TipAndPick's: Tips and Picks, DK Edition

Cash game and GPP selections for DraftKings

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.

CASH GAME PLAYS

QUARTERBACKS

Andy Dalton (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6500). Two historically poor-performing quarterbacks make the cash game section of "Tips and Picks" this week. The first, Andy Dalton, makes an appearance because of how well he and the Bengals have played in 2015. The Bengals are averaging 28.6 points per game this season and are projected to score an almost identical number on Monday night against the Houston Texans. At the midpoint of the season, Dalton is on pace to shatter every personal record he has set over his five-year career. Much of his success can be attributed to the outstanding talent the Bengals put on the field each week; Cincinnati has two plus running backs with complementary skill sets and they have 3-4 receivers capable of spreading out an opposing defense to maximize Dalton's output. The Texans' defense is a different animal away from home; in Houston, they have yielded an average of 14 points per game, but have given up 34 points per game on the road. This selection really boils down to Dalton's $6500 salary, which means that he needs 20 fantasy points to reach cash game value; he is responsible for multiple touchdown games in every effort this year and he would appear to be a lock for at least two more touchdowns in this game...pencil him in for 20 fantasy points, but keep the eraser handy in case he hits 25.

Blake Bortles (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5600). The second previously-incomprehensible selection for a cash game quarterback is Blake Bortles. Unlike Andy Dalton, Blake Bortles has not turned around his career in 2015 and begun playing well--he is still completing less than 60% of his passes and he still averages greater than an interception per game. That said, Bortles gets the benefit of facing FootballOutsiders' 28th worst pass defense (DVOA metric), the Baltimore Ravens; the Ravens secondary is allowing 283.9 passing yards per game and has an embarrassing 16:3 TD-to-interception ratio this season. Up front, the Ravens are fairly stout, allowing less than 100 rushing yards per game (10th in the league), which tends to funnel offenses towards the pass. Enter Bortles, who is generally not a top-end fantasy quarterback, but his matchup is perfect and he enters Week 10 with a lot of momentum; Bortles is averaging 299 passing yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game over the past five games (~ 24.6 fantasy points per game). With Marquise Lee returning from injury and both Allen Hurns and Julius Thomas looking like they will play, Bortles will have his full bevy of receivers at his disposal for the first time all season. At $5600, Bortles needs only 17 fantasy points, which is 250 yards passing and two touchdowns...anything else will be gravy.

Also eligibleCam Newton ($7000)

RUNNING BACKS

Todd Gurley (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7300). Sigmund Bloom's "Hurley Gurley Man" continues to impress in his rookie year. Gurley had an 'off' week last week, going for less than 100 yards for the first time since he became the starting running back in Week 4; despite the 'off' performance, Gurley finished the afternoon with 109 all-purpose yards, a touchdown, and three receptions, which was good enough for 20 DraftKings' points. This week, Gurley will arguably face off against the worst rushing defense he has faced all season--the Chicago Bears. The Bears are FootballOutsiders' 31st DVOA-ranked rush defense and they give up the 6th most yards per carry (4.6) in the league; the Bears appear to be a better rush defense than they actually are because they have yielded 17 receiving touchdowns versus only 2 rushing touchdowns, which skews the fantasy points allowed dramatically. Without a potent passing game, expect Jeff Fisher to pound the ball directly at this Bears' front, which should result in some regression towards the league average of 2-to-1 receiving-to-rushing touchdowns and a big day for Gurley.

James Starks (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4900). Eddie Lacy has been relegated to the backup role in Green Bay and James Starks is now the official starting running back for the Green Bay Packers entering Week 10. Starks saw 71% of the snaps last week during a losing effort to a strong Carolina team at home, while Lacy received only 24% of the team's offensive snaps; Starks finished the afternoon with 16 touches (to Lacy's 5 touches) and was clearly the better option in the backfield. This week, Starks should see 75-80% of the Packers' carries in a game where the gamescript favors the running game; as 11-point favorites, Starks could conceivably finish the afternoon with 20 touches on a team slated to score nearly 30 points. At a $4900 salary, Starks needs only 15 DraftKings' points, which he could acquire without scoring a touchdown given his ability to catch the ball and his expected role in the offense. 

Also eligibleDeAngelo Williams ($6500), Darren McFadden ($4900)

WIDE RECEIVERS

Allen Robinson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6700).  Allen Robinson has not received less than nine targets in any game this year and there is little reason to think that will change this weekend against the Ravens, who are allowing the 2nd most fantasy points to wide receivers in 2015. The Ravens are tied for 5th in the NFL against the rush, yielding a stingy 3.8 yards per carry, which forces opposing offenses to move the ball through the air. Last week, Robinson was blanketed by star cornerback, Darrelle Revis, for most of the afternoon, but still finished with a 6/121/0 stat line, good enough for 21.1 DraftKings points. This particular matchup will not include any coverage cornerback near Revis' talent level, so Robinson should thrive once again. When one considers the fact that both Allen Hurns and Marquise Lee are likely to return, enthusiam for Robinson increases because Hurns and Lee will assuredly lessen the amount of double-coverage that has been directed towards Robinson in their absence. 

Stefon Diggs (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5100). Last week, Stefon Diggs finally came back to Earth after a torrid start to his rookie season; Diggs was largely shut down by the Rams' Janoris Jenkins, who has a habit of slowing down opposing teams' WR1. Diggs should be a great position to rebound this weekend against an Oakland Raiders secondary that is becoming a weekly target here in "Tips and Picks." Last week, Antonio Brown had his way against the Raiders' Neiko Thorpe, D.J. Hayden, and David Amerson; this week should be Stefon Diggs' turn. Diggs was averaging 10 targets per game prior to his showdown with Janoris Jenkins last week and one would suspect that his targets will return against this porous secondary, particularly when Mike Wallace is the next closest volume receiver with only 6 targets per game. At $5100, Diggs needs only 15 points to reach cash game value, which is something he has achieved in every start this year, except for last week's hiccup against a much better defense.

Brandon LaFell (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4100). Since returning from the PUP list in Week 7, Brandon LaFell has increased his fantasy production in each of his three games (4.5, 8.7, and 18.2 fantasy points, respectively). In his first game back, LaFell was extremely rusty, dropping six passes, but appears to be back to mid-season form after a 5-catch, 102-yard performance last week against the Redskins. This week, LaFell will matchup against a Giants secondary that is 31st in the league in passing yards allowed (307.8 yards per game) and who allowed four 25-fantasy point performances to wide receivers over the past two weeks. He will see some coverage from the oppressive Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, but "DRC" will likely pay more attention to Julian Edelman and possibly even Rob Gronkowski, based on historical matchups. LaFell is still reasonably priced at $4100 and needs only a 6-catch for 60 yards day to reach cash game value...without Dion Lewis' weekly allocation of 7-targets, LaFell could generate even more usage and pick up some of Lewis' slack.

Also eligibleWillie Snead ($4900), Cecil Shorts ($3000)

TIGHT ENDS

Jordan Reed (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4600). No team in the NFL has given up more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the New Orleans Saints this season. That is good news for Jordan Reed who is averaging 9.0 targets per game, more than any receiver on the Redskins through the midpoint of 2015. Reed should have zero problems finding space against the Saints linebackers and/or coverage cornerbacks, as Delanie Walker and Anthony Fasano did last week, scoring 40 fantasy points between themselves. With the return of DeSean Jackson to stretch the field and keep the Saints safety honest, Jordan Reed could be in line for a huge game, particularly because he is, without question, the biggest redzone receiving target on the Redskins' entire squad.

Crockett Gillmore (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $2800). Steve Smith was averaging 10.4 targets per game before his untimely Achilles injury two weeks ago against the Chargers. Those targets will need to be redistributed this week and you can bet that Crockett Gillmore will be one of the major beneficiaries. Gillmore and Kamar Aiken will play the role of possession receivers, while Chris Givens will do his best to get behind coverage for the big play. The strength of the Jaguars' defense is against the rush (3.2 yards per carry), which will funnel the Ravens' action through the air. The Ravens have one of the higher implied team totals on the weekend and Joe Flacco basically has two receivers to which divide his 20-24 completions...if Gillmore accounts for only a third of those (a conservative estimate) and does not reach paydirt (he is also their largest redzone threat), he should still reach the 7 fantasy points needed to achieve cash game value.

Also eligibleDelanie Walker ($4700), Zach Ertz ($3000)

TEAM DEFENSES

Rams (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3600). If you can afford to slot them into your lineup, the St. Louis Rams would appear to be the safest play for the team defense position this week. The Rams rank in the top ten of most defensive categories, have scored double-digit points in five of their eight games, and are stifling in their home environment, allowing an average of only 8 points per game (versus 23 as the visiting team). Some DFS players will want to avoid the Rams, as their opponent, the Bears, are fresh off a primetime victory against the Chargers on Monday night; however, the Bears will be on a short week of preparation without Matt Forte, both of which should hurt the Bears' chances for staying competitive against a tough defense. In a week where the Broncos will be without Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware, the Rams appear to be the chalk defense for cash games.

Steelers (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3000). The Pittsburgh Steelers have played some fairly strong offenses this season (Patriots, Cardinals, Bengals, and Raiders), but are still averaging 7.7 fantasy points per game through their nine games. This week, they gladly welcome Johnny Manziel and the punchless Cleveland Brown offense to Heinz Field for an AFC North showdown; after giving up 35 points to the Raiders last week, the Steelers will relish playing the league's 29th ranked offense, an offense that has averaged only 15 points per game in Manziel's two starts. For his part, Manziel has protected the ball well in those starts, but it is difficult to envision a scenario where he continues to play mistake-free football, particularly against a Steelers defensive front that gets a lot of pressure on the quarterback and is seventh in the league in sacks. At only $3000 and on a slate where there are few must-have defenses, the Steelers are a decent alternative.

GPP PLAYS

QUARTERBACKS

Aaron Rodgers (Salary: $7500). Great rebound spot at Lambeau with likely lower-than-normal ownership after back-to-back away games against two of the league's best defenses (Denver and Carolina). Packers have the second highest implied team total on the board and face a Lions secondary that is allowing the fourth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season. With Eddie Lacy taking over the backup role (and being listed as questionable), James Starks gets lead back duties and is a candidate to catch 4-6 passes out of the backfield, further endorsing a plus day for Rodgers. The return of Davante Adams last week provided Rodgers with an additional receiving option and resulted in the highest passing yardage performance of the year for the veteran quarterback. 

Joe Flacco (Salary: $5500). Joe Flacco will be very lowed owned against the Jaguars because Kirk Cousins and Blake Bortles are similarly-priced and have more optimal gamescripts, but do not sleep on Flacco's fantasy prospects. The absence of Steve Smith is yet another reason Flacco will be low-owned, but the Ravens are projected to score nearly four touchdowns and it is entirely plausible, if not likely, that all of those touchdowns will come through the air, as the Jags are the league's best rush defense (3.2 yards per carry). Flacco should throw the ball 40+ times, mostly short high-percentage passes to Kamar Aiken, Crockett Gillmore, and Justin Forsett, while looking for the occasional bomb to speedster Chris Givens; a stack with any of those receivers will be less than 5% owned, yet each possesses 5x upside.

Kirk Cousins (Salary: $5200). As improbably as it sounds, Cousins will not be a contrarian play because of what Eli Manning and Marcus Mariota did against the Saints defense over the past two weeks. The trick will be to find the receiver with whom to pair Cousins; DeSean Jackson is a big-play receiver, but his salary is probably too high for a player who has caught three passes all season...Pierre Garcon is a decent stack option and is the second most targeted redzone receiver on the Redskins...Jordan Reed could be the best option of the three, as he is the leading redzone receiver for the Redskins this season despite missing three games with an injury. The last five quarterbacks to play against New Orleans have scored 20+ fantasy points, which is what Cousins would need to reach GPP value...if Drew Brees can continue to put points on the board for the Saints, this one could be another shootout.

RUNNING BACKS

Mark Ingram (Salary: $6400). Recency bias will keep less savvy DFS players away from Ingram after he scored only 13.6 fantasy points in a fabulous matchup against the Titans last week, but Ingram had plenty of opportunity (26 touches) without Khiry Robinson on the field. Expect more of the same against the Redskins this week...the Redskins are FootballOutsiders' 22nd ranked rush defense (DVOA metric) and allow the third most yards per carry (4.8) in the league. Last week's game was an anomaly where Ingram was tackled inside the 5-yard line on three different occasions...expect a return to normalcy against the Redskins this week, where Ingram's volume and multiple touchdown upside are great reasons to roll with him again.

DeMarco Murray (Salary: $6200). With 20 or more touches in four consecutive games and touchdowns in three of those efforts, one would think Murray will be highly-owned on Sunday, but he continues to go underowned in fantasy circles. Murray is getting substantial opportunity behind ProFootballFocus' third best rush blocking offensive line...the Eagles have the fifth highest team total on the weekend slate...the Dolphins are allowing the second most rushing yards per game this season; all of which bodes well for Murray's fantasy prospects in Week 10. Add in his heavy usage in the passing game (23 targets in the past four games) and Murray is a high-upside GPP play.

Doug Martin (Salary: $5600). The Cowboys will travel to the Sunshine State to face-off against the Tampa Bay Bucs, but will be without their best defensive player, Sean Lee. Since 2011, the Cowboys have allowed 3.9 yards per carry with Lee on the field, but a staggering 4.7 yards per carry when he is not playing...a statistic that is consistent with 2015's Cowboy team. In fact, no team this season has allowed more fantasy points to opposing running backs than the Dallas Cowboys. Before a fumble misstep in the second quarter last week, Martin had a strangle-hold on the RB1 position in Tampa, but he gave way to Charles Sims for several drives before Sims, himself, fumbled and Martin again took over the reigns. As slight favorites at home, expect to see a heavy dose (20+ touches) of Martin this week in a game where multiple touchdowns are possible.

LeGarrette Blount (Salary: $4900). With Dion Lewis suffering a season-ending injury, the DFS community is scrambling to find his cheap replacement. Other sources are reporting that James White will fill the gap left by Lewis' departure, while yet others have said that Brandon Bolden will split opportunities with White; the latter is the more likely scenario, but I fully expect LeGarrette Blount to get more carries in games where the Patriots are not leading by 2+ touchdowns. Against the Giants this week, Blount could be on the field early to ground-and-pound the Giants into submission and will be underowned because the major media outlets are suggesting that the New England backfield will be a full-fledged RBBC...I will be astounded if Blount does not see 60% of the offensive snaps and 75% of the carries; if he gets that kind of volume, he has immense upside for a team with a 31-point implied team total against a defense that is allowing a generous 4.3 yards per carry this season.

Theo Riddick (Salary: $3300). A GPP-only selection driven primarily on gamescript and scoring system. Theo Riddick is the Lions' third-down and "gimmick" running back, who is heavily-involved in the passing game when the Lions are trailing; they should be trailing by the end of the first quarter at Lambeau and Riddick could see a season-high for offensive snaps and opportunities. On a full-PPR site like DraftKings, Riddick has immense value in gamescripts where he could feasibly see 10+ targets during garbarge time. At a paltry $3300 salary, he presents minimal risk, as he is assured 4-6 receptions and 40-60 receiving yards...if he manages to find the endzone, he reaches GPP value and affords you the ability to pay up for players elsewhere on your roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Calvin Johnson (Salary: $7500). Megatron will go underowned this week because he has only one 100-yard receiving game all season on a Lions' offense that has struggled to put points on the board and ranks 31st in that category. Furthermore, he will line up across from the Packers' best coverage cornerback, Sam Smith, for about half of his offensive snaps...but Calvin Johnson towers over Smith with a six-inch height advantage of which he and Matthew Stafford will surely take advantage. In fact, all of the Packer cornerbacks have a distinct (six-inch or greater) height disparity against Johnson, which should play to his advantage throughout the day. With a gamescript that will require plenty of passing on the Lions' side of things, Johnson could conceivably have a huge game in the second half when the Packers enter a prevent defense...the only caveat here is that, after practicing on Wednesday and Thursday, Johnson missed Friday's practice and is listed as questionable for Sunday's contest. Be sure to monitor the situation accordingly...but if Johnson is starting, he is GPP-worthy.

Demaryius Thomas (Salary: $7400). My favorite GPP play of the week. After writing about the discrepancy between Demaryius Thomas' targets and his touchdowns last week in this same article, Thomas continued the trend--he battled Vontae Davis all afternoon and finished with a 5-reception, 50-yard performance without scoring a touchdown. Entering Week 10, Thomas is now fourth in the league with 11.6 targets per game and is the only receiver in the league with > 75 targets who has only one touchdown. In other words, Thomas is due for some serious positive touchdown regression in the near future...this week would appear to be as logical as any, particularly in light of the fact that Emmanuel Sanders has not practiced all week and is a game-time decision. And if you buy into narratives, Thomas' mother was released from a halfway house this week after 15 years in prison and will be watching the star receiver for the first time as a professional football player...

Randall Cobb (Salary: $6700). Randall Cobb is just too cheap for his role in the Packers' offense. He will probably be heavily-owned, but for good reason: The Lions recently demoted slot cornerback, Josh Wilson, as he was consistenly getting torched in coverage...but they replaced him with Quandre Diggs, who, in limited action (13 targets), has allowed an opposing QB rating of 141.3 with two touchdowns while in coverage (ProFootballFocus). Diggs will be no matchup for Cobb, who has multiple touchdown upside and could easily match his Week 3 performance, where he scored 35 DraftKings points.

Rishard Matthews (Salary: $4700). As six-point underdogs against the Eagles, the gamescript sets up well for the Dolphins' passing game and their big-play receiver, Rishard Matthews. The Eagles secondary is underrated with both Nolan Carroll and Malcolm Jenkins receiving high coverage ratings on ProFootballFocus, but former Seahawks standout, Byron Maxwell, has struggled since arriving in Philadelphia, ranking in the bottom third of qualifying cornerbacks and allowing an opposing quarterback rating of 111.4 when passes are thrown into his coverage. Rishard Matthews should see at least half, if not more, of his offensive snaps against Maxwell, which means that Ryan Tannehill could be looking in his direction more often than usual...particularly if Malcolm Jenkins is effective in slowing down Jarvis Landry. This selection is more about personnel than anything--if Miami is playing from behind, Lamar Miller's role will be minimized, leaving Jarvis Landry and Rishard Matthews to pick up the slack...and the better WR-CB matchup to exploit falls to Matthews.

Chris Givens (Salary: $3200). The deepest of GPP flyers, Chris Givens could reach value on a single play. Givens is a speedster, primarily used to run nine routes that extend the defense and catch the deep pass. With Kamar Aiken and Crockett Gillmore getting 70% of Joe Flacco's attention on underneath routes against a susceptible Jaguars' secondary, Givens needs only 2-3 catches to reach GPP value...it's a total crapshoot, but he will be 2% owned and could provide massive ROI if he manages to find the endzone. Limit your exposure, but do not be afraid to take a chance with him if you are putting multiple entries into a larger-scale GPP. Running at least half of his routes against the beatable Dwayne Gratz (144.0 QB rating when in coverage), there are definitely more risky GPP options than Givens.

TIGHT ENDS

Rob Gronkowski (Salary: $8000). Always in the discussion, Rob Gronkowski streak of three consecutive games with a touchdown ended last week in a disappointing performance against the Redskins. This week's opponents, the Giants, have allowed some big games to the tight end position this season, including a 30-point day to Ben Watson just two weeks ago...they have also given up the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends. With Dion Lewis no longer on the field to snap up short receptions on quick out routes, Gronkowski would seem to benefit from Lewis' absence; any additional volume for a largely unstoppable receiver must be strongly considered.

Tyler Eifert (Salary: $5800). In a breakout season, Eifert now has 28 or more fantasy points in three (of eight) games...a perfect GPP player. Andy Dalton seems to look for him in the redzone, as evidenced by Eifer's league-leading nine receiving touchdowns (five receivers are tied for second with seven receiving touchdowns). Eifert's redzone efficiency will likely drop at some point, but that did not stop him from scoring three touchdowns last week against the Browns. The Bengals' implied team total is the third highest on the board at 29 points and Eifert gets a bump because he faces off against a Texans defense that is allowing the 8th most fantasy points to the tight end position.

Jimmy Graham (Salary: $4900). The Seahawks have quietly been getting Jimmy Graham more involved in their offense, targeting him twice more than any other receiver over the past three weeks. Despite being a monstrous redzone target at 6'7", Graham has only two touchdowns all season (versus 11.5 per season over the previous four seasons in New Orleans)...with his volume seemingly increasing, Graham will have a multiple touchdown game in the near future. Coming off a bye week, the Seahawks should have had time to scheme to get him away from blocking duties and to continue getting additional looks in the receiving game. An 8-reception, 100-yard game with a touchdown is entirely plausible and would represent 27 DraftKings points...more than enough for GPP value at low ownership when 20% of the field will be on Jordan Reed.

DEFENSES

Broncos (Salary: $3400). Would normally appear in the cash game section, but without Aqib Talib and DeMarcus Ware, the Broncos' dominance could be affected this week against the Chiefs. Alex Smith is a shifty quarterback, who can evade pressure when necessary, which could result in less sacks for this otherwise dominant defensive front. That said, the Broncos are at home and the Chiefs have the lowest projected team total on the Week 10 slate, so there is reason for optimism. 

Packers (Salary: $3200). The defense for any team projected to win by double-digits is generally a potential GPP play. Why? Because the opposing offense is forced into throwing the ball too often and forcing potentially dangerous passes. If the Packers turn up the pressure by building a two-touchdown lead early, expect Clay Matthews and Company to get after Matthew Stafford while he's waiting for Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate to find space; if he is hurried, a turnover, possibly even a pick-six could result. Oh yeah, the Packers are playing at home for the first time in a month--expect the Lambeau crowd to be a factor in this one.

Eagles (Salary: $2700). Not a play for the weak of heart, but the Eagles could be a sneaky GPP play against the enigmatic Dolphins. The Dolphins were terrible early in the season, turned things around for a few games after a coaching change, and then scored only 24 points in their subsequent two games. So what gives? The two games where the Dolphins played well were against the Titans and Texans, who have a combined 5-11 record this season...not necessarily world-class football teams. The Eagles, despite a slow start, have a legitimate shot at the NFC East Division title and a home win against the Dolphins would help set them in that direction. Quietly, the Birds defense has double-digit fantasy points in three of their last four games.

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