FanDuel GPP Domination - Divisional Round

A Deeper Look at Who to Target for FanDuel GPPs this Week

For those of you who are new to Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), GPPs are "Guaranteed Prize Pool" Tournaments with larger, sometimes very large prize amounts. FanDuel is one of the biggest sites in DFS and offers some of the biggest prizes in the industry. The goal of this article is to guide you towards some players that could help you take home that big prize. Footballguys offers a ton of resources to help you build that winning lineup, and this is just one of the many - but I hope that you will find it a valuable resource and check this article out on a regular basis.

Before we talk about the players for this week, we cannot completely ignore cash game plays. Typically a "GPP player" for the week is one that can score big or score terribly - the classic "boom or bust" player. A wide receiver that can catch two deep balls for two scores can get you 30+ points - or he might wind up with nada. Chasing 1-3 big plays can win you a tournament, but filling out a roster completely with these types of options will likely leave you well short of first place. That is why you cannot ignore the cash game plays each week as well, as combining the two groups is what usually leads to those big victories in GPP contests. So, expect some mention of players who are cash game plays each week, as well as some players that could be considered for both GPP and cash games.

Note - this article is not intended to provide a fully exhaustive list of every possible player. That would be an immensely long group of players. These are just some of the best options I see for GPPs this week when considering value, price, upside, and matchups.

Second note - Keep in mind the multiplier target(s) you want to hit for both cash and GPP / tournaments on FanDuel. In general, you are looking for 2x in cash (twice the cost of the player in $1,000 increments) and 3x in GPP. That means a player that costs $6,000 should produce 12 or more points in cash and 18 or more in GPPs.

Now, on with this week's top options.

GENERAL THOUGHTS ON DIVISIONAL ROUND WEEKEND

To help you out each week, I will give you some general thoughts as we progress through the season.  The playoffs are a different animal entirely, and for several good reasons.  First, there are just four games, so the player pool is clearly shallower.  Adding to the difficulty is the level of competition – all of these teams are rather good, so the matchups to exploit are harder to find.  There are still a few that are there, but many other lineups are going to be targeting these same players.  To win a GPP, you are really going to have to take some stands on game scripts and players and pick your roster accordingly.

This weekend FanDuel made it even harder for most contests.  Unfortunately, FanDuel decided that they would create three slates similar to last weekend – Saturday only, Sunday only and all four games combined – but the available entries are much, much larger for the two-game slates.  To say that another way, the “Main Slate” which would normally have the most games available is not all four games this week (as it was last weekend) – but instead it is two one-day slates.  So rather than being able to play most of your contests all weekend long, most entries will have to focus on either Saturday only or Sunday only.  This has upset a lot of people, and it is leaving a bitter taste in several mouths as we wrap up the NFL season.  So, if you want to play contests across all four games, secure entries as soon as possible and also let FanDuel know your thoughts on these decisions.  It is possible that they may change going forward if they hear enough responses, so voice your opinions.

Now, to help the discussion a little, I will emphasize the four-game viewpoint throughout the summaries at each position – but I will also add a few more names as finding sleepers that have some upside on two-game slates are going to be even more important.  Finding a pivot away from a player likely to be very highly owned on a two-game slate and having him outperform that chalk pick will go a long way towards winning a GPP that spans just two NFL games.   It should go without saying, but finding the guys who are going to take the ball across the goal line will be paramount this week.  A fullback or backup tight end that gets a goal line rush or catch for a score could be all the difference when there will be so much overlap across rosters.

Just like last week, I broke down all four games in For The Win for the weekend, so I will re-share those thoughts here:

 

(Saturday, 4:35PM Eastern, NBC) PHILADELPHIA (+3) vs. ATLANTA (Over/Under = 41-41.5)
“Okay Jeff, you have lost your mind.  Are you seriously taking the Eagles?”  I hear you, believe me, I do – and I am well above any favoritism in these write-ups towards the team I have followed for a long, long time.  I understand that the Falcons looked great last week, but Philadelphia is a team of 45 players that went 13-3 on the year and got better all season long – until Carson Wentz tore his ACL.  If Wentz was under center, the Eagles would be favored by about 5-6 points easily in this spot, but instead they are getting three and are a #1 seeded underdog after a bye.  Atlanta actually did the Eagles a favor by beating the Rams, as now Philadelphia hosts a less-talented team (in my opinion) than having to face the Saints.  The Eagles have strong, favorable matchups against Atlanta at tight end (Zach Ertz plus some Trey Burton) and running back, especially pass-catchers (Jay Ajayi, possibly Corey Clement or Wendell Smallwood).  Philadelphia also has a good defense, although I do expect Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu to test the secondary.  Bottom line for me is this – Vegas is telling you that Nick Foles is worth more than a touchdown swing away from what the Eagles would be as 5- or 6-point favorites at home.  I believe that Doug Pederson and OC Frank Reich can devise enough West Coast style offensive plays to get the ball out of Foles’ hands quickly and to his tight ends and backs in space.  Do I think this will be a close game?  Absolutely.  Am I taking a #1 seed as an underdog after two weeks to rest and prepare, even with a veteran backup quarterback starting?  You better believe it.  Eagles 27, Falcons 23.  PICK:  Eagles

(Saturday, 8:15PM Eastern, CBS)  NEW ENGLAND (-13) vs. TENNESSEE  (Over/Under = 47-47.5)
New England gets as close to a gimme as you can get here.  The Patriots are rested and getting a low seeded team that must feel like they played and won their Super Bowl last week with an unexpected comeback win in Kansas City.  One could argue that the Chiefs blew it just as much as the Titans won it, but fair is fair and Tennessee got the job done.  Now comes a far steeper challenge with Marcus Mariota heading to Foxboro.  Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and an underrated defense await the Titans, and I expect Brady to pick apart Tennessee all day long with both passing and also plenty of running to keep the Titans’ offense on the sidelines.  The Titans may score some points, but it will not be over 17 and New England looks poised for at least 31, so that’s my call – Patriots 31-17.  PICK:  Patriots

(Sunday, 1:05PM Eastern, CBS)  PITTSBURGH (-7) vs. JACKSONVILLE  (Over/Under = 40.5-41.5)
Jacksonville kicks off “Rematch Sunday” as the Jaguars visit Pittsburgh for the second time this season.  Back in Week 5, Jacksonville dominated the Steelers 30-9, winning in convincing fashion on the road.  The game really got away from the Steelers for several reasons.  First, they could not establish a run game with Le'Veon Bell, who finished with just 47 yards on 15 carries (he did add 10-46 receiving).  Second, Pittsburgh had to settle for three field goals in the 40 minutes of play instead of touchdowns, which left the score 9-7 in favor of the home team.  When the weather started to turn ugly with heavy rain, Ben Roethlisberger was bitten twice by the interception bug in the third quarter, and both of them were returned for touchdowns by Telvin Smith Sr and Jalen Ramsey, respectively.  That turned the game quickly, and Pittsburgh had little choice but to throw most of the fourth quarter, and two interceptions and a meaningless (but lengthy) second touchdown run for Leonard Fournette iced the game late.

Fast forward to this week and I believe that the Steelers will look to flip the game script on its head.  Jacksonville is small on the interior of their defense, and I expect Pittsburgh to run early and often with Bell.  That will set up play action to Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Brown had a big day (10-157) in the first meeting.  The Pittsburgh plan should be to run it and play defense, especially against the run and force Blake Bortles to beat them.  In the first matchup Bortles only attempted 14 passes, so making him do something to move the ball will be the strategy for the Steelers.  After watching how ineffective the Jaguars were against Buffalo, Pittsburgh has to like their chances in the rematch, and I tend to agree.  Steelers 27, Jaguars 13.  PICK:  Steelers  

(Sunday, 4:40PM Eastern, FOX)  MINNESOTA (-4) vs. NEW ORLEANS (Over/Under = 45.5-46.5)
The Wild Card Weekend closes with our second rematch of the regular season.  Back in Week 1, the Saints were blown out by the Vikings on Monday Night Football 29-19 (it was 29-10 until the final two minutes left), but so much has changed since that matchup it is hardly worth analysis.  The Saints changed their starting cornerbacks so erase the Stefon Diggs two touchdown performance (to a degree).  Dalvin Cook was lost for the year mid-season, so his big performance is a distant memory, as is Sam Bradford’s 346-yard, three touchdown game.  Everyone is going to be looking at the Saints and their win at home over Carolina last week, but their defense allowed Cam Newton to throw for 376 yards and two scores and yielded 26 points – at home.  Meanwhile, Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram II struggled, and Minnesota’s defense is much, much better than the Panthers, especially against the run.  The Vikings will be overlooked, but I like all of Minnesota’s passing game with Kyle Rudolph looking to replicate Greg Olsen’s 8-107-1 afternoon from last weekend.  The Vikings also have to be encouraged by the combined Carolina ground game (26-107) against the Saints last week, so both Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon have upside.  The biggest factor for me is going to be the home team and their defense, and I believe the Vikings stuff the run and get after Drew Brees.  Minnesota is the best dark horse left in the NFC, and they are being underestimated as they look like a complete team to me.  Vikings 30, Saints 20.  PICK:  Vikings

Understanding how I think the games will play out will give you a strong idea of my thoughts for picks this week.  As mentioned before, you need to take stands this weekend to have success, and I may take a few extreme ones for larger GPPs because I believe that there is a reasonable path to success for a player or two I expect few to target.

As far as lineups go this week – and I will discuss all three states a bit – the Patriots are going to be very popular.  Any playoff team expected to win 30-17 based on projected scores will result in a lot of ownership for those players.  Look for Tom Brady, Dion Lewis and Rob Gronkowski to be extremely popular.  

The next factor is going to be the weather.  A storm system is hitting the East Coast, and with games in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Foxboro, Massachusetts the cold and possibly wet weather could be a factor.  That said, it is January and these teams should be used to it, but warm weather teams (Jacksonville, Tennessee) or dome teams (Atlanta) on the road may not.  The other impact is that the Saints-Vikings game in a dome will also be popular, or as popular as it can be on two- or four-game slates.

With smaller slates this weekend, finding the touchdowns will be of paramount importance.  Tournaments will be won by teams that can roster 3-4 touchdown scorers at the skill positions outside of quarterback.  Focus on those possibilities to find value and boost your odds of finishing at or near the top of the leaderboards.

Pittsburgh offers up some expensive options this week with Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown.  Fitting both will be tricky, and both will be popular based on how they performed all year and against the Jaguars in their first meeting.  Fading one or both could bring strong uniqueness to your roster.

Lastly, I listed out all of the quarterbacks, kickers and defenses this week for the eight teams.  That does NOT mean I like them all, but I figured that all of these options will be under consideration for rosters (especially for tournaments), so I wanted to share my outlook.  As always, be sure to read the summaries below each table for more detailed thoughts.

   

Here are a few general references I will be using as the season progresses:

Footballguys' DFS Week 18 Page

Vegas Value Chart

Interactive Value Chart

Normalized Stength of Schedule (NSOS)

Please note that if a player isn't mentioned in the write-ups but is in the table, it does not mean that I like the player more in the write-ups. The discussion sections are to add more detail, support, and clarity for those players mentioned, but all of the picks in the tables are viable options if they are ranked.

Now, without further ado, here are the players I like the most this week.

 

QUARTERBACKS

Name 4-Game Slate Salary 2-Game Slate Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Comments
Tom Brady 8800 9000 1 2 Probably the safest option of the weekend
Drew Brees 8100 8000 4 6 Always good upside, but matchup against the Vikings on the road will be a challenge
Ben Roethlisberger 8000 7700 6 3 Jacksonville has the best cornerbacks in the league
Matt Ryan 7700 7800 3 5 Ryan returns to his home town, but he is only 1-3 as a Falcon in Philadelphia
Case Keenum 7600 7600 2 4 New Orleans' secondary has greatly improved the second half of the season
Marcus Mariota 7500 7600 n/a 8 Rushing upside and will be playing from behind, but Titans not projected to score many points
Nick Foles 7200 7200 5 1 Sneaky GPP play at home
Blake Bortles 7100 7100 n/a 7 Relatively cheap and offers some rushing value, but I struggle seeing a being performance

Tom Brady is going to be the most popular quarterback this weekend.  He has a hand in all of the passing game, and New England is expected to score 30 points Saturday night against Tennessee.  A case can be made for a fade (a good case, actually) as the Patriots could easily score more on the ground or on defense, but Brady does give you exposure to all but the rushing touchdowns – and Brady has been known to sneak one across the goal line on short yardage plays.  Playing Brady likely warrants a handcuff to maximize upside, so deciding between Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks or even Dion Lewis will be a challenge.  Getting exposure to all three combinations and also considering the “naked Brady” strategy with no receiver pairings is a viable option.

After Brady, Saturday gets a little tricky.  I actually like Nick Foles over Matt Ryan in the first contest, as Philadelphia has had plenty of time to get Foles ready and script favorable plays to get the ball out of his hand quickly.  While it has been five seasons since his remarkable 27 touchdown / 2 interception season, Foles is a solid veteran quarterback who knows how to stay within himself and produce.  Recent history is clouded by weak performances against Oakland and Dallas, but look one game prior at his four touchdown effort against the Giants.  From our own game write-up:

 

2017 Week 15 vs NYG (24 / 38 / 237 / 4 / 0 pass, 2 / 0 / 0 rush)

There were a lot of questions about how Foles would be able to fill in for Carson Wentz and he simply responded by throwing 4 touchdowns and not turning the ball over in a close game. Foles did not do anything overly spectacular, but he did find the open receiver and was comfortable checking the ball down when needed. The first touchdown came on a 3-yard post to Alshon Jeffery where he cut back across the field and tiptoed across the back line. The play was reviewed and upheld. The second touchdown was a 10-yard strike up the seam to Zach Ertz. Ertz had missed the previous week under concussion protocol and made his presence felt this week. Foles third touchdown came on a 13-yard pass to back up tight end Trey Burton, and his final was a beautiful slant route to Nelson Agholor. Foles did not try and push the ball down the field or do too much this week and it worked out in his favor. It will be interesting to see how he responds when they are down, and he needs to make the big play to come back. In the meantime, Foles did enough this week to calm the Philadelphia fans down for another week.

Foles will be lower owned and offers up cap relief across the board, and he has upside if he can find Zach Ertz, Alshon Jeffery, Jay Ajayi and Nelson Agholor with regularity, especially near the end zone.  I like stacking him with Ertz and/or Agholor the most due to favorable matchups.

Matt Ryan has some upside, but he’s 1-3 as a road quarterback in Philadelphia and the weather is going to be cold.  That may not impact Ryan directly, as he grew up in Philadelphia and played his college ball at Boston College, but his receivers and backs may not do as well outdoors and in the cold.  The Eagles are a solid defense as well, and with two viable rushing options for Atlanta I do not like Ryan’s chances of getting three touchdowns – something he has not done all season.

I did not forget about Marcus Mariota.  I just do not like using him this week, as he hit his upside last week with an unreal touchdown pass to himself that gave him over 11 points on one play.  He may have a decent fantasy game due to rushing totals, but the Patriots are a solid defense and I prefer Nick Foles at a cheaper price point by a good margin.

Turning to Sunday, The Jaguars-Steelers clash offer two quarterbacks with GPP possibilities.  While Ben Roethlisberger did throw FIVE interceptions against Jacksonville, the last two were desperation plays late in the game and even one of the prior ones was a deflection.  That said, he still had a terrible game and he very well could do the same again Sunday, but he could also produce 2-3 touchdowns.  His ownership is likely to be under 10%, and the likelihood of a solid-to-strong showing is about 15% for me, so I may take a shot on him with a lineup.  Blake Bortles may actually be the better option, as his floor is higher due to his skills as a scrambler (88 yards rushing last week against Buffalo).  Given the multiple receivers that Jacksonville offer, I would likely only play him with either DeDe Westbrook or by himself.

The last game to consider is New Orleans at Minnesota.  I actually think that this game will be more of a defensive struggle with emphasis on the run game for the Vikings, and Drew Brees may struggle to find open targets against a tough Minnesota defense that grades out as a bad matchup for the Saints.  Brees always has GPP upside, but with Xavier Rhodes all over Michael Thomas, the upside will be limited outside of Ted Ginn Jr going deep.  Case Keenum may have more upside given how Sam Bradford had three touchdowns against New Orleans in Week 1, but the Saints have a new scheme and different personnel since then.  I expect Marshon Lattimore to shadow Stefon Diggs, which means Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph are the better receiver plays.  All that said, I still think the Vikings look to run the ball far more than throw it against New Orleans at home.

 

RUNNING BACKS

Name 4-Game Slate Salary 2-Game Slate Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Comments
Le'Veon Bell 9400 9400 1 4 25 touches in first meeting, but production was limited
Alvin Kamara 8900 8600 5 3 Minnesota is hard to run on, but Kamara may add a lot as a receiver
Mark Ingram II 8200 7900 7 8 Tough sledding between the tackles against the Vikings
Leonard Fournette 7900 7500 6 6 Big game against Pittsburgh the first time, but 90-yard TD late padded his numbers
Dion Lewis 7600 7800 2 1 Lead back for a team projected to score 30 points
Devonta Freeman 7200 7400 n/a 5 Cannot trust him in cash - injury may still be there, and splitting touches with Coleman
Jay Ajayi 6900 6600 n/a 7 Atlanta struggles with receiving backs - and this may be the perfect spot for him
Latavius Murray 6800 6500 3 2 Top rusher for the Vikings when leading, and they are favored at home
Derrick Henry 6700 7000 4 9 Only real running back option for the Titans, and a reasonable matchup
Jerick McKinnon 6500 6100 n/a 12 Getting limited work behind Murray
Rex Burkhead 6400 6400 n/a 13 Knee issue could limit his involvement
Tevin Coleman 5800 5700 n/a 12 Reasonable GPP option as he could find the end zone, but not consistent volume
LeGarrette Blount 5500 5600 n/a 14 Pure GPP flier for a possible short yardage touchdown
Corey Clement 4900 4800 n/a 15 Could see some targets out of the backfield
James White 4800 4900 n/a 10 May be active for the Patriots, but more likely to be third in touches
T.J. Yeldon 4600 4700 n/a 16 Fournette\'s understudy unlikely to see enough action

To Bell or not to Bell, that is the question.  Le'Veon Bell is the top stud running back this weekend, and he will dominate ownership on the 4-game slate and on Sunday.  He had minimal production against Jacksonville in their first meeting (15-47 rushing, 10-46 receiving), but those 25 touches show that he is likely to be a big part of the strategy for Pittsburgh.  Jacksonville’s pass defense is their strength, so attacking the run defense and the smaller interior line is the best strategy.  Bell may be expensive, but he is likely to see plenty of chances to produce and find the end zone. 

In that same game, Leonard Fournette is going to also be a popular pick this weekend.  Fournette had his biggest game of his rookie campaign against the Steelers (28-181-2) but a lot of that came on a late 90-yard touchdown run in the final moments of the contest.  You can argue that his production was solid even without that score, but 27-91 rushing is less than 4.0 yards per carry.  Clearly Fournette offers GPP upside, but I expect the Steelers to key on him defensively and force Blake Bortles to beat them.

New England is slated to score plenty of points this week, and the safest running back choice there is Dion Lewis.  He will likely see plenty of work as a rusher and receiver and is very affordable on both slates.  Derrick Henry is even cheaper, and while he will see plenty of touches as the main back for the Titans, he is far riskier of a choice given that Tennessee could struggle to put up points on the Patriots.

The other two contests offer up some interesting options as well.  My favorite is Latavius Murray, who has had at least 20 carries in the past three games and has also found the end zone three times in those contests.  He has emerged as Minnesota’s lead back and when the Vikings have a lead, he will get much more action that Jerick McKinnon.  The Vikings are likely to play strong defense and run the ball to try and keep Drew Brees and the Saints offense on the sideline, and they held New Orleans to just 60 yards rushing combined.  Alvin Kamara has much more appeal as he is a strong receiver out of the backfield and he is more explosive than Mark Ingram II.

Atlanta offers two backs as well this week, but Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are sharing too much of the snaps to make either a reliable option.  Freeman has a higher floor but Coleman is cheap with some touchdown potential.  Jay Ajayi of the Eagles is much more interesting for me, as Philadelphia may exploit Atlanta’s weakness against pass catching backs this year and call a few screens to get Ajayi the ball in space.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS

Name 4-Game Slate Salary 2-Game Slate Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Comments
Antonio Brown 9000 8400 5 4 Is he 100% healthy? Probably not, but likely to see 10+ targets against tough coverage
Julio Jones 8800 8500 4 3 Likely to see plenty of targets against the Eagles, but expensive
Michael Thomas 8200 8100 6 8 Expected to be blanketed by Xavier Rhodes
Brandin Cooks 7700 7600 7 7 Top WR on New England with Patriots expected to score 30 points, but Cooks not the top target of Brady
Adam Thielen 7600 7500 3 5 With Diggs facing coverage from Lattimore, Thielen may see a lot of work
Stefon Diggs 7300 7200 8 6 Probably will face shadow coverage from Lattimore, which greatly limits upside
Alshon Jeffery 7200 7300 9 12 Marcus Trufant coverage will limit production, especially in Red Zone
JuJu Smith-Schuster 7000 6900 1 2 Best matchup in the passing game for the Steelers, plus kick return bonus
Martavis Bryant 6700 6500 n/a 14 Likely to be outside against A.J. Bouye, which is not a good matchup at all
Chris Hogan 6500 6600 n/a 11 One of a multitude of pass-catching options for Brady. GPP only as a result
Marqise Lee 6400 6000 n/a 15 Hard to trust any Jacksonville wideout, even with a good matchup
Nelson Agholor 6400 5900 2 9 One of the best CB/WR matchups this weekend, as Agholor draws Brian Poole
Dede Westbrook 6100 5900 n/a 10 Has the potential for a big game, but unlikely to see numerous targets
Ted Ginn Jr 5900 6200 11 1 If Michael Thomas is blanketed, Ginn should see a lot of chances to go deep
Mohamed Sanu 5800 6000 10 13 Philadelphia likely to focus on stopping Julio Jones, which should leave Sanu open
Keelan Cole 5800 5100 n/a 17 I cannot trust any Jaguar receiver, even against Pittsburgh
Rishard Matthews 5500 5700 n/a 19 Top WR for the Titans, but he posted a dud performance last week in a better spot
Corey Davis 5400 5300 n/a 16 Outperformed Matthews last week, but still nowhere close to value
Allen Hurns 5400 5000 n/a 18 Back in the starting lineup, but Bortles only attempted 14 passes in the first matchup
Eli Rogers 5400 5000 n/a 21 Fourth WR for the Steelers
Danny Amendola 5200 5400 n/a 20 Similar story to Chris Hogan, but even fewer chances
Torrey Smith 5100 5000 n/a 22 Unlikely to see a lot of action

I do not believe that paying up for wide receivers is going to be the best path this weekend, aside from possibly one option.  Antonio Brown had 19 targets, 10 catches and 157 yards in Week 5, but I do not expect him to see that volume this weekend.  Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye are the best corners in the league, and they will be all over Brown and Martavis Bryant this weekend.  That does afford Juju Smith-Schuster as an affordable and solid option in all formats this weekend.  As for Jacksonville, Blake Bortles only attempted 14 passes the first time that these two met, so targeting any Jaguar receiver is risky at best.  DeDe Westbrook and Keelan Cole have big play upside, but they are shots in the dark for me. 

Atlanta’s Desmond Trufant will make Alshon Jeffery’s matchup rather unattractive, but Nelson Agholor gets Brian Poole in the slot.  I like that matchup for him and Agholor should push TE Zach Ertz for the team lead in targets for the Eagles.  Going back to the expensive options, Julio Jones is the one high-priced option I might consider against Philadelphia, but with the cold weather and playing on grass instead of turf it might be harder for Jones to post big numbers.  Mohamed Sanu is in a much better spot and is much more affordable.

Michael Thomas is going to be blanketed by Xavier Rhodes, and Stefon Diggs draws Marshon Lattimore in the Saints-Vikings clash.  Those coverages boost the values of Ted Ginn Jr and Adam Thielen, with Thielen a safer option. 

Lastly, the New England Patriots are slated to score 30 points, which roughly works out to be three touchdowns and three field goals.  That sounds attractive for the receivers, but the issue I have is not just deciding between Brandin Cooks and Chris Hogan but also wondering how many scores go to Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis.  If both Gronkowski and Lewis score, that leaves only one (at most) touchdown for the receivers.  Even with Cooks and Hogan in favorable matchups against a weak Tennessee secondary, I can see the Patriots scoring early with Lewis and Gronkowski and then taking their foot off the gas.  I like Cooks more than Hogan overall, but given all the paths to scoring for New England, both receivers fall in the tournament fliers at best category for me.

As for Tennessee, I am giving up on Rishard Matthews and Corey Davis as anything but a shot in the dark.  The Titans are projected to score 17 points, but Matthews disappointed last week with just one catch Davis only had a few (4-35) against Buffalo.  Neither are worth targeting expect as a dark horse in a big tournament.

 

TIGHT ENDS

Name 4-Game Slate Salary 2-Game Slate Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Comments
Rob Gronkowski 8500 8200 1 3 Clear top tight end for the weekend
Zach Ertz 7200 7400 3 2 Good matchup against Atlanta, and Nick Foles needs a big target
Delanie Walker 6200 6300 n/a 4 Arguably top target for Tennessee, but the Patriots know that too
Kyle Rudolph 5900 6000 2 1 Strong game in Week 1 against the Saints, good matchup
Jesse James 5500 5600 n/a 8 Pittsburgh not using the tight end a lot of late
Austin Hooper 4900 4800 n/a 6 GPP only, not much upside
Josh Hill 4700 5000 n/a 5 Scored against MIN in Week 1, and sneaky GPP option
Marcedes Lewis 4700 4600 n/a 7 Decent flier against the Steelers - GPP only
Vance MacDonald 4500 4500 n/a 9 Hard to tell which TE for the Steelers gets the targets, which may be few

Tight end is a very limited list for the week once again, with four real names to target.  Rob Gronkowski is the clear elite option, but Zach Ertz should not be overlooked.  Both are in favorable spots as Gronkowski faces the Titans (24th in DVOA versus tight ends) and Ertz matches up with the Falcons (22nd in DVOA vs. TEs).  The bias will go towards Gronkowski if you can afford him, but with the Patriots projected to score 30 points, he will be the chalk play at the position this week. 

Tennessee will likely attempt to get the ball the Delanie Walker between the hash marks against the Patriots.  The Titans are likely to be trailing most of the game in New England, and Walker led Tennessee in targets for the year (111) and last week with eight targets, which led to him being the top receiver against Kansas City (6-74) as part of the upset of the Chiefs.  With the Patriots likely to focus on shutting Walker down first, he becomes a GPP option for me despite the strong odds of Tennessee throwing early and often.  Kyle Rudolph rounds out my top four tight ends for the weekend.  Rudolph found the end zone against New Orleans in their matchup way back in Week 1, but the Saints’ defense has evolved a great deal over the regular season.  What gives more credence to selecting Rudolph is how effective Greg Olsen was for the Panthers last week, as he had over 100 yards and a score against this same defense.

Now, the GPP options have to be expanded, especially when you are looking at two-game slates.  Austin Hooper is a reasonable option for Atlanta, but he has not seen many targets on a regular basis.  Pittsburgh has a decent matchup against Jacksonville when it comes to tight ends, but Jesse James and Vance MacDonald have been trading off and on at the position and neither have seen a large amount of regular work.  The tight end I want to use the most this weekend is Josh Hill, and in particular on the Sunday slate.  Sunday only has one strong tight end options (Rudolph), so his ownership will likely be through the roof.  If you pivot to Hill, you have a great chance at a high finish or taking down a GPP if Hill scores and Rudolph has an average or subpar performance.

KICKERS

Name 4-Game Slate Salary 2-Game Slate Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Comments
Stephen Gostkowski 5300 5300 2 3 Biggest favorite at home, checks all the boxes, but weather may be a concern
Chris Boswell 5000 5100 n/a 6 Weather also a concern here, but otherwise meets the requirements
Wil Lutz 4900 4800 3 2 Away kicker but in a dome - but low projected total
Kai Forbath 4900 4900 1 1 Best value overall as home favorite indoors
Matt Bryant 4800 4900 n/a 4 Philadelphia could be cold and wet - not ideal conditions for a guy normally kicking indoors
Jake Elliott 4800 4800 n/a 5 Used to Philadelphia, but weather a concern
Josh Lambo 4600 4500 n/a 7 Pittsburgh is a tough place to kick, and weather may not cooperate
Ryan Succop 4500 4500 n/a 8 Titans are not expected to score many points

CHALK and GPP: These general kicker comments will likely be repeated week after week, but they are important so take note. Yes, FanDuel is the only DFS site left that uses a kicker, but you have to deal with it if you are playing on FanDuel. Sorry, that's how it goes. But there's some good news - you can actually make smart, informed decisions that can go a long way towards increasing your bankroll. First, there are four general criteria in picking a kicker:

  1. Pick a kicker who is playing at home
  2. Pick a kicker who is in a game where his team is favored
  3. Pick a kicker whose team is expected to score at least 24 points.
  4. Pick a kicker who will not be in bad weather.

Just following that above recipe will help you quite a bit. Remember - a 50+ yard field goal is five points or almost as much as a touchdown. That's significant.

As I mentioned before, I listed all the options this week just as options and rankings, but overall I think I am only really looking at a few kickers.  Weather is likely to impact games in the East, and with contests slated in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Foxboro (Massachusetts) the odds of adverse conditions for kickers is pretty high.  That means for cash and safe choices, stick to the one game in a dome, which is New Orleans at Minnesota.  Kai Forbath will kick for the home team favorite Vikings, so he is my top choice, while Wil Lutz is a solid tournament target.

Saturday does not offer an indoor kicker, so some creativity is in order – as is watching the forecasts.  Philadelphia is supposed to be cold and possibly wet, while New England is just downright cold on Saturday night.  Stephen Gostkowski is the safest option (big home favorite projected for 30 points) but cold weather can make long distance kicks nearly impossible.  Gostkowski is your safe play on Saturday.

 

TEAM DEFENSES

Name 4-Game Slate Salary 2-Game Slate Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Comments
Pittsburgh 5300 5400 3 5 Overpriced for their upside
New England 5100 5300 1 1 Best value overall as big home favorites against the Titans
Jacksonville 4700 4800 4 3 Had a fantastic performance in first game in Pittsburgh
Philadelphia 4600 4700 n/a 4 Big play upside and well-rested
Minnesota 4600 4500 5 2 Minnesota will be rocking, and the Saints struggled in first meeting
Atlanta 4400 4500 2 7 Only road favorite, and sloppy conditions expected
New Orleans 4400 4400 n/a 6 Defense far better than in Week 1, but still risky
Tennessee 4000 4000 n/a n/a Not even worth a try

Both Tennessee and Jacksonville are projected to score under 18 points this weekend, so that pushes both the Patriots and Steelers towards the top of the defensive choices list.  The Jaguars have better potential to score as they did beat Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh back in Week 5 30-9, mostly due to their defensive racking up five interceptions and two Pick-6 touchdowns.  That vaults Jacksonville into the GPP discussion as Ben Roethlisberger could have a similar meltdown.

Oddly enough, Atlanta may be the most popular option this weekend.  The Falcons are the only road favorite this week due to Nick Foles being forced to start due to the knee injury to Carson Wentz.  I believe that Philadelphia can put up a good fight with the rest of their squad, including their defense in a hostile and cold environment for Atlanta.  The Falcons may be favorites, but a dome team on the road against the #1 seed coming off of a bye is not a given. 

Minnesota and New Orleans are also GPP options this week, as both defenses have had excellent performances several times in the regular season. The Vikings held New Orleans to 12 points until a meaningless touchdown late in Week 1, and the Saints can be rather opportunistic at times.  I prefer the Vikings much more in this matchup.

Questions, suggestions, and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com