Projecting the Pros on DraftKings: Week 17

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 16 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
Patrick Mahomes II II KC 7100 21.7% 24.4%
Aaron Rodgers GB 6300 10.4% 8.9%
Ben Roethlisberger PIT 7000 12.3% 8.5%
Jared Goff LAR 6200 7.3% 5.7%
Matt Ryan ATL 6300 5.7% 4.5%
Deshaun Watson HOU 6600 4.2% 3.8%
Josh Allen BUF 6000 4.0% 3.7%
Jameis Winston TB 6100 3.0% 3.6%
Lamar Jackson BAL 5600 3.6% 3.6%
Nick Foles PHI 5900 4.3% 3.2%
Sam Darnold NYJ 5200 2.9% 2.9%
Tom Brady NE 6000 2.9% 2.9%
Kyle Allen CAR 4000 2.4% 2.8%
Eli Manning NYG 4900 1.6% 2.6%
Philip Rivers LAC 6400 2.5% 2.5%
Kirk Cousins MIN 5500 1.9% 2.5%
Case Keenum DEN 4800 0.9% 2.4%
Teddy Bridgewater NO 5300 3.1% 2.4%
Derek Carr OAK 5100 1.0% 2.2%
Baker Mayfield CLE 5300 0.7% 2.0%
Josh Johnson WAS 4800 1.1% 2.0%
Blake Bortles JAX 4400 2.1% 1.9%

Early Impressions

Despite the largest Sunday Main slate of the season offering over 20 viable options at quarterback, Patrick Mahomes II is far-and-away the chalk this week -- and for good reason. As of Thursday, he has the second-highest probability of achieving 4x value (37.8%) and the fifth-highest aggregate projected rostership for his wide receiver corps (22.9%). He also will be facing a Raiders defense that's projected to appear in less than one percent of tournament lineups.

SATURDAY UPDATE: He's still at 37.8%, but Mahomes has now leapfrogged Lamar Jackson for first place among quarterbacks with respect to 4x value probability. The gap between his overall and pro projections has only increased by 0.1%, however, because aggregate projected rostership for Chiefs wide receivers has dropped to 21.7%.

Aaron Rodgers ($6,300, 10.4% Overall Roster Percentage, 8.9% Pro Roster Percentage)

Other than the effect of scaling these projections to add up to 100 percent, it's a mystery as to why Rodgers' pro projection is below his overall projection since everything seems to point in a positive direction. At 33.5%, he ranks third behind Mahomes and Jackson in 4x value probability. At 28.1%, his wide receiver corps has the highest aggregate rostership projection. Detroit's defense is expected to appear in less than one percent of lineups. And finally, Rodgers' offensive line has the best pass protection matchup on the Sunday Main slate according to Pro Football Focus.

It's also worth noting that, despite Green Bay having the sixth-highest implied team total of Week 17, Rodgers' salary on Draftkings didn't budge from Week 16.

Running Backs

Below is the table for running backs:

Running Back Team Salary Overall Pros
Saquon Barkley NYG 8200 31.7% 35.3%
Jamaal Williams GB 6000 26.8% 27.6%
C.J. Anderson LAR 5400 24.4% 21.2%
Dwayne Washington NO 3000 19.5% 20.7%
Royce Freeman DEN 3500 15.8% 16.6%
Peyton Barber TB 3600 15.7% 14.6%
Jeff Wilson SF 4400 11.5% 9.0%
Elijah McGuire NYJ 5300 9.0% 6.9%
James Conner PIT 7500 11.3% 5.8%
T.J. Yeldon JAX 3500 5.6% 5.8%
Kenyan Drake MIA 3700 4.5% 5.7%
Chris Carson SEA 6500 7.6% 5.3%
Sony Michel NE 5200 7.1% 5.1%
Adrian Peterson WAS 4500 3.3% 4.7%
Gus Edwards BAL 4400 3.9% 4.6%
Melvin Gordon III LAC 8400 6.9% 4.6%
Damien Williams KC 6100 7.2% 4.4%
Brian Hill ATL 3900 6.1% 4.3%
Devontae Booker DEN 3200 3.1% 4.2%
Jalen Richard OAK 4200 2.4% 4.2%
Dalvin Cook MIN 6300 3.8% 4.1%
James White NE 5100 3.6% 4.0%
David Johnson ARI 5700 2.6% 3.8%
Doug Martin OAK 4400 2.8% 3.5%
Joe Mixon CIN 6700 2.8% 3.4%
Nick Chubb CLE 6400 1.8% 3.4%
Darren Sproles PHI 4400 2.0% 3.3%
Kalen Ballage MIA 3600 1.6% 3.3%
Josh Adams PHI 3700 1.5% 3.3%
Theo Riddick DET 4300 1.8% 3.1%
Christian McCaffrey CAR 9100 3.0% 3.0%
Rod Smith DAL 5500 1.5% 2.9%
Spencer Ware KC 6200 2.4% 2.6%
Jaylen Samuels PIT 6800 2.4% 2.6%

Early Impressions

Given that he's playing at home with an uncontested workload, it's not surprising to see Jamaal Williams atop the table. What is a bit surprising is that the pro projection model views him favorably despite ranking second-worst at the position in terms of aggregate wide receiver rostership (31.0%). Remember, for running backs, this is a negative indicator because it suggests they won't get a high market share of targets, which is crucial on a full-PPR site like Draftkings. One other concern outside of model factors is that the Lions rush defense has been a much-improved unit since acquiring Damon Harrison.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Williams has fallen to second place in the table despite Green Bay's aggregate wide receiver rostership actually decreasing to 28.1% (which should be a positive development for a running back in the model). Saquon Barkley was able to eke out No. 1 because the same stat also decreased for him, from 7.3% to 5.1%. In other words, Barkley gained the upper hand because his decrease went from an already low level to an even lower one, whereas Williams still has pretty much the same target market share problem he had previously.

Royce Freeman ($3,500, 15.8% Overall Roster Percentage, 16.6% Pro Roster Percentage)

Or Devontae Booker ($3,200, 3.1% Overall Roster Percentage, 4.2% Pro Roster Percentage)

Within the pro projection model, Freeman ranks No. 1 among running backs this week in terms of 4x value probability (38.5%). Outside the model, he'll be playing at home against a Chargers defense that a) is limited in its motivation, and b) has allowed the fourth-most fantasy production to opposing running backs over its past five games. The only problem with being heavily overweight on Freeman is that he's persona non grata in Denver's (admittedly shabby) pass offense. With Phillip Lindsay sidelined, that role belongs to Booker, who has a salary that's $300 lower and whose expected rostership is projected to be a quarter (or less) of Freeman's. Indeed, Booker doesn't rank all that far behind Freeman in 4x value probability (20.7%, 10th).

Wide Receivers

Below is the table for wide receivers:

Wide Receiver Team Salary Overall Pros
Robby Anderson NYJ 5600 21.7% 29.2%
Davante Adams GB 8000 21.9% 23.7%
Robert Woods LAR 6900 16.9% 17.8%
DeAndre Hopkins HOU 8100 18.9% 17.5%
Tyreek Hill KC 8400 19.7% 17.5%
Chris Godwin TB 4300 14.9% 12.0%
Kenny Golladay DET 6600 11.7% 9.5%
Julian Edelman NE 7600 11.1% 8.7%
Antonio Brown PIT 8700 12.0% 8.3%
JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT 8300 12.8% 8.1%
Jordy Nelson OAK 4900 7.5% 6.2%
Marquez Valdes-Scantling GB 3900 4.0% 5.8%
Sterling Shepard NYG 5400 5.1% 5.5%
Robert Foster BUF 5100 7.7% 5.4%
Mike Evans TB 7700 7.4% 5.3%
Kendrick Bourne SF 3800 3.3% 5.3%
Calvin Ridley ATL 5300 5.5% 4.8%
DaeSean Hamilton DEN 5000 4.3% 4.7%
DeAndre Carter HOU 3600 2.4% 4.5%
Brandin Cooks LAR 6500 6.6% 4.5%
Courtland Sutton DEN 4500 4.9% 4.4%
Dede Westbrook JAX 4700 3.4% 4.4%
Jake Kumerow GB 3000 2.1% 4.4%
Donte Moncrief JAX 3400 2.3% 4.4%
Mohamed Sanu ATL 4800 2.8% 4.3%
Julio Jones ATL 8500 7.1% 4.3%
Curtis Samuel CAR 4200 4.2% 4.3%
Keenan Allen LAC 7900 6.7% 4.2%
Zay Jones BUF 4000 4.3% 4.2%
Tre'Quan Smith NO 3700 4.1% 4.2%
Alshon Jeffery PHI 5700 5.8% 4.0%
Tim Patrick DEN 4300 2.2% 4.0%
Isaiah McKenzie BUF 3700 2.9% 3.7%
Kenny Stills MIA 3700 2.9% 3.6%
Stefon Diggs MIN 7000 3.7% 3.6%
Seth Roberts OAK 3400 1.8% 3.6%
Jamison Crowder WAS 4800 2.9% 3.6%
Michael Gallup DAL 3800 1.8% 3.4%
Adam Humphries TB 5400 3.2% 3.3%
Josh Reynolds LAR 4600 2.5% 3.3%
Adam Thielen MIN 7400 4.2% 3.3%
Nelson Agholor PHI 3800 2.4% 3.3%
Danny Amendola MIA 3800 2.1% 3.1%
D.J. Moore CAR 4500 3.4% 3.1%
Larry Fitzgerald ARI 4900 2.3% 3.0%
Ted Ginn Jr NO 3600 2.6% 3.0%
Doug Baldwin SEA 6100 2.4% 3.0%
Chris Conley KC 4200 2.0% 2.9%
Jarvis Landry CLE 5800 2.0% 2.4%
Amari Cooper DAL 7200 2.5% 2.2%

Early Impressions

Davante Adams is the early-week chalk because, despite being one of only five wide receivers priced at $8,000 or more, he still ranks seventh in 4x value probability (23.9%). To put that in perspective, the next-highest probability for a wideout in this quintet is DeAndre Hopkins at 18.0%, which ranks 20th. Adams also benefits in the pro projection model from facing a Lions defense expected to appear in less than one percent of tournament lineups.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Adams has dropped to No. 2 in the table because he's dropped from 7th to 13th in terms of 4x value probability (21.1%). Adams hasn't fallen too far down the table, however, because the Lions are still projected to appear in less than one percent of lineups.

Robby Anderson ($5,600, 21.7% Overall Roster Percentage, 29.2% Pro Roster Percentage)

This may feel like the dreaded "chasing points," but at 38.1%, Anderson ranks No. 1 in 4x value probability. And one supposes that this is a statement against interest because of citing Pro Football Focus' WR/CB matchup stats all season, but Anderson's abysmal projected showing there this week belies the fact that New England's secondary is middle of the road as a unit despite being elite as individuals.

Tight Ends

Below is the table for tight ends:

Tight End Team Salary Overall Pros
Travis Kelce KC 7200 27.9% 31.5%
Zach Ertz PHI 6700 14.7% 9.8%
George Kittle SF 6300 12.6% 8.2%
Gerald Everett LAR 2800 5.4% 5.4%
Evan Engram NYG 5300 7.1% 4.8%
Chris Herndon NYJ 3400 5.4% 4.6%
Rob Gronkowski NE 5100 6.4% 4.0%
Cameron Brate TB 3600 2.9% 3.9%
Austin Hooper ATL 3500 2.7% 3.8%
Jimmy Graham GB 3400 2.3% 3.6%
Ian Thomas CAR 3300 2.4% 3.5%
David Njoku CLE 3700 2.7% 3.5%
C.J. Uzomah CIN 3500 2.5% 3.4%
Jared Cook OAK 5500 3.9% 3.2%
Vance McDonald PIT 4200 2.4% 3.1%
Kyle Rudolph MIN 4400 2.0% 2.9%
Levine Toilolo DET 2500 0.7% 2.7%
Ben Watson NO 2600 0.7% 2.7%

Early Impressions

As has been mentioned previously in this space, the tight end projections are typically ruled by either Travis Kelce or Eric Ebron depending on which one is in the slate. Well, with Ebron (maybe) playing in the only game not on the slate, it's Kelce's turn one final time. And as per usual, he's at the top of the table because of his 4x value probability ranks highly despite an exorbitant salary. Namely, it's 19.1%, which ranks seventh among tight ends.

SATURDAY UPDATE: In terms of pro projection model factors (other than Buzzard's overall projection), nothing has changed for Kelce since Thursday. His 4x value probability remains the same, and Oakland's defense remains below one percent projected rostership. One thing that went unmentioned on Thursday, however, is that Oakland's defense ranks sixth-worst against tight ends over their past five games per Austin Lee's normalized strength of schedule.

Defenses

Below is the table for defenses:

Defense Team Salary Overall Pros
Philadelphia Eagles PHI 2700 11.2% 12.2%
New York Giants NYG 2100 8.6% 10.5%
Kansas City Chiefs KC 2600 8.9% 8.4%
Baltimore Ravens BAL 2900 6.7% 6.1%
Houston Texans HOU 3300 7.1% 6.0%
Minnesota Vikings MIN 2500 5.2% 5.8%
Pittsburgh Steelers PIT 3500 6.6% 5.7%
Buffalo Bills BUF 2700 5.3% 5.7%
New England Patriots NE 3100 5.8% 5.3%
New Orleans Saints NO 2700 5.7% 5.0%
Los Angeles Chargers LAC 3200 5.6% 4.4%
Green Bay Packers GB 2400 3.1% 4.1%
Seattle Seahawks SEA 3700 3.5% 3.7%
Chicago Bears CHI 2800 4.1% 3.2%
Los Angeles Rams LAR 3900 4.1% 2.8%
Arizona Cardinals ARI 2200 1.0% 1.9%
Washington Redskins WAS 2200 1.0% 1.8%
Cleveland Browns CLE 2400 1.0% 1.6%
Jacksonville Jaguars JAX 2300 0.9% 1.6%

Early Impressions

Philadelphia has the early-week advantage mainly due to their fifth-ranked probability of achieving 4x value (51.3%). And although they're not one of the seven defenses facing a quarterback projected to appear in less than one percent of GPP lineups, they're as close as it gets, what with Josh Johnson's projected rostership sitting at 1.1% right now.

SATURDAY UPDATE: Nothing has changed for the Eagles defense since Thursday. Their 4x value probability remains the same, and the projected rostership of their opposing quarterback, Josh Johnson remains 1.1%.

New York Giants ($2,100, 8.6% Overall Roster Percentage, 10.5% Pro Roster Percentage)

Although 4x value probabilities for defenses tend to be a tad absurd insofar as almost all end up being "values," the Giants nevertheless rank first at a nice, double take-worthy 69.0%. In addition, although the pro projection model does incorporate the fact that Dak Prescott is expected to appear in less than one percent of GPP lineups, it doesn't know that Cowboys backup Cooper Rush is likely to play most of this game . And betting against thrown-into-the-fire, backup quarterbacks has shown itself to be a smart strategy when picking defenses on Draftkings.


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