TipAndPick's: Tips and Picks, Divisional 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: On a four-game slate, the Tips will remain the same. See my commentary from last week regarding cash games.

GAMESCRIPTING: You have to gamescript to put together winning lineups on limited slates. See last week's article describing why that is the case. This week, I suspect the Cowboys will do everything they can to keep the ball in Ezekiel Elliott's hands against the Rams' 28th DVOA rush defense, particularly without Cole Beasley and Blake Jarwin at the ready. In Kansas City, my feeling is that the Colts could contain Patrick Mahomes II to a reasonable game, which would disappoint the bulk of DFS players who pay his lofty salary. In Foxborough, we have an interesting game between an underrated Chargers squad taking their second cross-country trip in two weeks going against a rested Patriots team that rarely loses at home in the playoffs. Yet, the line is mysteriously low, which makes me think that having a few Chargers in your lineup might be the differentiation you need to finish high in a GPP. And in New Orleans, my strongest take of the week is that Drew Brees absolutely thrashes the Eagles secondary. My lineups will reflect these takes and your lineups should mirror how you think each game plays out. Best of luck!

...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

NAMEOPPONENTSALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Andrew Luck @KC $6200 1 2 KC: Allows 5th most FPs/game to QB position.
Jared Goff DAL $5500 2 3 Perfect pair option with cheap LAR WRs.
Drew Brees PHL $6700 - 1 33.5 DK points in Week 11 vs. same secondary.
Patrick Mahomes II IND $7000 - 4 Always in play, but go underweight on field.
Philip Rivers @NE $5700 - 5 Pats secondary: Good vs. poor QBs and vice-versa.
Tom Brady LAC $5600 - 6 LAC: 6th fewest FPs/game to QBs. Tough spot.
Dak Prescott @LAR $5200 - 7 Poor matchup vs. Talib & Peters. Zeke is answer.
Nick Foles @NO $5400 - 8 Mustered only one TD vs. Saints in early November.

QB OVERVIEW: In cash games this weekend, Andrew Luck is primed for a decent day against a Chiefs defense that allowed five consecutive quarterbacks to post 20+ DK points prior to Week #17, when Derek Carr and the hapless Raiders came to town ready to pack in a dreadful season. Over the entire season, the Chiefs allowed the NFL's 5th-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks including seven different quarterbacks to score more than 25 DK points. As 5.5-point home favorites, the Chiefs could put the onus on Andrew Luck to get air under the ball throughout this contest, which makes his $6.2K salary feel reasonable given that he has reached cash game value in four out of his previous five games. If you cannot get to Luck's salary, take the $700 discount and roll with Jared Goff at home against the Cowboys. Dallas has a solid defense, but they are most susceptible through the air, as evidenced by their middling 16th-ranked DVOA pass defense (versus a 5th-ranked rush defense). They have allowed four different passers to collect 20+ DK points over the past month and none of them boasted an offense with as much weaponry as Goff this weekend. In GPP formats, Drew Brees finds himself in a blowup spot at home against an Eagles secondary that has been surviving on poor quarterback play for the better part of a month now. They have contained Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson, while allowing Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, and Jared Goff each to surpass 300 passing yards since the beginning of December when injuries decimated their defensive backfield. Brees is the most accurate passer in the NFL and his precision should be on full display Sunday afternoon; he should be your highest-rostered quarterback on the short slate. Lastly, Patrick Mahomes II will be the most popular option at the position in tournaments, but you should consider going underweight on him for several reasons: 1) Young quarterbacks have a history of underperforming in the playoffs (see Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson last weekend), 2) the weather in Kansas City could be dicey and negatively affect passing conditions, and 3) Mahomes could be in up to 30% of rosters, which makes him a solid fade candidate with other similar upside options at the position.

RUNNING BACKS

NAMEOPPONENTSALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Ezekiel Elliott @LAR $8200 1 1 25+ touches vs. 28th-ranked DVOA rush defense.
Alvin Kamara PHL $7300 2 2 Eagles are susceptible to pass-catching RBs.
Todd Gurley DAL $8000 3 3 Should be rested & healthy as home favorite.
Nyheim Hines @KC $3300 4 4 Have a short memory. Gamescript suits him.
Marlon Mack @KC $5800 - 5 If Colts surprise, he will be heavily involved.
Sony Michel LAC $4700 - 6 Count on 18+ touches if Pats win the game.
Mark Ingram II PHL $5200 - 7 TD upside is always there. Plus gamescript.
James White LAC $4900 - 8 LAC: Allowed most receiving yards in NFL to RBs.
Damien Williams IND $5100 - 9 Upside is contingent on Spencer Ware's usage.
Melvin Gordon III @NE $6200 - 10 Tough to get behind with nagging injuries.

RB OVERVIEW: There is not a lot to like at the running back position at the low end of the scale this weekend for cash games. Only Nyheim Hines, who surprised with only nine snaps in last week's victory against the Texans, stands out as a viable option. Some will be reluctant to go back to the well after Hines burned them in Houston, but the Colts' staff have stated that Hines did not play largely because Marlon Mack was so effective early. With the implied pass-heavy gamescript for the Colts, you have to believe that we will see a return to steady volume for Hines at only $3.3K; if he finishes with 4 catches for 50 all-purpose yards, he will have done his job...which is to allow you enough salary space to get Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara into your lineups. Both Zeke and Kamara are cash- and GPP-viable in excellent matchups against their opponents. Elliott should once again be the focal point of the Dallas offense, particularly in light of the fact that both Cole Beasley and Blake Jarwin are trending towards inactive status, which will leave Amari Cooper to deal with the likes of Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters on the outside. Thus, the best plan of attack is to feed Zeke early and often behind that big offensive line, milk the clock, and keep the ball away from Sean McVay's crafty offense. In New Orleans, rolling with Alvin Kamara is attractive because of how inept the Eagles have been in defending pass-catching running backs this season. On a per-game basis, only five NFL teams allowed more fantasy production through the air to running backs than Philadelphia, which bodes well for Kamara who has three full weeks' of rest entering this contest. For tournament play, feel free to circle back to Marlon Mack, who Frank Reich has said will continue to see heavy action because "the primary goal is to score." While the implied gamescript does not support a big role throughout for Mack, he has found paydirt in five straight games, which makes his $5.8K salary approachable for GPP formats. In New England, give consideration to both James White and Sony Michel at their sub-$5K price points against the Chargers who allow the 8th-most fantasy points per game to the position. Michel will see plenty of action if the Patriots are able to build a lead. Since their Week #11 bye, the Pats have won five (of six) games; in those contests, Michel is averaging 19 touches per game, which makes him sneaky at only $4.7K. That should not discount White, however, as no team in the NFL allowed more receiving yardage to running backs this season and White is as reliable as they come as a receiver out of the backfield.

WIDE RECEIVERS

NAMEOPPONENTSALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Robert Woods DAL $5900 1 4 Averaging 3x value over past 6 contests.
T.Y. Hilton @KC $6700 2 9 Personnel matchup and gamescript favors strong day.
Michael Thomas PHL $7900 3 1 Love his floor and upside against subpar Eagles DBs.
Noah Brown @LAR $3000 4 15 Punt option with Beasley likely inactive.
Julian Edelman LAC $6300 5 6 Should avoid Hayward. 20 PPG since Gordon left.
Dontrelle Inman @KC $4800 - 2 Becoming go-to option for Luck. Scored in 3 straight.
Tyreek Hill IND $7400 - 3 Fastest Colts DB runs a 4.6 40-yard dash = mismatch.
Keith Kirkwood PHL $3300 - 5 Sneaky GPP option will go overlooked. TD does it.
Brandin Cooks LAC $5600 - 7 GPP pivot away from higher-owned Woods.
Golden Tate @NO $4600 - 8 Saints' weak spot in secondary is P.J. Williams.
Keenan Allen @NE $6400 - 10 If MG3 is limited, Allen could be key offensive player.
Phillip Dorsett LAC $3800 - 11 Likely WR2 with Hayward shadow on Hogan.
Tyrell Williams @NE $3900 - 12 Big-play receiver could deliver value in one play.
Ted Ginn Jr PHL $4400 - 13 Ditto notes on Tyrell (above), but add worse DBs.
Chester Rogers @KC $3600 - 14 Chiefs hammered by slot WRs in 2018.
Zach Pascal @KC $3000 - 16 Punt play gets nod again with Grant inactive.
Amari Cooper @LAR $6500 - 17 Upside is there, but personnel matchup is scary.
Chris Conley IND $3900 - 18 If Watkins is out or limited, bump him up.

WR OVERVIEW: The wide receiver position is quite thin for cash games this Divisional Weekend. There is very little value to be had, but you almost have to start with Noah Brown against the Rams. If rostering Noah Brown in cash games makes you shudder, it should--the second-year receiver has 9 career catches and less than 100 receiving yards in his first 2 NFL seasons. That said, Cole Beasley is dealing with a high ankle sprain and did not practice all week, which should mean that he is inactive or very limited on Saturday evening. The next man up across the middle would have been Blake Jarwin, but he, too, is expected to miss with an ankle issue, which means that Noah Brown should see significant snaps at the site minimum price point. With a pass-heavy gamescript and Amari Cooper dealing with Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, Brown could surprise a lot of people on Saturday and do so at a reasonable price point. If you have the wherewithal to roster Brown in cash games, you can most likely slot in a few of the higher-priced options at the position, including Michael Thomas, T.Y. Hilton, and/or Robert Woods. Of these, Thomas is probably the safest play, but he is the most expensive option, which resulted in his table ranking (above). Woods is the best value on the board at the position after averaging 17.2 DK points per game across the season, a number that reflects almost 3x value on this week's salary. For tournament play, there are a slew of ways to go and I firmly believe that the big money this weekend will be swayed by those who are able to fade the high ownership associated with whichever receivers disappoint while rostering those low-owned receivers who deliver past their expectations. Of those options, give consideration to Dontrelle Inman, who has scored in three consecutive games and is showing chemistry with Luck that we have not observed beyond T.Y. Hilton. Inman gets the benefit of a plus gamescript and likely single-digit ownership, which makes him an attractive contrarian option for tournament play. Elsewhere, Tyreek Hill is blazing fast and the Colts' defensive backs could not beat Jason Witten in a foot race; be sure to get a piece of Hill for that reason, despite his elevated popularity. For deeper sleepers in large-field GPPs, look at names like Phillip Dorsett, Ted Ginn Jr, and Chester Rogers. Dorsett could get overflow volume while Chris Hogan deals with a Casey Hayward shadow on the opposite side of the field. Ted Ginn Jr has been make a season-long comeback and poses legitimate matchup problems against the aforementioned Eagles secondary. Lastly, Chester Rogers will be overlooked because of T.Y. Hilton and Eric Ebron, but the Chiefs have been murdered by slot receivers this season and Rogers runs 80% of his routes from the slot.



TIGHT ENDS

NAMEOPPONENTSALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Travis Kelce IND $7000 1 1 If you can afford him, jam him in.
Dalton Schultz @LAR $2500 2 4 Gets the start, assuming Blake Jarwin is inactive.
Rob Gronkowski LAC $4600 - 2 Will 'Playoff Gronk' show up? Price is right.
Eric Ebron @KC $5500 - 3 Plush matchup against KC's TE-friendly D.
Antonio Gates @NE $3200 - 5 All he does is catches what is thrown to him.
Gerald Everett DAL $2700 - 6 Big fella has TD upside at near-min price.
Zach Ertz @NO $5700 - 7 Upside is there, but NO is tough vs. TEs.
Hunter Henry @NE $2800 - 8 Limited snap count hurts upside. Needs to score.

TE OVERVIEW: If the wide receiver selection was limited for cash games, the tight end position is a wasteland this week. Simply put, either pay up for Travis Kelce or punt the position entirely with Dalton Schultz. Kelce is the prime play against the Colts, who allow 39% more production to the position than league-adjusted defenses, but his $7.0K salary is a tough pill to swallow on a week with such a tight salary cap. My advice is to build your roster at other positions first and finish with tight end; if you have close to $7K remaining, try to maneuver to get Kelce into your lineups, but if you are left with less than $5K, go ahead and roster Dalton Schultz as a punt play in a plus gamescript and use the remaining salary to upgrade at less volatile positions. For tournaments, both Rob Gronkowski and Eric Ebron bring two-touchdown upside to your rosters at a significant discount and lower ownership than Kelce. Gronk is coasting away from the worst season of his career, but he is a playoff monster and is intriguingly priced at only $4.6K. Ebron, in the same game as Kelce, gets a soft matchup against a team that allows 40% more production to his position than league-adjusted defenses. As deeper GPP flyers, you might consider Antonio Gates, who catches everything thrown in his direction or Gerald Everett, who is enjoying the lion's share of targets of the Rams' tight end corps.

TEAM DEFENSES

NAMEOPPONENTSALARYCASH RANKGPP RANKNOTES
Patriots LAC $2600 1 2 Pats at home in the playoffs = Solid.
Saints PHL $3300 2 1 Rested and underrated defense gets Foles.
Rams DAL $3000 - 3 Injuries to Beasley & Jarwin could hurt DAL.
Chargers @NE $2400 - 4 Legit defense is probably too cheap.
Colts @KC $2100 - 5 Wintry conditions could help upside.
Chiefs IND $2500 - 6 Big home-field advantage at Arrowhead.
Cowboys @LAR $2200 - 7 If Cowboys are to win, their D must show up.
Eagles @NO $2000 - 8 No dice. Brees should pick them apart.

TEAM DEF OVERVIEW: In earnest, there is not a solid team defense play on the board this weekend. As such, the Patriots top the list because they are 19-3 at home during the playoffs since "The Tuck Rule Game." Add in a banged up Melvin Gordon III and a Chargers team that has traveled 10K miles over the past 8 days and the Pats defense makes sense at only $2.6K. An alternative is to pay up for the Saints at home against Nick Foles. In fairness, Foles continues to impress in the playoffs with five consecutive wins, but New Orleans' defensive front is one of the best in the league, which should allow them to scheme their underrated secondary to close down passing lanes and force potential miscues. Elsewhere, if the Cowboys are forced to get away from their gameplan (run-first), it could get ugly against the Rams because of their potent pass rush and talented defensive backs, which could result in defensive scores for Los Angeles. Overall, there is not a must-have defense, so the take-home recommendation is to deprioritize the position and roll with the cheapest defense that makes sense to your defined gamescript.