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).
Thursday GPP Ownership
Cash Game Considerations
The top options are all priced in the same $11,900 to $12,900 range so roster construction will not play a major role in the quarterback choice. It just comes down to locking in the player you feel best about in the price range. Kirk Cousins ($11,900) and Aaron Rodgers ($12,000) have been the most consistent fantasy producers at the position over the past six weeks. Cousins has the better matchup and is a safer cash game option, but Rodgers is in play as well. Andrew Luck ($12,900) is slightly more expensive and facing a solid defense, but in a week where cold and snow are prevalent across the slate, it’s nice to lock in an elite passer playing at home in a dome.
Top Cash-Game Options
Kirk Cousins (Cash and GPP; $11,900) Kirk Cousins currently ranks as the #4 fantasy quarterback on the season, but his price hasn’t caught up to his production. Cousins has proven in recent weeks to have both an incredibly high floor and an elite ceiling. He has scored at least 21 FantasyDraft points in six straight games. He ha been a top-10 quarterback in five of the last six weeks. Three of those six games were monster passing performances by Cousins (458 passing yards, 2 touchdowns against Cincinnati; 375 yards and 3 touchdowns against Green Bay; 449 yards and 3 touchdowns against Dallas). The matchup against Philadelphia looks tougher on paper than it is in reality. The Eagles boast a pass defense that is still ranked 4th according to FootballOutsiders’ DVOA. However, most of that lofty ranking can be attributed to some outstanding performances early in the season. The pass defense has grown progressively worse throughout the season. Philadelphia has averaged 23.7 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (seventh-most in the NFL) over the past four weeks and have allowed 25+ points in each of the past three weeks (including to Andy Dalton and a ragtag group of pass catchers last week). Cousins is the top option on the slate for cash games. He is also an outstanding play at just 6% ownership in GPPs (both Jamison Crowder and Desean Jackson are strong stacking options).
Andrew Luck (Cash and GPP; $12,900) Fresh off of a masterful performance on Monday night, Luck returns home for a pivotal divisional matchup against a Texans team that is fading fast. The Texans pass defense, so dominant early in the season, has been a problem in recent weeks. Houston has allowed 10 passing touchdowns over the last four games, with at least two touchdowns against per game. Indianapolis is a 6.5-point home favorite with an implied team total of 26.5 points that is second-highest on the entire slate. Everything is pointing towards a big game for Luck, who finally has his full stable of weapons healthy at the same time. T.Y. Hilton, Donte Moncrief, Phillip Dorsett and Dwayne Allen give Luck plenty of options in the passing game. With all of the cold weather and snow expected across the country, Luck’s home-field advantage playing in perfect conditions indoors gives him a nice boost compared to the rest of the top options on the slate and makes him a top option for both cash and GPP.
Top GPP Options
Aaron Rodgers (GPP; $12,000) The Packers running game has been almost non-existent since Eddie Lacy went on injured reserve. Nearly all of Green Bay’s touchdowns and yardage have come via the pass, which has made Aaron Rodgers the second highest scoring quarterback on FantasyDraft this season (just two points behind Drew Brees). Rodgers has already thrown 29 touchdowns passes, including 19 over the past seven weeks. Over that seven game stretch, he has thrown at least two touchdowns in every single game and topped 300 passing yard in 4-of-7. Rodgers is priced down due to a difficult matchup against the Seahawks, who are a top-5 pass defense. Seattle will be without star defensive back Earl Thomas, but this is clearly a strength-on-strength matchup.
Russell Wilson (GPP; $12,300) Heading into Week 12 against Tampa Bay, it looked as if Wilson was headed towards a monster second-half of the season (just like in 2015). He finally got healthy and was riding a three-game hot streak. The game against the Bucs was a disaster for Wilson and the Seahawks offensive line. He rebounded with a solid but unspectacular game last week at home against Carolina, but it’s tough to know exactly what to expect from Wilson and this passing offense right now. The matchup against Green Bay is ideal. Green Bay has allowed 24 passing touchdowns already and has given up some huge games to opposing passers. Over the past four weeks, Green Bay has averaged 26 fantasy points allowed per game to opposing quarterbacks (third most in the NFL). In what projects as a low-scoring week across the board, this game ranks fairly highly in terms of shootout potential and Wilson’s proven upside against this bad defense makes him a strong GPP play.
Cash Game Considerations
David Johnson’s salary keep rising ($18,600), but he’s almost a must-play in cash games coming off of three straight 30+ point performances. There’s enough value on the slate to roster Le'Veon Bell ($17,000) as well without taking too many risks at other spots. The high pass game usage on top of the 20 carries per game for the top two backs makes them stronger plays than the elite receivers. If you go the two elite running back route, you have to find value somewhere and Rob Kelley ($8,400) is one of the few bargains at the running back position. Jeremy Hill ($10,900) carries some risk due to his lack of usage in the passing game and bumped up salary, but his upside in a nice matchup against the Browns makes him a solid flex option compared to receivers priced in the same range.
Top Cash-Game Options
David Johnson (Cash and GPP; $18,600) Coming off of three straight games with 33+ points, it’s almost impossible to fade Johnson in cash games even as his price continues to rise. Not only does Johnson average 19.0 carries per game, he also has a massive 23% market share in the passing game. That market share in the passing game has been especially high in recent weeks with the Cardinals receiving core beat up. Johnson has seen at least 11 targets in each of the past three weeks. The receiving numbers over the past six weeks for Johnson are astounding. He has averaged 10.5 targets, 7.3 receptions, 73.2 yards and .67 touchdowns per game as a receiver over that stretch (over 19 FantasyDraft PPG as a receiver). While the price is high, you are getting WR1 production on top of the 19 carries per game. So it’s like two players for the price of one. Miami’s defense has allowed over 130 rushing yards per game and have given up 20+ points to Carlos Hyde and Terrance West over the past two weeks. Johnson is close to a must-play in cash games. With the sky-high price and ownership of 44% in the Thursday GPPs, it’s a reasonable gamble to fade Johnson in GPPs. But his upside is unmatched, so even in GPPs with high ownership, you have to love Johnson.
Le'Veon Bell (Cash and GPP; $17,000) Bell isn’t receiving the preposterous volume in the passing game that he was earlier in the season. He has averaged 7.0 targets per game over the past three weeks. While those are still huge numbers for a running back, they are a slight decrease for Bell. Where Bell has really excelled in recent weeks has been as a runner. He has rushed for at least 118 yards in three straight games. The matchup for Bell is favorable this week against the Bills’ 24th-ranked rush defense. The Steelers are 3-point road favorites and have tended to lean more heavily on Bell and the running game on the road. Bell is an outstanding play in both cash and GPP this week and will have slightly lower ownership than he should due to David Johnson being so hot in recent weeks.
Jeremy Hill (Cash and GPP; $10,900) Jeremy Hill has had a tough season and the injury to Giovani Bernard has not been the boon to his fantasy prospects that many expected. Hill had just 54 rushing yards on 35 carries over the past two weeks. But Hill is strongly in play due to an ideal matchup against the Browns run defense. 20% of Hill’s career rushing yards have come in just five games against the Browns. He torched the Browns for 192 total yards on 11 touches in Week 7. The Browns are 31st in the league, allowing 140.6 yards per game. While Hill is likely to continue to split snaps and touches with Rex Burkhead, Hill should still get 20-25 touches and most of the red zone work. If the Bengals can control this game as 5.5-point road favorites, Hill has nice upside this week.
Rob Kelley (Cash and GPP; $8,300) Washington has quietly moved all the way up to 5th in DVOA as a rushing offense. Kelley has been playing well and has earned more than the 14 carries per game he’s seen over the past two weeks according to his coach. “We ideally would like to get that running game going a little bit more — more touches for Robert because he’s been very good as far as running the football,” Gruden said. “We have got to make sure that we get him more involved, maintain the time of possession and stay more balanced.” The matchup against the Eagles is just average (16th most rushing yards allowed), but the Vegas line has moved towards Washington. The Redskins are now 2-point road favorites and the game script could set up well for Kelley against an Eagles team that is fading fast. Philadelphia allowed the Bengals to score on each of their first six possessions last week and face a step up in competition against one of the hotter offenses in the NFL. Kelley has a strong touchdown projection this week. As Justin Howe noted in his short yardage report, Kelley has 11 carries inside the opponent’s 10-yard line in his five starts. Pairing Kelley with Coins is a nice play in cash games, both for the salary savings (which allows you to roster both Bell and Johnson) and for the solid floor the duo provides, as you should lock up all of Washington’s offensive touchdowns and almost all of the yardage as well.
Cash Game Considerations
The top running backs are such strong plays this week, that it doesn’t make sense to pay up at receiver. Jordy Nelson ($12,700) is the most expensive receiver worth strong consideration in cash games, but the tough matchup against Seattle makes dropping down to a player like Emmanuel Sanders ($10,600) worth considering. If you want to roster a pair of elite running backs, it probably requires taking a chance at WR2. Malcolm Mitchell ($8,200) looks like a nice low-cost option. He has been playing a ton of snaps for the Patriots and his salary makes roster construction much easier.
Top Cash-Game Options
Emmanuel Sanders (Cash and GPP; $10,600) Sanders has been seeing consistent, heavy volume in the Broncos offense and has an ideal matchup. He has seen at least nine targets in each of the past five games and has been the go-to guy for the Broncos offense. Tennessee has been weak against the pass (24th in DVOA) and has been especially vulnerable to wide receivers, allowing over 70 yards per game to both WR1s and WR2s. Over the past four weeks, Tennessee’s defense is allowingthe most fantasy points to opposing WRs. Over the past three games, Tennessee has given up 20+ FantasyDraft points to four different receivers: 8-125-1 to Marquess Wilson, 5-97-1 to T.Y. Hilton, 12-126-1 to Jordy Nelson, and 6-156-0 to Davante Adams. Assuming Trevor Siemian is able to play, Sanders looks like the top option in the sub-$11,000 price range. Despite the ideal matchup, Sanders won’t be highly owned in GPPs, so he is a nice play in that format as well.
Malcolm Mitchell (Cash and GPP; $8,200) Since Rob Gronkowski went down with an injury, Mitchell has stepped up as a key cog in the Patriots passing offense. He has scored at least 16.2 points in each of the past three games. It hasn’t been fluky either. Mitchell has averaged a solid 7.3 targets over the stretch and 55.7 snaps per game. Against Baltimore’s #1 ranked pass defense (according to FootballOutsiders DVOA), the Patriots are likely to have to lean on the passing game. While rostering a rookie without a long track record in a cash game may seem like a stretch, the combination of tight pricing and massive projections for the top running backs makes stretching to find value at other positions a worthwhile endeavor. Where Mitchell separates himself from some of the other top bargain options on the slate is that betting on Mitchell is also a bet on Tom Brady. If you roster Robby Anderson (Bryce Petty), Cameron Meredith (Matt Barkley), or Brian Quick (Jared Goff), you are also relying on awful quarterbacks to get them the ball.
Top GPP Options
Desean Jackson (GPP; $10,200) Jackson is the type to hold a grudge and you know he would love to have a big game against his old team. In his first game back in Philly, Jackson lit up the Eagles for 117 yards and a score. Aside from the narrative, this looks like a good spot for Jackson. The Eagles have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers over the past four weeks. Philadelphia has allowed 20+ FantasyDraft points to an opposing receiver in six straight games. Jackson has also seen a relatively steady stream of targets over the past two months. He had seen at least 6 targets in six straight games before seeing just four last week when he was shadowed by Patrick Peterson. Kirk Cousins carries a nice floor/ceiling combo and Jackson narrowly edges Jamison Crowder as the top stacking option to go along with Cousins.
Mike Evans (GPP; $16,700) The Buccaneers have the highest implied team total on the slate at 26.75. As TJ Hernandez of RosterCoach pointed out, this is the first time all year that Tampa Bay has been projected for more than 24.5 points. And the 26.75 implied team total is five points higher than their average implied total this season. Put simply, it’s a prime spot for the Bucs offense and Evans could be setup for another huge week. Evans saw just six targets last week. It was only the third time this season Evans saw less than 11 targets. In the two previous instances this season Evans had single-digit targets, he came back the next week with 18 and 13 targets respectively. Evans should see a heavy workload again in Week 14 and has as high a touchdown expectation as any receiver on the slate.
Cash Game Considerations
Jason Witten ($6,000) provides massive salary relief at tight end or even as a cash game flex option if you choose to roster a pair of tight ends. Paying up for Jimmy Graham ($10,400) also makes sense if you can make it work from a roster construction perspective.
Top Cash-Game Option
Jason Witten (Cash and GPP; $6,000) Witten has dominated the Giants throughout his long career. A quick glance at his career game log against New York reveals a number of big games. For his career, he has 142 receptions, 1,463 yards and 13 touchdowns against his division rivals. In the last three games against the Giants, Witten has averaged 7.8 catches, 66.3 yards and .67 TDs per game (18.5 points per game). The Giants defense tends to funnel targets towards the tight end. They are top 10 against WR1s, WR2s, other WRs and RBs in DVOA, but just 26th in DVOA against opposing tight ends. Opposing tight ends are averaging 8.9 targets per game (third highest in the NFL), so the Giants are allowing both efficiency and volume. Add it all up and Witten looks like the high floor bargain option at the position and provides a great low-risk option to save some cap space to fit in the top backs.
Top GPP Option
Delanie Walker (GPP; $8,300) Denver boasts a top 5 DVOA rank against opposing tight ends. But they are even better against wide receivers. It could be tough sledding for the Titans mediocre receivers against Denver’s trio of lockdown corners, which means that Marcus Mariota will have to rely heavily upon Walker and DeMarco Murray in the passing game. We saw a similar dynamic in play in Week 12 when Kansas City leaned heavily upon Travis Kelce (8 receptions for 101 yards). Walker has caught a touchdown in four of the past six games. Walker is priced down this week due to the tough matchup, but it could be a sneaky good spot for the talented pass catcher who could be the go-to option in the high-scoring Tennessee offense.
Cash Game Considerations
With the attractiveness of the top two options, it makes sense to pay up at the position this week. Jacksonville and Cleveland have been imploding offensively while the aggressive Minnesota ($7,700) and Cincinnati ($7,000) defenses have played well in recent weeks. If the weather is nasty in Cleveland, it could serve as a tie-breaker in favor of the Bengals over the Vikings.
Minnesota (Cash and GPP; $7,700) The defenses opposing the Jaguars over the past five weeks have averaged 12.2 PPG. Four of the five scored 11+ FantasyDraft points against the Jaguars. The season and career numbers for Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville offense are astounding. Bortles now has more INTs returned for a touchdown (11) than he does career wins (10). The Vikings rank as the #1 fantasy defense this season with 31 sacks and 22 forced turnovers to date. This is about as ideal a matchup as you can imagine. The price tag is certainly an issue and has to be taken into account when building a roster however. If you can fit the Vikings in with relative comfort, it makes sense to pay up for the week’s top play at the position.
Cincinnati (Cash and GPP; $7,000) Robert Griffin III III returns to make his first start since Week 1. He has a lot of rust to shake off after missing three months. Griffin has been turnover prone and has taken sacks due to holding the ball too long in recent years. The Browns offense and special teams have been an absolute disaster in recent weeks. The last three defenses to face the Browns have scored a whopping 59 fantasy points (19.7 per game). The Browns have turned it over three times in each of the last three games. Over the past two weeks, they’ve allowed 15 sacks. The weather could get ugly in Cleveland with snow in the forecast, which could add to the offensive misery. The Steelers defense racked up 22 points in the snow in Cleveland in Week 11. On the other side of the ball, the Bengals defense has been playing well in recent weeks. They’ve held the last three opponents to 15 points or less and have had six interceptions over the last three weeks.
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