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:
- Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Patrick Mahomes are missing from the main slate. As a result, we should see quarterback ownership concentrate heavily on the Tampa Bay at Atlanta game and its 57.5-point over/under. Jameis Winston’s affordable salary ($5,800) compares favorably to Matt Ryan’s overall QB1 price tag ($6,800), which should make Winston the most heavily rostered quarterback in a week without many low-priced value-plays at other positions.
- Todd Gurley’s $10,000 cap number marks the seventh time a running back has reached a five-figure salary on DraftKings since 2014. While Gurley will still be fairly popular, trying to squeeze him into lineups is a chore, which should push more entrants towards Melvin Gordon III ($8,200) and Christian McCaffrey ($8,300) in the top running back tier. With a combined ~30% of the field using either Winston or Ryan stacks, however, many will be tempted to include both of their respective WR1s -- Mike Evans and Julio Jones -- in the same lineup. Spending on two high-priced wide receivers precludes the use of an expensive RB1 and figures to move significant ownership towards the middle-tier at the position, where T.J. Yeldon ($6,400), and David Johnson ($5,900) will be the usual suspects.
- Evans and Jones aren’t the only enticing high-priced wide receivers. Antonio Brown ($8,700), Adam Thielen ($8,500), and DeAndre Hopkins ($7,700) will command ownership as well, adding to the number of wide receiver-heavy lineups in play. We could see a rare week where emphasizing spending at running back qualifies as contrarian roster construction.
- If the choice for most people is whether to spend more at running back or wide receiver, there won’t be room for an expensive tight end in either of the most common lineup builds. Unfortunately, there’s not a great way to capitalize this week since Rob Gronkowski, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle don’t play on the main slate. Cameron Brate ($3,700) will be mega-chalk if O.J. Howard can’t make it back from a sprained MCL and Austin Hooper ($3,500) will be popular in his second consecutive great matchup. Spending above $4,000 at tight end will be the exception in most lineups.
- Roster percentages at team defense should remain flat. Most entrants will leave the position for last and fit in the most expensive option they can, which will most often be the Bears ($3,300) and Ravens ($2,800). Punting defense completely looks like the best way to differentiate your lineup this week (and most weeks considering the inherent volatility of the position).
TAKING A STAND ON THE CHALK
These players are the odds-on favorites to either score the most fantasy points or return the best value on their respective salaries. 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: Jameis Winston (vs. ATL, $5,800, 16% rostered) - Winston may challenge the highest roster percentage we’ve seen at quarterback this season. Atlanta has allowed four consecutive quarterbacks to pass for three touchdowns against them and Tampa Bay’s passing offense has been one of the league’s best under the direction of new offensive coordinator, Todd Monken. While Winston wasn’t sharp in relief of Ryan Fitzpatrick on the road in Chicago in Week 4, he clearly has a ceiling worth chasing in tournaments, especially at his bargain price (QB10). After returning from a three-week layoff due to an injury to his throwing shoulder, Winston led all quarterbacks in fantasy scoring over the final five weeks of 2017. But as enticing as playing Winston is, he isn’t nearly four times as likely to appear in a first-place lineup as quarterbacks like Kirk Cousins or Deshaun Watson, which is what his projected ownership implies. The correct move in tournaments is to roster less Winston than the field.
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