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
Tom Brady (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,500). With a much anticipated return from a four-game suspension against FootballOutsiders' 29th ranked defense, Tom Brady will likely be the highest-owned quarterback in cash games this weekend. And for good reason--the Patriots have the highest implied team total on the board and will be facing a Browns' defensive unit that has allowed no less than 18 fantasy points to the following quarterbacks this season: Carson Wentz, Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, and Kirk Cousins. None of those quarterbacks even comes close to approaching the skill set that Brady will put on display on Sunday in Cleveland and it will not be surprising to see Brady finish this game with 25+ fantasy points. The only risk in rostering Brady is that the Patriots jump out to an early lead and then lean on LeGarrette Blount to run clock late in the game; if that happens, you will likely have gotten enough return on investment from Brady that it should not dramatically hurt your chances of winning cash games.
Ben Roethlisberger (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,200). For a few hundred dollars less than Tom Brady, you can have Ben Roethlisberger, fresh off a 300-yard, 5-touchdown performance against the Chiefs last week. Big Ben will be playing at home against the Jets, whose dichotomous defense forces their opponents to funnel action through the air. To date, the Jets are allowing only 3.1 rushing yards per carry (2nd in NFL), but have been thrashed through the air with 285.0 passing yard per game (7th worst in NFL) and 9.7 passing yards per attempt (worst in NFL). They have allowed 17 passing plays of 20+ yards (2nd worst in NFL) and 7 plays of 40+ yards (worst in NFL), which has resulted in three out of four teams throwing for 300+ yards against the Jets this season. This appears to be a perfect spot for Roethlisberger because LeVeon Bell's ground work might be lessened by the Jets' general ability to stuff the run, resulting in empty backfields with Bell and DeAngelo Williams lining up out of the slot as receivers. If you need any more reasons to make you feel comfortable about slotting Big Ben into your cash game rosters, do not forget that he has averaged 10 more fantasy points per game over the past two seasons when playing at Heinz Field.
Also eligible: Ryan Tannehill ($5,700)
Jerick McKinnon (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,000). When salaries were released earlier this week, building a reasonable lineup on DraftKings was a difficult endeavor; by the end of the week when injury reports were finalized, value has presented itself in the form of multiple players, who should provide enough return on investment to allow for sound roster construction. One of those players is Jerick McKinnon, who was probably mispriced from the moment salaries were released. Since Adrian Peterson was likely lost for the season due to a meniscus injury that occurred in Week #2, Jerick McKinnon has stepped into the RB1 role in Minnesota with 38 touches over the subsequent two weeks; McKinnon has posted modest numbers in those two games (34/130/1 with 4/12/0), but they were against two fairly stout run defenses, Carolina and the NY Giants, who are ranked 7th and 5th, respectively, by FootballOutsiders' DVOA metric. This week, McKinnon will face-off against the Texans, who are ranked 30th against the rush and have allowed two-touchdown games to the previous two feature running backs they faced. One of the favorite arguments against McKinnon is that Matt Asiata steals high-value redzone touches, but that has not been the case this season, as McKinnon has out-touched Asiata in the redzone over the past two weeks by a 7-2 margin.
DeAndre Washington (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,500). As you can see, the popular roster builds for cash games on DraftKings this week are going to largely be predicated low-dollar running backs and higher-dollar receivers. When Latavius Murray was announced as "out" for this weekend's game against the Chargers, DeAndre Washington's value in DFS circles skyrocketed to the top of most lists. Washington, along with Jalen Richard, has been lurking behind Murray for work all season, but this weekend, it will be a large dose of Washington with Richard mixed in behind him. Washington has posted a cumulative stat line of 23/147/0 over his limited usage in this offense, an impressive average of 6.4 yards per carry, not to mention his ability to catch the ball as a receiver out of the backfield. The matchup against the Chargers is above-average, as they allowed four rushing touchdowns to the Saints just a week ago and are FootballOutsiders' 21st-ranked rush defense. The Chargers will also be without two key cornerbacks, Brandon Flowers and Jason Verrett, which is going to push their linebacking corps more into coverage to help those replacement cornerbacks try to contain the likes of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. In all, this Chargers defense is going to be stressed due to key losses on defense, which should result in some solid opportunity for Washington and Richard, who are likely to split carries in a 2:1 fashion, respectively. While it is not a highly recommended play, you could consider slotting both Raiders' running backs into your lineup for a total cost of $6.8K to ensure you get exposure to all carries from that backfield, while saving salary for other positions where you feel more comfortable spending on higher priced players.
Brandon Marshall (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,100). With Eric Decker watching from the sidelines and the running game likely out of contention early in this matchup, Brandon Marshall should be in line for a slew of action against the Steelers on Sunday afternoon. Marshall has faced 3 different top-10 pass defenses this season and his numbers have suffered as a result; through four games, Marshall has been targeted 39 times, but caught only 16 passes for 249 yards and a solitary touchdown. This Sunday should be different against the Steelers, as they do not have a shutdown corner like the ones that Marshall has faced over the past two weeks (Richard Sherman and Marcus Peters). As 7+ point underdogs, the gamescript sets up perfectly for Marshall to see action early and often in this matchup. Furthermore, Quincy Enunwa (18 targets over previous two games) did not practice on Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game; if Enunwa is unable to go or is limited due to his knee issue, Marshall could receive even more overflow volume at a depressed $7.1K price tag. Expect 10-12 targets, 80-100 receiving yards, and a good opportunity to find the endzone for Marshall and do not be surprised if much of that production comes later in the game when the Jets are playing catchup.
Robert Woods (Primarily cash games, Salary: $3,900). The truth is that I suspect the Bills, flying high off back-to-back victories against two perennial Super Bowl contenders (Patriots & Cardinals), are in for a letdown game against the lowly Los Angeles Rams in California this weekend. The outcome of this game, however, should have little bearing on the ability of Robert Woods to reach cash game value at his pedestrian $3.9K salary. With Sammy Watkins watching the games from the sidelines, Woods has become the Bills' WR1 and should see somewhere from 8-12 targets, depending on how the game progresses. Since Watkins' injury in Week #2, Woods has had 18 targets across two starts as the Bills' primary receiver and that should not change this Sunday, as the Bills just do not trust anybody outside of Charles Clay or LeSean McCoy to catch passes. Woods' upside is probably limited, particularly if we consider that the implied team total for both squads is less than 20 points, but if he catches 6-8 passes for 60-80 yards, he will reach value and afford you the ability to roster a more expensive player (i.e., Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., etc) elsewhere.
Cameron Meredith (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,000). *Only roster Meredith if Eddie Royal is announced as inactive on Sunday morning! If Royal is active, you might consider Brice Butler, who is similarly priced at $3.5K.* When Kevin White left last week's game against the Lions with an ankle injury, Cameron Meredith stepped in and played every snap in his absence. Meredith will get another crack as a WR2 this weekend because White is now on the injured reserve. In fact, Meredith could be the only healthy wide receiver on the Bears on Sunday, as Alshon Jeffery was limited at practice all week with a knee issue and Eddie Royal did not practice all week due to a calf injury. The limited information on Meredith's skill set suggests that he is fairly quick (4.49 40-yard dash), has decent hands, and can use his 6'3" to his advantage. He should be in a good spot to put up some decent numbers against the Colts, who field the league's 29th-ranked pass defense entering Week #5. With all of the question marks surrounding the Bears' passing game on Sunday, Meredith (and Zach Miller, below) seem to be the most realistic threats to achieve value based on their low salaries and merit consideration as salary-savers, who can enable spending elsewhere.
Zach Miller (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,600). For all the reasons Cameron Meredith is recommended above, Zach Miller is recommended here. The Colts do not field an excellent set of coverage defenders outside of Vontae Davis, who, incidentally, has not been himself this season (currently ranked 90th out of 111 coverage cornerbacks) and have FootballOutsiders' 29th ranked pass defense. That should bode well for Brian Hoyer and his receivers, except for the fact that only Cameron Meredith and Zach Miller enter this game 100% healthy. Miller has been particularly enticing since Hoyer came on board as the Bears' starting quarterback, scoring 3 touchdowns across a pair of games, picking up 11 receptions on 12 targets for a total of 109 receiving yards. At 6'4", Miller is a big redzone target and it is clear that Hoyer is looking for him when they get inside the 20's, so there is little reason to get away from him this weekend when the best Bears' receivers are hobbled and Miller has displayed chemistry with Hoyer over the previous two weeks.
Zach Ertz (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,500). Coming off their bye week, the Eagles will trot out Zach Ertz as their pass-receiving tight end after losing him for Weeks #2 and #3 due to a rib injury. Ertz was on a tear in the Eagles' season-opener, hauling in 6 catches for 58 yards before leaving the game with the aforementioned injury. While Ertz was out, Brent Celek and Trey Burton stepped in to fill his shoes, logging 10 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown across two games, numbers that make the tight end position relevant in Philadelphia. The Eagles have an attractive matchup against the Lions in Detroit this weekend because Detroit is in the bottom of the league in almost every defensive category, including fantasy points allowed to tight ends. The Lions have allowed opposing tight ends to score a touchdown in every game this season, including three touchdowns to Colts' tight ends back in Week #1.
Also eligible: Will Tye ($2,600)
Patriots (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,700). Since leaving Cleveland as the Head Coach of the Browns back in 1995, Bill Belichick has only faced his former team seven times, but has compiled a winning 5-2 record against them (something he has done against every team in the NFL except for one). The Patriots enter this week's matchup as big 10.5-point favorites over the Browns, whose implied team total of 18 points represents the bottom of the Week #5 slate. The Browns have surprisingly scored 20 or more points in each of their previous three games, but it is difficult to believe in a team led by Cody Kessler with only one legitimate receiver (Terrelle Pryor); the reason the Browns have been successful in putting points on the board is largely based on their success in the ground game; the Browns entered Week #5 as the league leaders in rushing yards per game (149.2) and rushing yards per attempt (5.7). They will want to try to emulate that success against the Patriots in Cleveland on Sunday because getting into a Cody Kessler-versus-Tom Brady shootout is not going to end well for the Browns. We should expect Bill Belichick to take note of the Browns' success on the ground and focus on shutting down Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson, forcing Kessler to try to beat the Patriots through the air with Pryor. Assuming it plays out in that manner, the Patriots defense looks like a safe bet to reach 8-10 points with upside based on Kessler making a mistake against a Belichick-schemed defense.
Vikings (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,400). There is little dispute that the Minnesota Vikings have fielded the best defense in the league to this point in the season. Honorable mention goes to the Broncos, but the Vikings have jumped out of the gate with 15 sacks through their first four games (2nd in NFL entering this week) and have held every team they have played to 17 or less points, including the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers (in Charlotte) en route to a 4-0 record without their franchise quarterback and future Hall-of-Fame running back. Minnesota is thriving primarily based upon their excellent coverage cornerbacks, Xavier Rhodes, Terence Newman, and Captain Munnerlyn, all of whom rank highly on ProFootballFocus' coverage metrics. Because Minnesota is able to blanket opposing receivers, they are able create pressure and force sacks and/or turnovers from quarterbacks under pressure. We should see more of this kind of pressure this weekend against the Texans, whose offense ranks dead-last amongst FootballOutsiders' DVOA rankings. When under pressure this season, Brock Osweiler ranks in the middle of most NFL quarterbacks in completion percentage, but he is third in the league in interceptions thrown while under pressure, a statistic that could indicate there is more to come against this tenacious defense in Minnesota this weekend.
Andrew Luck (Salary: $7,300). Looking over Andrew Luck's game logs this season, he has probably been better than most casual fans think. In Week #1, Luck threw for nearly 400 passing yards and 4 touchdowns against the Lions for 38.5 DraftKings points. Luck struggled in the following two weeks, but he was playing against two of the better secondaries in the league (Denver and San Diego), not to mention that he was without his WR2, Donte Moncrief, who exited their Week #2 game early due to a scapula fracture. Last week, Luck salvaged a respectable fantasy day late in the game against the Jaguars in London, a game that traditionally causes players to falter for whatever reason. This week, Luck returns home and will face a Chicago Bears secondary that looks good on paper and has largely contained the quarterbacks they have faced to this point in the season. However, Vegas oddsmakers project the Colts to score nearly four touchdowns against the Bears, which is consistent with the number of points they have allowed (on average) when on the road this season (@ DAL; @ HOU). If we ponder the fact that the Bears allow only 3.9 yards per carry on the ground and that Frank Gore is not a multi-touchdown threat at this point in his career, it is entirely reasonable to envision Luck putting the ball in the air 40+ times in this matchup, which should get him above that 300-yard threshold necessary to garner that 3-point bonus that is essential for pulling down big tournament cashes.
Carson Wentz (Salary: $6,400). Coming off a bye week that finds the Philadelphia Eagles undefeated, expect Carson Wentz to be primed to continue his hot start against one of the league's worst defenses, the Detroit Lions. The Lions have FootballOutsiders' worst-ranked pass defense and their rush unit is not much better at 31st in the league; the Eagles should have few difficulties moving the ball against Detroit in whatever fashion they choose. Expect Doug Pederson to try to ground the ball whenever possible, as the Eagles have gone in a 180-degree turn from the Chip Kelly days and now lead the league in time of possession. That said, Wentz' salary is cheap enough that he merits consideration in tournament play because he needs only ~ 25 points to reach value. Through four games, the Lions have allowed an average of 24.3 DraftKings points to opposing quarterbacks, which is a good indication that Wentz could easily achieve GPP value in this matchup. If you roll with Wentz, Jordan Matthews is a nice stack option for reasons you can find later in this article; you might also consider Dorial Green-Beckham, who has been seeing increased snaps in each game, is expected to play even more this week, is dirt cheap at $3.2K, and will be a big redzone target at 6'5".
Ryan Fitzpatrick (Salary: $5,100). Wait, what?! Yes, it is time to think about taking advantage of the negativity surrounding Ryan Fitzpatrick and slot him into a few of your GPP lineups this weekend. It is simple game strategy--Fitz has thrown nine interceptions in the previous two weeks, which will be enough to keep 95% of DFS players away from him. There is no denying that those were terrible performances, but they were against the league's 2nd- (Seattle) and 8th-ranked (Kansas City) pass defenses (FootballOutsiders' DVOA), who have stifled quarterbacks far better than Fitzpatrick this season; prior to those efforts, Fitz averaged ~ 20 points against Buffalo (15th) and Cincinnati (10th), two pass defenses that are still arguably better than the Steelers' secondary that he will face this Sunday. The Steelers have allowed 300+ passing yards in three of their four games this season (287 yards in the other game) and have been fairly stout against the run (4.0 YPC, 78.2 YPG); when taken into consideration against the likely gamescript, it would appear to be a prime spot for Ryan Fitzpatrick to put together a solid fantasy game with Brandon Marshall and emerging names like Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson. With Matt Forte getting less snaps each progressing week, we could also see a bigger dose of Bilal Powell, who has 16 targets in his previous two games.
C.J. Anderson (Salary: $6,900). The DFS darling, Melvin Gordon, is priced at $7.0K this week against the Oakland Raiders, who are yielding a massive 5.1 yards per carry this season; coming off a two-touchdown effort against the Saints last week, Gordon now has six touchdowns (in 73 carries) this season after not getting into the endzone even once in his rookie season (184 carries). To put it mildly, he cannot continue scoring at that pace--it is simply unsustainable. Furthermore, Gordon is averaging only 3.15 yards per carry this season, a number that has dropped over his most recent two games where he averaged only 2.0 YPC against two very bad rush defenses (Indianapolis and New Orleans). This is all to advise you to fade Gordon this week and roll with C.J. Anderson, who is priced adjacent to Gordon at $6.9K. Anderson will be owned at a fraction of the rate Gordon is owned, but has every bit as much upside against the Falcons' 25th ranked rush defense (DVOA metric). It is looking as though Trevor Siemian will not be playing on Sunday, which should thrust Paxton Lynch into the starting role for the second consecutive week. While Lynch was adequate in his career debut against the Bucs last week (14/24, 170, 1 TD), Gary Kubiak is not going to ask him to throw the ball more than 30 times when C.J. Anderson could shoulder the load and beat the Falcons by himself. Anderson has 20 or more touches and a touchdown in three out of four games this season and this matchup against the Falcons is arguably his best of the season. While everybody else is zigging with Melvin Gordon at 20% ownership, zag with C.J. Anderson at an ownership clip less than half that number.
LeGarrette Blount (Salary: $5,600). A leverage play is loosely defined as a game strategy tactic employed to take advantage of what the masses are doing within a tournament. LeGarrette Blount represents a classic leverage play this weekend because Tom Brady will likely be the highest-owned quarterback in Week #5 and anybody who rosters Brady is almost guaranteed to not roster Blount. If 25% of the field owns Brady and he has an average-to-below average game, it will likely be Blount who causes Brady to have the poor outing. So while 25% of the field are lamenting their decision to roll with Brady, the 5% of people who rostered Blount immediately bypass those Brady owners in the process. From a talent perspective, Blount has demonstrated three-touchdown upside as recent as last season. This week, he has a stellar matchup against FootballOutsiders' 28th-ranked rush defense that has put up respectable numbers this season primarily because they have faced several inept running offenses (Miami, Baltimore, and Washington). This week, however, things could change for the Browns, as Blount has 22+ carries and a touchdown in every Patriots' win this season; the Pats are 10.5-point chalk over the Browns, which could mean plenty of rushing in the second half of the game should Bill Belichick decide to limit Brady after they build an early lead.
Devonta Freeman (Salary: $5,000). After much debate, it appears that Tevin Coleman will attempt to play in Denver this Sunday despite having health concerns surrounding his sickle cell anemia. Coleman will likely take the field, but it would not be surprising to see him play lesser snaps because of those health concerns. If that happens, Devonta Freeman goes from a strong GPP play to an elite GPP play against a Denver Broncos defense that is quietly susceptible to the run. The Broncos have allowed only two passing touchdowns all season and opposing quarterbacks are averaging less than 200 passing yards per game against them, which largely eliminates a role for Matt Ryan in this matchup. Against the run, however, Denver is allowing 4.2 YPC and 113.8 YPG, numbers that are strikingly high considering that the Broncos are 4-0 and their opponents have had to abandon the run early in several games against them. Because of the workload split, Freeman has fallen out of favor amongst the DFS community, but his salary is fair for his role in this offense and we know that he has multiple touchdown upside based on his performance in this offense last season. If he gets a few extra looks due to concerns about Coleman's health, Freeman could surpasses 100 yards, score a touchdown, and easily achieve tournament value at his modest $5.0K price point.
Jeremy Hill (Salary: $4,200). The Cowboys have faced a veritable gamut of underperforming running backs this season including Rashad Jennings, Matt Jones, Jeremy Langford, and Carlos Hyde, among others; despite facing that laundry list of mediocre running backs, the Cowboys have still allowed a whopping 4.9 yards per carry to the position. Enter Jeremy Hill, who is still receiving the bulk of the carries in the Bengals offense even though he continues to split snaps down the middle with Giovani Bernard; in fact, as the season has progressed, Hill has seen increased touches in every single game, hitting a season-high 21 touches in last week's effort against the Miami Dolphins. Meanwhile, the Vegas line has moved three full points in favor of the Bengals since last Sunday, which further advocates a heavy role for Hill in this matchup. If we add in the extremely low salary on Hill, this would appear to be one of the elite GPP options at the running back position in Week #5.
Odell Beckham Jr. (Salary: $8,500). After a horrid Monday Night Football appearance that saw Odell Beckham Jr. post a 3/23/0 stat line on nine targets, he went on record to say that he was no longer having fun playing football. Beckham has an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in three of the Giants' four games this season and is the focus of an onslaught of negative media attention, as the Giants have dropped two consecutive games after starting 2-0. Getting Beckham's head straight should be the primary focus of Tom Coughlin entering Week #5 because the Giants' long-term success hinges directly on their most talented player. The matchup against the Packers is excellent as they have bottled up the run all season, allowing a paltry 1.8 yards per carry and less than 50 rushing yards per game (best in the NFL); meanwhile, their pass defense has been throttled for over 300 passing yards per game and 8.9 passing yards per attempt (31st in NFL). The Packers have struggled to contain opposing receivers because they lost Casey Hayward to the Chargers in the off-season and Sam Shields has missed multiple games with concussion issues; Hayward is currently ProFootballFocus' 2nd-best graded coverage cornerback and Sam Shields has been an excellent coverage corner over the years. Without them, the Packers are hemorrhaging yardage through the air, which bodes well for a breakout game by Beckham this weekend. Entering this season, Beckham averaged a touchdown every 7.5 receptions; through four games, Beckham's yardage numbers are still consistent with his prior production, but he has not caught a touchdown pass in 22 receptions, implying that we should see some regression to the norm, in the form of touchdowns, in the near future. With health issues pervading the Giants' backfield and a positive gamescript for the Giants' passing game, Beckham could have a breakout performance this Sunday in Green Bay.
T.Y. Hilton (Salary: $7,400). With double-digit targets in every game this season, T.Y. Hilton continues to be the focus of the Colts' offense. Looking over Hilton's game logs, he has posted some respectable numbers given his matchups and circumstances. In Week #1, Hilton dealt with Darius Slay in coverage and also split looks with a healthy Colts offense that included Donte Moncrief, who went down with an injury the following week. In Weeks #2 and #3, Hilton faced stellar secondaries in the form of Denver and San Diego. Last week, Hilton got into the endzone but only amassed 42 yards in London, where stellar performances are rare. Despite those tougher matchups, Hilton still enters this weekend's game with 25 catches for 336 yards and a pair of touchdowns. This Sunday, Hilton will face off against a Bears secondary that has been respectable, albeit not shutdown, this season. Moncrief is still on injured reserve and Hilton will be opposite Phillip Dorsett, who is running deeper routes to open up opportunities underneath for Hilton and the tight ends (Dwayne Allen and Jack Doyle). This should mean continued high-volume usage for Hilton in this offense, which is correlated to strong production. With an implied team total approaching 27 points, the Colts should have plenty of offense to go around and getting a piece of their WR1 at a reasonable salary feels like a sound strategy.
Jordan Matthews (Salary: $6,800). The Detroit Lions currently sport FootballOutsiders' worst-ranked pass defense, a metric that is particularly striking when one of their cornerbacks, Darius Slay, is currently ranked as ProFootballFocus' 5th-best coverage corner in the entire league. This strongly suggests that the other two defensive backs in the Detroit secondary are downright awful; indeed, Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs rank 91st and 96th out of 111 qualifying cornerbacks in coverage this season. Diggs lines up exclusively from the slot, which means that Jordan Matthews will see him in coverage for at least two-thirds of his routes on Sunday. That bodes well for Matthews, who continues to be Carson Wentz' favorite target in the Eagles' offense; Matthews had 23 targets in the Eagles' first two games, but only three targets in their game against the Steelers because the Eagles were able to go run-heavy very early after building a lead in the second quarter. If the Lions can keep this one close at home, Matthews could become an excellent GPP play because his matchup against Diggs includes a 6-inch height advantage that might seem like a foot when taken in conjunction with Diggs' ineptitude in coverage.
Julian Edelman (Salary: $6,700). Coming off a 1-reception for 16 yards performance against the Bills last week, we might see Julian Edelman's ownership percentage creep down a bit further than it should with Tom Brady returning to lead the Patriots offense. Since becoming an every down receiver with the Pats in 2013, Edelman has averaged nearly 10 targets (6.6 receptions) for 70 yards and a half-touchdown per game (16.6 DraftKings points) when Brady is at the helm. Without Brady running the Pats offense, Edelman's production has dropped by over 50%. We should expect to see Edelman thrive in this week's matchup against the Browns because they will try to contain him with the likes of slot cornerback, Tramon Williams, who is currently ranked 101st out of 111 qualifying cornerbacks on ProFootballFocus; Williams has already allowed three receiving touchdowns while in coverage on just over a dozen passes in his direction, a trend that does not bode well for his prospects when Brady gets under center on Sunday in Cleveland. With Rob Gronkowski likely still hobbled by his hamstring issues, there should be plenty of scoring opportunities to go around and Julian Edelman is probably running a close second behind LeGarrette Blount for the likelihood of 10+ touches in this golden matchup.
Sammie Coates (Salary: $3,600). A true boom-or-bust tournament play, Sammie Coates is a player who is slowly evolving into the receiver the Steelers hoped he would be when they drafted him in the third round of last year's draft. When it was announced that Martavis Bryant would miss this season due to suspension, all eyes were on Coates to absorb Bryant's role as the deep receiver in the Steelers offense. Coates, however, had a disappointing preseason and yielded his would-be targets to a combination of Eli Rogers, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and (eventually) Markus Wheaton. Coates has been seeing consistent snaps in this potent offense and has recently gotten more attention from Ben Roethlisberger, including 12 targets over the past two weeks, more than double any other receiver not named Antonio Brown. What makes Coates an excellent GPP play is a combination of factors: First, his average depth of target is 4th-highest in the league at 21.4 yards, a strong indicator of big play potential. Next, his matchup is pristine against a Jets secondary that has already allowed seven passing plays of 40+ yards, worst in the NFL. Lastly, his relative quiet emergence as of late combined with his attractive $3.6K price tag means that he should be low-owned and will only need one big play to reach 4x value necessary for tournament play on DraftKings.
Martellus Bennett (Salary: $3,700). An argument could be made to slot Martellus Bennett into cash game lineups on DraftKings this week because of his high scoring floor with Tom Brady returning, but there are safer, better-value options, several of whom were detailed earlier in this piece. That said, Bennett is an excellent GPP option against the Browns, particularly if you believe that Rob Gronkowski is still not 100% (which I do). About Gronkowski: Last week, he played 56 snaps, but ran only nine routes (16.1%) on those snaps, which should tell us that he is being used primarily as a blocker and/or a decoy when he heads downfield; with limited practices all week and a $6.5K price tag, rostering Gronk is a big risk that is not worth the limited upside that he brings. Meanwhile, with only 20 targets across four games, Bennett has put up some nice fantasy numbers, including a pair of 100-yard games. The matchup is excellent, as the Browns have allowed an average of 8 receptions and 81.3 yards receiving to the tight end position this season, including a two-touchdown party for Jordan Reed just a week ago. At only $3.7K, Bennett does not need to do a whole lot to hit GPP value, but an achievable 100-yard receiving game with a score (20+ fantasy points) will push him into the must-have category for high tournament finishes.
Richard Rodgers (Salary: $2,900). The tantalizing (but disappointing) allure of Jared Cook is now dead in Green Bay while the tight end recovers from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week #3. Cook's disappearance means that Richard Rodgers gets to make another foray into this Packers offense that came to life before their Week #4 bye. In limited action this season, Rodgers saw only eight targets, which should be enough to keep most DFS players away from rostering him, but if we take a look at his game logs last year without Cook, Rodgers had six games with six or more targets; while that level of opportunity does not enter the realm of high-volume tight ends like Jordan Reed or Greg Olsen, Rodgers does see a lot of redzone looks, as evidenced by the 8 touchdowns he scored last season. Only the Patriots have a higher implied team total this weekend, which means that there should be plenty of scoring opportunities to be had from the Packers and an Aaron Rodgers-Richard Rodgers stack will cost you very little at $10.6K; if they connect for only a single score and Aaron Rodgers goes onto have a decent day against this banged up Giants secondary, that will be more than enough of a scoring foundation for a GPP cash.
Broncos (Salary: $3,800). The only team to mirror the aggressiveness of the Vikings defense this season has been the Denver Broncos, something that we might have predicted based on their returning talent and dominance over the previous few years. Denver has quietly put together a 4-0 record, besting some fairly solid offenses, while allowing only 16 points per game (5th in NFL). Prior to the Thursday night game, where the Cardinals amassed seven sacks against the Niners, the Broncos were leading the league in sacks with 17. They will reemerge from this game with the lead once again because, outside of Julio Jones, the Falcons do not have any receivers capable of getting open against the Bronco cornerbacks, two of whom (Aqib Talib and Chris Harris) are ranked in the top ten of ProFootballFocus' cornerback grading system. The third cornerback, Bradley Roby, has struggled this season and will be a liability in the ~ 40% of snaps where he lines up across from Jones, but he will likely get over-the-top help from safety T.J. Ward, which should help contain Jones after his monster game last week. If the Broncos have a liability on defense, it is that they can get beaten via the run--if they can jump out to an early lead against the Falcons' 31st ranked defense (DVOA), they could force Matt Ryan to air the ball out against their biggest strength in their home stadium, where they allowed only 18.5 points per game on average last season.
Steelers (Salary: $3,500). If you have gotten to this point in the article, you are aware that Ryan Fitzpatrick is an intriguing GPP play because of how this Jets-Steelers game is likely to play out, but we would be remiss if we did not consider rostering the Steelers defense in tournament formats simply because of the number of turnovers Ryan Fitzpatrick has generated over the past two weeks (nine). The Steelers have an average defense that is not necessarily exciting, but they have contained the run thus far (only 78.3 rushing yards per game allowed), an observation that argues that Fitzpatrick could be asked to shoulder the offense in Pittsburgh. If Fitzpatrick continues his recent performance, the Steelers could be an excellent tournament play because they will be extremely underowned at a price point that is $100 higher than the Vikings, who will be the most popular defensive choice of the week.
Dolphins (Salary: $2,900). Miami will play host to a monochromatic Titans offense that can only do one thing: Run the ball. DeMarco Murray has been force-fed the football and has put up some very impressive numbers after a disappointing season in Philadelphia last year; Murray's success has relegated Derrick Henry to the sidelines and resulted in 20+ touches in each of the previous two weeks. Outside of Murray, however, the Titans have been horrendous on offense, averaging only 222.0 passing yards per game (25th in NFL) and Marcus Mariota has thrown more interceptions (six) than touchdowns (five). So there is not much reason to fade the Dolphins defense based on the strength of the Titans passing game, so it boils down to whether the Dolphins can shut down (or at least contain) DeMarco Murray? Through four games, the Dolphins have allowed the 4th-most rushing yards per game (129.8), but they have only yielded 3.7 yards per carry (10th best in NFL), which argues that their rush defense is better than it might otherwise appear on paper. To this end, FootballOutsiders ranks the Dolphins' rush 12th in the entire league, which might be sufficient to contain DeMarco Murray and force Mariota to air it out to his underwhelming receiving corps.