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.
In order to help you build winning rosters, let's walk through some of the observations that I have made while doing my research for DraftKings this week. As you build out your lineups on DraftKings, try to consider the following commentary, which revolves around game strategy and how we will want to take advantage of what the masses are doing when they construct their own lineups.
CASH GAME TIPS
BEWARE THE AWAY FAVORITES: In gambling circles, placing a bet on the home underdog has historically been a shark move. That is primarily due to the public's propensity to wager on favorites without regard for where they are playing. Older studies have demonstrated that home underdogs are a viable strategy to beat Vegas oddsmakers; more recent data substantiate this premise and prove that backing home underdogs is the least -EV method to gamble against Vegas. Why is this important? Because NFL projections, DFS salaries, and ownership all parallel Vegas odds. Oddsmakers are projecting the Oakland Raiders to be this week's highest-scoring team en route to a victory against the Redskins in Washington D.C. If the Raiders come out flat against a fired-up home team, you can bet that the masses who rostered Derek Carr, Marshawn Lynch, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Jared Cook are going to be wishing they have considered the possibility that the Redskins might play a tougher game on their home turf. Now, realistically speaking...the likelihood of the Raiders falling flat in this matchup is minimal, as the Redskins defense is average at best and the Raiders enter this game with one of the hottest offenses in the NFL. That said, the message does apply to teams like Denver, who are traveling across the country to play the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium, a team that has allowed only 21 points this season. A similar case could be made for Atlanta (-3 at Detroit), Pittsburgh (-7.5 at Chicago), and Miami (-6 at NY Jets) all of whom could feasibly perform at a level that is not as high as Vegas would otherwise have us believe. The point is not to advise you against rostering players from these teams, but to suggest that you to run through the possibilities in your mind before jumping on, say, Demaryius Thomas at an attractive $5.9K for some salary relief in your cash games; if Buffalo continues to play sound defense and gets the home crowd behind them, can you rely on a rattled Trevor Siemian to find Thomas in space? Likewise, Atlanta and Detroit are running two of the slowest offenses in the league to this point in the season--if they continue to take 30+ seconds per offensive play in this weekend's matchup, there is virtually no way they will score the 50.5 points that Vegas has earmarked for that game. Note that you will find players from some of these games in the "Picks" section below, so please recognize this piece of advice is more about awareness than a steadfast rule.
TIGHT PRICING: DraftKings tightened up their pricing this week (THANK YOU!), which means that we will have to take a few chances on players in our cash games. Making those decisions is never easy, but remember a few rules as you ponder the choices: 1) Implied volume is the single biggest factor I consider when making decisions about cash game players because volume is somewhat predictable, whereas scoring is highly-volatile from week to week, 2) Rostering salary savers (i.e., < $4.0K) is an easy way to allocate money for more expensive players in good situations, but do not talk yourself into a player whose situation is not clearly defined (i.e., Rishard Matthews at $4.2K without Corey Davis, but up against Richard Sherman = Implied volume against superior coverage. Range of possibilities is too diverse.), and 3) Do not be afraid to build more than one cash game lineup that is predicated around a core of players you most like, but diversified around those players in which you have less confidence. If you employ these tactics on weeks where pricing is a bit tighter, you should maintain an ability to stay consistently profitable over the long-term.
HOW TO ADDRESS THE TWO "BIG" GAMES?: A week after we saw 14 teams enter Sunday with an implied team total of 24 or greater, Week #3 brings only 10 teams fitting the same criteria. Furthermore, only two games (Atlanta at Detroit and Oakland at Washington) have Vegas totals surpassing 50 points. These latter two games are going to have a lot of ownership, particularly the Raider-Redskin game because it will be played on primetime television where everybody will want to have exposure closing out the earlier games. Given the level of ownership expected from these games, it makes game strategy sense to be selective about who you choose to roster and at what rate to roster them. I am finding it difficult to justify fading many players from the later game because I have little confidence in either defense to slow down the opposing offense, but if you read the above section, I think there is reason to consider avoiding players from the Falcons-Lions game because of a possible slow gameflow. If you are entering 150 rosters into a DraftKings GPP, my advice is to definitely get a piece of both of those games, but if you have a single entry into a tournament, you might consider getting away from one (or both) of those games to differentiate your roster from the masses. If those games go under the Vegas total (as the majority of games have done this season), you will be well-placed for a top 20% finish. The key (obviously) will be selecting players from other games with similar upside and hoping that they hit at lower ownership.
Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. There is little difference in terms of strength of selection between those players who have text to justify their appearance in this article versus those in the "also eligible" section; all are strong plays in their respective categories, but time and space restrictions do not allow for expansive written summaries of every player listed.
CASH GAME PICKS
Cam Newton (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6,600). Questions about the health of Cam Newton's shoulder will surely be answered this Sunday when he faces off against the New Orleans Saints, whose secondary is on an early trajectory to break their historically poor performance of 2015 where they allowed over 4,500 passing yards and 45 touchdowns through the air. Through the first two games of the season, the Saints first allowed Sam Bradford to put up numbers (27/32, 346 yards, 3 TDs) resembling Tom Brady and then allowed Tom Brady to compile stats reminiscent of, well, Tom Brady, last week to the tune of 30/39, 447 yards and 3 TDs. Meanwhile, Newton has been pedestrian through his first two games, averaging a hair under 200 passing yards and a touchdown per game; some pundits believe that Newton's shoulder is still not fully recovered from his 2016 injury, while others might argue that the Panthers are 2-0 and Newton is doing what it takes to win. No matter the explanation to Newton's pedestrian start to the 2017 season, there is little dispute that this is a "get right" spot for a Panthers offense that has scored only 32 points thus far despite playing two less than formidable foes in the Bills and 49ers. Cam will have to lead the offense without his favorite receiver, Greg Olsen, who went down with a broken foot last week and will miss the better part of this season on the IR. Look for Kelvin Benjamin to step up in his absence, alongside Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey, all of whom should have no issues finding space against this Saints secondary, who will be without their only NFL-caliber defensive back, Marshon Lattimore (concussion) in this week's contest. If the Panthers achieve their implied team total of 26 points, there is a high probability that Cam Newton will finish this weekend with 20+ DraftKings points, a threshold that will substantiate his modest $6.6K salary.
Kirk Cousins (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $6,100). The likely cash game chalk in Week #3, Kirk Cousins will look to capitalize on a plus gamescript and a possible barnburner of a game against a Raiders defense that allowed the Jets' quarterback, Josh McCown, to score nearly 17 DraftKings points last Sunday. What McCown lacks, Cousins has in droves: receivers. Cousins will benefit from a bevy of competent receivers, all of whom will challenge a Raiders secondary that enters this week as the 11th worst DVOA pass defense. Terrelle Pryor heads that list, in a #NarrativeStreet game against the team that once drafted and eventually gave up on him. Cousins' options are not limited to Pryor, however, as Jordan Reed is a promising game-time decision, while Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, and the red-hot Chris Thompson are all expected to be active. With questions about the status of Rob Kelley's rib entering this game, it might stand to reason that the Redskins will lean more heavily on the passing game to keep pace with the undefeated Raiders, who are averaging 35.5 points per game to this point in the season. Since becoming a starter in 2015, Cousins is averaging 25.8 DraftKings points per game when an underdog playing in a game with a Vegas total of > 50 points. At a bargain price of $6.1K, Cousins is well-placed to hit the 3x multiplier necessary to justify his spot in your cash game rosters, but should also be fodder for GPP consideration given those historical numbers.
Also eligible: DeShone Kizer ($5,000)
Jay Ajayi (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7,700). After missing two practices earlier in the week, Jay Ajayi returned to the field on Friday and is expected to play against the Jets on Sunday. He was, however, noted to be running with "a slight hitch" during practice, which is somewhat unnerving for a running back who we might consider the anchor to our cash game lineups. That said, Ajayi's fantasy outlook is too good to ignore against a Jets defense that has allowed 185.0 rushing yards per game and 5.4 rushing yards per carry through two contests. After dominating against the run in 2016, the Jets lost key components of their defense in the off-season to free agency, trades, and injuries, all of which have rendered them impotent against the rush thus far this season. Earlier this Spring, Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase hinted that the team would lean heavily on Ajayi this season, a prophecy that was evident last week against the Chargers when Ajayi touched the ball 30 times and piled up 126 all-purpose yards in the process. A bellcow running back, Ajayi should easily collect 24+ touches, 100+ all-purpose yards, and a score in this pristine matchup...just monitor the Sunday morning reports from Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport to ensure that he's a full-go at game time on Sunday.
Derrick Henry (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5,300). We may have seen a changing of the guard last Sunday when DeMarco Murray left the game in the second half with a hamstring tweak. Former Alabama star and second-round pick, Derrick Henry, entered the game and was impressive en route to a 92-yard performance on only 14 carries (6.6 YPC). The fact is that Derrick Henry is simply a better running back than DeMarco Murray at this point in their respective careers and the numbers support that notion: 1) Over their previous five games, Henry has more yards per carry, rushing yards, and touchdowns than Murray, 2) Over their previous seven games, Henry has needed 34 less carries to collect the same number of rushing yards as Murray, and 3) Murray is teetering on 30 years old with nearly 1,500 carries under his belt, whereas Henry is only 23 years old with less than 300 total carries in his career. This week, the Titans will host the Seahawks in Nashville and Henry is expected to get "a significant workload," even if Murray manages to be active after participating in a limited practice on Friday. If Murray is inactive, Henry becomes the de facto must-play running back on the board because of his implied usage and recent history. The Titans would be well-served to rest the aging Murray in this game so as to keep him on the field in more meaningful games later in the season; this is why I suspect Henry will see substantial time behind Mariota and company on Sunday. Some will be scared away by the reputation of the Seahawks defense, but Seattle has allowed an average of 20 DraftKings points per game to opposing running backs (Carlos Hyde and Ty Montgomery) this season, which would be good enough for ~ 4x value on Henry's salary.
A.J. Green (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $8,100). There is a distinct possibility that A.J. Green, who has 10 receptions for 141 yards this season, will be the most popular wide receiver in the industry on Sunday. Green finds himself in an excellent matchup against the Packers, who looked helpless against Julio Jones last week until Atlanta stopped passing in the second half of their game against Green Bay. What held Julio Jones back should not affect A.J. Green, however, as the Packers are strong 9-point home favorites against the 0-2 Bengals, which argues that Andy Dalton will be throwing for the duration of this contest. Further bolstering a role for Green is the fact that redzone specialist, Tyler Eifert, will miss this game with both knee and back issues, leaving only Brandon LaFell to compete with Green for redzone targets. Green's personnel matchup is excellent, as he will see Kevin King and Damarious Randall in coverage; King is an unproven prospect with two games' worth of NFL experience, while Randall is a perennially poor coverage cornerback who consistently grades out as one of the NFL's worst defensive backs. This season, Randall has allowed an opposing quarterback rating of 108.3 when thrown into his coverage, while allowing 146 yards receiving (sixth worst in the league); he was slated to be watching this game from the sidelines until Davon House suffered a quadriceps injury on Sunday night causing him to miss this contest (listed as doubtful on the injury report). With a favorable gamescript, limited competition for targets, and a plus matchup, A.J. Green appears to be well-placed for a solid fantasy day in Lambeau in Week #3.
Rashard Higgins (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4,000). Finding value at the wide receiver position for salary relief in cash games is a rough endeavor this week, as DraftKings has tightened up their pricing algorithm. Some might gravitate towards the cheaper receivers in Tennessee (Rishard Matthews and/or Eric Decker), but Seattle's secondary is strong on the perimeter and it is unclear who will be running routes from the slot with Corey Davis sitting the game out due to a hamstring injury. That leaves few other options outside of Cleveland, where another injury (this time to Corey Coleman) has pushed Rashard Higgins into a lead role in the Browns' receiving corps. After Coleman left last week's game against the Steelers, Higgins went into overdrive, collecting 11 targets and pulling in 7 catches for 95 yards. Higgins will line up opposite Kenny Britt, who had a "man to man" talk this week with Coach Hue Jackson about preparedness and motivation, a clear sign that his time in Cleveland may be short-lived; after catching 2 passes for 15 yards in the WR1 role through two games, it is fairly evident why Coach Jackson felt the need to speak with Britt. That said, what is bad for Kenny Britt is good for Rashard Higgins--expect to see Higgins playing a full allotment of snaps on Sunday against the Colts, who have allowed four different receivers to surpass double-digit fantasy points on DraftKings this season. With a paltry $4.0K salary, Higgins needs only 12 fantasy points to reach cash game value, which would appear to be an easy target for a player who is expected to play the role of possession receiver against a porous Colts secondary that is bereft of talent without their best cornerback, Vontae Davis (who is expected to miss this game).
Jack Doyle (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,600). No team in the NFL allowed more DraftKings points to the TE position last season than the Cleveland Browns (18.1 PPG). After two games this season, the Browns are trending in a similar direction, allowing 23.7 DraftKings points per game to the position through their first two contests. The timing could not be better for Jack Doyle, who has become Jacoby Brissett's favorite target since Brissett replaced Scott Tolzien as the starting quarterback for the Colts in Week #1. Since taking over at quarterback, Brissett has thrown 40 pass attempts, of which a remarkable 20% (8) of those have been in Jack Doyle's direction. The Colts seem intent on providing opportunity to Doyle, as the fifth-year tight end has been on the field for 95.9% of the Colts' offensive snaps this season. This all bodes well for Doyle, who is far more entrenched in the Colts offense than either Ben Watson or Jesse James (Ravens and Steelers, respectively) are in their offenses, yet they both managed to surpass 7x value on their salaries when they played the Browns. With Doyle, 10 fantasy points will do the trick, but the matchup could result in far more upside based on recent tight end performances.
Jared Cook (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,100). Two games into his first season as an Oakland Raider and Jared Cook is on an early trajectory to match or surpass career highs for receptions and yardage (current pace is 72 receptions for 648 yards). Cook has collected 11 targets against the Titans and Jets, just two shy of the target total for Michael Crabtree over the Raiders' first two contests; Cook's numbers might be even more impressive if Derek Carr had not missed him on a likely 56-yard touchdown strike last week against the Jets. This Sunday night, Cook could once again be a popular option for Carr when Josh Norman is battling Amari Cooper (and to a lesser degree, Crabtree) on the perimeter. If Cooper has difficulties separating from Norman, Carr will be forced to find his secondary receivers and Cook certainly fits the bill. This is not an uncommon occurrence for opponents of Washington this season, as they have yielded over 90 receiving yards to both TE1s they have faced in 2017 (Gerald Everett and Zach Ertz). This Sunday night game is the highest projected scoring contest of the Week #3 slate and Cook's $3.1K salary offers a buy-in point that is attractive as a salary saver while giving DFS players a piece of action in a potential barnburner.
Also eligible: Zach Ertz ($5,000)
Steelers (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,400). Mike Glennon was a disaster last week against the Buccaneers in their season opener, throwing two interceptions, one of which resulted in a defensive touchdown, and losing another possession via a fumble. The Bucs finished the afternoon with 19.0 DraftKings points and set up their respective DFS owners for high finishes in both cash and GPP formats. This week, it is the Steelers' turn to face Glennon; to be fair, Glennon is a victim of the litany of season-ending injuries suffered by the Bears' primary receivers (Kevin White and Cameron Meredith), leaving behind a mishmash of underperforming options headlined by Kendall Wright and Markus Wheaton. The Steelers have allowed only 13.5 points per game this season to the Vikings and Browns, a trend that Vegas oddsmakers think can continue against this punchless Chicago Bears offense, as evidenced by the 18-point implied team total they have placed on the Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday. As 7.5-point favorites, we should expect to see Glennon dropping back often to find a series of receivers with whom he has no established rapport, a dangerous proposition for his output, but an attractive situation for those willing to pay the $3.4K salary for Pittsburgh's defense. If the Steelers can get pressure on Glennon, similar to what they did in Week #1 when they sacked DeShone Kizer seven times, you can rest assured that good things are going to happen for this defense.
Eagles (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3,400). After watching two dreadful games by the New York Giants, the masses are going to double-down on the Eagles defense this weekend in DFS circles. The Giants' offensive line rates out as one of the worst in the league across multiple metrics (ProFootballFocus and our own Matt Bitonti's ratings), which has resulted in the Giants scoring a grand total of 13 points across two games to the Cowboys and Lions, who subsequently allowed a whopping 77 points in their other two games against non-NYG opponents! In other words, if the Giants were unable to score against two defenses that were exposed in their only other games, they may have a difficult time doing anything against an Eagles team that has been competitive against both the Chiefs and Redskins early this season. The Eagles are admittedly weak in their secondary, but they try to hide that weakness by getting pressure on the quarterback and forcing him to make throws before receivers are able to get open; that tactic has been working thus far, as Philadelphia has posted eight sacks through their first two games and are averaging 13.0 DraftKings points per game entering this week's contest. Given the aforementioned holes in the Giants' offensive line, this strategy should be successful once again this weekend. Further supporting a role for the Eagles defense is the fact that both teams that have faced the Giants this season have posted double-digit fantasy points, which would represent the 3x value sought for their place in cash game lineups.
Tom Brady (Salary: $7,700). Everybody got a look at what 40-year old Tom Brady can (still) do last week when he sliced the New Orleans secondary for 447 yards and 3 scores despite minimal passing in the second half of the game. This week, Brady will return home and try to appease a Foxborough crowd that watched the Patriots lose their home opener to the Chiefs in Week #1. It should not be much of a task for New England, as they will face off against a 1-1 Houston Texans squad that has mustered only 20 points this season after naming rookie Deshaun Watson their starting quarterback midway through Week #1. Ordinarily, we would have to address the strength of Houston's defense, but playing in New England against Bill Belichick's genius and Tom Brady's execution largely negates any need to worry about whatever defensive scheme the Texans will be able to put together in advance of Sunday's matchup. More to the point, the Texans secondary is suspect entering this game, as they lost A.J. Bouye to free agency this off-season and will be without Kevin Johnson due to a knee injury suffered last week. This leaves 33-year old Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson to man the defensive backfield, neither of whom will be able to slow down Brandin Cooks and company. Thus, it is somewhat unclear why Brady's projected DraftKings ownership is projected eighth (6%) when he clearly possesses as much upside as any quarterback in the NFL and has the weekend's highest projected team total (29 points)? Perhaps there is reason to believe that the gamescript favors Mike Gillislee (see next section), but the possibility also exists that Brady throws for 250+ yards and 3 touchdowns prior to halftime (like he did last week) before Gillislee is asked to do the heavy lifting in the second half.
Alex Smith (Salary: $5,900). Even lower than Tom Brady on our projected ownership chart, Alex Smith is an intriguing cost-cutting tournament option this weekend. Smith is projected to be owned at a 3% clip against the Los Angeles Chargers and is a bargain at only $5.9K. Some will be reluctant to pull the trigger on Smith, as he has never thrown for 300 yards twice in a season despite 12 years in the league. This season is shaping up to be different, however, because Smith has some of the best weapons he has had in those 12 years, including a dominant tight end, Travis Kelce, a speedy playmaker in Tyreek Hill, and a legitimate RB1 in Kareem Hunt. These difference-makers are certainly making Smith a more productive quarterback, as the 50.16 DraftKings points he has scored over the Chiefs' first two games are the highest number of fantasy points he has scored in back-to-back games in his entire career. The Chargers might ordinarily scare DFS players away from rostering opposing quarterbacks against them, but they will be without Jason Verrett (knee) for the remainder of the season, leaving Casey Hayward to try to contain Tyreek Hill. History is certainly on Smith's side in this contest because Smith lit up this same secondary (with a healthy Verrett last year) last season with two impressive games (33.02 and 25.66 DraftKings points, respectively) that would put a DFS team into GPP contention if he were to repeat on Sunday. Add in a prospectively close game with high-scoring potential and Alex Smith makes a prime tournament play on DraftKings this weekend.
Mike Gillislee (Salary: $5,700). If you are reluctant to roster Tom Brady in your tournament lineups because of his price or because you think that the gamescript favors the running game, feel free to opt for Mike Gillislee instead. Gillislee is surprisingly projected to be the 14th highest-owned running back in DraftKings tournaments this weekend, yet he is affordably priced and has multiple touchdown upside as 14-point favorites over the visiting Texans. The projected ownership for Gillislee is baffling, as LeGarrette Blount would historically be owned in double-digit percentages when playing a lesser role for the Patriots in similar situations (> 10-point favorites). Meanwhile, Gillislee has been nothing short of impressive in his first two games as a Patriot, collecting 33 carries for 114 yards and 4 touchdowns against the Chiefs and Saints. His yards per carry average (3.5) leaves room for improvement, but Gillislee was not brought into New England for his big play ability--he was recruited for his short yardage prowess, where he had excelled in Buffalo and now in New England. To date, the Texans have been average in defending the run, allowing 118.5 rushing yards per game (22nd in NFL) to a pair of rookies, Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon; it is worth noting that they yielded 100 yards to Fournette in a losing gamescript that could closely parallel Sunday's contest. Do not sleep on Gillislee at this price point because a pair of touchdowns and 80 cleanup rushing yards will result in the 4x tournament value needed to justify his spot in your rosters.
Theo Riddick (Salary: $5,100). This could potentially be the only time you will ever find the name Theo Riddick in the tournament section of this article because, frankly, Riddick does not generally see the type of volume necessary to confer the level of upside we are seeking for tournament plays. This week may be different because everything is in place for a big day from Riddick. First, he is set up beautifully against an Atlanta Falcons' defensive front seven that has bled receptions and yardage to pass-catching running backs dating to 2016. After allowing James White to post a 50-point performance in the Super Bowl in February, the Falcons have allowed 19 receptions for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns to opposing running backs through two games this season. Things do not look any better heading into this weekend's matchup, as the Falcons will be without Vic Beasley Jr (hamstring), their best pass protection linebacker. Likewise, personnel matchups favor funneling of action towards Riddick; Desmond Trufant will largely eliminate any passing to one side of the field, while Golden Tate will have his hands full with the underrated slot cornerback, Brian Poole, who has ranked in the top 10% of coverage cornerbacks in his first two years in the league. These coverage situations should lock up Matthew Stafford's primary targets and provide overflow action to Riddick, who will easily find space against the Atlanta linebacking corps. With a gamescript that favors passing from Detroit, Riddick could be in line for a lot of action against a very susceptible defense.
Jordy Nelson (Salary: $7,800). Ownership levels are likely going to be low on Jordy Nelson this weekend after he left last Sunday night's game with a quadriceps injury in front of a national television audience. Meanwhile, Randall Cobb did not practice all week due to a chest injury and is doubtful to suit up on Sunday. These injuries have left the DFS community clamoring for names like Geronimo Allison and Martellus Bennett, both of whom are probably bargains at their price points, but Jordy Nelson should not be overlooked. Despite his injury, Nelson practiced in full every day this week and looks to be in line to play without restrictions against the Bengals on Sunday. Cincinnati has been a dumpster fire on offense, but they have only given up 16.5 points per game this season on defense, the vast majority of which has been via the running game (2nd most rushing yards allowed); in other words, their secondary has held up quite well thus far due to the play of their strong exterior defensive backs, Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones, who have allowed only 47 total receiving yards while in coverage. Where the Bengals are susceptible in their pass defense is in the slot, which is manned by former first-round pick, Darqueze Dennard, who has allowed an opposing quarterback rating of nearly 130 while in coverage this season against the likes of Joe Flacco and Deshaun Watson. With Cobb expected to miss this game, you can bet that the Packers are going to line up Jordy Nelson from the slot as much as possible to exploit the mismatch in talent against Dennard, who also gives up three inches to Nelson. Nelson should be in a great position for plentiful action while Adams and Allison do their best to get away from the Bengals' better defensive backs on the outside.
DeSean Jackson (Salary: $4,600). We have known for some time that Xavier Rhodes is a legitimate, if not stellar, NFL cornerback, but he has been downright amazing in 2017. Shadowing Michael Thomas and Antonio Brown in his first two games, Rhodes has allowed only 7 catches for a total of 86 yards and no touchdowns, a considerable feat given those respective matchups. This week, Rhodes will try to do the same against Mike Evans, who posted a 7/93/1 stat line in his first game of the season against the Bears last Sunday; if Rhodes is able to lock down Evans, you can bet that Jameis Winston will funnel action to the other side of the field in the direction of DeSean Jackson. Jackson just missed the endzone on two separate plays in his first game as a Buccaneer last week, an observation that does not appear in the box score, but plays into the decision to consider Jackson as a high-end GPP play in Week #2. Winston should look to Jackson even more often in this game, as DJax has a juicy matchup against Trae Waynes, who has allowed all 10 passes thrown into his coverage this season to be completed for 150 receiving yards and a score. Lastly, the Bucs will likely need to throw to move the ball in this game, as Minnesota has been stingy against the run, allowing only 3.1 yards per carry this season, including a meager 87 yards on 27 carries from stud RB Le'Veon Bell just a week ago.
Rob Gronkowski (Salary: $6,800). Writing up why Rob Gronkowski is a viable GPP play should not take a lot of justification, as no tight end in the league carries as much upside as Gronk on any given Sunday. This week, Gronkowski is coming off a 26.6-fantasy point performance against the Saints that saw him surpass 100-receiving yards, but also come up gimpy with a groin injury that caused him to miss the entire 4th quarter. Gronkowski practiced every day this week and is expected to play a normal workload on Sunday against the Texans, who are generally fairly stingy against the TE position (3rd best in 2016). Gronk's salary and injury situation should be enough to keep his ownership levels in the single digits, which makes him an excellent tournament play because he will finish with 4x value in far greater than 10% of his games; in fact, Gronk has surpassed 20+ DraftKings points in nearly 40% of contests (9 out of 23) where he has played the entire game since the beginning of the 2015 season. Pairing him up with Tom Brady will be a difficult task with the tighter pricing on DraftKings this week, but it is not impossible and you can rest assured that less than 10% of all tournament entries will also own this ready-made contrarian roster with high-end names (and talent).
Martellus Bennett (Salary: $4,000). The verdict is still out on whether signing Martellus Bennett was a savvy move by the Packers this off-season, as he has been heavily-targeted (17 targets through 2 games), but has come up short (8 receptions, 90 receiving yards, no touchdowns) and committed some damaging penalties that cost the Packers along the way. With Randall Cobb likely to miss this week's game against the Bengals, Bennett's number (like Jordy Nelson, above) could be called upon more often across the middle due to the strength of the Bengals' exterior defensive backs, Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones. On paper, the Bengals look to have shut down opposing tight ends this season, having allowed only 2.0 DraftKings points per game to the position, but they have faced two teams who literally have no NFL-caliber tight ends--the Ravens are fielding a 37-year old Ben Watson, while the Texans had all three of their tight ends in the concussion protocol after Week #1. More to the point, the Bengals allowed the 4th most points (16.5 DraftKings points per game) to opposing tight ends in 2016, a statistic that is probably more predictive of their true ability than the limited sample size (and dearth of talent) we have observed this season. Bennett will be moderately owned due to the Cobb injury, but his $4.0K salary is not prohibitive and the upside for a 4x game is there, particularly when one considers the 28-point implied team total that Vegas has bestowed upon Green Bay for this contest.
Also eligible: Eric Ebron (Salary: $3,300).
Dolphins (Salary: $3,700). The Eagles look to be the overwhelming favorite defense for Week #3 (20+%), which makes a good case for trying to get away from them in tournament play. One potential high-upside option is the Miami Dolphins, who will travel north to take on the anemic New York Jets. Through two games, the Jets are averaging 16.0 points per game, a number that is commensurate with their Vegas implied team total for this matchup (18.25 points). In their season opener against the Chargers high-powered offense last week, the Dolphins contained Philip Rivers and company to only 336 total yards of offense on their home turf; their fantasy output (1.0 point) was somewhat disappointing despite that effort, but the Jets could cure that ailment, as they have yielded 9.0 DraftKings points to each of their opposing defenses this season. The Dolphins are favored by six points in this contest, which means that Josh McCown may be asked to play catchup in the second half of the game, a scary notion for Jets' fans who are aware of McCown's propensity to throw interceptions over the course of his career (81 touchdowns versus 71 interceptions). With the inexperienced receiving corps surrounding him, it would not be surprising to see McCown or his receiver(s) be out of sync and throw a pick-six, which is exactly what you need to pull down a GPP win.
Packers (Salary: $3,400). After allowing only 9 points at home to the Seahawks in Week #1, the Packers floundered last week against the Falcons, yielding 34 points to Matt Ryan and company while collecting only 2.0 DraftKings points. This week, they return to Green Bay to face a lifeless Bengals offense that has scored only nine points through two games in 2017. Simply put, the Bengals have looked terrible when they have possessed the ball this season; they have averaged 2:09 per drive (last in the league) and 20.6 yards per drive (3rd worst in NFL) against the Texans and Ravens. FootballGuys' offensive line guru, Matt Bitonti, ranks the Bengals' offensive line as the worst in the league and pinpoints this Packers' defensive line versus Bengals' offensive line as the second biggest mismatch on the Week #3 slate. As strong 9-point favorites with an electric home field crowd cheering them on, it is easy to envision Green Bay's defense putting together a strong showing against the Bengals, who will be playing their first game with a new offensive coordinator and will also be without their star tight end, Tyler Eifert. At the same price point as Philadelphia, the Packers will be owned at a fraction of the percentage as the Eagles, which provides a nice pivot option for those of you looking to build some diversity into your tournament lineups without sacrificing upside.
Also eligible: Patriots ($3,800), Bills (Salary: $2,600).
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