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.

PACE. Last week, I briefly referenced that I thought the Texans-Colts game had sneaky shootout potential because neither had a strong defense, but both ran their offenses at a rapid pace. In line with that thinking, I stated that Andrew Luck, DeAndre Hopkins, and Keke Coutee were all intriguing GPP plays. They delivered anywhere from 4x to 8x value on their respective salaries as the game blew up, totaling 62 points in regulation and another 9 points in overtime. While the results will not always be that favorable, you should be looking at pace matchups every week to get a feel for the flow of each game. Does one offense plod along to kill time and keep their defense off the field (i.e., 2016 Cowboys)? Is a particular offense running no-huddle irrespective of game situation (i.e., Chip Kelly Eagles)? Will an offense build a lead and keep throwing the ball (i.e., 2018 Rams)? Knowing how teams run their offenses can help you gamescript each game to predict player involvement and/or scoring patterns that might not be evident in the Vegas lines. FootballOutsiders offers this information for free--you can find it HERE.

One last thing about pace, as you check out the data. Do not forget that certain teams may appear to run a quick offense (i.e., Minnesota, 4th overall), but you need to take into account the games that led to those data. In the case of the Vikings, they have trailed in their games for most of the 2018 season, which lends itself to playing more quickly. To eliminate some of that 'noise,' focus on the rankings in 'neutral situations' where the scoring differential was minimal. If you do it correctly, you will see that the Lions and Packers both field slower offenses, but have an implied game total of 51 points, 3rd highest on this week's slate. With that in mind, you might consider lowering your relative exposure to that game and hope that those trends play out on the field. If they do, you would be ahead of the crowd who expect excessive scoring. Whatever you decide, best of luck on Sunday.


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.


Blake Bortles $5500 6% 1 7 Fournette's absence and KCs offense help force output.
Matt Ryan $6600 8% 2 1 PIT defense allowed multiple TDs to all QBs so far.
Kirk Cousins $6000 3% - 2 Sneaky shootout with two overrated pass defenses.
Jared Goff $6500 8% - 3 SEA defense takes a dive w/out Earl Thomas.
Patrick Mahomes II II $6200 4% - 4 Matchup should keep crowd exposure attractive.
Carson Wentz $5800 2% - 5 See notes on Kirk Cousins (above).
Ben Roethlisberger $6900 10% - 6 Only deterrents are price and inflated ownership.
Philip Rivers $6700 6% - 8 Leverage play against Melvin Gordon III chalk.
Russell Wilson $5100 5% - 9 Plus-gamescript and return of Baldwin helps chances.
Derek Carr $5200 4% - 10 Surpassed 300 yards in 75% of contests thus far.



  • On a week where pricing is relatively tight due to a lack of efficient pricing and limited practice injuries, saving a few dollars wherever possible is encouraged. At quarterback, there is a sound argument for spending up to nab Matt Ryan or Ben Roethlisberger, but Blake Bortles is equally in play. On the road in Kansas City, he'll be asked to put air under the ball to keep up with the Chiefs, who have scored 36.2 points per game, but have allowed 28.8 points per game in the process. They have allowed the 7th most fantasy points per game to the quarterback position and do not match up well against the Jaguars underrated wide receivers. Add in some favorable, if not remarkable splits, that demonstrate Bortles' ability to thrive when Leonard Fournette is inactive (as he will be on Sunday) and Bortles is an attractive salary-saver at the position.

**Sunday AM update: The weather in KC is ominous and the tarp appears to have been intentionally left off the field by the Chiefs organization. I think sloppy conditions favor speed and a ground game, which detracts from the Jags offense. Bump down Bortles in cash (I now prefer Matt Ryan) and maybe get yourself a bit more Tyreek Hill in tournaments.**

  • If you have the extra salary, you could do worse than Matt Ryan on the road against the Steelers, who have allowed more fantasy points per game than any team in the NFL outside of the dreadful Tampa Bay Bucs. The Steelers' defensive woes date back to last season when they skated through a cake schedule only to get throttled by the Jaguars in the playoffs; this season, they have not demonstrated any improvement, having allowed 29.0 points per game to their opponents included 3 consecutive 300-yard passers entering this week's contest against the Falcons. After a stinker to open the NFL season against the Eagles, Matt Ryan has settled in nicely, scoring 30+ fantasy points in every game since. Some will flinch at the prospect of starting him on the road against Pittsburgh, but the pace of this game and the general ineptitude of the Steelers defense should be enough to see him excel for the fourth consecutive week.


  • Tough up front, the Eagles have been anything but stout in their defensive backfield. The Birds have serious deficiencies in their secondary, exemplified by both Ronald Darby and Jalen Ramsey getting smoked by receivers on a weekly basis; the pair has allowed nearly 600 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns through their first four games, which does not account for any passing action elsewhere in the Eagles secondary. Enter Kirk Cousins, who appears to be the best fit of the newly acquired free agent quarterback signings in the off-season. Through his first month as a Viking, Cousins has thrown for 10 touchdowns versus only 2 interceptions and has surpassed 400 passing yards in half of his games. His upside with mismatches for Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen is immense, which makes his predicted 3% ownership an absolute joke.
  • Getting a piece of the Rams offense under Sean McVay has proven to be a profitable endeavor for those of us in DFS circles. No team has scored more points since the beginning of last year and Vegas does not believe this is the week to get away from the Rams, as they are projected to score 28.8 points against the Seahawks. There is reason to be excited about Todd Gurley, as the Rams are touchdown-favorites, but Jared Goff is no slouch and offers tournament-winning upside at ownership levels less than half of Gurley. Goff has thrown for 350+ yards in 3 consecutive games entering this week and would appear to be primed to do it again with his stable of stellar receivers against a defense that will be without Earl Thomas (leg).
  • Do not look past Patrick Mahomes II at home against the Jaguars in tournament play. The second-year sensation continues to impress and will be on fewer rosters than his upside merits simply because he will be facing the best defense in the league. Remember, however, that the Jags are stout up front having allowed only 1 rushing touchdown and a paltry 95.0 rushing yards per game. With 25+ fantasy points in every contest this season, Mahomes' $6.2K salary is simply too cheap for a quarterback leading an offense that is projected to score 26 points, no matter the defense. Be sure to go over the field on your exposure (our Steve Buzzard projects him in only 4% of DraftKings rosters).


Aaron Jones $4300 10% 1 2 Emerging RB1 role vs. 27th DVOA rush defense.
T.J. Yeldon $5600 18% 2 9 Bellcow usage against friendliest NFL rush defense
Melvin Gordon III $8600 23% 3 5 Sizeable home fave with high implied team total.
Ty Montgomery $3800 2% 4 1 Injuries to GB WRs will force him into receiver role.
Joe Mixon $6900 13% - 3 Near-lock for 20+ touches as 6-point home fave.
James Conner $7500 21% - 4 Possibly overlooked due to focus on passing matchup.
Alex Collins $5000 3% - 6 CLE allowed several big games to RBs thus far.
Christian McCaffrey $8000 25% - 7 Usage is extraordinary. NYG = 29th DVOA rush defense.
Matt Breida $5700 4% - 8 Gaining steam. ARZ = 2nd most FPs allowed to RBs.
Jay Ajayi $5100 3% - 10 Price and % rostered is right given 2-TD upside.
Todd Gurley $9600 17% - 11 Always in play, but price is a tough sell.
Derrick Henry $4400 2% - 12 BUF has allowed 7 TDs to opposing RBs this year.



  • At the high-end of the salary scale, you will be forced to select between Christian McCaffrey, James Conner, Todd Gurley, Saquan Barkley, and Melvin Gordon III. Of those options, Gordon stands out as the best combination of scoring floor and value. Gordon is being used in all phases of the Chargers offense; his 34 targets is second on the team, trailing only Keenan Allen by 2. His matchup is pristine, as the Raiders have allowed a 100-yard rusher in 3 of their 4 games this season, a list that includes lesser-talented running backs like Nick Chubb and Phillip Lindsay. As 5-point home favorites, Gordon could also get additional work late in this game and we should not forget that the Chargers are projected to score 28.8 points, second-highest on the Vegas boards. All the pieces are there for substantial production with limited cash game risk.
  • To save salary, you might consider rostering both Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery from the Green Bay Packers. With at least two starting receivers (Randall Cobb & Geronimo Allison) missing the game and a third (Davante Adams) potentially limited, the Packers are going to have to look at other skill players to put up the 26.3 points they are projected to score. On the ground, it should be a heavier dose of Aaron Jones than we have seen in the past two weeks, as Jones is clearly the most talented rusher in this backfield; he has more than doubled the output of Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery and is suspected to see more volume as a result of his early success. Additional looks for Jones confers even more value upon him, as his opponents have allowed more rushing yardage to the running back position than any team in the league (156.0 yards per game), including 100-yard rushers in 3 of 4 contests. The elevation of Jones would ordinarily spell disaster for Montgomery, but we should expect to see him running wide receiver routes throughout this game to fill in for the injured receiving corps. His $3.8K salary does not reflect that role and if he goes off at 2% ownership in GPPs, it would be criminally low.
  • With Leonard Fournette sidelined yet again (sigh), T.J. Yeldon becomes cash game fodder against the Chiefs, who have allowed more fantasy production to the position than any team in the league. In relief of Fournette last week (much to this author's chagrin), Yeldon compiled 24.0 DraftKings points including a pair of touchdowns (1 rushing, 1 receiving). We should expect similar usage this week against the Chiefs, whereby Yeldon is involved in all phases of the game. On the heels of seeing Corey Grant play only 9% of the team's snaps last week, Yeldon feels relatively safe at a fair $5.6K price point for cash games if you so desire.


  • Joe Mixon makes his return to the Bengals just in time, as Giovani Bernard will miss the next few games with a knee injury suffered last week against the Falcons. Mixon, himself, missed a pair of games due to a minor knee procedure, but comes back to a plush home matchup against the Miami Dolphins as 6-point favorites. The Dolphins are the league's 3rd friendliest defense to opposing running backs (33.9 DK points per game allowed), having allowed 5 different rushers to surpass 17.5 fantasy points this season. If Mixon sees the lion's share of touches out of this backfield, he should be in line to deliver solid value on his salary. That said, there is late talk from Marvin Lewis that Mixon may not see an expansive set of snaps in his first game out and instead may share additional touches with rookie Mark Walton, but I would expect a 3:1 split which would still offer Mixon enough opportunity to deliver on his salary.
  • Do not overlook Christian McCaffrey against the Giants' 29th ranked DVOA rush defense this weekend. Sure, CMC is going to cost you $8.0K and you could have Melvin Gordon III for just a few hundred dollars more, but McCaffrey's usage in the Panthers' offense is every bit as expansive (if not more) as MG3's usage. In case you were not paying attention, McCaffrey's snap counts in his first 3 games were 85%, 94%, and 100%. In their Week #3 win against Bengals, CMC touched the ball 30 times en route to a 31-21 win, which bodes well for him this week as 6.5-point home favorites. He will be rested coming off an early bye and the Giants are a week removed from allowing Alvin Kamara, a running back with a similar style to CMC, to score 44.1 DK points.
  • If he ends up on only 3% of tournament rosters on DraftKings, Alex Collins will have been an excellent tournament play regardless of outcome. The concern about Collins is that his excessive fumbling has caused the coaching staff to give additional looks to Javorius Allen, which limits his upside. However, the price is fair and the matchup is excellent, as the Browns have allowed 18+ points to a running back in every game this season. Look for Collins to come out strong in this matchup and build momentum; the risk is that if he fumbles, you can probably rest assured that he will be watching from the sidelines for more than just a quarter (as he did last week). With high reward comes high risk--roster accordingly.


Doug Baldwin $5000 13% 1 8 Price is too low given implied role & gamescript.
Julio Jones $8500 15% 2 1 Steelers secondary will fix his TD woes.
Dede Westbrook $4700 9% 3 14 Best WR in Jax should get extra looks vs. KC.
Adam Thielen $7700 9% 4 2 Volume monster outclasses Sidney Jones.
Christian Kirk $3700 3% 5 15 Rookie is emerging. Price is right.
Keenan Allen $7800 6% - 3 Slot WRs have bested Oakland this season.
Stefon Diggs $7000 9% - 4 Jalen Mills could be in for a long day.
JuJu Smith-Schuster $7500 17% - 5 1-target less per game than AB at 20% discount.
Robert Woods $6500 9% - 6 Price is reasonable given recent form.
Kenny Golladay $6000 8% - 7 2-TD upside is there vs. undersized GB DBs.
Emmanuel Sanders $7100 3% - 9 Jets getting throttled by slot WRs in 2018.
Antonio Brown $9100 19% - 10 No explanation necessary. Price hurts.
Brandin Cooks $7400 8% - 11 Can get behind Earl Thomas-less secondary.
Nelson Agholor $5300 3% - 12 Return of Alshon did not hurt target share.
Odell Beckham Jr Jr. $8000 7% - 13 Positive TD regression is imminent.



  • Look for Doug Baldwin to expand on the seven targets that he saw in his 2018 debut last week against the Cardinals. The Rams boast one of the best pass rushes in the NFL, which should force Russell Wilson to look to Baldwin on short routes out of the slot. The case for Baldwin is enhanced given his fair $5.0K salary and the fact that the Rams will surely force the Seahawks to keep pace with their potent offense by minimizing the rushing game. On a week where value options are limited in cash games, Baldwin appears to be one of the safer wide receivers on the board.
  • The fact that Julio Jones has not caught a touchdown for nine consecutive games is not a secret. One could argue that his unexplained inability to score hurts his tournament upside, but there should not be much dispute about his fantasy floor--Jones has 95+ receiving yards in 3 out of 4 games this season and is without question the primary wide receiver in Atlanta. Calvin Ridley has scored six touchdowns over his past three games, but he is doing so on a limited number of targets (19 over that span) which is simply unsustainable. We should fully expect some regression on all fronts of this offense moving forward and Julio Jones will be the primary beneficiary. If you are spending on the wide receiver position, he is the call.
  • For other value options in cash formats, you might consider either Dede Westbrook or Christian Kirk. Westbrook is the Jaguars' most-talented receiver and is coming off a game that saw him receive 13 targets (and 25.0 DK points) against the Jets; he will match up against Kendall Fuller, who gives up speed, size, and talent in coverage against Westy. In the Bay area, rookie Christian Kirk will face off against the Niners' funnel defense that ranks 23rd against the pass and 9th against the rush (DVOA metric). Kirk appears to be Josh Rosen's favorite target and is still underpriced due to a dropped pass and a pass interference call last weekend that would have resulted in his second near-100 yard performance with Rosen under center.


  • After a big opening week that saw him catch 8 passes for 108 yards and a score, Keenan Allen has been relatively quiet with an average of only ~ 10 DK points per game over his next 3 contests. This week's matchup against the Raiders represents a prime breakout spot, as Oakland has struggled to contain slot receivers all season; they have allowed slot receivers to score in 3 of their 4 games and in the other game, Emmanuel Sanders put together a scoreless, but respectable 4/96/0 stat line. Our final projections show Allen on 6% of tournament rosters, which would be far too low for the type of upside that he brings to tournament rosters as the primary receiver on a team whose 28.8-point implied team total is second-highest on the Vegas board.
  • Both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are excellent GPP plays against the Eagles' underperforming secondary that has allowed big days to Corey Davis (9/161/1), Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson (10/83/1 and 4/129/1), and Julio Jones (10/169/0) through the first month of 2018. No opposing running back has rushed for more than 40 yards against the Eagles, which is putting even more pressure on Jalen Mills, Sidney Jones, and Ronald Darby to make plays. This is an excellent spot for both of these receivers and if the tournament is big enough, you could do worse than running a complete game stack that included Kirk Cousins to Diggs and Thielen while running it back with a Philadelphia receiver (preference for Nelson Agholor or Zach Ertz).
  • Skipping over the obvious rationale for spending up to get either JuJu Smith-Schuster or Antonio Brown, how about taking a chance on one (or more) of the Rams' receivers against Seattle? Both Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks are excellent sub-10% options in a game that oddsmakers have the Rams scoring nearly 30 points. Todd Gurley will be rostered at rates more than double any of the Rams receivers (not to mention that he is 30+% more expensive), but every one of those receivers carries similar GPP-winning upside into this contest. The matchup is better than advertised, as the Seahawks have not faced a proven, let alone premier, offense all season (Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Arizona) and they will be without Earl Thomas, who broke his leg last Sunday. You can also consider the touchdown machine, Cooper Kupp, but preference goes to Woods and Cooks, who run deeper routes and are more likely to bring 100+ yard upside (and the 3-point DK bonus) to your rosters.


Jimmy Graham $4700 12% 1 1 Only healthy receiver in GB. Price is right.
Austin Hooper $3000 6% 2 4 Plus matchup vs. NFL's friendliest TE defense.
Nick Vannett $2500 3% 3 3 Absorbs Will Dissly role in passing gamescript.
Zach Ertz $6500 10% - 2 Double-digit targets in every game this season.
Travis Kelce $6200 12% - 5 Weekly 2-TD upside for matchup-proof star.
David Njoku $3400 6% - 6 7 targets in 3 of 4 games. Has Mayfield's eye.
Ricky Seals-Jones $2900 3% - 7 TD-dependent punt option in plus matchup.
Jared Cook $4800 11% - 8 Recent production has ramped up asking price.
C.J. Uzomah $2900 4% - 9 Takes over for Tyler Eifert. Cheap flyer.
Jeff Heuerman $2700 1% - 10 Increasing involvement led to 7 targets in last game.



  • If you can afford the extra salary, Jimmy Graham should be well-placed to deliver fantasy goodness against the Lions on Sunday. The Packers will be without Geronimo Allison (concussion) and Randall Cobb (hamstring) in Week #5, leaving only Davante Adams who is dealing with a calf injury that only allowed him to practice limitedly on Friday. Collectively, these injuries should provide overflow action to Ty Montgomery (RBs, above) and Jimmy Graham. Graham is averaging a shade under seven targets per game entering this contest, but should conceivably approach double-digit targets with the referenced injuries. Monitor Twitter on Saturday morning, but if Adams is also inactive, Graham enters must-play territory for cash games.
  • If you want to save salary for cash games, you could do worse than rolling with either Austin Hooper or Nick Vannett at the tight end position. Hooper will scare a lot of people away, particularly coming off a two-target game against the Bengals last week, but his $3K salary merits only a couple catches for 40-50 yards. Playing in the week's highest-scoring game against the league's friendliest tight end defense, that threshold does not feel like an impossibility. In Seattle, Nick Vannett will take over for Will Dissly in a game that could see Russell Wilson loft the ball 35+ times in catchup mode against the Rams. Vannett is offered at the stone-cold minimum on DraftKings and should be on the field for 80+% of the team's offensive snaps. The Rams have allowed every tight end (save Ricky Seals-Jones) that they have faced this year to surpass the 7.5-points that he needs to achieve cash game value in your DK rosters.


  • Injuries, bye weeks, and primetime games have limited the number of attractive, high-upside tight ends for Sunday's main slate. Outside of Jimmy Graham (above), there are only two star tight end options and both are found at the top end of the salary scale--they are Travis Kelce ($6.2K) and Zach Ertz ($6.5K). Both carry multi-touchdown upside, but their respective salaries are a tough ask on a week where value is limited. Ertz would appear to have a higher floor after seeing double-digit targets in every game this season, but he remains surprisingly scoreless on the season. Kelce, on the other hand, has scored or surpassed 100 receiving yards in 3 out of 4 games, but his matchup against the Jaguars (4th stingiest against tight ends) is less than optimal. On a week where the position feels a bit thin, you will want some exposure to both Kelce and Ertz, but do not be afraid to take a shot on lesser-known players like C.J. Uzomah or Jeff Heuerman to save salary that can be spent on players you like more at other positions.
  • In the preseason, Baker Mayfield and David Njoku displayed chemistry that many of us felt would be carried into the regular season. Yet, here we are, with six quarters of football under Mayfield's belt and Njoku still has yet to find paydirt. That could change on Sunday against the Ravens, whose defense versus position ranking (11th) may not be as good as advertised. Prior to last week, Baltimore had not faced a team with an above-average tight end all season; they proceeded to allow a 6/85/0 stat line to Vance McDonald and Jesse James, neither of whom compare to Njoku's skillset. For his part, Njoku has been targeted seven times in three of the Browns games, but has surprisingly not been targeted in the redzone despite his size and aggressive playing style. Look for those trends to change against the Ravens and Njoku to deliver on his modest salary.


49ers $3000 3% 1 8 SF's weakness on D is ARZ's weakness on offense.
Jets $2600 9% 2 4 Discounted home defense vs. Case Keenum is fine.
Jaguars $2800 3% - 1 Best defense in the league at < $3K = yes.
Titans $4000 10% - 2 Love the matchup, hate the price.
Ravens $2800 11% - 3 Defense gets a lift from return of Jimmy Smith.
Bengals $2800 6% - 5 Dolphins' record does not align with their offensive output.
Rams $3800 5% - 6 Pressure defense vs. poor O-line = fantasy opportunity.
Bills $2300 5% - 7 Cheap home defense vs. Mariota = worth a shot.


  • With approximately half of this week's teams projected to score 24+ points, there is not a lot to like at the team defense position. Simply put, there is not a single play that feels safe for cash games. As such, the recommendation is to build your rosters with a placeholder defense; slot in the Titans and their $4.0K salary while you build out the remainder of your roster. When you get to the last position or two and are finding that you need additional salary to get those position players into place, drop down to a defense with which you feel most comfortable. This week, I will be looking at the 49ers are home against a rookie quarterback whose best offensive weapon is his running back. The Cardinals will try to run the ball against San Francisco, but it could be tough sledding for David Johnson, as the Niners have only allowed one running back to surpass 50 rushing yards all season. If the Cards choose to attack San Francisco through the air, where they are most susceptible, it will have to be with an aging Larry Fitzgerald and two young receivers opposite him; either way, it is tough to be afraid of an offense that enters October with a scoring average of less than 10 points per game.
  • If you want to drop down a bit further, look at the Jets who are playing at home against Case Keenum. Keenum has been an early disappointment in Denver, tossing twice as many interceptions (six) as touchdowns (three) to this point in the season. Vegas agrees with the possibility of the Jets keeping this one low-scoring, having projected the Broncos with only ~ 21 points, 4th lowest on their boards. The biggest reason to target the Jets is their price--at $2.6K, you are accepting the discount and acknowledging that paying a premium really is not buying you much comfort on this slate.
  • Elsewhere, there is not a lot to like. Feel free to take real chances with defense this week. The Titans have the best matchup against a reckless Josh Allen, but the Bills are at home where they always play better. The Jaguars definitely have play-makers that can win tournaments for you, but they are facing a red-hot Chiefs offense in their stadium, which limits enthusiasm; that said, you will not get the Jags at this price point ($2.8K), nor ownership (3%) for the rest of the season. The Ravens will probably be the chalk defense this week against the Browns and maybe it makes sense, but there is reason to go underweight on the field because Cleveland's offense is no longer a pushover and the Ravens are on the road. Closing where we started: Take chances at this position this week...paying a premium for any defense is not merited.

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