeks ago. On the chance this game does turn into a blowout, Brandon Bolden (who has played the most running back snaps for New England in each of the last three games) makes for an interesting lower-owned pivot off White.
Danny Woodhead - $5,000 @ DEN
A repeat of Woodhead’s Week 15 four touchdown explosion isn’t happening, but it was encouraging to see him follow up that performance by playing a season-high 64% of the Chargers running back snaps and scoring 18.8 fantasy points last week in Oakland. With Melvin Gordon on the shelf, San Diego should continue to feature Woodhead against a Denver team that has allowed Theo Riddick, Marcel Reece, Charcandrick West, and Brandon Bolden to rack up double digit fantasy points via catches and receiving yards alone. The Broncos are favored by more than a touchdown on the road, which points to a favorable game script for Woodhead as the Chargers play from behind.
Jeremy Maclin - $6,400 vs. OAK
Over the last four weeks Jeremy Maclin has very quietly led the league in both target market share (39%) and red zone target market share (83%). Unfortunately, Maclin only ranks as the cumulative WR12 over that span because the Chiefs haven’t had to throw very much. While the game script (Kansas City - 6.5 at home) once again calls for a run-heavy approach, Oakland’s talent-starved cornerbacks don’t match up well with Maclin. When these teams met in Week 13, Maclin abused the Oakland secondary for a 9-95-2 receiving line on 10 targets. Andy Reid has played it coy about resting his starters, but unless Denver is crushing San Diego and Reid is scoreboard watching, they should go all out on this game to clinch the AFC West.
Martavis Bryant - $5,300 @ CLE
By my math Bryant was undervalued by at least $1,400 last week, so I’ll gladly jump at the opportunity to roster him at lower ownership now that his price has dropped another $300. It’s true Bryant was awful last week, but so was Ben Roethlisberger and the entire Steelers team. Pittsburgh needs a win to keep their playoff hopes alive, and I expect them to come out guns blazing against an overmatched Browns defense. Cleveland ranks 28th in pass defense DVOA, and 24th to opposing WR2s. Bryant’s primary one-on-one matchup will be with Tramon Williams, who has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points per route defended, according to Pro Football Focus. A 100+ yard, multi-touchdown performance is always in Bryant’s range of possible outcomes which is not something that can be said of many receivers in the $5,000 to $6,000 range.
Patriots Defense - $3,200 @ MIA
I’m having a hard time envisioning anything other than the Dolphins getting drubbed by the Patriots. Miami has looked listless recently, losing back-to-back games against the lowly Chargers and injury-decimated Colts. As previously mentioned, the Patriots need a win to secure homefield throughout the playoffs and it’s doubtful Miami will offer much resistance.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Ben Roethlisberger ($6,900 @ CLE), Eli Manning ($5,600 vs. PHI), Todd Gurley ($7,400 @ SF - if he plays)
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.
Cam Newton - $7,500 vs. TAM
Truth be told, I’m not sure any quarterback will tie up this much traffic in Week 17, but Newton will be relatively high-owned -- even as the highest priced quarterback on the slate. Carolina is gunning for homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, so motivation isn’t an issue. The matchup is agreeable enough -- Tampa Bay’s 25th ranked pass defense (DVOA) has made Matt Hasselbeck and Case Keenum look good in recent weeks. Vegas is confident in a return to form for Newton and the Panthers. Carolina has the week’s highest implied point total (29 points) and Newton has accounted for 84% of the team’s 49 touchdowns this season. There’s also the matter of Newton’s home/road splits...
Cam Newton's fantasy finishes in home games this year: QB4, QB3, QB14, QB12, QB1, QB1, QB5.— Evan Silva (@evansilva) December 31, 2015
Devonta Freeman - $7,600 vs. NO
By now you’re surely aware the Saints defense is one of the worst in recorded history and Devonta Freeman is having a ‘pretty good’ fantasy season. Expect Freeman to go about 30% owned in large field tournaments -- for good reason. New Orleans has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing running backs and have been especially bad over the last five weeks (39% more fantasy points per game to running backs than the league average). The Falcons are projected to score 28 points, and no one will have a greater opportunity to contribute to that implied total than Freeman, who has handled 39.5% of Atlanta’s total touches in his starts this season (fifth-highest workload share in the league).
DeAngelo Williams - $7,100 @ CLE
Williams is coming off a GPP winning 35.3 point performance, so he’s sure to check in on at least 25% of rosters. It’s still worth having heavy exposure to him against Cleveland’s 28th ranked run defense (DVOA) in a game Pittsburgh is projected to win by double digits. Williams’ touchdown upside might be the highest of any running back in the league, especially given Pittsburgh’s 28.5 point implied team total. He leads the league in both carries and touchdowns from inside the opponent’s 10 yard line. Cleveland has allowed 75 plays from inside their own 10, which is good for sixth-most in the league.
Julio Jones - $8,500 vs. NO
There’s not much explanation needed here. Jones is 16 catches shy of the all-time record for receptions in a season, and he’s matched up against the worst secondary in existence. You can’t go wrong by spending up for Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, or DeAndre Hopkins this week, but Jones has the best setup of them all. He’s at home, the Falcons have the third-highest implied team total on the slate, and he’ll run the majority of his routes against Brandon Browner, Pro Football Focus’ lowest graded cornerback by a mile.
Odell Beckham Jr. - $9,000 vs. PHI
Speaking of wide receiver-cornerback mismatches, Beckham will be “defended” by some combination of Eric Rowe and E.J. Biggers, both of whom make their respective livings getting burned on the perimeter (Byron Maxwell -- who also stinks -- looks like he’ll miss another game with a shoulder injury). Beckham was on an absolute tear prior to his Week 15 meeting with Carolina (six straight 100+ yard games), and he should be motivated to reverse the narrative swirling around him in the wake of his one game suspension. In a game where defensive stops figure to be hard to come by (51 point over/under), Beckham’s ceiling is as high as it’s been all season.
Zach Ertz - $3,600 @ NYG
Ertz’s price has got to be a mistake. He ranks as the TE2 over the last three weeks, yet he’s available as the TE13. No one will be sleeping on Ertz after his second consecutive 20+ fantasy point performance, but he’s too great a value to pass up, even at close to 40% ownership. The Giants have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season, and they’ve been especially bad lately (41% more fantasy points allowed to the position than the league average over the last three weeks). If Eagles-Giants shoots out as expected, Ertz’s tremendous target volume (30 over the last two games) will provide him with the opportunity to lead all tight ends in scoring.
Other recommended GPP/cash game plays in this ownership tier: David Johnson ($6,000 vs. SEA), Tre Mason ($3,000 @ SF - if Todd Gurley sits), Antonio Brown ($9,300 @ CLE), DeAndre Hopkins - $8,400 vs. JAX, Doug Baldwin ($6,700 @ SEA)