TipAndPick's: Tips and Picks, DK Edition

Cash game and GPP selections for DraftKings

For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. Footballguys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.

Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.


In order to help you build winning rosters, let's walk through some of the observations that I have made while doing my research for DraftKings this week. As you build out your lineups on DraftKings, try to consider the following commentary, which revolves around game strategy and how we will want to take advantage of what the masses are doing when they construct their own lineups.

BANKROLL MANAGEMENT: It has been a long wait, but NFL DFS is finally upon us! So, let's make our deposits and put it all on the line, right? I mean, we're Footballguys and we know more than the casual DraftKings player. Well, while that is likely true, remember that we don't yet know what we don't yet know. And we are going to learn a lot about defensive schemes, personnel usage, and general chemistry over the next few weeks, all things that we cannot necessarily predict just yet. With that in mind, my recommendation to you is to cut back on how much you typically play by approximately 50% (give or take). Doing so will ensure that you aren't overextending yourself with incomplete information. We think we know how offenses will use their players and how defenses will scheme against players, but the truth is that we don't know exactly what will happen for the next few weeks. While the season feels short with just 17 weeks to get your money in play, it really is a marathon that requires patience and discipline. Resist the urge to do too much, too early and manage your bankroll accordingly.

LEAN TOWARDS GPPs: In line with the stream of thinking above, there is more of an edge in Week #1 for tournament play than in cash games. I suspect there will be an abundance of overlap in cash games this weekend because people will only roster players who they know are in well-defined situations. This is why you will see Drew Brees or Tom Brady in over 50% (combined) of all cash game rosters and also why Keelan Cole will be upwards of 40% owned by himself. When ownership overlaps in cash games to a high degree, the difference between winning and losing often distills down to a few players, most of whom might have been your least confident selections. For those reasons, I tend to play less cash game action in the first month of DFS and instead focus on tournaments, where the skewed ownership can be exploited. For example, our Steve Buzzard has projected a number of high-upside players in single-digit ownership this Sunday, many of whom will likely bring home the dollars in tournaments. I have tried to detail the players who I will be rostering at higher ownership than the public in the subsequent "Picks" section of the article. In short, Week #1 is a time where you will want to exploit distorted ownership in tournament play while cutting back (but not eliminating entirely) your cash games to capitalize on excessive group-think.


Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. A short summary follows each respective table to fill in the gaps that led to the respective recommendations; that text represents only an overview of the methodology and rationale that goes into each recommendation.


Drew Brees $6800 10% 1 2 30-implied team points = highest on board.
Philip Rivers $6400 10% 2 5 Potential shootout. Receivers everywhere.
Ryan Fitzpatrick $5000 2% 3 10 Punt cash option. Plus gamescript.
Andy Dalton $5800 3% - 1 Indy secondary is horrid. Return of Eifert & Ross.
Tom Brady $7200 13% - 3 Always in contention. HOU DBs are suspect.
Kirk Cousins $6500 6% - 4 Struggled in preseason or would be higher.
Blake Bortles $5600 3% - 6 Cheap receivers make stacks attractive.
Patrick Mahomes II II $6000 3% - 7 Trust Andy Reid with time to prepare.
Ryan Tannehill $5300 2% - 8 Ownership and price are too low for matchup.
Deshaun Watson $6700 9% - 9 Implied gamescript suits fantasy production.



  • With the highest implied team total on the Opening Day slate, every offensive player on the Saints is squarely in play in DFS circles. Entering his 18th NFL season, Drew Brees is coming off his lowest yardage year with the Saints since joining the team in 2006. Not to worry, though. A closer look at the numbers reveals that Brees' efficiency numbers were as good as they have ever been, including a career-high 72.1% completion percentage. On Sunday, we can safely expect Brees to pick apart last year's 31st ranked DVOA pass defense with the likes of Michael Thomas, Ted Ginn Jr, and Ben Watson. Brees is the safest quarterback on the board and his projected ownership will reflect that sentiment.
  • Closely following Brees in cash game ownership will be Philip Rivers, another trusted veteran with an arsenal of receiving weapons at his disposal. Those looking to squeeze a few extra dollars out of their cash game lineups might be well-served to nab Rivers over Brees to extract as much value as possible for other positions. Kansas City will have their hands full trying to contain Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, and the eternal Antonio Gates, especially while trying to keep Melvin Gordon III honest out of the backfield. This game could potentially enter a shoot-out mode, which also confers GPP attraction to Rivers.
  • Lastly, if you are looking to save salary and punt the quarterback position, you could do worse than rolling with Ryan Fitzpatrick opposite Drew Brees in New Orleans. The knee-jerk reaction is to question this author's sanity, but Fitzpatrick meshed well with the Bucs' receiving corps when asked last season. He had four games with (near-) full-game snap counts and in those efforts, Fitzpatrick averaged 14.2-DraftKings points per game, almost 3x value on his pedestrian $5K salary. As 10-point underdogs, the Bucs will be pressed to air out the ball and Fitzpatrick need only ~ 240 yards and a single touchdown pass to reach cash game value. It will not feel comfortable, but if you want to stockpile talent elsewhere on your roster, punting with Fitzpatrick is not a deal-breaker.


  • In the inaugural edition of the weekly video "Tips and Picks" (hosted by our friends at RotoGrinders), I outlined the multitude of reasons why Andy Dalton should be at the top of your GPP list for the quarterback position (please watch the complete video HERE). In brief, Dalton returns two difference-makers that were absent in 2017 in Tyler Eifert and John Ross; Eifert is a former touchdown extraordinaire who has suffered from injuries over the previous two seasons, while Ross and his 4.2 second, 40-yard dash speed return after missing his rookie season with injuries of his own. This pair of receivers will take the onus off A.J. Green to do all the heavy-lifting in the receiving corps and add options that have not existed for Dalton in some time. Dalton's situation becomes more attractive when the Colts' defensive backfield is taken into account. Pierre Desir, Nate Hairston, and Kenny Moore II would be backup cornerbacks on most teams, but are the best that Indianapolis has to offer in 2018. All the pieces are there, alongside low ownership, for Dalton to help bring down tournaments to start off the year.
  • Outside of Dalton, Tom Brady and the Patriots' implied 29-point team total against last year's 25th-ranked DVOA pass defense certainly brings the type of upside one would require to win a tournament. Brady is slated to be the highest-owned quarterback on the Week #1 slate, which is ordinarily a reason to fade him, but his projected ownership is not so high that it is prohibitive.
  • As deeper GPP flyers, give consideration to a pair of Florida-based quarterbacks, Ryan Tannehill and Blake Bortles. Both have stigmas associated with their names, but both are cheaply priced and can be paired with receivers who are equally affordable. For Tannehill, he is easily paired with Kenny Stills, Danny Amendola, and/or Mike Gesicki, none of whom will break your budget against last year's 24th DOVA pass defense. Bortles, offered up at $5.6K, needs only ~ 22 DraftKings points to reach GPP value, a threshold that he achieved in over 30% of his contests in 2017; given that he will appear in less than 5% of rosters on Sunday, Bortles is an excellent tournament quarterback who can be paired with Keelan Cole and/or Dede Westbrook for less than $10K total salary.


James Conner $4500 29% 1 3 O-Line with a point to prove; weather helps case.
Alex Collins $5600 12% 2 1 Plush matchup with prime gamescript.
Alvin Kamara $8500 28% 3 10 Efficiency monster returns in bellcow role.
Ezekiel Elliott $7700 11% 4 4 Zeke is being overlooked for no good reason.
Royce Freeman $4500 8% 5 6 Rookie looked like real-deal in preseason.
Melvin Gordon III $6800 22% - 2 Focal piece of offense in potential shootout.
Kareem Hunt $6900 7% - 8 7% ownership for the returning rushing leader? Yes, please.
Rex Burkhead $4200 20% - 7 The most likely Belichick RB in possible blowout.
Peyton Barber $4100 7% - 5 20+ touches at his salary = solid GPP option.
Jordan Wilkins $3700 5% - 9 Too cheap for implied role as home fave.
Dalvin Cook $6200 5% - 11 Questions about volume keeping ownership too low.
Joe Mixon $6100 6% - 12 All Bengals are in play this Sunday.



  • Le'Veon Bell's continued holdout opens up an opportunity for James Conner to get bellcow usage behind an offensive line that is arguably motivated to make him shine. In line for 20+ touches at only $4.5K, Conner is well-placed to be this weekend's most popular option at running back. For cash games, it makes a lot of sense to save salary and roster Conner with the hopes that he finishes with double-digit fantasy production; for GPPs, the final decision will need to factor in two essential components: 1) his final percent rostered, and 2) the weather in Cleveland. Follow me on Twitter for my final Sunday morning takes, but if Conner's implied ownership approaches 40% (a real possibility), it probably makes sense to come in under that number; how much under that number will be largely contingent on just how poor the playing conditions are in Cleveland on Sunday. Early word is that they could be dreadful, which might mean that Conner will see stacked boxes and poor footing all afternoon.
  • Beyond James Conner, Alex Collins looks like the preeminent running back play this weekend. Collins quietly finished the Ravens' 2017 season with ~ 20 touches per game in their final 2 months and averaged 17.1-DraftKings points per game over that span, a number that represents 3x his salary on Sunday against the Bills. The matchup against Buffalo is excellent, as no team in the NFL allowed more rushing touchdowns (22) than the Bills last season. As 7-point home favorites, Collins should get plenty of opportunity to compile additional yardage with a lead in the second half.
  • We would be remiss if we did not talk about Alvin Kamara and his DFS prospects against the Tampa Bay Bucs. Unlike last year, Kamara will not have to compete with Mark Ingram II for touches for the first month of the season, as Ingram is under suspension for violation of the league's PED policy. Thus, Kamara should get all the action he can handle on Sunday. In cash games, there is no good reason to avoid Kamara, but because he could approach 40% ownership on DraftKings in tournaments, there may be reason to go lower than the field--that 'reason' answers to the name of Mike Gillislee. Over the past two seasons, Gillislee has rushed 18 times inside the 5-yard line and scored on 12 of those opportunities, an impressive 67% conversion rate. Having just been brought onto the team earlier this week, Gillislee's grasp of the Saints' playbook is going to be minimal, but it doesn't take a mastery of the playbook to know how to barge through the tackles on the goalline, which is something that Sean Peyton could feasibly task the short-yardage specialist with until Mark Ingram II returns in October. If that were to come to fruition, Kamara's upside could be capped and 30+% of tournament rosters would be equally affected.


  • In tournament play, Melvin Gordon III jumps off the board against 2017's last-ranked DVOA rush defense: the Kansas City Chiefs. For his part, Gordon thrashed this same Chiefs' defense in late December for 28.9-DraftKings points and enters this weekend as a short home-favorite in an early AFC West showdown. Gordon surpassed 3 or more receptions and 20+ receiving yards (5+ DK points) in 5 of the Chargers' last 6 games in 2017, which yields added allure to rostering Gordon on DraftKings at a fair $6.8K price point. If this game evolves in a back-and-forth firestorm, Gordon could feasibly hit paydirt multiple times.
  • On the other side of the field, the Chiefs will feature last year's Rookie of the Year and the NFL's reigning rushing yardage leader, Kareem Hunt. Hunt embarrassed the Chargers solid defense both times he faced them last season, posting 28.3 and 42.6 DraftKings points in those contests; given his track record of effectiveness against this defense that will be without Joey Bosa (foot) this weekend, you can bet Andy Reid will be looking to feature the second-year star.
  • Elsewhere, Ezekiel Elliott is going largely overlooked this weekend, likely because there are concerns about Dallas' offensive line missing center Travis Frederick with Guilain-Barre Syndrome. And while Frederick's loss is less than optimal, our offensive line guru, Matt Bitonti still ranks the Cowboys with the 12th best offensive line without Frederick (an "A-" for run blocking). Those fears are keeping many DFS players from rostering Ezekiel Elliott, whose projected ownership is drifting into the single-digit territory. Many have already forgotten that Elliott led the league in rushing in the ten games that he played in 2017 and did so with stacked boxes nearly every week; simply put, he is a difference-maker who we know will be the focal point of the Cowboys offense, one that has gone on record that they will get him more involved in the passing game in 2018.
  • Lastly, do not sleep on rookie and preseason darling, Royce Freeman, who earned the starting job in Denver over Devontae Booker. Freeman is affordable at only $4.5K and is facing a Seattle defense that is a skeleton of its glory days, missing Kam Chancellor (retirement), Earl Thomas (late holdout), Michael Bennett (traded to Philadelphia), and Richard Sherman (free agency). As home favorites against this unproven Seahawk defense, Denver could feed Freeman early and often; if Freeman were to bust out for 100 yards and a score, he could feasibly surpass nearly 5x on his modest $4.5K salary.


Keelan Cole $3800 18% 1 1 Loss of Marqise Lee thrusts Cole into premier role.
Danny Amendola $4200 3% 2 10 Fair salary. Solid floor in PPR scoring formats
Antonio Brown $8600 24% 3 8 Only question is the weather--roster accordingly.
Kenny Stills $4700 7% 4 11 No DeVante Parker = WR1 role at WR2 price.
John Brown $3700 4% 5 14 Big play receiver needs only one play to pay off salary.
Keenan Allen $7500 26% - 2 Salary is too cheap for role in Chargers offense.
Chris Hogan $6100 16% - 3 Only 'name-brand' WR on roster until Edelman returns.
A.J. Green $7300 15% - 4 Green outclasses, by far, Indy secondary personnel.
Michael Thomas $7800 17% - 5 Brings multiple TD upside to table in this matchup.
Adam Thielen $6900 10% - 7 5-inch height advantage over K'Waun Williams = Redzone threat.
Emmanuel Sanders $5000 9% - 6 Instant chemistry with Keenum in preseason; overrated defense.
John Ross $3900 5% - 9 Speed kills. Ditto John Brown (above).
Tyreek Hill $6600 8% - 12 Could break loose vs. non-Hayward coverage.
Dede Westbrook $3900 3% - 15 Reasonable alternative to Coles' lofty ownership.
Phillip Dorsett $3700 3% - 13 Belichick can make any WR viable. Price is right.



  • A season-ending knee injury to Marqise Lee opens up the door for a secondary wide receiver in Jacksonville to post big numbers in 2018. Coming off an impressive rookie season after going undrafted from Kentucky Wesleyan, Keelan Cole certainly fits the bill. Of the current Jags receivers, Cole has more on-field experience with Blake Bortles than Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief combined; despite that fact, Cole is priced the lowest of the three options and would reach cash game value with a meager 5/50/0 stat line on Sunday.
  • A possible pivot from Keelan Cole, Danny Amendola is another salary-saver for cash games. Amendola is getting a downgrade in quarterback from Tom Brady to Ryan Tannehill, but we would be remiss to forget that Amendola is absorbing a role vacated by Jarvis Landry, who left the team for Cleveland in the off-season. In the 3 seasons Tannehill played with Landry (2014-2016), Tannehill targeted Landry an average of 137 times per season (~ 9 targets per game). Assuming Adam Gase brought Amendola to South Beach to fill the role vacated by Landry, Amendola should have no problem achieving cash game value on his reasonable $4.2K salary.
  • Monitor the weather closely on Sunday morning, but if the winds in Cleveland are less than 20 MPH, Antonio Brown is where you will want to spend your salary at the wide receiver position. Brown should become Ben Roethlisberger's security blanket until he establishes a rapport with James Conner. Cleveland will try to scheme to minimize Brown, but they will fail...just as every other team has failed over the past five years. Only extreme weather conditions can hope to contain him.


  • Despite being projected to appear on a slew of rosters, Keenan Allen is intriguing for GPP play. He is returning from the first 16-game season of his professional career, one that saw him hit double-digit targets 9 times; in those 9 games, Allen scored and/or surpassed 100 receiving yards 7 times. With shutdown cornerback, Marcus Peters, moving to the Rams in the off-season, expect the Chiefs to yield more yardage through the air in 2018 and Allen should be the primary beneficiary.
  • Inside Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Andy Dalton will look to exploit the Colts' patchwork secondary with the likes of A.J. Green and John Ross. Green is the more obvious GPP selection, but his $7.3K salary reflects the added security of rolling with the established veteran. On the lower end, Ross brings world-class speed to the equation and he could feasibly pay off his sub-$4K salary with a single play; both are solid tournament options on Sunday.
  • Maintaining the duo-based options, do not sleep on Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett, who are expected to be Tom Brady's primary wide receivers against Houston's suspect secondary in the season-opener. Hogan is the known entity and will be rostered accordingly. Dorsett disappointed in Indianapolis and was overshadowed by Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, and the aforementioned Hogan in his first season with the Pats last year; with no appreciable talent in the Patriots wide receiver depth chart while Edelman is serving a suspension, Dorsett could benefit from extra attention from Brady early in the season. At miniscule ownership numbers and a cheap price point, he is worth a flyer in some of your GPP rosters.
  • Tying a bow on possible GPP selections, Emmanuel Sanders is worth some attention after displaying solid chemistry with Case Keenum during the preseason. Sanders comes at a significant discount to stablemate, Demaryius Thomas, and benefits from running out of the slot, a favorite target of Case Keenum in Minnesota.


Rob Gronkowski $6900 19% 1 1 NE's top receiver for 6.9K? Sign me up.
Mike Gesicki $2900 2% 2 4 Rookie has impressed in camp and preseason.
Jordan Reed $4000 11% 3 2 Salivating with Alex Smith under center. Just ask Travis Kelce.
Jack Doyle $3600 15% - 3 Colts use TEs often. Return of Andrew Luck helps prospects.
Ricky Seals-Jones $2900 3% - 5 Second-year talent is Cards' best redzone receiving threat.
Tyler Eifert $3400 5% - 6 TD monster is reportedly healthy for 1st time in forever.
Evan Engram $4700 4% - 7 Jags DBs tend to force passing action over the middle.
Ben Watson $3100 4% - 8 One of many options for Brees. Super cheap.
Travis Kelce $6400 7% - 9 Proven commodity. Will Mahomes target him like Smith did?
David Njoku $3400 6% - 10 Coming into his own. Upgrade if weather is reasonable.



  • Make no mistake: Rob Gronkowski is the WR1 for the New England Patriots until Julian Edelman returns to the field in October. But because Gronkowski is listed as a tight end on the depth chart, we have access to him at a discount over other high-end WR1s. Roster Gronk without fear in both cash game and tournament formats--he should find the endzone at least once in this contest, but brings multi-touchdown upside to your rosters at a fair salary.
  • If you are looking to save salary to spend up at other positions, look no further than Mike Gesicki, a second-round draft pick out of Penn State. Gesicki posted some gaudy numbers during his junior/senior seasons in Happy Valley and has earned consistent praise from Adam Gase since arriving in Miami this Summer. Gesicki is a large man at 6'6" and should be the primary redzone receiving target for Ryan Tannehill, whose other options are Kenny Stills (6'1"), Albert Wilson (5'9"), and Danny Amendola (5'10").
  • Yet another option is the oft-injured Redskin, Jordan Reed. After five years in the NFL, Reed still has not completed a 16-game season, but he is entering Week #1 with no restrictions and is reportedly 100% healthy. Reed should benefit from the arrival of Alex Smith, who has made household names out of Travis Kelce and Vernon Davis in his 13-year career with the Chiefs and 49ers. Because of Reed's disappointing 2017 campaign, he comes at a discount and should be considered in all scoring formats.


  • Of all the skill positions on an NFL team, the tight end position has the most variability for scoring from week to week. To win a tournament, you will need to select an expensive tight end (Rob Gronkowski or Travis Kelce) who gets into the endzone at least once or a cheaper option who amasses 3+ fold return on his respective salary. Of the latter options, Jack Doyle is certainly in play. Doyle comes off a season that saw him finish behind only T.Y. Hilton for targets (80 versus 109) and tie Hilton for receiving touchdowns (4). Doyle will benefit from the return of franchise quarterback, Andrew Luck, and could easily achieve 4x value on his salary if he were to score against the Bengals on Sunday.
  • Only on 3% of tournament rosters, Ricky Seals-Jones is an intriguing GPP option who also brings salary relief to your entries. Seals-Jones looked tremendous on limited snaps at the close of his rookie season in 2017 and should benefit from increased opportunity and improved quarterback play this season. He gets a plush matchup against Washington, whose defense allowed the 6th most fantasy points to tight ends in 2017.
  • Sitting between the punt plays and the high-end guys is another second-year tight end, Evan Engram. Engram impressed in his rookie campaign, finishing as the TE5 over the course of the season with half of his games scoring double-digit fantasy points (full-PPR scoring). Engram could see substantial action on Sunday when Odell Beckham Jr Jr. squares off against all-world cornerback, Jalen Ramsey, and Sterling Shepard deals with All-Pro cornerback, A.J. Bouye on the other side of the field. With those subpar matchups on the exterior, look for Eli Manning to target Evan Engram across the middle early and often. And because Engram's salary is in purgatory at $4.7K, he will show up in far fewer rosters than his upside otherwise would suggest.


Ravens $3800 22% 1 1 At home against INT-prone Nathan Peterman.
Jaguars $3700 8% 2 3 Stellar defense is always on the table; great matchup.
Patriots $2400 14% 3 2 Do we believe in DeShaun Watson's brilliance in 2017?
Bengals $2700 1% - 4 Colts O-line could be disastrous upon Luck's return.
Broncos $3300 4% - 5 Questions everywhere on SEA offense; underowned upside play.
Saints $3600 5% - 6 Ryan Fitzpatrick is prone to blow up from time to time.
Browns $2000 3% - 7 Love the price point. Weather should keep scoring minimal.
Dolphins $2400 2% - 8 Mariota threw a slew of INTs in 2017; value GPP play.


  • For cash game defenses, there are three logical choices, but only two of those will be rostered with higher frequency depending on remaining salary. At the high end is the Baltimore Ravens defense at home against Nathan Peterman and the Bills. Peterman is most often remembered for his interception-laden performance last season against the Chargers, where he was picked five times in the first half; in his only other start, Peterman was concussed in the third quarter and did not return. To say that his rookie season was a disappointment would be an understatement and his lackluster performance is squarely why the Bills traded up to draft Josh Allen with the seventh overall pick in this year's NFL draft. While Allen is learning on the sidelines, Peterman will lead the punchless Bills offense against the Ravens in potentially poor conditions in Baltimore on Sunday. With a subpar offensive line and mediocre receiving options, it would not be surprising to see Peterman on his back and/or turning the ball over often in this contest.
  • As a punt option, you could do worse than rolling with the Patriots at only $2.4K in cash games (or tournaments). In Week #3 of 2017, DeShaun Watson rolled into Foxborough and nearly upset the Patriots in a 33-36 nail-biter that helped legitimize Watson during his rookie season. The rematch happens this weekend, but you can bet that Bill Belichick will be ready for the Houston offense this time around; Vegas agrees with that sentiment, as the Texans are 6-point underdogs and projected to score only 22.3 points. If Watson gets into an early hole and is remotely rusty, the Pats defense could pay dividends on a cheap $2.4K price point.
  • To close out the Week #1 recommendations, do not be afraid to save salary with either of the Ohio teams: the Browns or the Bengals. The Browns are offered up at DraftKings' site-minimum ($2K) and will be facing a Steelers offense that is without Le'Veon Bell in game conditions that favor the run. That game could be a low-scoring affair with possible fumbles induced by a sloppy field, which makes the Browns interesting GPP fodder. Likewise, the Bengals' first-team defense looked superb in limited preseason action and could roll against the Colts' unproven and battered offensive line. The return of Andrew Luck will drive down the popularity of Cincinnati's defense, but we haven't seen Luck in action in nearly two years and it is not beyond reason that he could stumble in his long-anticipated return.

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