Each week this column will focus on projecting ownership percentage in DraftKings’ large field GPPs, and identifying players to target in each ownership tier. If you’re unsure how you should be factoring projected ownership percentage into your tournament roster construction, go back and read the introduction to this series, or this blog post on the topic.
The projected ownership ranges that appear in this space were derived in part from Footballguys’ proprietary algorithms, which take into account historical data, projected scoring, and player salary. Projected ownership percentages for every player, on every slate, can be found each week on our FREE Daily Crusher Mobile App. As always, I’ll be supplementing the algorithms with industry research to create the projections. Please be warned that the projection ranges shown below are by no means infallible and are only meant to be used as guidelines. Ownership percentages in your actual contests will vary.
LAST WEEK’S RESULTS
In the spirit of full disclosure, here are last week’s hits and misses. Actual ownership percentages were taken from the Millionaire Maker.
|Player||Projected % Owned||Actual % Owned||Fantasy Points||Value|
|Aaron Rodgers||< 5%||1.62%||36.96||4.99|
|Tyrod Taylor||< 5%||4.23%||15.64||2.95|
|Adrian Peterson||< 5%||3.48%||25.3||3.47|
|C.J. Anderson||< 5%||2%||4.8||1.17|
|Emmanuel Sanders||< 5%||4.44%||21||2.88|
|Randall Cobb||< 5%||5.20%||19.9||2.93|
|Marquess Wilson||< 5%||0.87%||2.5||0.63|
|Austin Seferian-Jenkins||< 5%||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Eagles Defense||< 5%||8.11%||12||4.44|
|Mark Ingram II||16+%||13.6%||13.6||2.09|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||16+%||29.1%||22.5||2.56|
Moving on to this week’s slate...
5% Projected Ownership and Under
Sam Bradford - $5,700 vs. MIA
In a week where most entrants will be spending up for Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, or down to Blake Bortles and Kirk Cousins, it’s a safe bet Bradford (who no one likes rostering anyway) will be low-owned in a home match-up with the Dolphins. Miami’s defense ranks as a bottom-third unit in both Football Outsiders’ pass defense DVOA (adjusted for down, distance, and situation) and opponent yards per pass attempt. The Dolphins are also playing in their third straight away game, which is traditionally a bad spot for the road team. With the Eagles suspect secondary on the other side of the ball, this game has shootout potential. Vegas agrees -- Miami at Philadelphia has the slate’s fifth-highest over/under (47 points) and the Eagles’ 26.25 point implied team total is third-highest.
Ryan Tannehill - $5,300 @ PHI
Tannehill should benefit from playing up in pace against an Eagles team allowing the third-most opponent plays per game. Whether the game evolves into the shootout I’m expecting, or the lopsided game Vegas is suggesting (Philadelphia is a 6.5 point favorite), Tannehill is likely to throw the ball around 40 times. The on-paper matchup against Philadelphia isn’t the greatest, but 77% of the touchdowns the Eagles have allowed this season have come via the pass. Miami’s implied team total suggests they should score about three touchdowns, giving Tannehill a solid floor for his salary to go along with the 25+ point upside he’s flashed on several occasions this season.
Joe Flacco - $5,500 vs. JAC
The Ravens are at home, coming off a bye week, and a six point favorite against one of the league’s worst pass defenses. The Jaguars have allowed Brian Hoyer, E.J. Manuel, and Ryan Fitzpatrick (not exactly murderer's row) to reach at least 270 passing yards and two touchdowns in each of their last three games. Flacco is affordable for a player who has exceeded his GPP target score at this price (22 points) in five out of eight games this season.
Marshawn Lynch - $6,700 vs. ARI
Lynch hasn’t looked like the Beast Mode of old this season, failing to hit GPP value in any of his six games played. There’s no question the crowd will fade him as the third-most expensive running back in a tough matchup with Arizona. But Lynch always warrants consideration when Seattle plays at home. Since 2011, his fantasy points per game have increased by 30% in games played at CenturyLink. The bye-week could very well have helped Lynch get over the nagging injuries that have plagued him all season. If that’s the case, now is the perfect time to buy-low while he’s the cheapest he’s been all season and no one else wants to roster him. Seattle is due for positive rushing touchdown regression. 43% of their touchdowns came via the rush last season compared to just 18.75% this season.
Injury Update 11/14: Lynch reportedly suffered an abdominal injury at the end of Thursday's practice and didn't practice at all on Friday. While Pete Carroll still expects him to play, I'm not nearly as bullish on Lynch as I was earlier this week. One of the main reasons I liked him as a contrarian play was the possibility he'd come out of the bye fully healthy, which is obviously not going to be the case.
Jonathan Stewart - $4,300 @ TEN
Stewart was only 6.34% owned last week in a solid home matchup with Green Bay. While his 7.8 point dud should cause his ownership percentage to drop, Stewart’s continued heavy usage shouldn’t be ignored. Week 8 marked the fourth straight game Stewart has received at least 20 carries. Since coming off the bye in Week 6, the only running back with more carries than Stewart is Adrian Peterson. Stewart also had another carry from inside the five yard line last week, making it his fifth in the last four games. Only three running backs (Mark Ingram II, Chris Ivory, Marshawn Lynch) have more over the same span. The Titans are a bottom-third run defense according to DVOA metrics. Their low fantasy points against ranking has a lot to do with the quality of the running backs they’ve faced. Given the projected game script (Carolina is a 5.5 point favorite), Stewart is one of the top dollar per touch values on the board this week.
Rishard Matthews - $4,700 @ PHI
As you can tell by the Sam Bradford and Ryan Tannehill blurbs, I want some exposure to both passing games in Eagles-Dolphins. On the Miami side, I’d rather have Matthews than Jarvis Landry in GPPs due to Matthews’ big-play upside and better point per dollar value. Since Dan Campbell took over as Dolphins head coach in Week 6, Matthews has seen at least 90% of the outside receiver snaps for Miami in three out of four games. He’ll draw a plus matchup on most of his routes against Philadelphia cornerback Byron Maxwell, who’s been consistently roasted by the opposing team’s top receiver. Julio Jones, Terrance Williams, Brandon Marshall, Brandin Cooks, and most recently Dez Bryant have gone for at least 80 yards and a touchdown against Maxwell and the Eagles this season.
Cecil Shorts - $3,000 @ CIN
Nate Washington made a splash in Houston’s last two games before the bye, but Shorts missed both contests with a groin injury. Prior to the injury, Shorts was averaging 5.2 receptions on nine targets per game for the pass-happy Texans. Shorts will return to his slot receiver role against the Bengals this week, and while the matchup with cornerback Leon Hall isn’t a good one, continued heavy target volume should propel him to at least a 3x return on his minimum salary. And if the game goes off-script for the Texans, as it often has this season (Cincinnati is an 11 point home favorite), Shorts has garbage time all star potential.
Jermaine Gresham - $2,500 @ SEA
Full disclosure: Gresham is more likely to put up two fantasy points than the 10 you’d need from him to hit value in tournaments. He’s a pure flier that will be close to 0% owned (for good reason), but his recent usage and matchup with the Seahawks provide reasons for optimism. Seattle is ranked 31st by Football Outsiders in pass defense DVOA to tight ends. Over the last five weeks, they have given up 53.3% more fantasy points to the position than the league average. Due to the absence of Darren Fells, Gresham has seen over 80% of Arizona’s tight end snaps in each of the last two games and averaged five targets per game. He’s also been targeted twice in the red zone in that span, which is tied for the team lead. Gresham won’t be a world beater, but he brings salary relief and the potential for just enough production to pay off his minimum price tag.
Injury Update 11/14: It looks like Fells (who played at least 75% of the tight end snaps for Arizona in every game he finished this season) is set to return. Gresham was a total flier to begin with, and can now be completely ignored. I'm still convinced there will be significant tight end production from the Cardinals in this game, but there's no telling who it will come from.
6%-10% Projected Ownership
Dez Bryant - $7,800 @ TAM
A healthy Bryant proved last week he’s capable of big fantasy numbers despite being saddled with Matt Cassel as his quarterback. Bryant should have no issues approximating last week’s numbers (5-104-1) against a Tampa Bay defense that has been routinely smoked by the opposing team’s WR1. Kendall Wright, DeAndre Hopkins, Allen Robinson, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham have all recorded at least 100 yards, or at least one touchdown against the Bucs this season. Dallas is a road underdog, with a low 21 point implied team total, but Bryant undoubtedly gives them their best chance for touchdowns. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, only Rob Gronkowski has scored as many touchdowns as Bryant.
Calvin Johnson - $7500 @ GB
Johnson underwhelmed and got banged up in his last game before the Lions bye week. He shouldn’t be a popular play with guys like Demaryius Thomas and Alshon Jeffery (groin injury notwithstanding) available for slightly less. Green Bay ranks 29th in pass defense DVOA to opposing WR1s. Their top cornerback -- Sam Shields -- missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury, and even if he can return this week to match up with Johnson, there’s concern about his ability to extend his arm upwards. Johnson always seems to get up for Packers games. Since 2011, his fantasy points per game have increased by 14% against Green Bay. In his last three trips to Lambeau Field, Johnson has averaged a monstrous 8-134-1 receiving line.
Jordan Matthews - $6,200 vs. MIA
It appeared the extra work Matthews put in over the Eagles bye week to solve his problem with dropped passes paid off. He secured nine out of 12 targets against the Cowboys last week, on his way to a monster 31 fantasy point performance. Matthews should keep it going against the Dolphins, who rank dead last at defending opposing WR1s per Football Outsiders. Because the Eagles played Sunday night, Matthews' price couldn’t be adjusted in time for this week. In fact, his price dropped $200 despite the huge game. Despite the discount, it doesn't seem like many entrants are ready to trust Matthews again due to his string of five straight unimpressive performances leading up to last week's game. A Bradford-Matthews stack should have low ownership and high upside.
Kamar Aiken - $4,500 vs. JAX
In the game Steve Smith missed earlier this year, Joe Flacco targeted Aiken nine times. With Smith out for the season, it’s fair to expect similar volume against the Jaguars in a game with the third highest over/under of the week. Jacksonville is ranked 29th in pass defense DVOA and has allowed multiple wide receiver touchdowns in each of their last three games.
Ravens Defense - $2,800
Although I believe the Ravens-Jaguars game will turn into a shootout, the (admittedly terrible) Ravens defense remains a recommended play. Blake Bortles gets sacked about three times per game, and has thrown eight interceptions (including three pick-sixes) in his last three games. Even if Bortles throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns, the Ravens defense still has the potential to reach double digit fantasy points.
Steelers Defense - $3,000 vs. CLE
It doesn’t look like the Steelers will have Ben Roethlisberger to help stake them to a big lead and force Johnny Manziel (or Josh McCown) into catch-up mode, but their defense is still in a good spot this week. Cleveland quarterbacks have been sacked 3.3 times per game (fourth most in the league) and no matter who plays QB for the Browns, we can count on at least one poorly thrown ball being intercepted.
Other GPP plays to consider in this ownership tier - Doug Martin ($5,600 vs. DAL), DeSean Jackson ($5,400 vs. NO), Martavis Bryant ($5,500 vs. CLE), Pierre Garcon ($4,800 vs. NO)
11% to 15% Projected Ownership
Kirk Cousins - $5,200 vs. NO
As strange as it seems, there’s a very real chance Cousins winds up the most heavily owned quarterback on the slate this week. No team has allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks than the Saints, and it hasn’t been close. In their last three games, New Orleans has allowed Andrew Luck, Eli Manning, and Marcus Mariota to each top 330 passing yards and three touchdowns. Vegas has Washington pegged for at least three touchdowns in this game and 75% of the touchdowns the Saints have allowed this season have come via the pass. Cousins’ floor is always scary low, but there’s no doubt he has a 25+ point ceiling in this matchup.
Mark Ingram II - $6,400 @ WAS
Ingram was surprisingly low-owned in last week’s Millionaire Maker (13.6%), despite a juicy matchup with Tennessee. After disappointing with just 13.6 fantasy points, I can’t imagine his ownership will top 10%-12% in a road matchup with Washington. In the Saints’ first game without Khiry Robinson, Ingram handled 25 out of 28 backfield touches. If he had converted his two carries from inside the five-yard line into touchdowns, he’d likely be the most popular running back play on the slate. Ingram tied for the second-most goal line touchdowns in the NFL last season, so the touchdown upside is clearly there. If the Saints feed him like they did last week, he should have no problem trampling over Washington. Each of the last four starting running backs to face Washington have exceeded 135 yards on the ground.
James Starks - $4,900 @ GB
Starks has been officially anointed Green Bay’s starting running back just in time for an excellent home matchup with the Lions. Detroit has allowed 53.4% more fantasy points to running backs than the league average over the last five weeks. The Packers are favored by 11 points and are playing at home for the first time since Week 6. The game script points to a heavy dose of the run late in game which favors Starks, who has been Green Bay’s most effective running back by far this season. Just be prepared for high ownership -- Starks has been at the top of the news cycle this week and his price doesn’t reflect head coach Mike McCarthy’s recent endorsement.
Demaryius Thomas - $7,400 @KC
Kansas City’s inability to defend outside receivers is well documented. Only the 49ers have allowed more yards to wide receivers than the Chiefs this season, and San Francisco has played in one less game. When Denver and Kansas City last met in Week 2, Thomas posted an 8-116-0 line. It’s reasonable to expect a repeat of those reception and yardage numbers, and while it may be too late to hold out hope for positive touchdown regression, I have to believe Thomas (who has scored double digit touchdowns in each of the last three seasons) has to begin finding the end zone at some point before the year is out. A date with the team that has allowed the third-most wide receiver touchdowns seems like a good place to start.
Stefon Diggs - $5,100 @ OAK
Diggs’ disappointing Week 9 stat line (3-42-0) and the recent memory of Teddy Bridgewater laying motionless on the turf make it unlikely Diggs will be too highly owned this week. Surprisingly, Bridgewater was medically cleared and practicing on Wednesday, making Diggs an attractive option against an Oakland secondary that has allowed a wide receiver to record at least nine receptions in each of their last four games. Diggs has been seeing enough volume to make it five in a row. Over the last four weeks, his 28.93% target market share ranks eighth in the league. Expect over 20 fantasy points from Diggs for the fourth time in his last five games.
Injury Update 11/14: After Bridgewater practiced fully on Friday, it appears there's no doubt he'll start against Oakland. The positive reports on Bridgewater and Diggs' affordable price caused me to bump him up one ownership tier since this article was originally published. There's even a good chance he ends up over 16% owned.
Crockett Gillmore - $2,800 vs. JAX
Joe Flacco is going to rack up at least 250 passing yards on Sunday, and they can’t all go to Kamar Aiken. Gilmore is the second-most heavily targeted Ravens pass catcher over their last three games, and the Jaguars defense ranks 29th in pass defense DVOA against the tight end position. At 6’6’’, 270 pounds, Gillmore is easily Flacco’s biggest target when the Ravens are within striking distance. He’s converted a team high 66% of his targets from inside the opponent’s 10-yard line into touchdowns this year.
Other GPP plays to consider in this ownership tier - Tom Brady ($8,600 @ NYG), Blake Bortles ($5,600 @ BAL), LeGarrette Blount ($4,900), Brandin Cooks ($6,000)
16%+ Projected Ownership
The following players are this week’s chalk. They’re all highly recommended for cash games, but can be used as foundation pieces in tournament lineups because they’re likely to finish among the week’s top scorers. Just be aware you’re not sneaking any of them past your opponents and if you use them in GPPs, you’ll need to differentiate your line-ups with lower-owned players at other positions.
Aaron Rodgers - $7,500 vs. DET
It’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Rodgers doesn’t annihilate the Lions on Sunday. Detroit has allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 73% of their passes at an 8.1 yards per attempt clip -- both rates rank dead last in the league. The Packers implied team total is nearing 30 points and 80% of their touchdowns this season have come via the pass. Over 300 passing yards and four touchdowns are not unreasonable projections for Rodgers in this matchup.
Todd Gurley - $7,300 vs. CHI
Gurley has crushed the weak rush defenses of Cleveland and San Francisco in recent home games, and is in a similarly great spot this week with the Bears visiting St. Louis as seven point underdogs. If the Rams are going to score over 25 points as Vegas is predicting, the only way they’ll get there is on the back of Gurley. Since starting his first game in Week 4, Gurley has handled 80% of the backfield touches for a St. Louis team that calls the second-highest percentage of rushing plays in the league.
DeMarco Murray - $6,200 vs. MIA
The crowd slept on Murray last week, but won’t make the same mistake after watching him run wild in a nationally televised island game. Murray has now exceeded 24.6 fantasy points in three of his last four games thanks in large part to some massive workloads. Since Week 5, Murray is averaging 23.75 total touches per game, which is up from 13.33 over his first three games. Miami has let up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season, and are fresh off a game in which Karlos Williams and LeSean McCoy both went over a hundred yards and scored a touchdown against them.
Allen Robinson - $6,700 @ BAL
Robinson is the cumulative WR9 this season, yet he’s curiously priced as the WR16 this week in a drool-worthy matchup against Baltimore. With profit essentially built into his price, Robinson is as close as it gets to a must play in all formats. The Ravens have allowed the seventh-most pass plays of 20+ yards this season, and the second-most 20+ yard touchdown receptions. Robinson happens to lead the league in 20+ yard catches. There’s only one way this matchup can end for Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith, who has been picked on by opposing passing games all season. There’s also a chance Allen Hurns misses this game with a foot injury, giving Robinson the opportunity to hog targets.
Rob Gronkowski - $8,000 vs. NYG
Gronkowski shouldn't need a plus matchup to warrant consideration in GPPs, but I can’t see how the Giants’ dismal linebackers and safeties are going to cover him this week. New York has allowed at least six receptions to a tight end in five out of nine games this season, and have given up the second-most receiving yards to the position as a result. The Patriots will be able to score however they please on the Giants, but if they take the path of least resistance, the outcome will be multiple Gronk spikes.
Broncos Defense - $3,400 vs. KC
Denver’s defense scored 22 fantasy points when they visited Kansas City in Week 2. Don’t rule out a repeat. The Broncos lead the league in sack percentage, the Chiefs let up the second-most sacks per game, and Kansas City’s 17.75 implied point total is the lowest on this week’s slate. Even with stud cornerback Aqib Talib serving a suspension for this game, the Broncos are the top defense on the board.
Other GPP plays to consider in this ownership tier - Lamar Miller ($5,400 @ PHI), Julian Edelman ($8,200 @ NYG), Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,800 vs. NE), Jordan Reed ($4,600 vs. NO)