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: Having scored 74+ DK points in his first pair of games as a starter for the Eagles, Jalen Hurts has our collective attention. Hurts' salary has risen $2K over that timespan, but he is viable in all formats this week against a Dallas defense that allowed Lamar Jackson, whose skillset mirrors Hurts, nearly 27 DK points in late November. It is possible to save a few dollars in cash games by rolling with Mitchell Trubisky against the Jacksonville Jaguars' last-ranked DVOA pass defense. Since taking over the starting job in Chicago a month ago, Trubisky has thrown for at least 200 passing yards and a touchdown in every game, numbers that could jump higher against a Jags defense that trails only Atlanta in points per game allowed to opposing quarterbacks.
|Melvin Gordon III||@LAC||$5,600|
Running Backs: This is not much value at the running back position this week, which could force you to spend chunks of your salary on players who have less security than we normally seek at the position. The recommendation is to run several cash game lineups and to distribute your exposure to these running backs across those lineups as a risk mitigation strategy. Having scored six times across his previous four games, David Montgomery is the front-runner for chalkiest running back in cash games this weekend. DMont carried the ball a season-high 32 times in last week's contest against the Vikings; we can probably expect about 16-20 touches for Montgomery this week as a heavy road favorite against the 1-win Jaguars. At nearly the same price point as Montgomery, Austin Ekeler merits consideration in cash games at home against the Broncos. Ekeler has been tremendously inefficient since returning from an injury in Week #12--the crafty running back has 78 scoreless touches, 12 of which have been in the redzone, during that time. Positive scoring regression is in Ekeler's future, which makes him a solid selection for both cash and GPP formats against the Broncos, who have allowed 4 different running backs to score 25+ DK points in their past 6 contests. The lock-and-load candidate at the position plays opposite the aforementioned Austin Ekeler: Melvin Gordon III should have the bulk of the backfield to himself after Phillip Lindsay was placed on Injured Reserve on Saturday. Normally a committee backfield, the Broncos have leaned heavily on Gordon (or Lindsay) when Lindsay (or Gordon) have not been active this season; across a 4-game sample, Denver fed their primary running back an average of 20.3 times in those contests. If MG3 is able to secure that level of opportunity on Sunday without Lindsay, he should easily deliver 3x value on his modest $5.6K salary.
Wide Receivers: While it might not be possible to get to his salary, Calvin Ridley is certainly a viable cash game wide receiver option again this week with Julio Jones missing yet another game. As discussed in this same space last week, Ridley's numbers are stellar when Julio Jones is inactive; he has 100+ yards in 5 out of 6 games without Julio this season. Add in a pass-heavy gamescript as sizeable road underdogs to the high-flying Chiefs and Ridley is poised to hit another 100-yard day on Sunday. In Carolina, Robby Anderson is slated to bounce back after struggling to do much last weekend against Jaire Alexander. Prior to that 2/21/0 hiccup, Anderson had posted double-digit fantasy points in 11 out of 13 games this season, which amounts to an incredibly consistent performer for cash games at only $5.5K. In Houston, Tyler Boyd (concussion) will miss the Bengals game against the Texans, which bodes well for Tee Higgins to deliver solid return on investment on his $4.7K salary. Look for Higgins to absorb the WR1 role across from A.J. Green (who is borderline cash game-viable, himself) and finish with 8-12 targets in a game that will necessitate the Bengals throwing often if Vegas oddsmakers are correct. A similar argument can be made for Cam Sims against the Panthers, as Terry McLaurin will not start due to a lingering ankle injury. Sims is attractively priced at only $3.3K and should be considered for all formats given his recent usage (19 targets across the last 3 weeks) and the implied redistribution of McLaurin's weekly allotment (~ 9) of targets.
Tight Ends: Rolling with "Dallas in Dallas" is one reasonable option for cash games at the tight end position in Week #15. Dallas Goedert has essentially taken over the role of the Eagles' number-one receiver since their Week #9 bye week; across that time, Goedert has 43 targets, which is 11 more than the next closest Philadelphia receiver (Jalen Reagor). Goedert is affordably priced, playing nearly every snap, and continues to be heavily targeted in high-leverage situations (i.e., redzone); for these reasons, he is also one of the best overall plays on the Week #15 in all DFS contest formats. In Los Angeles, I have to admit that I am truly excited to see what 6'8" athletic freak, Donald Parham Jr, can do without Hunter Henry on the field for the Chargers. Parham was "a man amongst boys" in the XFL earlier this year, displaying a superior skillset to most of the league; in limited NFL action thus far, Parham has displayed an ability to exploit his large frame inside the redzone, as evidenced by him scoring twice on only five catches. Parham is priced at DraftKing's lowest salary ($2.5K) and should be on a minimum of 25% of your tournament rosters, in addition to this cash game consideration.
Team Defenses: DraftKings priced up the best defenses (Baltimore, Cleveland, Chicago) this week, but seem to have missed the Texans who play host to Ryan Finley and the Bengals. Cincinnati cannot wait for this season to be over--they are now without their RB1 (Joe Mixon, Week #6), QB1 (Joe Burrow, Week #11), and WR1 (Tyler Boyd, Week #15). Meanwhile Ryan Finley has thrown 119 passes across his NFL career and more of those passes landed in the arms of a defender (4) than from somebody wearing a Bengals jersey (3). If you somehow cannot get to the Texans, the Cowboys rate high against Jalen Hurts and the Eagles. Dallas is far from a good defense, but they have posted back-to-back double-digit fantasy games entering this weekend and are priced fairly at only $2.4K at home; they trail only Houston in expected points-per-dollar output on this 10-game slate.
|Patrick Mahomes II||ATL||$8,500||13%|
Quarterbacks: Coming off a huge 30+ point performance against the Buccaneers at home last week, Matt Ryan could be in store for another big fantasy day against the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Ryan will likely toss the ball more than 40 times in this contest and we know that Patrick Mahomes II will find a way to post 30 points against the Falcons' substandard defense, which means that Ryan should be considered for tournaments where he is stacked with Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, or both. Elsewhere, both quarterbacks in the Carolina-Washington game have a series of receivers who look to be too cheap and under-rostered, which makes both Teddy Bridgewater and Dwayne Haskins (or Alex Smith, pending confirmation on Sunday morning) viable 4x upside options at low salaries. Lastly, it will not be easy to click on Daniel Jones' name looking at recent box scores--last year's first-round pick has not thrown a touchdown pass since Week #9 and has only 8 touchdowns all season. That said, his floor is baked into his salary, as are his receivers' salaries; it is possible to pair him with Sterling Shepard or Darius Slayton for less than $10K, which leaves plenty of salary on the table for chalkier, more expensive players elsewhere.
- Sleeper: Much like Daniel Jones (above), clicking on Sam Darnold's name for tournaments could make you feel ill, but his situation is perfect for large-field GPPs. Darnold (and his receivers) will be on a small fraction of lineups and are affordably priced in a game that likely places a lot of pressure on the Jets to pass early and often. The Browns are not a stellar defensive unit, as evidenced by them allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks (20.9 DK points per game) and 25th-ranked DVOA pass unit.
- Fade: Before you lose your mind, Patrick Mahomes II is a recommended fade this week largely due to his salary. With an $8.5K salary and key receivers (Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce) priced similarly, you will be asked to earmark over a third of your overall salary cap towards two players, which is an opportunity cost too high unless that tandem scores 80+ fantasy points. In other words, fade Patrick Mahomes II when you are considering an expensive stack, but feel free to roll with him in cheaper, lower-rostered pairs with Mecole Hardman and/or Sammy Watkins.
Running Backs: Having surpassed the century mark and/or scored a touchdown in every game since coming back from an injury in Week #10, Nick Chubb deserves plenty of attention as a GPP option against the Jets on Sunday. The Browns have the second-highest implied team total on the main slate and are 10-point favorites, which bodes well for Chubb getting extra action in the latter portion of this contest. A similar argument can be made for Le'Veon Bell against the Falcons--the Chiefs are 10+ point favorites and could lean a bit harder on their run game in the second half of Sunday's contest against the Falcons. Le'Veon Bell has "fresh legs" and should absorb the bulk of the action with Clyde Edwards-Helaire (leg) expected to miss the rest of the regular season. In Dallas, folks are overlooking Miles Sanders since Jalen Hurts arrived on the scene, but it will have been a mistake because Sanders is a week removed from a 2-touchdown, 135 all-purpose yard performance against one of the better defenses in the NFL (New Orleans); this weekend's matchup against the Cowboys is stellar, as Dallas has consistently struggled to contain the run all season. Lastly, give Darrell Henderson a second look against the Seahawks due to Cam Akers' unfortunate ankle injury last Sunday. Henderson will likely share the backfield with Malcolm Brown, but he has nearly doubled Brown's usage inside the redzone and brings multiple touchdown upside to your lineups as a result.
- Sleeper: Two weeks ago against the Cowboys, I recommended that you consider Giovani Bernard for your tournament lineups and put my money where my figurative mouth was by rostering him in 65% of all lineups on DraftKings. Gio responded by fumbling on his second carry of the game and getting benched immediately thereafter. The following week, Bernard had a much tougher matchup against the Steelers and delivered 97 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns. This may be a week where Gio delivers on expectations against the league's second-friendliest defense to his position, the Houston Texans. Across the previous month, the Texans have allowed 4x (or more) on Bernard's $4.8K salary to every RB1 that they have faced. Slot Gio into at least 20% of your lineups and hope that he holds onto the ball throughout this contest.
- Fade: It is tough to justify fading David Montgomery in tournaments after watching him collect 32 carries last week and now faces a team that Derrick Henry destroyed for 220+ yards in Week #14. That said, DMont's percent-rostered numbers are simply too high for his projected upside and salary considerations. As a frame of reference, Giovani Bernard, Le'Veon Bell, and Darrell Henderson each have a similar likelihood of hitting 4x value on their salaries as Montgomery, but each of those options will appear on far fewer lineups across the industry. Max your exposure to 5-10% total.
|Laviska Shenault Jr||CHI||$3,700||4%|
|Steven Sims Jr.||CAR||$3,000||1%|
Wide Receivers: There are a lot of ways to go at the wide receiver position again this week and more value here than at running back; if you are playing multiple lineups, you should consider using the flex position for wide receivers for this reason. Some quick thoughts follow: Allen Robinson offers leverage away from the 35-40% of rosters that will contain David Montgomery's name; if DMont fails to deliver, there is a good chance that ARob is responsible for that reality. Tyler Lockett should avoid the Rams' superior perimeter coverage from Jalen Ramsey and Darious Williams, which plays to his advantage in a game that has sneaky shootout potential. Laviska Shenault Jr jumps off the page on my model after collecting 17 targets across his previous 2 games; Shenault would probably be better off with Gardner Minshew under center, but Shenault did score a touchdown in Glennon's last start. In the Meadowlands, Denzel Mims continues to be interesting at a cheap price point; the second-round pick is often involved, but has yet to find the endzone, which has kept his salary (and percent-rostered) reasonable for a player of his caliber. Lastly, do not sleep on Mecole Hardman at $3.1K. Hardman is going to play about a third of the Chief's offensive plays, but the combination of his big-play ability and low price tag make him an option to pair with Patrick Mahomes II, if you really feel obliged to roster Mahomes and his exorbitant salary.
- Sleeper: With Terry McLaurin announced as inactive, a receiver on the Football Team is going to have to step up to deliver on the 24 points that Vegas oddsmakers expect Washington to score on Sunday. Cam Sims is the DFS favorite to do so, but we should not kid ourselves into thinking that the undrafted third-year player out of Alabama is the clear recipient of McLaurin's fantasy output; it very well could be "the other Sims," Steven, who has demonstrated more consistent fantasy relevance across his two years in the league. Steven Sims Jr. is cheaper, will be on far fewer lineups, and runs shorter routes that better align with the skillset of Washington's quarterbacks. He's worth consideration in 10-15% of your lineups.
- Fade: With David Johnson catching 11 passes last week, we need to be careful considering how much we pay for Brandin Cooks to appear in our lineups as the season rounds to a close. Cooks is seemingly losing marketshare in the passing game to Johnson, as well as Chad Hansen, Jordan Akins, and Keke Coutee, all of whom have experienced an uptick in targets over the past month. Meanwhile, Cooks has only hit 4x value on his $6.2K salary once all season (Week #5, 33.1 DK points), which is sufficient evidence to suggest that we should be fading him relative to the field on Sunday.
Tight Ends: SATURDAY EVENING EDIT: Things got heated on the PowerGrid when discussing the validity of Austin Hooper as a cash-game option on DraftKings this week. With late news about COVID affecting the availability of Rashard Higgins, Donovan People-Jones, and Jarvis Landry on Saturday evening, Austin Hooper becomes viable in all formats. Adjust your exposure accordingly, but he is now a solid play because of the lack of reliable receiving options elsewhere. Other options in include Evan Engram in Baltimore, Zach Ertz at Dallas, and/or Gerald Everett at Seattle. Engram has been steadily used of late and is going overlooked because nobody wants to play the Giants against the Ravens, but that risk is integrated into the asking price on Engram, who has quietly collected 60 targets over his previous 8 games. Meanwhile, Ertz is an interesting leverage pivot away from Goedert, who will be on at least twice as many rosters, but carries similar upside. As for Everett, he continues to run the same number of routes as stablemate Tyler Higbee, but gets nowhere near the same level of attention from the DFS community. To date, Everett has 51 targets (versus 50 for Higbee) of which 4 are inside the redzone (5 for Higbee), but Everett comes at a $1.2K discount in a potential barnburner between two solid offenses.
- Sleeper: As referenced above, the late news about COVID eliminating most of the Browns' primary receivers benefits Austin Hooper most, but David Njoku could end up being a sneaky tournament play. It would not be surprising to see the Browns run more "12 formation" sets to take advantage of dual tight ends that have more gameday experience than the players the Browns will sign from the practice squad on Saturday night. Njoku has incredible redzone presence, as evidenced by his 11 career touchdowns on only 106 receptions (1 touchdown every 9.6 receptions). It would be extremely surprising to see Njoku land on more than 2-3% of lineups, which would be a mistake because he only needs to score to hit 4x value on his site-minimum salary. Get at least 10-15% exposure for yourself.
- Fade: With the value opening up at the tight end position (Donald Parham Jr, Dallas Goedert, amongst others), it is difficult to justify Noah Fant's lofty percent-rostered projections against the Chargers. Recency bias is in full effect if Fant goes off on more than 10% of rosters strictly due to his 11-target game last week against Buffalo. Prior to that, Fant score less than 10 points 9 of his previous 10 starts. At $4.8K and on 15% of rosters, he's just bad chalk and will be removed from my player pool. You should consider doing the same.
Team Defenses: The Steelers, losers of three straight, will be out to make a point on Sunday when they play host to the Colts. Against the noodle-armed Philip Rivers, taking the Steelers defense at home in the cold elements against a dome team feels like a +EV move when they are expected to be on < 5% of rosters. The remaining pair of defensive options are designed to target poor quarterback play in the NFC East. First, the Eagles get a shot against Andy Dalton after a month of tough matchups against Kyler Murray, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Russell Wilson; look for their front seven to wreak havoc on the Cowboys' depleted offensive line and potentially create score opportunities for the team defense. Lastly, the Panthers will get either Alex Smith or Dwayne Haskins, neither of whom instill fear into the hearts of an opposing defense. Carolina is far from a defensive juggernaut, but they did manage to post 19 and 17 DK points against the Vikings and Lions, respectively, in Weeks #11 and #12.
- Sleeper: Not for the faint of heart, but the Jaguars rank in the top-five defenses of my NFL model, in terms of likelihood to deliver GPP value on their salary. Jacksonville will be at home and face off against Mitchell Trubisky, who brings blow-up potential any given Sunday. At $2.2K, you are not looking for the Jags to dominate the Bears...you just need them to make a few plays and potentially get a special teams touchdown, which would be more than enough to hit 5x upside at minimal crowd exposure.
- Fade: Ironically, you are advised to fade the other defense in that same Chicago-Jacksonville game. The Bears defense is too expensive for a team that is averaging 5.3 DK points per game over the past month. Sure, Mike Glennon is a great target, but the combination of a $3.6K salary and percent-rostered numbers approaching 20% is just too much. Max out around 4-6% and spread your exposure to teams more likely to deliver the upside that you require to win a tournament.