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All roster percentages cited below are based on Devin Knotts’ projections which are refined and updated throughout the week. Click here or use our Lineup Optimizer to make sure you are using the latest projections before setting your lineups.
Know Your Enemies
To place near the top of a large-field GPP, your roster has to stand out from the crowd in some way. Studying a list of projected roster percentages is a helpful first step, but without the context of how those players fit together under the salary cap, you’re left guessing what type of lineups you’ll be up against most frequently.
To gain some insight into how the majority of entrants will allocate their cap space, with the goal of building your lineups differently, let’s think about how the crowd will attack each position:
Seattle at Atlanta is likely to be the marquee game on the slate for stacking purposes. The Vegas lines imply the game will be close (ATL +1.5) and high-scoring (49-point over/under). Expect to see Russell Wilson ($7,000) and Matt Ryan ($6,700) on plenty of rosters as a result. Lamar Jackson ($8,100), Tom Brady ($6,500), and Carson Wentz ($6,300) will also command attention, making it a safe bet most entrants allocate 13-15% of their salary cap to quarterbacks.
Pivot Point - The tier of quarterbacks just below $6K will get glossed over and includes more than one signal-caller whose team has a high implied point total.
The first move most folks will make is seeing how they can squeeze Christian McCaffrey ($10,000) into lineups. Their solution will probably involve Antonio Gibson ($4,000), who is available at the running back min-price. The health of Miles Sanders’ ($6,300) hamstring is a lynchpin on this slate. If he is practicing in full on Friday, he’ll join Josh Jacobs ($6,800) on the crowd’s shortlist. Expect the field to devote at least 35% of their cap space to running backs, and more on rosters that include McCaffrey’s five-figure salary.
Pivot Point: McCaffrey, Jacobs, and Sanders will drive down the popularity of workhorse backs like Dalvin Cook ($7,900), as well as several others in the $6,500-$7,000 range.
Heavy running back spending means popularity will concentrate in the middle tier of wide receivers. Terry McLaurin ($5,600) and Marquise Brown ($5,100) are priced below their redraft ADPs and DeSean Jackson ($4,900) projects for a usage bump in the wake of Jalen Reagor’s shoulder injury. DK Metcalf ($5,800) is also fairly priced and his popularity will get boosted by an abundance of ATL/SEA game stacks. A 28-30% spend at wide receiver will be most common.
Pivot Point: It’s fair to wonder if any wide receiver with a salary of $6,500 or more will reach 15% roster levels. It won’t look great on paper, but lineups anchored by any two of Michael Thomas ($9,000), Julio Jones ($7,700), Davante Adams ($7,300), and Chris Godwin ($7,100) will be positioned to fly up the standings if one of the top running back plays goes bust.
George Kittle ($7,200) will appear in about 10% of lineups but he’s priced too high for the common roster construction. Most entrants won’t be able to spend past Zach Ertz ($5,800) and just as many will punt the position at the expense of running back and wide receiver. Hayden Hurst ($4,300) seems the most likely option due to his stack-ability alongside Ryan and/or Wilson. The tight end position will account for 8-10% of most salary caps.
Pivot Point: The tendency of gamers to either spend all the way up or punt the tight end position entirely will leave the $5,000-$6,000 salary range littered with potential GPP difference-makers.
Can You Trust The Chalk?
The term chalk in sports betting simply means the heavily-favored side of a bet. In DFS tournaments, these are the most popular players on the slate. Identifying and taking a stance on the chalk is a crucial part of tournament strategy. If you fade a chalky player, and he fails to deliver on his scoring projection, your lineup will be positioned to pass a large chunk of the field in the standings. But when a popular player lives up to expectations and you choose not to roster him, your lineups can quickly get buried in the standings.
Some suggestions on how to treat this week’s most popular players:
Josh Jacobs (@CAR, $6,800, 19% rostered)
Carolina fielded the 32nd ranked rush defense according to both DVOA and fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs in 2019. They enter this season worse (on paper) thanks to the retirement of linebacker Luke Keuchly, a former defensive player of the year. It’s easy to envision a runner as talented as Jacobs dominating on the ground and reaching his 25-30 fantasy point ceiling in this matchup. If we take the recent trade of Lynn Bowden Jr and release of Theo Riddick to mean head coach Jon Gruden’s was telling the truth when he said Jacobs will be more involved as a pass-catcher a few weeks back, a 5x return on Jacobs’ salary is in play. Get him in 20-25% of your lineups.
Antonio Gibson (vs. PHI, $4,000, 39% rostered)
Gibson’s emergence in Washington’s training camp made the team comfortable enough to sever ties with reliable veteran Adrian Peterson. Priced at the running back minimum, Gibson only has to hit his median projection to deliver value in cash games. But in tournaments, fading Gibson is probably the most straight forward way to creating a unique lineup. It doesn’t feel great foregoing a min-priced running back/wide receiver hybrid, who is a load to tackle in the open field, but this is his first game as an NFL running back after receiving a total of 33 carries in two seasons at Memphis. Besides, the Eagles rush defense is formidable and Washington’s offense is not (18-point implied team total). If Gibson is merely good in his debut, it won’t be enough to justify his popularity. Assuming he’ll appear on nearly 40% of rosters, he doesn’t belong on more than 20% of yours.
DeSean Jackson (@WAS, $4,900, 28% rostered)
On this week’s DFS Power Grid show, our Devin Knotts said he is ready to go all-in on Jackson based on these intriguing split stats.
Just going to post this for Week 1 pic.twitter.com/NPCVY0gwxU— Devin Knotts (@devinknottsfbg) August 28, 2020
Maybe a perfect storm is on the horizon, but in the sage words of another fellow Footballguy, Chase Stuart, “splits happen”. It’s not to say Jackson won’t have an advantage when he’s lined up opposite flammable Washington cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller. And Jackson should receive a target bump with rookie Jalen Reagor expected to sit with a shoulder injury (maybe). But if we strip out the noisy split stats, we’re left with a 33-year-old boom/bust wide receiver who has played all of four snaps in the last calendar year. This isn’t a spot where you want to follow the crowd.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Russell Wilson||QB||@ATL||$7,000||13%||Won't be unleashed if Atlanta has trouble putting up points.|
|Lamar Jackson||QB||CLE||$8,100||11%||Double the field's exposure. Potential top overall scorer on the slate.|
|Carson Wentz||QB||@WAS||$6,300||10%||Wentz and Ryan have best odds of hitting 300-yard bonus.|
|Christian McCaffrey||RB||LV||$10,000||32%||Fine play but difficult to build lineups around his salary.|
|Miles Sanders||RB||@WAS||$6,300||24%||Pay attention to reports on his hamstring Sunday morning.|
|DK Metcalf||WR||@ATL||$5,800||29%||Fade. Not 3x as likely to pay off than teammate Lockett.|
|Marquise Brown||WR||CLE||$5,100||24%||Love the player, hate the roster % for boom/bust profile.|
|Terry McLaurin||WR||PHI||$5,600||15%||Plenty capable of beating Slay if Haskins can hit him. Match the field.|
|Zach Ertz||TE||@WAS||$5,800||17%||Prefer paying up to Kittle at lower roster rate.|
|Hayden Hurst||TE||SEA||$4,300||11%||Volume remains to be seen but one of the better cheap options at TE.|
You won’t necessarily be sneaking the players in this section past your opponents. But their percent rostered projection is lower than the probability they can appear in a first-place lineup. If you are multi-entering tournaments, raise your exposure higher than their projected roster percentage.
Dalvin Cook (vs. GB, $7,900, 14% rostered)
Most entrants will look at Cook’s RB2 price tag and drop down to Jacobs or spend all the way up to McCaffrey. Maybe it has something to do with his lukewarm redraft market, but regardless of the reason, this is a perfect spot to double the field on your exposure to Cook. The last time we saw Green Bay’s rush defense in action, Raheem Mostert throttled them for 220 yards and four touchdowns in the NFC championship game. Mostert’s breakout was no coincidence. The Packers allowed the eighth-most PPR fantasy points to enemy running backs last year, including 190 total yards and one touchdown to Cook in Week 2. Considering Green Bay addressed the gaping hole in their defense by spending their first two picks in this year’s NFL Draft on a quarterback and running back, respectively, we have every reason to believe Cook has overall RB1 within his range of potential outcomes.
Kenny Golladay (vs. CHI, $6,200, 5% rostered)
Golladay’s salary and roster projection do not align with his role as Matthew Stafford’s alpha dog. Last year, Golladay met or exceeded a 4x multiple of his current salary in five out of 16 games, a rate that eclipses his current projected roster percentage by a multiple of six. Against the Bears, he figures to run at least one-third of his routes against Jaylon Johnson, a second-round pick out of Utah playing in his first NFL game. Golladay caught touchdowns in both meetings with Chicago last season, including a 4-158-1 explosion in Week 13 while catching passes from David Blough. No one has more to gain from Stafford’s healthy return than Golladay.
Update: Golladay suffered a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s practice that kept him out of action Thursday. It doesn’t sound like he’ll scratch, but we should lower our conviction if Golladay is unable to practice in full on Friday.
Mark Andrews (vs. CLE, $6,000, 7% rostered)
With Zach Ertz available for $200 less and George Kittle for $1,000 more, those willing to pay up for a tight end are likely to look past Andrews. When targeting tight ends in DFS, we typically want them playing at home (though it remains to be seen how helpful home-field advantage will be this year), on a heavily-favored team (BAL -8) with a high implied point total (28.25). Andrews checks all the boxes and he is his team’s top pass-catching target to boot. The Browns are perenially awful defending tight ends and are once again weak at linebacker. Last year, Andrews exploited the division matchup for a combined 17-10-124-3 receiving line.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Matthew Stafford||QB||CHI||$6,200||6%||Could be working with short fields if Trubisky implodes.|
|Jimmy Garoppolo||QB||AZ||$5,800||4%||Over 30 DK points in both meetings with AZ last year.|
|Austin Ekeler||RB||@CIN||$7,000||12%||PPR maven getting glossed over in plus matchup.|
|Joe Mixon||RB||LAC||$6,700||7%||There isn't enough bell cow RBs for Mixon to go less than 10% rostered.|
|Jonathan Taylor||RB||@JAX||$5,700||8%||Mack in play too, but numerous paths for Taylor to swing GPPs.|
|Michael Thomas||WR||TB||$9,000||12%||The only WR with RB upside.|
|Davante Adams||WR||@MIN||$7,300||10%||Lots of new faces in MIN secondary, zero target competition.|
|Odell Beckham||WR||@BAL||$5,900||8%||Worth doubling the field at this price in case he was just hurt last year.|
|Chris Godwin||WR||@NO||$7,100||7%||Keep an eye on Evans injury status. Roster % could skyrocket.|
|D.J. Moore||WR||LV||$6,600||4%||Leverage on McCaffrey. They can also be played together.|
|George Kittle||TE||AZ||$7,200||9%||Best TE on slate in best possible matchup.|
As stated in the introduction, you don’t stand a chance of winning a large-field tournament with a lineup that looks like everyone else’s. Typically, two players with roster projections below 5% are enough to separate your lineups from the crowd. If you’re multi-entering, however, be careful not to ratchet your exposure to contrarian players up too high. Keep in mind using a 5%-rostered player in only two out of 10 lineups gains you four times more exposure than the field when you multi-enter a tournament.
Mark Ingram (vs. CLE, $5,500, 2% rostered)
The implied game script and matchup are in Ingram’s favor against Cleveland. J.K. Dobbins has gotten all the press during training camp, but Ingram will return to the role that saw him handle 53% of the Ravens backfield touches, rush for over 1,000 yards, and score 15 total touchdowns a year ago. Similar to Golladay, Ingram surpassed a 4x multiple of his current salary in five out of 16 games last year, which means the crowd is incorrectly dismissing his multi-touchdown upside. Cleveland ranked 30th against the run last season (DVOA) and did little to improve their front seven.
John Brown (vs. NYJ, $5,600, 2% rostered)
The Jets have the most talent-deficient secondary in the NFL. NY at Buffalo might be the last game on the slate you want to target, but at least one Bills wide receiver getting open for a long touchdown feels like a mortal lock. If forced to choose one Buffalo pass-catcher, Brown is the better play. He’s $600 cheaper than Stefon Diggs, has a history of rapport with Josh Allen, and should benefit from softer coverage due to the defensive attention Diggs will command. Brown smoked the Jets for a 10-7-123-1 receiving line in a game that combined for only 33 points in Week 1 last year. The chance of a repeat performance is greater than 2%.
Henry Ruggs (@CAR, $5,100, 4% rostered)
Only a handful of wide receivers can break the slate by catching a screen pass and outrunning every defender on the field on their way to the endzone, and you need exposure to them every week in tournaments. Tyreek Hill, Will Fuller, and Marquise Brown quickly come to mind. It won’t take more than one week in the NFL for Ruggs to join the club. If we like Josh Jacobs’ chances of breaking long runs against Carolina’s dismal defense, we should love Ruggs’ chances of catching a screen pass close to the line of scrimmage and racing past Carolina defenders for a long score. And when he does run posts and go-routes, he’ll face off against a group of disappointments, lightly-regarded rookies, and journeymen.
#Panthers top 3 CBs:— Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) September 8, 2020
1. Donte Jackson, who ranked 85th among 115 CBs in PFF’s 2019 coverage grades
2. Fourth-round rookie Troy Pride
3. Eagles castoff Rasul Douglas
Good debut spot for Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Derek Carr||QB||@CAR||$5,900||2%||Cheap way to gain correlation with Jacobs, Ruggs.|
|Mitchell Trubisky||QB||@DET||$5,400||3%||>3% chance he exploits suspect DET defense. Also > 3% chance he loses his job.|
|LeVeon Bell||RB||@BUF||$5,600||4%||Jets have shortage of WRs and should be trailing. Could rack up catches.|
|Kenyan Drake||RB||@SF||$6,400||4%||Ownership could double if Jamaal Williams scratches. Strong play either way.|
|Parris Campbell||WR||@JAX||$3,900||3%||Ruggs arbitrage. Possible game-breaker vs. team that already quit.|
|Stefon Diggs||WR||NYJ||$6,200||2%||If Brown doesn't burn the Jets on a deep pass, Diggs will.|
|Christian Kirk||WR||@SF||$5,000||1%||Forgotten man is talented, healthy, has better rapport w/ Murray than Nuk.|
|Darren Waller||TE||@CAR||$5,900||3%||Throw him in your Raiders/Panthers game stacks.|
|Robert Tonyan Jr||TE||@MIN||$2,500||2%||Thin play but favorite for TE snaps in GB. Athletic profile hints at upside.|