For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. FootballGuys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.
Eli Manning (Primarily GPP, Salary: $7400). The Dallas Cowboys lost the best coverage cornerback in August when Orlando Scandrick went on injured reserve with a torn ACL and MCL; that leaves Brandon Carr to try to cover Odell Beckham, a task he failed last year over the course of two games where Beckham burned him for 6 catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns on only 8 targets...expect more of the same to open 2015. Furthermore, the Cowboys will continue to push out 2012 first-round bust, Morris Claiborne, against Rueben Randle, who has exhibited immense upside in his career. Finally, the gamescript sets up well for Manning, as the Giants will likely be playing from behind in a high-scoring contest; he is rarely a high-owned QB, so Eli merits consideration for your GPP rosters this weekend.
Carson Palmer (Primarily GPP, Salary: $6500). Before getting injured last season in Week #6, Palmer was quietly putting up massive numbers for the Cardinals; he was on pace to throw for ~4300 passing yards and 30 touchdowns, which would have ranked him as the QB8, just behind Aaron Rodgers. Because we have not seen him on a field since early November, it is easy to forget how good Palmer can be. This year, his targets consist of an aging, but consistent, future Hall of Famer in Larry Fitzgerald and an up-and-coming big play threat, John Brown (Michael Floyd is nursing a finger injury, but is another boon to the passing offense if he suits up on Sunday). Meanwhile, Palmer gets a nice matchup against a Saints' secondary that was already suspect before losing Keenan Lewis and PJ Williams to injuries this Fall. This is a great matchup and Palmer will likely go underowned, making him a prime play for your Millionaire Maker roster.
Jameis Winston (GPP only, Salary: $6000). Jameis Winston could not have asked for a better opponent with which to make his NFL debut. The Tennessee Titans' secondary is downright dreadful; they ranked in the bottom five in WR coverage last year and have only gotten worse in the off-season, as their most talented coverage cornerback, Devin McCourty is currently sidelined with a groin issue. That leaves Blidi Wreh-Wilson to match up against the likes of Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, two receivers who are capable of embarrassing Wilson on every play. The only thing that will keep Winston from throwing for 300 yards on Sunday is the gamescript--if the Bucs jump to an early lead, we may see a heavy dose of Doug Martin, who looked good in camp...but if you believe the Titans can score a few touchdowns to keep the game close, Winston could be a sneaky GPP selection.
Sam Bradford (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6900). Sam Bradford was impressive in August; he finished the preseason completing 13 of 15 passes for 156 yards and three touchdowns. To open the season, Bradford gets a sweet matchup against a Falcons' secondary that ranked 31st in FootballOutsiders' DVOA metric in 2014. The Eagles' offense is the fastest paced offense in the league and Bradford should get plenty of opportunities to put up fantasy points on Monday night in Atlanta, where Matt Ryan tends to play his best football; this game could go into a shootout mode with both teams trading blows and Vegas does not disagree, as the game has the highest total on the entire NFL slate. At a modest $6900 salary, Bradford only needs 21 points to reach value for cash games, which is entirely reasonable given the likely gamescript and plus matchup.
Tyrod Taylor (Primarily cash games, Salary: $5000). If you want to save salary with your cash game quarterback, look no further than Tyrod Taylor at minimum salary. Ordinarily, you will not find many (any?) minimum salary quarterbacks recommended in this space, simply because it is often the shark move to spend more at the QB position because it is the more predictable position in the NFL (least variant). However, Tyrod Taylor appears to be an exception this week because he has several factors to his advantage: 1) he is fast...he should finish the day with 40-60 rushing yards, which is equivalent to a passing touchdown or more and 2) he is facing a team that can put up points in a hurry and could pressure his team into trying to keep pace via the passing game. To achieve cash game value, Taylor needs only 15 fantasy points, which is 200 passing yards, 40 rushing yards, and a touchdown in some phase of the game...should be no problem.
Adrian Peterson (Primarily GPP, Salary: $7700). Do you think Adrian Peterson is ready to play football after watching a year of it on his television?? Drama aside, Adrian Peterson was one of the best running backs in football before his suspension last season and there is no reason to think he will not pick up where he left off this Sunday against the 49'ers. The Niners have a reputation for being a good defensive team, but 2015 may yield different results with a squad that lost their two starting defensive ends and four linebackers in the off-season. It is for that reason that the Vikings, under second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater, open their season as 3-point away favorites; you can bet that Adrian Peterson will touch the pigskin 20 times on Sunday, which could bode well for his fantasy prospects. At a $7700 salary, Peterson is at the upper end of the RB salary tier and will be underowned because most will gravitate towards Eddie Lacy at $200 less...but for GPP tournaments, Peterson represents the shark play with similar upside and lower ownership.
DeMarco Murray (GPP only, Salary: $6700). Murray will make his debut against the Falcons, who painfully logged the league's worst rushing touchdowns allowed total (21) in 2014. For his part, Murray had an outstanding year last year behind a Dallas Cowboys' offensive line that was ProFootballFocus' top-rated rush blocking line...but guess what offensive line was the second-best in blocking for their running backs? Yep, the Philadelphia Eagles. Murray loses nothing in the move from Dallas to Philadelphia, except for about a hundred carries this season; he will still be heavily-used and is the likely goal line back. Add in the game script (Eagles favored by three points and slated to score four touchdowns) and Murray could be a very sneaky GPP play, as most DFS pundits are focusing on the passing game in this matchup.
Doug Martin (Primarily GPP, Salary: $4500). Just a few paragraphs above, you'll see that Jameis Winston is recommended as a GPP play because of how bad the Titans' secondary appears on paper. Guess what? ...their defensive front seven are equally bad, coming off a year where they ranked 31st against the run and just recently losing their nose tackle to MCL surgery. A slimmed-down Martin dazzled in the preseason, averaging nearly 6.0 yards per carry; if the Bucs decide to lean on him in this game due to gamescript or just because he is successful against that depleted Titans' defense, Martin could easily achieve GPP value (18 fantasy points).
Eddie Lacy (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7500). Eddie Lacy appears to be the preeminent cash game play for running backs this week. He enters the game as the bellcow running back for a team slated to win by a touchdown and score over 28 points. With several key pieces of the defensive line not returning from an already depeted defensive front, the Bears do not look to have the personnel to stop Eddie Lacy. There is virtually no way that Lacy touches the ball less than 18-20 times in this game and a touchdown is highly likely, making him a solid play for both cash and GPP formats on opening weekend.
C.J. Anderson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7000). For the past few years, Peyton Manning has started the season like a man possessed, only to falter when his team needed him most during the playoffs. Enter new Head Coach Gary Kubiak, who has implied that he will change the offensive workloads in Denver by going to a run-first offense to take advantage of his solid defense and to keep the 39-year old Manning fresh throughout the season. Anderson emerged as the clear workhorse RB in this offense in training camp and will not lose (many) carries to backup, Ronnie Hillman. Anderson may have his work cut out for him against a perenially-strong Ravens front seven, but his workload, the gamescript, and the Vegas total all point towards him reaching value for DFS contests on Sunday.
Lamar Miller (Primarily cash games, Salary: $5500). Miller finished up his 2014 campaign with a string of strong performances and the Dolphins rewarded him with at least 15 touches in each of his last five games; he enters this season as the lead back and should see a similar workload against the Redskins on opening weekend. The Redskins added several key players to their defensive front in the off-season and look to be much improved, but Miller's projected usage combined with his modest salary and positive gamescript make him a solid cash game play. If he gets 80 yards rushing, a few receptions, and a touchdown, he will reach value; in other words, his floor is fairly high, although his ceiling may be somewhat limited (which is why he is listed as primarily a cash game play here).
Chris Ivory (Primarily cash games, Salary: $4100). On the low end of cash game RB options, Chris Ivory deserves your consideration. Ivory is an underrated runner, who has a lifetime 4.7 yards per carry average despite playing the bulk of his career for a terrible offensive coach (Rex Ryan). This season, Ivory is projected as the bellcow running back under first-year coach Todd Bowles, who is reportedly impressed with Ivory's quickness and agility. Last season, Ivory was PFF's third most elusive running back, a metric that underscores a runner's ability to elude tacklers when blocking is poor; this season, Ivory has been seen playing a bigger role in the passing game, which gives him a big boost on a PPR site like DraftKings. Add in the tasty matchup against a Browns' squad that was dead-last in rushing yards allowed last year and Ivory is one of the best cash game plays on opening weekend.
Vincent Jackson (Primarily GPP, Salary: $6000). Above, Jameis Winston was recommended as a GPP play against the terrible Titans' secondary. The obvious question is with which receiver to pair Winston? While most people will likely hitch their trailers to Mike Evans, and for good reason, it might be a sneakier play to use Vincent Jackson instead. Why? Because Mike Evans has been battling a hamstring issue for a little over a week now and, while he says he will play on Sunday, it would not be surprising to see him used primarily as a decoy while Vincent Jackson capitalizes on the single coverage by untalented defensive backs. VJax is a savvy veteran who has multiple touchdown upside on any Sunday; he will be underowned despite that upside, which is why he will be in a decent percentage of my Millionaire Maker lineups Sunday.
Rueben Randle (GPP only, Salary: $5100). Like Vincent Jackson, Rueben Randle is going to benefit from his opposing WR1 taking away a lot of the defensive attention from him. In Randle's case, the Cowboys are going to do whatever they can to keep Odell Beckham at bay (an unlikely endeavor), which should open up Randle for single coverage against the likes of Morris Claiborne, who has logged negative coverage ratings on ProFootballFocus for two consecutive years. Like all good GPP plays, Randle is risky, but will be extremely underowned and possesses multiple touchdown upside. Boom or bust.
John Brown (Primarily GPP, Salary: $4500). John Brown has a plain name...but he does not have an ordinary skill set. Brown is lightning fast, clocking his 40-yard dash at 4.34 seconds, which was good enough for third fastest behind Brandin Cooks and Dri Archer in last year's combine. That speed was used to his advantage in 2014, as Brown was 13th in the league in average depth of target, a metric used to measure how often a receiver is targeted with deep passes; players with large ADoT's tend to be great GPP plays because, when they catch the ball, they tend to gain yardage in big chunks. With a better quarterback throwing the ball to him, poor coverage on the other side, and his rookie season under his belt, expect John Brown to be featured in this column often, particularly if his salary stays reasonable.
Brandon Coleman (GPP only, Salary: $3000). A deep GPP play, Coleman will be less than 2% owned in GPP's on Sunday. He is included here because Drew Brees lost his 6'7" redzone target monster (Jimmy Graham) to the Seahawks in the off-season and somebody is going to have to fill that role. The rookie out of Rutgers is a big target at 6'6" and will likely get most of his time on the field where it counts most: In the redzone. At minimum salary, Coleman represents the purest form of GPP play and he is worth consideration because he needs only 12-15 points to achieve value in larger tournaments; if you roster him, you are basically taking a bet that he will score a touchdown on Sunday...decide accordingly.
Odell Beckham (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $9200). The Cowboys had no answer for Odell Beckham last November when he made his charge into the league and they were better equipped to cover him at that time; since then, Dallas lost their best coverage cornerback (Orlando Scandrick) to injured reserve, which means that a combination of Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne will be tasked with shadowing Beckham on Sunday night. Las Vegas odds suggest that the Giants will need to air the ball out to keep up with the Cowboys, which plays to Beckham's favor; considering that Beckham scored four touchdowns against the Cowboys last season when Scandrick was healthy, there is little reason to believe that this current unit will be able to slow him down. Odell Beckham represents a solid cash game value and has the type of upside that plays well in GPP format, too.
Jordan Matthews (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7200). Chip Kelly runs a lot of plays. Last season, no team ran more plays than the Philadelphia Eagles; for that reason, the Eagles' skill players make for good fantasy fodder because they have increased opportunity. On Monday night, the Falcons will play host to the uptempo Eagles in a game that Vegas is projecting as a shootout. If both quarterbacks throw the ball often, you can bet that Jordan Matthews will be Sam Bradford's primary target; Matthews will line up out of the slot against the Falcons' Phillip Adams, who was volatile last year while with the Jets. Meanwhile, rookie Nelson Agholor will likely draw tough coverage from Desmond Trufant, who is one of the league's best coverage corners, which means that Bradford may be locked into Matthews all night. With a full PPR scoring, Matthews is a solid cash game play simply because he should see 10 targets and will catch a significant number of them as a possession receiver. Given that the Eagles are projected to score 28+ points, it is difficult to envision a scenario whereby Matthews does not catch 6-8 passes for 80+ yards and a touchdown...which would be good enough to reach cash game value.
Jarvis Landry (Primarily cash games, Salary: $5600). Another possession receiver worth your attention in cash games is the Dolphins' Jarvis Landry. Landry was targeted 111 times in his rookie season last year and is the only returning receiver in Miami's progressive passing game; Mike Wallace (115 targets), Charles Clay (84 targets), Brian Hartline (63 targets), and Brandon Gibson (51 targets) have all left for new teams, which means that only Landry has an established rapport with QB Ryan Tannehill entering the 2015 season. With 20+ targets/game left to be redistributed and a slew of new receivers in Miami, it is conceivable to imagine that Tannehill will lean fairly heavily on Landry in the early goings. With the Redskins' suspect secondary, Landry could see 12+ targets and catch a signficant number of them; at a very fair salary, Landry only needs a 8/80/0 stat line to reach cash game value.
Davante Adams (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4400). Davante Adams will be the most owned player on DraftKings this weekend. His salary was set prior to a season-ending injury to the Packers' WR1, Jordy Nelson, which catapulted Adams into the WR2 role behind Randall Cobb. While Adams is definitely not Randall Cobb, it is worth noting that Cobb averaged 18.2 DraftKings points per game as the WR2 in this offense last season; if Adams can achieve just 2/3 of that average against the Bears' downtrodden secondary, he will pay off his negligible salary for cash games. In your cash games, it is almost imperative that you play Adams on DraftKings because he will be so highly owned; in GPP's, there is ample reason to consider fading him to separate yourself from the masses, but proceed with caution.
Tyler Eifert (GPP only, Salary: $3500). Former Notre Dame standout, Tyler Eifert is ready to make his return to the gridiron after missing almost the entire 2014 season due to an elbow injury. Eifert was heavily-used in the preseason and it would not be surprising to see him emerge as Andy Dalton's #2 target behind A.J. Green this season. In his rookie campaign (2013), Eifert was solid, but unspectacular (39/445/2); this could be a breakout season for the young tight end, particularly if we believe that Hue Jackson is going "...to open Pandora's box" as he reported earlier this Summer. To football diehards, that would suggest a possible break from a run-first offense and possibly more emphasis on the passing game, which would assuredly help Eifert's fantasy prospects. After missing a full year and only scoring two lifetime touchdowns, Eifert will be less than 3% owned in GPP's this weekend, but his upside remains sizeable and his matchup against the Raiders is attractive...all of which makes Eifert an interesting tight end selection for tournament play.
Jordan Reed (GPP only, Salary: $3300). Niles Paul: broken ankle...out for the season. Logan Paulsen: turf toe...out for the season. Cue Jordan Reed. Reed has had injury problems of his own over his brief two year NFL career, but has displayed an ability to produce plus numbers when healthy. Last season, Reed produced double-digit fantasy points in 67% of his games; if he was to accomplish that feat this weekend with a $3300 salary, he would be very close to meeting value for GPP formats. The Dolphins did defend the tight end position well in 2014, which is the only reason that Reed does not appear on the cash game list this week.
Richard Rodgers (Primarily GPP, Salary: $2500). No team allowed more fantasy points to tight ends last year than the Chicago Bears. Enter Richard Rodgers, who won the starting tight end job over Andrew Quarless in August. Rodgers is entering his second season and could be Aaron Rodgers' primary redzone target due to his 6'4" frame and lack of other big receivers. DraftKings changed their pricing structure over the past year and the minimum price on tight ends is less than $3000. At $2500, Richard Rodgers needs only 10 fantasy points to reach GPP value--if he catches a touchdown pass, he will have a minimum of 7+ points (1 for PPR plus 6 for touchdown plus yardage) and will almost pay off his low salary on a single play. A Rodgers to Rodgers (and Adams or Cobb) stack will be extremely low-owned, but makes a lot of sense if you want to separate your GPP roster from the masses.
Greg Olsen (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5300). When Kelvin Benjamin was lost for the season with a torn ACL last month, Greg Olsen's fantasy value sky-rocketed simply because there is negligble receiving talent behind him. Corey "Philly" Brown, nor Ted Ginn, nor Devin Funchess will catch more passes than Olsen on Sunday, simply because Olsen has an established rapport with QB Cam Newton as evidenced by three consecutive 100+ target seasons. Without Benjamin on the field, look for Carolina to move the ball through the air using quick out routes and tight end releases to Olsen against the Jags, who incidentally ranked in the bottom 10 in defending the tight end position last season. Olsen will require ~ 16 fantasy points to achieve cash game value, which breaks down to 8 receptions for 80 yards; if he scores a touchdown (the Panthers are projected to score 22 points), Olsen would meet GPP value. On a game slate that lacks Rob Gronkowski, Olsen represents the clear cut cash game tight end play this weekend.
Martellus Bennett (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4300). If you want to save a bit of salary at the tight end position, Martellus Bennett could be your guy. The gamescript sets up perfectly for Bennett, as Vegas believes the Bears will be playing from behind this game and, therefore, relying on the pass to keep pace with the Packers' strong offense. Ordinarily, the Bears would rely upon Alshon Jeffery and rookie first-round pick Kevin White to do the heavy lifting in the passing game, but White is starting the season on the PUP list and Jeffery is a gametime decision with a calf issue; their backups, Marquess Wilson (hamstring) and Eddie Royal (hip) are also nursing injuries that could negatively affect their ability to play sound football on Sunday. Even if their WR1 Jeffery plays, look for Jay Cutler to seek out Bennett often in the passing game, as he is the only healthy option in that Bears' receiving corps.
Packers (Primarily GPP, Salary: $3000). If the game between the Packers and Bears plays out as Vegas predicts it will, the Bears will be forced to abandon the running game and put the ball into Jay Cutler's hands to play catchup. Last season, Cutler threw more interceptions (four) to Packers' defenders than touchdowns (three) to his own receivers; with Brandon Marshall leaving for New York and nearly every receiver in Chicago hobbled by some sore of injury, Cutler's back could be up against a wall on Sunday. Any time a quarterback is forced to throw in comeback mode, there is a very real possibility that desperation forces a few miscues, which could result in a pick-six for the opposing defense.
Dolphins (Primarily GPP, Salary: $3000). The Dolphins travel to Washington D.C. to take on Kirk Cousins and the Redskins. This selection is strictly about historical performance of the opposing quarterback, Cousins, who has thrown 18 touchdowns to 19 interceptions in his three years in the league. If Cousins has not matured and continues to make bad decisions this season, the opposing defense will appear in this column regularly. The key to winning large-scale GPP's is selecting a defense that scores a touchdown, which most often occurs via an interception--for that reason, the Dolphins are a reasonable GPP selection this weekend. Bonus points for you if you roster the Dolphins' defense with Jarvis Landry and he runs a kickoff back for a touchdown, which would be six points for him and six points for the defense in one fell swoop.
Broncos (Primarily GPP, Salary: $2800). One of my favorite GPP plays at the team defense position is the Denver Broncos. Why? Because they will be underowned, but have massive upside against the Ravens at home on opening weekend. The Broncos are well-known for their strong offensive play, but only hardcore football enthusiasts recognize that the Broncos have a top ten unit against both passing and running offenses. Joe Flacco enters the season with limited options at the wide receiver position; Steve Smith is 36-years old and Kamar Aiken is talented, but unproven at this juncture. Justin Forsett will have his work cut out for him against the Broncos' front seven that FootballOutsiders ranked third last season against the run. At a very low salary, you should have some exposure to this defense in your GPP rosters.
Jets (Cash & GPP format, Salary: $2900). Rex Ryan has left for the Bills in the off-season, but the Jets should still have a fairly solid defense entering the 2015 campaign. All signs point towards the Jets as being the chalk play for cash game lineups: This game marks the lowest total on the weekend (39.5 points), the Browns have the lowest team total (18 points), the Jets are playing at home, and Cleveland's offense is a mess with questions at every skill position. It is difficult to imagine a scenario where the Jets cannot produce some fantasy production against this poor Browns' offensive unit--the upside might be limited, but the floor appears to be quite high. One thing to consider for GPP's, however, is that the Jets will be highly-owned (> 20%), so there is certainly merit to avoiding them in your GPP rosters to create some uniqueness to your roster(s).
For last-minute advice, player decisions, and injury news on Sunday morning, tune into the “NFL Gameday” webcast at 11:30 AM (EST) on RotoGrinders Live, where John “tipandpick” Lee, Justin "stlcardinals84" Van Zuiden, and Dean “Dean78904” Shavelson will analyze all NFL games every week. You can find the webcast at: https://rotogrinders.com/live. All other daily fantasy questions can be directed to John’s Twitter page at: https://twitter.com/tipandpick