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|
|Nick Foles||< 5%||0.4%||6.32||1.24|
|Shane Vereen||< 5%||0.6%||7.2||1.67|
|Jonathan Stewart||< 5%||1.8%||15.5||3.88|
|Ted Ginn||< 5%||2.6%||15.2||4.61|
|Tavon Austin||< 5%||1.45||10.4||2.31|
|Nate Washington||< 5%||0.7%||36.7||12.23|
|Kyle Rudolph||< 5%||0.8%||9||2.90|
|Giants Defense||< 5%||2.4%||22||7.86|
|Chiefs Defense||< 5%||1.6%||12||4.44|
Moving on to this week’s slate...
5% Projected Ownership and Under
Eli Manning - $6,600 @ NO
Manning has been held under 11 fantasy points in each of his last two games, but is still priced the same as Philip Rivers and $600 more than Andy Dalton, who both rank as cumulative top-4 fantasy quarterbacks this season. It’s a safe bet Manning will get overlooked this week despite having the best match-up on the slate. No team has given up more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than the Saints. On the season, they’ve allowed over 20% more fantasy production to the position than the league average. The only quarterback who failed to score multiple touchdowns against New Orleans this year was Brandon Weeden. Vegas is expecting a shootout. They opened Giants vs. Saints with the second-highest over/under of the week (49.5 points), which reinforces Manning’s top-5 QB upside in this match-up.
Matt Ryan - $7,100 vs. TAM
Speaking of under-performing, overpriced quarterbacks, Matt Ryan hasn’t topped 20 fantasy points since Week 3, yet he’s still the third-highest priced quarterback on the Sunday-Monday slate. Very few entrants will be willing to pay up for Ryan, but his ceiling in a home match-up with Tampa Bay is QB1. The Bucs have been flame broiled in back-to-back games by Blake Bortles (303-4-1) and Kirk Cousins (317-3-0). Atlanta is favored by a touchdown, and has the second-highest implied team total this week (27.5 points). The Falcons’ league-low 37.5% passing touchdown percentage will begin normalizing at some point, and this seems like an obvious spot. Julio Jones looks back to full health, which has an obvious positive correlation to Ryan’s fantasy potential. You’ll recall Jones torched the Bucs at home last season for a 9-161-2 line in Week 3. Tampa Bay is once again struggling to contain the opposing team’s top wide receiver, ranking dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric vs. WR1s. A Ryan-Julio stack is cost prohibitive, but could pay huge dividends.
Kamar Aiken - $4,200 vs. SD
Aiken’s days of fantasy relevance are seemingly over now that Steve Smith and Crockett Gilmore have returned to Baltimore’s lineup. Last week, Joe Flacco threw the ball 40 times and Aiken only saw three targets. As a result, Aiken is certain to be less than 2% owned -- and deservedly so -- but he could be a sneaky play against San Diego. Last week, Aiken was on the field for 80% of Baltimore’s offensive snaps -- the most of any Ravens wide receiver -- so it’s clear playing time is not the issue. This week, Aiken figures to run the majority of his routes against Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers. Aiken has five inches and 28 pounds on Flowers, who has let up the most fantasy points per route defended this season according to Pro Football Focus. This recommendation is admittedly a high-risk dart throw, but if Flacco spots the mismatch, Aiken has a 20 point ceiling in a game with the highest over/under on the slate (50.5 points).
Jeremy Hill - $5,300 @ PIT
I wish I can tell you Hill is a pick rooted in deep statistical analysis, but this is way more of a gut call. The on-paper match-up with the Steelers rush defense is bad for Hill. Pittsburgh allows the eighth-fewest rushing yards per game to opposing running backs and the fewest rushing touchdowns per game. I’m willing to chance Hill in GPPs because Pittsburgh-Cincinnati has shootout potential (48.5 point over/under), and very few people will be willing to roster him. Those looking for a piece of the Cincinnati running game are far more likely to tab Giovani Bernard, who inexplicably costs $500 less than Hill and has consistently out-produced him all season. Pittsburgh’s league-leading 84.62% opponent passing touchdown rate has to regress at some point. And if this game turns out to be the close, high-scoring contest Vegas is suggesting, the game script favors Hill, who ranks top-9 in carries from inside the opponent’s 10-yard line.
Charles Sims - $3,600 @ ATL
Sims hasn’t seen his snap count decrease substantially below his season average of 43% during Doug Martin’s current three game heater. His continued involvement in Tampa Bay’s offensive game plan bodes well headed into a road match-up at Atlanta. With the Falcons favored by a touchdown at home, there figures to be more pass catching opportunity than usual for Sims, who had eclipsed 13 fantasy points in three consecutive games prior to last week’s letdown against Washington. Atlanta allows the third-most points to the running back position, and have struggled to contain backs who specialize in catching passees out of the backfield. The Falcons have let up the most receptions and receiving yards to the running back position this season, allowing Darren Sproles, Shane Vereen, Lance Dunbar, Chris Thompson, and Dexter McCluster to score between nine and 20 fantasy points via the receiving game.
Minnesota Vikings Defense - $3,100 @ CHI
If you’re looking for a low-owned pivot off the chalk defenses, I don’t think you can do much better than Minnesota this week. The Vikings can apply enough pressure (2.8 sacks per game) to force Jay Cutler into some trademark bad decisions. Pairing the Minnesota defense with Adrian Peterson is one of my favorite correlation plays of the week.
6%-10% Projected Ownership
Drew Brees - $6,700 vs. NYG
Brees is down $1,300 from his season opening price (and $300 from last week) despite playing well over the last four games. He’s coming off a disappointing 12.8 point showing at Indianapolis, but the Saints scored three rushing touchdowns and Brees only had to manage the game in the second half. As I mentioned in the Eli Manning blurb, Giants vs. Saints has major shootout potential (New Orleans’ implied total is 26.5 points). The Giants are ranked as a middle of the road pass defense, but Tony Romo (356-3-2) and Matt Ryan (363-1-0) lit them up to begin the season and they’ve faced a group of uninspiring quarterbacks since -- Kirk Cousins, Tyrod Taylor, Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford, Matt Cassel. This is a pass defense Brees can exploit, especially playing at home where his fantasy points per game increase by nearly 25% dating back to 2011.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - $5,200 @ OAK
Fitzpatrick ranks as the cumulative QB12 this season, yet he’s priced as the QB21 on DraftKings. There’s profit already baked into his price, especially considering this week’s opponent. Oakland has allowed at least 269 passing yards and two touchdowns to every quarterback they’ve faced this season besides Peyton Manning. 73% of the touchdowns they’ve allowed have come via the pass. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker should give the Raiders talent-starved secondary fits and propel Fitzpatrick to his third consecutive 20+ point performance.
Adrian Peterson - $7,400 @ CHI
Peterson was only about 8% owned last week -- a number that should remain relatively static (or even drop) after he underperformed for the second straight week. The Bears have been stingy against the run this season, but that’s probably more of a result of how easy it’s been for teams to beat Chicago through the air. Football Outsiders ranks the Bears 29th in their rush defense DVOA efficiency metric. I don’t expect the Vikings to deviate from their run-heavy approach (fifth-highest rush play percentage in the league), which will give Peterson plenty of opportunities to exploit the solid match-up. Touchdown progression is overdue for Peterson, who has never finished a full season without scoring double digit touchdowns. He only has three touchdowns this season despite leading the NFL in carries from inside the 10-yard line.
Jonathan Stewart - $4,100 vs. IND
Stewart is playing like the guy who led the NFL in rushing yards from Weeks 13-16 last season, but he’s priced like the guy who averaged 5.7 fantasy point per game from Weeks 2-4 this season. It seems clear Stewart is over the leg injury that hampered him early in the year. He’s eclipsed 20 carries in each of the last two games, combining for 203 rushing yards (4.61 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns against Seattle and Philadelphia -- two of the toughest rush defenses in the NFL. It’s scary to think what he’ll do with Carolina playing host to Indianapolis as a 6.5 point favorite. The Colts have let up 42.4% more fantasy points per game to running backs than the league average over the last three games. Stewart might lack the touchdown upside of most feature backs, but he’s capable of delivering a 4x return on investment via yardage alone for a second consecutive week.
LeVeon Bell - $8,300 vs. CIN
It seems like Bell’s price tag (RB1) and recent mini-slump are a turnoff to the public. Footballguy Justin Bonnema reports that Bell was only 5% owned in a large field tournament on FanDuel that began Thursday night. I’d expect higher ownership on DraftKings (full PPR), but there are enough value plays at running back and high end plays at receiver that you should still be able to roster Bell at fairly low ownership (think 10%-12%). The Bengals have given up a combined 6.11 yards per rush attempt to Jamaal Charles, Thomas Rawls, and LeSean McCoy over the last three games. Bell should have his usual 100 rushing yards and with Ben Roethlisberger likely to play, I expect his receiving production to bounce back. Since the start of last season Bell has averaged 5.29 receptions and 54.35 receiving yards per game over 17 games played with Roethlisberger, versus 3.75 receptions and 13.25 receiving yards per game in the four games Roethlisberger has missed.
Brandon Marshall - $7,600 @ OAK
Marshall has been the most consistent wide receiver in fantasy football, notching 100 receiving yards or a touchdown in all games but one this season. Now that he’s priced in the top tier of receivers and coming off his first subpar game, Marshall shouldn’t exceed 10% owned in a great match-up with Oakland. The Raiders employ the least talented secondary in the league and simply don’t have a cornerback capable of matching up with Marshall. He may not possess the 30 point ceiling you’re targeting at this price in GPPs, but I expect Marshall to reach 25 points for the fourth time this season without much trouble. The Raiders have allowed the second-most red zone plays per game in the league and Marshall’s 35% red zone target market share leads the Jets.
Demaryius Thomas - $7,700 vs. GB
It’s a safe assumption the crowd will be off Thomas this week. Peyton Manning’s struggles have made national headlines all season, there’s no shortage of highly productive wide receivers in great match-ups to choose from at this price point, and Thomas has consistently under-performed relative to his salary. The resulting buy-low opportunity is one I’m looking to take advantage of. Thomas is available for $1,400 less than his Week 1 salary, but his role as Denver’s WR1 remains intact -- his 31.78% target market share is the third highest in the league. The major difference for Thomas (besides Manning playing terribly) has been lack of involvement in the red zone. He’s only seen 17% of the Broncos red zone targets this season compared to 35% a year ago. It’s fair to expect some progression towards the norm in the touchdown department for Thomas, and the home match-up with Green Bay isn’t too scary. The only legitimate WR1s the Packers faced this season -- Keenan Allen and Jeremy Maclin (Alshon Jeffery played hurt in Week 1) -- torched them for a combined 22 catches, 298 receiving yards, and one touchdown.
11% to 15% Projected Ownership
Andy Dalton - $6,000 @ PIT
You have to wonder what else Andy Dalton has to do for DraftKings to price him appropriately. Dalton is the cumulative QB2 in terms of fantasy points per game, yet he’s priced as the QB13. He hasn’t returned less than 3x his current salary in any game this season. As I alluded to in the Jeremy Hill blurb above, Pittsburgh is far more susceptible to the pass than they are to the run. In addition to leading the league in opponent passing touchdown percentage, the Steelers are allowing opponents to complete over 68% of their pass attempts (fourth-highest rate), at a 7.3 yards per attempt clip (seventh-highest).
Chris Johnson - $4,600 @ CLE
There have been very few times in my life when I watched a sporting event and my brain failed to comprehend what my eyes were taking in. The Mike Tyson-Buster Douglas fight comes to mind. So does the Ron Artest melee in Detroit. Now I have to add this 26-yard Chris Johnson touchdown run to my list of incomprehensible sports moments. Johnson is running with undeniable toughness and burst this season and it’s showing up in box scores. He’s now eclipsed 80 yards rushing in four of his last five games, and while he has only found the endzone in two games this year, it’s fair to expect some positive touchdown regression. The only running back with more carries than Johnson from inside the 10-yard line since Week 3 is Devonta Freeman. No team has surrendered more fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season than the Browns, and Arizona is visiting Cleveland as a 4.5 point favorite with a 25.25 point implied team total. Don’t expect this to be the week Johnson comes crashing back down to Earth. He’s badly mispriced as the RB22.
Mark Ingram - $6,400 vs. NYG
If you’re looking to pivot off Todd Gurley ($6,300), or can’t find the salary to squeeze in Devonta Freeman or Le'Veon Bell, Ingram is in a nice spot for high-end production this week. The Giants began the year as a tough match-up for opposing running backs, but over the last three games they’ve given up 16.7 points to Carlos Hyde, 24.3 points to DeMarco Murray, and 27.2 points to Darren McFadden. Ingram is running strong this season (4.4 yards per attempt) and is always a threat to score multiple touchdowns. He ranks sixth in carries from inside the opponent’s 10-yard line, and the Saints have scored a league-leading 50% of their offensive touchdowns on the ground. Game flow should also be on Ingram’s side. New Orleans is favored by more than a field goal at home, in a game with an over/under approaching 50 points.
A.J. Green - $7,600 @ PIT
Green is a darkhorse to lead all wide receivers in scoring this week. Pittsburgh’s struggles defending the pass are well documented and Green is playing on the road, where his fantasy points per game increase by over 55%. Green figures to run the slight majority of his routes against Ross Cockrell, the only Steelers cornerback to receive a positive coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. But Cockrell is no one’s idea of a shutdown corner, and Green has a four inch height advantage on him. Since Green is used all over the formation, he should also see plenty of coverage from burnable corners William Gay and Antwon Blake.
Alshon Jeffery - $6,400 vs. MIN
Jeffery’s salary is still down $1,900 from Week 1 despite the fact he’s coming off a 31.7 point explosion in his last game, and had the bye week to rest his injuries. Simply put, he’s too cheap, too talented, and too heavily targeted to leave out of your lineups. The match-up with Minnesota’s secondary isn’t the best, but it’s certainly winnable for a receiver of Jeffery’s caliber. Calvin Johnson eclipsed 80 yards and scored a touchdown in both of his meetings with the Vikings this season and Keenan Allen obliterated Minnesota for 37.3 fantasy points back in Week 3.
Eric Decker - $5,300 @ OAK
All the negative stuff I wrote about the Raiders secondary when recommending Brandon Marshall also counts for Decker. At this point, it would qualify as a surprise if Decker didn’t catch a touchdown against Oakland. Decker’s 30% red zone target market share is just a hair under Marshall’s 35%, but Decker is converting those looks into touchdowns at an outstanding 50% clip. If you’ve been following Decker’s career, you know his touchdown scoring prowess is no fluke. Since 2010, only four wide receivers have caught touchdowns more frequently on a per target basis (min 350 targets). Cash game value is a lock for Decker and the match-up gives him the upside you’re looking for in tournaments.
Julio Jones - $9,200 vs TAM
We haven’t seen Jones pay off his exorbitant salary in tournaments for about a month, which should keep him in the 12%-15% ownership range. I’m not sure if Jones is completely over his hamstring injury, but he looked much better last week than he did at any point in the Falcons’ last four games. In fact, his 24 point performance against Tennessee could have easily been 35+ if he wasn’t called out of bounds on one touchdown catch and Matt Ryan hadn’t missed him on another scoring opportunity. In two games against the Bucs last year, Jones averaged 8.5 receptions, 140 receiving yards, and one touchdown.
Greg Olsen - $6,500 vs. IND
Olsen is the most expensive tight end on the Sunday-Monday slate, making him the default option for those looking to pay up at the position. Indianapolis’ defense is terrible in pretty much all facets, but Football Outsiders sees them as particularly bad at defending tight ends, ranking them 23rd in pass defense DVOA against the position. 82% of the Colts red zone touchdowns allowed have come via the pass, and Olsen dominates red zone looks in Carolina with a market share just over 39%. Indianapolis has also given up tight end touchdowns in consecutive weeks.
Seattle Defense - $3,700 @ DAL
I prefer my defenses to be playing at home, but I’ll make an exception for Seattle traveling to Dallas to take on Matt Cassel. We saw how quickly things can go south for Cassel last week when a far inferior Giants defense picked him off three times, including one for a touchdown. The Cowboys’ only hope is to keep the ball out of Cassel’s hands by establishing the run with Darren McFadden, but that seems unlikely given Seattle only lets up 3.7 yards per rush attempt
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 highly 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.
Philip Rivers - $6,600 @ BAL
The Chargers’ terrible defense and complete lack of a running game continues to put Rivers in dream scenarios for fantasy production. This week should be more of the same, as San Diego travels to Baltimore as three point underdogs in the game with the slate’s highest over/under (50.5 points). Outside of New Orleans, no team has been more generous to opposing quarterbacks than Baltimore. The Ravens have given up 30% more fantasy points than the league average to the position over their last three games, despite facing Colin Kaepernick and Josh McCown.
Todd Gurley - $6,300 vs. SF
Gurley still has the best projected point per dollar value on the slate despite his salary increasing by $1,300. Last week’s 19 carry, 128 yard performance qualified as Gurley’s worst rushing output in the Rams’ last three games, which tells you everything you already knew about how well he’s been playing. The Rams are an overwhelming eight point home favorite and projected to score over 24 points. I can’t imagine a scenario where St. Louis dominates the 49ers and Gurley doesn’t go off for the fourth consecutive week. He should be priced as a top-3 back, but you’re getting him as the RB9. Gurley will be the most popular play for a second consecutive week (think 50% owned), but he’s almost impossible to fade at this price.
Justin Forsett - $6,100 vs. SD
Forsett is medium-priced and gets to play the Chargers awful rush defense at home, in a game with a 50.5 point over/under. He’s handled over 40% of the Ravens touches this season (sixth-heaviest workload in the league) and has two touchdowns in the last three games. All the ingredients are there for Forsett to approach his 25-30 point ceiling in a match-up against the team allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.
Mike Evans - $6,800 @ ATL
Tampa Bay is a seven point road underdog at Atlanta in a game with a 48 point over/under. The Bucs got their doors blown off when they visited the Falcons last year, and it certainly wouldn't be surprising to see Atlanta ride Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman to a big lead this week. The projected pass-heavy game script for the Bucs, combined with Vincent Jackson's absence (knee), sets up Evans to lead the league in targets this week. Despite his 33 point Week 7 effort, Evans remains under-priced (down $900 from Week 1) due to his injury-induced slow start. With Jackson’s seven targets per game up for grabs, Evans is a must-play in all formats regardless of what should be an inflated ownership rate.
Martavis Bryant - $5,300 vs. CIN
Bryant has accounted for 60% of Pittsburgh’s passing touchdowns over the last four weeks, despite only appearing in two games. Dating back to last season (playoffs included), he’s scored an absurd 11 touchdowns in 13 games played. We’ve been waiting all year to see what Bryant can do with a full complement of snaps, catching passes from Ben Roethlisberger. He shouldn’t disappoint in a plus one-on-one matchup with Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Bryant has very real 35 point upside regardless of opponent -- just know his affordable price will land him on 20% of tournament rosters, or more.
Antonio Brown - $7,800 vs. CIN
Here’s Antonio Brown in three games with Ben Roethlisberger this year - 11.7 targets, 9.67 receptions, 145.33 receiving yards, 0.67 touchdowns. And here’s Brown with Michael Vick and Landry Jones - 7.75 targets, 4.25 receptions, 58.75 receiving yards, zero touchdowns. Take advantage of the last opportunity you’ll get to roster the PPR WR1 at WR5 pricing. There’s even a chance Brown’s last huge game is so far in the rear view, he checks in under 15% owned.
Stefon Diggs - $4,800 @ CHI
Despite a $700 price increase, Diggs’ current salary still doesn’t match his recent WR1 production. Diggs’ worst game this season was a six catch, 87 yard performance -- and that came in his first NFL game against the Broncos elite secondary. Since that time, he’s gone over six catches and 100 yards in back-to-back match-ups with the awful Kansas City and Detroit pass defenses. This week’s match-up with Chicago figures to be equally accommodating for Diggs. The Bears rank 26th in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA and have given up the fifth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season.
Tyler Eifert - $5,300 @ PIT
Eifert’s price is up $400 from last week, but he’s flashed a 30 point ceiling on more than one occasion, and the Steelers could help him get there again. Pittsburgh has allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season. Red zone monsters Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Gates abused the Steelers for five combined touchdowns in two games. Eifert leads Cincinnati in red zone targets and has converted a super-efficient 66% of his looks from inside the 20-yard line into touchdowns. Cincinnati trails only New England in offensive red zone snaps per game, and Pittsburgh has allowed the third most plays that began in the red zone this season. In other words, play Eifert this week if you like touchdowns.
Ladarius Green - $3,000 @ BAL
In four games without Antonio Gates this season, Ladarius Green has averaged 6.75 targets, 4.5 receptions, 54.75 receiving yards, and 0.75 touchdowns per game. That works out to about 16 fantasy points per game on DraftKings -- precisely the 5x return on investment you’re looking for in GPPs. Once Gates is officially ruled out, Green’s ownership will sky rocket, but I wouldn’t let that deter you from rostering him. Chargers-Ravens should be a shootout with plenty of passing game production to go around.
St. Louis Defense - $3,200 vs. SF
The Rams defense isn’t as underpriced as last week, but they cost significantly less than Arizona and Seattle (this week’s other high-end options), and they have a strong match-up for a second straight game. The 49ers implied total of 15.75 points is easily the lowest on the Sunday-Monday slate. Colin Kaepernick struggles with accuracy and is getting sacked 3.6 times per game -- the fourth-highest rate in the league. It’s recipe for disaster against a St. Louis’ defensive front averaging 3.8 sacks per game (second-most in the league).