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For the uninitiated, playing daily games on DraftKings can be an enjoyable experience, but equally sobering is the fact that season-long knowledge does not always translate to success in the daily space. FootballGuys will bring you a series of value- and strategic-based selections from a number of seasoned daily veterans throughout the NFL season. Herein is another edition of “Tipandpick’s Tips and Picks,” where we will examine the salaries of players at each position on DraftKings and make value-based recommendations for both your cash games and tournaments.
Below you will find a list of recommended players for both formats. GPP players generally have high-upside, but are too risky for cash games; cash game players are consistent with high fantasy floors. In some instances, the value for a player is so strong, he may fall into both categories…let’s have a look.
CASH GAME PLAYS
Matthew Stafford (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5400). Matthew Stafford versus David Carr is one of the premier DFS matchups of the week. Stafford will face a Raiders secondary that is allowing the ninth most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, including multiple touchdown games in 7 out of 9 contests. The Raiders improved last week with the return of safety Nate Allen, allowing Travis Carrie to return to his normal position at cornerback; the improvement displayed by the Raiders last week has to be tempered to some degree, as they were facing a lifeless Minnesota Vikings' passing attack that ranks 31st in the league (181.4 passing yards/game). The Lions, playing at home, have many more weapons in the form of Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Eric Ebron, and Theo Riddick to challenge this Raiders squad; furthermore, the Lions are dead-last in rushing yards per game (66.9) and have scored only two rushing touchdowns all season, which should put Stafford in a good position to score all 23 of the Lions' projected points on Sunday.
Tyrod Taylor (Primarily cash format, Salary: $5200). In Week 2, the Patriots visited Buffalo and Tyrod Taylor put on a show, finishing the day with 242 passing yards, 3 passing touchdowns, 43 rushing yards, and a rushing touchdown to compile almost 30 DraftKings points. To expect a repeat performance by Taylor is this weekend's rematch would be folly, but his modest salary makes him a fairly secure cash game selection on DraftKings. As touchdown underdogs with a modest team total of 21 points, the Bills will likely be pressed to move the ball through the air, thereby slowing down their rushing attack that has been stellar over the past few weeks. Taylor gets bonus points because of his ability to scramble; he has had 40 or more rushing yards in over half of the games he has started this season. At $5200, Taylor needs to finish the game with ~ 16 fantasy points to reach cash game value, which should be entirely attainable for a quarterback who has achieved that threshold in all but one game this season.
Also eligible: Cam Newton ($6900)
Darren McFadden (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $5000). The Cowboys released recent acquisition Christine Michael earlier this week, indicating that they are confident in the running backs currently on their roster, including Darren McFadden, Robert Turbin, and Rod Smith. McFadden has earned bellcow status, as evidenced by his 27.3 opportunities per game over the past month; the return of Tony Romo should only increase McFadden's offensive output because opposing defenses will have to pay more attention to the Cowboys' passing attack than they did when Dallas was putting Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassell on the field during Romo's absence. The Cowboys still boast the league's best rush-blocking offensive line (ProFootballFocus) and have displayed success with Romo at the healm by feeding the rushing game, milking the clock, and keeping the ball out of their opponents' hands; expect them to return to that game plan in Miami this weekend. If their defense cannot hold the Dolphins in check, all is not lost--McFadden will still be heavily involved in the passing game and would benefit from DraftKings' full PPR scoring format.
Charcandrick West (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4500). Charcandrick West is the chalk play of the weekend on DraftKings and should be in 100% of your cash game lineups. West has been seeing Jamaal Charles-like volume in the Kansas City running game, getting 27, 26, and 29 opportunities per game since he was established as the RB1 in the Chiefs offense; he has also compiled 17 redzone looks over those three games, further boosting his value. After piling up 161 all-purpose yards against a solid Broncos defense last week, West gets a cozier spot versus the Chargers who allow the second most yards per carry (4.9) to opposing running backs in 2015. West is mispriced by approximately $2000...take advantage, plug him into all of your cash game lineups, and beat your opponent(s) elsewhere.
Mike Evans (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7300). Since Vincent Jackson suffered a knee injury in Week 7, only Antonio Brown and Julio Jones have averaged more targets per game than Mike Evans. Evans has been seeing tremendous opportunity (13.2 targets/game) and has surpassed 100 receiving yards in three of the past four games (he was blanketed by Desmond Trufant in the other game), but has not caught a touchdown pass since Week 1. Simply put: His volume in the offense overshadows the need for scoring, particularly when he seems to hit the three-point bonus for reaching the 100 receiving yard plateau so often. Vincent Jackson did return to practice in a limited fashion at the end of this week, but we would be remiss to expect him to come back and perform at a level where he could dramatically affect Evans' production. Evans should run at least 30-40% of his routes at the very beatable Byron Maxwell and, for that reason, it would not be surprising to see his touchdown streak end in this matchup. On a week where most of the best wide receivers have very tough WR-CB matchups (Julio Jones vs. Vontae Davis, Alshon Jeffery vs. Bradley Roby, Larry Fitzgerald vs. Leon Hall, DeAndre Hopkins vs. Darrelle Revis, A.J. Green vs. Patrick Peterson), Evans appears to be the safest, more expensive receiver for your DraftKings' cash games.
Danny Amendola (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4000). Next to Charcandrick West, Danny Amendola will be the highest-owned player in cash games on DraftKings in Week 11. The sure-handed veteran should inherit the "Julian Edelman" role in the offense after Edelman was diagnosed with a broken foot following last week's games. The 30-year old veteran has been having a quiet, but strong, 2015 campaign, pulling in 40 catches for 403 yards and a pair of touchdowns; ProFootballFocus lists Amendola as the most sure-handed receiver in the business, having caught all 40 of the 'catchable' passes thrown in his direction this season. At 5'10", Amendola is not a big redzone target, but he should be heavily targeted between the twenties and should quickly accrue the 12 points needed for him to reach cash game value. If he does manage to score, you will be in a terrible spot without him in your cash game rosters, as he is likely to be 60% owned across cash games on DraftKings on Sunday.
Steve Johnson (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3900). Steve Johnson returns from the Chargers' bye week as the WR1 with Keenan Allen lost for the season with kidney injury. In his first game as the primary wide receiver, Johnson finished the day with 7 receptions (10 targets) and 68 receiving yards versus the Bears in Week 9. Outside of Johnson, only Antonio Gates and Danny Woodhead receive noteworthy attention in the Chargers' passing game; with Gates nursing both a knee and ankle injury, Johnson would appear to be the saftest of the bunch, particularly because he is the cheapest option of all three. Lastly, the Chiefs are the league's best defense in defending the tight end position, which might mean that Gates could see less action than normal and the overflow would be directed towards Johnson.
Rob Gronkowski (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $7700). There is rarely any justification necessary to advocate a stance for Rob Gronkowski in your DFS lineups and this week is really no different. The Patriots have the highest implied team total on the entire Week 11 slate and are without their two primary pass catchers after losing both Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman in consecutive weeks. Danny Amendola will pick up most of the slack, but Gronk should see increased involvement between the twenties and will remain their preeminent redzone receiver. He is somewhat pricey at $7700, but on a week where there are few safe options at the tight end position, it makes a lot of sense to spend up for Gronk using the salary you save at other positions this week. To reach value, Gronk needs 23 fantasy points, which is a high bar for a tight end, but he certainly has the ability to get there (he has done so in 56% of the Patriots' games) and has a solid floor to prevent a total letdown from the position.
Zach Ertz (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3100). If you cannot slot Rob Gronkowski into your cash game lineups, my recommendation is to drop down past the likes of Greg Olsen, Tyler Eifert, and Travis Kelce to get Zach Ertz at half of their pricing. Ertz has been seeing increased action as the season has progressed (38 targets over the past five weeks) and continues to be targeted in the redzone (he had a touchdown called back by penalty just last week). The Tampa Bay defense is very strong against the rush, allowing only 3.6 yards per carry (3rd in the NFL), but have yielded the 3rd most passing touchdowns (19) to opposing offenses this season; expect to see plenty of Mark Sanchez and Zach Ertz in this effort, both of whom are extremely fairly priced.
Also eligible: None (N/A)
Seahawks (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $4000). At home, the Seahawks represent the safest cash game defense on the board this weekend. They face a 49ers offense that is dead-last in points per game (14) and is starting Blaine Gabbert, who has a career pass completion percentage of 53% and more interceptions than passing touchdowns; in the backfield, San Francisco will roll out Shaun Draughn, who has only 91 career carries despite being in the league for four years with six different teams. In nine games this season, the Niners have allowed double-digit fantasy points to their opposing team defenses four different times, including a 28-point monstrosity in Week 3. If that is not enough to convince you, oddsmakers in Las Vegas project the Niners to have the lowest team scoring output to this point in the season (14).
Panthers (Cash and GPP formats, Salary: $3400). You are highly encouraged to roster Seattle for your cash games, but if you have an aversion to them for some strange reason, the Carolina Panthers represent an acceptable alternative. The Panthers defense averages 9.7 fantasy points per game and will get a plum matchup against mistake-prone Kirk Cousins in Charlotte this weekend. Last week, Cousins looked superb against the Saints' sieve of a secondary, posting one of the best games of his career. Against the Panthers in Carolina, however, Cousins will struggle to do much of anything against one of the league's best passing defenses (first in both passing yards per attempt and opposing QB rating). Washington has the second lowest implied team total on the entire Week 11 slate, which is yet another reason to consider Carolina's defense.
Tom Brady (Salary: $8500). Sometimes you gotta pay up to be contrarian and this is the perfect week to do so...both Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers represent highly priced options that will be underowned coming off disappointing Week 10 performances where they were both highly owned. Most GPP attention will be paid to the Oakland-Detroit game and the quarterbacks involved there, but Brady (and Rodgers) represents the type of player that can acheive 4-5x value on any week against any opponent. In Week 2, Brady threw for 466 yards and 3 touchdowns against this same Bills secondary; granted, he no longer has Dion Lewis or Julian Edelman, but the Pats always seem to find a stop-gap who fills in nicely...this week, that could be Keshawn Martin or Aaron Dobson, in addition to getting Brandon LaFell rolling in time for the 2015 Super Bowl campaign. With the uncertainty regarding who will be called upon to catch the ball in New England after Edelman's injury, it is entirely reasonable to leave Brady unstacked (aka "naked") in your lineups and hope that he connects for 300 yards and 4 touchdowns while spreading the ball to multiple receivers.
Russell Wilson (Salary: $5900). Offensive line woes notwithstanding, Russell Wilson has immense upside at home against a 49ers defense that is allowing the 4th most passing yards per game (280.6) and the 3rd most passing yards per attempt (8.2) this season. To date, Wilson has struggled to put up significant fantasy numbers, which has driven his salary to a paltry $5900, but he has 300-passing yard and 100-rushing yard upside on any given Sunday (he surpassed those marks on four different occasions last season). With questions surrounding Marshawn Lynch's abdomen, the Seahawks may lean a bit more heavily on Wilson to put up the Seahawks' points in this one; averaging nearly 10 targets per game over the past month and having not scored a touchdown since Week 2, Jimmy Graham makes the perfect stack, as he always has multiple touchdown upside with his 6'7" frame.
Mark Sanchez (Salary: $5000). Mark Sanchez and/or the Philadelphia Eagles' coaching staff lost last week's game against the Miami Dolphins when they called a pass play from inside the Dolphins' 5-yard line with two minutes to play and needing only two points to take the lead. The immediate reaction in Philadelphia was "Here we go again," referring to Sanchez' reputation with the Philly-based fans, but the truth is that Sanchez is a solid backup that affects very little in this Eagles offense; this year, Sam Bradford has an 83.3 QB rating on ProFootballFocus, which is identical to the rating achieved by Sanchez in his nine starts last season where he had multi-touchdown performances in 78% of his starts. Sanchez gets a great matchup against a Bucs secondary that is 30th in passing touchdowns allowed (19) and is the 31st ranked pass coverage unit on ProFootballFocus; furthermore, Tampa Bay is stingy against the run, allowing only 3.6 yards per carry (3rd in NFL) and a single 100-yard rusher all season, which might force the Eagles to move the ball primarily through the air.
Devonta Freeman (Salary: $8400). After consecutive games without a touchdown against the lowly Titans and Buccaneers, Devonta Freeman was heavily owned against the 49ers in Week 9, where he averaged 1.0 yard per carry in a losing effort; Freeman salvaged his fantasy day by picking up eight receptions and a receiving touchdown at the end of the first half, but most are going to remember that 1.0 yard per carry average and avoid him in GPP formats this week. Freeman should rebound out of the bye week against the Colts moreso because of implied volume than any other factor; the Colts field an average rush defense that allows 4.0 yards per carry and 114.9 rushing yards per game while allowing 25.1 DraftKings points per game to the running back position...none of which is particularly good or bad. That said, the Falcons rely excessively on Julio Jones through the air, but he should be shadowed by All-Pro cornerback, Vontae Davis, which would imply that Freeman (and Leonard Hankerson) will see additional action. Having seen 20 or more opportunities in every game since Week 2, that increased workload could pay major fantasy dividends, particularly in light of the fact that the Falcons have the second highest implied team total this weekend with a likely positive gamescript as 5.5-point favorites.
Lamar Miller (Salary: $6200). The Dallas Cowboys currently allow the 4th most fantasy points to the running back position, including allowing the 3rd most receiving-based fantasy points to opposing running backs (14.4 points per game). Enter Lamar Miller, one of the NFL's hottest running backs over the past month; over the previous five weeks, Miller has scored a touchdown in every game and is averaging 27 DraftKings points. Casual observers will note that Jay Ajayi has seen increased action in his two weeks in the Dolphins offense, but Ajayi has not affected Miller's snap count and/or touches, so until we see evidence to the contrary, Miller remains the clear-cut RB1 in Miami. In a difficult-to-predict matchup, Miller's role in the offense mandates that he will be heavily involved, no matter how the game transpires...he has 30+ fantasy points in two of his last four games and possesses the same type of upside against this Cowboys' defensive unit.
Latavius Murray (Salary: $5600). Latavius Murray is a sneaky GPP choice because of how much attention the respective passing games will receive in the Oakland-Detroit game. That said, Murray is seeing a lot of volume in this pass-heavy offense (18+ touches per week over the past month), but has scored only a single touchdown in the past six games, which has kept his salary somewhat reasonable on a team that is scoring an average of 25.2 points per game. On defense, the Lions' primary weakness is defending the pass, but they are FootballOutsiders' 23rd ranked rush defense (DVOA metric) and have given up 20+ fantasy point performances to a number of running backs with less talent and volume than Murray. The ownership level will be key...probably less than 7%, which is far too low given the likelihood of Murray having a 25+ point afternoon.
Andre Ellington (Salary: $3700). The Arizona Cardinals have given the 30-year old Chris Johnson a lot of work in the first half of the season; he touched the ball 141 times in the Cards' first eight games, on pace for nearly 300 touches on the season. After averaging 5.1 yards per carry over his first five games, CJ2K's production has slowed a bit over the past month, where he has only put up 3.8 yards per carry...it is entirely possible that his older body is giving way as the season progresses. Enter Andre Ellington, whose snap counts over the past month are 9, 18, 28, and 36, respectively; reports out of Arizona state that Ellington is now 100% healthy after dealing with a knee issue for the first half of the season. Meanwhile, Larry Fitzgerald will have his work cut out for him against plus slot cornerback, Leon Hall (ProFootballFocus' 10th ranked coverage CB) and both John Brown/Michael Floyd enter Sunday with a 'questionable' tag due to hamstring issues; all of this indicates that Ellington should continue to see an uptick in usage...against a Bengals' rush defense that is 29th in yards allowed per carry (4.7) with a likely positive gamescript. If Ellington can somehow snag 15 touches in this game, there is a reasonable likelihood that he will finish with the 15-18 fantasy points he would need to reach GPP value at an ownership level of less than 2%.
Demaryius Thomas (Salary: $7300). Welcome Brock Osweiler. Watching Peyton Manning play quarterback this season has been nothing short of dreadful, as the future Hall-of-Famer has thrown nearly twice the number of interceptions as touchdowns (17:9). Footballguys' own Cecil Lammey wrote up all the reasons we should embrace Brock Osweiler here, so there is no need to repeat those words in this space. Instead, let's go back to Demaryius Thomas, who continues to enjoy copious volume in the Broncos' passing game (11.4 targets per game), but has not scored since Week 3. Thomas will certainly be happy to get some looks from a quarterback who can throw the ball more than 20 yards and should get a fair amount of exposure to the very burnable Kyle Fuller...both of which could lead to an overdue plus fantasy day for Thomas.
Michael Crabtree (Salary: $6000). Rookie phenom, Amari Cooper, will be the sole focus of the Lions' Darius Slay, who is ProFootballFocus' #10 ranked coverage cornerback to this point in the season (and the #2 ranked CB over the past five weeks); Slay is fresh off a week where he largely shut down Randall Cobb and will look to carry that momentum into Week 11 against Cooper. What hurts Cooper, helps Michael Crabtree. Crabtree is experiencing a renaissance in 2015 as a result of being on a team with a legitimate WR1; Crabtree has feasted on the coverage offered up by opposing defenses' secondary cornerbacks...this week should be no different, as Crabtree will see Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs, both of whom are four inches shorter than him and the latter of whom has been burned badly in coverage this season. If this game does go into shootout mode, Crabtree is the rifle I want to be firing.
Golden Tate (Salary: $4600). In line with the comments about Cooper-Crabtree above, Golden Tate should benefit by seeing a lot of subpar coverage from D.J. Hayden in the slot on Sunday. Hayden is allowing an opposing QB rating of 103.8 and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 2:0 when in slot coverage this season. Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson will be subject to Travis Carrie, who is a plus defender capable of sticking with Johnson when in coverage; Megatron will get his action, but he is still priced at a premium at $7200 and will be twice as highly-owned as Tate. For his part, Tate has been relatively quiet for most of the season, as has much of the Lions offense, but he is consistently targeted (8.1 targets per game) and should benefit from the matchup in this one...take the discount, the lower ownership, and plus matchup.
Brandon LaFell (Salary: $4300). Since coming back from an injury in Week 7, Brandon LaFell has been somewhat of a fantasy disappointment, failing to reach the endzone for four straight weeks on the best offense in the league. That streak could end this weekend against the Bills, who have allowed multiple receiving touchdowns in five (out of nine) games. With the untimely departures of Julian Edelman and Dion Lewis due to injury, LaFell could be called upon to see more volume in this touchdown-laden offense. Bill Belichick likes to keep us guessing and LaFell makes for a fantastic GPP play because Danny Amendola will be owned a a clip that is 10x greather than LaFell, while both possess the same type of upside (albeit LaFell has a lower floor). For GPP's, you will want a piece of the highest scoring team on the weekend and Vegas has tagged the Patriots with that honor heading into the weekend.
Dontrelle Inman (Salary: $3000). Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd will both watch the Chargers' game from the sidelines on Sunday, which means that Steve Johnson and Dontrelle Inman will be the beneficiaries to the injuries suffered by Allen and Floyd. Johnson should assume the Keenan Allen possession-like role, while Inman will serve to stretch the field while also becoming a big 6'3" redzone target for Philip Rivers; if Antonio Gates is inactive or otherwise limited, Inman would become an even stronger play. Inman will be completely overlooked for tournaments this weekend because of the value presented by Johnson and Gates, which, combined with his minimum priced salary, makes him extremely attractive for large-field GPP's.
Jason Witten (Salary: $5100). If Demaryius Thomas is happy to have Brock Osweiler on the field, Jason Witten (and Dez Bryant) is equally excited for the return of Tony Romo. While Witten has been consistently involved in the Cowboys offense since Romo left Week 2 with an injury, he has not scored a touchdown since opening weekend. The matchup against the Dolphins could not be better for Witten--the Dolphins are fresh off an 11-reception for 202 receiving yards performance against the Eagles' tight ends just a week ago...prior to that, they were blasted for 18 or more fantasy points in half of their games (against the tight end position). If you are putting together a GPP lineup with Darren McFadden, you should strongly consider Dez Bryant or Jason Witten because those players are the likeliest of big performers if McFadden somehow lays a goose egg on Sunday afternoon.
Jimmy Graham (Salary: $4900). Last week, Jimmy Graham appeared in "Tips and Picks" as a GPP play and the game played out largely as I expected--Graham received eight targets including a key redzone look that resulted in a dropped touchdown. This week, Graham is a GPP play for all the same reasons...he returns at the $4900 price tag, he is still 6'7" and a redzone monster, and the Seahawks could try to get away from the run to some degree this week to give Marshawn Lynch some much needed rest. The multiple touchdown game for Graham is coming...it is not a matter of 'if,' but 'when.'
Coby Fleener (Salary: $3200). Coby Fleener is a sharp GPP play this weekend against a Falcons squad that has performed miserably against this position this year; the Falcons have allowed the 5th most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, including seven touchdowns in nine games. Meanwhile, T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief will be trying to avoid solid coverage by Desmond Trufant, who is ProFootballFocus' #1 rated cornerback entering Week 11. For his part, Fleener should be excited about Matt Hasselbeck starting the game because Fleener has scored three touchdowns in the past four games that Hasselbeck has started since 2014, including 7.3 targets per game. Thus, if Trufant is able to lock up Hilton and Company, Fleener could be in line for a great fantasy day at < 5% ownership levels and a modest little salary.
Broncos (Salary: $3900). After getting embarrassed at home against the Chiefs last week, look for the Broncos to get back into form this week against the Bears at Soldier Field. With the exception of Jay Cutler, every key offensive player on the Bears is injured...Alshon Jeffery is on the doubtful side of questionable due to groin and shoulder issues, Eddie Royal is out with a knee injury, and Matt Forte is also looking like he will miss another game with his knee problems. That means that the Bears will be matching Marquess Wilson and Josh Bellamy against the Broncos' All-Pro cornerbacks...who will have no problem shutting down the passing game, especially with Aqib Talib returning from suspension this week. That leaves only Jeremy Langford to beat the Broncos and, while the rookie has been impressive, that is a tall task against a Broncos' front seven that has allowed only one 100-yard rusher all season. Here's the clincher: 95% of DFS players will roster the Seahawks if they are spending $4K on a team defense...for the same price, you will get a defense with similar upside at a fraction of the ownership rate.
Patriots (Salary: $3200). With 30+% of entries likely to go with Seattle's defense, there is a lot of merit to fading them and looking for a safe high-floor, high-upside alternative. Since 2013, the Patriots have only been beaten ONCE in Foxborough. ONCE...and that game was in Week 17 of last year when the Patriots pulled their starters to rest them heading into their 2014 playoff run. That 24-1 record (since 2013) strongly suggests more of the same this weekend against Rex Ryan's Bills; the Bills have allowed opposing defenses to score double-digit fantasy points in four games this season, including a 23-fantasy point performance by the Jags just a few weeks ago.
Eagles (Salary: $3100). The Philadelphia Eagles host a rookie quarterback with only one viable receiving option in Week 11...and while Jameis Winston has displayed signs of future greatness, he is still very green, as evidenced by his meager 10 touchdown passes (versus 9 interceptions) through his first nine NFL games. Winston is ProFootballFocus' 27th ranked quarterback out of 30 qualifiers, largely due to his ineptitude in the redzone--the Buccaneers score a touchdown only 44.8% of the time when getting into the redzone (26th in the NFL). Meanwhile, the Eagles boast the 4th best all-around defensive unit (ProFootballFocus) and are averaging over 11 fantasy points per game over the past month.
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