DraftKings GPP Domination: Week 11

Looking for edges in DraftKings tournaments.

WEEK 11 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 player pool is short on star power thanks to Steelers, Eagles, Cowboys, Seahawks, and Falcons players not being available on the main slate. Only two games on the slate opened with an over/under north of 50 points and just one features a double-digit favorite. When you combine the dearth of top-shelf talent with the lack of appetizing matchups, it should be easy to spot where ownership will concentrate, even if there is a lack of consensus on common roster construction.
  • One of the aforementioned games with an implied total over 50 points is New England at Oakland in a game that will be played in Mexico City. The Raiders notoriously lousy pass defense will make Tom Brady the most popular quarterback play. Those who don’t spend all the way up to Brady aren’t likely to stray too far from the upper price tier. Alex Smith will attract attention as the QB3 against the listless Giants defense. And even though the numbers haven’t justified it this season, Drew Brees (QB2) is a public play any time he’s in the Superdome. Expect moderate-to-heavy spending at quarterback. 
  • Paying for a top-3 quarterback, an expensive tight end (more on that momentarily) and two high-priced running backs is impossible given the lack of glaring wide receiver value. Running backs in the Kareem Hunt/Mark Ingram II tier will be high-owned individually but won’t appear in the majority of lineups together. 
  • With Antonio Brown and Julio Jones unavailable, less spending at wide receiver is a given. Brandin Cooks figures to dominate ownership at the position due to his matchup, moderate price, and status as Brady’s most stackable wide receiver. After Cooks, wide receiver ownership will be spread out amongst a slew of similarly projected options in the $5.5K-$6.5K range. 
  • We’re likely to see the three highest-priced tight ends combine to tie up at least 50% of ownership at the position. Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski both have dream matchups, while Evan Engram -- who has evolved into one of the most consistent players at any position -- will also garner plenty of clicks. 
  • The only thing holding the Jaguars back from being the highest-owned defense of 2017 is their $4K price tag. If entrants can find a way to jam Jacksonville in against the winless Browns, they almost certainly will.

Contrary to most weeks, the clearest path to a unique roster would appear to be spending down at the “onesie” positions -- quarterback, tight end, and defense. Starting builds with a pair of running backs over $8K is likely to get you building in a different direction than most of your opponents. Spending way up at running back while declining to break the bank at quarterback and tight end leaves enough cap space for three wide receivers in the $6K-$7K price tier, where aside from Cooks, we’re unlikely to see a player exceed 20% ownership.

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 our Steve Buzzard’s projections).

QB: Tom Brady (@ OAK, $7,400, 18% owned) - It’s not difficult to understand why the crowd will flock to Brady this week, despite the fact he takes up about 9% more cap space than the next closest quarterback. The Raiders are allowing opponents to complete 71.2 percent of their passes for a 110.5 passer rating, both of which would be the third worst performances ever over a full season. While the matchup can’t get any better on paper, paying up to Brady doesn’t come without risk. We haven’t seen him justify his current salary since Week 3 and the Raiders defense has been gashed on the ground to varying degrees in each of their last four games by Melvin Gordon III, Kareem Hunt, LeSean McCoy, and Kenyan Drake. It’s conceivable the Patriots run up the score on the strength of their ground game while Brady continues to hover around 20 fantasy points, which would stall your rosters at his salary/ownership profile. Still, completely fading the best quarterback of his era against a historically bad pass defense doesn’t sound like a very sharp move. If you’re making 30 lineups, get Brady in at least four (slightly less exposure than the field).

RB: Melvin Gordon III (vs. BUF, $7,600, 24% owned) - Gordon is an interesting case this week. On one hand, he’s the least expensive of the workhorse running backs and he has the best matchup of the bunch against Buffalo, whose rush defense has fallen off the map since trading defensive tackle Marcell Dareus. But on the other, backup Austin Ekeler has seen at least 30% of the running back snaps in each of LA’s last three games. Ekeler badly outplayed Gordon in Week 10 (game killing fumble notwithstanding), gaining 119 total yards (and two touchdowns) on 15 touches to Gordon’s 42 total yards on 21 touches. It’s become clear Ekeler is the first legitimate threat we’ve seen to Gordon’s usage since Danny Woodhead last played for the Chargers, but it may not amount to much in this week’s meeting with Buffalo. Gordon remains firmly entrenched as the team’s primary ball carrier and was still targeted eight times in last week’s loss to Jacksonville. Before allowing a combined 285 rushing yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground to New Orleans’ backfield a week ago, the Bills run defense breathed life into the dried out husk of Matt Forte (14-77-2) in Week 8. With Buffalo turning to fifth-round rookie Nathan Peterman against the Chargers fierce pass rush, the most likely game script should produce about 25 high-quality touches for Gordon. Go about even with the field on your exposure in a prime bounceback spot.

RB: Kareem Hunt (@ NYG $8,000, 32% owned) - We haven’t seen Hunt flash his fantasy ceiling since Week 3, but the Giants are just the team to get him back on track. The “New York’s defense has quit on Ben McAdoo” narrative has to be considered more than mere storytelling at this point. If you woke up Monday wondering how on earth C.J. Beathard was allowed to score 26 fantasy points in an NFL game, go back and watch the Giants’ defenders miss assignment after assignment in San Francisco last week. Kansas City’s implied team total is over 27 points and it would almost be shocking if they don’t become the third consecutive team to surpass the 30-point mark against New York. All key pieces of the Chiefs offense get bumps in this spot, including Hunt, who has handled 87% of the team’s backfield touches and is still averaging over one fantasy point per touch. If he can’t get back to 25+ fantasy points against the Giants 27th ranked run stopping unit (DVOA), it’s officially time to revise our expectations for Hunt moving forward. That being said, if he’s going to be the highest-owned Chiefs player by a significant margin, as our ownership projections indicate, it’s perfectly acceptable to hedge a bit on Hunt by using more of Alex Smith and his primary pass catchers. 20% exposure to Hunt is plenty.

WR: Brandin Cooks (@OAK, $6,600, 25% owned) - Cooks -- at $600 less than Gronkowski -- will be the player most commonly found in Brady stacks. We may not see a clearer case of a player’s strengths aligning with a defense's weaknesses this season. Cooks’ 13.9-yard average depth of target leads New England wide receivers by a significant margin, while the Raiders completion percentage allowed on passes thrown between 15 and 25 yards downfield is about 10% higher than league average. The odds of a splash play are clearly elevated for Cooks in a matchup he destroyed as a member of the Saints last season (6-143-2). The only problem with going as heavy on Cooks as the field is the variance his boom/bust style of play invites. He’s scored as many as 35 fantasy points in a game this season, but has also finished with less than 10 in three other games, and hasn’t exceeded 16.5 in any of his last six contests. Is the probability Cooks delivers a ceiling game greater than his projected ownership? Not since he’s become a Patriot. As inviting as the matchup is, don't go as heavy as the field on Cooks.

WR: Mike Evans (@ MIA, $7,900, 23% owned) - The absence of Brown and Jones on the main slate, coupled with A.J. Green’s trip to Denver’s No Fly Zone, will make Evans the most attractive wide receiver priced at $7K or more. While Evans hasn’t topped 11 fantasy points since Week 6, his matchup against Miami’s 31st ranked pass defense (DVOA) makes his inflated ownership somewhat justifiable. The Dolphins secondary has struggled to stop the opposition’s WR1 in particular, with another 6’5’’, 230+ pound wideout -- Devin Funchess (5-92-2) -- serving as the most recent example. If a healthy Jameis Winston were quarterbacking the Buccaneers, Evans would be an autoplay. But with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for Tampa Bay, Evans steep salary and 20+% ownership have the potential to railroad your week. 15% should be your max exposure.

TE: Travis Kelce (@ NYG, $7,300, 21% owned) - There is a second narrative surrounding the Giants defense that is rooted more in fact than fiction. New York, as you’ve probably heard, has allowed at least one touchdown to an enemy tight end in every one of their games this season. Not surprisingly, they’ve also allowed the most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends when normalized for strength of schedule. Kelce has come close enough to a 4x multiple of his current salary in one-third of his games this season, which indicates his probability of paying off is greater than his ownership projection. He’s clearly in play for GPPs, despite his season-high price tag. It might be a good idea to go with slightly less Kelce than the field due to tight end being such a high variance position, but no one will blame you for going overboard in this spot.

D/ST: Jacksonville Jaguars (@ CLE, $4,000, 22% owned) - When a defense is priced at $4K or more, choosing them usually amounts to paying up to be contrarian. Don’t expect that to be the case with the Jaguars this week. Jacksonville has the best defensive line in football (obscene 10.4% adjusted sack rate) and two of the best cover corners in the game. They’re set to collide with a quarterback -- DeShone Kizer -- who has been sacked 16 times in eight appearances and leads the league in interceptions (12). It’s fair to question the Jaguars as 7.5-point road favorites against any NFL team, but the defense should get their points via sacks and turnovers regardless of the final score. Jacksonville has the highest floor at the position, but it’s tough to jam them in with this week’s tight pricing, and it’s never a great idea to follow the crowd at defense due to the position’s extreme variance. If you can squeeze them in, great. But otherwise, don’t worry if you end up with half as much Jaguars as the field.

MORE CHALK PLAYS

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Alex Smith QB @NYG $6,700 14% Relevant: C.J. Beathard scored 26 vs. NYG last week.
Mark Ingram II RB WAS $8,100 24% Floor and ceiling both high. Good for cash games and GPPs.
Sterling Shepard WR KC $6,300 16% 11 targets per game w/out Beckham. Premier matchup.
Tyreek Hill WR @NYG $7,100 17% If Giants get caught overpursuing vs. Hill, they'll pay dearly.
Amari Cooper WR NE $6,000 17% Fits the mold of WRs NE has struggled to cover this year.
Evan Engram TE KC $6,000 16% Defies variance. Most consistent TE in recent memory.

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: Matthew Stafford (@ CHI, $6,600, 5% owned) - This is not a good spot on paper for Stafford and the Lions. Chicago has a borderline top-10 defense that has generally played well at home this season, and nothing about “short road favorite in a slow-paced division game” screams high scoring for Detroit. Placing a chip on Stafford is an investment in the belief the bulk of Detroit’s offensive production will continue to come via the pass. 76% of the Lions total yardage this season has been accumulated on pass plays, which is the third-highest rate in the league. Stafford hasn’t dipped below 21 fantasy points in any of his last four starts, two of which came in poor game script situations against the tough defenses of the Saints and Steelers, respectively. This isn’t to say Stafford is immune to bad game flow, only that Detroit has no other means of moving the ball. As a team, the Lions have rushed for 3.4 yards per attempt, the third-lowest rate in the league. They can only run Ameer Abdullah into Chicago’s stout defensive line so many times before Stafford is forced to air it out. The probability he’s able to at least hit his season average of 20 fantasy points in any given week is greater than his 5% projected ownership, creating an opportunity to double the field on your exposure.

RB: Joe Mixon (@ DEN, $4,000, 8% owned) - Mixon’s $900 price drop from last week is curious considering he’s scored touchdowns in back-to-back games and is locked into about 65% of the Bengals offensive snaps in the wake of Jeremy Hill’s season-ending ankle injury. While fantasy owners in all formats are tired of waiting on the Mixon blow-up game that may never come, he’s managed to produce a 3x multiple of his current salary in each of the last three games. The Broncos have been blown out in each of Brock Osweiler’s disastrous starts. Cincinnati's offense may not be capable of forcing a negative game script on Osweiler, but their top-15 defense (DVOA) surely is. If you can envision a scenario where a couple of quick Osweiler miscues result in the Bengals getting out to an early lead, Mixon may turn out to be the best dollar per touch value on this week’s slate. One big play or extra short scoring opportunity, in addition to what we’ve seen from Mixon over his last three games, would allow him to blow past his target score at a reduced salary, in a week where cap relief is in short supply.

RB: Rex Burkhead (@ OAK, $3,600, 13%) - By the time Buzzard’s final ownership percentages are published to the site on Saturday, it’s likely we’ll see Burkhead check in at double his current projection. Value plays at running back and wide receiver in the $4K range are Burkhead, Jamison Crowder...and that’s about it barring a surprise injury. No matter what type of roster construction you try, the need for a player in this salary tier seems to become a requirement, and the secret is out on Burkhead after he rendered Mike Gillislee a healthy scratch last week. Being used in a bizarre Julian Edelman/LeGarrette Blount hybrid role on slants, screens, short yardage, and as a traditional running back, there is no shortage of ways Burkhead can impact the box score. This week’s matchup with the Raiders makes him (and also James White if you want a more contrarian option) especially enticing from a pass catching perspective. Oakland got burned out of the backfield by Damien Williams and Kenyan Drake in Week 9 (combined 12-82-1 receiving line), gave up six receptions to LeSean McCoy in Week 8, and both Melvin Gordon III (9-67-1) and Chris Thompson (6-150-1) had monster games as pass catchers vs. the Raiders earlier this year. If his usage continues to trend in the direction noted by our Ryan Hester in his fantastic #TrendSpotting series, we haven’t seen Burkhead’s ceiling yet.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald (@ HOU, $6,900, 11%) - Fitzgerald’s price increased by an absurd $1,500 following last week’s 24.3 fantasy point outburst against the Seahawks. While it may seem like point chasing to pay a premium for Fitzgerald after his first usable game since Week 6 -- particularly with everyone’s favorite quarterback punchline Blaine Gabbert likely to get the start for Arizona -- a closer look at the matchup paints Fitzgerald in a different light. Houston’s depleted defense has been strafed by opposing wide receivers over the last three games. Since coming off the bye in Week 8, they’ve allowed four separate 100+ yard receivers and multiple touchdowns to a single receiver in each game. Cornerback Kareem Jackson will be tasked with covering Fitzgerald in the slot. Jackson has earned Pro Football Focus’ worst slot coverage grade out of 31 qualifiers. In Gabbert's five starts in 2016 with the 49ers, he targeted slot receiver Jeremy Kerley nine times per game. His career 6.0 yards per attempt average suggests Gabbert will continue to rely on higher percentage short and intermediate throws. Don’t be surprised to see Fitzgerald approach last week’s 14 targets against what has quickly degenerated into the worst pass defense in the league.

WR: DeAndre Hopkins (vs. ARI, $6,100, 12%) - Hopkins will face shadow coverage from Patrick Peterson -- the undisputed best cornerback in the game. The one-on-one matchup is obviously a major detriment, but how often have we seen a wide receiver’s price drop by $1,400 directly following back-to-back 20+ fantasy point performances? If there’s one thing we can give Tom Savage credit for since taking over starting duties for Houston, it’s realizing peppering Hopkins with targets is in his better interest. Savage has targeted Hopkins 30 times across two starts, keeping the floor high for this season’s cumulative WR1. If Hopkins can maintain his post-Savage target volume, catch rate, and yards per reception average in this contest, he’ll reach a 3x salary multiple without scoring a touchdown. We shouldn’t be quick to rule out Hopkins reaching paydirt either. The Cardinals are one of nine teams to allow double-digit touchdowns to opposing wide receivers this season, and Hopkins leads all wideouts with eight touchdowns on the year.

TE: Rob Gronkowski (@ OAK, $7,200, 11%) - The Giants vs. tight ends narrative has created a situation where Gronkowski is projected for half of Kelce’s ownership. Is Kelce really twice as likely to reach his 25+ point ceiling than Gronkowski in any given week? Historically, the answer is a hard no, and that’s before we consider New England’s matchup against Oakland this week. When we last saw the Raiders, they were making Julius Thomas (6-84-1) look like he never stopped playing with Peyton Manning. There have only been two games in which tight ends have failed to get over on Oakland this season -- Week 2 against an Austin Seferian-Jenkins-less Jets team and Week 8 vs. Buffalo sans Charles Clay. Gronkowski’s ownership projection also looks silly next to Brandin Cooks’ when you take the matchup and each player’s respective ceilings into consideration. It’s not often Gronkowski is a strong GPP play due to reduced ownership, but this week ought to qualify.

D/ST: LA Chargers (vs. BUF, $3,000, 13% owned) - Our current ownership projections were released prior to the news Tyrod Taylor had been benched. 13% is a modest guess on how popular the Chargers will be now that they’re facing a fifth-round rookie quarterback making his first NFL start on the road. LA’s defense would have been in consideration even if Taylor were still starting for the Bills. Their pass rush, led by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III, has accounted for 11 sacks in their last three games and the unit has scored double-digit fantasy points in three of their previous five contests. It’s a safe bet those who don’t have the cap space to fit the Jaguars will look to the Chargers next, but this is a high floor/high ceiling spot for LA that shouldn’t be faded due to ownership concerns.

MORE CORE PLAYS

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Philip Rivers QB BUF $5,800 5% Leverage play on Melvin Gordon III.
Todd Gurley RB @MIN $8,400 15% Let your opponents fear the matchup.
Alvin Kamara RB WAS $7,500 14% Expensive for a 15-touch ceiling but have to ride the heater.
DeVante Parker WR TB $6,500 8% Get a piece of any skilled downfield WR vs. TB secondary.
Michael Thomas WR WAS $7,400 15% Volume never fails. TDs coming. Norman stays to one side.
Golden Tate WR @CHI $6,800 8% If Stafford is in play, so is Tate.
Marqise Lee WR @CLE $5,500 8% WR17 since Week 6 gets target bump w/ no Hurns.
Jared Cook TE NE $3,800 10% Too fast for NE linebackers. Commanding more targets.
Arizona Cardinals D/ST @HOU $3,200 11% Insert defense facing Tom Savage here.

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: Brett Hundley (vs. BAL, $4,700, 2% owned) - Last week’s tough road win at Chicago represented a significant step forward for Hundley in terms of what Green Bay’s coaching staff trusted him to do. He averaged 8.48 yards per pass attempt vs. the Bears (for context, Jared Goff leads the NFL with 8.49 yards per attempt) vs. a paltry 5.26 yards per attempt in his two previous appearances. If Mike McCarthy is loosening the reins on his novice signal caller, at home against the Ravens could be a sneaky spot to use him in DFS. Baltimore has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season but just look at the schedule they’ve faced. While it could easily be argued Hundley fits right in on that list, his upside is intriguing if he’s allowed to make use of his downfield weapons, especially when you factor in his rushing ability (27 rushing yards per game and two rushing touchdowns so far). As previously mentioned, spending down at quarterback provides much-needed cap savings this week, and Hundley will go overlooked in favor of Blake Bortles, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and maybe even Blaine Gabbert due to their respective matchups.

WR: A.J. Green (@ DEN, $7,000, 4% owned) - We’ve grown accustomed to avoiding wide receivers facing off with Denver over the last few seasons, and 2017 hasn’t given us much reason to deviate from the norm. Green tops the list of contrarian wide receivers simply because he’s too good to ever slip below 5% ownership, especially at a season-low $7K price tag. The Broncos pass defense has performed as a below average unit according to their DVOA ranking (17th), suggesting Green’s chances to top 25 fantasy points -- a feat he’s accomplished in 33% of his games this season -- are greater than his 4% ownership projection. If you’re making 10 lineups this week, you only have to put Green in one to nearly triple your exposure in comparison to your opponents.

TE: Jermaine Gresham (@ HOU, $2,800, 2% owned) - Gresham showed strong rapport with Drew Stanton, catching touchdowns in each of the Cardinals last two games. While Stanton will likely sit for Arizona this week, Blaine Gabbert's tendency to target tight ends in the red zone during his starts with the 49ers is an encouraging sign for Gresham’s continued involvement. The Texans haven’t discriminated much when it comes to which position they hemorrhage fantasy points to through the air. They’ve allowed nearly 25% more fantasy production to tight ends than the league average over the last three weeks. If you have lineups that require punting at tight end, split your exposure to Gresham, Benjamin Watson, and Tyler Kroft evenly.

D/ST: Cincinnati Bengals (@ DEN, $3,000, 5% owned) - If you had to guess which defense has allowed the most schedule adjusted fantasy points per game to their opponents, would Denver be the first team you named? Each of the last five teams to play the Broncos have forced them into pass-heavy game scripts -- not a good thing when your quarterbacks are Trevor Siemian and Brock Osweiler. Osweiler remains a weekly implosion candidate and the Bengals 11th ranked rush defense is strong enough to shut down Denver’s ground game. Cincinnati is a solid price pivot off the more popular defenses of the Chargers and Cardinals, just don’t go crazy on your exposure -- this is their third-straight road game.

MORE CONTRARIAN PLAYS

Player Pos Opponent Salary Proj. Own % Comment
Kirk Cousins QB @NO $6,100 3% This year's QB7. Tremendous upside relative to ownership.
Jared Goff RB @MIN $6,500 4% Starting QB in league's best offense always in play.
Doug Martin RB @MIA $4,500 4% Rough schedule in recent weeks. MIA not so rough.
Jamaal Williams RB BAL $4,900 6% Matt Waldman favorite looking at 20 carries vs. inconsistent defense.
DeSean Jackson WR MIA $5,100 4% Leverage on Mike Evans vs. horrendous pass defense.
Jamison Crowder WR @NO $4,300 5% Looking like no Reed for WAS, no Vaccaro for NO. Ownership % could triple.
Jeremy Maclin WR @GB $4,500 7% The next slot WR to burn GB? Producing in recent weeks.
Davante Adams WR BAL $5,300 5% Leads GB in all major receiving categories in Hundley's starts.
Ben Watson TE @GB $2,800 5% Good point per dollar glue guy. Reliable target volume.
Cleveland Browns D/ST JAX $2,300 4% Dirt cheap, playing at home, pass rush can fluster Bortles.


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