DraftKings GPP Domination: Week 2

Looking for edges in DraftKings tournaments.

WEEK 2 TOURNAMENT VALUE CHART

The chart below is a value guide for this week’s DraftKings tournaments. In an effort to help the widest range of players, only tournaments ranging from $1-to-$100 buy-ins are listed. The color scaling favors lesser entry fees, lower entry limits, and flatter payout structures since these tournaments generally represent the best return on investment for average DFS players. But remember it’s important to consider your specific strengths and goals when choosing which tournaments to enter.

Do you excel at GPP roster construction and game theory? Then don’t avoid GPPs like the Millionaire Maker due to high entry limits and a top-heavy payout structure -- you can still profit in these types of tournaments while giving yourself a shot at a life-changing payday. Therefore, cells in red do not indicate tournaments to avoid. The color scaling serves primarily to highlight the differences between tournaments, which will make it easier for you to identify the best ones to enter based on your individual skills and goals.

 

ROSTER CONSTRUCTION

Before constructing your own GPP lineups, it’s important to consider how most of your opponents will be making theirs. Due to the salary cap, figuring out the most common roster construction each week isn’t necessarily as simple as looking at a list of projected ownership percentages for individual players.

This week, there are a couple of near-certainties when it comes to how most people will build their rosters:

  1. Packers at Falcons and Patriots at Saints both opened with 50+ point over/unders. We can expect ownership to be concentrated on players in these two games, especially the quarterbacks (and by extension their most logical stacking partners). 
  2. In particular, Coby Fleener’s price doesn’t reflect his role in the Saints offense with Willie Snead suspended. Much like Zach Ertz last week, Fleener could fall out of bed and 4x his salary. In a week where entrants will be looking to spend big at quarterback and wide receiver while targeting the upper-middle tiers at running back, Fleener’s $3,100 price tag will lock him into at least 20% of lineups.
  3. LeVeon Bell costs $1,200 more than the next closest running back (LeSean McCoy). McCoy costs $800 more than the RB3 (Ezekiel Elliott). Elliott will be fairly popular, but it feels safe to say the majority of running back ownership will settle in the $5,500 to $7,000 range, with guys like Ty Montgomery, Melvin Gordon, and Kareem Hunt leading the way.

With these points in mind, unique lineups can be created most easily by spending big at running back and tight end. LeVeon Bell and Rob Gronkowski, the top priced options at their respective positions, don’t qualify as contrarian plays on their own (think 10-15% ownership each), but stars & scrubs lineups including both players will be rare this week, as most entrants will take the balanced approach to roster construction. It’s possible to form a core around a tandem like Bell and Gronkowski by pairing them with chalkier mid-priced plays like Montgomery and Stefon Diggs, then rotating cheap, high-upside passing stacks into your roster builds. Baltimore, Arizona, and Los Angeles (Chargers) all have exploitable passing matchups and their quarterbacks and wide receivers are affordable.

WHAT ABOUT THE CHALK?

Trying to build rosters differently than the majority of the field is not the same as fading the week’s top plays entirely. Your opponents are on these guys for a reason -- they’re projected to score the most fantasy points relative to their respective salaries. Treating them as though they don’t exist for the sake of being contrarian will lower the scoring ceiling of your lineups significantly most weeks. Assuming you plan on making multiple GPP lineups each week, your decision on highly-owned players usually isn’t whether to fade them completely, but rather how much exposure you want to them in comparison to their projected ownership.

Some suggestions on how to treat this week’s chalk plays (ownership percentages based on Steve Buzzard’s projections):

QB: Tom Brady (@NO, $7,900, 15% owned) - Brady is the most expensive quarterback on the slate and also likely to be the most highly-owned. All it took was a few bad quarters and an embarrassing home loss on national television to kick the #AngryTom narrative into full effect. But narrative alone isn’t the reason Brady will be so popular this week. The national audience also saw the Saints defense make Sam Bradford look like an MVP candidate on Monday Night Football. New Orleans’ defensive backfield is laughable and their front seven couldn’t muster a pass rush against an offensive line fielding five new starters in Week 1. It’s difficult to envision a scenario where Brady is unable to run up the score in this game. He should absolutely be one of the five or six quarterbacks in your player pool this week.

RB: Ty Montgomery (@ ATL, $5,800, 21% owned) - Montgomery exceeded all reasonable expectations in Week 1, leading the entire league with a 92% backfield workload market share. While we shouldn’t be quick to invest in one game samples (Jeremy Langford handled over 90% of the Bears running back touches in Week 1 last season), it was encouraging to see Montgomery hold his own in pass protection and roll up 93 total yards against an extremely tough Seattle defensive front. Even if the Packers were to mix Jamaal Williams in for 25% of the snaps this week, Montgomery would remain mispriced. The Falcons allowed the eighth-most normalized fantasy points per game to opposing running backs in 2016. If their Week 1 performance is any indication (186 total yards and a touchdown allowed to Chicago running backs), they’ll remain a favorable running back matchup moving forward. Montgomery has overall RB1 in his range of outcomes this week -- a possibility that usually doesn’t come with a RB14 price tag. Use at least as much Montgomery as the field.

RB: Kareem Hunt (vs. PHI, $6,800, 22% owned) - Hunt’s historic Week 1 performance is going to inflate his ownership percentage in a difficult matchup. Kansas City is a 5.5 point home favorite with a relatively high 26.5 point implied team total -- conditions ordinarily conducive to running back fantasy scoring. But Philadelphia’s defensive line is one of the best in the league, which poses a problem for Hunt on multiple fronts. Last season, the Eagles allowed only a single 100-yard rusher and their success stopping the run carried over into last week’s opener at Washington. Hunt may very well be talented enough to overcome the poor matchup, but will he be on the field enough to have the chance? The Chiefs schemed to avoid using Hunt in pass protection in Week 1, which limited him to 58% of the team’s offensive snaps. Kansas City will have a much greater need to protect Alex Smith against Philadelphia’s athletic front seven than they did against the Patriots, so unless Hunt quickly proves he can handle a full range of blocking assignments, his snap count -- and by extension his touches -- could be a bigger question mark than most people think. Grab a few shares of Hunt just in case he’s truly lightning in a bottle, but this is not the week to go overboard. He’s a fade at over 20% ownership.

WR: Julio Jones (vs. GB, $9,200, 27% owned) - Jones looked like his usual dominant self in Week 1, yet somehow saw just five targets (roughly half as many as Mohamed Sanu). After the game, Falcons coach Dan Quinn acknowledged Jones’ lack of opportunity as a tactical failure, adding “Usually when there is a quiet game for him, there’s not too much quiet that follows that.” Tournament entrants are sure to be in lockstep with Quinn’s thinking this week, considering Jones went berserk for a 9-180-2 line in his last matchup against Green Bay. The Packers still lack the talent and experience in their secondary to hinder Jones, especially on turf. Jones is a fine GPP cornerstone this week. Go as heavy on him as you’re comfortable with.

TE: Coby Fleener (vs. NE, $3,100, 22% owned) - As previously mentioned, Fleener is simply mispriced. With Brandin Cooks in New England and Willie Snead suspended, Fleener is the clear number two receiving option in what has traditionally been one of the league’s best passing offenses. He has no business being priced below Jesse James this week and the entire field knows it. That being said, when any tight end is projected in the 20% ownership range, the correct move is usually to fade. Tight end is easily the most volatile of the skill positions, and Fleener has nuked his share of GPP line-ups in the past. Go with less Fleener exposure than your opponents.

DEF: Oakland Raiders (vs. NYJ, $3,700, 20% owned) - Ownership percentage should be flat at defense this week, with an even mix of high and low priced options in seemingly great spots, but it’s safe to say the crowd will gravitate towards Oakland as two touchdown home favorites against the pathetic Jets. It makes perfect sense. The Raiders offense should have no problem forcing a pass-heavy game script on Josh McCown, who had a pair of poorly thrown passes picked off by the Bills last week. While Oakland is a fine play, there are plenty of viable options available, making defense an easy place to cut the chalk.

MORE CHALK PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Aaron Rodgers QB @ATL $7,400 13% Would like to see Rodgers get his starting LT back before going all in vs. strong ATL pass rush.
Melvin Gordon RB MIA $7,000 24% 85% share of LA backfield touches in Week 1 consistent w/ 2016 usage. Heavy exposure.
Jordy Nelson WR @ATL $7,900 17% Obvious Rodgers stacking partner. Expect his usual TD, but Trufant caps ceiling.
Rob Gronkowski TE @NO $6,900  14% Highest upside TE every week he’s healthy.

CORE PLAYS

These players fall in the middle to upper-middle ownership tiers. Each has a path to top-5 numbers at their respective positions or a strong chance to exceed their salary-implied point expectation. You want more of them than your opponents.

QB: Russell Wilson (vs. SF, $6,800, 6% owned) - Those of you who played Wilson after reading this column last week got burned by a dismal 9.32 fantasy point performance (which would have been much worse had he not rushed for 40 yards). Wilson was doomed by poor offensive line play at Lambeau, but Seattle’s front five won’t face nearly as stiff a test this week. The Seahawks return to CenturyLink to take on the 49ers, whose inexperienced defensive line failed to sack Cam Newton in Week 1. Buoyed by the highest implied team total of the week (28 points) and second-largest point spread (-13.5), Wilson -- whose fantasy points per game average was 40% higher in home games last season -- looks to be in a can’t miss spot. If he fails to capitalize on this matchup, it’s officially time to reevaluate using him going forward.

RB: LeVeon Bell (vs. MIN, $9,800, 10% owned) - Any week Bell doesn’t qualify as a chalk play is an ideal week to use him. Despite David Johnson dropping out of the player pool, Bell’s ownership will be way down due to his prohibitive price tag and the fact he gutted about 30% of tournament lineups with a 7.7 point dud last week. Entrants will also be nervous about the Vikings rush defense, but they’re less cause for concern. Minnesota ranked middle-of-the-pack in rush defense DVOA in 2016 and was generally lit up when their opponents fielded a high quality running back. Mike Tomlin went against his word and eased Bell in against Cleveland, but we're still talking about the same player who averaged 28 total touches and 6.3 receptions per game last season. Bell will be more involved after another week of practice and he checks off all the boxes we should be looking for in a DFS running back - exceptionally talented, big home favorite (Pittsburgh opened at -7), primary goal line option, game flow agnostic. Being greedy on high-ceiling players while your opponents are scared is one way to gain leverage in GPPs, and no one in the player pool carries as much upside as Bell in any given week.

RB: Christian McCaffrey (vs. BUF, $5,600, 10% owned) - McCaffrey’s preseason hype was shaded by stellar Week 1 performances from fellow rookies Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and even Tarik Cohen. As a result, McCaffrey shouldn’t garner more than middling ownership despite his favorable salary and plus matchup. While he didn’t make a huge impact on the box score, the early returns for McCaffrey were plenty encouraging. He was on the field for 70% of Carolina’s offensive snaps, compared to 43% for Jonathan Stewart. His five receptions played nicely on DraftKings and if his 18 total touches are the norm going forward, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to break the explosive plays everyone expected to see last week. The Bills ranked 30th in rush defense DVOA last season and travel to Carolina as seven point underdogs. The implied game script and soft matchup are there for McCaffrey to end up the ideal pivot off Montgomery.

WR: Terrelle Pryor (@LAR, $6,000, 5% owned) - Pryor failed to meet expectations in Week 1, but like McCaffrey, there was more good than bad to unpack from his season debut. The big knock on Pryor moving to Washington was supposed to be target volume, but for one week anyway, Kirk Cousins peppered him. Pryor’s team-leading 11 targets were most encouraging when you consider how Cousins was trying to get him the ball. Per airyards.com, Pryor accumulated 166 air yards against Philadelphia which trailed only DeAndre Hopkins, who needed five more targets to accumulate only two more yards (air yards measure the potential yards a receiver would have produced if he caught the ball on all his targets and then was immediately tackled). In short, Cousins was getting the ball to Pryor deep down the field, precisely the type of targets that lead to GPP winning splash plays. If his Week 1 target profile can be trusted (last year’s numbers suggest it can), Pryor has a higher probability of a blow-up game in any given week than his current projected ownership implies. Trumaine Johnson isn’t necessarily an easy one-on-one assignment to overcome, but Pryor is a load for any cornerback to defend. We saw him get up for big games against Josh Norman and Janoris Jenkins last season.

WR: Jeremy Maclin (vs. CLE, $5,000, 7% owned) -

In case you missed it, Antonio Brown destroyed Cleveland out of the slot last week. Maclin -- who ran 76% of his routes from the slot in his Baltimore debut -- gets the next swing at the piñata. While Maclin is obviously no Brown, he proved on this 48-yard catch and run he’s still a yards-after-catch monster. Perhaps Maclin would be drawing more attention if he had caught more than two passes against the Bengals, but context is important. Flacco passed only 17 times in Cincinnati, while Baltimore’s defense took care of the rest. Week 2 could yield a similarly wonky game script (see Ravens defense blurb below), making Maclin a high variance play. But isn’t that what we’re looking for in GPPs? Last year’s injury-plagued season makes it easy to forget Maclin had three games with more than 140 receiving yards as recently as 2015 -- and that was with noodle-armed Alex Smith throwing him the ball. If Vegas has the right of it (Baltimore -8, 23.5 point implied total), Maclin projects for about eight targets, giving him plenty of opportunities to bust some long gains on a terrible secondary.

TE: Charles Clay (@CAR, $3,000, 4% owned) - Did we just witness the beginning of the Charles Clay as WR1 era in Buffalo? At the risk of overreacting to a one game sample, the case can be made. New Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison came to Buffalo with a reputation for using his tight ends heavily in the passing game. After Tyrod Taylor aimed a team-leading 33% of his pass attempts at Clay in Week 1, including three red zone targets, it appears safe to say Dennison hasn’t changed his stripes. Taylor clearly has a comfort level with Clay he doesn’t have yet with any of the team’s new wide receivers. Dating back to last season, Taylor has targeted Clay 39 times over the Bills last five games. Clay has parlayed those looks into 25 receptions for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns (15.44 DraftKings points per game). Following the Bills Week 1 win over the Jets, Taylor said, “I just got to keep giving (Clay) the ball and looking for him because he is out there creating space and making plays.” It sure sounds like Clay will remain the most-heavily targeted Buffalo pass catcher as they face the Panthers, who allowed 12 touchdowns to opposing tight ends a year ago.

DEF: Baltimore Ravens (vs. CLE, $3,700, 9% owned) - Pittsburgh racked up a ridiculous seven sacks on DeShone Kizer last week, which isn’t a promising sign for the Browns headed into a road matchup against the Ravens (who looked spectacular up front and in the secondary while spanking Andy Dalton and the Bengals). Kizer’s predilection for holding onto the ball too long helps him extend plays, but also opens the door for sacks and the resulting turnovers. Available at a solid discount from the top-priced Cardinals and Seahawks, the Ravens warrant a large swath of your DST exposure.

MORE CORE PLAYS

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Philip Rivers QB MIA $5,800 7% SD-MIA has shootout potential. Rivers too cheap relative to 300-3 upside. Great game to stack.
M. Lynch RB NYJ $6,000 16% Lynch’s first game in home-town Oakland? Give me all the Narrative Street.
Carlos Hyde RB @SEA $4,900 5% Six Week 1 catches suggest he’ll get his even in a blowout. Price did not come up enough.
Alvin Kamara RB NE $3,500 8% Led NO backfield in snaps last week. Could abuse Patriots linebackers like Hunt did.
Doug Baldwin WR SF $6,700 13% If Wilson bounces back, so does Baldwin.
Randall Cobb WR @ATL $4,100 9% 13 targets last week. Atlanta much easier to beat from the slot than on the perimeter.
Tyreek Hill WR PHI $6,200 12% Outstanding one-on-one matchup w/ Jalen Hill. Play him every week until he costs over $7.5K
Jimmy Graham TE SF $4,900 9% SEA in blow-up spot. Graham's salary a notch below top-tier TEs. Grab more than the field.
Seattle Defense DEF SF $5,000 10% Held their own with Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau. Scary what they can do to Brian Hoyer at home.

CONTRARIAN PLAYS

These players will appear in a small percentage of your opponent’s line-ups. The greater your exposure to these players, the farther your teams will separate from the pack if they have big games.

QB: Cam Newton (vs. BUF, $6,500, 2% owned) - Newton started off slowly last week against San Francisco, but settled in by the end of the first half. Josh McCown and the Jets cast of wide receiver nobodies predictably failed to expose Buffalo’s downgraded secondary in Week 1, but Newton, Greg Olsen, Kelvin Benjamin, and McCaffrey represent much tougher challenges. With so much quarterback ownership concentrated on the Patriots at Saints and Packers at Falcons games, Newton will go overlooked despite Carolina opening as a seven point home favorite, with a healthy 25-point implied team total. Stacking Newton with McCaffrey and either Olsen or Benjamin gives you the combination of high upside and low ownership you’re looking for in a GPP stack.

RB: LeSean McCoy (@ CAR, $8,600, 5% owned) - If the Carolina offense is in such a great spot, it may be somewhat surprising to see their opponent’s running back on this list. But much like Bell, McCoy is cost-prohibitive in a perceived poor matchup, which will drive his ownership numbers way down. Dennison promised McCoy would be the engine of the Bills offense and he delivered in Week 1, allowing McCoy a whopping 54% of the team’s offensive touches. With Clay the only other reliable pass catching weapon on the Bills roster, it wouldn’t be shocking to see McCoy finish as their leading receiver, especially if the Panthers offense pours it on. The odds of McCoy cracking 30 DraftKings points in any given week are much higher than his current projected ownership. Want to put together a one-of-a-kind lineup? Build around a core of Bell and McCoy together.

WR: J.J. Nelson (@IND, $3,800, 11% owned) - Nelson won’t stay a contrarian play if we learn John Brown is going to scratch with a quad injury, but he’ll at least remain the cheapest way to get a piece of the offense facing the worst pass defense in the NFL. Jared Goff’s success throwing downfield on the Colts is a harbinger of things to come for the Cardinals (who love going vertical), and Nelson has done nothing but produce fantasy points since being given significant playing time. Last week in this space, it was noted Nelson had at least seven targets in all four games Michael Floyd missed for the Cardinals in 2016. He averaged 19.1 DraftKings points over those four games and built on his strong finish to 2016 with a 15.3 point performance last week. Nelson saw six targets on just 40% of the snaps in Week 1 and should be in line for a bump in playing time, even if Brown is active. Brown missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday and clearly won’t be 100% even if he plays. In fact, it would be preferable if Brown is active and limited, so Nelson’s ownership doesn’t skyrocket late in the week.

Saturday Update: Brown has officially been ruled out, which makes Nelson a safe bet to play about 70% of the snaps this week. His past production when given significant playing time, combined with the matchup against the Colts awful defense, makes Nelson one of the best point per dollar values on the slate. He no longer qualifies as contrarian, but you should still be willing to go heavier than the field on Nelson.

TE: Jared Cook (vs. NYJ, $3,300, 2%) - Besides Clay, Cook is the Coby Fleener pivot you should be eyeballing. Cook showed great rapport with Derek Carr in Week 1, catching all five of his targets for 56 yards. The Jets allowed the third-most raw fantasy points to opposing tight ends a year ago and were on the wrong end of Clay’s big performance last week. It remains to be seen how popular Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree will be after their prices jumped up about $1,000 each, but it’s a certainty Cook will come in lower-owned making him a great leverage play on the Raiders receivers and Marshawn Lynch.

MORE CONTRARIAN PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Joe Flacco QB NYJ $5,200 1% 302-2-2 and 296 3-2 passing lines vs. CLE last year. At home with good enough implied total.
E. Sanders WR DAL $5,200 8% Dallas corners easier to beat than San Diego’s. Siemian only has eyes for Sanders and Thomas.
Tyrell Williams WR MIA $4,700 5% Will get free for big gains while in Byron Maxwell’s coverage.
Martavis Bryant WR PIT $5,500 3% Last week’s stinker has the crowd off him. Bryant has a 4” height advantage on Trae Waynes.
P. Richardson WR SF $4,200 2% Played well as clear WR2 last week. Untapped upside could flash in great matchup.
R. Anderson WR @OAK $3,400 1% 8 targets in Week 1. Capable of slipping behind Oakland secondary for big plays in garbage time.
Chiefs Defense DEF PHI $2,900 3% Talented defense facing a young, mistake prone QB at home.
Titans Defense DEF JAX $3,300 1% Aren't they playing Blake Bortles? JAX D will have harder time controlling game vs. TEN.