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|
|Eli Manning||< 5%||3.7%||41||6.21|
|Matt Ryan||< 5%||6.8%||25.08||3.53|
|Kamar Aiken||< 5%||0.4%||12.2||2.90|
|Jeremy Hill||< 5%||0.9%||7.8||1.47|
|Charles Sims||< 5%||1.3%||7.6||2.11|
|Vikings Defense||< 5%||1.9%||8.0||2.58|
|Mark Ingram II||11%-15%||7.8%||15.9||2.48|
Moving on to this week’s slate...
5% Projected Ownership and Under
Aaron Rodgers - $7,400 @ CAR
It would be shocking to see more than 2% of the field pay up for Rodgers as the QB2 in a tough on-paper matchup with the Panthers -- especially after his disastrous 77 yard passing performance in a nationally televised game. But Rodgers is the best quarterback in the world, he’s likely to have a chip on his shoulder after getting embarrassed in the national spotlight, and the Packers are in a sneaky good spot this week. Carolina’s defense has to be a little worn out coming off an exhausting overtime win over the Colts on Monday night, and now they have to prepare to face Rodgers on a short week. Vegas has the Packers favored by 2.5 points on the road and their implied team total of 24.25 points suggests Rodgers still has his usual three touchdown upside. In a week where the masses will flock to Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Drew Brees, and Eli Manning, Rodgers is a high upside lineup differentiator.
Tyrod Taylor - $5,300 vs. MIA
At just $300 above the quarterback minimum, Taylor makes for the perfect cash game quarterback this week, but his target score in GPPs is only 21.2 points -- a number he’s exceeded in three of his last four games played. Rex Ryan expects Taylor to be back to 100% health coming off a bye week, and his matchup with Miami isn’t scary. The Dolphins have allowed over 270 passing yards and at least two touchdowns to Blake Bortles, Brian Hoyer, and Taylor himself this season (Week 3). If Sammy Watkins is out for this game, Taylor’s fantasy ceiling will be lowered a bit, but it’s a good spot regardless. The Bills are three point home favorites with an implied team total approaching 24 points.
Adrian Peterson - $7,300 vs. STL
I’ve listed Peterson in this space for weeks now with the expectation his touchdown totals are destined to progress towards the norm. The game plan hasn’t worked out very well, as Peterson has been stuck on three touchdowns since Week 4. I’m going back to the well one more time because Peterson will once again be low-owned due to his string of underwhelming fantasy performances. A great way to differentiate your lineups this week is to pay up for two running backs and Peterson is the second-most expensive on the slate. The matchup with St. Louis is less than ideal, but this game will be played in Minnesota where Peterson’s fantasy points per game have increased by over 40% this season. And I still believe bunches of touchdowns are coming. Peterson’s 15 carries from inside the opponent’s 10-yard line are second to only Devonta Freeman’s 18. At some point soon his conversion rate on those opportunities has to normalize.
C.J. Anderson - $4,100 @IND
Playing Anderson feels a little bit like chasing last week’s points, but he looked like the running back that dominated down the stretch last season on many of his runs against the Packers. There’s a real chance the Broncos bye week was exactly what he needed to get back to full strength, and if that’s the case, he’s priced well headed into a plus matchup with Indianapolis. In fact, Anderson’s price dropped $300 from last week because Week 9 pricing was released prior to the conclusion of the Sunday night game. Over the last three weeks, Indianapolis has allowed 56.3% more fantasy points per game to opposing running backs than the league average. With Gary Kubiak’s announcement Ronnie Hillman (also a good play at $4,600) will be the team’s starter, it’s a safe bet the crowd will take a wait and see approach on Anderson and opt for one of the backs in this price tier whose touches are easier to project (Darren McFadden, Jeremy Langford, Jonathan Stewart).
Emmanuel Sanders - $7,300 @ IND
Sanders is sure to be a forgotten man this week after posting a season-low 4.2 fantasy points in what was otherwise a get-right game for the Denver offense. Looking past Sanders due to one bad week is short-sighted. On the season, he has commanded 26.42% of Denver’s targets -- a market share that ranks just outside the top-10 in the entire league. Sanders has also accounted for about 43% of Peyton Manning’s passing touchdowns this season, which leads the Broncos by a significant margin. While Demaryius Thomas will have to contend with tough coverage from Vontae Davis, Sanders has a favorable matchup against Indianapolis cornerback Greg Toler. According to Pro Football Focus, Toler has given up the tenth-most fantasy points per route defended this season.
Randall Cobb - $6,800 @ CAR
If you believe Aaron Rodgers has sneaky potential in Carolina this week, it makes sense to stack him with Cobb whose price is at a season low. The discount is warranted (Cobb hasn’t topped double digit fantasy points since Week 3), but at least he looked healthy in last week’s nightmare match-up with Denver’s secondary. The Panthers’ cornerbacks are also unforgiving, but Cobb spends nearly all of this time in the slot, so he should avoid stud corners Josh Norman and Charles Tillman who line up primarily on the outside. Vegas is suggesting Rodgers will throw multiple touchdowns this week, and it’s a solid bet at least one goes to Cobb, who has accounted for a team-leading 35% of Green Bay’s red zone targets.
Marquess Wilson - $4,000 @ SD
I’ve targeted the under 5% owned wide receiver matched up against Chargers cornerback Brandon Flowers in each of the last two weeks and came away pleased with the results both times (Michael Crabtree in Week 7 and Kamar Aiken in Week 8). With Eddie Royal out for the Bears on Monday night, Wilson will start opposite Alshon Jeffery and see plenty of Flowers -- PFF’s leader in fantasy points allowed per route defended. Wilson has a ridiculous seven inch height advantage on Flowers. He’s a lock to win in jump ball situations, which should come in handy near the end zone. Considering the defensive attention Jeffery will command, it’s likely Wilson receives 6-8 targets from Jay Cutler, including some red zone looks.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins - $2,800 vs. NYG
Seferian-Jenkins will be a popular play among sharper entrants, but I don’t foresee casual players rushing to roster a tight end from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 2. This play is much more about the matchup than it is about Seferian-Jenkins. The Giants are allowing 57.8% more fantasy points per game than the league average to opposing tight ends this season. The only starting tight end to record less than six catches in a game against the Giants this season was Garrett Celek -- and even he had five catches, including one for a touchdown. With Vincent Jackson likely to miss a second straight game, Seferian-Jenkins steps in as the number-two passing game option for Jameis Winston, in a game that could easily turn into a shootout (47.5 point over/under). Just keep an eye on the injury reports to make sure Seferian-Jenkins will be active this week.
Philadelphia Eagles Defense - $2,700 @ DAL
Matt Cassel is completing under 58% of his passes and averaging a hideous 4.0 adjusted yards gained per pass attempt. I don’t love using defenses on the road, but I’ll take my chances with a well-rested Eagles unit that should apply enough pressure to force Cassel into some mistakes. It should help that linebacker Kiko Alonso will return for Philadelphia.
6%-10% Projected Ownership
Ben Roethlisberger - $6,600 vs. Raiders
Under normal circumstances, Roethlisberger might be the highest-owned quarterback on the slate. He’s playing at home (where his fantasy points per game have increased by 69% since the start of 2014), the Steelers are 4.5 point favorites with an implied team total over 26 points, and he’s matched up with the Raiders. Every quarterback Oakland has faced this season has allowed at least 260 passing yards. And with the exception of Peyton Manning, they all had at least two touchdowns as well. Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, and even Heath Miller present match-up nightmares for Oakland’s talent-starved secondary. The only reason Roethlisberger will check in around 10% owned is due to his disappointing first game back from injury last week and the availability of recent stud performers Philip Rivers and Eli Manning (both $6,900) at a similar price point. Roethlisberger’s upside in this matchup is QB1.
DeMarco Murray - $6,400 @ DAL
Murray is second on my list of high-priced running back lineup differentiators behind Adrian Peterson. With Mark Ingram II and Dion Lewis available at more or less the same price, no more than 4%-6% of entrants will play Murray despite the massive workloads he’s seen recently. Over the last three games, Murray has averaged 25 total touches per game and exceeded 24 fantasy points twice. Philadelphia is fresh off a bye and has had two weeks to prepare for Matt Cassel. They should be leading comfortably throughout, which sets Murray up with positive game script and the potential for a boatload of touches. And if revenge game narratives are your thing, Murray should be extra motivated to perform in his first visit to Dallas as a member of the Eagles.
Jonathan Stewart - $4,300 vs. GB
This week marks Stewart’s third consecutive appearance in this column, and he’ll remain here until his price tag meets his production. Over the last three games (which included two tough matchups with Seattle and Philadelphia), Stewart ranks as the cumulative RB8 on DraftKings, yet he’s priced as the RB25. The prevailing narrative that Stewart’s touchdown upside is capped by Cam Newton and Mike Tolbert is sort of a fallacy. Stewart’s three goal line touchdowns tie him with Mark Ingram II for the most from inside the opponent's 5-yard line over the last three games. And his four carries from inside the five tie him for fifth-most in the league over the same span. After watching the Broncos get their running game on track against the Packers, it’s hard to believe the Panthers won’t lean heavily on Stewart this week.
C.J. Spiller - $3,100 vs. TEN
It looks like we’ll finally get to see what Spiller can do with significant touches on the fast track in the Superdome. Khiry Robinson’s season ending leg injury points to a 60-40 split of the Saints backfield snaps between Mark Ingram II and Spiller. That would make it safe to project Spiller for 12-15 total touches in a plus matchup with Tennessee. At only $100 over the minimum, Spiller’s GPP target score is 12.4 points, which can be reached with about 40 rushing yards, five receptions and 40 receiving yards -- none of which seem like unreasonable projections. If the Saints-Titans game goes the way Vegas thinks it will (New Orleans are 8.5 point favorites and projected to score four touchdowns), there’s room for much more from Spiller, who remains one of the premier big-play threats in the league. There’s a chance Spiller checks in under 5% owned, but his combination of low salary and high ceiling make (especially on a full PPR site) are likely to draw people in.
Brandon LaFell - $3,200
LaFell is the clear number two wide receiver on the most prolific passing team in the NFL. He was in on 82% of the Patriots offensive snaps last week, and has seen a solid 15 targets in his two games since returning from injury. While LaFell hasn’t set the world on fire with his production just yet, he rebounded from a drop-filled season debut to catch four of seven targets for 47 yards against the Dolphins. Look for him to continue trending in the right direction against Washington. Vegas has the Patriots projected for nearly five touchdowns this week, and LaFell should draw Chris Culliver in coverage on the majority of his routes. Pro Football Focus grades Culliver as a bottom-12 cornerback on this this week’s slate.
Delanie Walker - $4,200 @NO
Walker is a bankable tight end for cash games, and also carries enough upside for tournament use. The absence of Kendall Wright opens up about six targets per game for the Titans. If Walker soaks up a couple of those looks, we can safely project him for eight to ten targets in a game Tennessee figure to be trailing the entire way. The Saints defense has been consistently beaten by tight ends this season -- Football Outsiders ranks New Orleans dead last in pass defense DVOA to the position. And if you’re into chasing narratives, new Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey was formerly the team’s tight ends coach.
11% to 15% Projected Ownership
Philip Rivers - $6,900 vs. CHI
Rivers’ salary is up $300 from last week, but he’s still slightly underpriced headed into a home matchup with Chicago. The Bears rank as a bottom-third unit in both opponent yards per pass attempt (11.1) and opponent passing touchdown percentage (70%). Rivers ranks seventh in the NFL with 7.91 yards per attempt and has accounted for a league-leading 90% of the Chargers offensive touchdowns. San Diego can’t run the ball and has one of the worst defenses in the league (over 28 points per game allowed), which should once again force Rivers to pass 40 times or more.
Eli Manning - $6,900 @ TAM
No one is tabbing Manning for another 40+ fantasy points, but he’s in play for 25+ in a matchup with the Bucs. Tampa Bay ranks 29th in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA metric (adjusted for down, distance, strength of schedule). They’ve allowed an average of 339 passing yards and three touchdowns per game to the combination of Blake Bortles, Kirk Cousins, and Matt Ryan in their last three games. Odell Beckham Jr.’s production has an obvious positive correlation to Manning’s, which is good news in this matchup. The Bucs have no one capable of defending Beckham, who should have a huge game and bring Manning along for the ride.
Chris Ivory - $5,900 @JAX
Ivory would be among the highest-owned running backs on the slate if not for a disastrous 15 carry, 17 yard Week 8 performance at Oakland. But contrary to popular belief, Oakland is one of the toughest matchups for opposing running backs. Football Outsiders ranks the Raiders top-5 in rush defense DVOA. This week’s matchup is a different story entirely. The Jets are at home, favored by 7.5 points, and facing an offense their defense should dominate. We’ve seen Ivory go berserk in similar situations against Cleveland and Washington earlier this season. Despite Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall, and Eric Decker being banged up, Vegas has the Jets projected for a solid 25 points. New York will have to lean on Ivory to have any chance at reaching their implied team total.
Martavis Bryant - $5,500 vs. OAK
Roethlisberger-Bryant is the highest upside stack of the week. There should be some recency bias resulting from Bryant’s four catch, 49 yard performance in Roethlisberger’s first game back that we can capitalize on. When I re-watched the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati game, there were at least two times I saw Roethlisberger flat out miss Bryant (including once on what could have been a long touchdown). There was also one play where Roethlisberger made a bad pre-snap read and forced the ball to Antonio Brown in double coverage rather than throwing it deep to an open Bryant. As long as Roethlisberger has shaken off the rust, both he and Bryant are in for huge days against an Oakland defense that’s allowed the fourth-most pass completions of 20+ yards per game this season.
Amari Cooper - $6,700 @PIT
The gamescript in Pittsburgh vs. Oakland has the potential to produce nuclear fantasy numbers from both team’s passing games (think Giants vs. Saints from last week). On the Raiders side, I prefer Cooper to his less expensive (and more recently productive) teammate Michael Crabtree despite Crabtree’s decisive edge in red zone targets. The only wide receiver with more yards after the catch than Cooper’s 309 this season is Julio Jones (356). Pittsburgh ranks as a bottom-third unit in yards after the catch allowed, and have struggled to contain the opposing team’s WR1 all season.
Antonio Gates - $4,700 vs. CHI
Gates predictably disappointed in his surprise return from a knee sprain, but still managed a passable four catches for 56 yards last week. The mediocre performance combined with in-game injury concerns should keep his ownership percentage reasonable. The extra night of rest should help his knee, and with no Keenan Allen, I expect Gates to hog targets in the intermediate parts of the field and in the red zone. At $1,800 less than Greg Olsen and $500 less than Jason Witten, Gates qualifies as a screaming value.
Atlanta Falcons Defense - $3,400 @SF
In Blaine Gabbert’s last stint as a starter in Jacksonville, he completed 48.8% of his passes, threw one touchdown against seven interceptions, and was sacked 12 times in three games. Yuck.
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.
Tom Brady - $8,500 vs. WAS
Washington fields one of the worst secondaries in the league. The Patriots are at home, favored by 14 points, and projected to score nearly five touchdowns. You might want to reserve Brady for cash games, but he’s got clear 35+ point upside to pay off his top-shelf price in tournaments.
Mark Ingram II - $6,500 vs. TEN
Ingram is among the busiest goal line backs in football, but Khiry Robinson had four carries from inside the opponent’s 10-yard line to Ingram’s three over the last two games. With Robinson out for the year, Ingram has nearly unrivaled multi-touchdown upside. Ingram has run well all season (4.5 yards per attempt) and he checks off all the boxes this week - he’s playing at home, his team is expected to win by a wide margin (8.5 points), the Saints have a high implied point total (28), and their opponent is not particularly difficult to run the ball against.
Devonta Freeman - $8,000 @SF
The 49ers have officially waved the white flag on their season, but fortunately for us they still have to play a game on Sunday. Blaine Gabbert’s non-existent pocket presence, woefully inaccurate arm, and awful decision making are guaranteed to land the 49ers defense in compromising situations all afternoon. This shapes up as an easy win for Atlanta, and Freeman should be the primary beneficiary as the Falcons dominate time of possession. Look for Freeman to find the end zone (at least once) for the first time since Week 6.
Odell Beckham Jr. - $8,800
Beckham was back to his otherworldly ways last week against the Saints, and this week’s matchup with Tampa Bay might be even better. The Bucs rank dead last at containing the opposing team’s WR1 per Football Outsiders. Even before Julio Jones predictably torched Tampa Bay last week, they had been lit up by Kendall Wright (4-101-1), DeAndre Hopkins (8-101-1), and Allen Robinson (7-72-2) this season.
Alshon Jeffery - $6,700 @SD
DraftKings has been painfully slow to raise Jeffery’s price despite his consecutive top-5 wide receiver finishes. As a result, it’s difficult to construct a lineup without him this week. Jeffery should see a lot of San Diego cornerback Jason Verrett in coverage, and while Verrett has a reputation as a tough matchup for opposing wide receivers, he’s actually let up the eighth-most fantasy points per route defended according to Pro Football Focus. Besides, Jeffery is five inches taller and 28 pounds heavier than Verrett -- he should continue to have no problem winning on contested catches.
Julio Jones - $9,300 @SF
You don’t need to be told to play Julio Jones at this point, but you might want to check out how opposing WR1s have performed against the 49ers this season courtesy of the Fantasy Douche from Rotoviz. Jones once again has the potential to be the week’s top overall fantasy scorer.
Heath Miller - $2,700 vs. OAK
Miller exploded for 10 catches and 105 receiving yards in Ben Roethlisberger’s return last week. In the three full games Roethlisberger has played this season, Miller is averaging 6.7 receptions, 68 receiving yards, and 0.33 touchdowns. It’s worth noting Le’Veon Bell missed about two and a half of those games. Without Bell in the lineup, Miller should remain a big part of the Steelers offense headed into a home matchup with the Raiders, who have given up the most fantasy points per game to tight ends. At a sub-3K price, entrants in search of salary relief will be looking Miller’s way.
New England Patriots Defense - $3,300 vs. WAS
Kirk Cousins is on the road in Foxboro as a two touchdown underdog. On the list of things that will not end well, this is right up there with investing your life savings in Blockbuster Video Stock circa 2010.
Other high-owned tournament options/cash game plays: Todd Gurley ($6,900 @MIN), Dion Lewis ($6,400), Antonio Brown ($8,100 vs. OAK), Julian Edelman ($8,200 @WAS), Michael Crabtree ($4,900 @PIT), Stevie Johnson ($3,200 vs. CHI), Rob Gronkowski ($8,000 vs. WAS)