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.

CASH GAME TIPS

DIVERSIFYING AWAY FROM RISK: As I discussed at the close of this week's episode of the PowerGrid, I suspect that I will be running out multiple cash game lineups on Sunday due to uncertainties about some of this week's player pool. This is an ideal way to lessen risk, while still getting exposure for bankroll growth...do not be afraid to follow suit. Generally, I build around a core of cash game players I most like and then vary the players around that core for multiple lineups (two, most of the time...three, some of the time). Once you have multiple lineups built, evenly distribute them across your normal cash games (head-to-head, 50/50, triple-ups, etc.). This practice makes me feel more at ease on weeks where I feel somewhat conflicted about the level of safety with the player pool. With only 17 weeks across the season to build your bankroll, it is difficult to completely skip a week, so diversifying my cash game player pool is the best practice I have encountered. If you are ever feeling similarly, you might consider trying that approach.

GPP TIPS

WHAT TO DO WITH JOSH GORDON?: We got into a spirited debate about Josh Gordon on this week's PowerGrid with Devin Knotts leading the charge in favor of playing Gordon after a three-year hiatus, whereas Ryan Hester and I argued against rostering Gordon despite his $4.1K price tag. Devin's argument is that Gordon is playing sober for the first time in his lifetime, which should only mean that he will get better, if that is possible (??); bolstering his argument is the fact that Head Coach Hue Jackson said that the Browns would do what they could to exploit Gordon's skill set early and often. My counterargument is basically this: Gordon is undeniably a special talent, but he hasn't played in a game in over 1,000 days. And when he returns, he is going to go up against some of the better perimeter cornerbacks in the league (Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams). Oh, and he will have a rookie quarterback who has thrown for a grand total of 5 touchdowns (versus 14 interceptions) in 313 attempts. As much as I am rooting for Gordon to return to the league and get his life under control, I just cannot put my chips on his number in this particular situation; I will wait to see how he looks at game speed, how Hue Jackson exploits his speed and agility, how effectively DeShone Kizer targets him, and how he performs against these plus Chargers defenders. If all of those things pan out in Gordon's favor, you can bet that he will be heavily-touted in this piece next week against the Packers' putrid secondary. Until then, I'm largely off at 4% total ownership.

...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. 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

QUARTERBACKS

 

NAMESALARYOWNERSHIPCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Philip Rivers 7000 10% 1 1 Clearest QB choice of week; funnel defense.
Cam Newton 6800 6% 2 4 Back to running the ball again; banged up NO secondary.
Tyrod Taylor 5400 5% 3 7 Punt cash option. Plus gamescript in fast-paced game.
Tom Brady 7800 10% - 8 Always in play for upside, but price is prohibitive.
Jared Goff 6700 7% - 5 300+ yards & multiple TDs in 3 of last 4 games.
Drew Brees 6500 7% - 6 CAR represents best rush defense NO has seen = more Brees?
Marcus Mariota 6200 4% - 3 Disappointing season = low-owned vs. porous HOU secondary.
Case Keenum 6000 3% - 2 Blidi Wreh-Wilson versus Stefon Diggs makes me smile.
Jameis Winston 5600 8% - 9 Loss of O-linemen hurts, but GB secondary is awful.
Brett Hundley 5100 9% - 10 Coming off best game of career; TB = 30th DVOA pass

Despite having the largest slate of teams from which to choose since Week #4, the quarterback position is littered with potential traps this weekend. The best matchups belong to quarterbacks who lack receivers (Derek Carr), are arguably overpriced (Tom Brady), have injury issues (Jameis Winston), or just are not typically reliable options (Marcus Mariota); as a result, it is difficult to nail down a single quarterback in a sure-fire spot on Sunday. Of all options, Philip Rivers appears to be fairly safe for cash games because of the Chargers' implied team total, Rivers' excellent receiving options, and Cleveland's tendency to funnel action towards an opponent's passing game. Entering Sunday, the Browns boast the 2nd best DVOA rush defense, but are 27th against the pass and have allowed 19% more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks using fellow Footballguy Austin Lee's Normalized Strength of Schedule tool. With an implied team total of 29 points, Rivers should have a hand in putting some of those points on the board despite implied volume for Melvin Gordon III later in this game...At just a few dollars less than Rivers, Cam Newton is another cash game option against the Saints. Cam has been legging it out recently, running nine or more times in five of the Panthers' previous six games; on rushing alone, Newton has averaged 9.2 DraftKings points per game over that span. Add in the questionable status of New Orleans' two best defensive backs (Marshon Lattimore and Ken Crawley) and the fact that the Saints are 5-point favorites, Newton has a favorable matchup and gamescript that should pad those running stats at a reasonable $6.8K price tag...On the low end, you could take a flyer on Tyrod Taylor at home against the Patriots. In fairness, the Pats have shored up their defensive woes from the first month of the season, but this game has some sneaky shootout potential because both offenses run very quick offenses (Patriots: 4th overall, Bills: 2nd overall). We can trust that Bill Belichick will put together a gameplan to try to minimize Tyrod's ability to pick up yardage via scrambling, but the recent emergence of Zay Jones is encouraging, Deonte Thompson is a 4.23 speedster capable of a big play at any time, and both LeSean McCoy and Traveris Cadet are excellent receivers out of the backfield. It is also worth noting that, since Tyrod Taylor joined the Bills in 2015, these teams have averaged 64.7 total points per game in Buffalo.

If Case Keenum goes off at 3% ownership, you should be at least triple over the field for your own GPP distribution. Keenum has a glorious matchup against a Falcons secondary that will be without their only Pro-Bowl defensive back, Desmond Trufant (concussion), for a game with the third-highest Vegas total. Keenum has quietly flirted with (or surpassed) 300+ passing yards and multiple touchdowns in 3 of his previous 4 games and will have four pass-catchers in excellent personnel matchups. The two matchups that stand out are Stefon Diggs against an old favorite punching bag, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, and Adam Thielen lining up across from nickelback, Brian Poole. The former matchup is discussed in more detail in the "Wide Receivers" section of this article, while the latter matchup favors Thielen's after-the-catch ability (currently fourth in NFL amongst wide receivers) because Brian Poole has allowed the second-most yards after the catch while in coverage this season...If Marcus Mariota is ever going to bust out of his 2017 slump, this would be the week where it should happen. After normalization for strength of schedule, no team in the NFL has been more fantasy-friendly to opposing quarterbacks than the Houston Texans; prior to shutting down Joe Flacco on Monday Night Football (an easy task), Houston had allowed 300+ passing yards and/or multiple touchdowns to 5 of the previous 6 quarterbacks they had faced. Passing against Houston represents the path of least resistance, as their 9th ranked DVOA rush defense has held opposing running backs to a paltry 3.51 yards per carry this season; with DeMarco Murray showing signs of his age late in the season (1.9 yards per carry over the past month) and Mike Mularkey refusing to hand the running back job to Derrick Henry, the best play may be to attack Houston through the air, where they are most susceptible...Do not sleep on Jared Goff if his ownership lands below 10%. He has surpassed 300+ passing yards in 3 of the Rams' previous 4 games and could very well do it again versus an Arizona defense that funnels action to the pass because of their greedy 4th-ranked DVOA rush defense (3.47 yards per carry allowed). Sure, Sammy Watkins' involvement might be minimal due to shadow coverage from Patrick Peterson, but Sean McVay is proving to be an offensive genius and will certainly exploit the Cardinals remaining defensive backs with the likes of Cooper Kupp, Josh Reynolds, and Tyler Higbee. The Rams' implied team total is just a shade under the crowd favorites (Chargers and Patriots), but the respective quarterback ownership on those teams appears to be exploitable for tournament purposes.

RUNNING BACKS

 

NAMESALARYOWNERSHIPCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Jamaal Williams 4700 27% 1 4 ~ 23 touches/game as a starter; short home fave helps cause.
Todd Gurley 8200 19% 2 9 Zero competition for touches in backfield. Plus gamescript.
Alex Collins 4500 11% 3 7 Earned the RB1 role; scored in back-to-back weeks.
Carlos Hyde 5900 16% 4 1 Gamescript-proof. 8+ targets in 4 of past 5 games.
Kenyan Drake 4900 21% 5 11 No Damien Williams = All the touches at fair price.
Leonard Fournette 7800 14% - 12 Big home fave. Blowup game is coming--is this it?
Melvin Gordon III 7400 13% - 3 Borderline cash-viable. 14-point chalk = plenty of volume.
Kareem Hunt 6900 10% - 10 No Charcandrick puts Hunt in play @ low ownership.
Jordan Howard 6500 15% - 2 Smash spot. Loses snaps in losses, but this looks like a win.
Dion Lewis 5500 11% - 6 My guess for Belichick's flavor-of-week RB vs. terrible BUF rush D.
Jerick McKinnon 5100 3% - 8 ATL does not defend pass-catching RBs well; underowned.
Marshawn Lynch 4800 10% - 5 Matchup & gamescript are excellent. Usage should reflect the need for a win.

With Ty Montgomery (wrist) landing on the IR this week and Aaron Jones looking iffy with an MCL injury, Jamaal Williams should get all the action he can handle out of the Packers backfield on Sunday. Over his previous two games without competition, Williams has 47 touches, including 8 receptions for 107 receiving yards and a score; he gets an above-average matchup against the Bucs as a short home-favorite this weekend and represents a volume-based value play at only $4.7K...At a similar price point, it appears that Alex Collins has earned the RB1 spot in Baltimore after scoring in back-to-back weeks and averaging 20+ touches in each of those contests. Danny Woodhead will still steal passing down opportunities and Javorius Allen is a change-of-pace player, but Collins should be expected to see 18-22 touches as a 3-point home favorite against the Lions' 23rd-ranked DVOA rush defense that is allowing a generous 4.23 yards per carry to opposing running backs...Because he has not scored a touchdown in six weeks, Carlos Hyde's salary remains very reasonable at $5.9K despite extensive usage in all phases of the 49er offense. With a dozen or more carries in every game over that same period of time, Hyde is a model of consistency in Kyle Shanahan's offense, but what is more attractive (on DraftKings) is the fact that Hyde has been targeted 8.8 times per game over his previous five contests. In fairness, the debut of Jimmy Garoppolo could affect that usage in the passing game, but Hyde remains in play because he is the focal point of this offense...Lastly, if you can afford him, Todd Gurley is the Cadillac running back in Week #13 against the Cardinals despite their stingy rush defense. Gurley has zero competition for touches out of the backfield, has an excellent implied gamescript as a touchdown-favorite, and has surpassed 100 all-purpose yards in 5 of the Rams' previous 6 games.

Looking over the Bears' offensive game logs, it appears that Jordan Howard is losing snaps to Tarik Cohen and Benny Cunningham, but another interpretation is that John Fox is leaning more heavily on those players when Chicago is trailing due to their compartively better receiving skills. In games where Chicago has played with a lead, Howard's usage has thrived, resulting in multiple 100+ yard performances. This weekend, the Bears are at home and favored by a field goal against the San Francisco 49ers and their extremely running back-friendly defense that is allowing 40% more fantasy points to the position after normalization. This appears to be a get-right spot for Howard; he has two-touchdown upside in an offense that wants its rookie quarterback to drop back as minimally as possible...An on-paper tough matchup and a general lack of efficiency will keep Melvin Gordon III from being the highest-owned running back on the slate despite him being the lead back for the team with the highest point-spread on the Vegas board. That said, the Browns have allowed back-to-back 100-yard rushers (Leonard Fournette and Joe Mixon) entering this weekend; it is notable that those game came on the heels of key run-stoppers, Jamie Collins Sr and Emmanuel Ogbah, both of whom will miss this weekend's contest, as well. As a two-touchdown favorite, Gordon could get 22+ touches in this matchup and would do so at a reasonable $7.4K price point...Do not sleep on Marshawn Lynch on Sunday. He is coming off a 29-touch game where the Oakland coaching staff leaned on him to a hard-fought win against Denver last week after Michael Crabtree was tossed due to fighting and Amari Cooper left early with an injury. The Raiders are in must-win mode for the remainder of the season and will be forced to lean on Lynch again this week because both Crabtree and Cooper will miss this game for the same reasons they left early last Sunday. Oakland wanted to save Lynch's 31-year old legs for a playoff run and the disappearance of their receivers should push him into a limelight role a bit earlier than Jack Del Rio may have otherwise wanted; as 8.5-point home favorites against the Giants' 25th-ranked DVOA rush defense, it is a perfect spot for Lynch to take command of the offense and pick up the win.

WIDE RECEIVERS

 

NAMESALARYOWNERSHIPCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
DeAndre Hopkins 7300 23% 1 2 12.3 targets/game with Savage under center. Too cheap.
Mike Evans 7100 17% 2 1 Evans is a complete mismatch for this GB secondary.
Marqise Lee 5200 9% 3 3 After back-to-back tough matchups, should return to WR1 volume.
Davante Adams 6500 17% 4 15 The apple of Hundley's eye. ~ 10 targets/game since bye week.
Cordarrelle Patterson 3400 4% 5 9 Salary saver who should see volume on perimeter vs. NYG.
Julio Jones 8600 16% - 13 Always in play. Xavier Rhodes could limit upside though.
Keenan Allen 8300 17% - 5 Excellent matchup from slot; CLE struggles to defend position.
Brandin Cooks 7700 22% - 11 Until Hogan returns, Cooks will stay on this list. Fast-paced game.
Adam Thielen 7500 12% - 10 Was higher on list until Trufant was named inactive (see Diggs).
Michael Thomas 6900 12% - 8 Scoreless streak is crazy-long. Funnel defense helps prospects.
Devin Funchess 6800 7% - 6 Could be only healthy receivers in CAR. Potential shootout spot.
Robby Anderson 6300 14% - 14 White-hot TD streak. Cannot be ignored any longer.
Stefon Diggs 6200 8% - 4 Oh how we missed you, Blidi-Wreh Wilson.
DeVante Parker 4500 3% - 7 Personnel matchups & QB favor big game from Parker here.
Josh Reynolds 3500 4% - 12 Will be low-owned again. Just missed 2 TDs last week.

Two volume-based receivers top the cash game ranks on Sunday, as both DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Evans find themselves in plush spots against defenses that simply cannot match up against them, from a personnel perspective. Hopkins will get shadow coverage from Adoree' Jackson in Tennessee, but Jackson's talent is still raw in his rookie season and he will not be able to contain Hopkins and the massive volume he has been seeing from Tom Savage; likewise, the Green Bay secondary is fresh off a torching from Ben Roethlisberger last Sunday night and will have their hands full with Mike Evans, who is no doubt eager to have Jameis Winston return after experiencing only modest production with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Both options have salaries that have dropped too low for their implied usage and upside, making them top selections for both cash and tournament formats...Speaking of cash and GPP formats, Marqise Lee is a favorite option (for me) this weekend. Lee's early-season productivity has taken a hit recently due to shadow coverage from Jason McCourty and Patrick Peterson in back-to-back weeks. Meanwhile, the DFS community is in love with rookie sensation Dede Westbrook, who has benefitted from overflow volume due to those matchups. Westbrook remains a viable option this weekend against a susceptible Indianapolis secondary, but do not overlook the fact that Marqise Lee has the same matchup, a proven rapport with Blake Bortles, and was routinely receiving double-digit targets prior to his recent onslaught of plus coverage (that also included the Chargers' Trevor Williams/Casey Hayward prior to the aforementioned shadow coverage)...For salary relief in cash games, Cordarrelle Patterson is a name you might consider. Patterson was the most heavily-targeted wide receiver after Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree left last week's game and his playmaking ability is exciting against a Giants secondary that no longer has Janoris Jenkins (injured reserve) to slow down perimeter receivers; on the inside, Seth Roberts will still have to deal with plus coverage from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, which suggests that Patterson should get more than enough looks to substantiate his $3.4K salary on Sunday.

For tournaments, you just have to consider Stefon Diggs. Diggs has been dealing with a groin injury for nearly a month now and Adam Thielen has been picking up the slack with some monstrous fantasy performances. In his first week at 100% last Sunday, Diggs finished the day with a respectable 5/66/0 stat line on 7 targets against the Detroit Lions while enduring shadow coverage from Darius Slay for the better part of Thanksgiving. On Sunday, Diggs will get the antithesis of that coverage in the form of Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who has been a whipping boy for NFL wide receivers for several years. Wreh-Wilson will start opposite Diggs on Sunday due to a concussion suffered by the Falcons' top cornerback, Desmond Trufant, last week. Because the news of Blidi Wreh-Wilson did not emerge until Friday night (after most DFS articles are published), we can expect Diggs' ownership to be skewed somewhat low for the type of upside he will bring to the table in this matchup...Slot receivers have murdered the Cleveland Browns this season, including T.Y. Hilton (7/153/1), Adam Thielen (5/98/1), and Golden Tate (6/97/1), amongst others. Enter Keenan Allen, the hottest slot receiver in football after fantastic back-to-back fantasy performances that netted him over 80 DraftKings points in the past two weeks. The only drawback to rostering Allen this weekend is his lofty price and ownership; that said, he's firmly in play because of the upside that he brings to the table, particularly in this juicy matchup...With Jarvis Landry dealing with shutdown nickelback, Chris Harris Jr Jr., out of the slot, we should expect DeVante Parker to see increased action as a receiver this weekend. Some DFS players will flock to Kenny Stills after seeing him prosper over the past month, but that usage happened to coincide with Matt Moore at quarterback; with Moore relegated to the sidelines, we can expect Jay Cutler to feed Parker, as he did early in the season (27 targets in his first 3 games) prior to an ankle injury that caused him to miss over a month with Cutler. It would not be surprising to watch Parker receive double-digit targets, including redzone looks due to his 6'3" frame, all at low ownership.

TIGHT ENDS

NAMESALARYOWNERSHIPCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Jared Cook 5400 17% 1 1 Most trusted receiver in OAK this week vs. terrible TE defense.
Delanie Walker 5600 9% 2 2 If Rishard sits, Walker becomes de facto #1 receiver.
Cameron Brate 2900 3% 3 7 Winston's return puts Brate back into play. Salary saver.
Rob Gronkowski 7300 14% - 3 Gronk returns home to Buffalo where he has historically thrived.
Travis Kelce 7000 8% - 4 Jets gave up monster game to Gronk; Kelce is in same league.
Hunter Henry 4700 10% - 5 Play your TEs versus the Browns--2nd most FPs allowed.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins 4000 4% - 9 ASJ has had more TDs reversed than most TEs have all season.
Julius Thomas 3500 3% - 10 "Revenge" narrative versus DEN's weak spot on defense.
Ben Watson 3100 1% - 6 DET = 31st DVOA defense versus TEs. Very sneaky GPP play.
C.J. Fiedorowicz 2800 2% - 8 Arguably the best redzone threat in this receiving corps.

The most obvious play at tight end this weekend is Jared Cook, who will absorb as many targets as possible against the league's most fantasy-friendly defense to the position. Cook should see a minimum of 6-8 targets in this matchup and feels relatively safe for cash games because his volume is near-guaranteed without Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree on the field...Delanie Walker is a close second to Cook. Walker is averaging 7 targets per game this season and could see a few additional looks in the offense if Rishard Matthews, Marcus Mariota's primary receiver, is sidelined with a nagging hamstring injury. The matchup against the Texans is average, as Houston fields the 16th DVOA defense against tight ends, but they are susceptible to the position, particularly inside the redzone, as evidenced by a pair of two-touchdown games they have yielded to Ricky Seals-Jones and Jimmy Graham over the past month...For the sake of being complete, you should not overlook the chalk at the position, Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. Gronk will return home to Buffalo, where he has posted some monstrous performances over the course of his career; meanwhile, Kelce is coming off his second-worst game of the year, which is going to drive his ownership too low, particularly when one considers he has been the highest-scoring tight end in the league in 2017, with 5 games of 20+ DraftKings points...For deep GPP flyers, look no further than Ben Watson and C.J. Fiedorowicz. Watson is the victim of an anemic passing offense, but cannot be ignored at a $3.1K price point against the league's 31st DVOA defense against tight ends; likewise, the Lions allow 31% more fantasy points to the position after normalization for strength of schedule. Outside of Javorius Allen, no Raven has more looks inside the redzone than Watson, yet he will be less than 5% owned in GPP formats...Fiedorowicz is another tight end who will be underowned. Since coming back from an injury that caused him to miss the better part of two months, Fiedorowicz has 14 targets across 3 games and is the primary receiving tight end for Tom Savage. At 6'6", he will be the secondary redzone receiver behind DeAndre Hopkins because Bruce Ellington's 5'8" frame eliminates him from action inside the 20-yard line.

TEAM DEFENSES

 

NAMESALARYOWNERSHIPCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Jaguars 4500 11% 1 1 Most sacks per game versus most sacks allowed per game.
Chargers 4000 17% 2 2 Chargers DEF might be best defense that nobody talks about.
Rams 3600 6% 3 3 If Peterson does not play, ARZ's only weapon is Fitzgerald.
Bears 3500 5% - 5 Unexciting option, but hosting a QB making his 1st start w/new team.
Titans 3400 3% - 7 Only have to stop DeAndre to stop HOU offense. Home fave.
Ravens 3100 9% - 4 BAL defense at home is always in play.
Raiders 3100 8% - 6 Tough to recommend a bad defense, but Geno Smith merits it.
Vikings 2700 4% - 8 Excellent defense will be underowned due to matchup.

No team in the NFL allows their quarterback to be sacked more often than the Indianapolis Colts. And no team in the NFL has sacked opposing quarterbacks more often than the Jacksonville Jaguars. On Sunday, these teams will meet in Jacksonville and the Colts are projected to score only 15.5-points (2nd lowest team total on the Vegas board); this is a perfect matchup for Jacksonville, whose ownership might skew low because of the lack of value on the slate and their elevated $4.5K price tag...The Los Angeles Chargers defense is in a similar situation against the Browns at home. While the Browns will return Josh Gordon, they will still run out DeShone Kizer, who has thrown 14 interceptions against only 5 touchdowns this season. One could also make the argument that he has not seen the type of pressure that Melvin Ingram III and Joey Bosa will apply on Sunday in a hostile environment as the Chargers look to make a last-ditch playoff push...Beyond the Jags and Chargers, look for ownership of team defenses to be relatively even-keeled in Week #13; a few favorites are depicted in the above table, including Baltimore at home against Matthew Stafford, who has struggled against good defenses almost without exception. Rostering the Raiders' 32nd-ranked DVOA defense just feels wrong, but they find themselves in a must-win situation at home against Geno Smith, which might be enough to force them to put together a solid game at reasonable ownership. Lastly, the Vikings are a top-ten defense with extra rest playing on the road against an overrated offense; they are offered up at only $2.7K and represent an excellent contrarian tournament play for these reasons.