DraftKings GPP Domination: Week 9

Looking for edges in DraftKings tournaments.

WEEK 9 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:

  • There will be more spending at quarterback than usual. With the news Deshaun Watson tore his ACL, the three remaining highest priced players at the position-- Russell Wilson, Drew Brees, and Dak Prescott -- are also likely to be the three highest-owned. 
  • Ezekiel Elliott is back in the player pool, increasing the likelihood entrants will spend big at RB1 and RB2. After Elliott, Kareem Hunt, Todd Gurley, Mark Ingram II, and Leonard Fournette, running back options dry up pretty quickly. Elliott’s surprise return to the active roster should decrease ownership of running backs in the $5K-$6.5K range, making it viable to choose a high-priced quarterback, his most obvious stacking partner, and an elite RB1, while choosing an RB2 from an overlooked pricing tier.
  • DeAndre Hopkins costs 18% more than Julio Jones -- the second-highest-priced wide receiver on the slate -- and now has the stink of Tom Savage on him. Jones and Mike Evans have done little to justify near-$8K salaries this year, and A.J. Green has an awful matchup vs. Jacksonville after letting down 30% of the field in Week 8. With the majority of spending likely to occur on high-end running backs, it’s a good time to strike on expensive wide receivers from a game theory perspective.
  • Tight end is loaded with enticing options this week, but it’s tough to fit in Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce due to a tight cap. They will each attract plenty of ownership individually, but won’t appear in the most commonly constructed rosters. The heaviest ownership should settle in the $5K-and-below range, with Jimmy Graham and Jack Doyle leading the way after their impressive performances last week.

With these points in mind, the clearest path to a unique roster is to simply choose a quarterback in the low-$6K range. Carson Wentz and a healthy-off-the-bye Marcus Mariota are high ceiling home favorites with solid implied team totals. Both can help you cut the chalk, and stacking Wentz with Ertz in particular, is sure to get you spending in a different direction than your opponents. Another option is to roster any three of Elliott, Hunt, Gurley, Ingram, or Fournette and punt quarterback altogether with one of several sub-$5K options, such as Drew Stanton or (gasp) Brock Osweiler. You’ll have to hold your nose while clicking on either of them, but each has an excellent passing matchup, cheap stacking partners, and will be completely off your opponent’s collective radars.

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). Due to the breaking news that shifted the dynamics of this slate late in the week, make sure to look out for updated ownership percentages on Saturday.

QB: Russell Wilson (vs. WAS, $7,300, 16% owned) - Watson’s season-ending injury will cause more ownership to settle on Wilson after he lit up Houston for a 452-4-1 passing line in Week 8. Wilson is prone to throw in a dud every now and then, though he’s been consistently great for fantasy purposes since Week 3, scoring between 29 and 39 fantasy points in all games but one. Washington hasn’t been the best matchup for opposing passing games, but they’ll have to be better than their middle-of-the-road DVOA ranking (16th) if they hope to slow down Wilson and his emerging stable of weapons. The addition of All-Pro left tackle Duane Brown (by most accounts Houston’s best offensive player last season) can only help Wilson do what he does best -- extend plays, improvise, and throw deep. PFF rates Wilson the fifth-best quarterback on pass attempts targeted 20 or more yards downfield. If you’re making 30 lineups, get Wilson on five or six.

RB: Kareem Hunt (@ IND, $8,600, 20% owned) - The surprising stay of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension will keep Hunt from being mega-chalky. Hunt and Todd Gurley (see below) are the only running backs averaging over 20 touches per game and over 1 fantasy point per touch. Dallas ranks 18th in raw fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs but slips down to 8th when normalized for strength of schedule. Since Week 4, the Cowboys have allowed 215 total yards and 1 touchdown to Todd Gurley, a 19-125-1 line to Aaron Jones, and Carlos Hyde (4.9 yards per attempt) would have gotten over on them in Week 7 if not for a disastrous game script. Of the running backs Dallas has faced this season, Hunt’s usage in both the running and passing games most closely resembles Gurley’s. Matched up against the 30th ranked rush defense (DVOA) and buoyed by positive game script (Pick ‘em, over/under 51 points), Hunt is in line for his first blow-up game since Week 3. He warrants heavy exposure.

RB: Todd Gurley (@ NYG, $8,100, 16% owned) - Even with Janoris Jenkins suspended and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie struggling, the biggest weakness of the Giants defense remains their 24th ranked run stopping unit (DVOA). It may appear New York has stiffened against the run in recent games, but since Melvin Gordon III destroyed them to the tune of 163 total yards and 2 touchdowns in Week 5, the Giants have faced Denver in the wonkiest game of the season, and Seattle, who can’t run on anyone. Gurley should have fresh legs coming off the bye and will resume his monstrous workload (24.6 touches per game). One concern is the Giants trail only Denver for the lowest opponent rushing touchdown percentage in the league (11.76%), but we should expect some regression towards the norm moving forward since New York also allows the eighth-most schedule adjusted carries per game to opposing running backs. Don’t get caught with less Gurley than the field.

WR: Dez Bryant (vs. KC, $6,400, 14% owned) - Bryant’s price is down $1,300 from last week after a difficult matchup against Josh Norman and Washington’s secondary. He no longer has the added appeal of inheriting Elliott’s vacated scoring chances, but Bryant leads the NFL in both red zone targets and targets from inside the opponent’s 10-yard line with Elliott on the field in every game. The Chiefs benched struggling cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Phillip Gaines in favor of Steven Nelson and Kenneth Acker last week. Nelson is unquestionably an upgrade on Gaines, but won’t impact Bryant much while lining up at nickel corner. Acker, however, is a former sixth-round pick who had played all of 18 snaps this season before Mitchell’s poor play forced Andy Reid’s hand. Here is Reid’s “endorsement” of Acker after last week’s game, in which the third-year pro was targeted on a league-high 32% of his coverage snaps (per PFF): “Acker did some nice things”, Reid said. “He’s got a few things he needs to work on.” Bryant is clearly mispriced. He has a great matchup and will be a focal point for the Cowboys in the projected highest scoring game on the slate. Make him one of your top wide receiver exposures.

TE: Jimmy Graham (vs. WAS, $5,000, 14% owned) - Graham has scored between 10 and 20 fantasy points in each of the last five games, yet remains the same price as Ted Ginn Jr. He’s going to be a popular option coming off his best game of the season, especially once the crowd digs into this week’s matchup. The exceptional play of outside corners Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland force opponents to target the middle of the field vs. Washington. On the season, only three teams allow a higher tight end target rate (25%) and just one team allows more yards per pass attempt to the position. Seattle is at home, favored by a touchdown, and 75% of their season-to-date touchdowns have come via the pass. It would almost be surprising if Graham didn’t find the end zone in this spot. Tight end is almost always an easy spot to differentiate, but you should go at least even with the field on Graham.

D/ST: Philadelphia Eagles (vs. DEN, $3,300, 19% owned) - The Eagles rank fifth in cumulative fantasy scoring on DraftKings this season, are favored by more than a touchdown at home and were set to face off with Trevor Siemian, who put some truly horrific play on film over the last month. How on earth Philadelphia wasn’t one of the three highest-priced defenses before Brock Osweiler was announced as Denver’s starter is anyone’s guess. Based on our ownership projections, the crowd hasn’t forgotten Osweiler’s 59% completion rate and 16 interceptions from a year ago. Just be careful not to get too caught up in the Osweiler narrative. His numbers in Denver weren’t awful, and as long as he’s not asked to single-handedly win the game, it’s possible he can connect with Demaryius Thomas and/or Emmanuel Sanders against a generous Eagles secondary. Defense is the highest variance position in fantasy football. Any time you see one this high-owned, the play is to fade relative to the field.

MORE CHALK PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Dak Prescott QB KC $6,700 7% Vegas sees shootout. Great matchup.
Drew Brees QB TB $7,000 10% Still Brees. Still in the dome. TB weakness is vs. the pass.
Mark Ingram II RB TB $7,600 29% Hasn't failed yet since Peterson trade.
Leonard Fournette RB CIN $8,400 18% Game script could produce multiple easy touchdowns.
Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL $9,000 24% He's back (again) and KC has the 31st ranked rush defense.
Doug Baldwin WR WAS $6,900 20% Tough draw vs. WAS corners. Wilson inflates ownership.
T.Y. Hilton WR @HOU $4,900 15% Less shootout potential with no Watson, but price & matchup still work.
Jack Doyle TE @HOU $4,300 19% Not point chasing. At least 7 targets in each of last four games.
Jacksonville Jaguars D/ST CIN $3,800 10% Bengals offensive line should consider calling in sick.

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 Wentz (vs. DEN, $6,100, 5% owned) - Quarterback box scores against Denver haven’t been pretty this season, but the case can be made for Wentz as the best point per dollar value at the position this week. Wentz has provided at least a 3x multiple of his current salary in each of the last four weeks. With the exception of San Francisco (in a bad weather game) last week, his opponents over that span -- Arizona, Carolina, and Washington -- were hardly pushovers. Denver’s reputation as a pass defense to avoid precedes them, but they’ve dropped to 13th in pass defense DVOA. Vegas has the Eagles pegged for nearly 26 points this week, and it’s doubtful many (any?) will come on the ground against the Broncos, who are the only team yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season. 76% of Philadelphia’s touchdowns have come via the pass, putting the possibility of an unexpected three-touchdown performance from Wentz very much in play.

RB: DeMarco Murray (vs. BAL, $5,400, 7% owned) - No player needed the bye week more than Murray, who is back practicing in full after playing through nagging hamstring and shoulder injuries. Even with numerous bumps and bruises, Murray was in clear control of Tennessee’s backfield in their last game before the bye. He saw 60% of the team’s snaps to Derrick Henry’s 42% and 21 total touches to Henry’s 15. This week’s matchup against Baltimore will be perceived as worse than it actually is. The Ravens have allowed the eighth-most normalized fantasy points to opposing running backs over the last five games, including huge rushing lines to Le'Veon Bell (35-144-2), Jordan Howard (36-167-0), and Latavius Murray of all people (18-113-1). Murray should be boosted by a positive game script. Tennessee is favored by 3.5 points at home, their implied total is good enough at 23.25 points, and they’ve had two weeks to prepare.

RB: Christian McCaffrey (vs. ATL, $6,500, 16% owned) - 19% of Carolina’s season-to-date targets have been vacated in the wake of the Kelvin Benjamin trade. When Benjamin was limited to 12% of the snaps after leaving injured in Week 3, McCaffrey went on to see 11 targets and recorded his only 100-yard receiving performance. It’s a safe bet McCaffrey sees a significant usage boost in Benjamin’s absence, and we always want a piece of pass-catching running backs against the Falcons. 26% of targets against Atlanta have gone to running backs -- the third-highest rate in the league. As a result, they’ve allowed four separate running backs to accumulate five or more catches in a single game. Questions have arisen about whether or not McCaffrey was worth the eighth pick in the NFL Draft, but those are irrelevant for our purposes. If he’s seeing double-digit targets and 5-10 rushes per game, McCaffrey -- who has at least 22 fantasy points in both games he’s received at least 10 targets -- is well worth our investment in DraftKings’ PPR scoring format.

WR: Cooper Kupp (@NYG, $4,500, 7% owned) - Kupp might not have the highest ceiling, but 4x his affordable salary is well within his range of outcomes, making him a solid glue guy for GPP lineups. As previously mentioned, the Giants suspended their best cornerback, Janoris Jenkins, for this game. The loss of Jenkins hurts New York’s defense in aggregate and helps Kupp, whether he lines up on the outside (as he did more frequently in Week 7) or in his usual slot role, where Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has struggled in coverage this season. Kupp is quietly only a single red zone target behind Bryant for the league lead, which matters against a shorthanded Giants defense that has allowed a staggering 83% of their touchdowns via the pass.

WR: Julio Jones (@ CAR, $7,800, 11% owned) - Jones hasn’t been priced this low on DraftKings since Week 16 of the 2014 season. While the discount is certainly warranted, it’s also an indication one of the best wide receivers in the game will be lightly owned. Even in a matchup against the Panthers seventh-ranked pass defense, Jones’ upside remains more or less unmatched. He hung a 12-300-1 line on these same Panthers outside cornerbacks in Week 4 last season. While James Bradberry, who is expected to shadow Jones this week, has improved a great deal since then, he’s hardly a shutdown corner. PFF ranks Bradberry’s coverage 46th out of 73 qualifiers. Contrary to public perception, embattled Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has made good on his promise to involve Jones more in the red zone. Last season, Jones’ paltry 12.4% red zone target market share tied for fourth on the team. This year, despite the lack of touchdowns, he leads Atlanta with 25% of their red zone looks. While Jones might end up inheriting some of the ownership DeAndre Hopkins will leave behind sans Watson, this is still a spot to double the field on your exposure.

TE: Delanie Walker (vs. BAL, $4,900, 4% owned) - Investing in Walker this week means staying glued to the news cycle. As of Thursday, he still hadn’t practiced through his ankle injury, an especially troubling sign since the Titans are coming off a bye. If he’s able to suit up on Sunday, Walker will face the Ravens 32nd ranked tight end defense (DVOA). The discrepancy between Baltimore’s actual fantasy points and normalized fantasy points (adjusted for strength of schedule) allowed to tight ends is the largest at the position, and Walker is easily the most talented tight end the Ravens have faced this year. Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce are the only tight ends who have seen a larger share of their team’s targets than Walker, who (like Murray) gets a boost from the implied game script. If Walker is ruled out, Tennessee backup Jonnu Smith ($3,400) should be on your short list. Smith has flashed as a receiver in limited opportunities as a rookie and is capable of exploiting the plus matchup.

D/ST: Arizona Cardinals ($3,500, @ SF, 10% owned) - In C.J. Beathard’s two starts, opposing defenses (Dallas and Philadelphia) have scored 15 and 20 fantasy points against the 49ers, respectively. Beathard has been sacked 11 times across his three appearances and completed less than 53% of his passes. Sacks and poorly thrown balls are usually a precursor to turnovers. While Arizona’s $1,100 price increase from Week 7 hints at high ownership, it’s difficult to fade them -- even on the road -- with two weeks to prepare for Beathard.

MORE CORE PLAYS

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Alex Smith QB DAL $6,500 7% Crushing plus passing matchups since Week 1.
Carlos Hyde QB ARI $5,200 13% Finally a neutral game script. Still running well.
Alvin Kamara RB TB $6,300 17% Elite 1.35 fantasy points per touch. We haven't seen his ceiling.
Emmanuel Sanders WR @PHI $5,700 5% Strong rapport with Osweiler in 2015.
Tyreek Hill WR @DAL $6,700 10% Exactly the type of WR who causes major problems for DAL.
Cameron Brate TE @NO $4,500 9% Double digit DK points in all games but one.
Zach Ertz TE DEN $6,800 9% DEN allows 4th-most normalized fantasy points to TEs.
LA Rams D/ST @NYG $3,100 6% Giants o-line no match for Aaron Donald.

CONTRARIAN PLAYS

These players will appear in a small percentage of your opponent’s line-ups. They're high variance plays, but the greater your exposure, the farther your teams will separate from the pack if they have big games.

QB: Drew Stanton (@SF, $4,700, 2% owned) - Before you snicker, when Stanton last stepped in for Carson Palmer in 2014, he was good for a 244-2-0 line in a start against the 49ers. While the only thing the 2014 49ers share in common with the current version is the color of their laundry, there’s reason to be optimistic about Stanton priced near the site minimum. Bruce Arians is not going to change the game plan for Stanton, who has a live arm, but rarely knows where the ball is going to end up (career 53% completion rate). Over an eight-start sample in 2014, 60% of Stanton’s passing yardage came at the catch point. Only two quarterbacks who totaled at least 1,000 passing yards that season had a higher percentage of air yards. It’s a long way of saying there will be splash play opportunities for the Cardinals this week against a terrible San Francisco secondary. The 49ers have allowed 45% more fantasy points than the league average to opposing quarterbacks over the last three weeks.

RB: Doug Martin (@NO, $5,800, 5% owned) - Jameis Winston has a gimpy shoulder and the only sensible game plan for Tampa Bay is to try keeping Drew Brees off the field. If this game goes off script, it will be because Martin is able to exploit New Orleans’ 29th ranked rush defense (DVOA). Martin has run strong since coming back from suspension but is coming off back-to-back meetings with the top-10 run defenses of Buffalo and Carolina, respectively. The Saints have allowed Aaron Jones and Jordan Howard to break the 100-yard rushing mark in each of their last two games, a weakness that won’t be lost on Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter. Martin is priced as the perfect contrarian RB2 for lineups that spend heavy at QB, RB1, and WR1.

WR: John Brown (@ SF, $4,200, 2% owned) - Both of Stanton’s touchdowns in that 2014 San Francisco game went to John Brown, then in his rookie year. Stanton didn’t completely destroy Brown’s fantasy value over his eight-game sample as the Cardinals starter. Brown managed a reception of 20+ yards in five of the eight games he played with Stanton. Arians’ aforementioned propensity for calling deep throws favors Brown, whose 14-yard aDOT nearly doubles Larry Fitzgerald’s (7.7 yards). The Cardinals have had an extra week to prepare for the 49ers and the bye week can only have helped Brown, who has once again dealt with nagging injuries this season. The ceiling admittedly isn’t very high for the Stanton-Brown stack, but 35 combined points are all it takes to pay off their minimal salaries, and you can fit at least three studs around them in your lineup.

D/ST: Cincinnati Bengals (@ JAX, $2,800, 3% owned) - The crowd will be all over the Jaguars side of this matchup and forget the Bengals are playing against Blake Bortles. Cincinnati has scored between 8-and-14 fantasy points in four of their previous five games. If Andy Dalton can avoid script altering turnovers and the Bengals top-10 rush defense can limit Leonard Fournette, Jacksonville will have no choice but to lean on Bortles, which rarely ends well. In a week with few viable contrarian options, the Bengals -- who have at least four sacks in three separate games this season -- are a viable punt.

MORE CONTRARIAN PLAYS:

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Marcus Mariota QB BAL $6,000 2% Should have mobility back following bye week.
Brock Osweiler QB @PHI $4,500 1% You have permission to laugh. Min price vs. beatable secondary.
Marlon Mack RB @HOU $4,100 4% Can take it to the house on any play. 11 targets in last 2 games. 
Donte Moncrief WR @HOU $3,200 2% Still playing WR2 snaps. HOU 30th ranked DVOA vs. WR2s.
A.J. Green WR @JAX $7,400 9% Always in play on the road. Pay up to be contrarian.
Aldrick Robinson WR ARI $4,000 1% Garcon leaves behind target void. Peterson blanketing Goodwin.
New Orleans Saints D/ST TB $3,400 3% Winston doesn't need bad shoulder to throw picks, but has one.