Unlock More Content Like This With A
Footballguys Premium Subscription
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, NBC Sports EDGE
Each week this column will focus on projecting ownership percentage in DraftKings’ large field GPPs, and identifying players to target in each ownership tier. If you’re unsure how you should be factoring projected ownership percentage into your tournament roster construction, go back and read the introduction to this series, or this blog post on the topic.
The projected ownership ranges that appear in this space were derived in part from Footballguys’ proprietary algorithms, which take into account historical data, projected scoring, and player salary. Projected ownership percentages for every player, on every slate, can be found each week on our FREE Daily Crusher Mobile App. Until we have a few weeks worth of reliable data, I’ll be supplementing the algorithms with industry research to create the projections. Please be warned that the projection ranges shown below are by no means infallible and are only meant to be used as guidelines. Ownership percentages in your actual contests will vary.
Last Week’s Results
In the spirit of full disclosure, here are last week’s hits and misses. Actual ownership percentages were taken from the $10 Million Millionaire Maker.
|Projected % Owned
|Actual % Owned
Moving on to this week’s slate...
5% Ownership and Under
Nick Foles - $5,200 vs. PIT
Our algorithms are predicting Foles at around 8% owned. Given his price and matchup, I’d agree that sharper players will be on him this week. But because he’s Nick Foles and coming off a bad game, I’m confident he’ll check in under 5%. Pittsburgh has gotten flame broiled by quarterbacks in their first two games, giving up 29.6 fantasy points per game to the position. For context, that’s about 40% more fantasy points allowed to QBs than the league average. The last time we saw Foles at home, he finished as the QB9 on DraftKings (20.98 fantasy points) -- and that was against a much tougher Seattle defense. Vegas has Rams-Steelers pegged as the second highest scoring game of the week, with St. Louis’ team total sitting at a respectable 23 points. Foles has a legitimate shot at returning 5x his bargain basement salary.
Frank Gore - $4,500 @ TEN
Casual players will want no part of Gore after watching the boring old man fumble away a sure touchdown at the goal line on Monday Night Football. But if you need cap relief, or a pivot from higher owned running backs in this price tier (Dion Lewis, Devonta Freeman, Danny Woodhead), this is a good week to give Gore a look. His counting stats (15-58-0) were uninspiring Monday night, but if Gore had not committed the huge goal line blunder and gotten a couple long gains called back due to penalty, we’d be looking at him in a much different light. Indianapolis is in a prime spot to bounce back against a weak Tennessee defense. The Colts were a perfect 6-0 against the AFC South last season and they’re facing a must-win situation. I expect Andrew Luck and company to cruise past their 26 point Vegas projection and provide Gore with ample scoring opportunity.
Ted Ginn Jr - $3,300 vs. NO
If you had Week 3 in your “when will this column jump the shark” office pool, congratulations on your big win. I obviously don’t feel great about recommending you invest actual money in Ted Ginn Jr's fantasy football performance, but hear me out. Through two games, Ginn has received a 23.53% share of Carolina’s targets. That amounts to one less target than Greg Olsen and about the same target share DeAndre Hopkins has received in Houston. Jerricho Cotchery (Carolina’s third most targeted receiver) is going to miss multiple weeks with a high ankle sprain, freeing up even more looks in the Panthers’ (admittedly inefficient) passing game. New Orleans’ banged up pass defense has allowed wide receiver touchdowns in both of their games this year, including one to fellow speedy deep threat John Brown. Carolina is projected by Vegas to score a healthy 24 points this week, so there should be some passing-game production to go around. He’s a risky play for sure, but Ginn only needs to hit one big play against a bad secondary to make it worth your while, and he’ll get the opportunities to make it happen.
DeAndre Hopkins - $7,400 vs. TB
Important Note: The following blurb was written prior to reports Hopkins suffered a concussion and was being held out of practice. I decided to leave it in the article because if Hopkins gets cleared to play, he becomes an EVEN BETTER tournament option. His ownership percentage was already going to drop and injury concerns would push it down even further. If he’s forced to sit, consider a pivot to Randall Cobb at the same price point. Houston receivers Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington would become worthwhile punt plays in a great match-up.
Hopkins’ ownership in the Millionaire Maker predictably climbed from 3.4% in Week 1 to 11.8% last week, as entrants chased the points from his huge opening game. I’m expecting the yo-yo act to continue after Hopkins was bottled up by Carolina last week. Hopkins’ Week 2 struggles were easy to see coming against a Panthers secondary that has shut down opposing wide receivers since Week 10 of last year. This week Hopkins is back at home, matched up with an opponent who won’t put up nearly as tough of a fight. Tampa Bay has allowed the ninth most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers through two weeks, and Hopkins has been every bit the target monster we thought he’d be coming into the season. Most encouragingly, Hopkins has been the Texans’ primary option in the red zone. His six red zone targets through two weeks tie him with Vincent Jackson for the most in the league. Vegas has Houston scoring 24 points. How are they going to get there without a big day from Hopkins?
Jared Cook - $2,800 vs. DEN
Rolling with a Foles-Cook stack feels about as awkward as watching 50 Shades of Gray with your parents, but it will only take up 16% of your cap, which allows you to load up on studs at other positions. Through two weeks, Cook has received a team-leading 22.03% of the Rams’ targets. He leads the team in receptions, receiving yards, and reception rate. Our David Dodds had Cooks slated for 12 fantasy points when he released his initial baseline projections - that’s the 4x return on salary you’re looking for in GPPs.
Atlanta Defense - $2,900 @ DAL
I’ll take my chances with Atlanta’s middling defense on the road against Brandon Weeden. Vegas doesn’t love this spot for the Falcons (they’re only favored by two and the Cowboys are projected to score 21 points), but I fail to see how Dallas is going to move the ball. With their mediocre running backs struggling (3.35 yards per attempt), the Cowboys had been relying on Tony Romo’s efficiency (75% completion rate) to sustain their trademark clock killing drives. Atlanta’s run defense has been surprisingly sturdy this year (3.7 yards per carry against), making it unlikely Dallas will be able to get much going on the ground. That leaves Brandon Weeden -- he of the career 56.4% completion rate -- to do what Tony Romo was being asked to do for the Cowboys. This can’t possibly end well for Weeden, who’s been sacked 2.7 times per game and thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his career.
Andrew Luck - $7,900 @ TEN
I don’t expect too many casual players to pay up Luck after consecutive sub-par games, including Monday night’s nationally televised clunker. As a result, his actual ownership percentage should come in much closer to the low end of this range. The Bills and Jets were tough draws for Luck to open the season, but he finally gets a walk in the park matchup with Tennessee. As I mentioned in the Frank Gore blurb, Luck usually dominates AFC South opponents, and the Titans were no exception last year. In six quarters against Tennessee, Luck passed for 553 yards and six touchdowns. For Luck to hit value in tournaments he needs 31.6 fantasy points -- a number he reached in 38% of his starts in 2014.
Cam Newton - $6,800 vs. NO
Newton checked in as the second highest scoring quarterback in David Dodds’ initial projections. He should be high-owned in a home matchup against the Saints, who have played terribly on both sides of the ball thus far. But because there’s no obvious receiver to stack with Newton (save for Greg Olsen), he usually ends up lower-owned in GPPs than he should. I don’t mind a Newton-Olsen or Newton-Ginn stack, but I’d also be comfortable knowing I constructed a unique lineup by playing Newton and not stacking him with any of his pass catchers. 27.2 fantasy points is the target for Newton in GPPs - a number he exceeded last week at home against a much tougher Houston defense. As long as he continues to run the ball 12 times per game, Newton’s weekly floor and ceiling will be right up there with the top-priced quarterbacks.
Latavius Murray - $5,800 @ CLE
The Browns have allowed the most rushing yards in the league through two games, including an embarrassing 124 total yards to Dexter McCluster last week. Murray has emerged as a rare every-down back, handling 71% of the Raiders’ backfield touches through two games. His ceiling may be capped by a potential low scoring contest (O/U 42), so you might want to reserve him for cash games, but Murray’s baseline projections suggest he should return 3x his salary in this matchup. Against a defense ceding 4.8 yards per attempt to opposing running backs, the upside is there for more.
Demaryius Thomas - $8,000 @ DET
Many entrants will be looking to pay up for Antonio Brown and Julio Jones, or choose from the mid-priced wide receivers coming off big games (Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall, Allen Robinson), leaving Thomas fairly low-owned. Thomas has started a bit slow by his standards, currently ranking as the cumulative WR15 by DraftKings scoring. The problem hasn’t been his involvement -- Thomas has received the fourth most targets in the league. Besides Peyton Manning’s Week 1 struggles, it’s been a curious lack of red zone opportunities holding Thomas back. As I began researching the contrast between Thomas’ 2014 red zone target share and his results thus far this season, I came across a timely tweet from Rotoworld’s Graham Barfield:
Demaryius Thomas saw 39 RZ targets (2.45 per-game) in '14. He hasn't seen a single RZ target through two games in '15. Regression is coming.
— Graham Barfield (@GrahamBarfield) September 21, 2015
As long as Gary Kubiak stops stubbornly trying to force his scheme on Peyton Manning, Graham’s takeaway is spot on - progression towards the norm is coming for Thomas in the red zone. We should see it begin this week against a Detroit defense allowing a league high 6.5 red zone scoring attempts per game.
Steve Johnson - $4,300 @ MIN
I really liked Ladarius Green this week, but it would be a shock to see him play after suffering his second concussion in 11 days. Green’s absence would free up six total targets and one red zone target per game in San Diego. Johnson -- who exceeded 5x his salary in the opener and nearly reached 4x last week -- figures to be the main benefactor of Green’s absence. Minnesota has done a good job at limiting opposing wide receivers thus far, but Johnson is sporting a super-efficient 91.7% reception rate and has converted two of his team-leading three red zone targets into touchdowns. Any bump in volume makes him intriguing at this price point, in what should be a moderately high scoring game.
Heath Miller - $3,500 @ STL
With so many attractive high and mid-priced options at running back and wide receiver this week, all I’m looking for in a GPP tight end is a cheap guy with a good shot at catching a touchdown. Miller has been dominating red zone targets in the absence of Martavis Bryant. Ben Roethlisberger has looked his way on five out of eight throws from inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. As I mentioned earlier, Vegas sees Rams-Steelers as a high scoring game, so Miller should be in as good a position as any tight end this side of Gronk to score this week.
Arizona Defense - $3,100 vs. SF
The Cardinals will likely end up much closer to 5% owned than 10%. New England and Houston’s defenses are similarly priced and have more attractive matchups. Meanwhile, everyone remembers Colin Kaepernick going bonkers last week and will overlook Arizona in a great spot. The Cardinals are favored by nearly a touchdown and have one of the best homefield advantages in football. Kaepernick was good enough to take advantage of his matchup with the Steelers last week, but he’ll find the sledding much tougher against a Cardinals team ceding the sixth lowest opponent passer rating. Looking back to last year, Kaepernick wasn’t very accurate (below average 60.5% completion rate) and was sacked more times than any quarterback besides Blake Bortles.
11% to 15% Ownership.
Jarvis Landry - $6,400 vs. BUF
I usually reserve Landry for cash games, but the perceived tough match-up with Buffalo should knock him down below last week’s 20% ownership rate in tournaments. While it’s true the Bills have a tough defense, the Patriots showed the way to neutralize Buffalo’s greatest strength -- their defensive front -- is to spread the field and get rid of the ball quickly. It just so happens Miami’s offense is predicated on doing precisely those two things, and it’s usually Landry on the receiving end of Ryan Tannehill’s quick hitting passes. Buffalo is stout against the run and Miami has struggled to move the ball on the ground (2.76 yards per attempt). I expect the Dolphins to use Landry as an extension of the running game, similar to how the Pats used Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman last week. A 3x return on his salary is a lock for Landry and he’ll get to 4x if he’s able to score a touchdown. Landry leads the Dolphins with four red zone targets through two games, and has added scoring opportunity on kick returns.
Marshawn Lynch - $7,400 vs. CHI
Lynch absolutely deserves to be the most widely owned player in the industry this week. But between his substandard first two games on the road and the likelihood the crowd will be spending on high priced wide receivers, he shouldn’t top out much higher than 15% owned. Over the last three seasons Lynch’s fantasy points per game increase by a staggering 35% in games played at Century Link field. The setup couldn’t be any better for Lynch this week. Seattle is a two-touchdown favorite, they’re playing in front of their home crowd for the first time this season, and they have to win this game after starting the year 0-2. The Bears are allowing 46% more points per play than the second worst defense in the NFL (Tampa Bay), and they’ve let up the second most plays per game. Throw in the likelihood Jimmy Clausen will be gifting the Seahawks great field position all afternoon, and it’s not difficult to see how this game favors Seattle's defense and running game.
Adrian Peterson - $7,500 vs. SD
I don’t expect to see too many tournament lineups built around both Lynch and Adrian Peterson, which is just one reason I love the idea. If there was any doubt surrounding whether or not Peterson was still one of the best running backs in the league, he erased it at home against the Lions last week. Peterson’s 23.2 fantasy point performance could have been even bigger if a goal line touchdown hadn't been called back upon review. He’s at home again this week, matched up with the Chargers, who have been gashed on the ground by Ameer Abdullah and Giovani Bernard to open the year. Peterson is capable of repeating last week’s yardage totals in this matchup, and we should start seeing progression towards the norm in the touchdown department from a player who has scored at least 10 times in all seven of his full seasons as a pro.
Brandon Marshall - $6,200 vs. PHI
It was clear as soon as Ryan Fitzpatrick took over as the Jets’ starting quarterback that Brandon Marshall was going to be a target hog for the Jets. Marshall operates in the intermediate parts of the field where Fitzpatrick is most comfortable throwing. With Eric Decker looking unlikely to play this week, Marshall’s team leading 32.76% target market share can only grow. The Eagles have allowed big games to Julio Jones (9-141-2) and Terrance Williams (4-84-1) to open the season, and Marshall is next in line. Philadelphia will attempt to cover Marshall with Byron Maxwell, who has let up 240 yards and two touchdowns in coverage per Pro Football Focus. Vegas expects 23 points from the Jets, and the way to score on Philadelphia is clearly through the air (as evidenced by Brandon Weeden’s 7-7, 73 yard, one touchdown performance in relief of Tony Romo last week).
Dion Lewis - $4,200 vs. Jacksonville
Lewis is as risky as it gets this week in tournaments, but his matchup and price tag are too enticing to ignore. There’s a strong case to be made for LaGarrette Blount as the better GPP play given the game script Vegas is suggesting. New England plays host to the Jaguars as a 14 point favorite, which would indicate the Pats will want to take the air out of the ball after halftime. It’s not a scenario where Lewis -- the Pats’ primary receiving back -- should be leaned on too heavily. But are we so sure Lewis is just a receiving back? Blount was active last week and Lewis was in on 92% of New England’s offensive snaps. New England had plenty of opportunities to turn to Blount to ice the game last week. They led 37-13 heading into the fourth quarter, but Lewis stayed on the field. The Patriots also could have inserted Blount in goal line situations, yet it was Lewis who saw both of the team’s carries from inside the Buffalo 10-yard line. We’re obviously working with a small sample size, but Lewis has been an integral part of the Patriots’ success on offense in each of their first two games. I’m not sure Belichick will be so quick to suddenly turn his back on what has worked so well for his team. The problem for me with Lewis in GPPs is his ownership percentage. If the Patriots do end up deploying Blount to grind out a win, Lewis will bust and you’ll get buried behind the 80% of entrants who faded him. Ultimately, I’m a believer in Lewis remaining a key cog in the Patriots’ offense regardless of game flow. His receiving ability gives him a high PPR floor, and on the chance he’s emerged as an every-down back on one of the best offenses in the game, he’s got plenty of upside to justify such a modest price.
James Starks - $3,000 vs. Kansas City
You can build some fun lineups around Starks at minimum salary. Unfortunately, Eddie Lacy’s status is still uncertain and the Packers don’t play until Monday. If you plan on using Starks and we don’t find out by Sunday morning if Lacy will play, you need to have a late swap plan that involves changing multiple positions. It’s not like there’s other viable minimum salary plays you can just plug into your lineup for Starks, especially if you have him slotted as a running back (rather than a flex). If Starks draws the start, he’s in a nice spot to return at least 5x his salary. Green Bay is at home, favored by nearly a touchdown, and should score their usual 25-30 points. If we do find out before Sunday that Lacy is playing and you’re looking to make a one-for-one lineup swap removing Starks from your flex spot, the following minimum priced players are worthy fliers -- Quincy Enunwa (if Eric Decker is out), Bilal Powell (even if Chris Ivory plays he won’t be 100%), Jared Cook ($2,800), Stedman Bailey, and Josh Robinson.
Donte Moncrief - $4,800 @ TEN
The same folks who saw Andrew Luck struggle on Monday Night Football also saw Donte Moncrief shine. He’ll be close to 20% owned, but I can’t fade him at this price. Through two games Moncrief leads the Colts in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns. His 23.17% target market share isn’t elite, but it’s plenty to sustain high-end fantasy production -- especially once the Colts’ offense gets on track. When it comes to evaluating wide receivers, I trust fellow Footballguy (and NFL.com fantasy writer) Matt Harmon ahead of just about anyone. It’s impossible to read Harmon’s take on Moncrief and not come away excited. The Tennessee secondary has performed reasonably well in easy matchups with Tampa Bay and Cleveland, but they’re about to get exposed (if Johnny Manziel and Travis Benjamin didn’t already do that last week).
Seattle Defense - $3,400 vs. CHI
It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the Seahawks’ ownership percentage nears 30% in a home matchup with Jimmy Clausen and the Bears. While that’s usually a situation I’d fade with a D/ST in GPPs, Seattle is in a can’t miss spot (see Marshawn Lynch blurb). We don't have much sample size on Jimmy Clausen aside from his rookie year (three touchdowns, nine interceptions, 33 sacks taken across 10 starts), but let's just say there's a reason he didn't appear in a game for three years before Jay Cutler crashed and burned in 2014.