TipAndPick's: Tips and Picks, DK Edition

Cash game and GPP selections for DraftKings

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.

TIPS...

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.

I am in Nashville this weekend for the Draft Championship hosted by RotoGrinders to hang out with industry friends, fellow Footballguys (Joe Bryant and Austin Lee), and to get away from Philadelphia for a short spell. This represents a perfect opportunity to try something new with the format of "Tips and Picks." Because of time limitations, I am going to shy away from the usual verbiage that I include to drive home how I arrived at my selections; in its place, I'll give you a deeper list of players from which to choose and do my best to help you understand how I arrived at those players along the way. I am always trying to think about better ways to convey the information to the reader, so please feel free to provide feedback on your feelings about the revised format at john.lee@footballguys.com.

One more note: Keep your eyes peeled for a special THANKSGIVING VERSION of "Tips and Picks" next Wednesday!

CASH GAME TIPS

TO BRADY OR NOT TO BRADY: The key game of the week is in Mexico City where the Patriots will take on the Raiders. This game has all the makings of a shootout because both offenses are excellent, while both defenses have had struggles containing their opponents. Tom Brady would appear to be the gold standard for cash games because Oakland will be without two starting cornerbacks (Gareon Conley and David Amerson) and because, well, Tom Brady. The issue you might have is that his $7.4K price tag could force you to go bare-bones elsewhere in your cash game roster; those options might include taking a chance on Bruce Ellington's output with Tom Savage running the offense and/or Ben Watson as a punt tight end against Green Bay. If you decide that you are not comfortable rolling out one (or more) of those cheap flyers with Brady, you can drop down to Derek Carr and save a thousand dollars; the downside of that decision is that Brady will probably be the highest-owned quarterback on the site this week and if he blows up with 30-points, you will be chasing the field (unless your quarterback does something similar). There are multiple options, however, and they are discussed in the "Picks" section below...

GPP TIPS

FINDING THE SLEEPER GAME: Without question, the most popular game of the week will be the aforementioned New England-Oakland game in Mexico. The Vegas total has crept nearly 10% (from 50 to 54.5 points) over the course of the week and our Steve Buzzard's ownership projections indicate that players from this game (Tom Brady, Rex Burkhead, Brandin Cooks, Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Rob Gronkowski, etc.) will be some of the highest on the Week #11 slate. You can either decide to stack the NE-OAK game and roll with the masses or you can try to pinpoint another game that has similar upside without the lofty ownership implications. Of the games on this week's slate, I most like the Los Angeles Rams-Minnesota Vikings game to go over the Vegas total of 45.5-points. Both defenses carry a reputation for being fairly stingy, which should keep ownership levels at a minimum. Meanwhile, the offenses are lightning-fast, as they run the 1st- and 3rd-fastest offenses in the league in neutral situations (Rams and Vikings, respectively); over the past two weeks, both teams have scored more than 30 points in each of their contests and have combined for a total of 155 points! If these two get off to a fast start and exchanging blows, the game could easily escalate into one of the highest-scoring games of the week and the players involved will be owned at a fraction of the levels we will see from the Patriots-Raiders game. I have outlined a few of my favorites from both teams (and games) in the "Picks" section below...

...AND PICKS

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.

QUARTERBACKS

NameSalaryCash RankGPP RankNotes
Tom Brady 7400 1 2 Unquestionable. Ownership will be high for GPPs, though.
Derek Carr 6400 2 1 7-point 'dogs with 24-point implied team total? Yes, please.
Alex Smith 6700 3 9 Fairly safe, but upside could be limited by big lead late.
Kirk Cousins 6100 4 3 Limited receivers, but no way that Perine leads this effort.
Ryan Fitzpatrick 5300 5 6 MIA allowed 4 TDs on MNF; short week of prep. Recency bias = low-owned.
Drew Brees 6800 - 5 No higher upside on the slate than Brees at home with 30-point team total.
Jared Goff 6500 - 10 Game has sneaky upside with two fast-paced offenses; pair with Kupp.
Eli Manning 5700 - 8 Like Cousins, will play from behind and KC\'s secondary can be suspect.
Joe Flacco 4900 - 7 Matchup. Price. Ownership. Perfect trio for tournament play.
Blaine Gabbert 4900 - 4 HOU has been terrible against the pass; should pepper Fitzgerald with targets.

If you can comfortably afford Tom Brady's $7.4K salary, you should try to slot him into any lineup you are running on DraftKings this weekend; his matchup is pristine against a battered Raiders secondary that ranks dead-last in DVOA pass defense...Opposite Brady, Derek Carr looks to be in a great spot against the Patriots because the gamescript should force him to drop back 35+ times with a bevy of talented receivers from which to choose; his salary is $1K less than Brady, which could provide much-needed salary relief...Alex Smith will also be popular because of the Giants' recent secondary woes; Eli Apple continues to struggle to contain receivers, while Janoris Jenkins has allowed the most receiving yards in the NFL while in coverage since Week #6 (despite missing two weeks during that time due to a bye and a suspension!)...You could choose to drop a bit lower with either Kirk Cousins or Ryan Fitzpatrick for cash games, but there probably is not a need to go that low, particularly with some of the value available at running back (Rex Burkhead) and wide receiver (Bruce Ellington).

For GPPs, both Carr and Brady are solid options because they are both primed to hit multiple touchdowns with the 300-yard bonus on DraftKings...Drew Brees and the Saints are slated to score almost 30-points at home and people will shy away from them because of how they have been focused on the run over the past month, but Brees can amass 300-passing yards in no time flat and would do so at ownership levels almost half of where Brady and Carr will finish...Blaine Gabbert is also an intriguing GPP option at only $4.9K because the Texans have allowed four of their previous five quarterback opponents to surpass 300+ passing yards, all of whom finished with no less than 23.5 DraftKings points; if Gabbert were to have similar success against the Texans secondary, he would hit almost 5x value on his salary at less than 5% ownership.

RUNNING BACKS

NameSalaryCash RankGPP RankNotes
Rex Burkhead 3600 1 3 Belichick seems to love him; read "Trendspotting" by Ryan Hester for more.
Chris Thompson 5400 2 9 Should be heavily-involved; 6-10 carries plus 6+ targets in gamescript.
Kareem Hunt 8000 3 7 Biggest favorite in Vegas = plenty of volume to find endzone.
Jordan Howard 6200 4 8 If game is close, Howard is focal point of offense. Weather helps his role.
Melvin Gordon III 7600 5 1 BUF rush defense misses Marcell Dareus; perfect bounce-back spot for Gordon.
Mark Ingram II 8100 - 10 You saw his upside last week against BUF; WAS = 4.65 YPC allowed to RBs.
LeSean McCoy 7800 - 4 Uncertainty around Peterman is driving McCoy ownership too low.
Doug Martin 4500 - 12 RBs versus MIA has worked for 3 straight weeks; ~6% ownership.
Duke Johnson Jr 4400 - 11 See what Austin Ekeler did to JAX last week? Duke is Ekeler clone.
T.J. Yeldon 4000 - 6 Fournette possibly sitting again. Yeldon used in both phases of offense. Cheap.
Joe Mixon 4000 - 5 Matchup will drive down ownership, but volume is there for 4x ROI.
Latavius Murray 4000 - 2 16+ touches every game for a month, yet continues to be ignored.

Fellow Footballguy, Ryan Hester, laid forth the case for Rex Burkhead in season-long leagues in his Trendspotting article earlier this week.  The synopsis from that analysis is that Burkhead is quickly becoming Bill Belichick's favorite running back and DraftKings' pricing algorithm has not yet caught up to speed, so he is a bargain at only $3.6K this weekend; unless Belichick pulls a surprise, Burkhead's salary will jump > $1K next week...In New Orleans, the Saints are expected to throttle the visiting Redskins, but that suits Chris Thompson's fantasy prospects just fine because he should be heavily involved in the passing game with Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor both out; likewise, Rob Kelley will not play, which could result in Thompson getting a few extra carries out of the backfield alongside the thus-far-disappointing rookie, Samaje Perine...The luxury running back this week is Kareem Hunt against the Giants' 27th-ranked DVOA rush defense. Hunt has not scored in six weeks, which will keep some DFS players from jamming him into their cash game lineups, but this would appear to be the spot where he finds the end zone and returns 3x value on his $8.0K salary.

Tournament running backs are numerous in Week #11. Of the options, Melvin Gordon III tops the list with a juicy matchup against the Buffalo Bills; since Marcell Dareus was traded to the Jags at the end of October, the Bills have allowed 474 rushing yards (6.0 yards per carry) and an incredible 7 rushing touchdowns in only two games. Gordon is coming off a bad game where the Jags (who coincidentally have shored up their rush defense with Marcel), which could keep his ownership levels reasonable; some will argue that Austin Ekeler is stealing opportunities from Gordon, but his involvement last week could be construed as game planning on behalf of Sean McVay, moreso than cutting into Gordon's workload...Latavius Murray is also enticing against the Rams, who are allowing opposing running backs to score nearly 20% above league average after normalizing for strength of schedule. Murray is hated by the fantasy community, which continues to keep his ownership levels reasonable despite the fact that he has touched the ball 16 or more times in every game for the past month; Jerick McKinnon is more involved in the passing game, but is also nearly 150% of the cost of Murray, who gets most of the goal line work in the Minnesota rushing game...Joe Mixon will be extremely undervalued in DFS circles because of his matchup against Denver's #1-ranked DVOA rush defense, but they have shown chinks in the armor over the past few weeks, allowing five different running backs to hit double-digit fantasy points in only two games. At $4.0K with little competition for touches, Mixon could be primed for a 4x showing at low ownership.

WIDE RECEIVERS

NameSalaryCash RankGPP RankNotes
Jamison Crowder 4300 1 13 No Reed, no Pryor. Volume monster in passing gamescript. Too cheap.
Sterling Shepard 6300 N/A N/A Unlikely to play due to migraines; upgrade Evan Engram at TE.
Bruce Ellington 3000 3 15 With Peterson shadowing Hopkins, overflow targets to Ellington at $3K.
Michael Thomas 7400 4 6 Apple of Brees\' eye and 30-point implied team total. TD incoming.
Jarvis Landry 6400 5 14 Double-digit targets and a TD in 5 of last 6 games.
Mike Evans 7900 - 2 Smash spot against MIA defense that allowed 4 pass TDs on MNF.
Stefon Diggs 6700 - 4 100% healthy. Undervalued due to recency bias. Good matchup.
Brandin Cooks 6600 - 3 Brady's WR1 in a potential shootout? Sure!
DeAndre Hopkins 6100 - 10 Patrick Peterson will drive ownership too low. Savage loves DeAndre.
Amari Cooper 6000 - 7 Passing game script in a potential shootout. Affordable.
Michael Crabtree 5900 - 8 See Amari Cooper (above).
Marvin Jones Jr 5600 - 1 36 targets in three weeks prior to last week's 2-target debacle.
Cooper Kupp 4500 - 12 3rd most red zone targets entering this week; still affordable.
Josh Doctson 4000 - 11 All the attention on Crowder, but JD has same matchup/price.
Dontrelle Inman 3200 - 5 8 targets in 1st game as a Bear; overshadowed by Ellington at price.

Since Jordan Reed went out in Week #8, Jamison Crowder has averaged 12 targets per game. His price ($4.3K) is still reasonable because he has not scored a touchdown all season, but that could change in garbage time on Sunday. His matchup against converted safety to nickel corner, P.J. Williams, is excellent...Sterling Shepard is in a similar situation to the aforementioned Crowder, in that he also plays for a team that is slated to be playing from behind with few other options for targets in the receiving corps. Expect to see more heavy volume for Shepard, who has been targeted 22 times in the two games since his return from injury...Bruce Ellington might be the highest-owned player in cash games this week because his $3.0K salary (alongside Rex Burkhead) affords you the ability to get Tom Brady into cash game lineups. He should see decent volume because DeAndre Hopkins, easily Tom Savage's favorite target, will be blanketed by shutdown cornerback, Patrick Peterson, all afternoon, which should confer additional opportunity for Ellington at the site-minimum price point. 

Prior to a disappointing (but predictable) 2-target game against the Jason McCourty and the Browns last week, Marvin Jones Jr was targeted 36 times over his previous 3 games (12 targets/game). This week, he faces off against the Chicago Bears, who rank 28th (DVOA) in defending opponents' WR1; at ~ 5% ownership, he represents one of the savvier GPP plays on the Week #11 slate...Brandin Cooks is set up well for a big game in Mexico City against a depleted Raiders secondary. Rostering him at $6.6K feels too easy and he will be highly-owned for that reason, but the upside is there and his ownership is merited...Coming off a one-game suspension for leveling Marshon Lattimore in Week #9, Mike Evans is poised for a big game against a Dolphins squad that allowed Cam Newton to exit Week #10 at the QB1 in fantasy circles. The Dolphins' 31st-ranked DVOA pass defense is no match for Evans--the only risk here is whether you trust Ryan Fitzpatrick to be capable of getting the ball to him in space...Dontrelle Inman will play his second game as a Bear this Sunday and looks to improve off an impressive debut game that saw him targeted 8 times, pulling in 6 catches for 88 yards. He will run some (< 30%) of his routes against Darius Slay, but the remainder should be against far less coverage (Nevin Lawson). He has 5x upside for his pittance of a salary at $3.2K and he will go extremely under-owned despite these facts.

TIGHT ENDS

NameSalaryCash RankGPP RankNotes
Travis Kelce 7300 1 2 TEs versus NYG have been gold all season.
Rob Gronkowski 7200 2 1 Gronk-Smash spot. Lower ownership than Kelce for GPPs. Same upside.
Vernon Davis 4600 3 5 10 targets/game since Reed left. Passing game script.
Tyler Kroft 2900 4 7 DEN allows 35% more FPs to TEs when normalized for opponents.
Ben Watson 2800 5 6 27 targets over last month; punt option if salary relief is needed.
Evan Engram 6000 - 8 Continues to impress, but a tougher matchup against KC.
Jared Cook 4800 - 3 Another GPP option for OAK passing game; cheapest option, too.
Cameron Brate 4200 - 4 Back-to-back clunkers will keep ownership low; great matchup.
C.J. Fiedorowicz 3100 - 10 6 targets in first game back last week; similar to Ellington, but TD upside.
Marcedes Lewis 2700 - 9 TEs against CLE have paid off. Weather could force short passes.

There is not a whole lot of analysis necessary for the tight end position this week. Do what you can to get either Travis Kelce and/or Rob Gronkowski into your lineups. Both are basically their respective quarterbacks' number-one receiver, both have pristine matchups, both are excellent options for tournaments and cash games, and both should find the end zone at reasonable salaries...If you want to spend a little less money, you can drop down to Vernon Davis against the Saints. Davis has averaged 10 targets per game since Jordan Reed has been out with an(other) injury; the game script sets up well for continued high usage, especially because the Redskins are looking like they might start only three wide receivers due to an onslaught of injuries in Washington...Other tournament options include Cameron Brate and Jared Cook, both of whom are instrumental components of their respective offenses. Brate has not been used much since Ryan Fitzpatrick went under center a few weeks ago, but Fitzgerald is too smart not to get Brate involved given his proven skill set and matchup against Miami's defense that is 23rd (DVOA) against the tight end position...Jared Cook is a pivot option away from Amari Cooper and/or Michael Crabtree in that Mexico City shootout. He has two 100+ yard games in the past three weeks and is priced fairly for the upside he brings to your lineups.

TEAM DEFENSES

NameSalaryCash RankGPP RankNotes
Jaguars 4000 1 1 Best NFL defense in windy conditions against DeShone Kizer.
Ravens 3400 2 4 Brett Hundley has destroyed this offense. Ravens D is legit.
Chargers 3000 3 2 BUF allowed 3.1 sacks/game with Tyrod; may be worse with Peterman.
Broncos 3800 - 3 Still a top-tier defense despite lapses. Personnel matchups favor DEN.
Chiefs 3300 - 7 2nd lowest team total for NYG. Very few threats to KC here.
Packers 2700 - 6 Packers at home in cold = best opportunity for win with Hundley at QB.
Rams 2400 - 8 LAR defense has done nothing wrong to be priced this cheaply.
Browns 2300 - 5 Home defense. Windy conditions. Blake Bortles. Pick sixes?

The Jacksonville Jaguars are this week's luxury defense against DeShone Kizer and the Browns. The conditions for this game are reported to be cold and windy, which should favor a low-scoring game; if Jacksonville is able to build a lead, they could wreak havoc with the Browns' offensive line and rookie quarterback...similarly, the Ravens visit Green Bay, where they will try to get after Brett Hundley, who has failed to extract any value from an otherwise efficient offense. the Ravens boast the 3rd DVOA pass defense, which will be enough to keep Hundley contained, while the lack of healthy Packer running backs will continue to limit their productivity...Fresh off a disappointing loss to the Jaguars last week, the Chargers return home in a must-win situation against the Bills, who will be led by 5th-round rookie, Nate Peterman. The Bills' offensive line allowed 3.1 sacks per game with the mobile Tyrod Taylor running the offense; given that the Chargers' front seven are averaging 3.2 sacks per game, this could spell trouble for a less mobile Peterman in his NFL debut.