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
If you want to finish at the top of the standings in a mid-to-large field GPP, your roster has to stand out from the crowd. Studying a list of projected roster percentages is a helpful first step, but it lacks the context of how the most popular players fit together under the salary cap.
To gain some insight into how the majority of entrants will allocate their cap space, so you can spend yours differently, let’s think about how the public is most likely to attack roster construction at each position.
We have four games on the main slate with an over/under greater than 50 points, which will make for tightly clustered roster percentages at the quarterback position. While no single player stands out as the crowd favorite, we should expect the majority of entrants to spend heavily. The usual suspects are Kyler Murray ($8,300), Patrick Mahomes II ($8,200), Lamar Jackson ($7,800), and Russell Wilson ($7,600). With pricing tighter across the board in Week 3, mid-priced options such as Tom Brady ($6,800) and Matthew Stafford ($6,400) won’t be far behind. The closest thing to a viable punt-play is Daniel Jones ($5,800) in a potentially high-scoring game vs. Atlanta, or perhaps Justin Fields ($5,200), though the rookie will make his NFL debut in a less-than-stellar game environment on the road in Cleveland.
Flip the Build: Josh Allen is available for only $400 less than his Week 1 salary despite underwhelming in consecutive games. Allen isn’t necessarily contrarian, but the glut of spend-worthy options in the top salary tier should shade him a bit in what the public perceives as a difficult matchup against Washington. Trevor Lawrence’s salary ($5,500) will get you building in a different direction than the field. Arizona should have no problems getting out to a big lead on the Jaguars. Lawrence could easily look more like he did during garbage time in Week 1 (25.08 DraftKings points) than last week’s disaster against a stout Broncos’ defense (8.82 DraftKings points).
The majority of the field will fill their RB1 slot by chasing Derrick Henry’s ($8,600) slate-breaking 50-point performance from Week 2 or saddling up Dalvin Cook ($8,400) against the same Seahawks defense Henry just obliterated. Running back pricing has tightened up significantly this week and there is a huge drop-off in quality near the $6,000 range. As a result, roster percentages at the RB2 slot should concentrate around $6.5K, where Najee Harris ($6,600), Saquon Barkley ($6,500), Chris Carson ($6,400), and Joe Mixon ($6,300) are moderately priced relative to their projected workloads.
Flip the Build: The landscape of the position makes it tempting to ride with the crowd. Even foregoing one of Henry or Cook and playing two running backs in the $6.5K range will be common enough. If you’re looking to cut the chalk at running back, Austin Ekeler’s salary ($7,200) will likely put the crowd off him in a game script that favors his receiving skills. Nick Chubb ($7,600) is another pricey option that will go under-rostered. With Cleveland thin at wide receiver and facing a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start on the road, Chubb could easily account for most of the Browns’ 26.25 implied points. There are no true punts at the position, but Leonard Fournette ($5,000) has separated from Ronald Jones II and Giovani Bernard. If this is the week a couple of Brady’s short scoring attempts are called as runs near the goal-line instead, Fournette could appear in a first-place GPP lineup.
Luxury purchases at quarterback and running back will rule the day, leading to moderate spending at wide receiver in common builds. Cooper Kupp ($6,800), Chris Godwin ($6,100), Robert Woods ($5,700), Keenan Allen ($6,600), Mike Evans (assuming Antonio Brown scratches), and Courtland Sutton ($6,000) are mid-priced options that should appear at WR1 and WR2 in plenty of lineups. Marvin Jones Jr ($4,900) has stellar point-per-dollar production in his two games since joining the Jaguars. He profiles as a crowd-favorite WR3/Flex, along with K.J. Osborn ($3,500), who might be the biggest surprise in all of fantasy football through two weeks.
Flip the Build: Spending big at two wide receiver spots will cut against the grain. You can anchor a lineup with popular plays like Tyreek Hill ($8,400) or Tyler Lockett ($7,400) and pair them with a stud like Stefon Diggs ($7,600) or DeAndre Hopkins ($8,300), each of whom should come in lightly rostered. Somehow, we’ve reached a point where Justin Jefferson ($7,200) and Adam Thielen ($6,700) will probably appear on fewer rosters than Osborn. You’ll have to pay roughly double the price, but there is some field leverage to be gained by coming in heavy on Minnesota’s top-2 receivers.
Travis Kelce ($8,200) and Darren Waller ($7,400) will be popular one-off plays, but there is no room in chalky builds for an expensive tight end. Our opponents will try to get up to T.J. Hockenson ($5,200) or Mark Andrews ($5,000), but if they can’t find the cap space, Tyler Higbee ($4,000) might command attention again despite busting as a crowd favorite last week.
Flip the Build: The WR1 salaries of Kelce or Waller will force you to build differently from about 75% of the field. If you’d rather not spend up, focus on tight ends on teams projected to score a lot of points -- preferably one playing on a heavy home favorite. Austin Hooper ($3,600) fits the bill this week with Cleveland missing Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr presumably not 100% healthy.
CAN YOU TRUST THE CHALK?
The term chalk in sports betting refers to 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 an important part of tournament strategy. If you fade a chalky player, and he fails to deliver on his scoring projection, your lineups become positioned to pass a large chunk of the field in the standings. But when a player the crowd loves meets his lofty expectations and you choose to avoid him, your lineups can quickly get buried.
If you are entering multiple lineups, deciding whether to play or pass on chalky players is non-binary. The overall roster percentage of your lineup, how the player correlates to the rest of the lineup, and the size of the tournament you are entering all provide needed context.
Some suggestions on how to treat this week’s most popular players:
Cooper Kupp (vs. TB, $6,800, 22% rostered)
Kupp isn’t as grossly mispriced as he was in Week 2 ($6,000), but his salary remains too low by $500-$700. Through two weeks, the overall WR1 on DraftKings has dominated usage for the Rams, running a route on every one of Matthew Stafford’s dropbacks while commanding a 38% target share. His matchup against Tampa Bay might sound scary, but no team has allowed more fantasy points to enemy wide receivers than the Bucs. Given his fair price, elite volume, recent production, and 55-point game total, fading Kupp comes with massive risk. Make him a core player you build lineups around.
Derrick Henry (vs. IND, $8,600, 15% rostered)
Henry steamrolling the Seahawks for 50 DraftKings points is still fresh in the public’s collective consciousness. And with Tennessee facing Indianapolis as 5.5 point home favorites, the implied game script once again favors a juicy rushing line from Henry. Ordinarily, this would be an easy spot to fade the crowd’s recency bias. The Colts are much stronger on their defensive front than in the secondary, and Henry would have to go bonkers running the ball since he can’t count on receptions to boost his ceiling. But Henry’s role as a pass-catcher has been uncharacteristic through two games. While it’s tempting to think of what five targets per game would mean for Henry’s stat lines moving forward, it’s safer to rely on the last five years of data. With Jacob Eason or a hobbled Carson Wentz starting at quarterback for Indianapolis, the scoring environment in this game is entirely different from what the Titans enjoyed in Weeks 1 and 2. Fade Henry relative to the field and cross your fingers.
Dalvin Cook (vs. SEA, $8,400, 17% rostered)
Speaking of Henry dropping a 50 burger on the Seahawks, Cook is up next for Seattle’s struggling rush defense. The excellent matchup for Cook is as undeniable as the security of his hefty workload, but we’re still guessing about the health of his ankle. Cook was forced from last week’s game against the Cardinals on more than one occasion with the injury and missed practices on both Wednesday and Thursday. If Cook avoids the game-time decision tag, he’s the preferred play over Henry if you’re spending up at running back due to the possibility of a shootout between the Seahawks and Vikings boosting the ceiling of all the key players from both teams.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Lamar Jackson||QB||@DET||$7,800||10%||Mismatch for Lions linebackers. Could crack 100 rushing yards.|
|Patrick Mahomes II||QB||LAC||$8,200||7%||Same story every week. Can't multi-enter without some exposure.|
|Kyler Murray||QB||@JAX||$8,300||9%||Expensive and potential for blowout. But if ARI wins big, Murray is the reason why.|
|Alvin Kamara||RB||@NE||$8,200||13%||Hard to trust the NO offense after last week's debacle in Carolina.|
|Saquon Barkley||RB||ATL||$6,500||14%||Dominating snaps again and matchup is great. Will he be a high-volume receiver again?|
|Chris Godwin||WR||@LAR||$6,100||18%||Not as mispriced as Kupp was last week, but close to it. Go heavy.|
|Tyreek Hill||WR||LAC||$8,400||15%||See Mahomes analysis above.|
|Tyler Lockett||WR||@MIN||$7,400||16%||Stellar through two games. Matchup once again in his favor.|
|Travis Kelce||TE||LAC||$8,200||12%||Tough matchup against Derwin James. Prefer Waller if spending big at TE.|
You won’t necessarily be sneaking the players in this section past your opponents. But their roster rate and scoring projections are misaligned with the probability they can help you to a first-place finish. Play them at a higher rate than the field when multi-entering and consider them as pivot options off similarly-priced chalk plays if the overall roster percentage of your lineup is too high.
Austin Ekeler (@KC, $7,200, 9% rostered)
Ekeler’s projected roster percentage is a mystery. In Week 1, we saw him handle all four of LA's running back touches inside the opponent’s 10-yard line. He didn’t make much noise in the box score due to a lack of receptions, but we saw a more competitive game script against the Cowboys restore Ekeler’s pass-catching upside in Week 2 (9-9-61). We can expect the Chargers to be playing from behind this week in Kansas City, which once again puts his pass-catching ceiling in play. And the path of least resistance to move the ball against the Chiefs is clearly on the ground. Through their first two games, Kansas City has allowed 43% more PPR fantasy points to enemy running backs than league average. If his final percent-rostered projection stays in this range, triple the field on your exposure.
Josh Allen (vs. WAS, $7,000, 6% rostered)
Allen has failed to top 20 DraftKings points in each of his first two games. With plenty of other quarterbacks in a similar price range with more enticing matchups, it’s safe to expect the crowd to look elsewhere. It’s worth remembering, however, that passing the ball is Plan A and Plan B for the Bills' offense, as evidenced by Allen’s 51 pass attempts in a close game against the Steelers in Week 1. The only reason we saw Allen’s attempts plummet in Week 2 was the fact they beat up on a listless Dolphins team to the tune of 35-0. Buffalo is implied to score a solid 26.25 points at home against Washington, whose pass defense has looked suspect in games against Justin Herbert and Daniel Jones. Double the field on Allen, stack him with Stefon Diggs and Antonio Gibson, and play chalk elsewhere in your lineup.
DK Metcalf (vs. SEA, $7,200, 7% rostered)
Wilson and Metcalf haven’t burned defenses deep thus far. Maybe new Seattle offensive coordinator Shane Waldron wants the ball in Metcalf’s hands closer to the line of scrimmage by design, but it’s more likely we’re dealing with a small sample. Metcalf remains one of the most dangerous vertical receivers in the game and Wilson leads the league in both yards per pass attempt and percentage of passes that have traveled 20 or more yards down the field. It’s a matter of time before some of the deep shots Tyler Lockett has cashed in begin finding their way to Metcalf. Minnesota’s top cornerback, Patrick Peterson, stands in the way this week, but the Vikings’ secondary is exploitable on the whole. Expect Metcalf to check in with about half of Lockett’s roster percentage, creating a possible leverage opportunity.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Ryan Tannehill||QB||IND||$6,200||4%||Indianapolis secondary is one we should pick on. Leverage on Henry lineups.|
|D'Andre Swift||RB||BAL||$5,800||8%||Play-from-behind game script suits his skill-set. Can get there on one play.|
|Antonio Gibson||RB||@BUF||$5,900||7%||26% target share in Week 1 down to 5% in Week 2. Truth lies in the middle.|
|Stefon Diggs||WR||WAS||$7,600||8%||If you haven't noticed, WAS @ BUF is a fave contrarian game stack.|
|Justin Jefferson||WR||SEA||$7,200||9%||Breakout game bubbling just beneath the surface. Leverage on Cook.|
|A.J. Brown||WR||IND||$6,500||6%||If we're playing Tannehill for leverage, you'll need a WR. Soft price.|
|Darren Waller||TE||MIA||$7,400||8%||Week 1 level dominance a possibility in this matchup.|
These players are flying below the crowd’s collective radar and will therefore give you the greatest leverage on your opponents if they outperform expectations. Depending on the field size, it will usually take at least one or two players from this tier for your lineup to finish in the top one percent of GPP entries.
Keep in mind, however, that the path to success for these players is somewhat limited, or else they wouldn’t be contrarian. Using more than two together in the same lineup will come at the expense of maximizing projected fantasy points. And if you’re multi-entering, it doesn’t take much exposure for these players to gain you an edge on the field. A 5% rostered player only needs to appear in two out of 10 lineups to give you four times more exposure than your opponents.
Nick Chubb (vs. CHI, $7,600, 4% rostered)
Odell Beckham Jr should be back, but we don’t know how ready he is physically and he hasn’t played at an elite level since joining the Browns anyway. With Jarvis Landry on IR, we can safely expect Cleveland’s running backs to do the heavy lifting in what Vegas projects as a lopsided home win. Chubb is almost never popular on DraftKings because he splits carries and doesn’t catch many passes, but if the Browns are going to score about 26 points, as Vegas implies, what are the chances Chubb rushes for 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns? Far greater than his sub-5% roster percentage, especially since the rookie Fields could gift Cleveland with turnovers that result in short scoring opportunities.
Kenny Golladay (vs. ATL, $5,600, 5% rostered)
Daniel Jones has posted 22.38 and 29.46 DraftKings points in his first two games, respectively. Many of our opponents will see him matched up against the Falcons’ dreadful defense at home and seize the opportunity to pay down at quarterback. But those who roster Jones will aim to stack him with Sterling Shepard, who has commanded 28% of the team’s targets thus far and posted strong back-to-back performances of his own. Golladay has predictably been slow to get on the same page with Jones after missing most of the preseason due to injury, but the Giants’ big free-agent acquisition has received a respectable 21% of the team’s targets through two games. The Falcons have allowed seven pass plays of 20+ yards this season. Jones’ accurate deep ball combined with Golladay’s penchant for making contested grabs downfield fits this matchup like a glove.
Maxx Williams (@JAX, $3,200, 2% rostered)
It’s easy to write off Williams’ out-of-nowhere Week 2 performance (7-7-94-0) as an outlier, but it wasn’t long ago the former second-round pick was considered a top prospect. While Arizona admittedly spreads the ball around on offense, it’s conceivable Williams gets in on the act for a second straight week. So far this season, he’s played on 77% of the Cardinals’ snaps and ran a route on 60% of Kyler Murray’s pass plays. Jacksonville has one of the worst defenses in the league and struggles to defend tight ends, in particular. Pharaoh Brown (who?) posted a 5-4-67-0 receiving line against the Jaguars and Week 1 before Noah Fant and Albert Okwuegbunam combined for 10 catches and a touchdown in last week’s game. Williams remains a thin play, but he’s worth sprinkling into a few Murray stacks if you’re multi-entering.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Trevor Lawrence||QB||ARI||$5,500||3%||Much softer garbage time opponent than Denver last week.|
|Jared Goff||QB||BAL||$5,200||2%||QB8 on DraftKings through two weeks gets another + game script.|
|Leonard Fournette||RB||@LAR||$5,000||4%||If TD variance hits Brady, Fournette the most likely beneficiary.|
|Kareem Hunt||RB||CHI||$5,600||2%||If Chubb is the wrong call, Hunt won't be.|
|Darnell Mooney||WR||@CLE||$4,300||4%||Cheap and now playing with a QB that can hit him for big plays.|
|Tim Patrick||WR||NYJ||$4,900||1%||On the field just as much as any DEN receiver. Sutton leverage.|
|Ja'Marr Chase||WR||@PIT||$5,400||6%||Won't be this low if Higgins sits, but like him for the price either way.|
|Austin Hooper||TE||CHI||$3,600||5%||Focal point of CLE passing game?|