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.
Five games on the main slate have implied totals exceeding 50 points, which points to flat roster percentages at quarterback, as usual. Plenty of entrants will spend up to Patrick Mahomes II ($8,100) and Josh Allen ($8,000), but this week’s tight pricing makes it hard to field a balanced roster around them. Jalen Hurts ($6,900), Dak Prescott ($6,700), and Matthew Stafford ($7,000) are each significantly cheaper, performing well, and involved in potentially high-scoring games, making it more likely one of these quarterbacks will appear in common roster builds. Lower-priced players who might garner some attention include Sam Darnold ($6,000) and Taylor Heinicke ($5,900).
Flip the Build: It’s unlikely many of our opponents will choose to punt the position with a sub-$6K option, but pickings are slim unless you think Heinicke has a ceiling on the road in Atlanta. The greater leverage appears to be at the top salary tier, where Mahomes and Allen will put a squeeze on the popularity of Kyler Murray ($7,800) and Lamar Jackson ($7,500), each of whom has a solid chance to finish as the overall QB1 in any given week. Likewise, Russell Wilson ($7,100) should go somewhat overlooked in favor of Stafford, Hurts, and Prescott. In the $6K range, it might be a week to bet on Baker Mayfield’s ($6,200) ceiling. The Browns have a solid 26.75-point implied total at home against Minnesota’s struggling defense.
Alvin Kamara ($8,400) is back in the crowd’s good graces after receiving 24 touches and finding the end zone in Week 3. It feels safe to expect a fair amount of spending up at RB1, either to Kamara against the Giants, or Derrick Henry ($8,800), who faces the hapless Jets. Enough mid-range value exists at wide receiver and RB2 to make spending on a top-tier back possible. Antonio Gibson ($6,100), Chuba Hubbard ($5,900), Clyde Edwards-Helaire ($5,400), and whoever starts for the Rams this week are each priced below $6K and have quality on-paper matchups. Coming off an astounding 19 targets in Week 3, Najee Harris ($6,800) profiles as a logical RB1 in builds that spend more heavily at quarterback and wide receiver.
Flip the Build: While players like Kamara, Henry, and Harris should lead in popularity, running back roster percentages will be spread more evenly this week than in most. Since we don’t have clearly defined spending at the position in common builds, we should look for price-pivots such as Zack Moss ($5,300), who can be used for leverage against the popularity of Hubbard and Edwards-Helaire, as well as chalky Josh Allen stacks. Chase Edmonds ($5,500) is another interesting pivot in the CEH-Hubbard price tier. The scoring environment (O/U 55) and implied game script (Rams -4.5) both favor Edmonds on the road in LA. At the very least, use him as a contrarian run-back in Stafford-Kupp stacks.
With moderate-to-heavy running back spending likely, the crowd will look to the wide receiver and tight end positions to save salary, but not before they jam Cooper Kupp ($7,800) into their WR1 slot. Amari Cooper ($6,000) has posted back-to-back duds following his explosive Week 1 performance (41.9 DraftKings points). The $800 discount off his season-high salary should be enough to make him a chalky WR2 in common builds. On the other side of the Carolina at Dallas matchup, D.J. Moore ($6,600) will draw the crowd due to his reasonable cost in comparison to his season-to-date production. WR3 or Flex receivers will usually have a salary in the $4K-$5K range. Secondary receivers in potentially high-scoring games should round out common builds, with Emmanuel Sanders ($4,900) leading the way.
Flip the Build: Starting your lineup with a non-Kupp luxury purchase at wide receiver should cut against the grain. Alpha wideouts who project to go under-rostered include Justin Jefferson ($7,300), Calvin Ridley ($7,300), and maybe even Stefon Diggs ($7,600), who is overdue for a deep connection (or two) with Allen. 49ers wide receivers aren’t commanding enough of the crowd’s attention either. Deebo Samuel ($6,500) works as a price-pivot off Moore, and Brandon Aiyuk ($5,000) is still available at $700 below his Week 1 price despite returning to a full-time role (and producing) in Week 3.
Travis Kelce ($8,100) is the only tight end anyone wants to play, but as usual, he’s far too expensive for chalky builds. Kelce will be popular in Mahomes stacks, but George Kittle ($5,900) should command more overall attention, further highlighting why San Francisco wide receivers are great leverage plays. Those who can’t get up to Kittle will probably look at Tyler Higbee ($4,600) or Noah Fant ($4,300) to save salary. Perhaps Will Dissly ($2,600) will gain steam as a true punt-play with the news Gerald Everrett was placed on the COVID list for Seattle.
Flip the Build: You can always build your lineups around Kelce’s hefty salary to start your builds differently from the public, but otherwise, options are limited. It’s possible T.J. Hockenson ($5,800) will qualify as a contrarian play. He’s roughly the same price as Kittle and the crowd remembers him bombing (3.0 DraftKings points) in 29% of Milly Maker lineups last week. The Lions at Bears game might be one to avoid entirely, but we saw Hockenson produce at an elite level in back-to-back weeks to open the season.
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. ARI, $7,800, 19% rostered)
Kupp is no longer glaringly mispriced, but his salary still hasn’t caught up to the reality he is the best wide receiver in fantasy football. The marriage between Stafford and Rams head coach Sean McVay couldn’t be off to a dreamier start. Through three games, Stafford leads the league with 10.8 adjusted net yards per attempt, and he’s locked in on Kupp who has commanded a 36% share of LA’s targets. At best, Arizona’s secondary is a neutral matchup for LA’s passing game, leaving us little reason to think Kupp’s hot start should fizzle out in this matchup. While Kupp’s salary/ownership profile makes a fade tempting, it comes with massive risk. Play him even with the field, at a minimum.
Alvin Kamara (vs. NYG, $8,400, 21% rostered)
Christian McCaffrey is out and Dalvin Cook’s injury status is cloudy, leaving Kamara as the top brand name running back on the board. The green “31st” next to Kamara’s name on DraftKings will lead to even more clicks as the crowd looks to exploit New York’s suspect rush defense. Your decision on Kamara should come down to his percent-rostered projection on Sunday morning. If he creeps much higher than 20%, fade him relative to the field. Kamara remains capable of breaking any given slate, but investing in the Saints’ low-yield offense, in a game with a 42-point over/under, is the wrong move if it's also the one many of our opponents are making. Kamara will need multiple touchdowns to live up to his salary and roster percentage, which is possible, but difficult to predict week-to-week.
D.J. Moore (@ DAL, $6,600, 20% rostered)
Moore is the WR10 on DraftKings through three games but remains modestly priced at WR13 in Week 4. The Cowboys’ surplus of offensive weapons combined with their bendable defense makes them popular in game-stacks most weeks, and Moore’s soft price will entice the crowd to play him in either side of a Carolina at Dallas stack. Based purely on projected points per dollar, it doesn’t get much better than Moore against a Cowboys defense that has allowed three 100-yard games to wide receivers, especially considering McCaffrey’s absence opens up additional targets for the entire offense. Play Moore as a heavy exposure, but consider Robby Anderson as leverage in non-Moore lineups if you’re multi-entering. Head coach Matt Rhule sounds committed to getting Anderson more involved.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Josh Allen||QB||HOU||$8,000||12%||Expensive and popular but could break the slate as 18(!) point home favorite.|
|Patrick Mahomes II||QB||@PHI||$8,100||8%||Same story every week. Can't multi-enter without some exposure.|
|Dak Prescott||QB||CAR||$6,700||10%||Tied to underpriced, high-upside WRs but prefer Elliott for leverage.|
|Derrick Henry||RB||@NYJ||$8,800||18%||Would be the whole offense if Brown and Jones sit. Might be best to avoid this game entirely.|
|Chuba Hubbard||RB||@DAL||$5,900||14%||Not convinced he's capable of approximating CMC role with Freeman prepared to play.|
|Davante Adams||WR||PIT||$7,900||15%||Overall WR1 finish always in play, if not a safe bet.|
|Amari Cooper||WR||CAR||$6,000||17%||Not playing well through rib injury, but too cheap for 40-point ceiling.|
|Travis Kelce||TE||PHI||$8,100||10%||Gap between Kelce and TE2 might be too much to overcome this week.|
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.
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. CAR, $6,500, 7% rostered)
We’ve established that heavy roster percentages will concentrate on the respective passing games for the Panthers and Cowboys, and Chuba Hubbard’s salary will make him the most popular running back from this game. As a result, Elliott should go lightly-rostered despite looking as good as he has in years on Monday night against the Eagles (26.6 DraftKings points). If Elliott can hog the touchdowns for a second straight week, he’ll jump you ahead of all the Prescott stacks in the standings. Carolina has been tough to run on this season, but two of their three games have come against the anemic offenses of the Jets and Saints.
Deebo Samuel (vs. SEA, $6,500, 11% rostered)
Samuel is far from a sneaky play in a potentially high-scoring matchup against Seattle. But with Moore, Amari Cooper, and CeeDee Lamb available in the same price range, his projected roster percentage doesn’t properly reflect his massive upside. Samuel’s 35% target market share trails only Davante Adams, Brandin Cooks, and Kupp for the league lead. The Seahawks secondary has allowed 100+ yards to enemy WR1s in each of their last two games and specifically failed to contain Justin Jefferson after the catch in Week 3. Samuel makes his living on YAC and could lead all San Francisco players in total touches in what should be a back and forth game.
Courtland Sutton (vs. BAL, $5,700, 11% rostered)
Sutton’s palatable salary should boost him to a mid-range roster percentage, but the masses will generally shy away from Ravens at Broncos. While a shootout between these teams isn’t the most likely outcome, Denver’s offense has proven capable with Teddy Bridgwater at the helm, and the only Ravens game to finish below 60 combined points was last week’s tilt against the lowly Lions. If Lamar Jackson is able to put pressure on Denver to keep up on the scoreboard, Sutton has a strong chance of seeing double-digit targets, as he did in his Week 2 annihilation of the Jaguars (12-9-159-0). Jackson stacks run back with Sutton are a perfect way to start building high upside lineups that look nothing like those of our opponents.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Russell Wilson||QB||@SF||$7,100||4%||Why not low-rostered Wilson in potential back and forth, high-scoring game?|
|Darrell Henderson||RB||ARI||$5,600||7%||Contingent on health, but massive leverage on Rams passing game.|
|Chase Edmonds||RB||@LAR||$5,500||6%||Only Najee Harris and D'Andre Swift have more RB targets. ARI will be playing catch-up.|
|Stefon Diggs||WR||HOU||$7,600||11%||Play him as a one-off without Allen.|
|DK Metcalf||WR||@SF||$7,200||7%||Seattle passing game flying below the radar. Play Lockett too.|
|Odell Beckham Jr||WR||@MIN||$5,800||10%||No target competition. Peripheral stats passed the test in season debut.|
|Noah Fant||TE||BAL||$4,300||7%||Cheap, high-volume piece of possible sneaky shootout.|
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.
Jimmy Garoppolo (vs. SEA, $5,600, 4% rostered)
If you want to add even more leverage to lineups with Samuel and/or Brandon Aiyuk, Garoppolo belongs in your player pool. The 49ers are implied to score 27 points, have no running game to speak of at the moment, and possess a significant talent advantage at the pass-catching positions over the Seahawks' secondary. Garoppolo’s play has been ho-hum for fantasy purposes in each of his first three games, but he hasn’t been awful and does possess a proven ceiling. In 2019 (his last healthy season), Garoppolo topped 30 fantasy points on DraftKings in three separate games. You can play him with George Kittle, but in smaller field tournaments, double-stack him with Samuel and Aiyuk, and play chalk in the rest of your lineup.
Miles Sanders (vs.KC, $6,400, 3% rostered)
It takes a short memory to click on Sanders after he received just two carries in Monday night’s loss to the Cowboys. The risk Sanders finds himself in a similar game script on the road in Arrow Head this week is high, but his chances of appearing in a first-place lineup are greater than his roster percentage implies. Kansas City has allowed 33% more PPR fantasy points to enemy running backs than league average in the young season. If Philadelphia is able to keep it close, Sanders’ ability to break explosive runs will likely be a reason why. Particularly in Chiefs stacks, where you’ll need a somewhat competitive game for Mahomes and co. to reach their respective ceilings, Sanders makes a lot of sense.
Jaylen Waddle (vs. IND, $4,900, 5% rostered)
It’s possible Waddle picks up more steam with the crowd as we get closer to the weekend, but as of this writing, it appears the specter of Jacoby Brissett will shade the entire Dolphins’ passing game. In Brissett’s first start with the team, however, Waddle was on the receiving end of 30% of the team’s targets. His four-yard average target depth left plenty to be desired, but it is clear Miami’s plan to manufacture offense is to put the ball in Waddle’s hands and hope he can make a play. There is a solid chance he receives 8-10 targets against the Colts’ horrid secondary, making Waddle safe enough for cash games, with enough speed-driven upside for tournaments.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Lamar Jackson||QB||@DEN||$7,500||3%||If back injury checks out, his upside is as high as any QB.|
|Aaron Rodgers||QB||PIT||$6,800||3%||Always in play as heavy favorite at Lambeau.|
|Zack Moss||RB||HOU||$5,300||4%||Your Josh Allen leverage. Has passed Singletary in blowout game scripts.|
|Saquon Barkley||RB||@NO||$6,700||6%||Borderline contrarian. Might be only healthy Giants pass-catcher.|
|Michael Pittman Jr||WR||@MIA||$5,400||4%||Massive target share. TDs incoming.|
|Brandon Aiyuk||WR||SEA||$5,000||2%||In case I'm wrong about Samuel. Back to full-time role.|
|Robby Anderson||WR||DAL||$5,100||5%||Moore leverage. Could get squeaky wheel treatment in great matchup.|
|Mark Andrews||TE||@DEN||$5,300||5%||Ask Cecil if enemy tight ends always burn the Broncos.|