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.

TIPS...

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.

CONDENSED VERSION. This and next week, Tips and Picks will feature the same tables that you have become accustomed to, but the written text will be shorter than usual. Work-related travel has (and will) limit the time available for the more extensive player summaries. Barring feedback to the contrary, the traditional format will return in Week #11.

WHEN TO FADE THE CHALK. A Twitter follower reached out on Saturday to ask the following question:

Well, Jonathan...here goes. In one sentence, you want to consider fading a player when his implied ownership percentage surpasses the likelihood (in percentage) that he will achieve GPP value (typically 4x on DraftKings, 3x on FanDuel). Texas Hold'em players understand this line of thinking as pot odds--when the pot is offering you better return on your investment than the probably of getting a winning hand, a player should make the call. In DFS, you should always base your exposure to players against what the crowd is doing. In this article, I often talk about fading a given player (i.e., Todd Gurley several weeks ago) because I think that his expected crowd exposure is higher than the likelihood that he will finish with 4x his salary. And the opposite is also true: If a player's expected percent-rostered is less than the likelihood that he will achieve 4x on his respective salary, you should go overweight on that player (i.e., see Case Keenum this week). It is worth noting that this approach will yield benefits over time and may bite you on any given week, so resist the urge to ignore this approach, as it is what differentiates long-term winning players from those who eventually bankrupt their bankrolls.

...AND PICKS

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.

QUARTERBACKS

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CROWD EXPOSURE CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Cam Newton TB $6600 23% 1 3 Chalk QB of the season vs. horrid TB secondary.
Ryan Fitzpatrick @CAR $5500 11% 2 10 Punt cash option. Played well in 2018.
Kirk Cousins DET $6200 6% - 1 Add Snacks, take away Slay = Passing.
Drew Brees LAR $6100 9% - 2 Should get all the push he needs from LAR offense.
Patrick Mahomes II @CLE $7100 8% - 4 Averaging 4x his salary across this season.
Jared Goff @NO $6000 11% - 5 NO funnel defense: 29th vs. pass, 2nd vs. run.
Case Keenum HOU $4900 2% - 6 Another funnel defense. HOU: 1st DVOA vs. rush.
Matt Ryan @WAS $5700 2% - 7 Impossible to run against 'Skins. Going overlooked.
Baker Mayfield KC $5600 3% - 8 Gamescript sets up for plentiful action.
Matthew Stafford @MIN $5600 3% - 9 Golladay/Jones are chalk, but their QB isn't?

QB OVERVIEW:

CASH

  • You should work overtime to build your cash game lineups with Cam Newton, who gets a saucy matchup against the pushover of a secondary that the Buccaneers have been fielding in 2018. Cam gets an additional boost because he can add points with his legs--he is averaging over 40 rushing yards and 0.5 rushing touchdowns per game (~ 7 DK points) this season. If you cannot find a way to get him into your cash game lineups, you might consider dropping down to Ryan Fitzpatrick in the same game, but you are urged to roll with Cam because he will likely be 60+% rostered in cash games and you do not want to be chasing points with another quarterback if he scores 25+ fantasy points, as many have done against the Bucs this season. For his part, Fitzmagic has been tremendous keeping the Bucs in contention this season; he is averaging over 30 fantasy points per game in those games where he has started (and finished).

GPP

  • As attractive as Cam Newton is for cash games, he is arguably a fade candidate if our Steve Buzzard's crowd exposure projections are accurate and Cam is rostered in ~ 25% of tournament lineups. At that rate, he becomes fade-worthy because Christian McCaffrey could score two touchdowns and prevent Newton from delivering the requisite 4x value necessary to justify his spot in your rosters. Instead, consider Kirk Cousins at home against the Lions, who added their best cornerback, Darius Slay, to the injury report on Friday. Cousins' popularity could diminish further on Sunday morning if/when Stefon Diggs is announced as inactive, but Aldrick Robinson and Kyle Rudolph can fill the gap at a juicy discount. Augmenting the case for Cousins is the fact that Damon "Snacks" Harrison should play a complete game this week; in his first game with the Lions, they held the Seahawks running backs to 3.2 yards per carry when he was on the field versus 5.6 yards per carry when on the sidelines. If Cousins isn't to your liking, Drew Brees is the type of quarterback who can slice through any defense and you can bet that he would love to lay the first loss of the year on the Rams. Brees is attractively priced and brings 300+ upside to your rosters with his go-to receiver Michael Thomas, the speedy Tre'Quan Smith, and his Swiss Army knife, Alvin Kamara. In a game that has a Vegas total of 57.5-points, Brees could easily finish with 30+ fantasy points. Thereafter, maybe give consideration to Jared Goff on the opposite side of the field for many of the same reasons--the implied score and an arsenal of weapons raises his upside. Lastly, Case Keenum is an interesting contrarian option against a Houston defense that is ranked first overall against the run (DVOA metric). The Texans' secondary is basically a M.A.S.H. unit at this point in the season and Emmanuel Sanders should have his way alongside Courtland Sutton in this matchup. Add in two offenses that rank in the top-ten for pace and this could be a sneaky fast game with a lot of passing that leads to fantasy upside.

RUNNING BACKS

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CROWD EXPOSURE CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Todd Gurley @NO $9500 23% 1 1 Price drop despite 4-straight 30+ FP games.
Christian McCaffrey TB $7800 25% 2 5 Everything is in CMC's favor for a big game.
Nick Chubb KC $4500 13% 3 4 19 touches/game since Hyde was traded.
Isaiah Crowell @MIA $4200 6% 4 8 Going overlooked despite role & matchup.
Kareem Hunt @CLE $7700 22% - 2 Scored in every game since Week 2.
Chris Carson LAC $4700 9% - 3 3x 100-yard games over past month.
Alvin Kamara LAR $7300 26% - 6 Best mismatch the Saints can offer LAR.
Jordan Howard BUF $4700 6% - 7 Gamescript sets up for 2-TD game.
Mark Ingram II LAR $5000 7% - 9 Lurking in Kamara's ownership shadow.
LeSean McCoy @CHI $4900 2% - 10 20+ touches. Only play-maker on BUF.
Peyton Barber @CAR $3600 3% - 11 Crowd exposure is too low for 4x upside.
James Conner @BAL $7200 11% - 12 Cannot ignore at this level of ownership.

RB OVERVIEW:

CASH

  • At the high-end of the salary scale, both Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey are solid options for cash games (and tournaments) this week. Gurley continues to dominate and shows zero sign of slowing down in this potent Sean McVay, Todd Gurley-first offense. Christian McCaffrey plays a similar role for the Panthers and gets a plush matchup against a Bucs team that will again be without their best run-stoppers, Kwon Alexander, Vinny Curry, and Gerald McCoy, who loss allowed Joe Mixon to run wild last Sunday. If salary relief is necessary, look no further than Nick Chubb against the Chiefs and Isaiah Crowell against the Dolphins. Some will shy away from these options because neither is an established pass-catcher and both are on teams with implied negative gamescripts. But Chubb has largely usurped Duke Johnson Jr's touches since Carlos Hyde was traded a few weeks ago, averaging 19 touches per game in two losing efforts. No team in the league has allowed more fantasy production to running backs than the Chiefs, so rolling with Chubb seems like a nice way to save salary in cash games, if you need to do that. Likewise, Isaiah Crowell is coming off several subpar games, which will sway people away from him, but those games were against solid rush defenses (MIN, CHI, IND) in losing situations and/or Bilal Powell on the field. This week, the Jets are short road underdogs on the road to the Dolphins, who allow 39% more fantasy production to running backs than league-normalized average defenses; Crowell should secure 12-16 touches in this game, which should be enough to get to the 12 DK points he needs to reach cash game value.

GPP

  • Kareem Hunt and Alvin Kamara will be crowd favorites in tournament play this weekend due to their multi-touchdown upside and hefty implied team totals. If you roster either of them, you will want to go contrarian elsewhere on your roster to build some uniqueness into your lineup. Potential low-rostered options include Chris Carson at home against the Chargers and/or Jordan Howard at home against the Bills. Carson's $4.7K salary is curious, as he has surpassed 100+ rushing yards in 3 of his previous 4 games and has largely absorbed a bellcow role in the Seattle backfield, yet DraftKings appears to be hesitant to raise his salary? Take advantage. And Jordan Howard is hated in DFS circles, particularly on DraftKings' full PPR scoring format, but this game looks perfect for how Matt Nagy envisions Howard's role in this offense: Ground and pound. The Bills allowed the 10th most fantasy points per game to the RB position and allowed Marlon Mack to run all over them just a few weeks ago. As strong 7-point home favorites, expect the Bears to feed Howard for once and it would not be surprising to see him finish with a pair of scores at a fair salary.

WIDE RECEIVERS

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CROWD EXPOSURE CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Courtland Sutton HOU $3900 24% 1 7 The time to shine is after DT trade.
Adam Thielen DET $8900 18% 2 5 Mr. Consistency has 100-yards in all games.
Emmanuel Sanders HOU $6400 8% 3 2 Keenum's fave target is being overlooked.
Danny Amendola NYJ $4700 4% 4 15 Few options in MIA. 24 targets over past 3.
Marvin Jones Jr @MIN $5300 13% 5 14 Golden Tate trade should increase volume.
DeAndre Hopkins @DEN $8300 8% - 1 Roby injury + DT's inexperience = opportunity.
Michael Thomas LAR $7600 20% - 3 TD regression is coming. Is it this week?
Cooper Kupp @NO $6000 18% - 4 Gets the best WR-CB matchup on LAR offense.
Julio Jones @WAS $7900 7% - 6 ATL won't move the ball on the ground here.
Doug Baldwin LAC $5300 6% - 8 Too talented not to breakout soon.
Jarvis Landry KC $6500 11% - 9 Gamescript and volume should be there.
Mike Evans @CAR $8100 11% - 10 25+ FPs/game with Fitzmagic at QB.
Sammy Watkins @CLE $4900 10% - 11 Underrated off 34 FP game vs. DEN.
Brandin Cooks @NO $6700 11% - 12 Speed demon presents matchup issues for NO.
D.J. Moore TB $4300 17% - 13 Surging rookie offers salary relief & upside.

WR OVERVIEW:

CASH

  • There are multiple ways to go at the wide receiver position for cash games this Sunday, which makes it an interesting week for lineup construction. At the high-end, you can slot in Adam Thielen and his 8-game string of 100+ yard games; at the low end, you can choose to save salary and buy into what John Elway is selling in Denver and get a piece of Courtland Sutton. Somewhere in the middle, names like Danny Amendola, Marvin Jones Jr, and Emmanuel Sanders are also reasonable. Amendola is seeing a resurgence in activity since Kenny Stills went down with a groin injury, averaging eight targets per week over the Dolphins' last three games; he will get one of the best roles in the NFL this year, lining up against the Jets' slot cornerback, Buster Skrine, who continues to get bested on a weekly basis and ranks in the bottom 10% of coverage backs on ProFootballFocus. The trade that sent Golden Tate to Philadelphia leaves ~ 10 targets per week to be redistributed amongst the Lions receivers and Marvin Jones Jr is certainly a top option to get additional looks from Matthew Stafford. If Xavier Rhodes (ankle) is unable to go, Jones could feasibly catch 8-10 passes on Sunday at a pedestrian $5.3K price point. Manny Sanders is going overlooked in GPP formats this weekend because of the immense popularity of Courtland Sutton after the Demaryius Thomas trade earlier this week. Sure, Sutton is a great cash game play at only $3.9K, but if his crowd exposure reaches 30% or more, Sanders is the stack that you want with Case Keenum, as Keenum has targeted him a team-high 66 times this season.

GPP

  • Do not sleep on DeAndre Hopkins this weekend. The star receiver gets a nice matchup against an overrated Broncos secondary that will be without their best cornerback, Bradley Roby (ankle), which will leave Tramaine Brock in a mismatch against Nuk Hopkins' ridiculous skill set. Both the Broncos and the Texans run quick-paced offenses that rank in the top-ten in the league, which could feasibly result in a back-and-forth contest featuring the receivers on both squads. Crowd favorites in the NO-LAR game, Cooper Kupp and Michael Thomas are reasonable, if not solid, GPP options because they both get matched up against a cornerback who has struggled all season long (P.J. Williams and Marcus Peters, respectively). At the lower-rostered end of the spectrum, names like Julio Jones, Doug Baldwin, and Jarvis Landry all stand out as stellar options. Julio has been mentioned here before and he has not scored a touchdown in what-seems-like-years, but his salary and projected roster percentage are too low for the type of upside he brings to your lineups against the Redskins. Both Doug Baldwin and Jarvis Landry are volume-based GPP candidates who collectively have a combined total of one touchdown over the past month despite being the focal point of their respective passing offenses; they will experience positive touchdown regression in the near future and getting a piece of them at < 10% field exposure is definitely a shark move.



TIGHT ENDS

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CROWD EXPOSURE CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Travis Kelce @CLE $6600 20% 1 1 Only safe TE on main slate.
Jeff Heuerman HOU $2600 4% 2 9 Punt cash option. Try to get Kelce.
Greg Olsen TB $4700 11% - 2 Veteran has scored in back-to-back games.
Kyle Rudolph DET $3600 5% - 3 Price is right for +TD regression candidate.
O.J. Howard @CAR $4300 9% - 4 CAR: Allowed TD to TE in 5 of 7 games.
Trey Burton BUF $4500 3% - 5 Crowd off him after 1st poor game in a month.
Chris Herndon @MIA $3000 2% - 6 Scored in 3 straight. No WR competition.
David Njoku KC $4600 17% - 7 You can bet he won't go targetless again.
Jordan Reed ATL $4800 10% - 8 Targets are there, but TDs have not been.
Ben Watson LAR $3200 3% - 10 Cheap dart throw in barnburner.

TE OVERVIEW:

CASH

  • The barest of pastures this week is the tight end position. Beyond Travis Kelce, there is not a single tight end that stands out as a legitimate option in cash game formats. Sure, you can punt the position entirely with Jeff Heuerman, who should see a minor uptick in usage without Demaryius Thomas, but you would be banking on 3-4 receptions for 30-40 yards with minimal upside. That may be enough for cash games, but for tournaments it could become dicey. Kelce is the guy you want for cash games, as he continues to be a focal point in the Chiefs' exciting offense and is fairly priced at $6.6K. He is the best option available for both cash and GPP formats and his 20% crowd exposure feels about right given the dearth of high-upside options at the position.

GPP

  • A surprise to many of us, Greg Olsen not only returned from his foot injury in just over a month, but he has looked the part in that return. Over the past two weeks, Olsen has scored in both games and has played in a shade under 100% of the team's offensive snaps, despite many thinking that he would be limited due to the severity of his early-season injury. Olsen is an excellent pivot from Travis Kelce in tournament formats on Sunday, as he will be rostered in about half of the number of rosters as Kelce while bringing 4x upside on his salary against the Tampa Bay Bucs defense that allowed touchdowns to the tight end position for four consecutive weeks before surprisingly shutting out C.J. Uzomah last Sunday. Elsewhere, Kyle Rudolph is intriguing at home against the Lions, who allow 26% more fantasy points to the position than league-adjusted defenses; if Stefon Diggs is inactive, Rudolph should be in line for additional action and is, as always, a redzone threat. Lastly, don't sleep on Trey Burton and Chris Herndon. Burton laid an egg last week against the Jets, but had posted scores in each of his three games prior to that and his expected 3% ownership is laughable against a Buffalo defense that has allowed a tight end to score in 3 of their past 5 games. Speaking of scoring, Herndon has found paydirt in three consecutive games because Sam Darnold's primary receivers have been sidelined with injuries for weeks; with both Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson both extremely questionable again on Sunday, you could do worse than punting with Herndon and hoping that he makes it four in a row against the Dolphins linebackers who allowed Jordan Thomas and Michael Roberts to score four touchdowns over the past two weeks.

TEAM DEFENSES

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CROWD EXPOSURE CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Bears BUF $4100 14% 1 1 Nathan Peterman.
Bills @CHI $2300 11% 2 2 Underrated defense vs. overrated QB.
Ravens PIT $2500 7% - 3 Big Ben can blowup on the road.
Chiefs @CLE $2700 10% - 4 Rookie QB in catchup mode = upside.
Falcons @WAS $2200 1% - 5 Discounted & rested. WAS is no threat.
Seahawks LAC $2500 2% - 6 Only Rams scored > 18 since Week 2.
Steelers @BAL $2300 5% - 7 Getting pressure on QB. Need turnovers.
Broncos HOU $2300 19% - 8 Crowd fave. Go underweight on field.

TEAM DEF OVERVIEW:

  • Much like quarterback (Cam Newton) and tight end (Travis Kelce), the team defense position is a wasteland for cash games this weekend. The Chicago Bears are, without question, the defense that you want for cash games because they will face off against a punchless Bills offense led by Nathan Peterman, King of the Interceptions. In 2 years in the league, Peterman has thrown the ball 81 times and has connected on 46 of those passes for a completion percentage of 56.7%. Not bad, right? Well...we would be remiss to omit the fact that 9 of those 'completions' were to the other team. In other words, Peterman is averaging an interception every nine pass attempts to this point in his career and he is facing one of the best defenses in the league in their home stadium on Sunday. Elsewhere, you could feasibly punt the position with the Bills in the same game because Buffalo's underrated defense faces Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback who is also prone to mistakes; at $2.3K, the Bills are a reasonable punt play with upside for tournament consideration. The Broncos should be a crowd favorite with Deshaun Watson being a hit away from the Brandon Weeden under center, but if they go off at nearly 20% rostership, it will be too high; instead, take a flyer in GPP formats with the Ravens at home against Ben Roethlisberger, who struggles on the road or the Seahawks at home against the Chargers.