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:
The crowd will want to pay up to Deshaun Watson ($6,900), Dak Prescott ($7,400), Patrick Mahomes II ($7,700), and Lamar Jackson ($7,900), but it’s difficult to build viable lineups around them unless more obvious running back and wide receiver value opens up by the weekend. While each of the aforementioned studs will be popular, the common roster construction is more likely to include lower-priced quarterbacks such as Matt Ryan ($6,100) and Teddy Bridgewater ($5,900), who face each other in a potential shootout (55-point over/under), or Daniel Jones ($5,400), who gets a Cowboys defense that has allowed at least 38 points in each of their last three games.
Pivot Points: With so many entrants either splurging at quarterback or paying down to Ryan or Jones, the entire tier of signal-callers from $6,000 to $6,600 should go lightly rostered, though it will probably be more beneficial to seek out uniqueness elsewhere in your lineups.
If Darrell Henderson got up to 23% rostered in last week’s Milly Maker thanks primarily to his matchup against the Giants defense, it’s a safe bet Ezekiel Elliott ($7,800) will be the crowd’s favorite luxury purchase at running back. Those who pay up to an elite quarterback will have a hard time rostering a high-end RB2 next to Elliott, which should concentrate roster percentages on the middle pricing tier, where David Johnson ($5,200), Jerick McKinnon ($5,800), and Mike Davis ($6,400) stand out with plus matchups. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($6,800) profiles as the crowd’s preferred RB1 in Prescott/Mahomes/Jackson lineups.
Pivot Points: Elliott and Edwards-Helaire merit high-priority in your player pool, but a balanced approach to running back should get you building lineups in a different direction than the field. Some non-chalky players who fit balanced rosters this week include Antonio Gibson ($5,000), Todd Gurley ($5,700), Jonathan Taylor ($6,200), and Josh Jacobs ($6,300).
The eagerness of the crowd to spend up at the quarterback, running back, and tight end positions means we should expect flat roster rates at wide receiver. Amari Cooper ($7,400) looks like the most popular standalone option at the top, but more chalk figures to emerge in the $5K-$6K tier. Standouts include Robby Anderson ($5,900), CeeDee Lamb ($6,000), and D.J. Moore ($6,000). Considering how well game-stacking the Cowboys has worked so far, we can also expect low-priced Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton ($4,800) to emerge as a field favorite. Site-minimum receiver Olamide Zaccheaus will round out many wide receiver corps to smooth out heavy spending at the other positions (assuming Julio Jones is out).
Pivot Points: Spending over $7,000 on a wide receiver other than Cooper seems like an easy way to cut the chalk. It will be interesting to see how the crowd reacts to Calvin Ridley’s $400 salary increase following a nationally televised 0-0-0 receiving line, as an example. Targeting receivers on potentially high-scoring teams besides the Panthers, Cowboys, Chiefs, and Giants is also a sound strategy. Arizona, Pittsburgh, and the LA Rams are three offenses in potentially terrific spots that should go relatively under-rostered.
It’s a rare week where the common roster construction will include heavy spending at tight end. George Kittle ($6,600), Travis Kelce ($6,400), Mark Andrews ($6,200), and Darren Waller are each in plus matchups. Without an obvious punt option at the position, the lowest our opponents will go at tight end will likely be the heavily-targeted (and lightly-productive) Evan Engram at $4,600.
Pivot Points: While they may not jump off the page, punt options at the position do exist. Darren Fells ($3,400) could exceed expectations if Jordan Akins can’t clear the concussion protocol and Eric Ebron ($4,000) is a strong matchup play against the Eagles beleaguered secondary.
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:
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. NYG, $7,800, 23% rostered)
Elliott has been dependable as an every-week RB1 but has yet to hit the 100-yard bonus on DraftKings this season and doesn’t have a multi-touchdown game since Week 1. The problems lie with some bad luck at the goal-line (see Prescott’s three rushing scores in Week 2), and the Cowboys’ shoddy defense landing the team in frantically-paced, pass-heavy game scripts. New York enters this slate ranked 27th in pass-protection (per Football Outsiders), and for all their faults, Dallas’ defense excels in generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Are the Giants, without Saquon Barkley and Sterling Shepard, capable of forcing a shootout on the road? It’s possible, but not probable, which gives Elliott 30-touch, multi-touchdown upside in a game Dallas is favored to win by 11 points. Assuming he doesn’t exceed a 35% roster rate, keep your exposure to Elliott even with the field.
Robby Anderson (@ATL, $5,900, 21% rostered)
As our esteemed leader Joe Bryant likes to say, “things change quickly around here”. Anderson, who was pigeon-holed before the season by most fantasy analysts as a one-dimensional deep threat on a team lacking a big-armed quarterback, has exceeded a 3x multiple of his current salary in three out of four games. He owes his newfound floor/ceiling combo to Carolina head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady, who have used Anderson as anything but a one-trick field-stretcher.
Discussed this in recent pods and utilization reports — interesting deployment of skillsets by the #Panthers— Context Matters (@dwainmcfarland) October 7, 2020
Breaking it down further by field layer, Moore and Anderson are even in 20+ yard targets.
DJM seeing more intermediate vs. short for RA. https://t.co/caXoviyGZx pic.twitter.com/HnqvBpknkU
Five teams have allowed at least 800 yards to enemy wide receivers this season -- the Seahawks, Browns, Dolphins, Falcons, and Vikings. Among those teams, Atlanta has allowed the fewest touchdowns to the position (three), which suggests a mean reversion is coming. While the matchup doesn’t get much better, keep in mind Anderson and Moore are receiving similar opportunities. Eventually, the production is going to balance out between the two, and if it starts this week, you’ll want the lower-owned Moore on a higher percentage of your tournament rosters than Anderson.
Travis Kelce (vs. LV, $6,400, 14% rostered)
Kelce has saved some of his best performances for the Raiders since Jon Gruden took over as head coach, including a 13-12-168-2 receiving line in 2018 and a 9-7-107-1 performance last year. Las Vegas’ defense hasn’t been as generous to tight ends this year, but they also haven’t been tested by an offense that features the position (Carolina, New Orleans, New England, Buffalo). With the Chiefs at home, favored by nearly two touchdowns, and implied to score nearly 35 points, Kelce is in the best possible spot for fantasy tight end production, and that’s before we consider he’s the best player at his position. Priced $600 below his season-high salary (presumably because we haven’t seen a ceiling game from him this year), Kelce is deserving of high exposure.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Dak Prescott||QB||NYG||$7,400||19%||Have to fade at this roster % in game Dallas should control.|
|Matt Ryan||QB||CAR||$6,100||10%||Price and game environment work, but upside takes a hit if Julio scratches.|
|Patrick Mahomes II||QB||LV||$7,700||8%||Can't argue with Chiefs stacks this week.|
|Clyde Edwards-Helaire||RB||LV||$6,800||26%||Most obvious positive regression candidate this side of Marquise Brown.|
|Mike Davis||RB||@ATL||$6,400||24%||Doing his best CMC impression. Fade at inflated price and roster %.|
|Jerick McKinnon||RB||MIA||$5,800||17%||Upside dependent on receptions. Might not need many vs. MIA.|
|Amari Cooper||WR||NYG||$7,400||27%||If we're fading Dak, Cooper goes along for the ride.|
|Calvin Ridley||WR||CAR||$7,500||20%||Roster % may have been 10% higher if not for 0/0/0 line last week.|
|Darius Slayton||WR||@DAL||$4,800||20%||Will NYG offensive line allow downfield plays to develop?|
|George Kittle||TE||MIA||$6,600||12%||Doesn't matter who plays QB for SF. Passing offense runs through Kittle.|
|Evan Engram||TE||@DAL||$4,600||14%||Opportunity is there. Creative usage and production is not.|
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.
Josh Jacobs (@KC, $6,300, 15% rostered)
Most entrants looking for a running back in Jacobs’ price range will click Mike Davis for $100 more, and those who want a Raiders run-back option for their Chiefs stacks will look to Darren Waller first. It makes Jacobs an interesting leverage play in a matchup the Raiders offensive line is capable of winning in the trenches. Kansas City ranks first in pass defense DVOA but only 27th against the run. Assuming Las Vegas looks to press the one advantage they have in this game, Jacobs will be the beneficiary. He’s handled 75% of the Raiders rush attempts this season, including 46% of the team’s receptions out of the backfield. The probability he reaches the 100-yard rushing bonus, scores at least one touchdown, and catches his usual three or four passes exceeds his percent-rostered projection.
Marquise Brown (vs. CIN, $6,300, 8% rostered)
Brown has yet to score more than 18.1 DraftKings points in a game this season, but we’ve officially reached the point where positive regression is bubbling so close to the surface that he’s a must-play until we profit from the inevitable blow-up game. Through four games, Brown has commanded a 27% target market share for Baltimore and is one of five wide receivers who account for at least 40% of his team’s air yards (43%). When you consider Brown also ranks fourth in the NFL in unrealized air yards, you can see where this is headed. The game environment against the Bengals (Ravens -13, 32.25-point implied team total) certainly allows for Brown’s first monster game of the season (assuming Lamar Jackson’s knee is fine). If Brown projects to appear in 8-10% of lineups by Sunday, roster him at 2.5x the field.
Michael Gallup (vs. NYG, $5,400, 6% rostered)
With Elliott and Cooper challenging for the top roster percentages at their respective positions, few entrants will choose to ride the Gallup-coaster. But if you think Prescott and co. keep up their high-scoring ways against the Giants, field leverage is just one of several reasons to love Gallup this week. Gallup’s average target distance is 16.9 yards, compared to 9.3 for Cooper and 9.2 for Lamb. He doesn’t need the Giants to hold up their end of a shootout to crush his median projection because he can get there on downfield splash plays rather than volume. And with Giants cornerback James Bradberry expected to shadow Cooper, Gallup’s matchup on the perimeter with Broncos castoff Isaac Yiadom is winnable to say the least. Yiadom ranks seventh in yards allowed per route covered, according to Pro Football Focus.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Deshaun Watson||QB||JAX||$6,900||7%||Best matchup of young season. Something to prove in 1st game w/out O'Brien?|
|Kyler Murray||QB||@NYJ||$7,200||6%||Won't need Flacco to keep up to exploit matchup with NYJ defense.|
|James Robinson||RB||@HOU||$6,700||12%||Price creeping near ceiling but has work horse role and matchup in his favor.|
|Kareem Hunt||RB||IND||$6,500||19%||Presumably healthier than last week. IND LBs banged up. Overall RB1 upside.|
|D.J. Moore||WR||@ATL||$6,000||14%||Still a believer in his talent, especially against Atlanta secondary.|
|Tyreek Hill||WR||LV||$6,900||10%||Is he 2.7x less likely to help you win a GPP than Amari Cooper? No.|
|D.J. Chark Jr||WR||@HOU||$6,500||8%||Double the field in any week he's below a 10% roster projection.|
|Cooper Kupp||WR||@WAS||$6,500||9%||Getting more looks and making more plays than Woods.|
|Mark Andrews||TE||CIN||$6,200||7%||Shaded by Kittle and Kelce in great matchup.|
|Tyler Higbee||TE||@WAS||$5,600||5%||Touchdown dependent but could get them vs. Washington.|
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.
Eric Ebron (vs. PHI, $4,000, 3% rostered)
Punting tight end seems near-impossible this week, but Ebron offers 4x upside in a matchup against the cross-state Eagles. Now that the season is old enough for us to begin drawing conclusions from its data, Austin Lee’s Normalized Strength of Schedule has returned. Philadelphia has allowed the third-most normalized fantasy points to enemy tight ends this season, which was capped off by George Kittle’s 15-15-183-1 annihilation of their linebackers and defensive backs last week. Ebron has become integrated into Pittsburgh’s offense, combining for 12 targets, eight catches, 95 receiving yards, and a touchdown over the last two games. If he’s able to convert another red-zone opportunity into a score this week and Kittle or Kelce falter, Ebron can be a reason your teams fly up the leaderboard.
Brandin Cooks (vs. JAX, $4,100, 5% rostered)
Nothing says contrarian quite like playing a guy who just put up a donut on 13% of tournament lineups. But we should be willing to write off Cooks’ bottom-5% outcome against the Vikings last week considering he ran routes on 93% of Watson’s dropbacks and played on 94% of the snaps. If you believe the narrative Houston will play like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders after the firing of Bill O’Brien, Cooks is once again an inexpensive hedge on Will Fuller V, who has years of proven weekly upside. Give him one more shot before crossing him out of your player pool for good.
Antonio Gibson (vs. LAR, $5,000, 3% rostered)
No one seems to want any part of Washington at Rams, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see this game go well over Vegas’ 40-point over/under. LA plays at the seventh-fastest situation-neutral pace in the league, while Washington runs plays at the third-fastest situation-neutral rate. There should be plenty of opportunities for both teams to score fantasy points, and Washington figures to attack LA on the ground. The Rams rank seventh in pass defense DVOA, but 28th against the rush. Gibson looked like a puppy growing into his paws while scoring 22.8 DraftKings points against a tough Ravens defense last week. He’ll continue to see about two-thirds of the rushing workload, all the goal-line work (rushing touchdowns in three straight games), and three to five targets, putting a 4x ceiling well within his range of possible outcomes in a favorable matchup.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Joe Burrow||QB||@BAL||$6,000||1%||Might have to throw the ball 60 times again.|
|Jared Goff||QB||@WAS||$6,500||2%||Favored by more than a TD at home, 27.5-point implied team total.|
|Jonathan Taylor||RB||CLE||$6,200||4%||Matt Waldman says not to worry. Listen to Matt Waldman.|
|Joe Mixon||RB||@BAL||$6,300||3%||Greater than 3% chance he goes off again, even against BAL defense.|
|JuJu Smith-Schuster||WR||PHI||$6,700||4%||PHI still a pass funnel. Multi-TD upside.|
|Terry McLaurin||WR||LAR||$6,100||5%||Allen should lock in on him despite duel with Jalen Ramsey.|
|Hunter Renfrow||WR||@KC||$4,900||3%||Derek Carr's most trusted WR in game Raiders will be throwing a lot.|
|Ian Thomas||TE||@ATL||$3,400||2%||Matchup plays are dangerous at TE, but Falcons are that bad.|