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|
|Tyrod Taylor||< 5%||2.6%||27.3||4.88|
|Ben Roethlisberger||< 5%||2.1%||27.9||4.36|
|Jeremy Hill||< 5%||10.2%||14.1||2.82|
|Malcom Floyd||< 5%||2.1%||3.7||1.06|
|Gary Barnidge||< 5%||6%||11.9||2.38|
|Steelers Defense||< 5%||8.5%||6||2.22|
|Odell Beckham Jr.||6%-10%||6.5%||19.6||2.13|
Moving on to this week’s slate...
5% Projected Ownership and Under
Jameis Winston - $5,500 vs. CHI
Winston’s recent string of low ceiling fantasy performances in plus matchups against the Colts, Falcons, and Saints (last week’s 24 point performance against the Rams was the result of wonky game flow) should put him below the radar of most entrants headed into a home matchup with the Bears. Over the last three games, Blaine Gabbert, Kirk Cousins, and Teddy Bridgewater (not exactly a murderer’s row) have each dropped at least 25 fantasy points on Chicago. Tampa Bay’s implied team total is above 24 points, which provides enough room for Winston to max out his upside. The only worry would be Doug Martin doing the majority of the fantasy damage, but Winston has had a hand in 83% of the Bucs’ offensive touchdowns, and Martin only has one multi-touchdown game all season.
Lamar Miller - $6,400 vs. IND
Rostering Miller after he’s been (more or less) held out in the second half in back-to-back games is going to feel rather uncomfortable (especially at his RB7 sticker price), but that’s precisely why he’ll go under 5% owned in GPPs. The Dolphins were battling negative game script by the second quarter last week against a fired-up Chargers team likely playing their last game in San Diego. Miller was supposedly limited by a quad injury, but he appears fine (practiced in full Friday), putting him in an excellent bounce back spot against the Colts. Indianapolis allowed Alfred Blue to pile up 107 yards on 20 carries last week, and T.J. Yeldon and Denard Robinson combined for 137 yards on 27 carries the week before. Miami’s coaching staff could very well sabotage Miller again this week, but at least it won’t be due to game flow. Andrew Luck has been ruled out for a Week 16 return, meaning the Colts will start either Charlie Whitehurst or Matt Hasselbeck’s animated corpse.
Adrian Peterson - $7,300 vs. NYG
Peterson is the cumulative RB2 this season, he’s facing a team that has been exploited on the ground in recent weeks, and he should enjoy positive game script against the Odell Beckham-less Giants. The problems of course are that Peterson is cost prohibitive, nursing an ankle injury that clearly hampered him in the second half against the Bears last week, and it will be unclear until late in the day whether or not this game means anything to the Vikings. A full practice on Friday should alleviate most injury concerns, but Peterson remains the definition of high-risk/high-reward. He has clear GPP winning upside in this matchup if he ends up around 5% owned, but have a late swap plan ready if the Packers and Falcons lose, which would render this game meaningless for Minnesota.
Nate Washington - $3,200 @ TEN
Washington will be tough to trust if Brandon Weeden gets the start for Houston, but he’ll become a great salary relief option if Brian Hoyer (concussion) is able to return this week. Cecil Shorts is out with a groin injury, which places Washington in the catbird seat for targets opposite DeAndre Hopkins. In two games without Shorts this season, Washington scored 36.7 and 17.4 fantasy points (on the strength of 11 targets per game). The Titans have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers over the last four weeks, even making Brandon LaFell look competent in Week 15.
Zach Miller - $4,000 @ TAM
With Alshon Jeffery listed as doubtful,and both Martellus Bennett and Marquess Wilson on injured reserve, Jay Cutler’s receiving options have all but dried up. It leaves Miller (who has recorded 19.5 and 11.7 fantasy points in his last two games respectively) a safe bet for six to eight targets against a Lovie Smith Tampa-2 scheme that historically leaves tight ends open to roam the seam between the outside linebackers and cornerbacks. For Miller to hit his target score in GPPs (16 points), he’ll likely need to score a touchdown. Chicago hasn’t been a frequent visitor to the red zone lately, but Tampa Bay has given up the eighth-most red zone scoring attempts per game this year and Miller has seen 33% of Chicago’s red zone targets over the last four weeks.
Buffalo Bills Defense - $3,200 vs. DAL
The Bills are at home, favored by six points, and only the Rams (at Seattle) have a lower implied team total than the Cowboys. Dallas quarterback Kellen Moore showed more ability to move the ball than Matt Cassel, but he also showed more ability to throw left-handed interceptions. With Dez Bryant likely out for this game, Dallas has no way to threaten Buffalo’s defense in what should be an ugly, low scoring affair.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Tom Brady ($7,500 @ NYJ), Teddy Bridgewater ($5,200 vs. NYG), Alex Smith ($5,100 vs. CLE), Cameron Artis-Payne ($4,300 @ ATL), Richard Rodgers (4000 @ ARI)
6%-10% Projected Ownership
Matthew Stafford - $6,100 vs. SF
Stafford is the cumulative QB5 over the last five weeks, so there’s profit built into his QB8 price tag -- especially in a home matchup with the 49ers. San Francisco ranks 25th in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA (adjusted for down, distance, and situation). Their opponent completion percentage (68.35%) is second-worst in the league and they allow 7.7 yards per pass attempt, which is third-highest. The 49ers defense is also a notoriously bad unit on the road, allowing 31.4 points per game in away games compared to just 17 points per game at home. Vegas projects Detroit for a solid 24.5 points and their offensive production is heavily slanted toward the pass. The Lions have the league’s highest passing play percentage (66%) and fourth-highest passing touchdown percentage (78%).
James White - $4,700 @ NYJ
White has excelled in the Dion Lewis role in the Patriots offense, scoring between 14 and 31 fantasy points in four out of the last five games. Based on recent comments from Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniel, and Tom Brady (as well as the continued absence of Julian Edelman for at least one more week), White should remain busy as a receiver out of the backfield. In New England’s 30-23 win over the Jets in Week 7 (a game Lewis missed due to injury), Patriots’ running backs only received five combined carries. Given the Patriots present running back situation (they signed a fossilized Steven Jackson off the couch this week), I’d expect a similarly pass happy game plan against New York’s top-ranked rush defense (DVOA).
Christine Michael - $4,400 vs. STL
Is there a chance Michael’s solid performance (16-84-0) last week was fool’s gold? Of course. He was playing against one of the league’s worst run defenses (Cleveland) and barely saw more snaps (34%) than Bryce Brown (31%). But is there a chance what we saw last Sunday was a running back with rare physical gifts staking his claim to a starting role in one of the league’s most potent offenses? Of course. Michael’s skills have never been in question, only his attitude, preparation, and mental capacity. On those fronts, Michael came out of the Browns game saying all the right things and so did his coaches. Brown will still get some reps, but there should once again be plenty of rushing attempts to go around for Seattle. Vegas has the Seahawks as 13.5 point favorites at home against the Rams, which points to a run heavy game script. There’s clear risk with Michael, especially since he doesn’t catch passes, but a 100+ yard, multi-touchdown performance is within his range of outcomes.
Michael Floyd - $4,900 vs. GB
Since Week 6, Floyd is the cumulative WR16 yet he remains badly mispriced (WR30). Recency bias should knock his ownership down a peg (he was over 20% owned in last week’s Millionaire Maker) after Floyd posted a ho-hum 5-70-0 line in a great matchup with the Eagles, but we’d be looking at that game in a different light if he had been able to reach the end zone on a 29 yard catch that went out of bounds at the one yard line. If cornerback Sam Shields is forced to miss his second straight game with a concussion (he’s listed as doubtful), the Packers will be forced to play rookies Damarious Randle and Quinten Rollins on Floyd. We saw how well that turned out for Amari Cooper last week.
Allen Hurns - $5,300 vs. NO
Hurns’ price is justifiably down $300 from last week following his third single digit fantasy point performance in his last four games. With most entrants opting for Allen Robinson and/or Julius Thomas in their Blake Bortles stacks, Hurns should be relatively low-owned headed into a dream matchup with the Saints. Hurns make his living off of big plays, and only the Colts and Giants have allowed more pass plays of 20+ yards than the Saints this season. While the Jaguars line Hurns up all over the formation, he figures to run the slight majority of his routes in the slot opposite the burnable Kyle Wilson, who is five inches shorter than Hurns.
Will Tye - $3,500 @ MIN
Tye has developed into a remarkably consistent option filling in for the injured Larry Donnell. He’s now reached double digit fantasy points in five consecutive games, and has scored touchdowns in each of his last two. With Odell Beckham Jr. out due to suspension, it opens up 11 targets per game for New York’s pass catchers, which should allow Tye to at least sustain his recent target volume (eight last week), especially in a game the Giants figure to be trailing. Tye’s 3x cash game multiplier of 10.5 points looks more like a baseline projection.
Houston Texans Defense - $2,800 @ TEN
When the Texans faced off against Zach Mettenberger in Week 8, they racked up three sacks, two fumble recoveries, and one interception while holding the Titans out of the endzone. I usually prefer my defenses playing at home, but J.J. Watt and company should be plenty motivated to make life miserable for Mettenberger in this one. The Texans can clinch the AFC South (even with a Colts win) if they take care of business, and get a little help from the Jets and Bengals.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Kamar Aiken ($5,400 vs. PIT), Jarvis Landry ($6,400 @ MIA), Stefon Diggs ($4,400 vs. NYG), DeAndre Hopkins ($8,400 @ TEN)
11% to 15% Projected Ownership
Russell Wilson - $7,200 vs. STL
After five straight games with at least 25 fantasy points, Wilson’s price tag finally made the leap into the top three at quarterback. With so many entrants flocking to Blake Bortles, Ben Roethlisberger, and Cam Newton this week, it should leave Wilson’s ownership much closer to the 11% end of this tier (and possibly lower). The Rams still field a solid defense, but they’ve been vulnerable on the road, and Seattle’s offense is on an absolute tear. The Seahawks come into this game averaging nearly 34 points per game over their last six games. Vegas has Seattle’s implied team total at 27 points (third-highest of the week) and Wilson has played a role in 21 of the team’s 26 offensive touchdowns over the past six games.
Bilal Powell - $3,900 vs. NE
Powell has out-snapped Chris Ivory in two out of the last three games and outscored him by a combined 36 fantasy points over that stretch. With the Patriots visiting New York as road favorites, it’s very likely the Jets are forced into negative game script, which would once again put Powell on the field at Ivory’s expense. Coming into the season, it was widely speculated Powell would play a significant role as the pass catching back in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s spread system. Now that Powell is healthy we’ve seen it come to fruition. Over the last five weeks, Powell leads the league in running back receptions. Considering he’s exceeded a 4x salary multiplier at this price in each of the last three games, Powell represents one of the best point per dollar values on the slate.
Mike Evans - $7,300 vs. CHI
In the four games Vincent Jackson has missed this season, Evans has averaged seven receptions and 121.5 receiving yards on an absurd 14.5 targets per game. The only problem for Evans in those games has been a complete lack of touchdowns, but at some point positive regression is bound to kick in. Evans is 6’5’’, 231 lbs., scored 12 touchdowns as a rookie, and owns a team leading 24% of Tampa Bay’s red zone targets this season. With Jackson set to miss another game and the Buccaneers matched up against a talent-deficient Chicago secondary that just struggled to contain Teddy Bridgewater and Stefon Diggs, Evans’ ceiling is sky high. I may be undershooting Evans’ ownership, but his price (WR8) and volatility (exactly what you should embrace in GPPs) will be a turnoff to many entrants.
Rob Gronkowski - $7,600 @ NYJ
With the pricing pretty tight on DraftKings this week, there’s a chance Gronkowski (who costs the same as the WR4) will check in under 10% owned. But I’d expect Gronk’s popularity to land him in this tier, especially with Jordan Reed and Antonio Gates missing from this slate. The Jets blitz happy ways can leave them susceptible to tight end production, as evidenced by Gronkowski’s 11-108-1 line when he last faced New York back in Week 7. I fully expect New England to attack the Jets via the pass again (Tom Brady threw 60 passes in the Week 7 win), and with Danny Amendola banged up and Julian Edelman likely out another week, Gronkowski figures to be the main beneficiary.
Other recommended GPP plays in this ownership tier: Cam Newton ($7,500 @ ATL), Doug Martin ($6,600 vs. CHI), Ted Ginn ($4,900 @ ATL)
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.
Blake Bortles - $6,500 @ NO
Matthew Stafford was around 11% owned last week against the Saints at a similar price, but Bortles’ recent production (four straight games with 25+ fantasy points) will make him the chalk play at quarterback. By now the matchup with the Saints needs no introduction -- New Orleans has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season (and it hasn’t been close). The Jaguars reliance on the pass (especially in the red zone) has turned Bortles into a top five fantasy option this season, and he has the passing game weapons to cause nightmares for the Saints defense. One word of caution -- I’d limit my exposure to Bortles a bit if Drew Brees is out for this game. For Bortles to hit his usual 25 to 30 fantasy points, Jacksonville needs to either be involved in a shootout or playing catch up (i.e. their usual game script). Both scenarios seem unlikely if Matt Flynn is quarterbacking the Saints.
David Johnson - $5,800 vs. GB
The secret is officially out on David Johnson after he racked up 48 fantasy points in a nationally televised island game, and put one of the best touchdowns runs you’ll ever see on film in the process. I’m not worried at all about Andre Ellington’s return dinging Johnson’s value, and the matchup with Green Bay is winnable (the Packers rank 18th in rush defense DVOA). Game flow should be on Johnson’s side as well, with the Cardinals favored by 4.5 and projected to score 27 points. Johnson’s price still hasn’t caught up to his other-worldly production because the Cardinals played last Sunday night after week 16 pricing had already been set. Expect at least 35% ownership, but fade at your own risk.
DeAngelo Williams - $6,500 @ BAL
The Steelers have the highest implied team total of the week (about 29 points), and are favored to win by double digits against a Baltimore team that will be quarterbacked by either Matt Schaub, Jimmy Clausen, or Ryan Mallett. Williams is in position to be a game flow all star, as the Steelers should move the ball at will against the Ravens terrible secondary, capitalize on short fields caused by turnovers, and rely on the run in the second half to salt away an easy win. With very few attractive pay-up options at running back this week, Williams will likely appear on about 25% of tournament rosters.
Antonio Brown - $9,300 @ BAL
Not much to explain here. Brown has four 40+ fantasy point performances in his last six games, and is matched up against a secondary that has been flamed by wide receivers all season long. Everyone is going to try to get Brown in their lineups this week and you should too, though the next player on this list can help you cut the chalk a bit...
Martavis Bryant - $5,600 @ BAL
Bryant will top out around 20% owned due to his matchup against the Ravens horrendous secondary. But with Antonio Brown coming off yet another nuclear performance, Bryant will be left out of the majority of Ben Roethlisberger stacks, which should keep his ownership reasonable. Bryant is one of the highest ceiling receivers in the league, he’s coming off a 10 catch game of his own, and his one-on-one matchup is as good as it gets. Baltimore cornerback Shareece Wright will be tasked with guarding Bryant. Per Pro Football Focus, Wright (who goes five inches shorter and 30 pounds lighter than Bryant) has allowed the second most fantasy points per route defended this season. A 100+ yard multi-touchdown performance is well within the range of possible outcomes for Bryant in this matchup.
Julius Thomas - $5,100 @ NO
Thomas was about 10% owned in Thursday tournaments on Fanduel, but that was with Jordan Reed and Antonio Gates in the player pool. Between Thomas’ matchup with the Saints (most fantasy points allowed to opposing tight ends) and his recent production (cumulative TE3 over the last four games), he’s a clear top-shelf option -- especially priced $500 less than Delanie Walker and $200 less than Benjamin Watson.
Kansas City Chiefs Defense - $4,200 vs. CLE
The Chiefs defense has scored single digit fantasy points just once since Week 7. Meanwhile no opposing defense has scored less than eight fantasy points against Johnny Manziel this season. Kansas City is favored by 12.5 points at home, which suggests Manziel will be forced into a pass heavy game script. Sacks and interceptions will be sure to follow, giving the Chiefs the highest floor and ceiling of any team defense this week.
Other recommended GPP/cash game plays in this ownership tier: Ben Roethlisberger ($6,800 @ BAL), Allen Robinson ($7,500 @ NO), Jeremy Maclin ($6,000 vs. CLE), Golden Tate ($5,800 vs SF)