Projecting the Pros on DraftKings: Week 13

A guide to playing roster percentages like the pros.

NOTE: The pro projections below are first posted on Thursday, then updated on Saturday afternoon. On Thursday, commentary will be limited to early impressions. A more-detailed discussion of specific players will be added on Saturday afternoon.

Welcome back for Week 13 of Footballguys' new feature that uses a statistical model to project the roster percentages of "professional" tournament players on Draftkings. If you're curious about the full methodological details of the model, click here. The most important detail to keep in mind, however, is that the "professionals" in question were identified using a clustering algorithm and can be characterized by the following statement: Compared to the rest of the population, these 205 pros play more, they win more, and they do both consistently.

Quarterbacks

Below is the table for quarterbacks. In this and all subsequent tables, "Overall" is Steve Buzzard's projection of roster percentage. "Pros" is the model's projection of roster percentage for Draftkings pros only.

Quarterback Team Salary Overall Pros
Cam Newton CAR 6600 15.4% 16.8%
Jameis Winston TB 6000 11.7% 13.6%
Patrick Mahomes II KC 7600 14.7% 11.3%
Jared Goff LAR 6400 10.0% 10.8%
Kirk Cousins MIN 5500 4.7% 5.1%
Andrew Luck IND 5800 5.7% 4.1%
Matt Ryan ATL 5600 2.8% 3.8%
Aaron Rodgers GB 6200 4.5% 3.8%
Lamar Jackson BAL 5900 5.1% 3.3%
Deshaun Watson HOU 6100 4.1% 3.1%
Tom Brady NE 5800 1.9% 3.0%
Marcus Mariota TEN 5200 2.3% 2.9%
Russell Wilson SEA 6300 3.8% 2.8%
Matthew Stafford DET 5400 2.7% 2.7%
Case Keenum DEN 5200 2.0% 2.6%
Chase Daniel CHI 4800 1.1% 2.6%
Baker Mayfield CLE 5600 1.8% 1.7%
Eli Manning NYG 5000 1.2% 1.6%
Josh Allen BUF 5300 1.2% 1.4%
Derek Carr OAK 5000 1.4% 1.0%

Early Impressions

Cam Newton is the current frontrunner this week both overall and according to pro projection model. Despite his high price tag, he still ranks fifth among quarterbacks in terms of 4x value probability (which, remember, is based on salary and point projection). He also faces a Buccaneers defense that's projected to appear in only 1.5% of tournament lineups.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Newton is now even more favored by the model, with the overall/pro gap increasing from 0.8% on Thursday to 1.4% today. This is entirely due to the Buccaneers defense dropping from 1.5% projected rostership to less than one percent. The more the market dislikes his opponent, the more roster exposure you should have to Newton.

Jameis Winston ($6,000, 11.7% Overall Roster Percentage, 13.6% Pro Roster Percentage)

For $600 less than Newton, you can have his counterpart in what Las Vegas has as the third-highest over-under on the Sunday Main Slate (54.5 points). What's interesting about Winston's big leap over the past couple of days is that it isn't due to the model's most important factor, 4x value probability. In fact, his likelihood of achieving 4x value has actually decreased from 41.1% to 38.0% since Thursday. No, what drove Winston's ascension to second place in the table was that his wide receiver corps has gone from a sixth-ranked 19.6% to a top-ranked 40.6% in aggregate projected rostership. As we'll see, this is almost entirely thanks to Chris Godwin.

Kirk Cousins ($5,500, 4.7%, 5.1%)

If you want to drop down another $500, Cousins represents a solid value that the pros are projected to roster more often than the overall public. In terms of model factors, Cousins has the No. 1 probability of achieving 4x value, at 41.6%, and his wide receiver corps has an aggregate projected rostership of 20.5%, which ranks him fifth among quarterbacks. Outside the model, it's also worth noting that he's facing a Patriots defense that, over their past five games, has allowed 32% more fantasy production than league average to opposing quarterbacks, which ranks worst in the NFL over that time period.

Running Backs

Below is the table for running backs:

Running Back Team Salary Overall Pros
Spencer Ware KC 4000 45.6% 53.1%
Christian McCaffrey CAR 8800 31.0% 28.1%
Aaron Jones GB 6700 25.8% 25.5%
Todd Gurley LAR 9300 22.9% 13.9%
Phillip Lindsay DEN 5400 17.5% 13.8%
Saquon Barkley NYG 7900 16.3% 11.3%
Carlos Hyde JAX 3300 10.9% 9.9%
Lamar Miller HOU 4600 8.1% 6.7%
T.J. Yeldon JAX 4400 4.9% 5.3%
Gus Edwards BAL 4800 5.8% 4.5%
Nick Chubb CLE 7000 6.4% 4.5%
Matt Breida SF 5800 3.2% 4.4%
Chris Carson SEA 5200 4.4% 4.1%
Kenyan Drake MIA 4600 2.8% 4.0%
LeSean McCoy BUF 4900 2.1% 3.9%
Frank Gore MIA 3500 1.3% 3.9%
Tevin Coleman ATL 4500 2.8% 3.6%
Theo Riddick DET 4700 3.3% 3.5%
Doug Martin OAK 4200 1.2% 3.5%
David Johnson ARI 7400 4.1% 3.4%
Dion Lewis TEN 5300 2.9% 3.4%
Peyton Barber TB 3700 2.6% 3.4%
Tarik Cohen CHI 5600 3.5% 3.4%
James White NE 6500 3.3% 3.3%
Jalen Richard OAK 4300 2.2% 3.3%
Derrick Henry TEN 3800 1.4% 3.3%
Marlon Mack IND 5000 2.4% 3.2%
Jordan Howard CHI 4000 1.4% 3.2%
Joe Mixon CIN 7300 3.1% 3.2%
Nyheim Hines IND 4100 2.1% 3.1%
Duke Johnson Jr CLE 4400 1.7% 3.0%
LeGarrette Blount DET 3900 2.4% 2.9%
Sony Michel NE 6100 3.0% 2.9%
Dalvin Cook MIN 6200 3.0% 2.8%

Early Impressions

Carlos Hyde gets a huge boost in the model because of his position-high 37.9% value probability, as well as the fact that Jacksonville's wide receivers combine for an eighth-lowest 7.7% on the aggregate. Not sure I'm buying this one, though, as Leonard Fournette had only been playing around 50% of snaps since returning from injury (i.e., even before he was ejected and suspended). And more importantly, Hyde only saw three carries after Fournette exited the game late in the third quarter. In other words, we need to monitor what Jacksonville's plan is for his usage.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Well, that was quite the fall! So how did Hyde drop from 31.4% on Thursday to 9.9% today? Mainly, it's due to the fact that Steve Buzzard's roster percentage projection is one of the model inputs, and Steve dropped him from 23.7% to 10.9%. That said, one of the other model inputs, which you well know already, is 4x value probability, and Hyde's decreased slightly from 37.9% to 37.0% (still ranked 2nd, though).

Spencer Ware ($5,500, 45.6%, 53.1%)

It appears that Ware has broken the model, as no running back has eclipsed 50 percent projected pro rostership all season, with Todd Gurley's 42.9% in Week 7 being the closest anyone has come. Given the news of the past couple of days, this should come as no surprise. With Draftkings having already set his price early in the week, Ware's 17.4-point projection at a mere $4,000 translates to a 4x value probability of 56.5%. This is a new season high, breaking the mark set by Austin Ekeler just last week (52.5%). Ekeler more than achieved 4x value, scoring 26.3 points at cost of just $3,700 (i.e., 7.1x), and there's no reason to think Ware won't follow suit.

Oakland is one of the defenses that's projected to appear in less than one percent of tournament lineups, so the public -- well, pretty much everyone -- thinks this game is going to get late early, which bodes well for his rushing stats. Ware's also plenty capable of assuming he-who-shall-be-named-and-shamed's role in the Chiefs fantasy friendly passing game.

T.J. Yeldon ($4,400, 4.9%, 5.3%)

As John Lee astutely pointed out on this week's DFS Power Grid (time-stamped for your convenience), Yeldon is a clever pivot away from Carlos Hyde, who is projected to be rostered at a significantly higher rate. Although Hyde is a better receiver than people think, Yeldon will be playing significantly more often on passing downs. And so, if Indianapolis gets out to a big early lead, it will be Yeldon, not Hyde getting those dumpoffs that are so valuable on full PPR sites like Draftkings. In terms of the pro projection model, Yeldon benefits from having the sixth-highest probability of achieving 4x value, at 29.5%. The other factor that gives him a leg up -- especially in light of what you just read -- is that Jacksonville's wide receiver corps combines for only a 2.9% roster percentage, which ranks 21st out of 26 teams on the slate.

Matt Breida ($5,800, 3.2%, 4.4%)

Like Yeldon, the model likes Breida, in part, because San Francisco's wide receiver corps ranks 23rd on the main slate with respect to aggregate roster percentage (2.7%). In addition, other than Aaron Jones ($6,700), Breida is the only other running back above $5,500 that ranks in the Top 10 of 4x value probability (26.5%). Although there's always a chance Breida re-injures himself for the 10th straight game, he's currently as healthy as he's been all season. That's especially important given that San Francisco is likely to rely heavily on him in the hostile environment of CenturyLink Field, what with a backup quarterback and two backup wide receivers out there. If they do, Breida will be enjoying what Pro Football Focus deems to be the absolute best trench matchup of the weekend.

Wide Receivers

Below is the table for wide receivers:

Wide Receiver Team Salary Overall Pros
Chris Godwin TB 3900 21.4% 29.8%
Kenny Golladay DET 6700 18.0% 17.1%
D.J. Moore CAR 5600 17.1% 15.3%
Robert Woods LAR 6900 16.0% 14.2%
Emmanuel Sanders DEN 6300 13.4% 13.5%
Brandin Cooks LAR 7000 13.9% 12.9%
Adam Thielen MIN 8000 14.2% 12.4%
Julio Jones ATL 7700 14.2% 12.1%
Corey Davis TEN 5500 11.4% 10.6%
Tyreek Hill KC 9100 14.1% 10.5%
T.Y. Hilton IND 6000 9.8% 10.5%
Adam Humphries TB 4200 8.8% 10.1%
Bruce Ellington DET 3500 8.3% 9.0%
Davante Adams GB 7900 11.0% 8.9%
Mike Evans TB 8100 10.4% 6.4%
DeAndre Hopkins HOU 8200 8.4% 6.3%
Odell Beckham Jr NYG 7800 7.2% 5.7%
Stefon Diggs MIN 7600 6.3% 5.2%
Chris Conley KC 3800 3.9% 5.1%
Courtland Sutton DEN 4200 4.3% 4.8%
Demaryius Thomas HOU 4300 4.0% 4.6%
Josh Reynolds LAR 4900 5.6% 4.4%
Curtis Samuel CAR 3900 3.7% 4.3%
Taylor Gabriel CHI 4200 3.3% 4.3%
David Moore SEA 4300 3.6% 4.2%
Dante Pettis SF 3800 2.7% 4.0%
Josh Gordon NE 5900 4.1% 3.9%
Julian Edelman NE 7100 4.6% 3.9%
Tyler Lockett SEA 5800 3.9% 3.8%
Calvin Ridley ATL 5400 3.3% 3.6%
Quincy Enunwa NYJ 4100 2.3% 3.4%
Robby Anderson NYJ 3500 2.2% 3.4%
Doug Baldwin SEA 5500 3.7% 3.4%
Mohamed Sanu ATL 4300 1.9% 3.3%
Allen Robinson CHI 5700 3.2% 3.2%
Jarvis Landry CLE 5300 3.9% 3.1%
Marcell Ateman OAK 3600 2.9% 2.9%
Donte Moncrief JAX 4500 1.4% 2.9%
Kenny Stills MIA 3800 1.8% 2.9%
Tyler Boyd CIN 6100 3.0% 2.8%
Dontrelle Inman IND 3800 1.8% 2.8%
Keelan Cole JAX 3000 1.5% 2.7%
Jermaine Kearse NYJ 4000 1.5% 2.7%
Michael Crabtree BAL 4400 1.7% 2.7%
Sterling Shepard NYG 4600 2.4% 2.7%
A.J. Green CIN 7400 3.5% 2.6%
Devin Funchess CAR 5000 2.3% 2.5%
Marquez Valdes-Scantling GB 5200 2.0% 2.5%
Larry Fitzgerald ARI 5100 2.0% 2.2%
Christian Kirk ARI 4600 1.8% 2.2%

Early Impressions

Corey Davis tops the pro projections for wide receivers due to the combination of a sixth-ranked value probability. And except for the seven defenses completely off the radar in terms of overall rostership, the New York Jets rank second-lowest among the rest (1.6%).

SATURDAY UPDATE: Like Carlos Hyde, Davis has fallen far down the table since Thursday; and for largely the same reason (i.e., Buzzard significantly reduced his overall roster percentage projection).

Chris Godwin ($3,900, 21.4%, 29.8%)

And Adam Humphries ($4,200, 8.8%, 10.1%)

With DeSean Jackson being ruled out for Sunday, Humphries and (especially) Godwin will see increased usage in Tampa Bay's pass-happy offense. And with said increase resulting in a boost to their Draftkings point projections, it turns out that the pair of teammates ranks first and second in 4x value probability among wide receivers: Godwin's is 33.9%; Humphries' is 32.2%.

One bit of statistical detail that has only been mentioned sparingly in the fantasy Twitterverse this week is that Carolina's coverage is at its worst on passes under 10 yards downfield and over 20 yards downfield, but at its best in between. With Jackson out, Mike Evans might increase his average depth of target (aDOT) slightly to occupy the deep space, whereas Godwin and (especially) Humphries are free to roam underneath, which is where their aDOTs already are.

Emmanuel Sanders ($6,300, 13.4%, 13.5%)

Sanders' difference between overall and pro projection is barely different at all, but regular readers might notice that this is actually a big deal, as the usual pattern in these tables is for the No. 1 or No. 2 pro projection to be higher than the overall projection, followed by player after player projected for lower pro rostership than overall. (Indeed, that's exactly the case in the table above.) So the fact that Sanders' projections are so close in that area of the table suggests the model has taken a particular liking to him. To wit, his 24.0% probability of achieving 4x value ranks fifth at the position, and he's facing an awful Bengals defense that is (rightly) projected to appear in less than one percent of tournament lineups.

T.Y. Hilton ($6,000, 9.8%, 10.5%)

Hilton's 28.8% probability of achieving 4x value ranks fourth, and he's facing a Jagaurs defense projected to appear in only 1.5% of tournament lineups. But beyond those model factors, a couple of indicators suggest this matchup isn't as difficult as it appears. First, Jacksonville's ranking in terms of points allowed to opposing wide receivers has gotten significantly worse of late. As late as Week 9, they ranked No. 1; they're now No. 5. This dropoff remains even if you adjust for opponent, as Austin Lee's normalized strength of schedule tool does. (They're allowing exactly league-average production to wide receivers over their past 5 games.) Second, Jalen Ramsey may or may not play, but operating at less than 100 percent -- with a knee injury, no less -- can only help Hilton's prospects. And here's the thing, even knowing nothing about Ramsey's injury, Pro Football Focus already rated their one-on-one matchup as "advantage Hilton."

Tight Ends

Below is the table for tight ends:

Tight End Team Salary Overall Pros
Eric Ebron IND 4200 31.4% 34.1%
Travis Kelce KC 7000 15.6% 10.7%
Matt LaCosse DEN 2500 9.5% 7.9%
Cameron Brate TB 3700 6.6% 5.4%
Greg Olsen CAR 4100 5.9% 4.3%
Rob Gronkowski NE 5400 6.2% 4.1%
David Njoku CLE 4300 5.7% 4.0%
Austin Hooper ATL 3900 3.5% 3.5%
Trey Burton CHI 3800 2.7% 3.4%
Kyle Rudolph MIN 3600 2.1% 3.4%
George Kittle SF 5900 3.9% 3.3%
Rhett Ellison NYG 2600 0.9% 3.1%
C.J. Uzomah CIN 3400 1.4% 3.0%
Jared Cook OAK 4700 2.9% 2.9%
Gerald Everett LAR 2900 1.8% 2.9%
Tyler Higbee LAR 2700 1.0% 2.9%
Jonnu Smith TEN 3300 1.1% 2.8%
Jimmy Graham GB 4000 2.3% 2.8%

Early Impressions

When we look back on this season, Eric Ebron is likely to be one of a handful of players that was make-or-break for your bottom line on Draftkings. He's been the chalk several times now. And when a player is chalky, whether or not they fulfill that lofty status represents a highly leveraged situation. This week is no different, as he tops the table once again because he ranks second in 4x value probability.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Ebron's still at the top, he's still No. 2 in 4x value probability, and he's still likely to be the difference between profit and loss for most of us on Sunday.

Kyle Rudolph ($3,600, 2.1%, 3.4%)

Rudolph is favored by the pro projection model because his projected rostership is the 13th-highest among tight ends, whereas his 23.4% probability of achieving 4x value ranks much higher (6th). Supporting the advice of having higher exposure to Rudolph than the overall public is that he's facing a Patriots defense that's allowed a league-worst 57% more fantasy production than league average to opposing tight ends over their past 5 games. If you remember, New England was also dead last in this stat with respect to opposing quarterbacks. (Hint: Cousins-Rudolph may be one of the most valuable, low-owned stacks on the Sunday Main slate.)

Defenses

Below is the table for defenses:

Defense Team Salary Overall Pros
Green Bay Packers GB 2800 17.8% 20.4%
Kansas City Chiefs KC 2500 13.5% 11.4%
Denver Broncos DEN 2700 7.2% 5.9%
Tennessee Titans TEN 3000 5.7% 5.4%
Chicago Bears CHI 3300 6.7% 4.7%
Los Angeles Rams LAR 2600 6.1% 4.6%
Miami Dolphins MIA 2700 4.5% 4.4%
Houston Texans HOU 2700 5.1% 4.2%
Seattle Seahawks SEA 3400 4.7% 4.0%
Indianapolis Colts IND 2600 3.1% 3.5%
Cleveland Browns CLE 2300 4.1% 3.4%
Buffalo Bills BUF 2900 2.6% 3.2%
New England Patriots NE 2400 2.5% 3.2%
Baltimore Ravens BAL 2800 2.7% 2.9%
New York Jets NYJ 2200 1.5% 2.9%
New York Giants NYG 2300 1.1% 2.8%
Carolina Panthers CAR 2500 2.9% 2.6%
Jacksonville Jaguars JAX 2400 1.5% 2.5%
Atlanta Falcons ATL 2400 1.1% 2.5%

Early Impressions

Green Bay is winning the popularity contest at this point in the week, and for good reason. Playing at home as a 14-point favorite, they have a whopping 67.5% probability of achieving 4x value. In Josh Rosen, the Packers will also be facing one of seven quarterbacks projected to appear in less than one percent of tournament lineups.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Literally nothing has changed since Thursday. The Packers' value probability is still 67.5%, and Rosen is still projected for less than one percent rostership.

Indianapolis Colts ($2,600, 3.1%, 3.5%)

Although the book says to shy away from road defenses, Indianapolis has several things going for them. First, the pro projection model takes rostership for opposing quarterback into account, and new Jaguars starter Cody Kessler is expected to appear in less than one percent of lineups. Second, let's say that again for emphasis, "The Jaguars are starting Cody Kessler." Third, Jacksonville will be without their best offensive player, Leonard Fournette, whose absence means the ball will more often be in the hands of .-- wait for it -- Cody Kessler. Fourth, a Jaguars pass defense that's seen a significant dropoff from last season may very well be without their best player, Jalen Ramsey. And if the Colts are able to move the ball through the air, as is their wont, that means Jacksonville will be forced to play catch-up with -- you guessed it -- Cody Kessler. In closing, Cody Kessler.