KNOW YOUR ENEMIES
To place near the top of a large field GPP, your roster has to stand out from the crowd in some way. Knowing which players will command the highest ownership is a helpful first step, but without the context of how those players fit together under the salary cap, it’s difficult to project the type of lineups you’ll be up against most frequently.
Sometimes, the clearest path to creating a unique roster is to allocate more of your salary cap to the positions your opponents are not. To gain some insight into how most other entrants are likely to think as they construct their rosters, with the goal of building yours differently, consider these bullets:
- There are five games on the slate with an over/under of at least 50 points. As a result, ownership should be spread more evenly than usual at all positions. The game most entrants will look to stack -- with an emphasis on both teams’ pass-catchers -- is Falcons at Steelers, which opened with a season-high 57-point game total.
- Quarterback roster rates should remain particularly flat considering 12 teams on the main slate have implied team totals of at least 24 points. Ben Roethlisberger ($6,900) and Matt Ryan ($6,600) will top the wish list of most entrants, with Andy Dalton ($5,900) and Blake Bortles ($5,500) the most popular options for those who look to save at the position. Unlike the last few weeks, there are several viable plays at quarterback priced below $5,500 who may find themselves in shootouts and/or pass-heavy game scripts.
- The most expensive player on the slate, Todd Gurley ($9,400), will remain a chalk play. He’s likely to be challenged in terms of ownership by Melvin Gordon III ($8,600), who fits more neatly under the cap, and gets an Oakland defense that was just destroyed on the ground by the Cleveland Browns. Bottom line -- the majority of teams will feature one of Gurley or Gordon. Using both in the same lineup requires three wide receivers and a flex in the $5K and under range.
- Antonio Brown ($9,100) and Julio Jones ($8,500) should dominate wide receiver ownership in a perceived shootout. The most common roster construction will likely include a core of a high-priced running back alongside either Brown or Jones and their respective quarterback stacking partners. This type of build requires a focus on RB2s and WR2s in the $5K-$6K range, where T.J. Yeldon ($5,600) Tyler Boyd ($5,700), and Calvin Ridley ($5,800) look like the usual suspects. $4K-and-under punt plays at WR3 and flex will round out most of these lineups. Marquez Valdez-Scantling ($3,300) will make this type of construction an even easier decision for most entrants if Geronimo Allison and Randall Cobb scratch for Green Bay.
- Common construction leaves little room for paying up at tight end. Despite splitting snaps with Jesse James, Vance McDonald’s affordable price ($3,700), association with the Steelers offense, and penchant for highlight-reel plays will attract the crowd. Those who pay up to chase Jared Cook’s ($4,800) massive Week 4 performance will have to save elsewhere, most likely at quarterback or WR3.
- Paying up for a defense should be a good way to differentiate your lineups. Squeezing in a top-priced quarterback, running back, and wide receiver leaves little choice but to search for a sub-$3K option at the position. Baltimore ($2,800) should draw the highest roster percentage in a matchup against Cleveland, who somehow allowed double-digit fantasy points to Oakland’s awful defense last week. The Titans ($4,000) and Rams ($3,800) should be under-owned in plus road matchups as a result.
TAKING A STAND ON THE CHALK
These players are the odds-on favorites to score the most fantasy points. Fading them entirely for the sake of differentiating your lineups is rarely the best decision when multi-entering tournaments. Instead, decide how much exposure you are comfortable with for each player in comparison to their ownership projection. Some suggestions on how to treat this week’s most popular plays:
IMPORTANT: All ownership percentages cited below are based on our Steve Buzzard’s projections. Initial projections are posted on Thursdays, refined throughout the week, and updated on Saturdays.
QB: Ben Roethlisberger (vs. ATL, $6,900, 11% rostered) - Roethlisberger struggled in the second half of last week’s game against the Ravens, but the gap between Baltimore’s second-ranked defense (DVOA) and Atlanta’s is a veritable canyon. The next time the Falcons hold an opposing quarterback under 335 yards and three touchdowns in a game will be their first since Week 1. Atlanta is failing to get pressure on the quarterback (4.5% sack rate), which should allow big plays to develop downfield for Roethlisberger and his pass-catchers. But even if the deep ball isn’t working for Pittsburgh this week, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Antonio Brown, and James Conner will make the Falcons pay if they continue to cede catches within 10 yards from the line of scrimmage and rely on their tackling ability to prevent long gains. He almost has to be in a handful of your lineups this week, but Roethlisberger’s overall QB1 price and elevated ownership could mean low-owned QB-WR stacks that incorporate Pittsburgh receivers have greater upside. Keep your exposure in line with his percent rostered.
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