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.
TIPS AND PICKS
Let's take a deeper look into some of the players who I will be targeting for my cash game and tournament rosters this weekend. A short summary follows each respective table to fill in the gaps that led to the respective recommendations; that text represents only an overview of the methodology and rationale that goes into each recommendation.
UPDATED SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 12th @ 8 AM (EST)
Quarterbacks: Both Matt Ryan and Jimmy Garoppolo make the cut for cash game options in Week #1. You might be asking yourself, "Where is Lamar Jackson?" On a week where the best cost savings comes with a $4.0K rookie running back on the Washington Football Team (Antonio Gibson), it's tough to justify Lamar Jackson's $8.1K price tag. Instead, Matt Ryan hosts a Seattle defense that got little pressure on opposing quarterbacks last year and lost several key pass rushers on their defensive line in the off-season, including Jadeveon Clowney and Quinton Jefferson. If the Falcons ease the wobbly-kneed Todd Gurley into the mix, the extra reps might fall on Matt Ryan's arm and his bevy of competent receivers. Alternatively, Jimmy G. is a cheaper option against Kliff Kingsbury's Cardinals. Kingsbury has been running a super-fast offense during camp, which might equate to additional snaps for both offenses. Garoppolo's primary receivers are banged up, but he has made due with less and can continue to lean on the uber-talented George Kittle. He needs only ~ 18 fantasy points to reach cash game value, which is well within reason based on our projections.
Running Backs: If you can afford to jam Christian McCaffrey into your cash game lineups, feel free--he will be rostered on over half of your competitors' lineups, so it might make sense to pair him with Antonio Gibson at only $4.0K to limit the opportunity cost associated with CMC's $10.0K salary. Gibson, a rookie out of Memphis, is projected to be the main beneficiary of the downfall of Derrius Guice earlier this Summer and the recent release of Adrian Peterson. His salary is the reason he will be popular in DFS circles this weekend, but you should be aware that Head Coach Ron Rivera has stated that Washington will employ a running back by-committee (RBBC) approach, which could limit Gibson's upside. A potentially safer route is to put Alvin Kamara and Josh Jacobs on the same roster for the same cost of the CMC-Gibson combo. Kamara and Jacobs should absorb bell-cow duties for their respective teams. Kamara is a PPR monster in a potential shootout and Jacobs gets a soft matchup against last year's worst-ranked DVOA rush defense that lost its best defender, Luke Kuechly, to retirement.
Wide Receivers: On a week where we have no barometer for how offenses will be employed due to the complete lack of a preseason, it stands to reason that rolling with no-doubt WR1's is the safest strategy for cash games. At the top of the list is Davante Adams, whose 2019 game log is absolute dominance; with Devin Funchess electing out of the season due to COVID, Allen Lazard is his stablemate, which bodes well for Adams getting double-digit targets on most weeks. Both T.Y. Hilton and Terry McLaurin have similar situations to that described for Davante Adams--little competition for targets and the unquestioned best receiver on their respective teams; Hilton gets an upgrade at quarterback this year in the form of Philip Rivers and McLaurin gets a matchup against the Eagles, who he toasted for 120+ yards during both games against the Birds in his rookie season. **On Friday, Kenny Golladay was downgraded to 'doubtful' with a hamstring injury. Even if he were deemed 'active' on Sunday morning, he should be removed from your player pool for opening weekend. Both Marvin Jones Jr and Danny Amendola get a bump due to the Golladay news, with Jones being a fringe cash game option, but the recommendation is to avoid the Lions' passing game altogether. Making matters worse, off-season free agent right tackle signee, Halapoulivaati Vaitai, is also 'out' on Sunday.**
Tight Ends: If price were not an issue, George Kittle's name would probably appear in this space (ironically, it does now that I've typed that), but it's tough to justify Kittle's $7.2K salary for cash games at the volatile tight end position. Instead, the recommendation is to try to save salary here and roll with Zach Ertz ($5.8K) or Chris Herndon ($3.3K). Ertz is the more difficult decision because of his price point, but he should be the Eagles' primary receiver and can be had for only $200 more than this week's crowd-favorite Eagle, DeSean Jackson. Herndon is the preferred salary-saver because his implied gamescript and lack of competition for targets favors an easier path to the requisite 3x multiplier needed to justify his spot in your cash game lineups.
Team Defenses: Our projections like the Patriots' chances against the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Dolphins at home this week. There are a lot of questions about how the Patriots will adjust to losing Tom Brady in the off-season, but there is little doubt that the Dolphins will have one of the worst offenses in the league once again. If price is not an issue, the Pats are a decent cash game option. A discounted alternative, the talented Chargers defense gets Joe Burrow in his rookie debut; with Joey Bosa and crew up front getting pressure on Burrow and a stellar defensive backfield, it would not be surprising to see the Chargers force a mistake or two from this year's number-one draft pick.
Quarterbacks: A case was made in the "Cash Games" section for why Matt Ryan carries both a high floor and upside this weekend. If he and Russell Wilson trade punches in a slugfest on Sunday, the result could be yet another 300-yard game for Matty Ice at home. A similar argument could be made for Tom Brady in his debut for the Buccaneers. Taking on the Saints, a pre-season favorite for Super Bowl contention, Brady could be tasked with keeping pace with Drew Brees, which would bode well for a barnburner on opening weekend. Elsewhere, most people have likely forgotten how dominant Matthew Stafford was prior to his season-ending injury in 2019; Stafford had 300+ passing yard and/or 3 passing touchdowns in 5 of the 8 games he played last year. With questions surrounding roles in the Lions' backfield, Head Coach Matt Patricia might put the onus on Stafford to find his receivers in space against the Bears. Downgrade Matthew Stafford due to key injuries to Kenny Golladay and Halapoulivaati Vaitai, whose absence will negatively affect their upside. In Cincinnati, Tyrod Taylor will get his first start in two years against the Bengals. We have yet to see what Taylor has left in the tank with regards to scrambling ability, but he has the best receiving corps of his life in the form of Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, and Austin Ekeler out of the backfield. It should be prime grounds for a big day against a bottom-three DVOA pass defense from just a year ago.
- Sleeper: Targeting Mitchell Trubisky rarely feels like a sage strategy, but the combination of his salary and overall field exposure makes him a sneaky quarterback for large tournaments this weekend. With David Montgomery nursing a groin injury, the Bears' depth chart at running back is scant with only Tarik Cohen and Ryan Nall there to absorb the load. Nall is a former undrafted free agent with a grand total of 8 NFL snaps over a pair of years with the team and Cohen is more of a receiver than an everydown running back. For these reasons, if Montgomery is limited or inactive on Sunday, expect to see Trubisky get plenty of action. Without Darius Slay (now with the Eagles) to shadow Allen Robinson, last year's 28th-ranked DVOA pass defense could yield Trubisky a surprise performance to open the season.
- Fade: It will not be easy to fade the field on Lamar Jackson, but his percent-rostered numbers are likely going to close too high for his lofty salary. The Ravens drafted J.K. Dobbins to run alongside Mark Ingram II in 2020 and Marquise Brown returns as a sophomore with 20 extra pounds of bulk to take the next step towards becoming an elite receiver. Given the additional talent and general health of skill position players, we should expect to see a Lamar Jackson scramble a bit less often than the ~ 12 carries per game that he accrued in 2019. By fading Jackson, you are saving salary at a relatively flush position and also building uniqueness from the 15-20% of rosters that cannot get away from him.
Running Backs: Questions are bound to asked with a new coaching staff in Carolina around the usage of Christian McCaffrey, particularly without any preseason clues and his $10K salary, but he should be on at least 20% of your GPP rosters due to his athleticism and upside. Dalvin Cook is an underrated option against the Packers, whose 27th-ranked DOVA rush defense from a year ago ended their season when Raheem Mostert ran for four touchdowns against them in early January (hat tip to Phil Alexander on reminding us of that on this week's edition of the PowerGrid). Cook has gone on record about being motivated to prove his worth to substantiate the contract extension that he has been seeking for most of the year. Traveling to San Francisco, Kenyan Drake could go overlooked on opening weekend; Drake excelled in his limited stint with the Cards last year and has a better matchup than appears on paper against a 49ers defense that has been hampered with injuries and setbacks heading into the season. Closing things out, rostering Chris Thompson in tournaments could be a shark move given an implied pristine gamescript in Jacksonville that fits his style of play. With Leonard Fournette now in Tampa Bay and Ryquell Armstead back on the COVID list, the Jaguars backfield is up for grabs and it appears that undrafted free agent rookie, James Robinson, will get first dibs. However, we have to expect Chris Thompson to be in on passing down situations and to spell the untested Robinson on occasion. With a pass-heavy implied gamescript, Thompson could end this week with over a dozen high-value touches against a team that did not defend pass-catching running backs well in 2019.
- Sleeper: There is plenty of negativity coming from the Jets' camp once again this year and Le'Veon Bell is certainly at the forefront of those conversations. The result of which is that he is slated to be on less than 5% of tournament rosters against the Bills on Sunday. Our projections, however, would disagree that Bell is destined for failure on opening day; our David Dodds has only five running backs projected at a higher "points per dollar" metric when sorted on Footballguys' new lineup builder. Given the strength of the Bills defense is against the pass, Head Coach Adam Gase will likely be forced to give the ball to Bell to try to win this AFC East showdown on the road. If Bell is on only ~ 2% of tournament lineups, it will have been too few, no matter the outcome.
- Fade: Plugging Antonio Gibson into your cash games is entirely acceptable for the reasons described in the previous section. However, if his popularity continues to escalate into the weekend, you should consider removing him from your tournament lineups. First, he is a rookie and one mistake from being pulled for a more experienced backfield partner. Next, Ron Rivera has already declared that Washington will employ a RBBC approach; if a stablemate (i.e., J.D. McKissic) gets hot early, you could watch over a quarter of tournament rosters flounder with Gibson in them. Lastly, Gibson will appear alongside Christian McCaffrey too often, which creates too much roster redundancy to give yourself a solid chance of winning a large-field tournament. You can still roster Gibson in tournaments, but definitely be lower than the field.
Wide Receivers: Coming off a record-breaking year, there is no reason to expect Michael Thomas to slow down in 2020. If you have the salary flexibility, feel free to slot Thomas into up to 25% of your GPP portfolio lineups. On the opposite side of the field, Chris Godwin is a solid tournament option juxtaposed against his teammate Mike Evans, whose higher percent-rostered numbers and lingering soft tissue injury make Godwin the superior play across the board in a potential shootout in Week #1. If you are taking the leap of faith described in the quarterback sleeper section above, Allen Robinson is the logical stacking partner against the Lions. ARob escapes Darius Slay, who is now an Eagle, and should be schemed to avoid ex-Falcon Desmond Trufant for most of the afternoon, as Trufant has traditionally stayed on only one side of the field in coverage. With David Montgomery possibly sidelined, Robinson will likely become the offensive focal point for the Bears. In Atlanta, Calvin Ridley is the 1B to Julio Jones' 1A role in the receiving game and should be on everybody's tournament radar, particularly if Julio's percent-rostered creeps much beyond Ridley while at a 25% premium.
- Sleeper: Emmanuel Sanders has not played with an elite NFL quarterback in over five years. We are going to learn what he has left in the tank this season with Drew Brees slinging the ball his way every Sunday. Despite catching balls from the likes of Trevor Siemian, Brock Osweiler, and Case Keenum in recent seasons, Sanders has accrued above-average numbers. With defenses focusing their coverage on all-world Michael Thomas, it would not be surprising to see Sanders rebound in a big way with Drew Brees at the helm. Sanders is priced up a bit, which is scaring folks away from rostering him, but he has two-touchdown upside in this offense as the WR2 and should be given consideration as a GPP sleeper.
- Fade: With Alshon Jeffery and Jalen Reagor both not expected to play, DeSean Jackson enters the 2020 season as the Eagles' top receiver. In years' past, he has blown the top off defenses on opening weekend, but it is difficult to recommend him in tournament format with his percent-rostered approaching 25%. If Jackson finishes the day with 80 receiving yards and does not score, he will not come close to delivering GPP value. Given the Eagles' heavy reliance upon the tight end position and Miles Sanders' ability, it would not be an incredulous outcome if DJax finished the day with less than the ~ 20 DK points he would need to justify his spot on tournament lineups. While he is still in play for cash games, fading him to levels at least half of the field is the right play in tournament formats.
Tight Ends: No team allowed more fantasy production to opposing tight ends in 2019 than the Arizona Cardinals. Enter George Kittle in Week #1 with injuries to the majority of 49er receivers. Look for Kittle to be targeted often in this effort, one that could be fast-paced and result in extra opportunities to each offense due to Kliff Kingsbury's "Air Raid" approach. In Cincinnati, be prepared to load up on Hunter Henry at a reasonable price point if he goes off on less than 5% of rosters on Sunday. Henry should be the #2 receiver behind Keenan Allen with Mike Williams limited due to a shoulder injury. At 6'5", he is undoubtedly the biggest redzone target on the Chargers' receiving corps and is certainly capable of delivering 4x value on his middle-tier salary ($5.3K). Another "HH" tight end, Hayden Hurst makes his debut in Atlanta against the Seahawks, who allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends just a year ago. We have seen Atlanta use their tight ends frequently, dating back to Tony Gonzalez and as recent as Austin Hooper (now with the Browns), so it is not beyond the realm of expectations to expect Hurst to have a big game in his Falcon debut.
- Sleeper: Beyond Adam Thielen in Minnesota, receiving options are sparce. Stefon Diggs has moved to Buffalo, rookie Justin Jefferson reportedly struggled to secure the WR2 position over Olabisi Johnson in camp, and Kyle Rudolph's best days are behind him. Irv Smith is a second-year tight end, who is looking to build from a solid rookie season and who reportedly had an excellent camp. Last year, Smith finished the season with a respectable 36/311/2 stat line for the year with a remarkable 76.6% catch rate. With nearly 100 targets to be redistributed from Diggs, Smith could be a primary beneficiary and would only be on a small fraction of rosters to boot.
- Fade: Having not played an NFL snap in 18 months, it is difficult to justify Rob Gronkowski's salary and percent-rostered numbers. If we consider that he is, at best, the fourth option on his offense, fading Rob Gronkowski in tournaments is justified until we have a better sense of his role and general athletic condition. If you want to play a Buccaneer tight end, take the discount and lower crowd exposure with O.J. Howard, who Head Coach Bruce Arians said "is having an outstanding training camp" a few weeks ago.
|Las Vegas Raiders||@CAR||$2,600||1%|
|New Orleans Saints||TB||$2,400||6%|
|New England Pats||MIA||$3,200||18%|
Team Defenses: On a year where we had exactly zero preseason games from which to judge defenses, your distribution of tournament defenses should be more diverse than in years' past. There is no defense that is completely off the radar for Week #1, which should afford some additional flexibility around building rosters at other positions. Some of the low-rostered options at the top of the list? The Bills are currently projected to be on only 5% of rosters, likely due to their exorbitant cost, but paying up to be contrarian with one of the league's better defenses is merited. Cheaper options include the Raiders against a Panthers squad with a new coach, new scheme, and new quarterback, as well as the Saints' underrated defense against an unproven Tampa Bay team.
- Sleeper: At the site-minimum, the Washington Football Team are an intriguing tournament punt option. They take on an Eagles squad that is bereft of talent at the wide receiver position, has multiple concerns on their offensive line, and whose quarterback is dealing with groin tightness. With second-overall pick, Chase Young, leading the way, Washington's defense should be better than we have seen in recent memory; getting them at minimum price and on only 1% of rosters could be a difference-maker.
- Fade: A simple game-strategy recommendation, you should rarely (if ever) take a team defense that appears on nearly 20% of all tournament rosters. Scoring at the team defense position is so erratic from week-to-week that going so heavy on a singular defense is a losing proposition over the long-term. Last year, the Patriots defense was stellar early and helped elevate many chalk-chasing DFS players to victory--do not expect a repeat performance in 2020.