DraftKings GPP Domination: Week 4

Looking for edges in DraftKings tournaments.

WEEK 4 TOURNAMENT VALUE CHART

The chart below is a value guide for this week’s DraftKings tournaments. In an effort to help the widest range of players, only tournaments ranging from $1-to-$100 buy-ins are listed. The color scaling favors lesser entry fees, lower entry limits, and flatter payout structures since these tournaments generally represent the best return on investment for average DFS players. But remember it’s important to consider your specific strengths and goals when choosing which tournaments to enter.

Do you excel at GPP roster construction and game theory? Then don’t avoid GPPs like the Millionaire Maker due to high entry limits and a top-heavy payout structure -- you can still profit in these types of tournaments while giving yourself a shot at a life-changing payday. Therefore, cells in red do not indicate tournaments to avoid. The color scaling serves primarily to highlight the differences between tournaments, which will make it easier for you to identify the best ones to enter based on your individual skills and goals.

 

ROSTER CONSTRUCTION

Before constructing your own GPP lineups, it’s important to consider how most of your opponents will be making theirs. Due to the salary cap, figuring out the most common roster construction each week isn’t necessarily as simple as looking at a list of projected ownership percentages for individual players.

This week, there are a few near-certainties when it comes to how most people will build their rosters:

  1. Quarterback ownership will be even flatter than usual. Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers are all in great matchups, but none of them are available on the main slate. Most people will choose between paying up for Tom Brady ($8,000) or dropping down to a slew of similarly projected quarterbacks in the $5,000-$6,000 range (Dak Prescott, Carson Palmer, Trevor Siemian, and Tyrod Taylor to name a few). Given the abundance of low-priced options, the majority are likely to pay down at quarterback this week, even if Brady still ends up the highest owned player at the position.
  2. Larry Fitzgerald exploded for 36.9 DraftKings points on Monday Night Football after DraftKings had already released Week 4 pricing. As a result, his price actually came down by $300 from last week, making him a clear chalk play at wide receiver. Those who didn’t spend big for Brady can pair their low-priced quarterback with Fitzgerald, plus a high-end RB1 and WR1 pretty easily (Ezekiel Elliott and A.J. Green seem like the most likely candidates).
  3. Tight end is a mess. Rob Gronkowski will be popular in Brady stacks but fitting him onto a roster with an RB/WR combo in the Elliott/Green salary tier requires choosing multiple running backs and/or wide receivers in the $4,000 range on a slate lacking many viable options. Like quarterback, tight end ownership will be spread out this week, with Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, and less expensive options like Charles Clay and Evan Engram the most popular plays.

Without clear chalk at two separate positions, roster construction will vary more than usual. But on a week where most folks are likely to pay down at quarterback, spend at RB1, WR1, and take the free square on Fitzgerald, it feels like a week to mine the middle tiers and create balanced rosters, in an effort to zig while your opponents zag.

WHAT ABOUT THE CHALK?

Assuming you plan on making multiple GPP lineups each week, your decision on highly-owned players usually isn’t whether to fade them completely, but rather how much exposure you want to them in comparison to their projected ownership.

Some suggestions on how to treat this week’s chalk plays (ownership percentages based on Steve Buzzard’s projections)

QB: Tom Brady (vs. CAR, $8,000, 13% owned) - Brady is the most appealing high-end quarterback on the slate. After back-to-back 30+ point performances, he’ll be irresistible to casual players with the Patriots hosting Carolina as a heavy favorite (-9). The Panthers pass defense looked improved from 2016 against Brian Hoyer and Tyrod Taylor but predictably failed their first real test of the season, allowing Drew Brees to complete 76% of his passes and throw for three touchdowns in Week 3. Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, and Chris Hogan are too much for Carolina’s inexperienced secondary, especially at Foxboro. The only question is how you’ll feel about the rest of your roster after paying up for Brady and one of his expensive stacking partners. While spending less at quarterback makes sense this week, Brady’s upside is substantially higher than any other player at the position. If 13% of the tournament field is using Brady, you should have 20% or more.

RB: Ezekiel Elliott (vs. LAR, $8,200, 33% owned) - Elliott is the mega-chalk this week. He meets every criterion we look for in a DFS running back -- highly skilled, playing at home, his team is a heavy favorite (-8) with a high implied point total (27.25), and he has an absolute stranglehold on the Cowboys backfield work. Elliott’s 22.3 total touches per game rank third in the league and his 91.8% backfield workload market share is highest of any running back. To top it off, he’s facing the Rams, who have allowed the most raw fantasy points per game to opposing running backs this season despite facing the punchless running games of Indianapolis and Washington. Anytime a player is as highly owned as Elliott will be this week, fading is usually the right play in tournaments (LeSean McCoy looks like a good pivot). But Elliott’s spot looks so good on paper, having less than the field is a scary proposition.

RB: Dalvin Cook (vs. DET, $6,500, 27% owned) - Cook ranks second in the league, above Elliott, in total touches per game with 23.7 and with Sam Bradford still sidelined he’ll remain the engine of the Vikings offense against Detroit’s middle of the road run-stopping unit. The Vikings opened as 1.5 point favorites, suggesting a neutral game script between these evenly matched teams. Cook should have no problem getting his usual allotment of touches versus the Lions, who just allowed Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman to roll up a combined 227 scrimmage yards against them in Week 3 (6.9 yards per touch). Detroit’s 222 receiving yards allowed to opposing running backs is third-most in the league, raising Cook’s PPR ceiling. He’s been targeted five times in two of the Vikings three games and flashed his pass-catching chops by catching all 5 of his targets for 72 yards in last week’s matchup with Tampa Bay. Cook is one of the few true bell cows on the slate and he’s priced well enough to use as an RB1 in Brady lineups. Play Cook about the same as the field.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (vs. SF, $6,100, 22% owned) - As previously mentioned, Fitzgerald is egregiously priced this week. There’s not much else to add except his matchup is cake. 49ers nickel corner K'Waun Williams has struggled in coverage this season and is a full six inches shorter than Fitzgerald. Despite the price and opponent both checking out, there are strong pivots at the same price point (see Golden Tate below) that make sense in tournaments if Fitzgerald is going to be the highest-owned receiver. You don’t want to be overexposed in case Carson Palmer or the Cardinals 22nd ranked offensive line (or both) fail in this spot.

WR: A.J. Green (@ CLE, $8,600, 18% owned) - New offensive coordinator Bill Lazor predictably schemed the ball to Green early and often during his first game on the job, and will continue to prioritize his best weapon moving forward. Considering what fellow upper crust wide receivers Antonio Brown (11-182-0) and T.Y. Hilton ( 7-153-1) have done to the Browns this season, expectations are justifiably high for Green in this spot. The “play Green on the road” narrative (where he’s averaged 38% more fantasy points per game in his career compared to home games) came through last week and should once again, considering the 6’4’’ Green figures to line up across from 5’9’’ Jamar Taylor on about half his routes. Make Green one of your top wide receiver exposures.

TE: Charles Clay (@ ATL, $3,700, 13% owned) - It feels strange to list Clay as a chalk play, but people have to spend down somewhere and tight end is the most likely place. Clay certainly makes sense from a volume standpoint. His 23% target market share trails only Jason Witten and Zach Ertz for the league-lead at tight end and his five red zone targets tie him with Gronkowski for most at the position. Meanwhile, Falcons opponents have targeted a tight end on 24% of their pass attempts this season -- the third highest rate in the league -- which is obviously an encouraging sign. The problem is the volume hasn’t resulted in fantasy production for tight ends facing Atlanta. Zach Miller (6 targets), Martellus Bennett (11 targets), and Eric Ebron (7 targets) all failed to reach 50 receiving yards versus the Falcons. Atlanta’s defense (13th DVOA) is more than capable of shutting down the Bills anemic pass game, making Clay an easy fade in comparison to the field. Spread out your tight end ownership evenly this week.

DEF: Cincinnati Bengals (@ CLE, $3,500, 11% owned) - Don’t stop playing the defense facing the Browns until Deshone Kizer shows he can get the ball out quickly enough to avoid sacks and turnovers. To make matters worse for Kizer, Cleveland’s offensive line has underperformed in pass protection in the season’s early going, ranking 23rd in adjusted sack rate allowed. Against a Bengals defense that sacked Aaron Rodgers six times last week, Kizer should yield multiple sacks and turnovers. Cincinnati has an extremely high floor this week, which is all you can really ask for in a defense. Make the Bengals one of the three or four defenses you put in play.

MORE CHALK PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Trevor Siemian QB  OAK $5,200 13% Combined 450 yards and 6 TDs in last two home games. OAK pass defense reeling.
Leonard Fournette RB  @NYJ $6,700 24% Jags could be sluggish after traveling back from London. Don't go overboard.
Todd Gurley RB @DAL $7,800 25% 25.3 touches per game gives him a high floor, but Rams are 8 point road dogs.
Emmanuel Sanders WR OAK $6,100 17% Dream matchup against flammable OAK CBs Amerson and Conley. 2 TD upside.
Demaryius Thomas WR OAK $6,300 15% See above. Great matchup but one red zone target through three games a concern. 
Evan Engram TE @TAM $3,000  11% Ranks 7th in total TE targets. Too cheap for projected volume.
Jacksonville Jaguars DEF @NYJ $3,600 9% Prefer the big home favorite defenses to Jags in a possible letdown spot.

CORE PLAYS

These players fall in the middle to upper-middle ownership tiers. Each has a path to top-5 numbers at their respective positions or a strong chance to exceed their salary-implied point expectation. You want more of them than your opponents.

QB: Carson Palmer (vs.SF, $6,100, 8% owned) - The wheels can fall completely off for Palmer in any given week, making him a high variance play but it’s difficult to ignore his matchup against the 49ers 30th ranked pass defense (DVOA). Palmer put in his best performance of the season (325-2-0) at home against the Cowboys last week. He’s at home again in Week 4 with the Cardinals favored by a touchdown and implied to score a solid 25.5 points. When you consider Arizona has scored two-thirds of their touchdowns via the pass this season and have the third-highest pass play percentage in the league (which should continue for as long as David Johnson is hurt and their offensive line can’t run block), Palmer has a clear path to 300 yards and two touchdowns. If Jared Goff can light up the 49ers on their home field (292-3-0), Palmer is positioned to 4x his salary for a second consecutive week.

RB: Christian McCaffrey (@ NE, $6,800 12% owned) - The Patriots (and their plodding linebackers) are allowing 11 yards per pass attempt to running backs, the second-worst rate in the league. Kareem Hunt annihilated New England through the air (5-98-2), followed by the combo of Mark Ingram II and Adrian Peterson (7-75-0). Then it was D’Onta Foreman’s turn to break a pair of 30+ yard catch-and-runs against the Patriots last week. With Cam Newton struggling to complete passes downfield, the Panthers offense is running through McCaffrey (4.0 aDOT), who recorded his first 100-yard receiving game last week. McCaffrey’s 25.8% team target market share is the highest of any running back and since the Panthers likely to be playing from behind in Foxboro, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he saw more than his usual 65-70% of the team’s running back snaps. A season-high salary and Kelvin Benjamin’s return to a full practice on Thursday takes a little bit of the shine off McCaffrey, but he’s still a core play matched up against a Patriots defense allowing 54% more fantasy points per game to running backs than the league average.

Update: It's been reported linebacker Dont'a Hightower will return for New England this week, lowering McCaffrey's ceiling appreciably. It doesn't make him a complete fade, but you should lower your shares of McCaffrey.

RB: LeSean McCoy (@ ATL, $8,400, 17% owned) - While a road game in Atlanta sets up as a poor spot for the Bills downfield receivers, quite the opposite is true for McCoy. The Falcons rank 31st in rush defense DVOA and have allowed the fourth-most PPR fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. Under normal circumstances, McCoy would be the chalk in this matchup, but Elliott is in the same price range, Cook is much cheaper, and frankly, McCoy has been awful lately. Over the last two weeks, McCoy has combined for just 30 yards on 26 carries. Last week, he ceded 11 rush attempts to Mike Tolbert. But McCoy’s opponents in the last two games -- Carolina and Denver -- are two of the top-5 rush defenses in the league. Even if new Bills offensive coordinator Rick Dennison’s blocking scheme is taking time to gel, his play calling has a been a boost to McCoy in PPR formats. He’s racked up at least six targets and five receptions in every game this season, which plays right into this week’s implied game script, as well as the weakness of Atlanta’s defense. The Falcons have allowed a combined 7 receptions and 60+ receiving yards to every backfield they’ve faced. In a spot where he should remain immune to game flow, McCoy can be used as a pivot off Elliott or in conjunction with him to differentiate your lineup.

WR: Golden Tate (@ MIN, $6,300, 17% owned) - Tate has a plus matchup in the slot against 39-year old Terrance Newman this week. As a team, the Vikings rank 27th in pass defense DVOA and lead the league in both receptions and yardage allowed to wide receivers. The only game in which Tate failed to reach double-digit targets this season was in Week 2 against the Giants, where Detroit was in the driver’s seat most of the game and Matthew Stafford only had to attempt 21 passes. Tate is a PPR monster, has a great matchup, and is priced perfectly for the type of balanced roster builds that will be closer to the exception this week. His $600 drop from last week’s salary suggests lower ownership than his situation warrants, which almost certainly wouldn’t have been the case had his second touchdown against Atlanta not been overturned upon review.

WR: Rishard Matthews (@ HOU, $4,900, 18% owned) - Corey Davis will scratch again this week and in the other two games he was either limited or out, Matthews received 9 and 10 targets, respectively. As long as Matthews can be expected to absorb 8-10 targets, he’s a player who belongs in your lineups at a bargain price. Last season, he was extremely efficient on his team-leading 108 targets. Matthews’ 14.5 yards per reception ranked 14th in the league (minimum 75 targets) and he scored a touchdown on 8.3% of his targets, which placed him inside the top-6. In case you wondering how Matthews achieves peak efficiency, witness his 55-yard catch-and-run touchdown against Seattle last week. Losing Kevin Johnson was a huge blow for the Texans secondary, who were forced to start street free agent Johnthan Banks at cornerback last week. Without Johnson, Houston’s completion rate allowed on passes thrown at least 25 yards downfield nearly doubled the league average. Matthews -- who leads the team in air yards by a wide margin -- is set up for splash plays against the Texans.

TE: Jared Cook (@ DEN, $3,400, 12% owned) - Cooks led the Raiders in receiving yards and scored their only touchdown in last week’s ugly loss to Washington. This week’s matchup with the Broncos in Denver looks eerily similar for Oakland. Washington ranks third in rush defense DVOA and has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers. Denver has the top-ranked rush defense and hasn’t allowed an opposing wide receiver to eclipse 61 receiving yards. It’s safe to say the Raiders won’t take a run-heavy approach this week and they also won’t have much success throwing at Denver’s elite cornerbacks on the boundaries or in the slot. Passing towards the middle of the field is the path of least resistance against the Broncos defense. They’ve allowed a 61% passing success rate on tight end targets, which is the fifth-highest rate in the league (not coincidentally, Washington leads the league at 70%). The matchup clearly favors a repeat of Cook’s Week 3 performance (4.6x salary multiplier), especially since his salary has only risen by $100 since Week 1 despite his consistent target volume and two games with double-digit fantasy points.

DEF: Dallas Cowboys (vs. LAR, $2,500, 4% owned) - The Rams have yet to face a negative game script, but they travel to Dallas as seven-point underdogs this week. While the Cowboys defense is no great shakes, they’ve recorded multiple sacks in each of their games this year and limited opponents to 5.8 yards per pass attempt. LA’s offense is obviously an improved unit (35.7 points per game!), but they won’t have the benefit of facing Indianapolis or San Francisco this week. There are three other defenses on the main slate favored by at least a touchdown and all of them cost $3,200 or more. The Cowboys are clearly underpriced and we haven’t seen enough of Jared Goff this season to know for sure if he can be trusted to avoid turnovers when faced with adversity.

MORE CORE PLAYS

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Dak Prescott QB LAR $6,200 6% Dallas a big home favorite with a high implied total. Zeke leverage.
Jacquizz Rodgers RB NYG $4,400 2% Top $/touch play at running back. With Tampa D banged up, offenses could trade blows
Carlos Hyde RB @ARI $6,600 11% Matchup and game script-proof through 3 games.
Antonio Brown WR @BAL $9,300 10% Will go under-owned due to the matchup. Matchups don't apply to Brown.
Tyrell Williams WR PHI $4,400 13% Dud so far but 7 targets in 2-of-3 games, Eagles CBs are terrible.
Brandin Cooks WR CAR $7,600 10% CAR D faced first real test last week vs. NO and failed.Cooks too much for CB Worley.
Rob Gronkowski TE CAR $6,600 14% Only TE with upside to pay off $6K+ price.

CONTRARIAN PLAYS

These players will appear in a small percentage of your opponent’s line-ups. The greater your exposure to these players, the farther your teams will separate from the pack if they have big games.

QB: Eli Manning (@ TAM, $5,700, 3% owned) - In case you missed it, Case Keenum torched Tampa Bay for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns last week. While an outlier performance from a scrub quarterback doesn’t mean the Buccaneers are a defense to target, the rash of injuries they’re currently dealing with absolutely does. Three defensive starters -- linebacker Kwon Alexander (hamstring), tackle Chris Baker (flu) and cornerback Brent Grimes (shoulder) — were inactive against Minnesota. Baker and Grimes should be available this week, but Tampa lost three of their best defensive players -- linebacker Lavonte David, linebacker Kwon Alexander, and safety T.J. Ward in the Week 3 loss. To make matters even worse, tackle Gerald McCoy, defensive end Robert Ayers and cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves III III and Ryan Smith also missed portions of the loss to the Vikings, so they’ll likely be playing at less than 100%. We know the Giants will attack the Bucs through the air. They’ve called a pass on 73% of their offensive plays, which is the highest rate in the league and their quick passing offense looked rejuvenated in the second half of last week’s game against Philadelphia. With Odell Beckham back to full health, Brandon Marshall finally showing a pulse, Sterling Shepard looking explosive, and Evan Engram playing well above average for a rookie tight end, it’s a good week for heavy exposure to all Giants pass catchers, each of whom is being largely overlooked in GPPs.

RB: Duke Johnson Jr (vs. CIN, $4,500, 2% owned) - Johnson was targeted a season-high seven times in the Browns first game without Corey Coleman. And unlike Week 1, where he was used exclusively as a slot receiver, the Browns have begun to slowly integrate him into the rushing offense in the last two games. Johnson’s 6 carries have resulted in 44 yards (7.3 yards per carry) and a touchdown this season, efficiency the Browns have not seen from Isaiah Crowell (2.92 yards per carry). On a team starved for playmakers, it would make sense for Hue Jackson to continue to ramp up Johnson’s role as a runner while maintaining his capacity as Deshone Kizer’s preferred option on quick passes. Kizer was effusive in his praise of Johnson following the latter’s 22.4 fantasy point explosion against the Colts last week. "In this league, you have to make sure that the better players on your team are getting the right amount of touches," Kizer said. "For us, we know that any time the ball is in Duke’s hands, there is an ability for us to push an 8-yard gain to a 20-yard gain. We have to do whatever we can to gameplan and schematically get the ball in the matchups with one of our better guys matched up with linebackers and safeties.” It sure sounds like Week 3 was the start of a trend for Johnson and it helps that the Bengals have allowed at least six running back receptions in two of three games this year.

WR: J.J. Nelson (vs. SF, $5,600, 1% owned) - Nelson’s situation is the opposite of Fitzgerald's this week. His price increased by $300 after laying a goose egg on Dallas Monday night, which means the crowd isn’t going anywhere near him. But assuming John Brown misses at least one more game, Nelson is in a great spot for a rebound. Per Football Outsiders, the 49ers rank 31st defending the opposition’s WR2. And before his Monday night dud, Nelson had done nothing but produce fantasy points when being given significant playing time. As long as he’s on the field for his usual 65-70% of snaps (he has been limited by a hamstring injury in recent practices), Nelson -- who has six touchdowns in his last eight games -- is more than capable of exploiting the 49ers poor secondary for splash plays.

Update: Brown is expected to return this week, which will have an obvious negative impact on Nelson's snap count. He's still a GPP flier in this matchup, as Brown is unlikely to play a full complement of snaps, but if you're playing Nelson you're praying he gets loose downfield for a long touchdown.

TE: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (vs. JAX, $3,000, 5% owned) - Seferian-Jenkins returned from suspension last week to little fanfare in fantasy circles, but there were some encouraging takeaways from his season debut. He tied for the team lead in both targets (six) and receptions (five) against the Dolphins, which lends credence to the buzz he generated during training camp. This week, the Jets host the Jaguars, who have been vulnerable to tight end fantasy production due to opposing quarterbacks opting to avoid top cover corners A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey on the outside. Per Sharp Football, Jacksonville opponents have aimed 26% of their passes at tight ends -- the third highest rate in the league. Not surprisingly, they have allowed nearly 66% more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the league average through three games. We’ve seen teams returning from London without a bye week look sluggish in their next game, which gives this the smell of a trap spot for the Jaguars (Do you really trust Blake Bortles as a road favorite?). Someone in New York’s passing game will be worth playing this week, and Seferian-Jenkins -- potentially their most heavily targeted receiver -- is a prime candidate.

DEF: Tennessee Titans (@ HOU, $3,300, 3% owned) - Don’t be fooled by Deshaun Watson's huge Week 3 performance against the Patriots awful defense. Like Kizer, he holds onto the ball way too long and gifts sacks to the opposing defense. Watson has taken nine sacks in two-and-a-half games played and turned the ball over three times. Tennessee looked like a team hitting their stride last week against the Seahawks, while Houston played admirably in New England but ultimately suffered a heartbreaking loss. Look for the Titans to boat race the Texans in this game and bring their defense along for the ride.

MORE CONTRARIAN PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Marcus Mariota QB @HOU $6,400 2% TEN o-line can neutralize HOU pass rush, leaving Mariota to pick apart banged up secondary.
Bilal Powell RB JAX $4,600 14% Jumped from 1% when Forte declared out. Jags dead last in run defense DVOA.
Sammy Watkins WR @DAL $5,900 6% Must clear protocol but DAL has allowed 4th most pass plays of 20+ yards.
Brandon Marshall WR @TAM $4,600 1% 11 targets last week. Matchup against Vernon Hargreaves III is terrific.


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