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:
We should expect roster rates at quarterback to be flat and tightly clustered at the top. Patrick Mahomes II ($8,100), Russell Wilson ($7,800), and Kyler Murray ($7,600) figure to cannibalize each other’s popularity in the top tier, and more will look to play the matchups with Deshaun Watson ($7,100), Josh Allen ($7,000), and Justin Herbert ($6,800) in the next tier down. Those looking to save at quarterback most likely have their eye on Matt Ryan ($6,400) and Derek Carr ($5,700), while some might be daring enough to try Drew Lock ($5,200) against the Falcons.
Pivot Points: Dalvin Cook is the chalk on this slate following his 50-point performance in Week 8. Stacking Kirk Cousins ($6,200) with his pass-catchers in a game Vegas has pegged for 54 total points is one way to gain leverage on Cook lineups. In general, the mid-$6K range looks like it will go lightly rostered, despite great on-paper matchups for Matthew Stafford ($6,600) and Ben Roethlisberger ($6,500), and a season-low price tag for Lamar Jackson ($6,900).
Cook ($8,200) will be the first name most entrants click when creating lineups, with James Conner ($6,900) and shiny new toy Chase Edmonds ($6,800) trailing him in popularity in the top tier. The most common construction is likely to feature a sub-$6K RB2 next to Cook. Matchup plays, such as David Johnson ($5,600) and Antonio Gibson ($5,800), are the usual suspects, though the injury report may have something to say about it. Keep an eye on the news cycle out of Seattle, Baltimore, and Miami, where Deejay Dallas ($5,000), J.K. Dobbins ($4,900), and Matt Breida ($4,000) could emerge as crowd favorites.
Pivot Points: Christian McCaffrey ($8,500) is a wildcard on this slate. His salary is down $1,500 from Week 1 and his roster percentage should be suppressed by Cook and his own uncertain workload in his first game back. On the other side of the ball in the same game, it may also be a good time to buy the dip on Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($6,100) as leverage on the popularity of Kansas City’s passing game. Derrick Henry ($7,900) is the best 1:1 price pivot off Cook. He’ll go relatively overlooked due to a perceived poor matchup against Chicago.
Assuming Calvin Ridley is out due to his foot injury, Julio Jones ($7,200) profiles as the wide receiver chalk in a plus matchup against Denver. Elsewhere at WR1, Seattle’s passing game has been so productive that DK Metcalf ($7,800) and Tyler Lockett ($6,800) will be top-of-mind for the crowd until further notice. The most common WR2 in chalky roster builds is Terry McLaurin ($6,500), who is fairly priced in a great matchup. WR3 and Flex options will be on the thrifty side, with Jerry Jeudy ($4,700), Marvin Jones Jr ($5,100), and Brandin Cooks ($5,500) leading the way.
Pivot Points: We already mentioned Adam Thielen ($6,700) and Justin Jefferson ($6,100) as potential leverage plays on Cook. The crowd will also look past Pittsburgh’s wide receivers in favor of James Conner. Chase Claypool ($5,700), Diontae Johnson ($5,000), and JuJu Smith-Schuster ($6,200), are each capable of ceiling games against Dallas’ abysmal secondary.
Travis Kelce ($7,200) and Darren Waller ($5,800) will always have their fans at the top, but common roster construction usually demands limited tight end spending, and this week is no exception unless more value opens up over the weekend. Noah Fant ($4,600) and Hayden Hurst ($4,100) are priced fairly and heavily involved in their respective passing games. Hurst, in particular, should shoot up the roster projections once Ridley is declared out.
Pivot Points: The crowd has been quick to give Marvin Jones Jr the post-Kenny Golladay bump, but what about T.J. Hockenson’s ($5,100) 10 targets last week? Similar target-volume would play well against the back end of Minnesota’s defense. Like his quarterback, Mark Andrews ($4,800) is available at a season-low salary due to his matchup against the Colts. But if there is one position where it’s safest to ignore defense vs. position matchups, it’s tight end. Andrews remains right there with Kelce for the highest touchdown expectation at the position.
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:
Deshaun Watson (@JAX, $7,100, 11% rostered)
The crowd usually doesn’t need an excuse to play Watson, but this week he’s coming off a bye and facing a Jaguars defense he lit up for 359 yards and three passing touchdowns back in Week 5. On paper, Watson is in a terrific spot with Houston implied to score 29 points and win by nearly a touchdown on the road, but we shouldn’t discount his bust potential. Jacksonville’s new starting quarterback Jake Luton’s most likely career arc should fall somewhere between those of Tom Savage (out of the league in three years) and Kyle Allen (startable in a pinch). If he more closely resembles Savage in his NFL debut, we could be looking at a game script dominated by Houston’s defense and running game. Don’t play Watson if you’re entering a single lineup and come in below the field’s exposure when multi-entering.
Dalvin Cook (vs. DET, $8,200, 28% rostered)
Just in case you took last week off, Dalvin Cook stampeded the Packers to the tune of 51.6 DraftKings points. Our opponents will be eager to play him against the Lions, who have allowed 46% more PPR fantasy points to running backs than league average over the last five weeks. With Alvin Kamara off the main slate, Derrick Henry in a perceived difficult matchup, and Ezekiel Elliott ruined by poor quarterback play, spending up to Cook in this matchup is almost too easy -- which is precisely why we should be leery of rostering him in too many tournament lineups. Cook is more likely to produce closer to his Weeks 1-5 average (24 DraftKings points) than he is to break the slate for a second consecutive week. While that output won’t sink your lineup, it won’t help you win a tournament if he appears on 30% of rosters. Fade Cook relative to the field, even if it’s only a short fade.
Julio Jones (vs. DEN, $7,200, 22% rostered)
The last time we saw Jones on the field without Calvin Ridley was in Weeks 15-17 last year. In three games over that span, Jones was targeted 20, 15, and 13 times respectively. With Ridley likely out due to a foot sprain and Jones rounding into form since coming back from an ankle injury in Week 6, it’s fair to expect similarly massive target volume in a beatable home matchup against Denver’s secondary. The Broncos top cornerback, A.J. Bouye, returned from his own ankle injury last week only to sustain a concussion during the fourth quarter of Denver’s come-from-behind win over the Chargers. Assuming Bouye doesn’t clear the league’s protocol by Sunday, the unenviable task of covering Jones will fall to rookie cornerback Michael Ojemudia, who is still learning on the job. It’s usually a better idea to chase chalk at running back than wide receiver, but Jones has a 40-point ceiling in this spot. Go heavy.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Russell Wilson||QB||@BUF||$7,600||10%||Always a threat to finish as top overall scorer on the slate.|
|Josh Allen||QB||SEA||$7,000||9%||Fade him against good teams. Leverage his popularity with SEA DST.|
|Justin Herbert||QB||LV||$6,800||10%||Can't argue with season-to-date production. Deserves every-week exposure.|
|David Johnson||RB||@JAX||$5,600||15%||80% touch share should eventually result in a ceiling-game. Matchup is there.|
|James Conner||RB||@DAL||$6,900||14%||Slight fade in favor of PIT passing game.|
|Josh Jacobs||RB||@LAC||$6,300||17%||Too cheap for projected workload. Go even with field in neutral matchup.|
|Keenan Allen||WR||LV||$7,000||22%||Locked in for 20 DK points, but price starting to rise relative to upside.|
|Tyler Lockett||WR||@BUF||$6,800||18%||Avoids shadow coverage from CB White. Metcalf priced at his ceiling.|
|Stefon Diggs||WR||SEA||$7,400||16%||Great matchup but overpriced by at least $500.|
|Terry McLaurin||WR||NYG||$6,500||14%||Expect big plays coming out of the bye.|
|Darren Waller||TE||@LAC||$5,800||16%||Fine with making him a top TE exposure at ugly position.|
|Travis Kelce||TE||CAR||$7,200||15%||CAR LBs have been surprisingly good in coverage w/out Kuechly. Won't matter.|
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.
Lamar Jackson (@IND, $6,900, 5% rostered)
Jackson’s season-low salary and implied roster percentage have reached the tipping point where we almost have to play him in tournaments. He’s come close enough to a 4x multiple of his current salary in 43% of his games despite some uneven play this season. Those are strong odds of reaching tournament value in comparison to his roster percentage, which shouldn’t top 5%. The Colts have a reputation as one of the league’s better defenses, but the offenses they’ve held down -- Vikings, Jets, Bears, Lions -- aren’t exactly a murderer’s row. In recent games against AFC North opponents, Cleveland and Cincinatti, Indianapolis allowed 32 and 27 points, respectively. And while linebacker is a strength for the Colts, their defense hasn’t been tested by a quarterback with anything resembling Jackson’s speed. The 46-½-point total in this game has been bet up to 47-½ and may still prove too low. Stacking Jackson with Mark Andrews (see below) is a path to a unique lineup without sacrificing upside.
Christian McCaffrey (@KC, $8,500, 7% rostered)
After a pair of solid but unspectacular games to open the season and a high-ankle sprain that landed him on IR, the crowd will be leery of rostering McCaffrey in his first game back. It presents an interesting buy-low opportunity in GPPs, where McCaffrey is a clear price pivot off the slate’s chalkiest player, Dalvin Cook. Assuming he’s rostered by fewer than 10% of our opponents, consider 20-25% exposure to McCaffrey in your lineups. It’s likely Carolina will be playing from behind for most of the afternoon in Kansas City, creating a dump-off-heavy game script. And even if things stay close, the Panthers and Chiefs each rank inside the top-6 in situation neutral pace of play. McCaffrey won’t go wanting for opportunities to gash Kansas City’s 28th-ranked rush defense (DVOA).
Mike Williams (vs. LV, $5,100, 5% rostered)
Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen will be among the most popular players at their respective positions but we can safely expect a low-to-moderate roster percentage for Williams, who shares the same advantageous matchup against the Raiders. It can’t be overstated how dominant Williams looked last week against the Broncos, on his way to an 8-5-99-1 receiving line -- his second 20+ point performance on DraftKings in his last three games. Las Vegas ranks eighth this season with 48 pass plays allowed that went for at least 15 yards, which dovetails nicely with Williams’ role as Herbert’s top deep threat. On the season, Williams trails Allen for the team lead by 48 air yards but has seen 41 fewer targets.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Patrick Mahomes II||QB||CAR||$8,100||8%||Prefer KC running game but you can't multi-enter GPPs without him.|
|Kyler Murray||QB||MIA||$7,800||7%||Not many QBs out there with 25 pt. floor and 40 pt. ceiling. Big AZ win coming.|
|Clyde Edwards-Helaire||RB||CAR||$6,100||8%||Split with Bell not ideal, but has potential for 100-yard bonus this week.|
|Chase Edmonds||RB||MIA||$6,800||18%||Multiple paths to huge game. Stackable with Murray.|
|Brandin Cooks||WR||@JAX||$5,500||11%||Priced as though he doesn't have 30 targets in last three games.|
|Henry Ruggs III||WR||@LAC||$4,900||5%||Give Ruggs and Carr a mulligan after last week's weather game.|
|Chase Claypool||WR||@DAL||$5,700||5%||Leverage on Conner/PIT DST. Can get there on splash plays vs. awful defense.|
|Adam Thielen||WR||DET||$6,700||9%||Essentially the same play as Justin Jefferson. Cook leverage.|
|Noah Fant||TE||@ATL||$4,600||12%||ATL allowing 48% more PPR pts. to TEs than league average.|
|Hayden Hurst||TE||DEN||$4,100||8%||High floor in last three, which plays in GPPs at this salary.|
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.
D.J. Chark Jr (vs. HOU, $5,200, 5% rostered)
Chark will be used as a run-back in Deshaun Watson stacks and in a handful of contrarian Jake Luton lineups, but will otherwise get glossed over. It’s a miscalculation by the crowd for several reasons:
- The Texans have been dominated by prototype WR1s all season, including Adam Thielen (10-8-114-1), A.J. Brown (7-5-56-2), and Davante Adams (16-13-196-2) in three of their last four games.
- Chark is one of the league’s best perimeter receivers, even if the numbers haven’t always been there. He’s battled poor quarterback play, as well as nagging chest, back, and ankle injuries this season. The Jaguars bye week had to help him get closer to 100% health and maybe it also solved his quarterback issue.
- We shouldn’t expect fireworks from Luton in his first pro game, but it’s reasonable to project him as a better downfield passer than Gardner Minshew. Per Pro Football Focus, Minshew threw 20 or more yards downfield on a worse-than-middling 12.7% of his attempts this season and ranked 27th in adjusted completion rate on those throws. Luton, by most accounts, has a pro-style arm and throws a quality deep ball.
Derrick Henry (vs. CHI, $7,900, 12% rostered)
Calling Henry a contrarian play might be stretching the definition of the term, but he’ll be available at less than half of Cook’s roster percentage. Is Cook really more than twice as likely to hit the 30+ point ceiling we’re looking for at RB1? Since Week 8 of last season, Henry has eclipsed 30 DraftKings points in four out of 17 games (23.5%), while Cook has done so in three out of 13 (23%). Does the difference in matchup increase Cook’s likelihood? Maybe. But the Bears defense quietly ranks bottom-10 in rushing yards allowed to enemy running backs, and have struggled to defend between-the-tackles runners in particular. With Tennessee favored by nearly a touchdown and implied to score about 26 points, Henry’s 100+ yard, multi-touchdown upside remains intact.
Teddy Bridgewater (@KC, $6,000, 2% rostered)
People are always excited to play Kansas City stacks. They’re usually at least somewhat excited to play Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore, who profile as top point-per-dollar plays on what feels like every slate. At least some are looking forward to Christian McCaffrey coming back. Each of these paths intersects at Bridgewater, yet no one is ever excited to roster him in DFS. We’ve already covered the abundance of plays both teams will run and the high likelihood Bridgewater will have to throw the ball for most of the game to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes II and company. Saving salary by coming down from Mahomes to Bridgewater is an easy way to run a contrarian Panthers-Chiefs game stack with more leftover cap to spend than your opponents.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Own %||Comment|
|Matthew Stafford||QB||@MIN||$6,600||2%||Assuming he's off COVID list, couldn't ask for better matchup.|
|Kirk Cousins||QB||DET||$6,200||2%||If you're fading Cook, might as well go all in.|
|J.K. Dobbins||RB||@IND||$4,900||7%||Dynamic play-maker what we're after in GPPs, even while splitting touches.|
|Antonio Gibson||RB||NYG||$5,800||6%||Why can't he build on breakout game after bye vs. NYG DEF?|
|Darius Slayton||WR||@WAS||$5,000||5%||Can beat WAS DBs on plays where NYG pass-blocking holds up.|
|Christian Kirk||WR||MIA||$5,300||2%||Perfect for tournaments as Murray's deep threat.|
|Marquise Brown||WR||@IND||$6,000||3%||Nothing to see here. Just me chasing lost $.|
|Mark Andrews||TE||@IND||$4,800||5%||Like his QB -- too cheap, too much upside despite tough matchup.|