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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. If you have questions about any of the recommendations or the process that led to them, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Quarterbacks: If you can get there with minimal opportunity cost (and I suspect you can), Patrick Mahomes II is the preferred cash game (and tournament) quarterback this weekend. Mahomes has thrown for multiple touchdowns in every game this season except for Week #7 against the Broncos when the Chiefs scored a defensive touchdown and a special teams touchdown, negating a need for Mahomes to be involved in the second half of the game. Against the Buccaneers' loaded offense, however, Mahomes should be involved for four full quarters. Vegas has touted this game as the highest-scoring game on the slate and that is exactly where you want exposure for DFS purposes. If Mahomes' $8K salary is too much, Matt Ryan is perfectly acceptable at a ~ $2K discount at home against the Raiders. Ryan is coming off a 7-DK point stinker against the Saints last week, but he has historically performed well at home and is indeed averaging over 300 passing yards per game at home again this season. Our David Dodds has him projected at 18.5 DK points, which is > 3x his modest $5.9K salary.
Running Backs: With 30+ touches in 3 out of his 4 previous games, Dalvin Cook is the hero we need to anchor our cash game lineups. His matchup is excellent against the Panthers, who allow the 5th-most fantasy points per game to running backs including a near-200 yard performance from Ronald Jones II just 2 weeks ago. In Jacksonville, James Robinson continues to merit consideration given his bellcow role and modest salary. The Jags are projected to play from behind in this matchup, which does not affect JRob because he is has been an excellent receiver out of the backfield in this rookie season; with Myles Garrett missing this contest due to COVID, JRob should exhibit a solid scoring floor in this contest. In Cincinnati, Wayne Gallman is one of this week's more intriguing running back options for all DFS formats. Gallman has scored in four consecutive games and is coming off a two-touchdown performance against the Eagles that represented his best game in four years as an NFL pro. While Gallman's viability as a cash game option is secure, there are questions about his upside--he has yet to surpass 100 rushing yards in his career, which should temper expectations if his percent-rostered numbers get much past 12-15%. At the low-end of the pricing spectrum, Brian Hill gets a spot start for the Falcons with Todd Gurley missing due to a knee issue. Hill has primarily played the passing down role for the Falcons since Gurley's arrival, but he gets a chance to shine against the Raiders, who allowed 94 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns to Chiefs running backs just last weekend. SATURDAY AFTERNOON EDIT: With the recent news of Jonathan Taylor being put on the COVID list and missing Sunday's game against the Titans, Nyheim Hines becomes cash-game viable and possibly the top option behind Dalvin Cook at the position. Adjust your lineups accordingly.
Wide Receivers: Because you should be considering spending up at other positions in cash games this week, the recommendation is to go modest-to-low on salary at wide receiver. Topping the list of mid-range receivers is Justin Jefferson, who should get all the action he can handle against the Panthers with Adam Thielen missing this game due to COVID. Likewise, Cole Beasley should benefit from John Brown missing the Bills' contest against the Chargers; Beasley has evolved into a critical component of the Bills offense since Stefon Diggs has arrived and should play a significant role underneath if Diggs struggles with Casey Hayward on the outside. In this same spot last week, Michael Pittman delivered early with a 44-yard catch-and-run touchdown en route to a 15.6-DK point performance against the Packers; Pittman's price jumped to $5K this week, but he scored 22-DK points against this same defense just 2 weeks ago. As punt options, Denzel Mims and Andy Isabella are in play. Mims is playing > 90% of the Jets' snaps and gets an implied gamescript that should see Sam Darnold throw the ball 35+ times against the Dolphins. Meanwhile, Isabella steps in for Larry Fitzgerald (COVID) and should play the WR3 role behind DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk. Both need 5/50/0 stat lines to justify their spot in your cash game lineups and are projected in that range.
Tight Ends: In line with the opening of this article, if the opportunity cost is not prohibitive, try to get Travis Kelce into your cash game lineups this week. The position is relatively barren and Kelce's role is too much to ignore in what could be the slate's highest-scoring game. Kelce has double-digit targets in 50% of the Chiefs games this season and has scored in 4 straight games. His 20.9-DK point per game average dwarfs every tight end in the league and we have no reason to expect him to slow down against the Buccaneers, who have allowed no-name tight ends Colin Thompson, Josh Hill, and Adam Trautman to reach the endzone against them in the month of November. As a punt option, Kyle Rudolph is priced below $3K and could be the #2 receiver behind Justin Jefferson on Sunday. As mentioned above, Adam Thielen will not be active, which should redistribute approximately eight targets to other players including Rudolph at a fair price point.
Team Defenses: In 3 starts with the Broncos last season, Brandon Allen completed only 45% of his passes and threw 2 interceptions versus only 3 touchdowns in that span. Due to Joe Burrow's unfortunate season-ending knee injury last week, the Bengals have elected to bypass Ryan Finley in favor of Allen, but we should not expect Allen to run this Bengals offense remotely as well as Burrow. This is a get-right spot for the Giants, winners of two in a row and coming out of a bye week, to position themselves for a playoff spot in the NFC East. If you cannot afford to pay up for the Giants, stay in New York City and roll with the Jets at $2.1K against the Dolphins, who are not expected to start Tua Tagovailoa due to a nagging thumb injury. While Fitzpatrick looked serviceable as a starter earlier this season, he is known to implode from time to time and the Jets are cheap enough that they do not need to do much to hit 3x on their $2.1K salary. SATURDAY EVENING EDIT: All of Denver's quarterbacks have been announced as ineligible to play tomorrow against the Saints. A practice squad wide receiver (Kendall Hinton) or Royce Freeman will likely be under center for the Broncos; in either event, there is little threat of scoring from Denver and the Saints defense is one of the better cash game options despite their hefty $3.8K price tag. For tournaments, however, you are advised to go underweight on what should be a hefty percent-rostered number because the likelihood of significant upside is limited given that passing will be limited on both sides of the field for this contest.
Quarterbacks: Discussed in the "Cash Games" section above, Patrick Mahomes II is assuredly in play against a pass-funnel Buccaneers defense. Handle your GPP portfolio accordingly. After Mahomes, a scattering of cheaper quarterbacks top the list of GPP selections in Week #12. Philip Rivers (and all of the Colts, actually) is probably too cheap and not getting enough attention against the league's 25th DVOA pass defense. Rivers has thrown for 300+ yards and/or 3 touchdowns in all-but-one game over the Colts' past 5 games; stack him with Michael Pittman and/or T.Y. Hilton and "run it back" with your favorite Tennessee Titan for a complete gamestack. In southern California, Jared Goff gets consideration this week against the 49ers, who allowed back-to-back 4-touchdown games to Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson prior to a rebound game in Week #10 when Drew Brees left early with a rib injury. Goff has strung together 3x 300-yard games in a row entering this contest and is going under the radar on less than 5% of rosters. With plentiful receiving options, none of whom are projected to land on > 10% rosters, Goff is surprisingly sneaky. In the "bottom of the barrel" category, both Sam Darnold and Mike Glennon get nods as cheap sleepers with upside. Darnold makes his first start in several weeks and will be on nobody's DFS radar, but he represents a sizeable uptick in talent from an aging Joe Flacco. The Jets are projected to score ~ 19 points with an implied pass-heavy gamescript. Given that Frank Gore scored his first touchdown in 25 games last week, we should not expect Gore to be stealing too many scores in the near future; if the Jets can edge on the higher side of 19 points with 3 touchdowns, Darnold will almost assuredly delivered 4x value on his pittance of a salary. Lastly, rostering Mike Glennon is not for the weak of heart--he has not started a game since 2017 with the Bears, but the 6'7" veteran is sub-$5K and has a few cheap receivers (Laviska Shenault and Keelan Cole) who should collect a slew of targets. The move here is to gamestack Glennon with a Jags receiver and run it back with either Kareem Hunt or Nick Chubb while hoping for the Browns to jump out to an early lead via their running game.
- Sleeper: Top-tier quarterbacks have carved the Vikings young secondary this season on multiple occasions; they have only fared well against pedestrian quarterbacks (i.e., Nick Foles). Enter Teddy Bridgewater who, ironically enough, bridges the gap between "top-tier" and "pedestrian." Bridgewater gets the nod here because all three of his receivers are (again) too cheaply priced for their expected fantasy output, which elevates Teddy's likelihood of outdelivering his own fantasy expectations. As a short road underdog, Bridgewater could be expected to throw a bit more than usual and he gets a slight bump because even his running back (Mike Davis) is a solid receiver out of the backfield; thus, all Carolina's scores could conceivably come through the air and Bridgewater is a roster differentiator at only 1% rostered.
- Fade: Fading Justin Herbert admittedly did not work out last week when he diced the Jets for 30.7-DK points (but who expected the Jets to score 28 points of their own?). This week, however, Herbert's salary has increased $400, his percent-rostered is second-highest on the board, and he makes a cross-country trip to play one of the better pass defenses in the NFL. Keenan Allen is in a similar spot (more below), which makes Herbert a tough sell yet again this week.
Running Backs: There is not a lot to like at the running back position for tournaments in Week #12. The names listed in the "Cash Games" section should be seriously considered (as always) and then there is a considerable drop to players like Kareem Hunt and Nyheim Hines. Hunt and Hines (hereby proclaimed as "The Ketchup Brothers!") both represent solid value on their salaries, but we must recognize that both carry the RB2 role for their respective teams. As recently as 2 weeks ago, Hines compiled 28+ DK points, but we should recognize that he is as likely to lay an egg as he is 4x value. Hunt is a bit more compelling because he has been getting a solid workload behind Nick Chubb--he has quietly accrued 14 or more touches for 6 consecutive weeks. What is even more surprising is that Hunt has doubled Chubb's redzone touches (27-13) in games where both have started this season. As touchdown home-favorites against the Jags' sixth-friendliest rush defense (fantasy points per game allowed), Hunt is the more attractive option in Cleveland. Elsewhere, James White could benefit from a fast-paced game and the continued absence of Julian Edelman; he is coming off a nine-target game and could see more routes with the expected return of Sony Michel, which should shift White into more of a receiving role. At the Meadowlands, keep an eye on what happens with the Miami running back situation overnight. At present, Myles Gaskin ($5.7K) is a game-time decision and Matt Breida ($4.0K) is going largely unnoticed; both a decent plays against the Jets as touchdown-favorites, but only if we get clear word on Sunday morning pertaining to implied workload (and/or Gaskin's availability). SATURDAY NIGHT UPDATE: Myles Gaskin was not activated for tomorrow's game, so it looks like it's Matt Breida's backfield. Patrick Laird should get some playing time, but Breida is the guy you should be considering on a seven-point favored Dolphins squad.
- Sleeper: Just two weeks ago on Thursday Night Football, Jonathan Taylor faced the Titans and fell flate with a 7/12/0 stat line. Over the past month, Nyheim Hines has scored four times and even Jordan Wilkins has as many touchdowns as Taylor, which is leading to some recency bias against the lead Indy back in tournaments. That said, Taylor is coming off a 26-touch, 114-all purpose yard game against the Packers last week, so there is no reason to think the volume should not be there on Sunday. For their part, the Titans are in the bottom-ten of fantasy points per game allowed to running backs, so the matchup is far from formidable. With a Vegas total of 51.5-points, this game has shootout potential, so it would not be crazy to stack Philip Rivers with Taylor and your favorite Colts receiver before running it back with the likes of A.J. Brown or Derrick Henry. SATURDAY PM EDIT: As Thanksgiving week would have it, Jonathan Taylor was announced as 'out' shortly after the above rationale was written. Nyheim Hines will now become a chalky running back that is viable in all formats. As an alternative sleeper running back, look no further than Hines' stablemate, Jordan Wilkins. The masses are going to rush to get Hines into their lineups without recognizing that Wilkins' usage will also stand to benefit from Taylor's absence. At a 15% discount (and far lower percent-rostered numbers), Wilkins is a sneaky 4x candidate for GPP contests.
- Fade: On paper, the matchup for the Chargers' running back(s) looks appealing against the Bills' 26th-ranked DVOA rush defense. However, Kalen Ballage was this close to exiting the NFL earlier this season before the Chargers running backs starting dropping like flies to injuries. Ballage, to his credit, has performed admirably since taking over the lead running back role, but he will have been "bad chalk" if he goes off on 18% of tournament rosters as is currently projected. There is a slight chance that Austin Ekeler plays on Sunday, which would eliminate Ballage from consideration altogether, but this author is hoping that Ekeler is inactive for one more week to take advantage of Ballage's popularity by fading him, hard, in all formats.
Wide Receivers: Topping the list of tournament receivers this week is Tyreek Hill. Hill, who is undeniably matchup-proof, gets a plush personnel matchup against the Bucs' worst cornerback, Sean Murphy-Bunting, who has allowed four touchdown in limited coverage this season, including a 125.7 QB rating to opposing quarterbacks. In that same game, Antonio Brown is an intriguing run-back option in Mahomes-Hill (or -Kelce) stacks because of how he appears to be jibing with Tom Brady. Since arriving on the scene 3 weeks ago, Brown has settled in playing around 2/3 of the Bucs' snaps and is tied with Mike Evans in targets (26). In a game with the highest total on the Vegas boards, Brown is enticing if he continues to go unnoticed in tournament formats. In the $3K range, there are multiple options that will enable you to spend up elsewhere including T.Y. Hilton, Keelan Cole, KJ Hamler, and Gabriel Davis. Hilton has admittedly been terrible this season, but his salary has dropped into the $3K range for the first time in his career and you are basically betting on him to score by rostering him. Cole can be stacked with Mike Glennon for only $8.2K, which should leave plenty of salary on the table for those of you in love with Dalvin Cook, Travis Kelce, and Stefon Diggs. In Denver, KJ Hamler is a nice "double-dip" option if you like the Broncos defense (you should) against the visiting Saints; he is a fine play on his own merit as a wide receiver, but if he were to get lucky and run back a punt return for a score, you'd leapfrog over a slew of people with a 12-point score (six/each for Hamler and Broncos defense). Lastly, Gabriel Davis will probably trend towards being more popular on Sunday and end up on about 10-12% of rosters, which still will have been too low; Davis gets serious consideration with John Brown missing this game due to an ankle injury, which should result in a significant workload opposite Stefon Diggs (and Cole Beasley). SATURDAY NIGHT EDIT: You cannot reasonably play KJ Hamler without a legitimate NFL quarterback on Sunday. Scratch him, alongside all Denver skill players, from your GPP options.
- Sleeper: All things point towards Evans being an excellent contrarian tournament play in Week #12. There is no doubt that Jameis Winston's exit from Tampa Bay has sucked the fantasy value from Mike Evans in 2020, but to see him at only 2% rostered (and $6.1K) against the Chiefs just feels wrong. Evans has quietly scored in three of the Bucs' previous four games and is, by far, Tom Brady's favorite redzone receiver (17 redzone targets = 3-times Chris Godwin). Evans has a huge six-inch height advantage over Bashaud Breeland, who is expected to chase him around the field on Sunday; slot him into at least 8% of your overall GPP portfolio and feel good about it.
- Fade: A long-time fan of Keenan Allen, it is difficult to write negatively about him this week. The fact is that Allen's salary/percent-rostered combination is entering a stratosphere where he no longer makes sense to play in tournaments. We saw Allen's ceiling game last week against the Jets when he scored 38.5-DK points on 19 targets from Justin Herbert. With six touchdowns scored on the season, and scores in four consecutive games, Allen should be expected to experience some negative regression towards the latter half of the season, especially given that he has scored only six touchdowns in each of the previous three seasons. Let the masses chase his recent performance while you save salary and get exposure to less popular players with similar upside.
Tight Ends: There is not much to like at the tight end position for tournaments this weekend. Travis Kelce and Darren Waller could approach nearly half of all tournament rosters as a result. Ordinarily, you would be advised to fade such lofty percent-rostered numbers at such a volatile position, but Kelce and Waller are not ordinary tight ends--they are focal points of their respective offenses and their consistency merits consideration each week. Waller, particularly, is intriguing this week against the Falcons, who have allowed more fantasy points to the position than any other defense in the league; given that Josh Jacobs is trending towards being a fadable play (percent-rostered updates are approaching 30%), the leverage away from Jacobs steers us towards Waller with similar upside and less popularity. After the big two (Kelce/Waller), Jordan Reed gets a bit of consideration against the Rams, whose superior perimeter coverage (Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams, 4th- and 6th-ranked in coverage on PFF) can force action to the middle of the field where Jordan Reed could find himself often on Sunday. In their last matchup, the Rams yielded a 7/109/1 stat line to George Kittle, who Reed has replaced.
- Sleeper: This week's coverboy, Gerald Everett is an excellent GPP option against the 49ers. Everett has two-touchdown upside and is priced fairly at only $3.3K; adding to his allure is the fact that he'll appear on ~ 1% of rosters because Tyler Higbee has not been announced as inactive (yet). Our Dr. Jene Bramel has indicated that Higbee is on the doubtful side of questionable, but the official verdict has yet to be announced. As a result, DFS players are going to entirely overlook Everett, whose upside has been overshadowed by Higbee's emergence over the past year.
- Fade: Having caught 30 passes on the season and 7 of them (23.3%) resulting in touchdowns, it is safe to say that Jonnu Smith's efficiency is not sustainable. His salary has risen above $4K and he faces an Indianapolis defense that did not allow a touchdown to his position for the entire season prior to last week. Remove Smith from your GPP player pool and focus on options that are more critical pieces of their offense with better value propositions.
Team Defenses: Stay even with the field, but go ahead and get some exposure to the Browns defense against Mike Glennon and the Jaguars. Jacksonville will be without two starting wide receivers (D.J. Chark and Chris Conley) and will put Mike Glennon under center for the first time in years. Glennon is a wild-card against this Garrett Myles-less (COVID) defense, but always take defenses against questionable quarterbacks. Elsewhere, take a few stabs with the Bills, who are fairly priced ($2.7K) against the Chargers, who travel cross-country for an early game and will be featuring Kalen Ballage at running back. In keeping the theme of targeting poor quarterback play, both Cincinnati and Jacksonville are also options against Daniel Jones and Baker Mayfield, respectively. Mayfield has not thrown for a touchdown in a month and Jones has thrown more completions to the opposing team than touchdowns to Giants receivers this season; both are cheap flyers with upside in these matchups.
- Sleeper: After watching the Saints roll over the Falcons last week with everybody watching due to their exposure to Taysom Hill, nobody is going to consider the Denver Broncos defense this week against that same Saints offense...but it will have been a mistake. The Broncos field the 9th-ranked DVOA defense in the league and should have no troubles holding the Saints in check after they have struggled to compile ~ 500 yards of offense since Drew Brees went down to injury 2 weeks ago (versus lesser defenses to boot). With Pro Bowl Left Tackle Terron Armstead testing positive for COVID on Saturday, we have yet another reason to pile on with Denver's defense. While everybody else is jamming the Jets into their lineup builds, do not forget Denver, who brings similar upside with far less popularity to your rosters.
- Fade: The Raiders as the chalk defense makes no sense this week. They are playing on the road against a team that performs far better at home and find themselves in a game with the second-highest Vegas total on the board. Sure, they are cheap at $2.3K, but they have surpassed GPP value on this week's $2.3K salary only twice all season. Easy fade.