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: Before you begin crafting your cash game lineups this week, think about your approach. Do you want to go the 'stars and scrubs' route or are you more comfortable with a balanced roster? If stars and scrubs is your choice, Lamar Jackson is your guy. Jackson continues to put up monster stat lines despite having limited surrounding talent. He is averaging 23.3 DK points per game this season and has achieved (or surpassed) 3x this week's salary in every game over the past month, a month that saw him rush the ball 45 times for ~ 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. In need of a win to secure a playoff spot, Lamar should be in the game long enough to get the numbers he needs to justify his spot in your cash game lineup. If, however, you wish to take a more balanced approach to your lineup construction, Matt Ryan is in play against the pass-funnel Tampa Bay Bucs defense. Tampa Bay needed a combination of Chase Daniel and David Blough last week to stop the bleeding on a series of games that saw them get gashed by opposing quarterbacks, including 356 yards to Matt Ryan, 462 yards to Patrick Mahomes II, and 376 yards to Jared Goff. The Bucs, however, are stout up front, as evidenced by their 6th-ranked DVOA rush defense and only having allowed one 100-yard rusher (Dalvin Cook, 102 yards in Week #14) all season. The good news is that the Falcons are not running ball since Todd Gurley's knees have begun to bother him again--Atlanta has thrown the ball on 70% of offensive snaps over their previous 3 games (third-highest rate in the league). In a potential barnburner with an implied pass-heavy gamescript, Matt Ryan is attractive in all DFS formats for these reasons.
Running Backs: There are worse decisions that targeting the worst two rush defenses in the league with Derrick Henry and Alexander Mattison this weekend. Henry should lead a Titans offense that boasts the highest implied team total on the main slate as a touchdown-favorite against the Texans' 30th-ranked DVOA rush defense that yielded 50 DK points to Giovani Bernard and Samaje Perine just last Sunday. Meanwhile, Mattison gets the nod due to an unfortunate death in the family for Dalvin Cook. Mattison must be salivating at the matchup against Detroit, who allow more fantasy production to running backs than any team in the league; priced at only $6.1K, Mattison is one of the more attractive cash game running back options this weekend. While a case could be made for Melvin Gordon III (see Tournaments section) and possibly even Ty Johnson for cash game consideration, it is Malcolm Brown and Ty Montgomery that make the cut. Be sure to monitor the status for Cam Akers on Sunday morning and refer to our Jene Bramel's Gameday Injury Expectations for a final take, but Brown could play a bellcow role if Akers is inactive or otherwise limited against the Cardinals. There is reason to believe that Sean McVay will want to minimize John Wolford's involvement in this game, so feeding Brown 16+ times would go a long way to cutting down on potential mistakes from the untested quarterback. In Charlotte, Ty Montgomery appears to be taking the lead running back role after a series of events coming out of New Orleans over the weekend. First, we learned that Alvin Kamara has contracted COVID and will miss this game against the Panthers and possibly the Saints' first playoff game (assuming they do not get a first-round bye). Later on Saturday, it was reported that all active running backs on the Saints roster will be inactive due to 'close contact' with Kamara. That leaves a combination of Ty Montgomery, Tayson Hill, and Tony Jones to run the ball out of the New Orleans backfield. The nod goes to TyMont, a former Green Bay Packer with good hands, because Drew Brees should be able to exploit his pass-catching abilities much in the same way that he does with the aforementioned Kamara. For tournaments, TyMont is a bit trickier, as his percent-rostered will become the differentiator--if his projections get much above 20-25%, fade him relative to the field (and vice-versa).
|Laviska Shenault Jr||@IND||$4,200|
Wide Receivers: With the value presenting itself at the running back position, you should be able to slot one of the two high-end receivers into your cash game rosters. Both Davante Adams and Calvin Ridley have been red-hot and merit consideration for cash games. Adams has posted 15 touchdowns across his previous 10 games and is en route to a career season despite missing 2 games earlier this year. Ridley continues to merit consideration without Julio Jones; in 5 games without Julio this season, Ridley has surpassed 100 yards in 4 of them and still managed a 6/50/1 stat line in the outlier performance. In the mid-range and potentially off the beaten path, Curtis Samuel could find his way into my cash game lineups on Sunday. Samuel should touch the ball 12-16 times against the Saints as both a runner and a receiver due to Mike Davis missing this contest with an ankle injury. Samuel basically split action with Rodney Smith after Davis left last week's contest and has averaged 5.6 catches per game since the mid-point of the season. At Lucas Oil Stadium, Laviska Shenault Jr is in play as a cash game consideration due to an injury to D.J. Chark Jr and a combination of his cheap salary and implied gamescript; he has delivered (or come close to) 3x value on this week's salary across the month of December. Lastly, do not sleep on Richie James as a punt option against the Seahawks; James should be the primary wide receiver for the Niners with Brandon Aiyuk missing the season finale due to an ankle injury. George Kittle will certainly cap James' ceiling, but it is difficult to envision a scenario where James does not finish this contest with 5-7 receptions which would be more than enough to justify his $3.1K salary.
Tight Ends: In his return to the field last week, George Kittle was on a snap count but managed to play about half of his team's offensive snaps. We can expect his role to expand this Sunday against the Seahawks, particularly given that Brandon Aiyuk will not be active due to an ankle injury sustained in last week's game. Kittle, like Travis Kelce, is largely matchup-proof and is worthy of consideration in all formats on a weekly basis because of his central role in his team's offense, as well as his overall skill set. The matchup against Seattle is solid, as the Seahawks allowed Logan Thomas to compile a 13/101/0 stat line just 2 weeks ago. If Kittle's salary is a reach for your specific lineup build, Evan Engram will fit the bill for the second consecutive week in this space. Last Sunday, Engram was recommended against the Ravens, a much tougher opponent than the Cowboys, and he delivered 7 catches for 65 yards and his asking price dropped $200 in the process. With eight or more targets in over half of his 2020 games, Engram is an excellent mid-to-low range option at the position for cash game formats.
Team Defenses: The Browns enter Week #17 in control of their own destiny: If they win, they are in the playoffs (they can also get some help with a surprise loss). Fortunately, they look to face little resistance from the Steelers, who will be taking a much needed week of rest after losing their bye week due a series of unfortunate COVID events this season. Mason Rudolph will find himself under center and facing Myles Garrett, who blasted him with Rudolph's own helmet at the end of last year's Week #11 game. In that contest, Rudolph was sacked four times and was intercepted another four times, a performance that is certainly subject to being repeated with Pittsburgh resting most of their key offensive pieces in advance of a potential playoff run.
Quarterbacks: With a series of cheap receivers who will go overlooked by the DFS community, Justin Herbert is a solid tournament quarterback option this weekend. Herbert's $7K+ salary will scare many away, particularly after last week's slow-paced dud against the Broncos, but he can easily be stacked with Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton, Tyron Johnson, and/or Donald Parham without extraneous opportunity cost. The biggest question surrounding Herbert's upside is whether Chad Henne can keep the Chiefs offense relevant for four full quarters and thereby keep Herbert involved throughout the game. In Indy, Philip Rivers is intriguing as a leverage play away from the popularity of Jonathan Taylor. Rivers has an array of receiving weapons, all of whom are relatively affordable and low-rostered, an attractive combination when juxtaposed against Jonathan Taylor likely being on a quarter of all tournament lineups. Moving north to Foxborough, Cam Newton gets a nomination largely because of Jakobi Meyers (more on him below). Newton is all but assured to be playing somewhere else next season and he will want to leave a positive impression for any team considering him for 2021; if Cam had his choice of teams from which to play this final game, you have to believe that the Jets would be at the top of that list. Lastly, Drew Lock may be my favorite tournament quarterback this week against the Raiders. The Broncos have struggled to put points on the board over the past month, but they have come up against some of the league's best defenses in that time including the Bills, Chargers, Saints, and Dolphins. The sledding is easier this Sunday against the Raiders' 28th-ranked DVOA defense that has allowed two or more passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in six consecutive games. Overall, this is an excellent game for tournaments and you should look at multiple ways to gamestack it with Lock, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, Noah Fant, and Raiders' run-back options (Josh Jacobs and/or Darren Waller).
- Sleeper: Save Ryan Tannehill and an outlier performance against Lamar Jackson, the Indianapolis Colts have allowed 300+ passing yards in 7 consecutive games leading into Week #17. This bodes well for Mike Glennon and his arsenal of undervalued receivers for tournament purposes. D.J. Chark Jr will miss this contest, as will James Robinson, which means that Glennon could be asked to shoulder the load with a combination of Keelan Cole (see below), Laviska Shenault Jr (see above), and Chris Conley. Glennon has 200+ yards in every start this season and could easily surpass 300 passing yards if the Colts put up points early in this contest. Rolling with a Glennon-Cole (or Shenaut) stack at low percent-rostered enables one to go chalky with more expensive pieces (i.e., Derrick Henry, Davante Adams, etc.) elsewhere, if that is the route you wish to take.
- Fade: To be fair, Ryan Tannehill is not a "bad" DFS play this weekend, but the percent-rostered projections at the quarterback position are relatively well-distributed and he represents the worst play of an otherwise evenly distributed pool. Tannehill has just 1 game out of his previous 10 contests where he has surpassed the magical 300 passing yards needed to get the 3-point bonus on DraftKings. Meanwhile, rostering Tannehill in stacks is somewhat prohibitive when considering that both A.J. Brown and Corey Davis are priced above $6K (Jonnu Smith is the cheaper, more attractive option, if you must). Feel free to get a few shares of Tannehill, mostly as leverage away from Derrick Henry chalk, but err on the side of caution for the reasons outlined.
|Melvin Gordon III||LV||$5,700||14%|
Running Backs: There is plenty to love about the running back position on DraftKings this weekend. In fact, you are advised to consider using your flex position with a running back because of the abundance of value at the position. Starting at the top of this list, D'Andre Swift is sneaky if he continues to stay under the radar. The Lions have lost five of their previous six games and surprised football fans by announcing that Matthew Stafford will try to play on Sunday despite a nagging ankle injury. Look for the Lions to feed their number-one pick against a Vikings defense that allowed six rushing touchdown to Alvin Kamara on Christmas Day and a pair of rushing touchdowns to David Montgomery a week prior to that contest. In Denver, Melvin Gordon III is a borderline cash-game candidate and an excellent GPP option against the Raiders. MG3 was last week's Tips and Picks coverboy, but disappointed with a scoreless Sunday despite plenty of opportunity. That said, the situation this week is quite similar against the Raiders and Gordon continues to lead the backfield with Phillip Lindsay's season finished due to injury. Only three teams allow more production to the running back position than Las Vegas, which makes MG3 a stellar GPP option for the second consecutive weekend. Elsewhere, consider Dare Ogunbowale against the Colts simply because nobody else will; the former Wisconsin Badger saw 17 touches in his first game without James Robinson, including several receptions. It would appear that Ogunbowale will continue to take command of this backfield and despite a negative gamescript, you have to believe he will get ample receiving and goal line opportunities at a fair price point and minimal crowd exposure. Lastly, Rodney Smith has a posing matchup against one of the better rush defenses in the league, but his is priced at the site-minimum and is expected to handle the bulk of responsibility out of the Panthers' backfield with both Mike Davis and Christian McCaffrey on the shelf.
- Sleeper & Fade: As 14-point home favorites, there is a lot of reason to like the Colts' running backs this weekend against a hapless Jacksonville defense. That said, Jonathan Taylor has rattled off four consecutive games with a touchdown entering this contest and both his salary and percent-rostered numbers reflect that reality. Meanwhile, Nyheim Hines is priced at a 33% discount from Taylor and will be found on only 1/10th of the lineups (compared to Taylor). The Colts have demonstrated that they are subject to run with the hot hand and Taylor does not have a stranglehold on redzone looks, as evidenced by the 14-12 split (in Taylor's favor) over the month of December; just last week, Hines had 13 touches versus Taylor's 18 touches. Split the difference here and go underweight on Taylor, but overweight on Hines; if Hines is able to catch a few passes and steal a touchdown (or two) from Taylor, it will catapult your chances of a top-end finish past at least 20-25% of lineups that contain Taylor's name.
Wide Receivers: Barring any unexpected news on Saturday night, DeAndre Hopkins remains a stellar GPP receiver at a discount from names like Davante Adams and Calvin Ridley. "Nuk" brings just as much upside as Adams/Ridley, but will do so at a discount and lower percent-rostered. After Hopkins, give consideration to Robert Woods, who should absorb the slot receiver duties with Cooper Kupp sidelined due to COVID. Woods' popularity will be limited due to unknowns surrounding his quarterback, but we should put some faith into Sean McVay to get the ball into his best player's hands, especially with injuries hampering his backfield. In the $5K range, there is reason to look at Russell Gage, Jamison Crowder (again), and Jakobi Meyers. Gage is the leverage option away from Calvin Ridley's popularity; Crowder continues to be Sam Darnold's favorite target and his salary/popularity seems to stay stagnant from week to week; Meyers, however, is the most intriguing of this trio--after facing a gauntlet of high-end coverage over the past six weeks (TreDavious White, Xavien Howard, Jalen Ramsey, Casey Hayward, and Patrick Peterson...all in a row!), Meyers gets to finish his season with the league's 26th DVOA defense and will do so on less than 5% of rosters. At the lower end of the salary spectrum, Tim Patrick is appealing due to his recent usage and size advantage (five inches) over his primary coverage back, Damon Arnette. Closing things out, it's a tough sell based on recent performance, including a goose egg last Sunday, but Denzel Mims has displayed real flashes of brilliance on an otherwise dull team during his rookie season; it would not be surprising to see him deliver 5x value on his site-minimum salary to round out the season.
- Sleeper: The definition of a deep GPP flyer, Keelan Cole could benefit from D.J. Chark Jr's absence due to a shin injury. Chark is averaging 7.3 targets per game and this sets up to be a game where Mike Glennon could throw 40+ times against the Colts. Both Laviska Shenault Jr and Keelan Cole jump out of my model this week as being plus plays for tournaments, but Cole gets the nod here because next-to-nobody will roster him in tournaments. Sprinkle in some Cole across your chalkier GPP lineups to differentiate them from the masses and try to get around 10% overall in your tournament portfolio.
- Fade: Appearing here for the second week in a row is Brandin Cooks. Last Sunday, he delivered a 7/141/1 stat line against the Bengals, which hurt this author's chances at a high tournament finish because he was removed from my player pool. That said, DFS is about trusting the process, not the results. Thus, Brandin Cooks is a recommended fade again in Week #17. Cooks' salary jumped to a season-high $6.9K this week and the DFS community appears to be flocking to him, as evidenced by his name on 12% of rosters. Let the masses perpetuate recency bias and chase last week's performance while you remember that Cooks only achieved 4x return on this week's salary once this season (prior to last week).
Tight Ends: Travis Kelce will be limited, at best, this weekend which means that we will be forced to roster a different tight end for the first time in recent memory on DK's main slate. The good news is that the best options are affordable; the bad news is that the best options are nowhere in the vicinity of Travis Kelce's upside. Noah Fant is intriguing now that his salary is dropping into the mid-$4K range; he has 27 targets over his previous 3 games and could easily hit 4x value against the Raiders, who have allowed big days to Travis Kelce and Hunter Henry already this season. In Houston, Jonnu Smith is the one reasonably priced piece of the Titans offense that has multiple touchdown upside. Elsewhere, Dalton Schultz has been gelling with Andy Dalton of late; Schultz is averaging five targets per game since Dalton took over at quarterback and leads all Cowboys receivers in redzone targets over that time. Lastly, Donald Parham, who single-handedly killed my Week #16 tournament hopes makes a repeat performance with Hunter Henry missing yet another game due to COVID. Parham's final stat line was underwhelming last week, but he was on the field of 80% of the Chargers' snaps and ran routes on 87% of those snaps; despite pedestrian fantasy output, he captured ~ 22% of the team's air yards and enters this week under the radar due to last week's disappointing performance. He is an enticing tournament option once again this Sunday.
- Sleeper: We do not know a lot about Jared Goff's replacement, John Wolford, but in his Senior year at Wake Forest, Wolford tossed 29 touchdowns of which 9 were to his primary tight end (Cam Serigne). The Rams will not only be without Goff, but they will also miss Cooper Kupp due to COVID, which means that they will be looking to other receivers to move the sticks against Arizona on Sunday. Meanwhile, Gerald Everett continues to mirror the more popular Tyler Higbee in routes run and targets, but Higbee is more expensive and more popular. Take a few chances with Everett as a contrarian roster differentiator--if he finds paydirt, you will almost immediately have 4x value on his salary.
- Fade: If Austin Hooper goes off on more than 5% of rosters on Sunday, it will have been too much. The DFS community needed the entire Cleveland Browns' wide receiving corps to miss last week to make Hooper relevant for DFS purposes and he still was only able to compile ~ 14 DK points. This week, the Browns will return Jarvis Landry and company, but will likely need to throw less against a Steelers team resting many of its best players. As nine-point favorites, the Browns will likely lean on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt to do the heavy lifting to bring him the victory. Remove Hooper from your player pool and let the others make the mistake of playing him in this situation.
Team Defenses: As much as the Jaguars are referenced throughout this article, we would be remiss if we did not address the possibility that Mike Glennon could be, well, Mike Glennon on Sunday. The Colts will be motivated with playoff implications whereas the Jags could be looking to round out their season without risking injury in an otherwise meaningless game; this is the difficult thing about Week #17--it's always tough to accurately assess motivation. Elsewhere, the Seahawks are intriguing options against C.J. Beathard, who had thrown more interceptions than touchdowns across his young career before this season began. Similarly, the Cardinals will face an unknown John Wolford, which is always a reason to take a few flyers on a defense. Lastly, the Jets pop in my model this week against the New England Patriots; they are attractively priced at only $2.3K and face a Patriots team headed by a lame-duck quarterback that has scored only 24 points across its 3 previous games. Meanwhile, the Jets have delivered 4x value on this week's salary in four of their previous six contests.
- Sleeper: The masses are likely going to fade the entire Buffalo Bills team on Sunday because Sean McDermott has hinted that they will rest their starters for most, if not all, of the game. We should not dismiss, however, the Bills defense at home against Tua Tagovailoa in miserable playing conditions. The weather forecast for Buffalo on Sunday is just above freezing with steady rain, not the kind of weather conducive to Tagovailoa to do much considering he has played his entire football career in warm-weather climates including Hawaii, Alabama, and now southern Florida. Sunday's game will approach 20 degrees colder than Tua has ever played football--add rainy conditions and the Bills defense is sneaky on less than 2% of rosters.
- Fade: The Browns are an excellent play at the team defense position this week but if the percent-rostered numbers rise much higher than 30% entering Sunday morning, you are advised to come in underweight on that number. While Myles Garrett and company are likely to deliver 6-10 points on their modest $2.5K salary, you basically need a touchdown from your defense on most weeks to win a tournament; if the Browns score "only" eight fantasy points (their approximate projection) while another defense scores those same eight points and manages to get into the endzone, it will be the latter defense whose name appears on winning GPP lineups. If Cleveland ends up on a third of tournament lineups, a realistic possibility, going underweight on them makes sense for these reasons.