DraftKings GPP Domination: Week 8

Looking for edges in DraftKings tournaments.

WEEK 8 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:

  • The national television audience just watched Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins essentially trade 30 fantasy point performances on Monday Night Football. Both quarterbacks are in pristine passing matchups this week and will see heavy ownership as a result. Tom Brady and Drew Brees are always popular brand name options, which means the crowd will either be spending at quarterback, coming down to Cousins or Russell Wilson in the mid-tier, or paying down to Tyrod Taylor or Andy Dalton. Unlike recent weeks, there are no enticing punt plays priced below $5K at the position.
  • After Ezekiel Elliott, LeSean McCoy, Le'Veon Bell, and Todd Gurley dominated the DFS landscape in Week 7, we’re going to see heavy spending at running back. Expect to see plenty of rosters with about 30% of the salary cap invested in two running back slots.
  • Using a quarterback in the $6.5K-$7K range along with two top-shelf running backs barely leaves room for a wide receiver in the A.J. Green/Julio Jones/ Mike Evans price tier. These receivers will be popular individually but will appear most frequently in lineups where entrants choose to save at quarterback with Dalton and Taylor. The most common roster construction will see significant wide receiver ownership settle in the $4K-$5.5K range, where cheap exposure can be gained to pass catchers on teams Vegas is high on (Nelson Agholor, Ted Ginn Jr, and Josh Doctson to name a few).
  • With the overall lack of screaming value plays on this slate, flexing a tight end is as viable this week as it was last week (even in cash games). As an example, Hunter Henry has scored double-digit fantasy points in each of the last three weeks, has a great matchup, and costs roughly the same price as wide receivers like Tyrell Williams and Taylor Gabriel who haven’t shown anything in the last month.

The clearest path to a unique roster on this slate is to begin your builds with two upper-crust wide receivers. Doing so forces you into the $4K-$6K range at running back, where very few of your opponents will be mining for value. With players like Green, Jones, and Evans in potential eruption spots, it’s possible to create separation while maintaining the upside required to win a tournament.

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: Carson Wentz (vs. SF, $7,400, 10% owned) - Everyone’s last memory of Week 7 is Wentz dropping dimes on Washington (32 DraftKings points) and emerging as a trendy pick for league MVP. The Eagles are at home for a second consecutive week and play host to the wretched San Francisco defense, who won’t be helped by flying across the country for a 1 pm start. The 49ers field the 29th ranked pass defense (DVOA) and have allowed over 33% more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than league average over the last five games. Philadelphia opened with the highest implied team total on the slate (29.5 points) and 81% of their offensive touchdowns have come via the pass. Wentz should absolutely be one of the five or six quarterbacks you build stacks around this week.

RB: Mark Ingram II (vs. CHI, $7,400, 19% owned) - Ingram has accounted for 34 and 24 fantasy points in the two games since Adrian Peterson was traded to the Cardinals. His price has risen accordingly but remains a tier below Ezekiel Elliott’s and LeSean McCoy’s on a slate where every ounce of cap space matters. The concern with Ingram has never been his skills, only his workload. But after recording 56 total touches over the last two games (both Saints wins), it appears Sean Payton is finally committed to giving Ingram 20+ carries per game, including goal-line work. This isn’t a spot where we should expect Payton to deviate from what’s been working for the Saints. New Orleans is favored by nine points at home against the Bears, who have improved a great deal on defense but have gotten over on some questionable opponents recently. If the Saints can build a lead and force Mitchell Trubisky into pass-first mode, it’s easy to envision a game script where Ingram reaches 30 touches and is gifted several short scoring opportunities. You should be at least even with the field on Ingram and don’t be afraid to stack him with the Saints defense.

RB: LeSean McCoy (vs. OAK, $8,700, 25% owned) - McCoy will challenge Elliott for the running back ownership crown this week after finally coming close to hitting his scoring ceiling with 122 total yards and a pair of touchdowns against Tampa Bay in Week 7. Oakland has been a middle of the road matchup for opposing running backs this season, but they’re susceptible to pass catchers out of the backfield. Enemy running backs have piled up 366 receiving yards against the Raiders, which is fifth-most in the league. McCoy has only one game below six targets all season and his 21.3% team target market share is second among running backs. The same trend that seemed to work in McCoy’s favor last week applies again in Week 8. In eight games as a home favorite since coming to Buffalo, McCoy’s fantasy points per game average increases from 15.2 points per game to 25 points per game. This isn’t a week to go underweight on McCoy.

WR: A.J. Green (vs. IND, $8,600, 25% owned) - The Colts opponent completion rate on passes thrown between 20-and-25 yards downfield is about 20% higher than league average (per airyards.com). Following this trend paid off handsomely if you rostered Allen Hurns last week and should make Green the first wide receiver you click on this week, regardless of salary or ownership. Not surprisingly, Green’s 12.8-yard average depth of target leads the team by a mile over any receiver playing meaningful snaps for the Bengals. And his monstrous 32% share of Cincinnati's targets all but guarantees it will be Green who exploits the weakness of the Indianapolis defense on downfield chunk plays. Any argument to fade Green in this spot is thin.

WR: Julio Jones (@ NYJ, $8,400, 20% owned) - Jones is a notch below Green in terms of expected ownership and production, but the drop-off may not be too steep. The Jets aren’t the doormat everyone expected in the preseason, but they’re still a plus matchup for opposing offenses, especially via the passing game. Football Outsiders ranks New York 21st defending the opposition’s WR1 (DVOA) and they’re probably worse than the bottom-third ranking suggests. Three of the Jets seven games this season have come against Buffalo, Jacksonville, and Cleveland -- teams who lack a dominant receiving option (or any receiving option really). Atlanta fans are calling for the head of first-year offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian’s best chance to earn himself some more rope is to scheme the ball into the hands of Jones, by far the most dangerous weapon at his disposal. Jones is in a great spot, but if you’re pushing all-in on one high-owned receiver this week, go with Green. Historically, the games in which Jones has smashed through his ceiling have come on Atlanta’s home turf.

TE: Tyler Kroft (vs. IND, $3,000, 14% owned) - It feels strange to list Kroft as a chalk play, but ways to save cap space are limited this week and the matchup is certainly in his favor. Targeting tight ends against Indianapolis’ defense has led us to 4x (plus) performances from George Kittle and Marcedes Lewis in two out of the last three weeks. Kroft has proven to be a more integral part of his team’s offense than either of those players. Since Tyler Eifert went down with a season-ending injury four games ago, Kroft has averaged a solid five targets per game and scored three touchdowns, with two coming from inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. Tight ends on huge home favorites with high-implied team totals carry more touchdown equity than most, and the Bengals fit the bill this week. Use Kroft for salary relief where you absolutely have to, but tight end is almost always the easiest position to separate from the pack. If Kroft is going to be about 15% owned, go with half as much exposure.

D/ST: Philadelphia Eagles ($3,800, 14% owned) - C.J. Beathard has been sacked seven times through two games as a pro. Things will almost certainly end badly for the rookie on the road against the Eagles, who have the highest adjusted sack rate in the NFL (per Football Outsiders). While Beathard has a modest three turnovers through two games, he hasn’t seen anything like the Eagles pass rush in a hostile environment. The floor looks like double-digit fantasy points for Philadelphia, which is all you can really ask from a defense in cash games or GPPs. Play the Eagles at will, if you can afford them.

MORE CHALK PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Kirk Cousins QB DAL $6,400 9% Health of o-line a concern. Dallas defense is not.
Andy Dalton QB IND $5,700 14% No better matchup for a QB than Colts defense at home.
Ezekiel Elliott RB @WAS $9,200 25% Fade relative to ownership. SF not walking back through that door.
Joe Mixon RB IND $4,700 19% Game script points to 20 touches vs. exploitable defense.
Doug Baldwin WR HOU $6,900 16% Full health coming off bye made all the difference.
Hunter Henry TE @NE $4,800 9% More fantasy points than Keenan Allen in each of last three.
Jordan Reed TE DAL $4,700 14% Finally looks like himself. DAL 31st-ranked DVOA vs. TEs.
Cincinnati Bengals D/ST IND $3,600 16% IND allows third-most schedule adjusted fantasy points to D/STs.

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: Russell Wilson (vs. HOU, $6,500, 9% owned) - Our ownership projections have Wilson even with Kirk Cousins, but Cousins is garnering more buzz throughout the industry and will likely overtake Wilson by the weekend update. Wilson has at least 29 fantasy points in three of his last four games, yet his price has mysteriously dropped by $1,500 since Week 4. The Texans defense has a strong reputation, but since losing J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus for the season, they’ve only faced the Browns in Houston -- not exactly a strong litmus test for what we can expect moving forward. Vegas implies the Seahawks are good for about 25 points, which means Deshaun Watson could be forced to continue his habit of leaving his foot on the gas until the final whistle. If this game goes over the implied total, Wilson will be the primary beneficiary. Over 73% of Seattle’s offensive touchdowns have come via the pass this season.

RB: Chris Thompson (vs. DAL, $5,800, 12% owned) - Thompson is the season-to-date RB7 on DraftKings, making him a solid value at his RB10 salary. If there were ever a matchup in which he could 4x his middling price tag, at home against Dallas is the one. The Cowboys rank 30th in pass defense DVOA to running backs. Opponents have a 60% pass success rate when targeting running backs vs. Dallas (second-highest rate in the league) and they also allow 6.4 yards per pass attempt to the position, which ranks 22nd. Thompson leads all Washington players with 22.4% of the team’s receiving yards and 25% their touchdowns through the air. He’s the perfect RB2 for balanced roster builds or an ideal RB1 for contrarian owners who invest most heavily at wide receiver. Keep an eye on the status of Washington’s starting offensive linemen. Five of the team’s six best linemen reportedly missed practice on Thursday. If they’re forced to play shorthanded up front, Cousins will have to get the ball out quickly, which favors Thompson in the short passing game.

RB: Christian McCaffrey (@ TB, $6,200, 11% owned) - McCaffrey is another mid-priced running back who does the overwhelming majority of his fantasy damage through the air. As is the case with Thompson, the setup for McCaffrey doesn’t get much better this week. Tampa Bay has the 32nd ranked overall defense (DVOA) and they’ve struggled to contain running backs who are entrenched as pass catchers on their respective teams. Tarik Cohen (8-55-0), Dalvin Cook (5-72-0), James White (7-57-0), and LeSean McCoy (5-31-0) all had big PPR days against the Buccaneers. Of course, no running back is a bigger part of their team’s passing game than McCaffrey, whose 25% target market share leads the position. Since the year 2000, the only running backs to meet or exceed McCaffrey’s 59 targets through the first seven weeks of the season are Marshall Faulk (2002), Matt Forte (2014), and Darren Sproles (2011).

WR: Amari Cooper (@ BUF, $6,600, 14% owned) - Going overweight on Cooper feels a lot like point chasing a week after he rose from the dead for 47 fantasy points. While another near-50 burger is probably out of the question, don’t be scared off by Buffalo’s 11th-ranked pass defense. Austin Lee’s Normalized Strength of Schedule raises the possibility Buffalo is playing with house money when it comes to keeping wide receivers out of the end zone. The Bills have only given up three touchdowns to opposing wideouts (second-fewest in the league) despite ranking second in schedule adjusted pass attempts, third in completions, and sixth in passing yards per game allowed. The regression has already begun with fellow WR1s A.J. Green (7-189-1) and Mike Evans (7-88-1) dominating Buffalo in each of their last two games.

WR: Alshon Jeffery (vs. SF, $6,700, 12% owned) - It’s now or never for Jeffery to reestablish his fantasy ceiling. As mentioned back in the Carson Wentz blurb, the 49ers pass defense is just atrocious. Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams, and Rashard Robinson are probably the worst collective cornerback stable in the entire league. Jeffery’s adjustment in Philadelphia has gone slowly, but there are at least some promising peripheral signs. His 24% share of the Eagles targets is a healthy number and trails only Zach Ertz (26%) for the team lead. Targets aimed at Jeffery have traveled 780 yards through the air, while the next closest Eagles receiver is at 492 (Torrey Smith). Jeffery has also seen reasonable involvement inside the red zone, where he has two touchdowns on five targets. Wentz has spread the ball amongst his wide receivers, as a byproduct of Jeffery drawing double teams and opening up the middle of the field for Ertz and Nelson Agholor (also an intriguing play this week), but he’s looking Jeffery’s way downfield and San Francisco’s secondary has not been one to limit splash plays (sixth-most passes of 20+ yards allowed).

TE: Jared Cook (@ BUF, $3,900, 6% owned) - Cook profiles as a borderline contrarian play coming off his best output of the season -- a 7-107-0 receiving line against Kansas City. Buffalo isn’t generally thought of as a defense to target tight ends against but after O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate blew them up for a combined 12-158-2 receiving line, it might be time to reconsider. The Bills opened the season by facing an Austin Seferian-Jenkins-less Jets team, Carolina in the game Greg Olsen was injured, and Denver, who rarely involves the position in the receiving game. Since Week 3, they’ve allowed a combined 8-81-0 to the combination of Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo, 7-59-0 to Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah, and of course, the aforementioned annihilation at the hands of Tampa Bay’s tight ends. Cook ranks seventh in tight end targets this season and faces off with the team ranked dead last in opponent tight end passing success rate (60%). His floor is probably higher than his ceiling, but Cook is a viable GPP pivot in a sneaky-good matchup.

DEF - Seattle Seahawks (vs. HOU, $3,200, 7% owned) - Deshaun Watson has been sensational, but he’s also a rookie quarterback making his first start in Seattle, where crowd noise is a major factor. The Seahawks have allowed only 15.7 points per game, which is tied with Jacksonville for the fewest in the league and should be able to get to Watson, even with the return of Pro Bowl left tackle Duane Brown. Watson’s tendency to hold onto the ball too long gives his long downfield connections a chance to develop, but also results in sacks and turnovers. Houston quarterbacks have been sacked on over 10% of their dropbacks this season, the third-highest rate in the league. Watson has also thrown four interceptions while under pressure, which trails only Carson Palmer and Trevor Siemian for the league-lead.

MORE CORE PLAYS

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Tyrod Taylor QB OAK $5,900 7% Came through in similar spot vs. TB last week.
Drew Brees QB  CHI $7,000 7% Too many weapons for Bears D to keep up in the dome. 
LeGarrette Blount RB SF $5,100 9% Gets the ultimate "Blount Game" script, but snap share a concern.
Alvin Kamara RB CHI $5,900 16% Emerging PPR monster. We haven't seen his ceiling yet.
Michael Thomas WR CHI $7,600 13% Most targets on Saints in every single game. 
Mike Evans WR CAR $7,900 13% Quietly up to cumulative WR5 on per game basis.
Josh Doctson WR DAL $3,900 13% One of very few viable RB or WR options under $4K. 
Zach Ertz TE SF $7,000 9%  Difficult to fit in at expense of RBs and WRs.

CONTRARIAN PLAYS

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

QB: Matt Ryan (@ NYJ, $6,800, 5% owned) - With Cousins and Wilson attracting so much ownership in the same price range, the only people paying Ryan’s asking price will be those looking to stack Julio Jones with his quarterback. Ryan has scored 20 fantasy points or less in every game this season and is coming off an embarrassing prime-time loss in last week’s Super Bowl rematch with New England. The decision to roster Ryan -- even at low ownership -- comes down to which you trust more: Sarkisian's insistence on neutering the Falcons offense (as Matt Waldman so eloquently put it), or the complete ineptitude of the Jets defense when it comes to stopping quarterbacks. Somehow, New York has allowed 34% more fantasy points to opposing signal callers than league average over the last three weeks. Their opponents in two of those games were the DeShone Kizer/Kevin Hogan pupu platter and the slightly less repugnant duo of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore. This is a get-right spot for the Falcons passing game and if it turns out not to be, we have to seriously consider trusting Atlanta players in any format, until their prices plunge.

RB: Doug Martin (vs. CAR, $5,400, 7% owned) - Martin’s price dropped $500 from last week and 65% of the tickets have come in on visiting underdog Carolina at the sportsbooks. Both factors point to Martin ending the week even lower-owned than his current projection. The Panthers rush defense is undoubtedly legit. They haven’t allowed a single running back to rush for more than 67 yards in a game this season. But Martin checks off just about every box we could ask for this week.

  • Predictable workload - Since returning from suspension in Week 5, Martin has handled 68% of Tampa Bay’s backfield touches.
  • Scoring potential - Martin has converted on both of his goal-line carries. Last week’s game was his first without a touchdown.
  • Home favorite implied to score at least three touchdowns - Tampa Bay opened as a 2.5 point favorite. The spread has only moved a half point in Carolina’s favor, despite two-thirds of bettors jumping on them. The Buccaneers 23-point implied total is borderline most weeks, but good enough on this slate.
  • Involvement as a receiver - This one’s a stretch as Charles Sims is locked into the passing down work for Tampa Bay, but Martin has been targeted three times in two of his three games and added receptions of 17 and 14 yards last week against the Bills.

The Panthers and Buccaneers have each been involved in their share of shootouts in recent weeks. If this game goes over its implied 45.5 point total, Martin has sneaky multi-touchdown upside.

WR: Deonte Thompson (vs. OAK, 3% owned) - Thompson is already second among Bills wide receivers in season-to-date receiving yards, despite being signed just last Tuesday. The rapport between Thompson and Tyrod Taylor (they played together for nearly three seasons in Baltimore) was evident in Thompson’s first game as a member of the Bills. Taylor loves throwing the ball downfield but has lacked any sort of deep threat since Sammy Watkins was traded in the preseason. Enter Thompson, who picked up chunk plays of 27, 23, and 44 yards on his way to a 4-107-0 Buffalo debut. We should expect Thompson’s performance to earn him more than the 21 offensive snaps he saw last week against Tampa Bay in an equally enticing matchup vs. Oakland’s banged up secondary. The Raiders will once again be without cornerback Gareon Conley and now David Amerson, who has given up the most fantasy points per route defended of any cornerback on this week’s slate, is questionable with a foot injury. Look for Taylor to exploit the biggest weakness Oakland has on defense. The Raiders have allowed 16 pass plays of 20+ yards this season, which is tied for fourth-most in the league.

TE: Cameron Brate (vs. CAR, $4,500, 4% owned) - Brate was overshadowed by O.J. Howard in last week’s shootout with the Bills, but still posted his fifth straight game with at least 12 fantasy points. The Panthers have allowed four touchdowns to opposing tight ends over their last three games, and scoring touchdowns are what Brate is best at. His nine red zone targets lead the league at tight end, and Brate’s 44% touchdown conversion rate on those targets are right in line with the outstanding 47% rate he posted last season. Like Martin, Brate will go under-owned due to the perceived poor matchup against Carolina, but there aren’t many other tight ends who could realistically score multiple touchdowns this week.

DEF: New Orleans Saints (vs. CHI, $3,400, 4% owned) - Mitchell Trubisky has been sacked nine times in three games as a starter and sports a dismal 50% completion rate. The Saints have tallied 14 sacks across their last four games and should benefit from a positive game script. Chicago is a nine-point underdog in the Superdome, which implies they won’t be able to get away with hiding Trubisky, as they have in their last two games (23 combined pass attempts). Trubisky being forced to keep pace with New Orleans is the most likely scenario and eventually, those sacks and poorly aimed throws are going to result in multiple turnovers. The Saints reputation for having a lousy defense should keep them fairly low-owned in the fifth-best matchup for opposing defenses when adjusted for strength of schedule.

MORE CONTRARIAN PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Cam Newton QB @TB $6,600 5% Crowd will shy away due to wonky game last week. Great matchup.
Matt Forte RB ATL $4,200 4% ATL notoriously bad vs. pass catching RBs. Led Jets RBs in snaps last week.
Dion Lewis RB LAC $4,600 5% Second in yards after contact per attempt. Chargers cannot tackle.
Devin Funchess WR @TB $5,900 7% Between 8 and 10 targets in every game since Olsen went down.
Nick O'Leary TE OAK $3,100 5% OC Rick Dennison throws to his TEs. Even O'Leary.


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