TipAndPick's: Tips and Picks, Wild-Card Weekend

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.

LIMIT YOUR CASH GAME PLAY: [Adapted from "Tips and Picks' from 2018 Wild-Card Weekend] Over the past few seasons, cash games have gotten increasingly difficult to beat over the long-term. That trend can be blamed squarely on the availability of good information that was previously not readily available. Today, however, there are an abundance of data, tools, and articles on various websites that make constructing cash game lineups a straightforward endeavor. Like last year around this time, I am urging you to limit the amount of cash game action that you put into play because the overlap that occurs on smaller game sets, like Wild-Card Weekend, is absurd; Lamar Jackson, Ezekiel Elliott, and T.Y. Hilton are all going to be extremely highly-owned on this four game slate. As a result of this massive ownership overlap, the difference between winning and losing will often distill down to one or two players’ performance(s), which is less than optimal because of the variance associated with NFL scoring. The edge associated with playing DFS is far less defined on a shorter slate because there are less mistakes that can be made. With this in mind, I would encourage you to play less volume than you typically play on an NFL slate and also direct you to play a bit more of your cash game action in head-to-head contests, where you are not likely facing an all-or-nothing outcome.

GAMESCRIPTING: Because there are only four games from which to choose, my best advice this (and next) week is to mentally determine how you envision the games playing out and building your rosters accordingly. For example, the Ravens have gone 6-1 with Lamar Jackson under center and he is averaging 17 carries per game over that span; relatedly, Ravens' opponents are averaging nearly a dozen less offensive plays per game because of how Baltimore controls the time of possession and crosses that style of play with their stout defense. With this in mind, there might not be much fantasy value to be extracted from the Chargers offense because their upside is limited; my exposure to Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon III, and Keenan Allen, all of whom are priced in the upper echelon, will be extremely limited as a result. I would encourage you to walk through every game in this manner and key and/or eliminate certain players based on how you would project the game actually playing out. The tighter your player pool for mass multi-entry, the better your chances for a top 10% finish on a week with limited options.

...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 CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Lamar Jackson LAC $5800 1 4 17 carries per game as starter = solid floor.
Deshaun Watson IND $6700 2 1 Run threat. 3 rush TDs over previous 2 games.
Andrew Luck @HOU $6400 3 2 Slaughtered HOU in 2 previous matchups.
Mitchell Trubisky PHL $6200 - 3 Decimated PHL secondary is overmatched here.
Dak Prescott SEA $5500 - 5 Only matters if Zeke fails. Tough to recommend.
Russell Wilson @DAL $5700 - 6 Rush-heavy offense vs. top-notch defense. Nope.
Philip Rivers @BAL $5900 - 7 BAL has stopped much better offenses of late.
Nick Foles @CHI $5400 - 8 End of the line for the Birds & Foles\' magic.

QB OVERVIEW: In cash games, Lamar Jackson is probably the best option on this limited slate. The rookie is capitalizing from a sound offensive strategy that has combined his general athleticism alongside a strong defense to control the time of possession and minimize the opposition's offense. The result of this ball-control approach has been a 6-1 record with the Ravens' only loss coming in an overtime heart-breaker to the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium in early December. Averaging 17.0 rushing attempts per game as a starter with an ability to throw, as needed, Jackson offers a solid floor for cash games with a capped ceiling at a modest sub-$6K price point. It is difficult to justify getting away from Jackson in cash formats on such a limited slate, but Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck are acceptable, albeit inferior, options. Watson brings his own rushing prowess to the table and squares up against a defense that allowed him to score 53.3 DK points across a pair of games in the regular season. Meanwhile, Luck gets a pass-funnel Texans squad that fields the league's best DVOA rush defense, but is only 18th against the pass. In two contests against Houston this season, Luck posted ~ 28 and ~ 40 DK points, respectively. For GPPs, both Watson and Luck are firmly in play because of their prior success against their opponents' defenses and the fact that they play at the second- and ninth-fastest paces in the NFL; in their previous pair of 2018 matchups, they combined for 116 total points. The only other viable GPP quarterback option is Mitchell Trubisky, who could go overlooked against an Eagles secondary that is battered, beaten, and starting a patchwork set of defensive backs against an underrated set of Bears receivers. Quiet for the better part of two months, Trubisky has significant upside to bring to a GPP roster and is a sharp play in tournament formats because of his lower implied ownership.

RUNNING BACKS

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Ezekiel Elliott SEA $9000 1 1 Rested. Focal point of offense.
Jordan Howard PHL $4600 2 2 Heavy home fave. 4 scores in past 3 games.
Nyheim Hines @HOU $3500 3 8 Punt option. Full PPR helps outlook.
Lamar Miller IND $4900 4 7 Borderline cash play. Needs to score.
Gus Edwards LAC $4200 - 3 Dixon closing in, but goalline looks are his.
Marlon Mack @HOU $6000 - 4 Tough matchup vs. NFL's best DVOA rush D.
Chris Carson @DAL $6800 - 5 20 redzone looks over past month.
Kenneth Dixon LAC $4000 - 6 Price is right. Trending positively.
Melvin Gordon III @BAL $7700 - 9 Hate the matchup and recent usage.
Tarik Cohen PHL $5400 - 10 PHL struggles against pass-catching RBs.

RB OVERVIEW: It is difficult to envision a scenario whereby Ezekiel Elliott does not collect 25+ touches on Saturday against the Seahawks. At first glance, this would appear to be an undesirable matchup against a name-recognition Seattle defense, but closer inspection demonstrates that the Seahawks field the worst-ranked DVOA rush defense (17th) on this short slate. In fact, Seattle has allowed 6 different running backs to surpass 100 yards and/or score multiple touchdowns this season, which has resulted in the 12th most fantasy points allowed to the position. For his part, Zeke will be well-rested after sitting out the Cowboys' Week #17 game against the Giants and will continue to see heavy usage after enjoying 25 or more touches in 10 of his previous 12 games. Elsewhere, Jordan Howard and Nyheim Hines are cash game-worthy salary-savers that can be combined with Elliott's lofty $9.0K asking price to help lower his opportunity cost. Howard is recently rounding into playoff form with 100+ yards and/or a score in every game over the past month; he is typically unexciting in full-PPR formats because of his minimal involvement in the passing game, but merits attention here because of the short slate and a reasonable price point against an Eagles' front seven that was getting gashed by running backs until they were given a reprieve late in the season with Alfred Blue and a punchless Redskins offense. Hines, a receiving specialist in Indy, has three or more catches in five consecutive games and is good for another handful of touches on the ground. Despite the tough matchup against the league's best rush defense (DVOA metric), Hines is an intriguing cash game option, who can provide the type of salary relief necessary to jam Ezekiel Elliott's salary into your lineups. For GPP consideration, both Baltimore running backs are reasonable options against a Chargers' defensive front that has allowed the 8th most fantasy points per game to running backs and have allowed 4 of their previous 5 opponents' backfields to post 30+ fantasy point games. The drawback to rostering either Gus Edwards or Kenneth Dixon is that each can cannibalize the other's fantasy output and the chance that Lamar Jackson steals goalline action is entirely possible. Elsewhere, Marlon Mack has a formidable matchup against the Texans' 1st-ranked DVOA rush defense, but if the Colts find themselves inside the redzone, Mack has demonstrated a nose for the endzone, as evidenced by his four touchdowns over the Colts' previous three contests (and 16 redzone touches over that same period of time). Lastly, do not sleep on Tarik Cohen in tournaments despite his elevated price point; the matchup against the Eagles is excellent, as the Birds have struggled to contain pass-catching running backs for the entire season.

WIDE RECEIVERS

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
T.Y. Hilton @HOU $7800 1 3 Excellent history at Reliant Stadium.
DeAndre Hopkins IND $8700 2 1 Class WR on this slate. 100+ yards in 3 straight.
Vincynt Smith IND $3200 3 6 Smith, not Carter, absorbs WR2 role.
Keke Coutee IND $4000 4 5 If active, should see plenty of looks on inside.
Allen Robinson PHL $5600 - 2 Fave sleeper WR vs. depleted PHL secondary.
Doug Baldwin @DAL $6200 - 4 Volume-based option. Trending upwards.
Taylor Gabriel PHL $4500 - 7 Big-play receiver with YAC upside.
Keenan Allen @BAL $6900 - 8 5/58/0 only 2 weeks ago vs. this opponent.
Dontrelle Inman @HOU $4300 - 9 Texans getting killed on perimeter of late.
David Moore @DAL $3500 - 10 Snaps and value are there. A score will do it.
Alshon Jeffery PHL $5900 - 11 Revenge narrative against former employer.
Amari Cooper SEA $7500 - 12 Tough to reconcile price against likely usage.
Michael Gallup SEA $3600 - 13 Fairly priced. 8+ points in 3 of past 4 games.
Anthony Miller PHL $3900 - 14 Will be dismissed due to recent production.
Cole Beasley SEA $3500 - 15 Came to life in last. TD-dependent GPP option.
Mike Williams @BAL $4700 - 16 Not much vs. BAL at Christmas. Low exposure.
Willie Snead IV LAC $3700 - 17 Hail Mary option. TD-regression candidate.
Tyler Lockett @DAL $5300 - 18 Stack with SEA defense for returning duties.

WR OVERVIEW: Priced at his highest point of the 2018 season, T.Y. Hilton will still be one of the most highly rostered wide receivers on the Wild-Card slate. And for good reason because Hilton, who has a reputation for underperforming on the road, has destroyed the Texans at Reliant Stadium; in 7 career games at the venue, Hilton is averaging well over 25.0 DK points per game. Some will avoid him due to his recent injury status and lack of practice, but rest assured that Hilton will be ready to play against this Texans secondary that allowed him to pick up 199 receiving yards only a month ago. Opposite Hilton is a trio of receivers, all of whom are cash game viable with upside: DeAndre Hopkins, Keke Coutee, and Vincynt Smith. Hopkins, a mainstay in Tips and Picks, needs little justification, as he is matchup-proof and has demonstrated consistent production with Deshaun Watson taking snaps. As for Coutee and Smith, both offer salary relief and bring upside to your tournament rosters. Coutee is a PPR monster when healthy and is coming off a week that saw him practice, in full, for the first time in well over a month. Monitor his situation on Saturday afternoon and adjust your lineups accordingly. Smith is a sneaky all-around play because the masses seem to think that DeAndre Carter is the third receiving option in Houston and they would be wrong. Carter is diminutive and has been soaking up snaps from the slot in the absence of Coutee; if Coutee returns on Saturday, Carter will be the odd man out at ownership levels approaching 10%. For cash games, it is reasonable to take either Coutee or Smith alongside Hopkins, but do not roster all three Houston receivers because that move would instill far too much reliance on the passing game; a Lamar Miller or defensive touchdown could thwart a lineup with all three receivers. For tournament play, my favorite wide receiver option this week is Allen Robinson against the Eagles. ARob is coming off a missed game due to a rib injury and a series of prior games that saw him largely disappoint. In those contests, however, Robinson contended with the likes of Darius Slay, Aqib Talib/Marcus Peters, Xavier Rhodes, and Richard Sherman, all of whom likely compelled a young Mitchell Trubisky to look elsewhere. This week should be different against an injury-plagued Eagles defensive backfield that allows the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing wide receivers, including 16 different receivers with a touchdown and/or 100+ receiving yards. For this same reason, both Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller are strong pivots away from Allen Robinson, if salary is limiting. Elsewhere, Dontrelle Inman is an intriguing GPP possibility against a Texans secondary that bled 1,800+ receiving yards in 5 games prior to last week's recovery against the Blake Bortles-led Jaguars. Inman has displayed a growing rapport with Andre Luck as the season has progressed and brings 5x upside to the table on his modest salary.



TIGHT ENDS

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Eric Ebron @HOU $5200 1 1 Class of the position on short slate.
Blake Jarwin SEA $3300 2 5 White-hot of late. Fair discount from Ebron.
Zach Ertz @CHI $6400 - 2 No higher upside, but matchup is daunting.
Trey Burton PHL $4400 - 3 Leads CHI receivers in redzone targets.
Antonio Gates @BAL $2700 - 4 Usage is trending up. Always a TD threat.
Dallas Goedert @CHI $2600 - 6 Cheap pivot from Ertz. Will see lesser coverage.
Mark Andrews LAC $3500 - 7 Leading BAL receiver in past 2 contests.
Ryan Griffin IND $2600 - 8 IND is susceptible to TEs. GPP flyer.

TE OVERVIEW: This is not a lot to like at the tight end position on this short slate. At the top of the heap is Eric Ebron, who is a reasonable candidate for Comeback Player of the Year after scoring 13 touchdowns on the season...2 more than he scored across 4 seasons with the Lions. Bolstering the case for Ebron is the fact that no team in the NFL has allowed more fantasy points to opposing tight ends than the Houston Texans. For these reasons, he will likely be found on nearly 40% of tournament rosters this weekend; while he is the strongest GPP play at the position, this author will be underweight on the field due to the volatile nature of scoring at the position. At ~ $2K less than Ebron, Blake Jarwin is a borderline cash game option because of his recent chemistry with Dak Prescott. Over the past month, Jarwin has been targeted 25 times and is coming off a monster game against the Giants that saw him finish with a 7/119/3 stat line that won tournaments for many who had the wherewithal to roster him. His work will be cut out for him on a run-first offense against a defense that has contained the likes of Travis Kelce and George Kittle over the previous month, but Jarwin's low salary reflects those realities at the same time. For tournaments, Zack Ertz has a depressing matchup against the Bears, who have not allowed a tight end to reach the endzone since the first half of the season; nonetheless, the implied gamescript favors passing from Nick Foles and there is no better receiving option for the Eagles. Opposite Ertz is Trey Burton, who DFS players apparently despise because he continues to go overlooked despite finishing the regular season as the eighth-highest scoring tight end in DraftKings' scoring system; the matchup against Philadelphia is uncompromising, as the Eagles have allowed only a pair of touchdowns to the position across the entire season, but Burton has 23 targets over the past month and is in play based on volume and positional scarcity. Lastly, Antonio Gates, Dallas Goedert, and Ryan Griffin are GPP dart options that cost you next-to-nothing. Gates has been saved for the playoffs all season and is beginning to see an uptick in offensive snaps. Goedert's rookie season has been a rousing success, although many have not noticed because of Zach Ertz' stranglehold on the position in the same city. Wrapping it up, Griffin is GPP fodder against the Colts, who struggle to stop action across the middle of their defense and allow the second-most fantasy points to the tight end position.

TEAM DEFENSES

NAME OPPONENT SALARY CASH RANK GPP RANK NOTES
Bears PHL $3400 1 1 Contained much better offenses than Foles & Co.
Eagles @CHI $2200 2 3 Underrated punt option at variant position.
Ravens LAC $3000 - 2 20 FPs in previous game vs. Chargers.
Colts @HOU $2300 - 4 No QB in NFL is sacked more than Watson.
Texans IND $2700 - 5 Home-field crowd will fire up Watt & Co.
Cowboys SEA $2800 - 6 Good NFL defense, bad fantasy defense.
Seahawks @DAL $2600 - 7 Will need mistakes from Dak to reap rewards.
Chargers @BAL $2400 - 8 Tough to accrue FPs vs. ground-heavy attack.

TEAM DEF OVERVIEW: For cash games, either pay up for the Bears at home against Nick Foles or punt the position and roll with the Eagles in the same game. On the high-end, the Bears are a solid option because of the quality of their defense, one that held far better passers than Foles to pedestrian numbers in recent weeks (i.e., Jared Goff, Kirk Cousins, Aaron Rodgers). Kudos to Foles for stringing together three straight wins to get the Eagles into the playoffs, but this is a different caliber defense that he will face and the magic from 2018 should not be expected to carry over into the new year. A cheaper option is the Eagles defense, one that has 8 takeaways and 13 sacks over the past month; if salary relief is necessary for cash games, it is far better to punt this highly variant position than any other. In tournament formats, all teams are in play because any team has the ability to score a defensive touchdown; if you are playing more than 10-12 lineups, be sure to gain exposure to every defense for this reason. With caliber comes upside, as we saw a few weeks ago when the Ravens hosted the Chargers and held them to less than 200 yards of total offense while picking up 3 turnovers, 4 sacks, and a defensive touchdown en route to a 22-10 victory. If Baltimore is able to assimilate a repeat performance, you will need them on your GPP roster to secure a top-tier finish. And while you were advised to gain exposure to all defenses if playing many lineups, limit that exposure to Dallas, Seattle, and the Chargers because each of these defenses faces an offense that is set up to run the ball often, which limits sacks and opportunities for defensive scores.


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