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.
In order to help you build winning rosters, let's walk through some of the observations that I have made while doing my research for DraftKings this week. As you build out your lineups on DraftKings, try to take into account the following commentary, which revolves around game strategy and how we will want to take advantage of what the masses are doing when they construct their own lineups.
CASH GAME TIPS
DISCUSSING VALUE: We talk a lot about "value" when discussing DFS players and how they should be handled with regards to cash games and tournament play. The basic definition of value distills down to a ratio of expected scoring divided by salary, which yields a given number in points per dollar. The higher the number, the better the value (and vice-versa). But that is where those discussions often end, which is not good for many new players because using the term "value" as a coverall for decision-making in DFS is a long-term losing proposition. First and foremost, it is generally quite easy to identify players with the highest value, but those players are often inexpensive players who find themselves in starting roles due to injuries that occurred after salaries were released; this week, Tyler Boyd fits that mold because his $4.0K salary reflects his accessory role behind A.J. Green, Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, and Tyler Eifert in that offense. With injuries sustained to Green and Bernard, Boyd has been thrust into a pseudo-WR1 role at only $4K, which yields solid value (again, in terms of points per dollar). The issue here is that it is impossible to complete one's roster based on value, alone, because rostering eight cheaply-priced, high-value options will leave $10K to spend; if you leave more than 1% to 2% of your overall salary on any site, you are leaving points on the table. All of this leads to H-value, a term that weighs value based on salary; basically, if both salary and value are high, the player has a higher H-value and is more attractive for cash games...if the salary is low, but value is high, the H-value is lower and judgment should be used. For more on H-value, read more about it in one of our preseason eBooks for DFS (described in detail on Page 87).
WHERE IS THE VALUE?: There is not a lot of value this week, which should make for some interesting cash game decisions, as well as some diversity in tournament play. I, myself, prefer a tighter salary cap because it lends itself to better game strategy decisions across the board. This week, I think you need to save salary at QB and TE to afford the expensive, high H-value RB's that include David Johnson ($8.9K), Jay Ajayi ($7.6K), and possibly even Melvin Gordon ($7.0K). At QB, Carson Palmer is extremely attractive at only $5.3K against a Falcons' defense that has surrendered a lot of yardage and scores through the air this season. Pairing Palmer with a tight end like C.J. Fiedorowicz ($3.3K) really opens up a lot of options at RB without the opportunity cost being too high at wide receiver. Of course, the aforementioned Tyler Boyd is definitely in play at only $4.0K because of his implied volume with Green and Bernard missing this weekend's game. If you read through the entire article, you will likely be able to see how I plan on building my cash game lineups based on the players I recommend.
MINING LOW TOTAL GAMES FOR HIDDEN GEMS: Due to injuries and general matchups, there are a lot of teams with implied team totals lower than 21 points this week, which is generally a reason to avoid those offenses. That said, if everybody is avoiding an offense, game strategy tells me that there is opportunity for tournament play in players from those offenses because they will be low-owned; after all, if an offense is projected to score 18 points, that's a pair of touchdowns and a field goal (or more), which is more than enough to generate sufficient fantasy points for lower-dollar players. Looking over my Vegas Value Chart, I see that the Jets are projected to score 19.5 points, the Rams are projected for 19 points, and the Chiefs are projected for 18 points. On these squads, I like Quincy Enunwa ($4.1K) because I suspect he will get overflow action if Brandon Marshall is blanketed by Malcolm Butler; I also like Lance Kendricks ($3.0K) against the Saints for garbage time production with a young QB looking for an outlet under pressure; lastly, I think that Spencer Ware ($6.0K) is a sneaky tournament play against a Broncos' defensive front that is funneling action to the run, yet has been unable to stop most running backs this season. In each case, a touchdown makes those individuals fantasy-relevant; if they were to pick up a second score, respectable yardage, and/or 6-8 receptions, they reach 4x value necessary for justification in tournament play...all at low ownership. Do not sleep on the low-scoring games.
CONSIDER TWO TIGHT ENDS: If you want to generate roster diversity, this is a week where you can consider rostering a tight end in your flex position because of how many tight ends are fairly priced. I currently have 14 different tight ends on my weekly list of playable options, which is about double the number of tight ends I generally find on that same list. You could feasibly save a lot of salary space by rostering Will Tye ($3.0K) and Dennis Pitta ($3.2K), both of whom have excellent matchups against the 32nd and 30th ranked defenses (versus the TE position). In doing so, you will build uniqueness into your lineups and you will be left with an average of nearly $6K per player to complete the remainder of your roster (after slotting in a defense); on a week where salaries are tight, there are worse ways to generate diversity without sacrificing upside. I might add that this strategy should not be limited to cheap tight ends because the tight ends at the higher end of the price range (i.e., Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen, etc.) all have two-touchdown upside and tend to be underowned because DFS players do not like to spend at the tight end position. On most sites, this type of strategy is not viable because of the lack of a flex position, so be sure to take advantage of it on DraftKings, as you see fit.
Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. There is little difference in terms of strength of selection between those players who have text to justify their appearance in this article versus those in the "also eligible" section; all are strong plays in their respective categories, but time and space restrictions do not allow for expansive written summaries of every player listed.
CASH GAME PICKS
Russell Wilson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6,700). Mirroring his 2015 campaign where he threw 24 touchdown passes over his last seven games of the season, Russell Wilson is once again heating up in the latter part of the season as the Seahawks make their playoff push as NFC favorites for the Super Bowl. Wilson gets a plum matchup against a Buccaneers' secondary that is allowing the 6th most fantasy points to the quarterback position this season (20.3 DraftKings' points per game), a number that would be higher if Tampa Bay had not faced the likes of Derek Anderson, Case Keenum, and Paxton Lynch in 30% of their games this season. Coming off a three-game stretch that saw him eclipse 25+ fantasy points in each effort, Wilson is red-hot and appears to be over the ankle injury that hobbled him earlier in the season; last week against the Eagles, we saw Wilson run on eight different occasions, which was the most we have seen him rush in almost a year's time, an observation that only adds fantasy allure to an already attractive matchup. Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Jimmy Graham should have little issues finding space against the Bucs' subpar defensive backfield and if the Seahawks decide to try to limit Thomas Rawls, who is coming off a season-high 40 snaps (59.7%), Wilson could be asked to shoulder the load in a game that has shootout potential due to a rash of injuries on the Seahawks' defense.
Carson Palmer (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5,300). A solid cash game and elite GPP play, Carson Palmer ticks all the DFS boxes this weekend. He will face a Falcons' defense that is dead-last in the league in passing yards allowed per game (283.0) and next-to-last in passing touchdowns allowed (23) behind only the Browns. Prior to last week's 15-point, 2-interception debacle against the Vikings' talented secondary, Palmer logged 300+ yard performances in three straight games against San Francisco, Carolina, and Seattle, all of whose pass defenses are ranked higher than the Falcons' 22nd rated DVOA unit. The Cardinals have a well-balanced offense that features David Johnson, who is heavily involved in both phases of the offense, a fact that bolsters Palmer's value because Johnson becomes yet another receiver in an already deep receiving corps that includes Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, and J.J. Nelson (Michael Floyd will likely sit this one out with a hamstring pull). Palmer's basement-level $5.3K salary necessitates only ~ 16 fantasy points to reach cash game value, a threshold he has achieved in 70% of his starts this season. As mentioned above, Palmer did not perform well last weekend against the Vikings' talented secondary, resulting in a pair of interceptions, one of which was run back for a touchdown by Xavier Rhodes. That performance may have left a mark on Palmer entering Week #12 and drive down his ownership levels due to recency bias; with the implied gamescript, plus personnel matchups, and must-win situation, Carson Palmer becomes an excellent tournament play, as well.
Also eligible: Colin Kaepernick ($5,700)
David Johnson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $8,900). There is not a lot that has to be said to convince you to get David Johnson into your DFS lineups at this juncture. The sophomore running back is assembling another terrific season with the Cardinals, averaging 26.7 DraftKings points per game, a number that he has surpassed in five of his previous six efforts. This week, Johnson will match up against the Atlanta Falcons, who allow the 2nd most fantasy points to the running back position this season (30.3 per game), despite having faced some pretty low caliber running backs including Fozzy Whittaker, Aaron Ripkowski, and Peyton Barber. Making matters worse, the Falcons are downright dreadful in covering pass-catching running backs, allowing a league-high 16.1 fantasy points per game to the running back position via receiving, alone. Given that David Johnson enters this game as the league's leading receiver out of the backfield (510 receiving yards), it would stand to reason that the Falcons will struggle to contain this talented back. Ordinarily, paying nearly ~ $9.0K on a single player is always risky because that player could be eliminated from the gamescript due to turnovers or unforeseen events, but Johnson's role in this offense is gamescript-independent, which means that he should be guaranteed 22-26 touches against the league's 28th ranked DVOA rush defense.
Jay Ajayi (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,600). The runner-up to David Johnson for chalk selection of the weekend, Jay Ajayi, should be in line for some absurd usage against an historically bad San Francisco rush defense. The Niners are yielding 5.2 yards per carry this season, which has amounted to nearly 180 rushing yards per game. They have allowed opposing running backs to rush for 100+ yards in eight out of ten games this season; the only exceptions were Todd Gurley back in Week #1 and (surprisingly) David Johnson, who still finished Week #10 with 27.1 DraftKings points. The one caveat with rostering Jay Ajayi is that the Dolphins will be without a key cog on their offensive line, Center Mike Pouncey, who is battling a hip injury; in the one game that Pouncey missed with Ajayi at running back, Ajayi finished with a 16/77/0 stat line against the Rams' 7th ranked DVOA rush defense. As touchdown favorites projected to score nearly four touchdowns, the Dolphins will likely feed Ajayi early and often, leading to yet another 100+ yard rusher against the Niners and resulting in 20+ fantasy points for the fourth time in his past six games.
Larry Fitzgerald (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,000). Only Mike Evans (12.0) and Antonio Brown (11.4) enter this weekend with more targets per game than the future Hall-of-Famer, Larry Fitzgerald (10.6). In a likely fast-paced matchup against the Falcons, there is little reason to think that Fitzgerald will not see double-digit targets for the fourth time in the last five weeks, particularly because he will largely avoid the elite coverage of Desmond Trufant, who rarely goes into the slot. Instead, Fitzgerald should see a lot of the diminutive, 5'9" Brian Poole, who gives up six full inches and a lot of talent to Fitzgerald; furthermore, the Falcons' success on offense has pushed their opponents to run a lot of plays to keep pace, which has resulted in more pass attempts against them (41.8 per game) than any team in the league. With John Brown and J.J. Nelson contending with Trufant on the outside, Fitzgerald should receive even more looks than normal from Palmer. Lastly, this game has the highest total on the Vegas board and the gamescript sets up favorably for the Cardinals' passing game, which further supports a big role for Fitzgerald at a fair $7.0K salary.
Tyler Boyd (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,000). Both A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard will miss this weekend's game against the Baltimore Ravens, which leaves Andy Dalton with only a few choices for receivers. Tyler Eifert is arguably the most obvious fallback option, but the Ravens have shut down tight ends, having allowed only a single touchdown to the position and no single tight end to surpass 10 fantasy points all season. With Eifert trying to accomplish mission impossible, that leaves Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd to compensate for the 15.1 targets per game lost when Bernard and Green went down with injuries last week. Of the two, Boyd appears to be most suited to pick up the slack on the basis that, like Larry Fitzgerald (above), he will run out of the slot against a small, less talented slot cornerback in Jerraud Powers, who gives up a significant (4-inch) height advantage to Boyd. Baltimore is a 4-point chalk in this matchup, which alongside their stellar rush defense (best in NFL via DVOA metric), should minimize Jeremy Hill, while forcing Andy Dalton to try to beat them through the air. Given the implied gamescript, personnel matchups, and resultant volume, Tyler Boyd's $4.0K salary just seems too low for the type of floor he brings to your cash game rosters this Sunday.
Jimmy Graham (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5,300). After nearly two years of waiting, it appears that Pete Carroll and the Seahawks have finally figured out that if you throw the ball to Jimmy Graham, he will catch it. In what has to have been a frustrating opening year in Seattle, Graham was used largely as a blocker to help protect Russell Wilson last season; this season, the Seahawks' offensive line is arguably even worse than 2015, but Carroll and company have decided to have Graham do what he does best and catch passes. Graham has responded swimmingly with double-digit fantasy points in 60% of his starts, including half of those performances over 20+ DraftKings points. This Sunday, Graham will take the field opposite a Tampa Bay Bucs defense that has yielded 17.5 points per game to the tight end position over the past month, including a 7/108/0 stat line for Travis Kelce just last week. The Seahawks are projected to score 25.5 points in this matchup, which means that there should be plenty of fantasy points to be scored and Graham is fairly priced at $5.3K; if he were listed as a wide receiver, his salary would be at least $1K more than his current salary, which makes him very attractive across all DFS formats.
C.J. Fiedorowicz (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,300). As Brock Osweiler comes off his best game of the season against the Raiders on Monday night, C.J. Fiedorowicz has nothing to complain about. The third-year tight end has already achieved career bests in every offensive category and will look to continue padding those numbers on Sunday against the Chargers. San Diego fields a pair of top-tier cornerbacks in Brandon Flowers and Casey Hayward, which tends to funnel action to the middle of the field via slot receivers and/or tight ends; this should benefit Fiedorowicz, who enters this contest with seven or more targets in five of his previous six games. Over that period of time, only Delanie Walker, Antonio Gates, and Greg Olsen have more targets at the tight end position. At only $3.3K, Fiedorowicz can supply you with some much needed salary relief to afford you the ability to roster those high-dollar running back options for your cash games to help nail down that solid scoring floor; he needs only ~ 10 fantasy points to achieve cash game value, a number he has missed only once since Week #4.
Also eligible: Travis Kelce ($4,000)
Giants (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,600). Winners of five straight, the Giants will travel to Cleveland to try to hand the Browns their 11th consecutive loss and keep them on pace for a (un)perfect 0-16 season. The Giants boast the league's 8th overall DVOA defense, one that features a stellar defensive backfield consisting of Dominique Rogers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins, and Eli Apple; their rush defense, led by Jason Pierre-Paul, is allowing only 3.6 yards per carry and has not allowed a single 100-yard rusher all season. This well-balanced unit should have no troubles keeping Isaiah Crowell in check, while forcing Josh McCown to try to find Terrelle Pryor and/or Corey Coleman, both of whom have tough personnel matchups. In fairness to the Browns, they should get better with Josh McCown under center, but "better" is a relative term that does not mean much for an offense that has a grand total of 26 points in their previous three games (9.3 points per game). Cleveland has allowed team defenses to score double-digit fantasy points in half of their games this season, including recent back-to-back performances from Pittsburgh and Baltimore that netted 22 and 14 fantasy points, respectively.
Titans (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $2,800). It is with some trepidation that the Tennessee Titans, the league's 29th ranked DVOA defense, appear as a cash game defense this week, but the circumstances call for it. The Titans will travel to Chicago to take on a Bears' offense that is ravaged with injuries to key personnel that include Jay Cutler, Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, Zach Miller, and Eddie Royal, who collectively have accounted for 80+% of the Bears' offensive production this season. Cutler's absence will probably be the biggest differentiator, as the dropoff from him to backup Matt Barkley is dramatic; Barkley has never displayed elite talent, as far back to his high school days at Mater Dei, where his TD:INT ratio was an embarrassing 23:18 (hat tip to fellow FootballGuy, Devin Knotts, for that one). In college at USC, Barkley averaged an interception for every two touchdowns thrown outside of an outlier Junior season, which is probably indicative of his overall talent. After three years in the league, Barkley has 65 total pass attempts and has thrown 6 interceptions (versus 0 touchdowns), a statistic that drives home what we should expect from the Bears' offense on Sunday. Chicago will run out a list of low-end receivers to catch the ball, headlined by Cameron Meredith, none of whom are likely to create havoc in the Titans' mediocre secondary. Lastly, the Titans enter this game averaging almost 30 points per game over the past month, which could force Barkley to throw more than John Fox would like, resulting in multiple turnover and scoring opportunities for this Titans' defensive unit.
Eli Manning (Salary: $6,500). The New York Giants should be able to do whatever they want to do against the Browns' glorified college defense on Sunday. If Eli wishes to throw for multiple touchdowns, he should have no problem; if Coach Tom Coughlin decides to go run-heavy and pound the ball with Rashad Jennings, Jennings should enjoy easy sledding for most of the day. In essence, the risk in rostering the running or passing game is not if they will succeed, but if they will be utilized. Eli Manning is certainly a justifiable tournament option against this Browns' secondary that is allowing the 4th most fantasy points per game (20.4) to the quarterback position; prior to last week's game where the wind forced Ben Roethlisberger to ground the ball with LeVeon Bell, the Browns had allowed four of their previous five opposing quarterbacks to log 23+ DraftKings points. If Manning were to achieve similar numbers this weekend, he would be in line for the 4x multiplier value necessary to justify placement into your GPP lineups. Odell Beckham Jr. should have no problems finding space against an aging Joe Haden, who could not slow down a similarly shifty receiver in Antonio Brown (8/76/0 on 10 targets) with the help of 20+ MPH wind just two weeks ago. Out of the slot, emerging star, Sterling Shepard, will face off against undrafted free agent rookie, Tracy Howard, who has stumbled often in coverage this season. Lastly, Victor Cruz, whose best days are far behind him, should still have fantasy relevancy in this matchup against Briean Boddy-Calhoun, who is allowing nearly 70% of passes thrown into his coverage to be completed and an opposing QB rating over 110 this season. Collectively, these matchups all favor a big day for Manning, if the Giants decide to take advantage.
Ryan Tannehill (Salary: $5,500). A leverage play, Ryan Tannehill will be far underowned this weekend because of how many people will be looking to jam Jay Ajayi into their lineups against the 49'ers terrible rush defense. If Ajayi were to struggle (or get injured), over a third of tournament rosters on DraftKings will be drawing dead because of his hefty salary and the opportunity cost associated with getting little in return for that $7.6K; meanwhile, Ryan Tannehill owners would be ecstatic because they would have him at < 10% ownership in a great matchup that is only being overlooked because of the ridiculously porous Niner front seven. That said, the 49'ers are allowing 20.4 DraftKings points per game to opposing quarterbacks, tying them with the Browns for the 4th worst pass defense in the league (fantasy points allowed per game). Tannehill certainly has the weapons on offense, in the form of Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker, to finish this contest with 250+ passing yards, 2-3 touchdowns, and 20-40 rushing yards, which would be enough to reach GPP value on his pittance of a salary. If he were to surpass 300 passing yards, something he did six times last season (twice in 2016), Tannehill would approach or surpass 5x value, which would set you up nicely for a high finish in tournaments across DraftKings, particularly because his salary affords you flexibility at other positions.
LeSean McCoy (Salary: $7,300). Nestled right between two popular RB options, Jay Ajayi ($7.6K) and Melvin Gordon ($7.0K), LeSean McCoy is going to go underowned in tournaments on Sunday despite having an excellent matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Further driving down McCoy's ownership is the fact that he left last week's game with a thumb injury that required surgery the following day; most DFS players will remember that injury, see his sizeable salary, and move $300 in either direction to Ajayi or Gordon, both of whom have plus matchups themselves. That said, McCoy should continue to see heavy usage, as the Bills are second only to the Dallas Cowboys in their dedication to the ground game this season (49.7% run plays); furthermore, Mike Gillislee will miss this matchup with a hamstring issue, which should result in all the action McCoy can handle against the league's 23rd ranked DVOA rush defense. The Jags have avoided displaying their inability to defend the run by facing a litany of offenses that focus on throwing the ball; in the two games where their opponents were "run-first" offenses (Tennessee and Houston), the Jags allowed an average stat line of 34/171/1 to their opponents' respective rushing attacks. With McCoy in line to see the lion's share of work out of Buffalo's backfield, not to mention a positive gamescript as 7.5-point favorites and a 26+ point implied team total, it would not be surprising to see him end the day with elite fantasy numbers at single-digit ownership levels.
Devontae Booker (Salary: $5,600). In the four games since Devontae Booker was installed as the primary running back in Denver, he has averaged 20 touches per game, a number that would be higher if not for an outlier against Oakland that saw Booker removed from the game plan due to falling behind early and the Broncos abandoning the running game. On Sunday night, Booker should be the featured player on the Broncos' offense against a Kansas City defensive front that is the NFL's 21st ranked DVOA rush defense and allowing a lofty 4.5 yards per carry. Looking deeper into the Chiefs' rush defense, there is a potentially informative statistic: Only seven NFL teams, of which Kansas City is one, yield at least 4.5 yards per carry and 25 carries per game--the average number of rushing touchdowns allowed for those teams not named Kansas City is 10.5, while the Chiefs have only allowed 4 rushing touchdowns all season. The Chiefs are facing some negative regression, in terms of rushing touchdowns allowed, in the near future and this would appear to be an ideal spot behind one of the league's best run blocking offensive lines. Booker's $5.6K salary happens to coincide with that of Rashad Jennings, who will be a crowd favorite this weekend, as he trending upwards, facing the Browns, and has a positive gamescript; that said, Booker will come at a fraction of the ownership with similar upside to Jennings, which makes him the superior tournament play.
Amari Cooper (Salary: $7,700). Coming off back-to-back tough matchups against two top-10 secondaries (Denver and Houston), Amari Cooper will look to regain the momentum he generated in October, where he posted three 100+ yard receiving efforts against the Chargers, Chiefs, and Buccaneers. Cooper will line up across from the Panthers' Daryl Worley, a rookie cornerback who has struggled to contain lesser receivers for most of the season; when in coverage, Worley has allowed opposing passers to complete nearly 65% of pass attempts and log a collective QB rating approaching 120.0. Meanwhile, Michael Crabtree, who has been Cooper's fantasy nemesis all year, was limited in practice this week with an ankle injury; Crabtree will likely play on Sunday, but he will run most of his routes at the Panthers' best defensive back, James Bradberry, the combination of which should lead for additional looks in Cooper's direction. Lastly, Latavius Murray's role in this game could be limited, as the Panthers' 6th ranked DVOA defensive front seven allow only 3.5 yards per carry, which ranks them only behind the Baltimore Ravens against the rush; therefore, the bulk of the Raiders' offense could come on the arm of Derek Carr, whose healthiest and most talented receiver will also enjoy the best personnel matchup on the field.
DeVante Parker (Salary: $4,700). An interesting phenomenon has been occurring in Miami over the past month: Jarvis Landry is no longer the focal point of the offense, having been initially replaced by Jay Ajayi, but even more recently by DeVante Parker. Ajayi is sure to see his touches against this dreadful San Francisco front seven (see above), but Parker is an intriguing tournament play because of his recent usage in the Dolphins' offense. Over the previous two weeks, Parker has been targeted 18 times, pulling in 13 receptions for 182 yards and a touchdown; those plus efforts were against solid defensive backfields (Los Angeles and San Diego), which could mean big things for him this week against a San Francisco secondary whose ineptitude is overshadowed by their historically bad rush defense. The Niners have allowed a league-high 23 passing touchdowns this season and yield the 3rd highest fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position, both of which bode well for Parker's fantasy prospects on Sunday. In his rookie season last year, Parker came on strong at the end of the season, scoring 13+ fantasy points in five of his last six games, a trend that looks to be repeating itself in his sophomore campaign.
Martellus Bennett (Salary: $4,500). What a difference a week makes! Last week, Martellus Bennett was the most popular play in DFS circles against the San Francisco 49'ers at a $3.7K price point. This week, he plays against the Jets, again without Rob Gronkowski, yet nobody in the DFS world is talking about him. Why? Because of recency bias...50% of DFS players were spurned by Bennett last week when he caught a single pass (on two targets) for 14 yards. That letdown performance will drive ownership levels well below 10% in tournament formats this weekend, which is exactly where you want them to be when you pounce on the upside that Martellus Bennett brings to the table. Julian Edelman will, no doubt, be Tom Brady's favorite target, but after Edelman, it is anybody's game; it could be Dion Lewis out of the backfield, Chris Hogan on the deep ball after several weeks' worth of rest, or Martellus Bennett in a heavy role that we have seen multiple times this season. Of the three, Bennett is the least expensive option and definitely the player with the most upside due to his big frame and redzone prowess. The matchup against the Jets' defense looks unappealing, but a deeper look shows that the Jets have only played two tight ends of Bennett's caliber all season (Jimmy Graham and Travis Kelce) and they allowed an average of 6/101/0.5 in those contests.
Antonio Gates (Salary: $4,200). The Houston Texans have been greedy against the tight end position this season, allowing only 9.2 DraftKings points per game, which is good enough for 4th in the league. That said, they have allowed an average of ~ 17.0 fantasy points per game to the position over the past month, a trend that helps augment Antonio Gates' chances for a big game on Sunday, when the Chargers' best receiver, Tyrell Williams, will have his hands full with A.J. Bouye, ProFootballFocus' second overall cornerback, in tow. Gates has nine or more targets in every game over the past month and has caught a touchdown in three straight contests; the narrative for his recent uptick in production is that Philip Rivers and the Chargers' organization would like to see Gates surpass Tony Gonzalez for most career touchdowns by a tight end before the year is over, as Gates' future after 2016 is unclear. With three touchdowns to score in only six more games, you can bet that Gates is going to be Rivers' first read when the Chargers are throwing in the redzone; for that reason alone, Gates will remain a top end GPP option because the primary endpoint will be touchdowns, rather than yardage and/or catches, both of which are helpful for fantasy purposes, but do not carry the same upside of finding the endzone.
Also eligible: Will Tye (Salary: $3,000).
Bills (Salary: $3,800). Last Sunday, Blake Bortles threw the 10th "pick six" of his career against the Lions, a career spanning only 40 starts. Since entering the league two years ago, no quarterback has thrown more interceptions that have been returned for touchdowns than Bortles. With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense to consider the Buffalo Bills' defense as a tournament play in Week #12 because the Jaguars have turned the ball over nine times in the past three weeks, including allowing a pair of defensive touchdowns in that time frame. The Bills' defense started off the season white-hot, scoring double-digit fantasy points in four of their first five games, but have since settled down and are now averaging 9.0 points per game on DraftKings. They are the highest-priced team defense on the main slate, which will keep their ownership levels moderate, a differentiation factor to help generate roster diversity at a position whose fantasy output is less predictable than other positions. In other words, if you are looking to create uniqueness for your GPP lineup(s), slotting the Bills' defense will help contribute to that goal because most DFS players are going to spend less on the position, particularly on a tight salary cap. Doing so against a Jaguars' offense that has allowed their last three opposing team defenses to score double-digit fantasy points feels like a calculated, high-upside risk for tournament play.
Patriots (Salary: $3,400). After missing a few weeks with a sprained knee, Ryan Fitzpatrick will lead the Jets' offense again this Sunday at home in the Meadowlands. Fitzpatrick has endured a terrible 2016 campaign that has seen him throw only 8 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions, while completing only 56.5% of attempted passes, his lowest percentage since 2009. The Patriots' biggest weakness on defense is through the air, as evidenced by Russell Wilson's recent 348-yard, 3-touchdown dismantling of the Pats' secondary just a few weeks ago; on the ground, New England boasts the 7th best DVOA rush unit, which should contain Matt Forte and force Fitzpatrick's hand. Assuming Fitzpatrick is forced to throw, he will look for Brandon Marshall first, who will be shadowed by Malcolm Butler, ProFootballFocus' 4th overall coverage cornerback, which will likely lead to one of two things: 1) Fitzpatrick tries to jam the ball to Marshall amongst tight coverage with Butler, resulting in interceptions and potential pick sixes, or 2) Fitzpatrick is forced to look to lesser-talented players with better personnel matchups. In either scenario, the Patriots' defense would be in good shape to capitalize on poor decision-making and/or execution.
Also eligible: Saints ($2,800), Texans (Salary: $2,600).