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:
A reasonable case can be made for at least nine quarterbacks to finish as the top overall scorer on the slate. As a result, we should expect extremely flat roster percentages at the position. It feels like a safe bet Patrick Mahomes II ($8,100), Russell Wilson ($7,700), Aaron Rodgers ($7,500), Tom Brady ($6,900), Justin Herbert ($6,800), and Ryan Tannehill ($6,700) will chop up the popularity in the top tier of quarterbacks, while Matt Ryan ($5,700) profiles as the top punt option. It remains to be seen how the crowd will react to Jalen Hurts ($5,100).
Pivot Points: It’s probably not a week to go too contrarian to start your stacks, but there are a handful of quarterbacks who should go lightly-rostered on teams with good-enough implied totals. Philip Rivers ($5,900), Teddy Bridgewater ($5,800), and Taysom Hill ($6,600) each qualify.
It’s a rare week in which Dalvin Cook ($9,400) won’t be the chalk. Cook’s tough on-paper matchup against Tampa Bay will lead most entrants to click on Derrick Henry ($8,700), Aaron Jones ($7,600), James Robinson ($7,500), or Austin Ekeler ($7,000) at RB1. Based on the presumed popularity of Davante Adams ($9,300), the common roster construction will need to include an RB2 in the mid-range, where Myles Gaskin ($5,600) stands out as underpriced.
Pivot Points: Cook should top out in the 10-12% range, which makes him a fine pivot off the running back chalk. In a ”disappointing” game last week (26.9 DraftKings points), he still commanded 32 carries and nine targets. Chris Carson ($6,900) is overpriced relative to his recent production and has a poor matchup against the Jets rush defense. But Carson was back to 70% of the backfield touches last week and the setup for Seattle couldn’t be better (-13.5, 30.25-point implied total).
Saturday PM Update: Myles Gaskin was placed on the COVID list, and Matt Breida and Salvon Ahmed are both out. DeAndre Washington ($4,000) is now the best running back value on the slate and will be popular. Plugging Washington into the common construction makes it easier for entrants to roster both Henry and Davante Adams in the same lineup, or fit Travis Kelce in at tight end. It appears Frank Gore will suit up tomorrow, putting a damper on hopes Ty Johnson could be a viable play. D’Andre Swift ($6,500) is likely to play in a plus matchup against Green Bay’s awful rush defense. He is an ideal run-back in Rodgers-Adams stacks. Ezekiel Elliott ($6,600) should play through a calf injury.
Since Adams returned from injury in Week 6, he leads all players (not just wide receivers) in cumulative DraftKings scoring. The field will prioritize him at WR1 against Detroit’s bottom-5 pass defense. Corey Davis ($5,700) is a prime candidate for WR2 in an exploitable matchup against Jacksonville after blowing up for 38.2 DraftKings points last week. If more value doesn’t open up by the weekend, Matt Ryan’s affordability could boost Julio Jones ($6,600) into chalky builds due to their positive correlation. Not much cap space will be left for WR3 in this construction. It wouldn’t be surprising if we see Brashad Perriman ($3,900) shoot up percent-rostered charts with the announcement Denzel Mims is out.
Pivot Points: Assuming a lot of lineups will include both Henry and Adams, we’re going to be up against predominately stars & scrubs builds. Any time this is the case, balanced lineups make sense in tournaments. Wide receiver candidates for balanced builds include Allen Robinson ($6,700), Chris Godwin ($6,300), Brandon Aiyuk ($5,400), and a suddenly reinvigorated T.Y. Hilton ($5,100).
Saturday PM Update: Anderson and Samuel are both chalky plays with Moore out. Mike Evans ($6,600) will play, which makes the Tampa Bay passing game harder to figure out.
Travis Kelce ($7,400) will be the highest-rostered tight end on the slate but he is impossible to fit next to Adams and a running back in Henry’s price range. The same goes for last week’s slate-breaker, Darren Waller ($6,800). Common lineups will punt tight end, usually with Logan Thomas ($3,300) after his impressive island-game performance against Pittsburgh on Monday.
Pivot Points: There is nothing wrong with simply clicking on Kelce’s name first when building your lineups. His salary (equivalent to WR6) will automatically get you building differently than your opponents. If the crowd is either spending way up or way down, the entire mid-tier of tight ends will get glossed over. Rob Gronkowski ($4,800) and Dallas Goedert ($4,000) look like the best of the bunch there.
Saturday PM Update: Irv Smith ($3,100) should start with Kyle Rudolph presumably out. Smith is an intriguing pivot off guys like Thomas and Jordan Akins ($2,900). Daniel Jones’ return restores Evan Engram’s ($4,300) ceiling. Jonnu Smith will be back, which removes Anthony Firkser from the player pool.
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:
Derrick Henry (@JAX, $8,700, 23% rostered)
Henry bombed in 20% of Milly Maker lineups last week (6.9 DraftKings points), but Cleveland getting out to a 38-7 lead on Tennessee at halftime was a bottom-1% outcome if this game were played 100 times. No one will be concerned about the Jaguars forcing Henry into a wonky game script, as evidenced by his 35% roster percentage when these teams met in Week 2. Given Jacksonville’s struggles to stop the run, it’s difficult to blame the crowd for piling on Henry. The Jaguars have allowed 36% more PPR fantasy points to enemy running backs than league average over the last three weeks. Unfortunately, Henry is tricky any time he’s the chalk on DraftKings. Do we really want to follow the field on a game flow-dependent running back that guarantees you zero as a pass-catcher? The answer should have been no against the (then) 7-3 Browns but is decidedly a yes against the 1-11 Jaguars, who are implied to lose by more than a touchdown. Play Henry in at least 20% of lineups if you’re multi-entering and consider him if you’re only playing a single lineup.
Davante Adams (@DET, $9,300, 26% rostered)
Adams has been putting up elite numbers with the consistency of an RB1 all season. We have no reason to expect him to stumble against the Lions, who have been roasted by the opposition’s WR1 in each of their last three games. The only risk here is Adams ending up on the wrong side of touchdown variance, but considering he’s found the endzone in every game since Week 7 and scored multiple times in three games over the same span, the odds are in his favor. With Green Bay expected to lead the slate in scoring, Adams is a GPP building block deserving of a spot in 40% of your lineups.
Robby Anderson (vs. DEN, $6,200, 18% rostered)
Anderson is chalknow thatr D.J. Moore was announced out due to COVID. Any projected bump in Anderson’s team-leading 26% target share instantly vaults him to elite WR1 volume at a middling price point. Denver’s pass defense, while effective in last week’s loss to Kansas City, is no longer one to be feared. The Broncos will also be without cornerback A.J. Bouye for this game, who was suspended for using PEDs. Game flow is the only potential problem here. Denver hasn’t scored more than 20 points in a game since Week 9 and Carolina’s defense should be well-rested coming off a bye. On the chance Broncos at Panthers ends up an offensive slog, temper your expectations for Anderson if he’s projected as the highest-rostered player on the slate come Sunday.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Patrick Mahomes II||QB||@MIA||$8,100||8%||Warrants exposure any time he's on the slate.|
|Aaron Rodgers||QB||@DET||$7,500||7%||Hard to argue with QB on team with highest implied total.|
|Matt Ryan||QB||@LAC||$5,700||7%||LAC has allowed every opponent to score at least 27 pts. since Week 3.|
|DeAndre Washington||RB||KC||$4,000||25%||Best value play on a slate starved for value. Wouldn't fade him completely.|
|Austin Ekeler||RB||ATL||$7,000||17%||Much better spot than last week. Go as high as 30%.|
|James Robinson||RB||TEN||$7,500||18%||Volume plays better in cash games unless you think he scores twice.|
|Corey Davis||WR||@JAX||$5,700||16%||Winner of this year's DeVante Parker late breakout award. % rostered OK if Brown plays.|
|Chris Godwin||WR||MIN||$6,300||17%||Evans playing keeps % rostered in check. Still prefer Gronk and running game.|
|Travis Kelce||TE||@MIA||$7,400||20%||Fit him in as much as you can. It's a little easier with Washington in play.|
|Logan Thomas||TE||@SF||$3,300||11%||Fade if he's projected for double-digit % rostered.|
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.
Ronald Jones II (vs. MIN, $6,100, 6% rostered)
Tampa Bay is implied to score 29.25 points and win by nearly a touchdown, which will force roster percentages to concentrate around Tom Brady and his pass-catchers, but why not Jones? When games stay on script for the Buccaneers, we can safely expect Jones to handle about 65% of the team’s backfield touches and he has flashed a ceiling near 30 DraftKings points on multiple occasions. Jones deserves credit for his current standing as the RB9 in cumulative DraftKings scoring, but he’s being given the Rodney Dangerfield treatment. Despite a game environment that favors running back production for Tampa Bay, Jones is priced as the RB17 and expected to appear on fewer rosters than J.D. McKissic. Exploit the market’s inefficiency.
Rob Gronkowski (vs. MIN, $4,800, 5% rostered)
If you’re a listener of The Audible, you already know why Gronkowski is a great play this week thanks to our man, Sigmund Bloom. Vikings All-Pro linebacker, Eric Kendricks, missed last Sunday’s game due to a calf injury and isn’t expected to suit up against the Buccaneers. Kendricks is Minnesota’s team-leader on defense and arguably the best player on their team. Pro Football Focus gives Kendricks the best coverage rating of any linebacker who has played at least 200 coverage snaps this season. Without Kendricks, the matchup improves for Ronald Jones II but takes off on a rocketship for Gronkowski. Jaguars’ tight ends have accumulated the fourth-fewest fantasy points of any team this season, yet Tyler Eifert and James O'Shaughnessy were able to combine for a 12-10-86-0 receiving line against a Kendrick-less Vikings team last week. Gronkowski, who is coming off his first 100-yard game of the season and has looked like his old self since Week 6, presents a much stiffer challenge.
Justin Jefferson (@TB, $7,400, 8% rostered)
When we look back on Week 14, chances are Jefferson won’t be a favorite of professional DFS players. We would be playing him at a season-high salary in a game where Minnesota is only implied to score 22.75 points. And while the salary spike should keep him moderately rostered compared to most weeks, Jefferson isn’t flying below our opponents’ radars after scoring at least 24.5 DraftKings points in three out of his last four games. The matchup is in Jefferson’s favor. Tampa Bay has been flamed by Tyreek Hill (15-13-269-3), Robert Woods (15-12-130-1), and D.J. Moore (7-4-96-1) in recent weeks. Playing matchups is fine with less expensive, less popular receivers but could be a trap in tournaments for a player with Jefferson’s Week 14 profile. Despite the clear & present warning signs, it wouldn’t be shocking if Jefferson kept his hot streak going as Kirk Cousins and company attempt to keep pace with Tampa Bay. Come in over the field, enjoy the fantasy points, and worry about being sharp next week.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Justin Herbert||QB||ATL||$6,800||6%||Get-right game for the rookie. Lots of ways to stack him.|
|Mitchell Trubisky||QB||HOU||$5,600||5%||Wrong side of TD variance last week. Go back to the well in another great spot.|
|Jonathan Taylor||RB||@LV||$5,700||9%||Look for him to start taking over the backfield like Akers has for LAR.|
|Dalvin Cook||RB||@TB||$9,400||8%||Had 41 carries + targets last week. >8% chance he finishes as RB1.|
|Chris Carson||RB||NYJ||$6,900||7%||SEA passing game will get more attention but game script screams Carson.|
|Michael Thomas||WR||@PHI||$7,300||8%||Metcalf and Adams bullied PHI DBs. Thomas will do the same.|
|DK Metcalf||WR||NYJ||$8,400||11%||Terrible price but who stops him on the Jets? Slate-breaking potential.|
|Brandon Aiyuk||WR||WAS||$5,400||7%||20 DK points (or close enough) in each of his last four games.|
|Dallas Goedert||TE||NO||$4,000||8%||Expect rookie QB Hurts to lean on his TE.|
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.
Kenyan Drake (@NYG, $5,500, 3% rostered)
Drake is a reasonable price pivot off chalky Myles Gaskin. Things have gone south for the Cardinals in the last few weeks, but despite some poor game scripts, Drake is hanging onto a sizeable workload. Over the last four games, he has out-touched backfield mate Chase Edmonds 69-35 (66% share of backfield touches). Perhaps more importantly, Arizona trusts Drake at the goal-line. He leads all running backs in carries from inside the opponent’s five-yard-line since Week 10. With Kyler Murray hesitant to take contact while nursing a shoulder injury, we should expect Drake to continue getting his number called when Arizona reaches scoring range. A multi-touchdown game is within the range of possible outcomes, giving Drake a puncher’s chance of appearing in a first-place lineup at a low percent-rostered and fair salary.
Jalen Hurts (vs. NO, $5,100, 5% rostered)
If early-week roster projections around the industry can be trusted, it seems the crowd is scared off Hurts in his first NFL start due to the strength of New Orleans’ defense and the stigma surrounding the Eagles’ offense. Maybe those are reasons to fade Hurts in cash games at his low price, but this is a guy who rushed for 1,298 yards and 20 (20!) touchdowns at Oklahoma last season. It only took him a quarter and a half to crack double-digit DraftKings points in his debut as an every-down signal-caller last week. If you don’t think he has a high enough ceiling for tournaments at $5,100, or a high enough probability of getting there to justify a 3-5% roster rate, GPPs might not be the right format for you. Stack him with Dallas Goedert, who is too cheap ($4,000) and playing his best football of the season.
Amari Cooper (@CIN, $6,500, 4% rostered)
Cooper is probably about $500 too expensive for a matchup against Cincinatti, which should suppress his roster percentage. In the three weeks since Andy Dalton returned from injury/illness, Cooper leads the Cowboys in every major receiving category and even flashed a 25+ point ceiling in Week 12. Dallas is expected to score 23.5 points this week, which is on the better side of so-so. Especially with Ezekiel Elliott dealing with a calf injury, the door is open for Cooper to reach the end zone for a third consecutive game.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Taysom Hill||QB||@PHI||$6,600||4%||Price getting up there but rushing ability gives him 30+ point ceiling.|
|Kirk Cousins||QB||@TB||$6,200||3%||At some point, we have to acknowledge he's playing well.|
|D'Andre Swift||RB||GB||$6,500||5%||Take the injury discount. Run-back in Rodgers-Adams stacks.|
|Clyde Edwards-Helaire||RB||@MIA||$5,900||3%||Thin play but eventually a dominant KC win will result in RB production.|
|Antonio Brown||WR||MIN||$5,500||3%||Bye week should have helped him get on same page as Brady.|
|Michael Gallup||WR||@CIN||$3,800||2%||Connection w/ Dalton developing. Should cost at least another $500.|
|Irv Smith||TE||@TB||$3,000||1%||TB a sieve against TEs.|