Herein is another edition of “Fantasy Draft Dominator” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on FantasyDraft and make recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments. FantasyDraft is one of the few sites in the industry that allows you to see Ownership Percentage after roster lock but before the player’s game kicks off. To leverage this unique opportunity, we have compiled Ownership Percentages from the biggest Thursday GPP to help lend insight into both tournament and cash-game strategy for the Sunday Contests.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. Cash game players are the top overall values of the week and can be used without regard to expected ownership percentage. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games. Expected ownership levels is also a major consideration in determining the top GPP options. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he will fall into both categories.
FantasyDraft Dominator will be posted each Friday morning, but will also be updated throughout the week as new information becomes available. Should you have any questions or players you want to discuss, hit me up on twitter (@hindery).
Most weeks, the recommendation here has been to roll with a lower priced quarterback. But Drew Brees ($14,300) has been so consistently excellent at home in recent years and the matchup is so favorable, he is the clear top option at quarterback this week. There is a case to be made for Colin Kaepernick ($11,400) as a bargain option if you absolutely can’t make Brees’ salary fit comfortably in. The risk of Aaron Rodgers ($12,600) or Russell Wilson ($11,900) is higher than many seem to recognize.
Top Cash Options
Drew Brees (Cash and GPP; $14,300) In six home games this season, Brees has passed for 2,142 yards and has 21 total touchdowns (19 passing and 2 rushing). That’s 357 yards and 3.5 touchdowns per game. The home numbers are even more impressive if you take out the two productive but unspectacular games against Denver and Seattle (both ranked in the top 5 of pass defense DVOA). Against defenses that aren’t ranked in the top 5 against the pass, Brees has averaged 382.3 passing yards per game at home. While we are talking about a small sample size of four games, the trend is just a continuance of past seasons. In Brees’ last 11 home games against pass defenses ranked outside of the top 5, he has averaged a ridiculous 373.3 passing yards and 3.09 touchdowns per game. In Week 13, Brees gets to face the Lions awful pass defense that ranks dead last in DVOA. There’s not a higher floor-ceiling combination on the slate and when you consider high the likelihood of Brees hitting the 300-yard passing bonus, it makes all the sense in the world to pay up for the clear top option. Especially since the separation in pricing between the elite options and the lower-tier is much narrower at quarterback than other positions.
Colin Kaepernick (Cash and GPP; $11,400) Kaepernick is averaging 62.2 rushing yards per game on the season. For perspective, that’s a 992 rushing yard pace over a full 16-game season. With such a huge rushing expectation and still priced just $1,400 over the minimum, Kaepernick doesn’t need to do much in the passing game to reach cash game value. To that end, Kaepernick has also been surprisingly solid as a passer in recent weeks. He has averaged 277.5 passing yards and 2.0 passing touchdowns per game over his last four. The Bears matchup is slightly above average. Chicago has allowed the 14th most points to opposing quarterbacks over the past four. The Bears have been decimated by injuries and suspensions on both sides of the ball. The linebacker position has been hit especially hard; Jerell Freeman is suspended, Danny Trevathan is on IR and Leonard Floyd is questionable with a concussion. It’s worth noting that there has been some reverse line movement toward the 49ers. Despite slightly more than half of the action coming in on Chicago, the line has moved from Chicago -3 to a pick ‘em in most books. Keep an eye on the weather to make sure the wind won’t be too extreme. Kaepernick looks like the top bargain option for cash games and his GPP upside is amongst the highest on the slate due to his rushing ability.
Top GPP Options
Aaron Rodgers (GPP; $12,600) Rodgers has been on fire, with six straight weeks finishing as a top-6 fantasy quarterback. Yet he still is priced almost $2,000 less than the other top passers. With the recent run of consistently great fantasy play and reduced price, it’s tempting to roll with Rodgers in cash games. While not a bad cash option by any means, there are enough red flags and risk this week that Rodgers fits more comfortably as a high-upside GPP option. First, the matchup is less than ideal against a solid Houston defense that ranks 12th against the pass in DVOA and hasn’t allowed a single 300-yard passing game all season. The Texans have only given up 14 passing touchdowns in 11 games, making them one of the stingiest defenses in terms of fantasy points allowed in the passing game. Second, the current forecast calls for moderate winds, temperatures in the low 30s and a 60% chance of snow. While not a major concern, it’s another small factor that favors a player like Brees who is playing in a dome. Third and most importantly, the extent to which Rodgers’ hamstring injury will limit him is unknown and could severely limit his mobility. Rodgers has rushed for at least 26 yards in each of his last five games and that streak seems unlikely to continue. He also may be limited in his ability to move around in the pocket and we’ve seen how much of an impact the lack of mobility had on Rodgers in previous seasons when a calf injury hurt his passing numbers. Add it all up and you see clear upside at a tantalizing price point, but more risk than you want in cash games. Rodgers makes a lot of sense in GPPs though stacked with Davonte Adams and/or Jordy Nelson who are both flying under the radar this week and expected to be low-owned.
David Johnson ($18,000) will likely be the highest-owned player on the slate unless some unexpected values open up later in the week. He is tough to fade when he is popular due to his high floor and massive upside. The mid-tier this week is teeming with solid options. Carlos Hyde ($10,000) is a favorite play against a beat up Bears defense. Melvin Gordon III ($13,600) and Jeremy Hill ($8,500) are also solid cash game options who should see heavy workloads.
Top Cash Game Options
David Johnson (Cash; $18,000) The case for Johnson in cash is easy to make. He is averaging just under 33 FantasyDraft points per game over the past three weeks and has had incredible week-to-week consistency the entire season. On top of that, Washington is dead last in DVOA against the run, so Johnson should have plenty of success on the ground. With cash game ownership likely to be 75% or higher, it is terrifying to fade Johnson in that format. However, if there was ever a week to fade Johnson in GPPs, this is it. It could be tough sledding in the passing game against Washington. The Redskins are 3rd in pass defense DVOA against opposing running backs. That’s significant for Johnson, who has posted 20 receptions for 203 yards and three touchdowns over the past three weeks and relies upon his production in the passing game for 46.9% of his fantasy production. The expectation of 5-7 catches on top of the solid rushing expectations is what makes Johnson an attractive option despite the $18,000 price tag (highest on the slate) and there is at least some concern about him living up to those expectations in this matchup. Washington has allowed just 18 total receptions to opposing running backs over the past six games and only one back has topped 23 receiving yards against them over that stretch. With GPP ownership likely to reach 40%, Johnson is a solid fade this week with so many of the top receivers having favorable matchups and similar upside at a fraction of the ownership.
Carlos Hyde (Cash and GPP; $10,000) The Bears were strong against the run early in the season, but injuries have taken a toll. Over the past four weeks, they have given up the 10th most fantasy points to opposing backs. They will be without their two best linebackers as Jerell Freeman is suspended and Danny Trevatahan is on IR. Rookie outside linebacker Leonard Floyd is questionable due to a concussion. The Bears will have to pay extra attention to quarterback Colin Kaepernick (coming off of a 100+ yard rushing performance) in the run game, which should help open holes for Hyde. Hyde’s usage in the passing game has also been encouraging in recent weeks. He has eight receptions over the past two weeks. Despite more money coming in on the Bears, the Vegas line has moved towards San Francisco and this game is now listed as a pick ‘em. With a rain/snow mix expected, expect the 49ers to try to pound away on the ground with Hyde. Overall, this is a solid spot for a talented lead back in a surging offense and the bargain pricing makes Hyde an attractive option in all formats.
Melvin Gordon III (Cash and GPP; $13,600) The expected touchdown regression for Gordon finally hit and he has gone two games without a touchdown. The overall production and usage has been incredibly steady for Gordon however. He has at least 68 rushing yards in seven straight games and has at least four targets in five straight games. The matchup is average at best. The Bucs shut down Thomas Rawls last week (which will help keep Gordon’s GPP ownership at reasonable levels). While Tampa Bay has been tough against the run in recent weeks, Gordon has been one of the more matchup proof backs in the league this season. Gordon has averaged 23.8 carries per game over his last six to go along with 5.3 targets per game. The usage is such that Gordon doesn’t have to be overly efficient to have a strong fantasy day. The Chargers are also 3.5-point home favorites with Tampa having to travel all the way out to the West coast after an emotional home win. It’s a nice bounce back spot for Gordon. With David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell both priced way up this week, Gordon is an especially attractive to save some money and still lock in a boatload of touches at the RB position.
Top GPP Options
Tim Hightower (GPP; $9,500) Keep an eye on the Mark Ingram II injury. If he is out, Hightower instantly earns “must-play” status in cash games. Even if Ingram is active, Hightower is a strong GPP play. The Lions rank 28th in DVOA against the run and are 31st in DVOA defending running backs in the passing game as well. With the Saints 6-point home favorites , it is an absolutely ideal spot for a big fantasy game for the Saints backs. The only question is how much of a split there will be (assuming Mark Ingram II plays). In Week 11, Hightower out-snapped Ingram 43 to 25. In Week 12, it was reversed with Ingram playing 42 snaps to Hightower’s 25. Even with just 25 snaps last week, Hightower still touched the ball 17 times and topped 100 total yards for the third time in four games. Hightower is the best way to get exposure to this Saints passing without finding yourself along with the crowd and high ownership. He has caught 10 passes over the past two weeks and came in at just 3% ownership in Thursday GPPs.
LeGarrette Blount (GPP; $10,400) It’s always tough to predict when it will be a “Blount week.” That’s especially true with the return Dion Lewis pushing the Patriots toward a crowded backfield and 3-man RBBC. There’s certainly risk in playing Blount this week, but the upside at this price point is also undeniable and there are some signs this could be a week the Patriots lean heavily upon Blount. First, the Rams have struggled against the run in recent weeks, allowing 5.9 yards per carry over the last three weeks. Over the past four weeks, the Rams are allowing the 4th most fantasy points to opposing backs. Last week Mark Ingram II gashed the Rams for 146 rushing yards on just 14 carries. The Patriots also come into the game as massive 13-point home favorites. The game script could play out perfectly to allow the Patriots to grind out the second half on the back of Blount. It’s also worth noting that Tom Brady isn’t fully healthy, dealing with a knee injury. Against the Rams ferocious pass rush, it doesn’t make sense to risk further exacerbating the injury by asking Brady to drop back 40 times and take a bunch of unnecessary hits in a game the Pats defense and running game should be able to control. Blount has had four 100+ yard rushing games and three multi-touchdown games, so the upside is clearly there and in GPPs is a strong option considering the decent possibility that this is another one of those “Blount weeks.”
Cash Game Considerations
It looks like another four running back week for cash games, meaning we’re probably just rostering a pair of receivers. With some strong value options at running back, a star/bargain duo at receiver is viable. At the top of the price range, Julio Jones ($16,300) and Mike Evans ($16,200) are both extremely strong options. It’s possible to fit one of the two in while still paying up for Drew Brees, David Johnson and Melvin Gordon III if you roll the dice a bit at wide receiver with an extreme bargain option like Dorial Green-Beckham ($6,000). The risk-reward proposition of that move makes sense this week. Tyreek Hill ($9,100) is a nice mid-tier option should Jeremy Maclin miss his fourth straight game.
Top Cash Game Options
Julio Jones (Cash and GPP; $16,300) Prior to a brutal matchup against Patrick Peterson, Jones had a pair of monster games (8-111-1 against Tampa and 10-135-0 against Philadelphia) on 27 total targets. Expect a similarly heavy does of targets this week in a sneaky good matchup against the Chiefs. Kansas City has a strong reputation as a defense to avoid, but ranks 21st in DVOA against #1 wide receivers. The Chiefs have allowed some big games to opposing receivers this season; Emmanuel Sanders (7-162), Mike Evans (6-105), Allen Robinson (10-130), Amari Cooper (10-129) and DeAndre Hopkins (7-113) all went off against Kansas City. Jones projects as the top pure points play at the position, but the tougher call will be whether to pay up for Jones in cash games or instead pay up at running back and look for bargains at receiver. In GPPs, Jones is a great play and will almost certainly come at a fraction of the ownership of David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell with similar upside.
Dorial Green-Beckham (Cash and GPP; $6,000) The Eagles wide receiver situation is a mess, which has allowed the still raw Green-Beckham to emerge as one of the primary targets of Carson Wentz. Over the past two weeks, Green-Beckham has seen 18 targets. He’s been surprisingly efficient with the opportunities, with 11 receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown. Top target Jordan Matthews is still struggling with his ankle injury and his status is questionable for Sunday. Even if he goes, he is unlikely to be 100%. There’s just nobody else left to challenge Green-Beckham for targets. Nelson Agholor has admitted he has lost confidence and was a healthy scratch last week. Undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner will get some snaps, but can’t match Green-Beckham for pedigree or talent. It’s reasonable to project Green-Beckham for 6-7 targets and he could easily see 8-10 again. The matchup against a solid Bengals pass defense is less than ideal, but it’s hard to argue with getting a guy with such a high target floor for the minimum price of $6,000. Green-Beckham is an especially attractive play in all formats this week due to the desire to fit in elite options like Drew Brees, David Johnson, Julio Jones, Mike Evans and others. He provides massive salary relief while still packing plenty of upside.
Tyreek Hill (Cash and GPP; $9,100) Hill’s status as a strong cash game option is largely dependent upon whether Jeremy Maclin is able to play this weekend. He is still viable (especially in GPPs) if Maclin is active, but the target projections become much more questionable with Maclin in the lineup, which would make Hill a very risky cash play. While Maclin has returned to practice, he is still very much questionable for Week 13. Hill has been a revelation in Maclin’s three-week absence. He’s seen 28 targets over his last three (and also scored a rushing touchdown and a special teams score) and has looked as dangerous with the ball in his hands as any receiver in the league. Over the past three, Hill has averaged 20.9 FantasyDraft points per game. Atlanta is a great matchup for Hill. The Falcons are 21st in pass defense DVOA but are now without top cornerback Marcus Trufant and could be especially vulnerable down the stretch of the season. The way to attack the defense has been with quick passes, as Atlanta ranks 26th in DVOA on short passes and plays a bend but don’t break style that allows completions short and tries to force you to sustain long drives. That plays to the strengths of Alex Smith, Tyreek Hill and the Chiefs passing offense.
Top GPP Options
Mike Evans (Cash and GPP; $16,200)Nobody has seen a more consistent target load than Evans this season. He has seen at least 11 targets in 10 of the last 11 games (with the only exception coming in a game when he was coming off of a concussion). The outlier post-concussion game against Chicago is the only game since Week 8 that Evans hasn’t topped 100 receiving yards. Evans has also been a consistent touchdown producer, scoring in 7-of-11 games and notching three multi-touchdown games. The matchup with the Chargers is favorable. San Diego is allowing 85.2 yards per game to opposing WR1s this season. The Chargers offense has been excellent this season and Tampa will likely have to lean heavily upon Evans to keep up. Julio Jones is a slightly better cash option playing at home, thought it’s tough to argue against Evans in cash games either. In GPPs, Evans is an outstanding play who will go a big under-owned with so many people chasing the top running backs.
Jordy Nelson (Cash and GPP; $13,300) In his last three games where he wasn’t shadowed by Josh Norman, Nelson has 43 targets. In those three games, he averaged 9 receptions and 104 yards. In a home game against Houston’s solid pass defense, Nelson is flying well under the radar in GPPs. He was owned on just 4% of Thursday GPP rosters despite ranking as a top-3 player in our projections according to H-Value. Nelson has scored in 8-of-11 games, so the upside is clearly there for a big week. At such low ownership, Nelson is an outstanding GPP option.
Cash Game Considerations
If paying up for guys like Drew Brees, David Johnson and Julio Jones, it is imperative to save some money at tight end. While Jimmy Graham ($10,400) is an attractive option, the $1,700 in savings going down to Travis Kelce ($8,700) makes roster construction much easier.
Top Cash Game Option
Travis Kelce (Cash and GPP; $8,700) Kelce was our top play last week and he responded with a big 8-101 performance. It was his third 100+ yard receiving game in the past five weeks. Atlanta is relatively efficient (11th in DVOA) against tight ends, but no defense is targeted more heavily by opposing tight ends (9.3 targets per game). The Falcons young linebackers are a work in progress against the pass and Atlanta’s bend but don’t break style allows for plenty of underneath completions (Alex Smith’s specialty). Despite the hot stretch for Kelce and 24 targets over the past two weeks, he still comes in as just the 6th highest priced tight end. He is a strong play in cash or GPP (though his high GPP ownership makes him a solid fade as well).
Cash Game Considerations
If you can afford to squeeze the Broncos ($7,700) in, this is an ideal spot. The Jaguars have no running game and are beat up at receiver. Von Miller and company will be able to tee off on Blake Bortles, which is a perfect recipe for big fantasy numbers. The Ravens ($5,900) are a nice bargain option against a Miami offense that is dealing with significant injuries. Baltimore hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in any of the last three home games.
Ravens (Cash and GPP; $5,900) The Ravens have held three of their last four opponents to 14 points or less (with Dallas the only exception) and have seven sacks in their last two home games. Baltimore has the #1 ranked run defense according to DVOA, which means they should be able to stuff Jay Ajayi and force Ryan Tannehill to try to beat them through the air. The Dolphins are without three starting offensive linemen and travel to Baltimore with an implied team total of just 18.5 points. With DeVante Parker questionable as well, the Dolphins are hurting for playmakers and could have a long day on offense in what should be a low-scoring affair.
Broncos (Cash and GPP; $7,700) Denver is the top option if you can afford to pay up at Defense. The Broncos pass rush is ferocious and coming off a game in which they sacked Alex Smith 6 times. Jacksonville has been the opposing offense to target this season. They’ve allowed the opposing defense to score 11+ points in three of four games. The Jaguars are beat up at running back and could be forced to again rely on third stringer Denard Robinson. The way to beat Denver is to run the ball early and often and not let the pass rush tee off. Jacksonville is dead last in offensive rushing DVOA and is not the type of team capable of doing that, which means Von Miller and company will be able to pin their ears back and get after the mistake pron Blake Bortles.
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