DraftKings GPP Domination: Week 5

Looking for edges in DraftKings tournaments.

WEEK 5 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 few near-certainties when it comes to how most people will build their rosters:

  1. High priced workhorse running backs are en vogue this season. The top-3 season-to-date running back scorers on DraftKings (Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell, Leonard Fournette) are also the only three on the main slate averaging over 23 total touches per game. As usual, the crowd will look to spend up at running back, with Gurley, Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott leading the way. 
  2. Running back and wide receiver pricing are tight as a drum, with very few attractive plays under $5K, particularly at wide receiver. The only route to pay up at RB1 and WR1 without punting RB2 and WR2/3 is to spend down at quarterback and tight end. Likewise, paying up for any two of Gurley, Bell, and Elliott without punting both quarterback and tight end, will leave you with precious little salary for all three of your starting wide receivers.
  3. Aaron Rodgers takes on a porous Cowboys defense in the game with the highest over/under on the slate. Many who don’t punt quarterback with a player like Josh McCown or Jacoby Brissett will try to get to Rodgers, leaving the mid-priced tier of quarterbacks under-owned.

Based on these factors, the clearest path to a unique roster is to pay down at both running back spots and spend on one or more high-end receiver. They might not jump off the page, but there are several sub-$5K running back options who could exceed value. Your goals when researching this week should be to uncover those plays, along with quarterbacks in the $5,800-to-$6,400 range, who are likely to go overlooked.

WHAT ABOUT THE CHALK?

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: Aaron Rodgers (@ DAL, $8,100, 16% owned) - There isn’t much to say about Rodgers except play him if you can fit his salary in. Football Outsiders ranks Dallas 21st in both pass defense DVOA and adjusted sack rate, making this a beatable matchup for Rodgers, who has either passed for over 300 yards or thrown multiple touchdowns in each of his four games this season. Put some thought into making your Rodgers stacks look different than your opponents’. A full game stack with Rodgers and one or more of his receivers, plus Dez Bryant and/or Ezekiel Elliott fits the bill considering the 52.5 point over/under in this game. Another easy path to a unique Rodgers lineup would be to pair him with a wide receiver priced over $8K who isn’t Jordy Nelson (Odell Beckham, Antonio Brown, A.J. Green). Make Rodgers one of the quarterbacks you build stacks around, but think outside the box with your roster construction.

RB: Le'Veon Bell (vs. JAX, $9,500, 26% owned) - Bell’s price jumped $800 following his return to dominance last week at Baltimore (37.6 fantasy points). As a result, you have to pay a steep tax to roster him at home against the Jaguars. His $9,500 salary is the highest on the slate and about 8% higher than Ezekiel Elliott, the second-highest-priced running back. The exorbitant cost is justified, however, when you consider the matchup. Jacksonville has the bottom-ranked rush defense (DVOA) and the game script (Steelers -8.5, 25.5 point implied team total) suggests Bell is in line for his third 30+ touch workload of the season. When you factor in Bell’s salary and projected ownership, going a little lighter than the field in your exposure makes sense. Just don’t get carried away because there won’t be many better spots to use Bell all season.

RB: Todd Gurley (vs. SEA, $8,000, 19% owned) - Some entrants will be scared off Gurley due to the reputation of Seattle’s defense, but if the first four weeks of data can be trusted, the Seahawks actually represent a plus rushing matchup. Austin Lee’s Normalized Strength of Schedule shows the Seahawks just outside the top-10 defenses in schedule adjusted fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs. They also have the largest discrepancy between raw and schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed, suggesting things could get worse for Seattle as their opponents get better. The opponent gets no better on DraftKings than Gurley. He leads the league with 26.5 total touches per game, ranks sixth with 5 receptions per game, and perhaps most importantly, no player has received more than Gurley’s 14 opportunities (rushes + targets) from inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. Dropping down from Bell to Gurley does sacrifice a tad of upside, but the $1,500 savings (and lower projected ownership) is enough to make up for it. Stay in line with the field on your exposure.

WR: Dez Bryant (vs. GB, $6,500, 21% owned) - Bryant ranks as DraftKings’ WR26 through the first four games, but he's faced a quartet of difficult one-on-one cornerback matchups in Janoris Jenkins, Aqib Talib, Patrick Peterson, and Trumaine Johnson. This week, he's at home, attached to a quarterback with the highest implied team total on the slate, and his matchup against Green Bay cornerbacks Damarious Randall and Kevin King are far more forgiving. When Dallas faced off against Green Bay in last year's playoffs, Bryant exploded for a 9-132-2 receiving line. Swallow the chalk here. Bryant has an overall WR1 ceiling this week and his price (WR15) doesn’t come close to reflecting it.

WR: Jordy Nelson (@ DAL, $8,100, 16% owned) - Any time Rodgers is projected for high ownership, his WR1 is coming along for the ride. This week is no exception despite Nelson’s $8,100 salary making him difficult to pair with the combination of Rodgers and one of the top running backs. Nelson has been stellar as usual this season, scoring over 20 fantasy points in every game he finished. Still, he’s probably not the preferred Packers wide receiver for GPPs this week for three reasons -- salary, ownership, and the Cowboys tendency to get buried by slot receivers. Sterling Shepard (7 catches on 8 targets), Larry Fitzgerald (13-149-1), and Cooper Kupp (5-60-1) had success against Dallas from the slot this season, which points to less expensive and lower-owned Randall Cobb (85% slot route percentage) being the better play for GPPs. And if Davante Adams stays on the trajectory to suit up this week, he becomes the leverage play on both Nelson and Cobb, as the lowest owned of the trio.

TE: Evan Engram (vs. LAC, $4,000, 13% owned) - Tight end is a mess on the main slate for the second straight week, with Rob Gronkowski scratching on Thursday and Travis Kelce facing the Texans on Sunday night. Zach Ertz is the position’s de facto highest projected scorer, but entrants who plan on paying his TE1 asking price will be few and far between. Engram remains affordable despite coming off his latest productive outing (6-62-0). He hasn’t seen less than seven targets since Week 1 and has scored between 8 and 15 fantasy points in every game this season. The Chargers defense should provide Engram some upside to go along with his consistency. LA allows a 58% pass success rate to tight ends, which is a bottom-third ranking. Engram is great for cash games, but the variance at the position from week-to-week makes following the masses at tight end an easy way to ruin a perfectly good GPP lineup. Dial down exposure in comparison to the field.

D/ST: Pittsburgh Steelers (vs. JAX, $3,900, 14% owned) - The Steelers are at home, the largest favorite on the slate (-8.5 points), and matched up against Blake Bortles. If the matchup seems too perfect, it probably is. In the limited sample we have this year, using the defense facing the Jaguars has been a bad idea. No team has given up less schedule adjusted fantasy points to opposing defenses than Jacksonville despite three of their four opponents (Texans, Ravens, Jets) ranking inside the top-13 in Football Outsiders adjusted sack rate. Bortles has only been sacked three times in Jacksonville’s four games and the team’s new close-to-the-vest offense has limited his turnovers. At the highest price and projected ownership of any defense on the slate, Pittsburgh is an easy fade.

MORE CHALK PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Dak Prescott QB  GB $6,800 15% Home favorite QB with week's highest implied point total.
Ezekiel Elliott RB  GB $8,800 29% Great week for Dak/Zeke/Dez stack paired w/ GB WRs
Carlos Hyde RB @IND $6,900 18% Only Gurley has more touches from inside his opponent's 10 this year.
T.Y. Hilton WR SF $6,000 17% Trails only Stefon Diggs in 25+ yard receptions. Could be sneaky high scoring game.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins TE @CLE $3,500 11% Second straight week with great matchup. McCown is looking for him. 

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: Ben Roethlisberger (vs. JAX, $6,400, 4% owned) - Ordinarily, when the Steelers are huge home favorites, Roethlisberger (due to his trademark home-road splits) is one of the most popular quarterback plays. Whether it’s because of his lackluster numbers thus far, respect for the Jaguars defense, or the way common roster construction works this week, Roethlisberger shouldn’t exceed 5% ownership in an otherwise great spot. Jacksonville's reputation for limiting opposing quarterbacks has been earned by facing Tom Savage, Deshaun Watson (who came in cold off the bench in the first game of his career), Marcus Mariota, Joe Flacco, and Josh McCown. Mariota (a familiar division opponent) notwithstanding, they haven’t exactly faced stiff competition in the season’s early going. Roethlisberger’s upside in home games -- 30 fantasy points per game average in his last 21 appearances -- can’t be ignored against any defense. Ask yourself this -- is Rodgers (16% projected ownership) four times as likely to hit 30 fantasy points than Roethlisberger (4%) this week? Not a chance. This is a clear ownership inefficiency to exploit.

RB: Melvin Gordon III (@NYG, $6,000, 11% owned) - Gordon’s salary took a precipitous $1,000 dip from Week 4 headed into a sneaky good matchup against the Giants 30th ranked run defense (DVOA). Gordon has been banged up and running poorly (3.1 yards per attempt), but he’s another week removed from bruising his knee, practicing in full, and efficiency is never why we want to roster Gordon in the first place. His entire appeal comes from having a stranglehold on the Chargers backfield touches -- a 2016 trend that has continued into this season. Gordon’s 71.3% team backfield workload market share trails only five other running backs. In the last three games, New York has ceded a combined 307 rushing yards (5.4 yards per attempt) and 2 touchdowns to the uninspiring combination of Ameer Abdullah, LeGarrette Blount, Wendell Smallwood, and Jacquizz Rodgers. Expect the Chargers to lean on Gordon in an attempt to exploit the weakness of the Giants defense, and remain involved as a receiver if they fall behind.

RB: Duke Johnson Jr (vs. NYJ, $4,900 7% owned) - Johnson has quietly put together back-to-back 20+ point games on DraftKings and remains priced well enough to exceed a 4x salary multiple for the third consecutive week. Since Corey Coleman went out in Week 2, Johnson has essentially become the Browns WR1. His 15 receptions nearly triple the output of the next closest Cleveland pass catcher and his 128 receiving yards over the same span also leads the team despite a predictably low 2.2-yard aDOT. Johnson has also excelled in limited opportunities as a rusher, posting 5.7 yards per attempt and rushing for two touchdowns this season. In an offense starved for playmakers, the Browns have little choice but to continue feeding Johnson. The Jets don’t present much of an obstacle. New York has allowed at least 49 receiving yards to a running back in three of their four games this season.

WR: Antonio Brown (vs. JAX, $8,400, 14% owned) - Brown is a pure game theory play in a tough matchup against Jacksonville cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey. As bad as the opponent looks on paper, remember Pittsburgh has the second-highest implied team total on the slate and their offense runs through Brown. No wide receiver has accounted for a higher percentage of his team’s season-to-date receiving yardage than Brown’s 40.5% and he trails DeAndre Hopkins by only one reception for the league lead. Brown’s double-digit touchdown output in each of the last three seasons suggests some of those receptions will start going for touchdowns soon. If this is the week progression towards the mean begins, Roethlisberger-Brown stacks will leapfrog large portions of the field, especially if those scores come at the expense of Bell, who projects as the second-highest owned running back.

WR: Pierre Garcon (@ IND, $6,100, 10% owned) - The game total has gone over 55 points in three of Indianapolis’ four games this season, due in large part to their porous pass defense. The Colts rank 24th against the pass (DVOA) and have allowed the third-most normalized fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Garcon moves around the formation quite a bit and should avoid shadow coverage from Vontae Davis, who is still finding his legs after returning from a multi-week injury in Week 4. If the 49ers passing game finds success against Indianapolis (as every team has before them this year), Garcon is the most likely beneficiary. He leads the team in target market share both in and out of the red zone. And if you’re into revenge narratives, Garcon is playing in the familiar surroundings of Lucas Oil Stadium, where he spent the first four years of his career.

TE: Jesse James (vs. JAX, $3,000, 7% owned) - James is dominating tight end snaps and running plenty of pass routes for Pittsburgh, but it hasn’t resulted in consistent targets. Things can change this week as Bouye and Ramsey tend to funnel more targets towards the middle of the field. Jacksonville opponents have targeted a tight end on 23% of their pass attempts, which ranks above the league average. As a result, they’ve allowed at least four receptions to the position in every game this season. Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper are the only pass catchers with more than James’ four targets from inside the 10-yard line, and despite playing with a handicap (complete lack of athleticism), he was able to score multiple touchdowns in Week 1. Something in the neighborhood of a 4-40-1 stat line (4.7x salary multiple) is well within James’ reach given the matchup and implied game script.

D/ST: Baltimore Ravens (@ OAK, $2,900, 6% owned) - EJ Manuel is a career 58.5% passer who has been sacked 44 times in 29 career appearances. The struggling Ravens enter this game as road underdogs, which is less than ideal. But their pass rush (top-10 adjusted sack rate) remains more than capable of forcing sacks and turnovers against Manuel, who will be making only his eighth start in the last three years. The Jets and Eagles defenses will be more popular at a similar price point, which should shade Baltimore’s ownership a bit.

MORE CORE PLAYS

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Carson Wentz QB ARI $6,600 4% Big home favorite QB (-6.5), high implied point total (25.75) relative to slate.
Matthew Stafford QB CAR $6,300 5% CAR in letdown spot. Pass defense has been beatable vs. quality opponents.
Frank Gore RB SF $4,400 10% Probably best left for cash games but top $/Touch value on slate. Plus revenge narrative.
Andre Ellington RB @PHI $4,600 8% Leads team in RB snaps in each of last 3 games. Pass heavy implied game script a plus.
Bilal Powell RB @CLE $6,200 9% Play him any time Forte is out. 
Jarvis Landry WR TEN $5,800 15% Price down $700, TEN defense awful, and Cutler not throwing downfield.
Golden Tate WR CAR $6,300 11% Stafford-Tate stack way under the radar this week.
Randall Cobb WR @DAL $6,700  11% Slot receivers have gotten over on Dallas nearly every week.
Zach Ertz TE ARI $6,200 8% Paying up for tight end is not easy this week. Love the Wentz-Ertz stack.

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: Josh McCown (@ CLE, $4,500, 4% owned) - It won’t feel good clicking the plus next to McCown, but his price (same as Geno Smith) is a head-scratcher. Cleveland is allowing 28.3 schedule adjusted fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, which leads the league by about 14% over second place. McCown is coming off his worst game of the season, but he can be forgiven a poor performance in the Jets run-heavy victory over Jacksonville. In his previous two games against the inferior pass defenses of Oakland and Miami, he scored 16.7 and 14.7 fantasy points, respectively. If all he can accomplish against the Browns is a similar output, you’ll take it and run considering the salary relief he provides. Stacking McCown with Austin Seferian-Jenkins exploits the greatest weakness of Cleveland’s defense and only uses 16% of your salary cap.

RB: Eddie Lacy (@ LAR, $3,400, 1% owned) or Thomas Rawls (@ LAR, $3,700, 1% owned) - Chris Carson’s broken leg rewinds us to where we started early in the preseason with the Seahawks backfield -- a hot hand timeshare between Lacy and Rawls. It’s anyone’s guess which one runs hotter this week, but the Rams defense has been so putrid against the run, it’s worth rostering equal shares of both to find out. According to our Austin Lee’s Normalized Strength of Schedule, LA leads the league in schedule-adjusted fantasy points to opposing running backs by 16% over the next closest team. The only problem with targeting a Seahawks running back in this spot is how difficult it is to take a hard stance on which one to play. On one hand, Seattle coach Pete Carroll has been talking up Rawls since Carson got injured, most recently saying Rawls is “flying around” the practice field. But on the other, Rawls was a healthy scratch last week while Lacy (4.7 yards per carry) broke multiple runs of 10+ yards against a previously stingy Colts defensive front. Rawls probably has the upside edge (see his 27-161-1 decimation of the Lions in last year’s NFC Wild Card game), but he hasn’t been healthy all season. Luckily, the two are priced closely enough, so you can hedge any Rawls lineups you play by creating a duplicate with Lacy in his place.

WR: John Brown (@ PHI, $5,100, 4% owned) - Statistics almost don’t do justice to how poorly the back end of Philadelphia’s defense has performed recently. The Eagles have allowed a staggering 49.5% more fantasy points per game to wide receivers than the league average over the last three weeks. Not surprisingly, they also rank inside the bottom quartile in target rate, pass success rate, and yards per pass attempt allowed to wide receivers. Brown returned to seven targets on 62% of the Cardinals offensive snaps last week and should be ready for more another week removed from his lingering quad injury. His primary one-on-one matchup against Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills couldn’t be better. Mills has been targeted on a higher percentage of his routes defended than any cornerback in the league and he’s given up more fantasy points per route defended than all but three cornerbacks on this week’s slate. With Larry Fitzgerald and Jaron Brown likely to approach double-digit ownership, Brown is a clear leverage play.

TE: George Kittle (@ IND, $2,500, 1% owned) - If you were to combine Indianapolis' opponent points per game average with San Francisco's you'd get 57.5 total points. Each team’s respective offense doesn’t inspire confidence but their defenses are both awful enough for this game to exceed its relatively high 45-point implied total. Garçon, T.Y. Hilton, Carlos Hyde, and even Frank Gore will be fairly popular plays, but less than 1% will be on Kittle, who hasn’t done much through his first four NFL games. While Kittle is clearly not a high exposure play, he only costs the site minimum and his athleticism (4.52 40-yard dash) matches up well against the Colts defense. Indianapolis ranks 30th in tight end pass success rate allowed and 29th in tight end yards per pass attempt. If he continues to play about 90% of San Francisco’s tight end snaps, Kittle will have something resembling a breakout game sooner than later. It might be a little thin, but at least the price tag and matchup cooperate this week.

D/ST: Cincinnati Bengals (vs. BUF, $3,300, 2% owned) - The 1-3 Bengals opening as three-point favorites against the 3-1 Bills was a bit curious. Things have gotten even stranger, as over 60% of the tickets have come in on Buffalo, but the spread moved a half point in Cincinnati's favor. The reverse line movement is an indication sharp money is backing the Bengals at home, and you rarely want to be on the opposite side of the sharps. Buffalo has been winning without doing much scoring (18.2 points per game) and the Bengals defense remains a strength. They’re the ninth-ranked overall defense (DVOA), while Buffalo’s offensive line has allowed a troubling 9.1% adjusted sack rate. Stacking the Bengals with Joe Mixon is an off the grid play that could pay dividends this week.

MORE CONTRARIAN PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Eli Manning QB LAC $6,100 3% Home favorite QB, decent implied team total (24.75), pass heavy offense, great weapons.
Jacoby Brissett QB SF $5,600 2% Upside for rushing TDs to go along with great passing matchup. Looks capable.
Joe Mixon RB BUF $5,500 6% Workload no longer a question. If sharps are right on CIN, pairs well with Bengals D.
LeGarrette Blount RB ARI $4,200 5% Won't stay contrarian if Smallwood sits. Keep an eye on Clement in GPPs.
Martavis Bryant WR JAX $5,000 2% Would be viewed differently if not for near misses on several long plays.
Hunter Henry TE @NYG $3,800  5% NYG notoriously leaky against TEs. Gates running more routes but can't move.