DraftKings GPP Domination: Division Round - Footballguys

Looking for edges in DraftKings tournaments on Divisional Weekend.

Before digging in to this week’s games and GPP options, take a moment to refresh yourself on the tips for short slate tournaments covered in this space last week. Game theory trumps player and matchup knowledge in large fields most weeks, but this is particularly true on four-game slates.

INDIANAPOLIS @ Kansas City

Colts Texans
Opening Vegas Implied Total 25.75 31.25
Points Per Game 26.7 35.3
Opponent Points Per Game 20.6 26.3
Situation Neutral Pace Rank 2 6

THE CHALK

You want exposure to these guys, but so do most of your opponents.

  • Patrick Mahomes II ($7,000) - Mahomes has exceeded a 4x multiple of his current salary in 63% of his games played this season -- a rate that will probably double his slate-high ownership percentage at quarterback. DraftKings’ unwillingness to elevate his price makes it impossible to argue against using Mahomes in GPPs, especially in a paced-up home game with a 57-point over/under. Just realize when you begin your lineup with a Mahomes stack, so are one-third of your opponents. You’ll have to go out of your way to differentiate your Chiefs stacks, and even your Chiefs-Colts full game stacks, as more ownership will concentrate on this game than any other on the slate.
  • Andrew Luck ($6,200) - What we saw last week in Houston (18.84 DraftKings points) is more or less Luck’s fantasy floor, which makes him this week’s safest quarterback outside of Mahomes. There is a strong chance Luck is forced to throw the ball 40+ times to keep pace with the Chiefs. With the exception of a Week 13 meltdown in Jacksonville, Luck has scored at least 23.5 fantasy points (and as many as 39.66) in each of the six other games he’s exceeded 40 pass attempts this season. At only $500 more than Philip Rivers, Luck is a relative bargain and belongs on about 20% of your rosters.
  • Damien Williams ($5,100) - Williams might be the most intriguing player on the slate. He’s blatantly mispriced relative to his production since taking over as Kansas City’s starter. The question is whether the crowd is eager to take the discount on Williams if Spencer Ware is declared active. We should be crossing our fingers Ware plays and Williams’ percent rostered dips as a result. Ware did nothing to earn snaps in his brief audition as a starter while Williams generally picked up right where Kareem Hunt left off before getting waived. Assuming Andy Reid wants to continue using his full playbook, Williams will see the majority of the backfield touches against the Colts. If Ware is active, as expected, make Williams one of your top exposures.
  • Marlon Mack ($5,800) - Mack was a far better GPP play last week against Houston at about half of his current projected ownership rate. While he’s still a fine play against a rush defense that allowed 27% more fantasy points to opposing running backs than league average this season, playing at Arrowhead as a 5.5-point underdog is an altogether different game environment than the one he excelled in on Wildcard Weekend. Rostering Mack and expecting another 26 carries implies the Colts getting out to an early (and perhaps commanding) lead, which is not a likely outcome. This is a spot to fade recency bias, even if Mack has proven himself an elite touchdown producer and viable workhorse over the last month.
  • T.Y. Hilton ($6,700) - Hilton is clearly playing at less than full health, which is reason enough to fade him as Luck’s preferred stacking partner. But as long as he continues gutting it out, you want him in at least 25% of your lineups. Despite his mounting injuries, Hilton has at least one catch of 38+ yards in every game since Week 14. The Colts’ offensive line has a significant advantage over Kansas City’s defensive front, suggesting Luck and Hilton will have plenty of time for downfield plays to develop. If Hilton gets a few cracks at Chiefs cornerback Charvarius Ward, an undrafted rookie free agent making his third NFL start, it’s feasible he leads all wide receivers in fantasy points.
  • Tyreek Hill ($7,400) - Hill’s price is the lowest it has been since Week 10, which screams buying opportunity. Indianapolis’ defensive backfield has quietly been one of the best in the league, especially in the season’s second half, but Hill isn’t particularly matchup sensitive since he’s almost always the fastest player on the field. Lined up across from a group of Colts cornerbacks who each run the 40-yard dash in the 4.5-range, Hill is more than capable of taking a short pass to the house this week. With three running backs over $7K on the slate to pay up for, and both Hilton and Michael Thomas in the same price range, Hill will be popular but his ownership shouldn’t be prohibitive.
  • Travis Kelce ($7,000) - Kelce will be the go-to stacking partner for Mahomes, which will make him one of the chalkiest players on the slate despite a relatively deep pool of top-shelf tight ends to choose from. Like Hill, Kelce doesn’t need a strong matchup to reach 30+ DraftKings points, but he should have a decisive edge over the Colts in this game. Indianapolis has allowed 70% more fantasy points to enemy tight ends over the last five weeks and Evan Engram (6-6-87-0) was the only notable one they faced. Zach Ertz and Eric Ebron are capable of making up Kelce’s production at a lower price, but they don’t share his probability of leading all tight ends in scoring. The only reason to consider a fade is unique lineup construction.
  • Eric Ebron ($5,500) - The Chiefs allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than any other defense this season, including 68% more than league average over the last five weeks. The matchup will be there for Ebron, especially if safety Eric Berry can’t make it back for the Chiefs, and so should a pass-heavy game script. Considering the drop off at wide receiver after Brandin Cooks at $5,600, it could be a rare week where two-tight-end lineups have enough upside to win a tournament.

LEVERAGE PLAYS

If the implied game script goes wonky or the chalk busts, these guys can lead you to a win.

  • Spencer Ware ($4,500) - Assuming Ware is active, the most likely result is your opponents getting off Damien Williams to some degree and barely rostering Ware at all. Logic would dictate Williams gets the majority of Kansas City’s backfield touches due to his explosive performances in recent weeks. But this is the NFL where logic doesn’t always rule. A small chance exists Ware splits work evenly with Williams and (unfortunately) that chance is probably greater than Ware’s projected roster percentage. Even if Williams does handle most of the work on base downs, Ware could still pay off his salary (at minimal ownership) if he’s gifted passing-down work and/or goal line duties. Don’t exceed 10% exposure, but don’t come up empty either.
  • Nyheim Hines ($3,300) - Hines cratered as a trendy play last week, putting up a goose egg against the Texans. If your bankroll survived to live another day, this is actually a positive development for his tournament value. Now $200 closer to the site minimum and unlikely to clear double-digit ownership, all the reasons we were excited about Hines in the Wildcard round remain valid. If the Colts fall behind early, we won’t see Hines game-scripted out like he was in last week’s zero touch anomaly. Prior to the Colts dominant Week 18 win in Houston, Hines had been targeted at least five times in five straight games, which included decisive wins against Dallas and Tennessee.
  • Dontrelle Inman ($4,800) - Inman found the end zone for the third consecutive game last week and has outscored T.Y. Hilton in back-to-back games. This isn’t to say Inman is the preferred play over Hilton, only that there are viable ways to stack the Colts passing game besides using Hilton and Ebron. Box score chasers will make Inman more popular than he was last week, but he has established himself as a reliable option opposite Hilton and could be the mid-range glue guy you need to balance out some of your high variance plays.

IN THE MIX

These guys come in above the “click and a prayer” cutoff line.

  • Sammy Watkins ($4,500) - If Watkins is able to make it back this week, rostering him on more than 10% of your lineups is asking for trouble due to the risk of re-injury and likelihood he plays limited snaps. His upside at $4,500, however, is tantalizing. Watkins exceeded a 4x multiple of his current salary in one-third of the full games he appeared in this season.

Dallas @ LA Rams

Cowboys @Rams
Opening Vegas Implied Total 21.25 28.25
Points Per Game 21.4 32.9
Opponent Points Per Game 20.4 24
Situation Neutral Pace Rank 21 3

THE CHALK

You want exposure to these guys, but so do most of your opponents.

  • Todd Gurley ($8,000) - DraftKings is giving us Gurley’s best price of the season on a short slate and with the Rams favored by a touchdown at home. Despite the bargain price, it’s likely Gurley will fall behind Ezekiel Elliott as the crowd’s favorite running back. Elliott’s dominant Wildcard round is fresh in the public’s mind, Dallas is perceived as tough to run on, and Gurley is coming off a two game absence due to a nebulous knee injury. If the field is willing to offer even a small ownership discount on Gurley at this price, we need to jump all over it. The Cowboys defense has not been the same on the road and if you trust Vegas’ line, Gurley’s baseline projection borders on 25 DraftKings points. Embrace whatever uncertainty exists due to the injury and make Gurley your top running back exposure.
  • Ezekiel Elliott ($8,200) - Elliott won’t be ~65% rostered like he was last week but he’s likely to once again top the crowd’s wish list. With more running backs on the slate who can match Elliott’s ceiling, it’s less important to squeeze him into more than half of your lineups, especially if fading him (relative to the field) gains you some leverage if he disappoints. One way to use Elliott differently than many of your opponents is to stack him in the same lineup as Gurley. Not only is it feasible for both Gurley and Elliott to hit 30+ DraftKings points regardless of game script, but Elliott’s 22.7% regular season market share of Dallas’ targets suggests the two could be positively correlated if Gurley helps the Rams get out to a commanding lead.
  • Robert Woods ($5,900) - Woods’ price is down $1,000 from Week 17 and the public is sure to take notice. While Kansas City’s passing offense is more consistent than LA’s, their respective ceilings aren’t too far apart. Spending 34% of the salary cap on a Goff-Woods-Cook stack can turn out to be a better investment than shelling out 43% of the cap for Mahomes-Hill-Kelce when you consider uniqueness, as well as the additional running back spending it allows for.
  • Brandin Cooks ($5,600) - Cooks will be lower-owned than Woods due to his week-to-week volatility. But after watching Tyler Lockett average 30 yards per reception against the Cowboys last week, it’s fair to wonder if Cooks -- who led the Rams in air yards this season despite seeing 13 fewer targets than Woods -- is the better option. Cooks’ splash play potential makes him a weekly requirement in your GPP portfolio regardless of opponent, and this week is no different.

LEVERAGE PLAYS

If the implied game script goes wonky or the chalk busts, these guys can lead you to a win.

  • Jared Goff ($5,500) - Much like Russell Wilson last week, Goff’s receivers will be popular, yet the crowd will be looking in a different direction at quarterback. It’s a situation to exploit by going heavy on Goff, who scored at least 22 DraftKings points (4x his current salary) in all but a single home game this season. Mahomes and Luck are the two most popular quarterbacks on the slate for a reason, but dismissing Goff’s upside when the Rams are favored by seven points at home and implied to score over 28 points would be a mistake.
  • Dak Prescott ($5,200) - The 8.9 DraftKings points Prescott added with his legs against Seattle showed why he should never go overlooked on a short slate. He brings the same solid rushing floor to the table this week, only it’s likely Prescott will have to air it out to keep up with the Rams. If he’s forced to throw 35-40 times, the added volume combined with his usual rushing production could propel Prescott to a ceiling game. Just be careful not to push your exposure too far above the field. Mahomes, Luck, Goff, and Drew Brees each have a higher probability of reaching 30 DraftKings points.
  • Amari Cooper ($6,500) - Cooper quietly racked up 106 receiving yards in the Wildcard round and will theoretically benefit if the Cowboys are forced to pass more than they would like to. Still, he’s a tough sell at about the same price as Hilton, Keenan Allen, and Julian Edelman (and significantly more than Woods and Cooks). While the glut of viable wide receivers in the $5.5K-$7K range will shade Cooper from the crowd a bit, it’s worth noting top cornerbacks usually get the better of him. His opponent this week, Aqib Talib, limited Cooper to one catch for nine yards in the Week 1 meeting between the Rams and Raiders. The upside Cooper has demonstrated since joining the Cowboys can’t be ignored, but it also shouldn’t be counted in in this matchup. He would see a significant projection bump, however, if Cole Beasley is unable to play.
  • Josh Reynolds ($4,500) - Reynolds is cheap, but with the discounts DraftKings is offering on Woods and Cooks, most entrants will try to find their way up to one of the name brand Rams wide receivers. When we last saw Reynolds in Week 17, he was targeted seven times and scored two touchdowns against the 49ers (though Woods was knocked out of that game early). It’s not inconceivable Reynolds ends up the highest-scoring LA receiver, especially since he’ll enjoy the softest coverage. While Cooks has to deal with Byron Jones on the perimeter and Woods tries to fend off Anthony Brown in the slot, Reynolds projects to run about half his routes across from Chidobe Awuzie, one of five cornerbacks active on this week’s slate to let up more than 1.7 yards per route covered in 2018 per Pro Football Focus.

IN THE MIX

These guys come in above the “click and a prayer” cutoff line.

  • Michael Gallup ($4,000) - Gallup scored a red zone touchdown last week and continues to run the type of deep downfield routes that lead to GPP-swinging splash plays. Talib will be glued to Cooks, which should leave Gallup in single coverage against Rams cornerback Marcus Peters for most of the game. Peters is talented and appears to have benefited from the return of Talib from injury, but he spent the better portion of the year as a punching bag for opposing wide receivers. If you’re going to stack Prescott with a receiver, Gallup -- who should see a target bump due to Allen Hurns' absence -- might be the preferred option to Cooper at a $2,500 discount.
  • Gerald Everett ($2,700) - Prior to disappearing in Week 17, Everett had recorded at least six targets in three consecutive games. The probability he puts up a zero this week is about the same as the chance he sees five or more targets, but it’s enough to make Everett playable in a handful of lineups for less than $3K. Not only will punting tight end lead you to a different roster construction than the Kelce-Ertz-Ebron majority, but there is a reasonable chance he outscores two of them if Sean McVay continues running more two tight end sets.
  • Dalton Schultz ($2,500) or Rico Gathers ($2,500) - With both Jarwin and Beasley questionable for this game with ankle sprains, the Cowboys backup tight ends warrant consideration. If Jarwin is out, Schultz is likely to see the most snaps, but Gathers -- the clear upside play -- should finally sniff the field. For now, both of these guys (especially Gathers) are straddling the “click and a prayer” cutoff line, but should both Jarwin and Beasley scratch, Dallas will be hurting for pass-catching weapons over the middle of the field, putting both in play as punt options.
  • Noah Brown ($3,000) - The deepest of fliers, but he'll inherit Hurns' vacated slot role and play the majority of the snaps for Dallas.

LA Chargers @ New England

Chargers Patriots
Opening Vegas Implied Total 21.25 25.25
Points Per Game 26.5 27.2
Opponent Points Per Game 20.4 20.3
Situation Neutral Pace Rank 16 1

THE CHALK

You want exposure to these guys, but so do most of your opponents.

  • Julian Edelman ($6,300) - Edelman has scored less than 13 DraftKings points in just one out of 12 games played this season. We need high-variance players to finish at the top of a GPP, but we also need fantasy points. On a short slate, passing up Edelman’s bankable 15-24 fantasy points feels like saying no to a head start, when you consider his role as the Patriots’ No. 1 receiving target in a home game the team is expected to score over 25 points in. Edelman may have been overpriced relative to his upside late in the season but now the pendulum has swung too far back in the other direction. He’s deserving of 25% exposure.
  • Keenan Allen ($6,400) - This is a great price on Allen in a winnable matchup. The problem is he hasn’t looked right since injuring his hip in Week 15. Allen doesn’t reach his ceiling without double-digit target volume, and while it’s possible he gets there against New England, it isn’t likely due to Bill Belichick’s tendency to scheme the opposition’s top weapon out of the game plan. Looking back on the biggest wide receiver performances against New England this season shows they are most easily beaten with speed, which is not Allen’s game. Fade him despite the enticing price tag.

LEVERAGE PLAYS

If the implied game script goes wonky or the chalk busts, these guys can lead you to a win.

  • Tom Brady ($5,600) - This is a tough spot on paper for Brady and he’ll be largely ignored as a result. The Chargers allowed the fourth-fewest schedule adjusted fantasy points to enemy quarterbacks this season and their defense looked hungry on the road last week in Baltimore. For his own part, Brady has looked more like a 40+ year-old quarterback this year than at any previous point in his career and his weapons are lacking. Ignoring Brady as a home favorite in Foxborough, however, would be a mistake. Even in a season where he has begun to dangle over the edge of the age cliff, Brady produced a 4x multiple of his current salary six times. If he throws for three touchdowns, it’s entirely possible you can make up the points you miss out on from Mahomes or Luck by using the cap savings to spend up at another position. Consider him in 10-15% of your lineups.
  • Rob Gronkowski ($4,600) - The version of Gronkowski we’ve seen to this point in the season inspires zero confidence he’s capable of scoring 20+DraftKings points against the Chargers. But if Brady is in play at low exposure, Gronkowski has to be considered as a stacking partner at his season-low $4,600 cap hit. As wooden as Gronkowski has looked on the field, he still has touchdown equity. And there’s a decent chance he’ll be a bigger part of the game plan for New England now that their season is on the line. Whether or not he can still capitalize on any increased volume he receives is in question, but in GPPs, we’re playing for ceilings. Gronkowski’s top-1% outcome is lower than it’s ever been, but it remains about the same as Eric Ebron’s, who will attract about twice as much ownership.
  • Sony Michel ($4,700) - Michel is one of the best leverage plays on the slate. If you believe the Patriots win and put up the ~25 points the Vegas line implies, but don’t think Brady is capable of a vintage performance, it can only mean Michel and New England’s defense are in for big games. It’s far easier to beat LA by running up the middle than it is to pass against their dominant edge rushers and talented secondary. With a solid 18-20 touch baseline, Michel projects as one of the best dollar-per-touch values on the slate and shouldn’t appear in more than 15% of your opponents’ lineups.
  • James White ($4,900) - If pounding Michel isn’t working (and maybe even if it is), expect New England to try plenty of screen passes to White, who has reemerged a bit since Josh Gordon’s suspension. The Chargers allowed more receiving yards to opposing running backs than any other team this season.

IN THE MIX

These guys come in above the “click and a prayer” cutoff line.

  • Melvin Gordon III ($6,200) - It’s one thing to embrace uncertainty in tournaments but another entirely to roster a running back playing on two sprained knees. Gordon was clearly hobbled after returning from injury last week, which is a shame because the matchup against New England is a strong one for him. Even at a price that would seem absurd most weeks, Gordon is a fade relative to the field.
  • Austin Ekeler ($4,500) - The probability Gordon misses time during this game is fairly high, which makes Ekeler an interesting pivot. If Gordon has to leave early, Ekeler could be a slate winner, and he’s not useless in his usual pass-catching role either due to the Patriots lack of speed at linebacker. 15% exposure will likely triple the field.
  • Rex Burkhead ($3,600) - A cheap hedge on both Michel and White. Pass-catching and red zone roles could mean you must have him to win.
  • Hunter Henry ($2,800) - Athletic tight ends can get over on the Patriots plodding linebackers. After practicing in full all week, he’s worth a few shots on the chance he splits snaps down the middle with Antonio Gates.
  • Mike Williams ($4,700) - Not exactly a burner, but more closely resembles the type of wide receiver New England had trouble stopping this season. We know the GPP-winning upside is there -- Williams has multiple touchdowns in three separate games this season.
  • Chris Hogan ($3,900) - Second behind Edelman in team targets since Gordon’s suspension. He only needs one big play to hit value, though it won’t be easy against the Chargers secondary.

Philadelphia @ New Orleans

Eagles Saints
Opening Vegas Implied Total 21.5 29.5
Points Per Game 22.5 31.5
Opponent Points Per Game 21.4 22.1
Situation Neutral Pace Rank 30 13

THE CHALK

You want exposure to these guys, but so will most of your opponents.

  • Drew Brees ($6,700) - We just saw Mitchell Trubisky complete four passes that traveled 20+ yards against Philadelphia’s beleaguered secondary, which doesn’t bode well for their chances against Drew Brees and the Saints in a dome. New Orleans’ offensive line has allowed the third-lowest adjusted sack rate this season. If Philadelphia can’t get pressure on Brees, he’s going to dissect the street free agents currently manning their defensive backfield. The majority of people paying this much for a quarterback are going to spend the extra $300 to get to Mahomes, which makes Brees the superior tournament play in a game the Saints should exceed 30 points.
  • Alvin Kamara ($7,300) - Remember when everyone was talking about Tarik Cohen as a great play last week due to Philadelphia’s difficulty defending pass-catchers out of the backfield? Well, it applies to Kamara 10 times over. After suffering through a mid-season swoon in which his involvement as a receiver declined, Kamara has averaged eight targets per game since Week 14 and had no fewer than six over that span. It shouldn’t shock anyone if he ends up the top-scoring running back on the slate, yet the crowd will look to jam in Elliott and Gurley first. Play Kamara at will and stack him in at least half of your Brees lineups.
  • Michael Thomas ($7,900) - He’s both the highest-priced and most expensive receiver on the slate, but there isn’t a good reason to fade Thomas. We can safely project him to receive 30% of Brees’ targets (both inside and outside the red zone) and there isn’t a player on the Eagles active roster capable of stopping him. Following the crowd on the wide receiver mega-chalk didn’t turn out well last week with DeAndre Hopkins, but Thomas’ season average of 20.6 DraftKings points looks like a floor in this matchup and his ceiling is every bit as high as Hill’s.
  • Zach Ertz ($5,700) - The Saints have been stingy to opposing tight ends all season and held Ertz to a season-low 3.5 DraftKings points back in Week 11. Hopefully the perceived poor matchup scares off the public, because there is a lot to like about Ertz this week. He shares a ceiling with Kelce but comes $1,300 cheaper, and is likely to appear on half as many rosters. In a potentially pass-heavy game script, 30+ fantasy points is attainable. Like Ebron, Ertz can be played with Kelce in two-tight-end lineups, which are frequently the exception in tournaments.

LEVERAGE PLAYS

If the implied game script goes wonky or the chalk busts, these guys could be the reason you win.

  • Nick Foles ($5,400) - Not many will look to Foles at quarterback with Mahomes, Luck, Brees, Goff, and Brady on the slate. Leverage alone is reason enough to play him in a handful of lineups, but Foles has upside this week regardless. If the Saints get out to a big lead, Foles’ counting stats will be bolstered by an elevated number of pass attempts. And if the game stays close, it probably means Foles and his talented group of pass-catchers are connecting on big plays. The Saints allowed about 17% more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks than league average this season, while the Eagles have the seventh-highest pass play percentage in the league. A 25-point game is in play for Foles, even if it is a top-5% outcome.
  • Mark Ingram II ($5,200) - If the game stays on script, we’ll see a heavy dose of Ingram in the second half as New Orleans salts away the win. Ingram has multi-touchdown upside any time the Saints are playing as a home favorite and comes at a fraction of Kamara’s price and crowd exposure. In the Week 11 meeting with Philadelphia, Ingram got the 100-yard bonus on DraftKings and scored two touchdowns on his way to 25.3 fantasy points. He’s the definition of leverage on Kamara and the Saints passing game.
  • Alshon Jeffery ($5,800) - Shadow coverage from Marshon Lattimore hasn’t limited opposing wide receivers the way it did last season. At $200 more than Cooks, Jeffery should get glossed over despite his multi-touchdown upside and respectable 6.8 targets per game since Foles took over as Philadelphia’s starter.
  • Ted Ginn Jr Jr. ($4,400) - Ginn is a standout in the $4,500-and-under price tier and may actually end up closer to a chalk play by the time the weekend rolls around. He was targeted eight times in Week 16 (his first and only game since Week 4) and came through with 12.4 fantasy points. Assuming he receives similar volume in this game after resting for over two weeks, those targets will be worth a lot more against Philadelphia's highly-flammable secondary.

IN THE MIX

These guys come in above the “click and a prayer” cutoff line.

  • Darren Sproles ($4,400) - No stranger to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Sproles is still quick enough to bust a big play. He’s a tough sell on a slate with so much running back value, but did lead the team with 15 total touches last week. He’s not a bad correlation play in Saints stacks.
  • Nelson Agholor ($4,300) - The wide receiver running most of his routes into Eli Apple’s coverage is always in play. Agholor has 20+ DraftKings points in two of his last three games, and at his affordable price, can easily appear in a winning lineup if he slips past Apple for a big play.
  • Golden Tate ($4,600) - Tate delivered with 46 yards and a touchdown on eight targets in last week’s win over the Bears. Slot receivers have overachieved against the Saints for most of the season, making Tate a solid contrarian play if we can assume his usual 6-8 targets.
  • Keith Kirkwood ($3,300) or Tre'Quan Smith ($4,200) - One of these guys is likely to burn Philadelphia’s secondary for a touchdown at sub-5% ownership. Split 10% exposure between the two.
  • Dallas Goedert ($2,800) - Goedert will be out there on about half the team’s snaps and proved again last week he’s a threat to score in any given game.