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
DK FINAL = TIGHT PRICING: It's tough sledding to build a cash game lineup that you can trust on this weekend's main slate. First, there are only 11 total games from which you can choose, which limits the overall player pool. Next, players from the New England-Pittsburgh game are extremely expensive, which creates issues if you try to jam any of them into your lineups. Lastly, DraftKings always seems to adjust their pricing algorithm a bit more tightly on the weekend of their annual NFL championship so as to minimize roster overlap in that contest. With these factors in mind, the typical cash game roster build will start with sub-$6K running backs (Kenyan Drake, Alex Collins, Mike Davis, etc.) and then build from there. At QB, there are several options, but going with Russell Wilson will limit what you can do at WR because there is very little value at that position this week; you can take a chance an roll with DeShone Kizer at $5K, but rostering a Cleveland Brown in cash formats is not without risk. The TE position is an absolute wasteland this weekend, as most reliable options are highly-priced (i.e., Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz) or not on the main slate (i.e., Travis Kelce, Jack Doyle); as such, punting the position in cash games may be more popular than most might otherwise anticipate. At team defense, there are a slew of great options this week with the Jaguars hosting T.J. Yates at the forefront of those options. Shortly thereafter, the Saints hosting Bryce Petty and the Jets and Minnesota at home taking on the Bengals are also in play. The key, however, will be selecting the best WRs because you will almost assuredly be forced to take a chance on somebody at that position. Take a peek at the "Picks" selection below for who I am considering (and why).
BUILDING A BALANCED ROSTER FOR UNIQUENESS: Because of the aforementioned tight pricing, lack of quality tight end options, and gravitation towards the NE-PIT game, I suspect tournaments will have less overlap than a typical week. With that in mind, I do think that there will be significant overlap in how most people build their lineups--I suspect that most people will take one of two approaches for GPP tournaments: 1) Slot in names like Kenyan Drake, Mike Davis, and Alex Collins at RB and build around them with the best QB-WR stacks they can afford, or 2) Start with either Le'Veon Bell or Antonio Brown (or both) and take their best shot at a 'stars and scrubs' lineup. In both instances, there should be a defined demographic (i.e., pricing tier) of players who are overlooked: those players priced between $5-7K. While I will have my share of the more popular players for the reasons outlined in this article (below), I do think that purposefully building tournament lineups with players in the middle-tier of pricing could afford you with roster diversification from the masses that could lead to GPP victories. Check the top ten lineups in the Milly Maker on Sunday evening to see if that hypothesis ends up holding water.
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|
|Cam Newton||6400||11%||1||3||Fair price. 9.0 PPG via rush over past five games = high floor.|
|Russell Wilson||7300||13%||2||7||White-hot, matchup-proof in a potential back-and-forth game.|
|DeShone Kizer||5000||1%||3||10||Punt cash play. Two legit receivers & passing gamescript.|
|Tom Brady||7600||8%||-||1||PIT secondary has not been tested all season--this is it.|
|Aaron Rodgers||6800||9%||-||4||Must-win game in return vs. CAR\'s funnel defense.|
|Ben Roethlisberger||6700||9%||-||8||Home stats have been tremendous again. Barnburner game.|
|Drew Brees||6500||8%||-||5||NO: Highest implied team total. Do not overlook passing game.|
|Jared Goff||6200||2%||-||6||Gets Woods back vs. overrated SEA DEF. Ownership is too low.|
|Case Keenum||6100||3%||-||2||Bounce-back spot vs. banged up CIN DEF. Underowned.|
|Blake Bortles||5700||5%||-||9||If no Fournette, pair him with Lee or Westbrook.|
QB CASH OVERVIEW:
- Cam Newton (vs. GB): While most will flock to Russell Wilson in cash formats, Cam Newton is the preferred play on a tight cap week. Newton is averaging a hefty 9.0 DraftKings points per game on the ground over the past five games and gets a juicy matchup against the league's 20th DVOA defense versus the pass; over the past three weeks, all QBs (Ben Roethlisberger, DeShone Kizer, and Joe Flacco) opposing Green Bay's decimated secondary have surpassed the 19-points necessary to justify Newton's spot in your lineup. Add in the return of Aaron Rodgers and his ability to keep this game close and the argument for Newton is justified.
- Russell Wilson (vs. LAR): Likely the most popular option for cash games, Russell Wilson is on a tear with 24+ points in seven of his previous eight games. The Rams boast the league's 4th best DVOA pass defense, but Wilson enters this contest with back-to-back three-touchdown performances against Philadelphia and Jacksonville, two defenses that are comparable to (or better than) the Rams. Both of these offenses rank in the top ten for pace (seconds per play), which could lead to this game being one of the higher-scoring contests of the main slate, thereby bolstering a case for Wilson. If you can afford his elevated price tag, he is arguably the safest QB play on the board.
- DeShone Kizer (vs. BAL): For cash games, you will be forced to decide between saving at quarterback, wide receiver, or tight end. At quarterback, DeShone Kizer represents a viable option to help that decision-making process at other positions. Kizer is only $5.0K and has a plus matchup against a Baltimore secondary that has allowed ~ 400 passing yards per game since losing Jimmy Smith to injured reserve two weeks ago. Kizer has 15+ points in five of his previous six games, which is where you want to land for 3x value on his salary. Given the matchup and the positive effect that Josh Gordon has had on this offense in just two weeks, Kizer appears to be well-placed for yet another 3x performance.
QB GPP OVERVIEW:
- Tom Brady (vs. PIT): The Pittsburgh Steelers boast the 6th stingiest defense against quarterbacks, but that statistic is not as impressive when one examines the list of quarterbacks they have faced in 2017. Having allowed two or more touchdowns to their previous five opposing quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett, Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Andy Dalton, and Joe Flacco), the Steelers could be in dire straits against Tom Brady, who has absolutely crushed this defense over his career including 29 touchdowns against only 3 interceptions, amongst other gaudy statistics. The cost is high, but Brady could legitimately throw for 500 yards against this secondary and the Steelers have their own offensive firepower to keep Brady in the game for four quarters.
- Case Keenum (vs. CIN): With 280+ and 2 or more touchdowns in 5 of the Vikings' previous 6 games, Case Keenum is quietly amassing some solid fantasy numbers in 2017. He will face off against a Cincinnati defense that will be without five different starters, a recipe that led to Mitchell Trubisky compiling 21.3 fantasy points with a far lesser set of receivers than Keenum will have at his disposal on Sunday. Our Steve Buzzard projects Keenum to be owned at less than 5% in mid-sized GPPs, which is an injustice given his upside and matchup.
- Aaron Rodgers (vs. CAR): The Green Bay Packers basically have to win out to make the playoffs, so getting back Aaron Rodgers for a tough Week #15 matchup against the Panthers could not have come at a better time. Before his Week #6 injury, Rodgers started the season with three consecutive 300+ passing performances and logged 20+ fantasy points in every one of his games. He will be asked to throw the ball often against the Panthers, who funnel action towards the pass due to their stingy front seven that is allowing 4.01 yards per carry to opposing running backs and is 5th overall (DVOA).
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Mike Davis||4000||16%||1||1||Bellcow usage @ $4K against generous rush DEF|
|Kenyan Drake||5800||37%||2||5||Monstrous volume w/out Williams. 56 touches over past 2 games.|
|Alex Collins||5000||14%||3||7||17+ touches and a score in past 4 games. Plus gamescript.|
|Le'Veon Bell||9300||26%||4||3||Expensive, but nobody gets more usage in their offense.|
|Samaje Perine||4800||13%||5||10||Only 2 practice squad RBs behind him. Heavy workload in store.|
|LeSean McCoy||8400||11%||-||12||Still the centerpiece of this offense. 2-TD upside.|
|Todd Gurley||8300||16%||-||8||SEA rush DEF is not fade-worthy. 16% ownership is prime.|
|Mark Ingram II||8200||11%||-||4||Gut feeling that Kamara is eased back. 16-point home chalk.|
|Carlos Hyde||5500||13%||-||9||Tough matchup, but Garoppolo will keep TEN defense honest.|
|Jay Ajayi||5000||4%||-||6||Snaps are trending upward & Foles could be eased in vs. NYG.|
|Latavius Murray||4900||5%||-||2||CIN DEF is battered. McKinnon gimpy & excels in wins.|
|Bilal Powell||4000||1%||-||12||Forte not practicing. Passing gamescript = receiver out of backfield?|
RB CASH OVERVIEW:
- Mike Davis (vs. LAR): Having earned a bellcow role in Seattle, Mike Davis is firmly in play in both cash and tournament formats this weekend. HIs $4.0K salary offers much needed salary relief and he has a solid floor and upside against the Rams, who are allowing a lofty 4.69 yards per carry to opposing running backs. Some will notice that he lost snaps last week, but a closer look tells us that he missed most of the second half due to a rib injury sustained in the third quarter; after being limited in practice on Thursday, Davis practiced in full on Friday and should see 20+ touches on Sunday.
- Kenyan Drake (vs. BUF): Speaking of volume, Kenyan Drake has amassed an average of 28 touches per game over his previous two contests without Damien Williams. With Williams marked as 'doubtful' on Sunday, expect to see Miami do more of the same against the Buffalo Bills, who enter Week #15 as the league's friendliest defense to the running back position (28.2 DraftKings points per game allowed). With 15 targets over the previous 3 games, Drake should not lose significant value if Buffalo were to jump to an early lead, as he would become a valuable receiver out of the backfield with DraftKings' full PPR scoring format.
- Alex Collins (vs. CLE): The Baltimore Ravens were a defensive lapse away from winning four consecutive games last week, when they lost 39-38 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. In those four games, Alex Collins has averaged a hair over 20 fantasy points per game, a number that would represent 4x value on his salary against the winless Cleveland Browns on Sunday. The Browns started off the season with a stout defensive front, but key injuries to Jamie Collins Sr and Emmanuel Ogbah have rendered them an average rush defense as this season comes to a close. With touchdowns in four straight games, Collins' heavy usage and fair price make him an excellent option on a tight salary cap.
RB GPP OVERVIEW:
- Latavius Murray (vs. CIN): Prior to last week's disappointing loss to the Panthers, the Vikings had strung together an 8-game win streak that saw Latavius Murray average 17.5 touches per game. Murray could be in line for similar usage again this Sunday against the Bengals battered defense that will be without their best run-stopper, Vontaze Burfict. A stronger case could be made for Murray if the Vikings decide to limit his stablemate, Jerick McKinnon, who was injured in the second half of last week's contest and did not take on a full practice until Friday; as 10.5-point home favorites, it would not be out of line to think that Minnesota might lean more heavily on Murray and give McKinnon a bit more time to heal for their NFC North playoff push.
- Le'Veon Bell (vs. NE): There should not be a lot of persuasion needed to get you to consider Le'Veon Bell for tournament play against the New England Patriots on Sunday. Bell's usage is through the roof, as he has seen no less than 21 touches in every game since the end of September! Bell is the lynchpin of the Steelers offense and will be asked to do everything and anything to keep pace with Tom Brady and the Patriots in front of a riled-up home crowd. His upside was evident last Monday night, as he finished with a 3-touchdown, 39.5-point performance against a much more formidable Ravens' front seven than what the Patriots will field on Sunday afternoon (league-worst 4.95 yards per carry allowed).
- Mark Ingram II (vs. NYJ): Similar to what was described for Latavius Murray (above), Mark Ingram II could potentially see additional reps against the Jets this weekend, if Sean Payton decides to give Alvin Kamara less work to ensure that he is 100% recovered from a concussion suffered on Thursday Night Football 10 days ago. The Rookie-of-the-Year candidate cleared concussion protocol and is expected to play, but the Saints may not need his services to best the Jets on their home turf; instead, they could lean a bit more heavily on Mark Ingram II, who has exhibited an ability to be an every-down running back in the past. With stellar offensive line play and the highest implied team total on the Vegas board (31.8 points), Ingram has multiple touchdown upside against the Jets if given the opportunity.
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Devin Funchess||6600||19%||1||5||Pristine matchup vs. GB. Score or 100+ yards in four straight.|
|Jermaine Kearse||4000||2%||2||10||Back-to-back 100-yarders before DEN last week. Needed value.|
|Antonio Brown||9100||24%||3||6||Easy call, but tough to deal with salary on a tight cap.|
|Adam Thielen||7600||13%||4||1||CIN does not have defensive personnel to deal with Thielen.|
|Nelson Agholor||4400||8%||5||15||A beast as of late. Low ADoT favors Foles' skillset. Cheap.|
|Michael Thomas||7600||17%||-||11||Finally broke out last week. NYJ: 27th DVOA vs. pass.|
|Brandin Cooks||7100||12%||-||7||PIT secondary is mistake-prone & Cooks has lightning speed.|
|Josh Gordon||6800||10%||-||2||Loss of Jimmy Smith makes BAL secondary very beatable.|
|Doug Baldwin||6700||13%||-||14||The clear-cut receiving option in a sneaky high-scoring game.|
|Jordy Nelson||6300||11%||-||8||Rodgers is back, which means that Jordy is relevant again.|
|Cooper Kupp||6200||6%||-||13||20 redzone targets = 5th in league. SEA DEF is banged up.|
|Stefon Diggs||5800||6%||-||9||Overlooked due to Thielen's success, but upside is there vs. CIN.|
|Marqise Lee||5800||8%||-||3||Half the ownership of Westbrook = better JAX GPP WR.|
|Rishard Matthews||5300||4%||-||4||If he's right, could abuse SF secondary, as others have done.|
|Dede Westbrook||5100||14%||-||12||Popular salary saver. In play despite heightened ownership.|
WR CASH OVERVIEW:
- Devin Funchess (vs. GB): Averaging 8.7 targets per game since the Panthers' Week #11 bye, Devin Funchess is firmly ensconced in the WR1 role in Carolina. Fresh off back-to-back games (where he scored in each) against the likes of Marshon Lattimore and Xavier Rhodes, Funchess will welcome the beleaguered Green Bay secondary to town on Sunday. Funchess will face-off against a combination of the beatable Damarious Randall and a pair of undrafted free agent rookies (Josh Hawkins and Lenzy Pipkins), all of whom will struggle to slow down his recent success.
- Jermaine Kearse (vs. NO): Some might scoff at Jermaine Kearse being a cash game option, but he is one of the better options for a number of reasons. First, Robby Anderson will be contending with Marshon Lattimore most of the afternoon, which leaves Kearse to line up across from a beatable Ken Crawley. Next, we should not forget that Kearse had back-to-back 100-yard games before last week's (understandable) letdown against the Broncos' stellar secondary. Likewise, the gamescript against the Saints sets up perfectly for a lot of Jets passing late in the game; Kearse may not get much in the early stages of the game, but the likely blowout nature of this game bodes well for garbage time for the Jets receivers. At $4.0K, Kearse is the more attractive cash game option because a 5/60/0 game gets you close to the 3x value you need with him on your roster.
- Antonio Brown (vs. NE): Much like Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown does not need much justification for DFS purposes. The veteran has a whopping eight 100-yard games this season and has been matchup-proof for much of his career. Bill Belichick may try to key on him, but it has not worked over the four games that Brown has played against New England; in those four games, Brown has averaged 23.2 points and surpassed 100-receiving yards and/or scored a touchdown in every one of them. With questions lingering regarding JuJu Smith-Schuster's status (hamstring), Brown becomes a must-play if JuJu is not able to suit up on Sunday.
WR GPP OVERVIEW:
- Adam Thielen (vs. CIN): It appears that there may have been a changing of the guard in the receiving corps in Minnesota this season. Through 14 games, Adam Thielen has bested former WR1, Stefon Diggs, in all but two games this season. Thielen leads the team in targets (125), receptions (80), and receiving yards (1,162), although Diggs has a 5-4 lead in touchdowns due to a pair of 2-touchdown games in September. Both have a plush matchup against a Bengals defense that is decimated with injuries, but Thielen gets the slight nod because of his established rapport with Case Keenum and recent success.
- Josh Gordon (vs. BAL): After starting the first half with 3 catches for 69 yards and a score last week, Josh Gordon went scoreless in the second half and finished with a somewhat disappointing 15.9 fantasy points. That said, Gordon was tripped on a deep play and was the victim of a non-call pass-interference play, both of which resulted in zero fantasy points, but could have pushed Gordon north of 30 fantasy points on the afternoon. Without Jimmy Smith, the Ravens will try to cover Gordon with a mixture of Brandon Carr and Marlon Humphrey, neither of whom have the requisite speed or overall skillset to contain Gordon. If Kizer can find him, Gordon will throttle this shallow secondary.
- Marqise Lee (vs. HOU): Because of the lack of value at the wide receiver position, Dede Westbrook is going to be a popular option in both cash and GPP options this weekend. The WR1 in Jacksonville is still Marqise Lee, however, and he is $700 more expensive than Westbrook, which will drive his ownership levels far below Westbrook despite similar upside. Both receivers have excellent matchups against a Houston secondary that has allowed 22% more fantasy points to the wide receiver position than league average after adjustment for strength of schedule, but Lee represents the stronger GPP option for game strategy (ownership) reasons. If Leonard Fournette misses this game (he has not practiced all week), Lee should jump to the top of your GPP candidate list.
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Delanie Walker||5200||9%||1||1||Mr. Consistency. Double-digit FPs in six of last seven games.|
|Charles Clay||3000||8%||2||5||Excellent matchup vs. 29th DVOA TE defense. Punt option.|
|Rob Gronkowski||7300||15%||-||2||Do not be deterred by PIT's #1 ranking vs. TEs. Matchup-proof.|
|Zach Ertz||6000||8%||-||6||NYG = Friendly to TEs all season. "Foles Effect" is bigger question.|
|Jimmy Graham||4900||16%||-||4||Borderline cash-viable. 25 redzone targets = most in NFL.|
|Greg Olsen||4000||8%||-||3||Recency bias will keep him underowned. Question is health?|
|Vernon Davis||3900||8%||-||10||Targets vary widely from week-to-week.|
|Stephen Anderson||3500||1%||-||7||18 targets over past two weeks. QB play is the issue.|
|Jesse James||2900||6%||-||9||Surprise with 12 targets in last game. 6'7" frame = redzone target.|
|David Njoku||2700||2%||-||8||20% of targets are inside redzone. BAL DEF: 31st DVOA vs. TEs.|
- Delanie Walker (vs. SF): Rostering a tight end in Week #15 is a tough task, particularly for cash games. Of the available options, Delanie Walker appears to be the safest call due to a string of steady, if unspectacular, performances. Over his previous seven games, Walker has logged double-digit fantasy points in six of those contests with the lone exception being a 9.2-point performance last week. He will face a 49er defense that has allowed six touchdowns to opposing tight ends over their previous seven games. He is affordable at $5.2K and in line for some positive scoring regression towards his lifetime average as the season winds to a close.
- Charles Clay (vs. MIA): Only the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and New York Giants allow more normalized points to the tight end position than the Miami Dolphins. This week, Charles Clay gets a chance to find paydirt against the Dolphins, who have allowed tight ends to score in six of their previous eight games. Clay has been relatively quiet over the latter part of the season, but some of that could be attributed to getting back to 100% speed after missing five weeks with a knee injury, the lackluster play of Nathan Peterman, and last week's "Snow Bowl" that largely eliminated the passing game. At $3.0K, he represents a viable punt play at the tight end position without fear of landing you a goose-egg in the scoring column.
- Rob Gronkowski (vs. PIT): The Steelers rate out as the best overall defense against the tight end position (Normalized Strength of Schedule and DVOA), but those metrics simply do not matter when we are talking about a transcendent talent like Rob Gronkowski. Furthermore, Ryan Shazier will miss yet another game, which will not help the Steelers cover an otherwise matchup-proof Gronkowski. In five career games against the Steelers, Gronk has demolished them with an average of 6 receptions for 99.2 yards and 1.6 touchdowns per game (25.5 DraftKings points per game). If Bill Belichick were a bit more predictable, Gronkowski's name would appear in the cash game overview, but we never can get inside Belichick's head, which makes Gronk a GPP-only play.
|NAME||SALARY||OWNERSHIP||CASH RANK||GPP RANK||NOTES|
|Redskins||2800||6%||1||2||Gabbert has taken 14 sacks over past two games. Cheap.|
|Jaguars||4500||12%||2||1||Best defense on the board, but it'll cost you.|
|Vikings||3500||11%||3||4||Poor personnel matchups everywhere for Cincy.|
|Saints||3900||12%||-||3||NYJ: 2nd lowest implied team total w/Bryce Petty at QB.|
|Eagles||3600||8%||-||5||NYG appear to have given up on season. PHL = motivated.|
|Bills||3300||5%||-||7||Classic letdown spot on road for MIA after big MNF win vs. NE.|
|49ers||2600||2%||-||6||Strange line from Vegas--bad omen for TEN offense?|
|Browns||2600||2%||-||8||CLE can win this one vs. very average BAL offense. Punt flyer.|
- Redskins (vs. ARZ): Over the past two weeks, Blaine Gabbert has absorbed a total of 14 sacks against the Titans and Rams; each of those defenses logged double-digit points in those contests (12- and 17-points, respectively), which makes the Redskins an intriguing option at only $2.8K this weekend. Washington does not boast a top-end defense, but they are 4-point home favorites against an offense that is starting Blaine Gabbert at QB, Kerwynn Williams at RB, and has only one legitimate receiver in Larry Fitzgerald. All of this puts the Redskins in play as a cost-saving option at the team defense position in Week #15.
- Jaguars (vs. HOU): If you have the money to spend, the Jaguars are the defense you want this Sunday (and pretty much every Sunday leading up to this Sunday). They will host a Houston Texans team led by T.J. Yates, who has started only two games since 2011. Last week, Yates filled in well for the concussed Tom Savage, but that was against the 49ers, whose defensive personnel cannot hold a candle to this Jaguars unit. After stumbling a bit against the Seahawks last weekend, we should expect the Jags to rebound nicely in this contest and double-digit fantasy production is almost guaranteed.
- Vikings (vs. CIN): Another team that took a misstep last week was the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings allowed Jonathan Stewart to trounce them for his first 100-yard game of the season alongside 3 rushing touchdowns. It was, without a doubt, Minnesota's worst defensive performance of the season and surely a wakeup call for a team that had strung together eight consecutive victories prior to that loss. The Vikes will bounce back at home against a Bengals squad that will be without Joe Mixon and matches up poorly elsewhere (A.J. Green versus Xavier Rhodes, Brandon LaFell versus Terence Newman, and Giovani Bernard versus 11th DVOA rush defense); this is the same Bengals offense that allowed the lowly Bears defense to score 11.0 fantasy points just one week ago.