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
Matt Hasselbeck (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5300). The Colts are projected to score 21 points against the Steelers and those points would seemingly have to come through the air at the hands of Matt Hasselbeck. Only two NFL teams have yielded less rushing touchdowns than the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have not allowed a 100-yard rusher in over a month; that likely means that Frank Gore, who Chuck Pagano claimed is "beat to crap" earlier this week, will not be heavily used on Sunday. In his four starts, Hasselbeck has logged no less than 15.3 DraftKings points, which would be enough to reach cash game value at his current salary, but I expect more than 15 points against this Steelers secondary that has allowed three consecutive 300-yard passers, including the likes of Johnny Manziel in Week 10. This game has the makings of a potential shootout, as the Steelers offense is capable of a big day, which only further solidifies Hasselbeck's extreme value.
Alex Smith (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5100). Another inexpensive quarterback option for your cash games in Week 13 is Alex Smith. The Chiefs enter Sunday as three-point chalk over the hometown Raiders; those odds can be attributed to a sieve of an Oakland secondary that allowed three passing touchdowns last weekend to Marcus Mariota. Smith has been solid as of late, rushing for no less than 30 yards in each of his last four games and averaging nearly 20 fantasy points per game over that same span. Smith's upside could be limited due to the return of Charcandrick West, but his floor would appear to be in the neighborhood of 200 passing yards alongside 30-40 rushing yards and a touchdown, which would account for the 15 fantasy points he needs to reach cash game value on DraftKings.
Also eligible: Cam Newton ($7300)
DeAngelo Williams (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5600). The Steelers boast the third-highest implied team total on the Week 13 slate with 28 points and are projected to win by a touchdown. Those numbers bode well for DeAngelo Williams, a 32-year old running back who is playing like a man ten years younger. Last week against one of the league's best rush defenses, Williams only touched the ball 15 times, but managed to finish the afternoon with 24.7 DraftKings points, an indication of his ability to make things happen in this potent Steelers offense. Williams will face-off against the Colts, who are allowing 115.1 rushing yards per game (9th worst in NFL). The Colts' rush defense has been average when they are playing with a lead, as they have yielded only 233 rushing yards over their past three wins, but those have come at a 4.3 yards per carry clip; when they trail, however, the Colts have been beaten soundly on the ground to the tune of 386 yards (5.0 yards per carry) over their previous three losses. With the likely gamescript, Williams should see plenty of action here and it would not be surprising to see him finish with 100+ all-purpose yards, several receptions, and a score, which should put him squarely within the 3x multiplier range needed for cash games.
David Johnson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3400). The easiest plug-and-play of the week, David Johnson is mispriced because of his new gig as the RB1 in Arizona. Last week, the Cardinals lost Chris Johnson for the season with a fractured tibia and his backup, Andre Ellington, will not play this week either due to turf toe; enter David Johnson, who has looked fabulous in limited action in his rookie season. Johnson has scored a touchdown on a ridiculous 13.0% of touches (7 touchdowns on 54 opportunities) thus far and we should see him get a solid 20+ touches in this effort against the Rams in St. Louis. Unfortunately, St. Louis boasts one of the best rush defenses in the league (5th best via FootballOutsiders' DVOA metric), which could limit Johnson to some degree, but his salary is just too cheap for a high-volume running back on a team favored to win by a touchdown. He is this week's chalkiest play and merits consideration in 100% of your cash game lineups.
Alshon Jeffery (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6900). After back-to-back disappointing performances at the hands of plus cornerback coverage from two of ProFootballFocus' top-ten pass coverage units (St. Louis and Green Bay), Alshon Jeffery gets a massive reprieve this week against the San Francisco 49ers. The Niners field the league's 26th ranked pass coverage personnel (PFF) and have allowed some absolutely monstrous games to opposing WR1's this season. Outside of a game where Jeffery left early due to injury, he has compiled 53 targets over his past four starts (13.3 targets per game) and we should expect to see more of the same this week, as the Bears' WR2, Marquess Wilson, is inactive and their slot receiver, Eddie Royal, is also unlikely to play; that realistically leaves only Martellus Bennett to steal looks from Jeffery and Bennett has been a major disappointment this season. Look for a bounce-back game from Jeffery against the 49ers...all the pieces are in place for a high-end fantasy performance.
T.Y. Hilton (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5700). In this same column last week, I gave you T.Y. Hilton as a GPP play and he paid off in spades with a 2-touchdown, 27.5 fantasy point performance. I do not see him slowing down this week against the league's worst pass coverage unit (ProFootballFocus); furthermore, within that secondary, Hilton should see the most of Antwon Blake, who has allowed more receiving yardage (820 yards) while in coverage than any other cornerback in the league. The gamescript looks to set up well for Hilton, as Vegas projects the Steelers to win by a touchdown, which means that Hilton's number could be called quite often; Hilton's targets are always in the neighborhood of double-digits, providing he is not being covered by the likes of Aqib Talib, Josh Norman, etc., so we should expect plenty of volume in this plus matchup to boot.
DeVante Parker (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3300). Rishard Matthews suffered multiple fractured ribs early in his Week 12 effort, giving way to rookie DeVante Parker, who capitalized on the opportunity with a 4/80/1 stat line (on 10 targets). We should expect to see more of the same this week against the Baltimore Ravens, who are strong up front (3.7 yards per carry), but extremely shaky in their defensive backfield (21:4 passing touchdown-to-interception ratio; 9th most passing yards allowed). As such, look for the Dolphins to focus on the passing game in this effort, which should benefit the Dolphins two primary receivers, Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. Given Parker's bargain salary, he needs only 10 fantasy points to reach value, which is a 4-catch, 60-yard day...a stat line that would be almost disappointing given his likely volume and plus matchup. The more realistic expectation is in the neighborhood of 15+ fantasy points, which makes him a fine play for both cash and GPP formats.
Travis Kelce (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4700). If you have salary remaining and can afford to get away from Scott Chandler (below) in your cash games, Travis Kelce has a prime matchup against a Raiders defense that has yielded 11 receiving touchdowns and are allowing the third most fantasy points to the tight end position this season. Since a six-game scoreless stretch, Kelce has come on as of late, scoring a touchdown in two of his last four games and catching 20 passes (on 31 targets) over that period of time. Outside of Jeremy Maclin, Alex Smith does not have a lot of receiving options, which means that Kelce should continue to see decent volume at a position where opportunity can be scarce.
Scott Chandler (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $2500). Scott Chandler will be the highest-owned player on DraftKings in Week 13. With Rob Gronkowski officially inactive for Sunday's game against the Eagles, Chandler will try to fill the biggest shoes in the tight end business. Chandler is a must-play in cash game format because he will be 70% owned and, from a game strategy point-of-view, you do not want to be amongst the 30% who do not have him if he scores 15 fantasy points because it will be difficult to catch up to the field; instead, roster Chandler in your cash games to protect yourself from a Gronk-like game and try to beat your opponent elsewhere. While the opportunity cost is low, I do think there is merit to fading Chandler in GPP formats because the Eagles allow the third least number of fantasy points to the tight end position in the entire league and have shut down far better tight ends this season than Scott Chandler; it would not be surprising to see him finish with a pedestrian stat line, which would still be acceptable for cash games because he needs only 7.5 fantasy points to reach value.
Also eligible: None (N/A)
Bengals (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3400). Last week, the Bengals were one of the higher-owned team defenses in DFS against the Rams and they did not disappoint, posting a 17 fantasy point performance for their owners. This week, the Bengals take the short trip to Cleveland to face-off against their AFC North rival, the Browns. The Browns will start Austin Davis this week after losing Josh McCown to a fractured clavicle; Davis looked serviceable in his limited time on the field against the Ravens on Monday night, but to expect him to generate significant offensive momentum against the Bengals' plus secondary would be madness. Outside of Gary Barnidge, the Browns offense remains a mess and targeting team defenses against them this year has been fruitful, as those teams are averaging 11.3 fantasy points per game, including back-to-back 16-point performances over the past two weeks.
Patriots (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3400). At the same price point as the Bengals, you can consider the Patriots at home against an Eagles squad that lacks any identity on offense. The Birds have not surpassed the 20-point plateau in any of their previous three games and have only done so once in their past five games; their receiving corps rank dead-last in ProFootballFocus' rating system and we should expect to see those receivers at full capacity in a game where they are expected to trail throughout the game. Sam Bradford has thrown multiple interceptions in 4 out of 9 games this season (44%), which would not be surprising against a Pats defense that is allowing only 15.2 points per game in Foxborough this season and is 38-4 in home games after a loss under Bill Belichick.
Matt Ryan (Salary: $6700). The Falcons' Matt Ryan should be low-owned because his salary is in the upper-echelon at the quarterback position despite coming off an 11-point performance last week, where everybody seemed to have Julio Jones. Recency bias should kick in on DraftKings, as it has on other DFS sites (Ryan was 3.0% owned on FantasyAces and 0.8% owned on FanDuel in Thursday night contests)...which means now is the time to pounce on Ryan against the Tampa Bay Bucs secondary that is FootballOutsiders' 24th ranked (31st by ProFootballFocus metrics). Furthermore, only the Broncos and Jaguars allow less yards per carry than the Bucs, which should limit DeVonta Freeman in his first game back from a concussion (where the Falcons might try to bring him back slowly anyhow); all of this points towards Matt Ryan being asked to do the Falcons' heavy lifting in a projected close game. If Jameis Winston and Doug Martin can keep their foot on the gas and force a back-and-forth battle of offenses, Matt Ryan has 25-point upside against this porous secondary.
Ryan Tannehill (Salary: $5300). A week after throwing nearly 60 passes against the Jets at the Meadowlands, Ryan Tannehill returns to the warmth of southern Florida to match up against the Ravens' lackluster defensive backfield. The Ravens allow only 3.7 yards per carry, but have been beaten soundly through the air to the tune of 258.6 yards per game (9th worst in the NFL)...which should funnel most of the Dolphins' offensive efforts through the hands of Tannehill, who quietly has multiple passing touchdowns in 8 out of 11 games this season. Despite tightening up recently against the likes of Josh McCown, Case Keenum, and Blake Bortles, the Ravens have allowed five different quarterbacks to score more than 25 DraftKings points this season, which would fit into the 5x value criteria needed to win a large GPP on DraftKings. An ultra cheap stack option is pairing Tannehill with DeVante Parker, but Jarvis Landry is also an option, if salary permits.
Jay Cutler (Salary: $5100). The quarterback on the team with the fifth highest implied team total at near-minimum salary? Sign me up. Cutler will face-off against a 49ers defense that has allowed over half of their opposing quarterbacks to score more than 20 points this season, which would be about what Jay Cutler needs to reach GPP value. The probable gamescript and ability of Matt Forte and Jeremy Langford detract a bit from Cutler's value, but both of those backs are plus receivers, so they could conceivably help Cutler's value under the right circumstances. With Alshon Jeffery being one of my favorite plays this week, a Cutler-Jeffery stack for $12,000 is very attractive because it leaves a lot of salary on the table to spend up elsewhere, while possessing 50-60 fantasy point upside in and of itself (as they did in Weeks 6, 8, and 9 this season).
Adrian Peterson (Salary: $6600). If Odell Beckham Jr. is the hottest wide receiver in the league, Adrian Peterson is the hottest running back. Peterson has 100 or more all-purpose yards in five of his last six games and has averaged nearly 23 fantasy points per game over that span, which would almost reach the 26 fantasy points needed for him to reach GPP value this weekend at a $6,600 salary. Peterson's work will be cut out for him, though, as he is facing one of the league's stingiest rush defenses, the Seattle Seahawks, who are allowing only 3.8 yards per carry and less than 100 rushing yards per game this season. Where Adrian Peterson is concerned, I tend to throw stats out the window...he is a man amongst boys and is capable of a 30-fantasy point performance against any defense, particularly when the Vikings continue to give him upwards of 25 touches each and every week. The matchup may not be attractive, but the price is...he has hit GPP value in three of his past four weeks, so he cannot be ignored.
LeSean McCoy (Salary: $5700). Karlos Williams is officially inactive for Sunday's game against the Houston Texans, which means that LeSean McCoy should get all the action he can handle in the Bills' backfield; in the games where Williams has not played in 2015, McCoy has had at least 20 touches in every effort. McCoy will face-off against a Texans front seven that is allowing 4.3 yards per carry (9th worst in the NFL) and a couple 40-fantasy point performances to the running back position earlier this season (Lamar Miller in Week 7 and DeVonta Freeman in Week 4). The Texans have tightened up their rush defense over the past month, but Vegas suggests this Bills team is going to score three touchdowns and it is difficult to concede that Tyrod Taylor will have another three touchdown game this week against the Texans, whose secondary is allowing the 3rd lowest number of passing yards per game in the entire league. McCoy was only 8% owned in Thursday slates on other sites...he should be about double that ownership rate with the type of volume he should experience on Sunday.
LeGarrette Blount (Salary: $5100). On a week where everybody is looking to capitalize on a $2,500 receiving option on the Patriots, I find myself gravitating towards their running back, who seems to have fallen off the radar after multiple consecutive underperforming weeks. LeGarrette Blount has seen his touches diminish from 29 to 21 to 17 to 9 over the past month and negative recency bias has set in amongst the DFS community, but the gamescripts in those latter three games were all somewhat negative for a running back with Blount's skillset (non-receiving back). This week, Blount gets a juicy matchup against an Eagles defense that has hemorrhaged yardage to opposing running backs over the past five weeks; they have allowed an average of 191.2 all-purpose yards to the running back position over that period of time. We know from experience that Bill Belichick will strike a team at its weakness and continue to do so until the game is over, but the Eagles are weak against the pass and the run...so which one will he choose? I think we will see a heavy dose of Blount in this matchup to take pressure off Tom Brady and his beleaguered receiving corps; it would be a perfect time to get Blount some extended action after only 26 touches over the past two weeks.
C.J. Anderson (Salary: $3500). Guess who's back? C.J. Anderson looked splendid last Sunday night against the New England Patriots, compiling 153 all-purpose yards and the game-winning touchdown in overtime to end the Pats' hopes of an undefeated season. Gary Kubiak, however, is sticking to his guns and has already named Ronnie Hillman as the starting running back against the Chargers on Sunday. The Chargers' field ProFootballFocus' worst-rated rush defense, which is supported by their astounding 4.9 rushing yards per carry allowed this season. The matchup is prime for the Broncos, but the split duties between Hillman and Anderson will scare more people away from rostering either of them; most DFS players will want Hillman because he has been named the starter, but I expect a 50/50 split of touches here and am happy to take the hotter running back at a $1,000 discount. If Anderson gets half of the fantasy points he accrued last Sunday night, he will achieve 5x value and put you in position to finish high in GPP formats.
Julio Jones (Salary: $9000). Last week's global disappointment is this week's underowned GPP sensation. Julio Jones put up a 10.6 fantasy point clunker against the Vikings last week when he was 40% owned in GPP format...which means that recency bias will cause Julio to go underowned this week (he was ~ 10% owned on non-DraftKings sites on Thursday night contests). The matchup is prime, as the Bucs yielded 50 fantasy points to the Colts' wide receivers last weekend; on Sunday, Julio Jones will line up alongside Roddy White, who has not mustered more than 6 receptions all season, which further supports a heavy role for Jones against this lackluster Tampa Bay secondary that Jones torched for 36 fantasy points just five week ago...nothing has changed to suggest that it will not happen again.
Odell Beckham Jr. (Salary: $8900). Arguably the hottest wide receiver in the league right now, Odell Beckham Jr. has four consecutive 100-yard games with five touchdowns over that same timeframe. This week, ODB gets a Darrelle Revis-less Jets defense that will have no answer for him. Last year, Beckham got white hot near the end of the season and the last few weeks have looked eerily-similar to 2015, including this sick touchdown catch against the Redskins last week. Beckham should see plenty of looks across from Antonio Cromartie, who has allowed seven touchdowns and a 124.3 opposing QB rating while in coverage this season; when Beckham gets inside to the slot receiver position, he will see Buster Skrine, who has been equally inept in coverage this season, allowing three touchdowns (no interceptions) and an opposing QB rating of over 100.0. That said, the Jets are strong up front, yielding a league-low 84.4 rushing yards per game with only two rushing touchdowns all season; given the Giants' 28th ranked rush offense, we are likely to see Tom Coughlin try to move the ball through the air to best the Jets and get back into contention in the NFC East.
Martavis Bryant (Salary: $5600). In this column last week, I suggested that you might want to avoid Antonio Brown, who was facing Richard Sherman in coverage and instead think about rostering Martavis Bryant as a GPP play. Well...I was half-right in that a secondary receiver had a fantastic Sunday, but it was Markus Wheaton, not Martavis Bryant. Wheaton had a career game, posting a 9/201/1 stat line for 38.1 DraftKings points, while Brown mustered only 11.1 fantasy points. This week should present a similar scenario, as Antonio Brown will again draw tough shadow coverage from All-Pro cornerback, Vontae Davis; that should open things up for Martavis Bryant, who is one week removed from a 30+ fantasy point performance and has scored in four out of six games this season. Do not chase the Markus Wheaton points that we saw last week...I fully expect things to return to normalcy in Week 13 with Bryant as the clear-cut WR2 in this offense.
Vincent Jackson (Salary: $4700). After missing three consecutive weeks with knee issues, Vincent Jackson has played in two straight games and has compiled just one less target than Mike Evans over that span. In those limited games where Jackson has been 100% healthy, he has averaged almost the same usage (targets) as Mike Evans, yet Mike Evans is priced 55% higher than Jackson ($4,700 versus $7,300). Both receivers will have to contend with cornerback sensation, Desmond Trufant, on about a third of their routes on Sunday, but Jackson will be lesser owned, cheaper, and yet offers similar upside. Both defenses in this game are solid against the run, so I expect a lot of passing...which can lead to shootouts...and GPP victories.
Keshawn Martin (Salary: $3000). If Danny Amendola is announced as inactive on Sunday, Keshawn Martin will make for a solid contrarian play in a game where most DFS players will have either Brandon LaFell or Scott Chandler. Martin saw almost no action last week, logging a solitary reception for 8 receiving yards despite playing 93% of the Patriots' offensive snaps. If Martin gets that kind of field time again this week, he could do serious damage against an Eagles secondary that has yielded 15 receiving touchdowns over the past month. Bill Belichick is well-known for using lesser-name players in situations where he identifies an opportunity; this could be one such situation, if Amendola does not play on Sunday...and could afford you the ability to roster both Odell Beckham Jr. and Julio Jones in a single GPP lineup.
Greg Olsen (Salary: $6400). Not much of a stretch this week, Olsen will be heavily-owned as the number-one receiving target on the Panthers when they go up against the worst secondary in football (passing yards per game); for that reason, Olsen is not a contrarian play, but instead is a high-upside tight end on a week where Rob Gronkowski is inactive and Tyler Eifert is doubtful to play. If any tight end has 2-3 touchdown upside in Week 13, it is Greg Olsen. To make him more attractive, the Saints have allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends over their past three games and have given up more fantasy points to the position than any other team in the league (19.1 per game).
Will Tye (Salary: $2500). The plodding Will Tye makes the column this week because of the increased volume he enjoyed in the month of November; over his past three games, Tye is averaging 7 targets per game, which has resulted in double-digit fantasy points over his previous two games. With Dwayne Harris settling into the WR2 role at 5'10", Eli Manning could look towards the 6'3" Tye in the redzone if Odell Beckham Jr. finds himself in tight coverage. The Jets, however, have been excellent against the tight end position most of the year, yielding only 9.6 fantasy points per game...but that is still close to the 4x multiplier needed to win most GPP's on DraftKings because Tye's salary is at the site minimum for the tight end position.
Cardinals (Salary: $3900). On a week where two of the better defensive options (Bengals and Patriots) are offered up at a $500 discount to the Cardinals, you can safely assume that the Cardinals are going to be criminally underowned for a team defense that is facing Nick Foles and the third lowest implied team total on the game slate. The last two defenses to face the Rams have scored double-digit fantasy points and the Cardinals have measurable upside, as displayed earlier this season when they went back-to-back games with two defensive touchdowns. Todd Gurley is the X-factor here...if the Cardinals can slow him down, as they have with most other running backs this season (4th in league against rush with 91.1 yards per game), the Rams will have a difficult time getting anything going against this Super Bowl contender.
Bills (Salary: $2600). It turns out that DeAndre Hopkins is human after all. After logging double-digit fantasy points in 10 consecutive games to start the season, Hopkins finally had a poor showing against the lowly New Orleans Saints last week, scoring only 8.6 points. As the primary weapon on a team that has lost its star running back, Arian Foster, the Bills will likely double-cover Hopkins with their 8th ranked pass coverage unit (ProFootballFocus) and force Brian Hoyer to choose between his lesser options (Alfred Blue, Cecil Shorts, and Nate Washington), all of whom will be outclassed by this underrated Bills defense. Vegas seems to agree with this selection, as evidenced by Houston's low implied team total of 19 points.
Giants (Salary: $2500). Going back to the well despite a poor performance last week, I still believe this Giants defense is much better than they were a month ago. Jason Pierre-Paul has created pressure on opposing quarterbacks since returning three weeks ago, something that did not happen in JPP's absence; likewise, the return of Prince Amukamara should have solidified the secondary that has allowed more passing yards than any team in the league. Last week, the Giants were a victim of circumstance when Eli Manning threw two early "tips-and-picks" that led to short field position for the Redskin offense; despite those short fields, the Giants held the 'Skins to only a field goal, a reflection of how improved this defense really is behind those skill players. That said, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie left the game in the second quarter with an injury and the secondary gave up a 60-yard touchdown pass on the very next play, which is how the remainder of the game went...This week, however, DRC is back and the Giants will face-off against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Jets. If the Giants can slow down Eric Decker out of the slot, I think the Jets could have problems moving the ball. GPP-only.
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