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|
|Eli Manning||< 5%||3.5%||15.08||2.32|
|Jeremy Hill||< 5%||3.3%||15.8||3.29|
|Anquan Boldin||< 5%||1.9%||8.7||2.12|
|DeVante Parker||< 5%||6.4%||15.3||4.64|
|Jacob Tamme||< 5%||2.5%||5.6||1.51|
|Kyle Rudolph||< 5%||2.8%||4.3||1.16|
|Titans Defense||< 5%||1.9%||6||2.31|
Moving on to this week’s slate...
5% Projected Ownership and Under
Alex Smith - $5,100 vs. SD
Smith’s price tag refuses to budge despite the fact he’s exceeded a 4x return on his salary in each of the last two games. The Chiefs haven’t scored under 29 points in their last five games (34.2 points per game), and this week’s matchup is a layup. San Diego ranks 29th in both Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA (adjusted for down, distance and situation) and opponent yards per pass attempt (7.7). While I fully expect the Chiefs to run the ball down the Chargers’ collective throats, it will help set up numerous scoring opportunities for Smith, who’s shown a nice rapport with Jeremy Maclin lately. Vegas agrees -- Kansas City has this week’s highest implied team total (27.75 points).
Matthew Stafford - $5,800 @ STL
Most entrants will look at the Rams season long ranking against the pass (6th DVOA) and assume this is a poor matchup for Stafford, but the St. Louis defense has become a MASH unit. The Rams haven’t been the same without stud defensive end Robert Quinn, and now they may also be without starting cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins (concussion) and Trumaine Johnson (thigh), as well as safety T.J. McDonald (shoulder). Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton combined for 589 passing yards and five touchdowns in St. Louis’ last two games, and another 20+ point performance should be on deck for Stafford. As bad as the Rams defense has been, their offense has been worse. Firing offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti and getting Case Keenum back are not going to help them move the ball, which should set Stafford and Lions up with more possessions and plenty of short fields and scoring opportunities.
Eddie Lacy - $4,700 vs. DAL
I’ll have some exposure to Lacy this week, even if it means ruining a perfectly good Sunday. The crowd will be petrified to use Lacy after he was benched without warning last Thursday night, but at least we received a logical reason following the game (Lacy missed team curfew earlier in the week). Prior to last week, Lacy reached at least 100 rushing yards in back to back games for the first time in his career, and provided the Packers offense with an element it had sorely been missing (Thanksgiving night fumble notwithstanding). The coach speak out of Green Bay regarding Lacy has been glowing this week, which suggests he’ll be given an opportunity to regain his starting job. It’s a pick that carries obvious risk, but Lacy is cheap, low-owned, playing at home in a game the Packers are projected to win by more than a touchdown, and has flashed 25 point upside as recently as two weeks ago.
Chris Ivory - $5,000 vs. TEN
Be careful not to assume the Jets backfield has degenerated into a timeshare just because Ivory and Bilal Powell split snaps evenly in Week 13. The Jets were trailing the Giants for most of last week’s game, which opened the door for Powell (the far better passing down back) to see more playing time. Powell exceeded expectations and should be more involved going forward, which highlights how game flow dependent a fantasy option Ivory has been this season. When the Jets are favored by 3.5 points or more, Ivory has averaged 23.5 touches, 111.5 total yards, and 1.5 touchdowns per game. Outside of the split, those numbers plummet to 18 touches, 81 total yards, and 0.28 touchdowns per game. Fortunately, New York is playing host to Tennessee as a seven point favorite, and the Titans rank 24th in rush defense DVOA. We may not have seen the last “Powell game” this season, but this week is almost assuredly an “Ivory game”.
Anquan Boldin - $4,000 @ CLE
Boldin has consistently been under 5% owned this season, and his 8.7 point clunker against a soft Bears pass defense last week certainly won’t raise it. Boldin has quietly been a consistent producer with Blaine Gabbert behind center for the 49ers (14 and 17 fantasy points in Weeks 11 and 12 respectively, despite being held out of the end zone). And while the counting stats weren’t there last week, Boldin did see a season-high 13 targets. Over the last four weeks, Boldin’s 30.7% target market share ranks fifth-highest in the league, and for the season his 43.6% red zone target market share is the highest of any wide receiver. Cleveland sports the league’s fourth-worst pass defense (DVOA) and allows the second-most red zone scoring attempts per game. Boldin is capable of returning 4x his salary on receptions and yards alone -- if he manages a touchdown catch, he’ll obliterate value.
Golden Tate - $4,500 @ STL
I mentioned the banged-up state of the Rams defense when recommending Matthew Stafford as a contrarian play. Calvin Johnson is always the preferred Stafford stacking partner due to his touchdown upside, but the value Tate has been providing lately shouldn't be ignored. Over the last four weeks (which coincides with the Lions switching offensive coordinators), the only players with more receptions than Tate are Larry Fitzgerald and Brandon Marshall. Tate has seen between eight and 11 targets in each of the last three games, and has been his usual hyper-efficient self, securing 82% of the passes thrown his way. Like Boldin, Tate would need a touchdown to crush value, but he’s plenty capable of reaching his 18 point GPP target score without finding the end zone.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins - $2,700 vs. NO
Seferian-Jenkins is a pure matchup play against the Saints, who have given up the most fantasy points per game to tight ends (and it’s not close). Playing in his first game since Week 2 due to a shoulder injury, Seferian-Jenkins saw six targets, which was impressive considering he only played on about 30% of the team’s offensive snaps. The question surrounding his playing time makes Seferian-Jenkins risky, but given the matchup, low price, high efficiency (10.63 yards per target), and Jameis Winston’s penchant for throwing to his tight ends, it’s conceivable ASJ reaches value even without normal starter’s reps.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Eli Manning ($6,100 @ MIA), Allen Hurns ($5,500 vs. IND)
6%-10% Projected Ownership
Tyrod Taylor - $5,400 @ PHI
If you’re looking for a lower-owned pivot off Jameis Winston ($5,500), Taylor is your guy. He comes into this game on a roll with at least 27 fantasy points in each of his last two games, and he faces the friendliest quarterback matchup this side of New Orleans. The Eagles have given up a ridiculous 14 total touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in their last three games. After nursing an injury for a few weeks, Taylor is running again (12-54-1 combined rushing line in his last two games), which pads his fantasy floor, and Sammy Watkins’ ability to roast the Eagles outside cornerbacks gives Taylor the big play upside you’re after in GPPs. #NeverForget the Eagles allowed Matt Cassel to throw for 299 yards and three touchdowns a few weeks ago.
Frank Gore - $4,300 @ JAX
Gore may lack huge upside (only one game with 20+ fantasy points this year), but he’s in a nice spot to exceed 17 fantasy points for the third time in his last five games -- a solid return on his low salary. The Jaguars have a stout run defense, but negative game scripts have allowed plenty of running backs to get over on them regardless. Gore’s opportunity is not in question. He’s seen 39% of the Colts touches (rushes plus receptions) in his starts this season, the fifth-highest workload share in the league. Jacksonville’s stud linebacker Paul Posluszny had surgery to fix a broken hand this week and while he hasn’t been ruled out, he’s certainly on the wrong side of questionable. In the only other game Posluszny missed this season, Doug Martin ran for 123 yards and two touchdowns.
Matt Forte - $6,800 vs. WAS
Forte was under 5% owned in last week’s Millionaire Maker. We’ll see that number rise following his 23.3 point performance against the 49ers, but a steep price tag (RB2) and Jeremy Langford’s continued involvement should keep Forte’s ownership in check. Now that he has two full games under his belt since returning from injury, it feels safe to project Forte for at least 20 total touches, even with Langford mixing in on about 40% of the snaps. Before facing the Matt Cassel-led Cowboys offense last week and the non-existent Giants rushing attack in Week 12, Washington had allowed a running back to rush for over 100 yards in five consecutive games. Vegas has Chicago pegged for a solid 23.5 points and 44% of their touchdowns have come via the run this season (fourth-highest rate in the league). Over the last two games, Forte has seen four out of the Bears six carries from inside the opponent’s five yard line, making him a solid bet to find the end zone.
Calvin Johnson - $7,400 @ STL
Everything I’ve already written about the Lions matchup with St. Louis applies to Johnson ten-fold. We’ve been seeing glimpses of vintage Calvin in Detroit’s last two games (four combined touchdowns and a handful of gorgeous catches very few receivers can make). The Rams simply don’t have a shot at containing him with backup cornerbacks in the event both Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are forced to sit out. In fact, even if Jenkins does suit up he’s at a pretty clear disadvantage…
Calvin Johnson is seven inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Janoris Jenkins.— C.D. Carter (@CDCarter13) December 9, 2015
Jarvis Landry - $6,300 vs. NYG
Landry finished with only 2.5 fantasy points vs. Baltimore last week, flashing a lower floor than I thought was possible. The Dolphins extreme shift in rush play percentage in their first game under interim offensive coordinator Zac Taylor is a concern, but Landry’s price is down $400 from last week, making him a bargain against the Giants lousy secondary. Landry should avoid cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in coverage, and will instead face the burnable Trevin Wade on most of his routes. Teams are doing most of their damage against the Giants through the air this season -- 74.3% of New York’s yards allowed have come via the pass (third-highest) and so have 69% of their opponents touchdowns (tenth-highest). It’s a clear spot where Landry -- the Dolphins most heavily targeted receiver (both in general and in the red zone) -- figures to benefit.
Tyler Eifert - $5,600 vs. PIT
Uncertainty surrounding the neck injury that caused Eifert to miss last week’s game should cast enough shade to keep his ownership percentage reasonable. Eifert didn’t do much in the last meeting between these teams (4-39-0), but I’d expect more success in the divisional rematch. Pittsburgh allows the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends and have been abused by elite red zone tight ends Rob Gronkowski (5-94-3), Antonio Gates (9-92-2), and Gary Barnidge (6-65-1). The way Cincinnati deploys Eifert when they get into scoring range is literally unstoppable. Eifert has converted eight out of nine targets from inside the opponent’s 10 yard line into touchdowns this season. With the Bengals favored at home and projected to score nearly 26 points, Eifert has a strong chance at adding to his league leading touchdown total.
Travis Kelce - 4,700 vs. SD
The Chargers defense ranks 31st in pass defense DVOA against tight ends, and have struggled every time they faced a team that features the tight end in their passing attack. The knock on Kelce is inconsistent target volume, but prior to last week’s anomalous three target game, he had been getting fed recently. Over the last four weeks Kelce has received a healthy 25% of Kansas City’s targets, which qualifies as the fourth-highest market share at the tight end position over that span. Kelce’s ownership never seems to be especially high and should be further depressed by last week’s 7.2 point dud.
Detroit Lions Defense - $2,700
Outside of the Browns, it doesn’t seem like there’s a team that can’t wait for the season to end more than the Rams. Whether it’s Case Keenum or Nick Foles under center is irrelevant. St. Louis quarterbacks have combined for a league-low 56.3% completion rate and average 1.7 giveaways (fumbles plus interceptions) per game. The last four D/STs to face St. Louis have each scored between nine and 17 fantasy points.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Andy Dalton ($6,600 vs. PIT), Drew Brees ($6,800 @ TAM), T.Y. Hilton ($5,900 @ JAX), Charcandrick West ($5,100 vs. SD), Benjamin Watson ($4,400 @ TAM)
11% to 15% Projected Ownership
Blake Bortles - $6,000 vs. IND
Bortles’ ownership percentage will be inflated as entrants chase his 35 point performance from last week, but that shouldn’t deter you from rostering him. Indianapolis allows 29.2 points per game on the road and is fresh off a 45 point drubbing by Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. The Jaguars terrible defense (and Bortles own mistakes) lead to pass heavy game scripts more often than not. Jacksonville has the sixth-highest passing play percentage (65%) and second-highest passing touchdown percentage (87%) in the league. Bortles will welcome back Allen Hurns for this game. When these teams met back in Week 4, Hurns dropped an 11-116-1 line on the Colts.
Shaun Draughn - $4,800 @ CLE
Yes he’s boring, but it’s tough to argue with Draughn’s results, price tag, and matchup. Since taking over as the 49ers starter in Week 9, Draughn hasn’t finished with less than 13.6 fantasy points. In the same span, he’s tied for the league lead in running back receptions with 22. The 19.6 fantasy points Draughn scored last week vs. Chicago is a reasonable expectation against the Browns. Cleveland ranks 29th in rush defense DVOA and has allowed the most rushing yards in the league.
Mike Evans - $7,200 @ NO
Evans ranks as the cumulative WR22 on DraftKings since Vincent Jackson returned three weeks ago, yet he’s still priced as the WR11. Under normal circumstances he’d go under 5% owned, but Evans will be fairly popular this week due to his matchup with the Saints. Provided I’m right about Evans’ recent middling production and high price keeping him under 16% owned, he makes for an excellent tournament option. Evans figures to run the majority of his routes against Brandon Browner -- the worst cornerback in football according to PFFs grading system. New Orleans’ only good defensive player -- cornerback Delvin Breaux -- is banged up and may not play, which would raise Evans’ already high ceiling to somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 fantasy points.
Sammy Watkins - $5,600 @ PHI
Watkins is as high variance as it gets thanks to a puzzling lack of targets (his 22% target market share over the last four weeks is second on the team to Robert Woods’ 25%). But it’s no secret the Eagles struggle to contain outside receivers and Watkins has averaged an absurd 30 yards per reception over his last two games. The task of defending Watkins will rest largely on the shoulders of Eagles cornerback Eric Rowe, who took over the injured Nolan Carroll. According to Pro Football Focus, Rowe has allowed 0.31 fantasy points per route defended, which is good for a bottom-five ranking. There’s clear bust potential if Watkins only receives four targets again, but otherwise playing him feels almost too easy.
San Francisco 49ers Defense - $2,100 @ CLE
At only $2,100, the 49ers defense (admittedly one of the worst in the league) frees up salary and at least offers a reasonable floor. In the three games Johnny Manziel has thrown more than 20 passes this season, opposing defenses have averaged 13.3 fantasy points per game against the Browns. Manziel has been sacked 14 times despite starting only three games, and he’s completing under 60% of his passes. At least one turnover to go along with two or three sacks is a given and there’s upside for more with the 49ers defense playing respectably in their last few games.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: DeAngelo Williams ($6,000 @ CIN), Jonathan Stewart ($5,800 vs. ATL), Alshon Jeffery ($6,900 vs. WAS), Eric Decker ($6,400 vs. TEN)
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 in a few spots with lower-owned players at other positions.
Jameis Winston ($5,500 vs. NO)
You won’t find a chalkier quarterback play than Winston this week, but it’s for good reason. The Saints have allowed at least four passing touchdowns in four of their last five games (and Brian Hoyer probably would have made it a clean sweep if he had needed to throw the ball in the second half in Week 12). Winston has looked more and more comfortable commanding the Bucs offense in recent weeks and has proven capable of exploiting choice matchups (see the 245-5-0 line he dropped on the Eagles three weeks ago). He also offers some added upside as a rusher, with five rushing touchdowns on the season, including four in his last six games.
LeSean McCoy - $6,100 @ PHI
McCoy is the cumulative RB2 on DraftKings over the last five weeks but remains available for $800 less than Adrian Peterson and $1,600 less than Devonta Freeman. The Eagles have allowed 46.2% more fantasy points per game to running backs than the league average over the last five weeks, and if you don’t think McCoy has had this game circled on his calendar, you might want to guess again...and again.
Doug Martin - $6,100 vs. NO
With David Johnson playing on Thursday night, it’s a two man race between McCoy and Martin for this week’s highest-owned running back (maybe Thomas Rawls is in that mix as well). No team has allowed more fantasy points per game to opposing running backs than the Saints. New Orleans has allowed a staggering 60% more fantasy points per game to running backs than the league average over the last five weeks. Tampa Bay is at home, favored by more than a field goal, and should be able to move the ball however they want to against New Orleans’ terrible defense. The game script points to at least 20 carries for Martin, which cannot possibly end well for the Saints.
Antonio Brown - $8,900 @ CIN
With 40+ point games in three of the last four weeks, you don’t need any additional reasons to build your cash or GPP lineups around Brown. But Adam Jones is out this week for the Bengals and both Dre Kirkpatrick and Leon Hall (who missed last week’s game) are on the injury report, leaving Cincinnati precariously thin in the secondary (they promoted rookie Troy Hill off the practice squad to start for Jones). Brown posted a 6-47-1 receiving line when these teams met in Week 8, but that was in Ben Roethlisberger’s first game back from a serious injury. In two games against the Bengals last season, Brown combined for 16 catches, 235 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Odell Beckham Jr Jr. - $9,100 @ MIA
Outside of Brown, Beckham is as close to a sure thing as it gets. He’s eclipsed 100 receiving yards in five straight games and has scored a touchdown in each of his last three. Football Outsiders ranks Miami dead last at defending the opposing team’s WR1 (DVOA) and the Dolphins have allowed six wide receiver touchdowns in the last three weeks. Given the matchup, Beckham has the highest ceiling on this week’s slate.
Seattle Seahawks Defense - $3,500 @ BAL
The Seattle defense is starting to heat up with a combined five interceptions and six sacks in their last two games. It’s unclear at this point whether Matt Schaub or Jimmy Clausen will start at quarterback for the Ravens, but it hardly matters. In keeping true to his brand, Schaub threw his sixth pick-six in his last nine starts against the Dolphins last week. The Seahawks actually played a game against Clausen already this season (Week 2) when he subbed for an injured Jay Cutler as a member of the Bears. Chicago didn’t score in the game and Clausen averaged 3.7 yards per pass attempt.
Other recommended GPP/cash game plays in this ownership tier: Russell Wilson ($6,300 @ BAL). Martavis Bryant ($5,700 @ CIN), Thomas Rawls ($5,800 @ BAL), Jeremy Maclin ($5,500 vs. SD), Danny Amendola ($5,200 @ HOU), Delanie Walker ($5,600)
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