For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. FootballGuys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.
Drew Brees (Primarily GPP, Salary: $7800). Drew Brees quietly amassed 355 yards passing last week against the Cardinals in a losing effort. He returns to the Superdome this weekend against a Buccaneers' secondary that yielded four passing touchdowns to rookie Marcus Mariota last Sunday, a matchup that has Brees licking his chops. It is no secret that Brees has excelled playing indoors in his career; he has averaged 304.9 yards/game in domes, nearly 60 more yards than when he plays outdoors. Vegas has instilled the Saints as the biggest favorites on the weekend (minus 11 points), which make the gamescript the only thing that could slow Brees down in this effort; if the Bucs' offense can muster and offense of their own, Brees could easily throw for 400 yards and multiple touchdowns against their terrible secondary.
Russell Wilson (Primarily GPP, Salary: $7300). Another thing that likely went unnoticed last weekend was the fact that Russell Wilson threw a career-high 41 passes against the St. Louis Rams. This Sunday night, Wilson and the Seahawks will face off against the Green Bay Packers' perennially strong offense; if the Packers jump out to an early lead, Wilson may be called upon again to carry the offensive load for the Seahawks. The difference between this year and previous years is that Wilson finally has some legitimate receivers with complementary abilities; Fred Jackson is a strong pass-catching running back, Tyler Lockett offers explosiveness that has been largely absent in Wilson's tenure in Seattle, and Jimmy Graham is a huge redzone target, who was asked to pass block on only 4 plays last weekend, killing any rumors that he will not be used as a receiver in Seattle. Jermaine Kearse and Doug Baldwin also return to round out a solid receiving corps that may be called upon more often this year than previous years, if the defense continues to give up 30+ points. If the gamescript sets up properly, Wilson has the skillset to run for 50 rushing yards, pass for 300 yards, and collect 3-4 touchdowns in the process, making him an excellent GPP play on DraftKings this weekend.
Carson Palmer (Primarily GPP, Salary: $6700). Palmer makes a return appearance in the GPP section of Tips and Picks this weekend after coming through with a 34-point performance last weekend against the Saints. Recency bias was in full effect last week, as Palmer was underowned after missing nearly a full year of football; this weekend, he will try to make it two 300-yards in a row against a very susceptible Bears' secondary. Kyle Fuller is the Bears' best coverage cornerback displaying hints of greatness amongst a litany of rookie-like mistakes in his young career; he and the other less-talented Bears cornerbacks are no matchup for the Cardinals' receivers this weekend. Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown could be called upon often, particularly in light of the fact that Chris Johnson will be the starting running back in place of the injured Andre Ellington; Johnson has not carried the ball more than 17 times in a game since 2013 and cannot be trusted to lead this offense. I fully expect the passing game to be in full effect for the second week in a row and Palmer could go underowned once again this Sunday.
Andrew Luck (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $8200). Andrew Luck started 2014 with nine out of his first ten games with 300 passing yards. Last week, he opened the season in Buffalo against one of, if not the, best defense in the league; Luck finished the afternoon with 243 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 20 rushing yards. If Luck can put up those kinds of numbers against the best defense(s) in the NFL, there is almost no doubt that he will throw for 300 yards against the Jets' average secondary this weekend in the Colts' home opener. The Jets are fairly stout up front, which might force the Colts to throw the ball more often than they otherwise would as touchdown favorites. Go ahead and chalk Luck in for 300 passing yards (and the DraftKings' 3-point bonus) a couple of touchdowns, and at least 25 fantasy points. If you have the salary, this is where to spend it for your cash games.
Sam Bradford (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6900). Bradford makes a repeat appearance in this section of Tips and Picks because his salary did not escalate after his 52-attempt, 336-yard performance last week against the Falcons. This week, Bradford gets a similar plus matchup against the Cowboys in Philadelphia in a game that Vegas has earmarked as the highest-scoring game on the weekend (55 total points). The truth is that Bradford's salary is just too little for the number of opportunities that he will see on Sunday afternoon--any time a quarterback throws 40 times for an offense that is projected to score 30 points, that quarterback is going to score more than 20 fantasy points at least 75% of the time. In this instance, Bradford only needs 21 points to reach value for cash games and is probably the safest play on the board this weekend for these reasons.
Matt Forte (Primarily GPP, Salary: $7700). Matt Forte started off his 2015 campaign with an impressive performance against the Packers, running for 141 yards and a touchdown, while picking up another 5 receptions for 25 yards in the passing game. This weekend, he looks to face the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field, possibly without Alshon Jeffery...but what is bad for the Bears is good for Forte's fantasy prospects; without Jeffery in the game, the Bears will look to Forte often in the passing game (8 targets last week), which is a big plus on a full PPR site like DraftKings. Just last week, the Cardinals allowed 15 receptions for 164 yards to opposing running backs, which could be a boon to a pass-catching running back like Forte, particularly if Jeffery is announced as inactive on Sunday morning. At his hefty salary on a much tighter slate of salaries, Forte may be underowned despite his upside--for that reason, he makes a nice GPP play on Sunday.
Frank Gore (Primarily GPP, Salary: $4800). Midway through the third quarter against the Bills last week, the Colts found themselves trailing 24-0. Frank Gore was largely taken out of the game by that point and finished the day with only 8 carries and 2 receptions; to say his touches were a disappointment would be an understatement. This weekend should be different, as the Colts opened as touchdown favorites against the Jets in their home opener with a team total of 27 points; as such, the gamescript sets up well for a heavy dose of Frank Gore in the second half. Gore is underrated in the NFL because of the offense from which he came (SF)...but make no mistake, his upside in the Colts' offense is sizeable and his salary makes him a solid GPP option if you believe the Colts ground the ball after building a lead.
Ameer Abdullah (GPP only, Salary: $4500). A lot of folks will be on Ameer Abdullah in their cash games this weekend based on his impressive performance last week against the Chargers. In fairness, Abdullah was superb in his NFL debut, but let's not overlook the fact that he played on only 21/47 snaps (44.7%) and managed to accrue 19.4 DraftKings points in the process. This weekend, he gets a fantastic matchup against a Vikings' defense that gave up 150+ yards and two touchdowns to Carlos Hyde on Monday Night Football, which will cause his ownership to skyrocket. The short week will assuredly not help that Vikings' defensive front seven, so Abdullah could be in store for another nice week if he gets the opportunity. Other sites will be suggesting that you consider Abdullah for your cash games, but do not fall into that trap...his 19-point performance far exceeded his opportunity last week and is not sustainable over the long-run. Slot him in as a GPP play in circumstances where you need the salary relief, but you could very well regret putting him into your cash game lineups because of his limited opportunity in this offense.
Lance Dunbar (GPP only, Salary: $3000). The game between the Eagles and Cowboys on Sunday will be an interesting game to watch because of how those teams will approach the game; Dallas will look to keep the ball away from Philadelphia, while the Eagles will look to speed up the pace of the game to fit their high-energy scheme. If the Eagles succeed in forcing the Cowboys into an uptempo pace, Lance Dunbar could be in line for another big game. Last week, Dunbar was heavily-involved in the passing game, catching 8 passes for 70 yards against the Giants when the Cowboys were in catchup mode; this week, Vegas predicts a similar gamescript for the Cowboys and they are missing their preeminent receiver (Dez Bryant), which could mean a repeat performance for Dunbar. At a minimum salary, Dunbar needs only a handful of catches and 60-70 yards receiving to achieve value for GPP contests...if he were to score a touchdown, he could reach 6x value or more.
Justin Forsett (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6200). There is risk associated with the top seven priced running backs on DraftKings this weekend. The eighth running back is Justin Forsett, who looks to be in a great spot against the Oakland Raiders. Despite a negative gamescript against the Broncos last week, Forsett still saw the majority of opportunity in the backfield (42/58 snaps); this week should be a complete turnaround, as the Ravens are the second-biggest favorites, which should set up well for Forsett's fantasy prospects. The Raiders yielded 36.6 fantasy points to Bengals' running backs last week; if Forsett gets half that amount as the primary back on Sunday, he will easily achieve cash game value, while allowing you to pay up at other positions to maximize your scoring floor.
Mark Ingram II (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5900). Mark Ingram II caught 8 passes for 98 yards last week against the Cardinals in C.J. Spiller's absence; the biggest question entering Week #2 is if Spiller will make his 2015 return? As of the writing of this article, Spiller is a game-time decision, but looks like he might get some playing time under an undefined snap count; logic would dictate that snap count would have to fairly low against the Buccaneers, who are 11-point underdogs against the Saints--Why would the Saints risk Spiller's health against a team they can beat without him? For that reason alone, Mark Ingram II looks like a solid cash game play; he should see 14-18 carries plus a handful of targets out of the backfield. He needs only 18 fantasy points to achieve cash game value, which equates to 80 all-purpose yards, 4 receptions, and a touchdown; with a team total of 29 points and a gamescript designated for success, it is difficult to envision a scenario where Ingram does not accrue those sorts of numbers.
Lamar Miller (Primarily cash games, Salary: $5500). Do not allow last week's disappointing performance against the Redskins steer you away from re-rostering Lamar Miller in Week #2. The truth is that I may have been remiss to recommend Miller as a cash game play against that Redskins' defense that ranked in the upper echelon of yards per carry, rushing yards per game, and rushing touchdowns allowed; Miller was limited against that front seven, amassing only 75 all-purpose yards on 14 touches last week. Miller should have no such problems against the Jacksonville Jaguars defensive front this weekend, who ranked 27th in rushing yards allowed and 24th in rushing touchdowns allowed in 2014. This week, everything sets up in Miller's favor, as the Dolphins are touchdown favorites and will look to pound the ball with Miller to secure a 2-0 start for the 2015 season. At $5500, Miller needs only 16 fantasy points to reach value for cash games, which represents a reasonable target for a running back that should touch the ball 18-22 times in this game.
Carlos Hyde (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5100). Carlos Hyde was the surprise of Week #1 when he rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings on Monday Night Football. Because DraftKings' salaries were released prior to the Monday night game, Hyde's salary remains unchanged entering this weekend's game against the Steelers, whose defense is far from intimidating at this juncture. For this reason, Hyde will likely be the highest-owned running back on the entire DraftKings site this Sunday. For my money, there are better selections that Hyde for your cash games, but his ownership will be so high (likely > 30%) that game theory argues you should just roster him and try to beat your opponents elsewhere because if he has a repeat performance, you will be too far behind to catch up...that is the only reason I am including him here.
A.J. Green (Primarily GPP, Salary: $7500). A.J. Green is the perfect GPP play this weekend for a number of reasons. First, his salary is just below the upper echelon of wide receivers, where most DFS players will look to spend their money, but he is above the next tier of receivers who offer upside at a discount; his pricing will cause him to go underowned on DraftKings, despite his upside. Next, his opponent (San Diego) shut down Calvin Johnson last week, which will be enough to scare most away from Green, but Johnson's productivity was eliminated more due to gamescript than due to tight coverage by the San Diego secondary. Lastly, the threat of Tyler Eifert will preclude Safety Eric Weddle from providing excessive over-the-top double coverage to Brandon Flowers, who will try to cover Green on his own, which should lead to multiple one-on-one matchups that favor Green's fantasy potential.
Keenan Allen (Primarily GPP, Salary: $7100). Keenan Allen led the NFL in targets last week with 17...that, alone, should be enough reason to include Allen in the GPP section of this article. Allen was way underowned last week and will be underowned again this week because his price point mirrors other more prominent plays (Jordan Matthews/Brandin Cooks) and because he did not find paydirt last weekend...but any time a receiver could potentially see 15+ targets, he must be on your GPP radar, particularly if you perceive that he might be less than 10% owned.
Eric Decker (Primarily GPP, Salary: $5100). Fresh off their impressive victory against the Browns in Week #1, the Jets will travel to Indianapolis to take on Andrew Luck's Colts. The Colts are big favorites and a projected to score nearly four touchdowns, which should force the Jets into employing the passing game to keep pace. The Jets will call upon their elite receivers, Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall, to move the ball threw the air; Marshall, however, draws the daunting task of lining up across from Vontae Davis most of the day, which should limit his fantasy upside. Decker, however, will run out of the slot and see a steady dose of Darius Butler, who allowed six receptions (on six targets) for 119 yards and a touchdown last week against far less-talented Buffalo Bills receivers. Coming off a slow week with only three targets in a gamescript that did not call for his involvement, Decker will be underowned this weekend and makes for a high-upside GPP play, in light of the fact that Brandon Marshall will be largely eliminated by ProFootballFocus' #2 overall rated cornerback in 2014.
Brandon Coleman (GPP only, Salary: $3300). Coleman was in this same space last week and he will stay here as long as DraftKings keeps his salary this low; if you followed our advice last week and rostered Coleman in your GPP lineups, he paid off by finishing the day with 14.1 points, reaching almost 5x value. This week, Coleman's salary has only risen 10% to a paltry $3300 and his matchup is even tastier against the Buccaneers, who allowed four receiving touchdowns to the Titans last week. Coleman saw plenty of action (58/74 snaps, 12 more than veteran Marques Colston) last week, an indication that the Saints trust him moving forward; his 6'5" frame will be on full display against the porous Bucs' secondary and a two-touchdown performance is not out of the question.
Antonio Brown (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $8800). The truth is that any of the top three wide receivers (Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, and Antonio Brown) make for a solid cash game plays this weekend; each should be heavily-used in their respective offenses and have promising gamescripts. That said, Brown is my favorite because the Steelers' offense is still lacking Le'Veon Bell and Martavis Bryant, meaning that Brown will not have to share too many targets with other strong players in his offense. It has been three years since Brown has finished a game with less than 5 receptions and 50 yards, which should make you feel comfortable knowing that history is on your side if you spend up on him in Week #2. At $8800, Brown needs 26 fantasy points to achieve cash game value, which will require a daunting 8/100/1 performance, but it is entirely reasonable given the amount of volume he will likely see in this offense with few other weapons.
Jordan Matthews (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7100). Jordan Matthews was impressive in his season opener, finishing the evening with 10 receptions for 102 yards (and a touchdown that was missed by the officials) and 23.2 fantasy points. Because Matthews played on Monday night and salaries were released prior to his game, his salary remains stagnant at $7100, which is simply too low given his role in this fast-paced offense. This week, he gets an attractive matchup against the Cowboys on Sunday afternoon in a game that Vegas has slated to be the weekend's highest-scoring; against the Cowboys' average slot corners, he should have no problem scoring the 20 fantasy points needed to put him at the 3x multiplier needed to reach cash game value.
Brandin Cooks (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7000). You might notice a trend amongst the recommended cash game receivers in this column over the course of the year--the majority of those recommendations will feature possession receivers, whose fantasy floors are high due to the full PPR scoring in place at DraftKings. Brandin Cooks saw only 8 targets due to being shadowed by former All-Pro cornerback, Patrick Peterson, last week, but his coverage will not be nearly as tight against the Bucs this Sunday; as the Saints' primary receiver, Cooks should see at least 10 targets from Drew Brees, whose accuracy is unquestionable. Take advantage of Cooks' reasonable salary while it is at this level because it will not stay at the $7000 level all season.
Jarvis Landry (Primarily cash games, Salary: $5900). Jarvis Landry is entirely underrated in fantasy circles because of his smaller stature and lack of redzone prowess. That said, Landry routinely sees 7 to 12 targets in the Dolphins' offense, which generally nets at least 50 receiving yards for Landry. The Dolphins should have few problems moving the ball against the Jaguars on Sunday, which means that Landry should get plenty of opportunity to pick up chunks of yardage to achieve the 18 fantasy points he needs to reach cash game value. His upside might be somewhat limited, but his floor would appear to be in the neighborhood of 12-14 points, making him a safe option for your cash game rosters.
Cole Beasley (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3300). In Week #1, value was everywhere on DraftKings because of the early release of their salaries, but Week #2 has brought a tighter salary structure that will force us to make some difficult decisions. Enter Cole Beasley. This is definitely the first time that Beasley has appeared in the cash game section of "Tips and Picks" and it certainly could be the last, but let's walk through this selection together... The Cowboys lost Dez Bryant for at least a month to a foot injury last week, which means that Terrance Williams will become the de facto WR1 in Dallas; the problem is that Williams tends to run deeper routes that stretch the field, which makes him more of a boom-or-bust receiver against the Eagles. Beasley, on the other hand, has historically been used as a possession receiver when he has played extensive time. At $3300, Beasley only needs 10 fantasy points to reach value, which is a 5-catch, 50-yard performance in a game where the Cowboys will likely run 60+ plays. Rostering Beasley will not be an easy pill to swallow, but doing so will open up the rest of your roster to spend elsewhere.
Jimmy Graham (Primarily GPP, Salary: $5800). After a week in Seattle, we now know that Jimmy Graham was brought in to receive the ball, not serve as an overpaid blocking tight end; Graham was asked to block on only 7.7% of passing plays, but was targeted in 50% (4/8) of passes in the redzone against the Rams last week. This Sunday night, the Seahawks will try to keep pace with the Packers' powerful offense, a task that will certainly require extensive usage of Jimmy Graham. Graham is actually a borderline cash game play because of his anticipated usage, but he is relegated to the GPP section simply because there are a bunch of cheaper viable options this week.
Greg Olsen (Primarily GPP, Salary: $4900). Oh Greg Olsen...how you disappointed the fantasy community last week. Olsen had a cake matchup against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week #1, but finished the day with only a single catch for 11 yards on a measly three targets; Olsen did catch a touchdown pass that might have salvaged his fantasy prospects, but it was quickly called back on a questionable offensive pass interference penalty. This week, Olsen will go from one of the highest-owned tight ends on the slate to one of the lowest-owned tight ends on the slate due to recency bias. While everybody else is avoiding him, you should definitely have a few shares of Greg Olsen in your GPP rosters this weekend because his career is not over after a single bad performance; if that's not enough reason, just remember that his opponent, the Houston Texans, gave up 28.6 fantasy points to their opposing tight end last weekend (Travis Kelce).
Martellus Bennett (Primarily GPP, Salary: $4500). Martellus Bennett is the prototypical GPP player--he can score 20+ fantasy points or he can put up a 4-point dud. With Alshon Jeffery once again questionable with a hamstring injury, Bennett could be called upon as the primary receiver against the Cardinals on Sunday. In 2014, the Cardinals ranked 27th in defending the tight end position as measured by FootballOutsiders' DVOA ratings and they were not much better in 2013 (20th), which bodes well for Bennett's fantasy prospects on Sunday. Bennett needs only 18 fantasy points to achieve GPP value, which is basically a bet on whether he will score a touchdown or not...if he scores, he likely pays off his salary (and vice-versa).
Jason Witten (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5300). Without Dez Bryant, expect to see Jason Witten heavily-targeted by Tony Romo on Sunday. Witten has historically been Romo's go-to target during times of desperation and Sunday's gamescript should play out similarly. Without Bryant, the Cowboys will look to play ball-control to keep the Eagles' fast-paced offense off the field; a bevy of short passes to Cole Beasley, Lance Dunbar, and Jason Witten will be the focal point of the pass game. With full PPR scoring, each those players should quickly accrue fantasy points and Witten gets the biggest bump of them all because of his large frame and redzone prowess. Witten will not impress with a load of yards after catch, but his expected volume should get him right around the 16 fantasy points needed to reach cash game value.
Tyler Eifert (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4300). Tyler Eifert has arrived. The former Notre Dame standout was the focal point of the Bengals' offense in Week #1, when he caught 9 of 12 targets for 102 yards and a pair of touchdowns. As mentioned in this column last week, the Bengals have been force-feeding Eifert the ball in the pre-season and they continued giving him targets last week against the Raiders. At $4300, Eifert's salary is obscenely low for a tight end who is coming off a 30-point performance and, for that reason, he will be the highest-owned tight end in cash games on the weekend. You should roster him with confidence in all formats on Sunday.
Jordan Reed (Primarily cash format, Salary: $3700). With Kirk Cousins at the helm, Jordan Reed could be in store for a strong 2015 season...if he can stay healthy; Reed, who has battled injuries throughout his short career, tweaked a hamstring on Thursday, but returned to practice on Friday and is expected to play against the Rams on Sunday. Reed stands to get a lot of volume in a Kirk Cousins' led offense because of Cousins' tendency to check down to the tight end position when under pressure. After seeing 11 targets and a 7/63/1 statline just a week ago, Reed's salary is just too low for the type of volume he is likely to see again this week; take advantage because it will likely jump at least 20% by next week, particularly if Reed has another decent game against the Rams.
Titans (GPP only, Salary: $3100). The Titans' defense (and offense) looked fairly solid against the Buccaneers in Week #1 and they are fortunate to get another plus matchup in Week #2 against Johnny Manziel and the lackluster Browns' offense. If you regularly read this column, you know that I am not fond of Johnny Manziel's abilities and think his days in the NFL are limited; this week, you can take advantage and hope that Manziel takes a few sacks and possibly throws a pick-six.
Ravens (Primarily GPP, Salary: $2900). The Ravens made the Broncos' offense look pedestrian in the season opener, allowing only 219 yards of total offense; many felt that the poor offensive showing was due to the Broncos' new-look offense, but they bounced back against the Chiefs with 300 yards and 3 touchdowns just five days later. So maybe the Ravens' defense is just a little better than we originally thought? Either way, it is undeniable that their matchup is solid against the Raiders this weekend and Vegas agrees, as the Ravens are a touchdown favorite despite playing in Oakland. Big favorites are generally solid defensive plays because they tend to force the opposing quarterbacks to take risks that can often lead to turnovers and/or touchdowns.
Saints (Primarily GPP, Salary: $2800). The Saints will not be known as a defensive stronghold this season, but they face a Tampa Bay Bucs team that made the Tennessee Titans look like a playoff contender last week. With the Saints being 11-point favorites, Jameis Winston will be asked to throw the ball often, which he did last week resulting in a 16/33 performance with 4 sacks and 2 interceptions. The Saints will be underowned because they are not a good defense, but they have a lot of upside in this game against a rookie quarterback trying to find his way in a hostile environment.
Panthers (Cash & GPP formats, Salary: $3100). If Carolina wants to return to the playoffs this year, it will likely have to be accomplished on the heels of their defense because their offense is simply not capable without Kelvin Benjamin. Last week, they started off the season allowing only 9 points on the road to the Jaguars; this week, they get a home game against the Texans, who will run out the unproven Ryan Mallett as their quarterback again this week. Furthermore, this game has the lowest total on the entire game slate and the Panthers are 3-point favorites, all of which bodes well for their fantasy prospects.
Dolphins (Cash & GPP formats, Salary: $3300). The Dolphins take the in-state trip to Jacksonville to face off against the hapless Jags. Last week, the Jags scored only nine points and amassed a paltry 250 total yards against the Panthers, while turning the ball over three times and allowing Blake Bortles to be sacked on multiple occasions. The Dolphins enter this game as sizeable favorites, which will force the turnover-prone Bortles into taking risks in the later phases of the game. All the pieces fit for a solid Dolphins' performance; in the absence of a large home-field favorite, they represent the next-best option.
For last-minute advice, player decisions, and injury news on Sunday morning, tune into the “NFL Gameday” webcast at 11:30 AM (EST) on RotoGrinders Live, where John “tipandpick” Lee, Justin "stlcardinals84" Van Zuiden, and Dean “Dean78904” Shavelson will analyze all NFL games every week. You can find the webcast at: https://rotogrinders.com/live. All other daily fantasy questions can be directed to John’s Twitter page at: https://twitter.com/tipandpick