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
CAN WE TRUST KAREEM HUNT?: The Buffalo Bills have been atrocious in defending the run since the departure of Marcell Dareus in late October; over that span, they have allowed over 200 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns per game. They travel to Kansas City to take on Kareem Hunt and the Chiefs this weekend and Hunt is the question on many DFS players' minds--Can we trust him to break a seven-game scoreless streak? In short, I suspect that the answer to that question is "yes." Last Sunday, Hunt was a chalk running back play against a Giants' front seven that has also struggled to defend the run, but their efforts were bolstered by sustained 20+ MPH winds that enabled them to stack the box against the run; it was a strategy that worked for both sides, as neither offense was able to throw the ball and keep the opposing defense honest. This weekend should be a different story, as weather is not projected to impact the Chiefs' matchup against the Bills. Hunt's usage continues to be excellent, having surpassed 20 touches in three of his previous four games, the lone exception having been a blowout loss to the Cowboys. As 10-point favorites over Buffalo, Hunt should again land on the higher side of 20 touches against a dreadful rush defense that appears to have mailed it in for the 2017 season. He represents one of the safer high-end cash game plays at the running back position, alongside Todd Gurley.
DECISION OF THE WEEK--NO @ LAR: There will be immense ownership numbers for the Saints-Rams game in Los Angeles this weekend. Both offenses are not only capable of scoring 30+ points on any given weekend, both offense actually are averaging 30+ points per game this season (New Orleans: 30.2, Los Angeles: 30.3). On defense, the Rams have been battered by the run, allowing a lofty 4.53 yards per carry to opposing running backs, resulting in a 20th DVOA rush defensive ranking; that plays into the hands of the Saints, who have thrived on running the ball (4.8 yards per carry is 1st in NFL) with Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara, both of whose skill sets complement one another perfectly. The Rams, however, appear to be solid in defending the pass (3rd DVOA), but the laundry list of quarterbacks they have faced represents some of the worst in the league...certainly nobody with the name-recognition of Drew Brees. Similarly, the Saints boast a strong pass defense (4th DVOA), but they have enjoyed a similar list of underperforming quarterbacks and they will be without their best two cornerbacks this weekend. Against the run, New Orleans is currently 26th (DVOA) in the league and allows 4.36 yards per carry to opposing running backs, a perfect situation for Todd Gurley's massive role. In sum, there is almost no reason to fade this game except for game strategy, namely high ownership. Because many of the high-scoring teams are projected to win handily, my preference is to roster players (in GPPs) from games where the game will be tightly-contested, which means that I am likely going higher than the field on many of the players from this game. You can read on to find out those players I like best and certainly refer to Steve Buzzard's ownership projections to get a feel for where the field will land with respect to ownership on Sunday.
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. A short summary follows each respective table to fill in the gaps that led to the respective recommendations; that text represents only an overview of the methodology and rationale that goes into each recommendation. Note that all projected ownership numbers are derived from fellow Footballguy Steve Buzzard's weekly ownership report.
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Russell Wilson||7000||15%||1||4||No running game; offense runs through him.|
|Tom Brady||7700||11%||2||2||Highest team total; MIA = 6 pass TDs last 2 weeks.|
|Matt Ryan||6400||11%||3||6||Get-right spot @ home. TB = 3rd most pass yards allowed.|
|Jared Goff||6700||6%||-||1||Owned at 1/5 rate of Gurley, but will have twice the opportunity.|
|Jacoby Brissett||5400||6%||-||5||Sneaky shootout potential. Cheap to pair with Hilton.|
|Drew Brees||6900||6%||-||8||NO could be forced to pass for 1st time in weeks.|
|Marcus Mariota||6300||8%||-||9||Great matchup vs. 27th DVOA pass defense.|
|Cam Newton||6600||4%||-||3||#1 receiver (Olsen) returns; NYJ = pass funnel DEF. Too cheap.|
|Carson Wentz||7200||7%||-||7||Will be overlooked due to price point. 2nd highest team total.|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||5500||2%||-||10||To stack with Evans in plus gamescript.|
Russell Wilson and Tom Brady are the 1 and 1a options for cash games this weekend. Wilson is offered at a 10% discount from Brady, which provides a bit of salary relief that may be necessary to squeeze in luxuries at other positions for your cash game rosters; his matchup against the 49ers is excellent, as they have the 30th ranked DVOA pass defense (FootballOutsiders) and are deep into their depth chart at the safety position due to an uncanny number of injuries at that position. Lest we forget that Seattle has struggled to move the ball on the ground since Chris Carson went down earlier this season, which means that the offense will likely move through Wilson's arm (and legs)...Justification to roster Brady is quite simple: The future Hall-of-Famer has surpassed 300-passing yards and/or thrown for multiple touchdowns in every game this season except for their surprise loss to Kansas City on opening weekend. His matchup on Sunday is pristine, as the Dolphins have allowed six passing touchdowns over their previous two weeks against far lesser offenses (Carolina and Tampa Bay)...To save a bit of salary, Matt Ryan is offered up at only $6.4K and has an equally attractive matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 28th ranked DVOA pass defense. The Bucs are allowing 20% more fantasy points to the quarterback position than league average (after normalization for strength of schedule) and are a game removed from allowing Jay Cutler/Matt Moore to combine for 365 passing yards and a pair of scores. Ryan needs ~ 18 DraftKings points to justify his spot on your cash game roster, a number that he has averaged over his previous five games in less optimal matchups.
For tournament play, Jared Goff tops the list due to his matchup and likely ownership. Goff will face a New Orleans secondary that will be without its two best cornerbacks in Marshon Lattimore (ankle) and Ken Crawley (abdomen); the Saints will start a trio of untalented defensive backs including P.J. Williams, Kenny Vaccaro, and Sterling Moore, the last of whom was signed off the practice squad earlier this week. Goff has surpassed 300+ yards in 2 of his previous 3 games and could certainly do so again in this matchup, particularly if Drew Brees is successful in keeping the game close...Cam Newton appears to be surprisingly forgotten in DFS circles, as he is projected to be less than 5% owned this Sunday against the Jets' 20th ranked DVOA pass defense. Before holding Ryan Fitzpatrick to a single touchdown pass in their last game, the Jets had allowed six consecutive quarterbacks to throw for multiple touchdowns. Cam enters this game hot and rested, having thrown for four touchdowns against the Dolphins prior the Panthers' bye week; it is also worth pointing out that Newton has run the ball an average of 9 times for 69.2 yards and 0.4 touchdowns (8.3 DK points) over his previous five games...At Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, both Marcus Mariota and Jacoby Brissett are intriguing GPP options in a game that features two suspect secondaries. Indianapolis fields the league's 27th ranked DVOA pass defense, while Tennessee is a notch below them at 26th overall. Indy is actually fairly tough against the run, allowing only 3.45 yards per carry to opposing running backs, which could force Mike Mularkey towards a path of lesser resistance via the air. Meanwhile, the Colts' rushing attack features the 34-year old Frank Gore, who is averaging a paltry 3.5 yards per carry this season, which also favors Brissett and his receivers.
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Tevin Coleman||6500||27%||1||1||10-point home fave; no Freeman to steal work.|
|Todd Gurley||8800||30%||2||6||Luxury player of week. NO = 26th DVOA rush DEF.|
|Kareem Hunt||8000||21%||3||2||Breakout spot. BUF bleeding yardage to RBs of late.|
|Carlos Hyde||5500||17%||4||12||Volume-based play. 16+ touches in past 5 games.|
|J.D. McKissic||3700||4%||5||5||Excellent matchup. Salary relief. Pass-catcher to boot.|
|LeSean McCoy||8500||8%||-||3||Dead-last DVOA rush DEF. No Tolbert to vulture TDs.|
|Alvin Kamara||7900||15%||-||8||If NO falls behind, should thrive in passing game.|
|Dion Lewis||4800||9%||-||11||Primary RB for NE (highest team total & highest fave)|
|Joe Mixon||4400||12%||-||4||Matchup is tough, but volume, price, & odds in his favor.|
|Rex Burkhead||4300||7%||-||7||Recency bias = low-owned. Similar spot to last week.|
|LeGarrette Blount||3800||1%||-||10||Blowout spot. Ajayi did not steal too much vs. DAL.|
|Devontae Booker||3700||9%||-||9||Earning lead RB role. OAK = 21st DVOA rush DEF.|
As 10-point home favorites without any competition from Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman tops the list for both cash and GPP game formats in Week #12. In his first week as the RB1 against the Buccaneers last Sunday, Coleman played a season-high 72% of the team's offensive snaps and saw 21 touches; we should expect a similar workload and far better efficiency on Sunday at a modest price point...As discussed in the "Tips" section above, Kareem Hunt is the question of the week for cash games--Can you trust paying his $8K salary when he hasn't scored in almost two months? His matchup as a double-digit home favorite against a team that has bled rushing yardage (5.63 yards per carry; 205 yards per game) and touchdowns (9; 3 per game) since the departure of Marcell Dareus argues that this is the week that Hunt returns to his early season form...J.D. McKissic is a bargain play at only $3.7K against a San Francisco front seven that yields 42% more fantasy points to the running back position over league-adjusted average. When Mike Davis went down with an injury on Monday Night Football, McKissic filled the void and finished with 74% of the snaps and 12 touches, including 5 receptions. This week, Thomas Rawls will likely feed into the mix (he was inactive last week), but McKissic's floor probably lies in the 10-fantasy point threshold due to his involvement in the passing game; if Rawls is relegated to a true backup, McKissic's upside is significant for his low price point.
LeSean McCoy is a fascinating game strategy option for tournament formats. The biggest knock on McCoy has been that he can be vultured at the goal line by Mike Tolbert, but Tolbert will miss this game due to a nagging hamstring issue; without Tolbert in the lineup last weekend, McCoy found paydirt on two occasions, despite losing some passing down work to Travaris Cadet. Cadet's usage will scare some DFS players away from McCoy, particularly given his lofty salary, but the matchup is pristine against the league's worst DVOA rush defense that has allowed rushing touchdowns to five consecutive RB1s. Add in some tight coverage on the outside from Marcus Peters (and Darrelle Revis??) plus Charles Clay's disappearance from the offense and it would appear that McCoy is the last man standing for volume in Buffalo...Joe Mixon is also intriguing for tournaments. He is routinely receiving 70% of the offensive snaps at this point in the season, he has usurped almost all of Giovanni Bernard's touches, and is leading the team in redzone opportunities since their Week #5 bye (10 opportunities versus 5 for A.J. Green). The matchup against Cleveland's stout defensive front is intimidating, but Leonard Fournette rushed 111 yards last weekend, proving that it is possible to open holes through the Brown defense; as 8-point home favorites, Mixon is a bargain at only $4.4K...both Rex Burkhead and Dion Lewis are in play against the Dolphins as huge 16.5-point home favorites. If either of these two running backs played for any other team, their ownership would be through the roof, but Bill Belichick keeps everybody guessing about usage and roles, the fallout of which is low ownership; if you guess correctly on either Burkhead or Lewis, you could be in the driver's seat for tournaments. Slight edge goes to Burkhead, who could surprise a lot of people by returning to a more prominent role after disappointing the DFS community in Mexico City last Sunday.
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Cooper Kupp||5000||17%||1||2||Banged-up NO secondary. No Woods. Primary redzone WR.|
|Brandin Cooks||7100||20%||2||5||Killing it without Hogan on the field. MIA = terrible vs. WRs.|
|Larry Fitzgerald||5600||10%||3||7||Best matchup vs. tough JAX secondary. Double-digit targets.|
|Doug Baldwin||7000||17%||4||9||Should handle K'Waun Williams easily. Smash spot.|
|Julio Jones||7700||26%||5||1||Price has fallen too far to ignore. Great all-around matchup.|
|Mike Evans||7400||11%||-||10||Killed ATL in '16. Gamescript should favor TB passing game.|
|T.Y. Hilton||6700||16%||-||8||A monster @ home in his career. TEN DBs are suspect.|
|Alshon Jeffery||6300||13%||-||12||"Revenge" narrative against former team? TDs in 3 straight.|
|Demaryius Thomas||5700||6%||-||4||OAK secondary is broken. If Lynch can get him the ball, watch out.|
|Corey Davis||4900||18%||-||3||No Rishard = All that this rookie can handle vs. IND.|
|Sammy Watkins||4900||14%||-||11||Matchup is there vs. NO--will he get more volume w/out Woods?|
|Corey Coleman||4300||7%||-||14||11 targets in his first game back from injury. Salary-saver.|
|Marquise Goodwin||3900||3%||-||15||SEA DEF is an ambulance unit. WR1 with plus gamescript.|
|Dede Westbrook||3600||5%||-||6||Expect WR2 snaps this week vs. non-Peterson cornerback.|
|Chester Rogers||3300||1%||-||13||Thrived w/out Aiken in last; should earn more work now.|
The dichotomy between Sammy Watkins' role as a WR1 and Robert Woods' usage as a WR1 will not be apparent this weekend due to a shoulder injury that will cause him to miss several games. Watkins may see increased opportunity, but the role of possession receiver will be played by rookie Cooper Kupp. Kupp is trailing Woods by only 9 targets for the team lead entering Week #12 and his 16 redzone targets leads the team. The matchup against the Saints' battered secondary is excellent, the volume should be excessive, and the price is right...Since Chris Hogan went down to injury in Week #8, Brandin Cooks has filled the void; Cooks has averaged 6 receptions for 111.5 yards and 0.5 touchdowns (23.2 DK points) across those contests and is on course to continue that level of output against the Dolphins porous secondary in Foxborough on Sunday. Miami has allowed six receiving touchdowns over their previous pair of games, including a two-touchdown effort to Devin Funchess. Cooks will run over half of his routes in the direction of Xavien Howard, who has yielded more touchdowns (three) than any coverage cornerback since Week #7...For a bit of salary relief, you might consider Larry Fitzgerald, who will see the most benefit from Jalen Ramsey's late-week injury that will cause him to miss his first game in 2017. Starting nickelback, Aaron Colvin, will likely move to the outside to replace Ramsey and Fitzgerald will see a combination of lesser coverage; with 33 targets over his previous 3 games and John Brown watching from the sidelines (turf toe), it probably does not even matter who will cover Fitzgerald, as his $5.6K salary is too cheap for that level of implied volume.
Julio Jones is in an excellent position to bust out of his disappointing 2017 campaign. Jones' $7.7K salary is as cheap as it has been in recent memory and Atlanta needs to get production from Jones down the stretch to secure a playoff spot. To their credit, the Falcons have attempted to feed Jones more in the second half of the season; he is averaging just under 10 targets per game since the Falcons' Week #5 bye (versus 7.5 prior to the break). This would appear to be an ideal situation for Jones, as no team in the NFL allows more fantasy production to the wide receiver position than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers; just last week, the Bucs allowed Kenny Stills and Jarvis Landry to combine for 54.5 DraftKings points...Corey Davis is the primary beneficiary of the late-week injury that will keep WR1 Rishard Matthews out of the game in Indianapolis. The Titans have been pining to get Davis more involved in the offense and this could be the week where we see him break out against a Colts defense that yields 22% more fantasy production to the wide receiver position when normalized to league average. Matthews' targets (6.8 per game) will have to be redistributed and Davis appears to be next-in-line, as he has averaged 7.1 targets per game since his first game in early November. If this game does manage to shoot-out, he is the most likely Titans receiver to finish with 100+ yards and a score...In Oakland, all eyes will be on Paxton Lynch to see whether he can lead the Broncos to victory as the third different starting quarterback for the Broncos in 2017. With both Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler underperforming, Lynch will get a tasty matchup against the league's last-ranked DVOA pass defense that might be even worse due to a foot injury that will sideline starting cornerback, David Amerson, for yet another week. If Lynch (or Head Coach Vance Joseph) is savvy, he will get the ball to Demaryius Thomas quickly and let Thomas' speed and agility do the rest against this subpar defensive backfield. Despite the poor quarterback play in Denver, Thomas has scored in each of his previous three games; if he can continue getting redzone looks, the big play could come against this battered Raider defense...Lastly, do not overlook Dede Westbrook in Phoenix this weekend. The young phenom has tremendous potential and should benefit from overflow targets due to Marqise Lee seeing shadow coverage from Patrick Peterson. In his NFL debut last week, Westbrook played just under half of the Jaguars' offensive snaps, which will keep some DFS players from rostering him; however, expect that number to rise on Sunday, as Jacksonville was likely holding him back to see how he came out of that game. If he gets into the endzone, he is almost assured 4x tournament value for his pittance of a salary.
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Delanie Walker||5000||9%||1||4||Consistency: 12+ fantasy points for all games in past month.|
|Rob Gronkowski||6900||9%||2||1||TE-friendly DEF. No higher upside at position.|
|Travis Kelce||7300||11%||3||9||Love him, but price is getting borderline prohibitive.|
|George Kittle||2800||1%||4||3||Returns after 1-week absence and DFS world forgot him already?|
|Jimmy Graham||5800||10%||-||5||7 TDs in past 6 games. Hottest TE in the game (sorry Kelce).|
|Greg Olsen||4800||5%||-||6||Cam's fave receiver @ < $5K? Only question is his snap count.|
|Jared Cook||4600||8%||-||8||Best personnel matchup for OAK offense. DEN = friendly to Tes.|
|Jack Doyle||4500||16%||-||7||Brisset's fave target. 8+ targets for $4.5K = bargain.|
|Austin Seferian-Jenkins||4300||3%||-||10||Ownership is simply too low for primary redzone receiver.|
|Tyler Kroft||3900||11%||-||2||No better matchup for TEs than CLE. Hand is reportedly 100%.|
Rob Gronkowski headlines the tight end position for both cash games and GPPs in Week #12. The all-world tight end was somewhat of a letdown last week against Oakland, logging only 3 catches for 36 yards (on 3 targets). That said, Gronkowski had 33 targets in the 4 games prior (8.3 targets/game) and will be somewhat underowned for the level of upside that he brings to your roster; he is basically a WR1 in the tight end position, but offered at a discount when compared to other WR1s. Given that the Dolphins have allowed tight ends to score against them in five of their past six games, the outlook is strong for Gronk this weekend...For cash games, you might consider dropping down a bit to grab Delanie Walker at only $5.0K against the Colts. The reliable tight end continues to be a focal part of the Titans' offensive attack and has logged 12+ DraftKings points in every game for the past month. He will face-off against a Colts defense that has allowed a touchdown to opposing tight ends in five of their previous seven contests...if you want to punt the position altogether, George Kittle will return from a one-week absence due to an ankle injury, but practiced in full on Friday and is no longer on the 49ers' injury report. The matchup against the Seahawks is better than you might think, as Seattle has allowed the 8th most fantasy points to the position and enters this game with some serious deficiencies due to recent injuries to players like Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, and Shaquill Griffin, all of whom play a role in pass defense. Kittle's usage by C.J. Beathard in their lone game without Pierre Garcon was significant despite the aforementioned injury; look for them to get back on track on Sunday at a discounted price point...Elsewhere, Jimmy Graham's resurgence as a top-tier tight end is in full swing after touchdowns in five of his previous six games and he is offered at a discount to both Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski against San Francisco, who has allowed tight ends to score in four consecutive games entering this weekend.
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Eagles||3600||18%||1||2||Terrible spot for CHI. How will they move offense @ Philly?|
|Jaguars||4100||15%||2||5||Loss of Ramsey hurts, but Gabbert's weapons are limited.|
|Bengals||3900||12%||3||1||DEF vs. Kizer has worked often. CLE = 2nd lowest team total.|
|Chiefs||3800||1%||-||7||KC is tough @ home. Return of Revis. Ownership is favorable.|
|Patriots||3400||8%||-||8||Bad defense, but Matt Moore could make them look good.|
|Broncos||3200||1%||-||4||Low ownership due to matchup, but personnel matchups favor DEN.|
|Falcons||2900||10%||-||3||Fitzpatrick can always blow-up in hostile environments.|
|Cardinals||2700||4%||-||6||See notes on Fitzpatrick (above) and insert "Bortles."|
Both the Eagles and Bengals appear to be in perfect spots for double-digit fantasy production against rookie quarterbacks, both lacking talent around them. Philadelphia will host Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears, whose 15-point implied team total is the second-lowest on the Week #12 slate behind only Green Bay. The Eagles get after the quarterback well, averaging 2.9 sacks per game (3rd in NFL), which does not bode well for Trubisky as a 14-point road underdog. Expect to see him forcing plays to keep pace later in this matchup, a common mistake from rookie quarterbacks...DeShone Kizer is another rookie quarterback who is a heavy road underdog on Sunday. The Bengals are tied with the Eagles for sacks (29 on the season) and will face a Cleveland offensive line that has surrendered 12 sacks over the previous 3 weeks. For his part, Kizer is also struggling, having thrown only 5 touchdowns against 14 interceptions to this point in the season. If he is playing from behind, as Vegas would have us believe, that slanted TD/INT ratio could worsen...for tournament purposes, the Broncos are intriguing against an Oakland offense that has a good reputation; that said, both Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree should have difficulty finding separation from Denver's excellent coverage cornerbacks and Marshawn should not be expected to do much against the league's 2nd ranked DVOA rush defense. Tight end Jared Cook offers the best personnel matchup for Derek Carr, but will that be enough? At 1% ownership, Denver is worth a few bullets in your GPP repertoire...Lastly, do not be afraid of paying the $4.1K ransom for Jacksonville's defense despite the late-breaking injury to Jalen Ramsey. Sure, it will hurt that defense, but do not forget that Blaine Gabbert is still the quarterback opposite Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Dante Fowler Jr Jr., all of whom could force a turnover that results in a score.
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