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.
Giants at Cowboys has a slate-high 52-point over/under, making both Dak Prescott ($6,900) and Daniel Jones ($6,000) leading candidates for common roster builds. With more mid-range value at running back and wide receiver available than in recent weeks, entrants can easily spend up to Tom Brady ($7,400) at home against the Dolphins or Kyler Murray ($8,000), who takes on the 49ers in Arizona. Our opponents who remain leery of Jones despite his season-to-date QB7 ranking on DraftKings are most likely to look towards Kirk Cousins ($6,500) or Joe Burrow ($6,100) at similar price points. Trey Lance ($5,700) enters the mix as well now that Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) was announced as out for San Francisco.
Flip the Build: The game total in Philadelphia at Carolina (45 points) is stuck in DFS No Man’s Land. Despite the less-than-desirable scoring environment, Jalen Hurts’ dual-threat ability makes him a viable price pivot off Prescott at about the same salary ($7,000). Aaron Rodgers ($7,100) should also go overlooked in the top salary tier despite a cupcake matchup against the Bengals, Green Bay’s 27-point implied team total, and Davante Adams’ standing as one of the chalkiest receivers on the slate. On the low-end, Jacoby Brissett ($5,200) has a 5x ceiling in what should be a pass-heavy game script for the Dolphins in Tampa Bay.
Derrick Henry was by far the highest-rostered player in the Week 4 Fantasy Football Millionaire on DraftKings (33%). Given his well-documented history of trampling the Jaguars, Henry is likely to repeat as mega-chalk on this week’s slate. Squeezing Henry’s huge salary under the cap isn’t much of an obstacle due to an abundance of mid-range value at the position. James Robinson ($6,000), Leonard Fournette ($5,200), and Damien Williams ($5,600) are each mispriced relative to their projected workloads. And if Joe Mixon is forced to scratch, Samaje Perine ($4,000) opens up yet another discounted RB2/Flex with a strong usage profile and beatable matchup. Keep an eye on the respective statuses of Dalvin Cook and Chase Edmonds as well. Either Alexander Mattison or James Conner would immediately vault Fournette, Williams, and Robinson in popularity.
Flip the Build: Building your lineups around expensive running backs not named Derrick Henry should get you building in a different direction than the crowd. Both starting running backs in the Giants at Cowboys game -- Saquon Barkley ($7,300) and Ezekiel Elliott ($7,000) -- will provide at least some leverage against the popularity of each team’s respective passing game. Likewise, Aaron Jones’ ceiling is as high as any running back’s on the slate and he’ll appear in roughly one-quarter as many lineups as his teammate, Adams.
With the crowd-favorite passing games of the Seahawks, Rams, Bills, and Chiefs off the main slate, wide receiver roster percentages will be spread thinner than usual. Adams will be popular as a one-off play, but in common builds, we should see balanced spending at the position. Amari Cooper ($6,000) and/or CeeDee Lamb ($6,200) will appear in most lineups quarterbacked by Prescott and Jones. Regardless of who is active for the Giants, their receivers range from mid-priced (Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard) to bargain-bin (Kadarius Toney). Other value options who could pick up steam as we head into the weekend include Antonio Brown ($5,200), Laviska Shenault Jr ($4,800), and the returning Tee Higgins ($5,000).
Flip the Build: If Justin Jefferson ($7,700) remains projected to appear in about half as many lineups as Adams and D.J. Moore ($7,500), a matchup against the Lions’ defense makes the second-year wideout an ideal price-pivot. Plenty of high-ceiling players who should elude the crowd exist in the middle-tier. DeVante Parker ($5,400) will be featured in a pass-heavy game script against Tampa Bay’s dismal secondary. And with the free-wheeling Drew Lock likely under center for Denver, Courtland Sutton is positioned as a target hog and downfield threat against a Pittsburgh secondary that has allowed the sixth-most PPR fantasy points to enemy wide receivers.
Update 10/9, 2PM: George Kittle ($5,600) was the clear chalk at the tight end position, but he now carries a doubtful tag, making it unlikely he'll play. Darren Waller ($7,300) is too expensive to jam into lineups, which leaves Evan Engram ($3,200), Dalton Schultz ($4,400), Jared Cook ($3,600), or Mike Gesicki ($4,200) as the likely candidates for common builds.
Flip the Build: Waller is the high-priced option that will instantly get you building differently than the crowd, but it’s tough to get excited about a game environment in Chicago with a 44.5-point total. If you want to target matchups, Hunter Henry ($3,700) is in play against the Texans. Houston has allowed 74% more fantasy production to the position than league average this season, and Henry typically runs about twice as many pass routes as his teammate, Jonnu Smith.
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:
Dak Prescott (vs. NYG, $6,900, 11% rostered)
Prescott is completing 75.2% of his passes while averaging 8.17 adjusted net yards per attempt, both of which are career bests. He has also thrown for at least three touchdowns in three out of four games. Despite his unquestioned efficiency, however, Prescott ranks outside the Top 12 quarterbacks in DraftKings scoring. It’s not that his ceiling isn’t high enough for GPPs, but before plugging Prescott into too many lineups, make sure you’re also projecting the Giants to keep up on the scoreboard. As we’ve seen in Dallas’ recent wins over the Eagles and Panthers, the Cowboys defense has turned a corner under new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, and they’re content to wear teams down with Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard if they’re playing with a lead. Prescott will need far more than the 23.6 pass attempts he’s averaged over the previous three games to justify a double-digit roster percentage. If you’re not anticipating a back-and-forth shootout, fade him relative to the field.
Derrick Henry (@JAX, $9,000, 26% rostered)
Henry has finished as the overall RB1 on the slate in three out of his previous six games against the Jaguars dating back to 2018. The 2021 version of Jacksonville’s rush defense ranks bottom-12 in PPR fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs and 14th in rush defense DVOA. So while they may not be the doormats most of our opponents believe them to be, it’s fair to expect the Jaguars will have trouble containing Henry. Henry’s ceiling projection admittedly leads all running backs, but playing him heavily in tournaments is a mistake. At a slate-high $9,000 and minimum 25% roster percentage, he’ll need over 100 rushing yards and multiple touchdowns to appear in winning lineups. Are you three times as confident Henry reaches those numbers than Elliott? Five times as confident he outscores Aaron Jones? The answer should be no. Leave Henry out if you’re entering a single lineup, and play him below the field if you’re multi-entering.
George Kittle (@ARI, $5,600, 14% rostered)
As of this writing, Kittle is questionable to play with a calf injury. But considering he sat out practice with the same ailment last week and went on to play 92% of the snaps against the Seahawks, it’s a safe bet we’ll see him active on Sunday. Kittle was a dud in the loss to Seattle (8 DraftKings points), but he commanded a season-high 11 targets, giving him a combined 20 over his previous two games. He also had an end-zone grab jarred loose by a defender at the last second, or his salary would have increased to the mid-$6K range instead of dropping by $300. Even though tight end is usually an easy position to cut the chalk, we’re getting great value on Kittle’s elite volume and big-play athleticism. He’s simply a great play in all DFS formats.
Update 10/9, 2PM - Kittle is listed as doubtful and we're unlikely to know his status before the 1pm games kick off. At this point, it's best to leave him out of your plans.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Daniel Jones||QB||@DAL||$6,000||11%||Don't love the play at high % rostered on the road against improved defense.|
|Trey Lance||QB||@ARI||$5,700||10%||Expect a roller coaster but the fantasy points will be there in the end.|
|Leonard Fournette||RB||MIA||$5,200||18%||80% opportunity share once again in play if Bernard scratches.|
|James Robinson||RB||TEN||$6,000||16%||Easier to pass on TEN than run. Fade and play Lawrence/Jones.|
|Davante Adams||WR||@CIN||$8,200||15%||Can't argue with Adams on any slate. Three-TD upside.|
|Amari Cooper||WR||NYG||$6,100||14%||Ceiling is there but hard to trust suddenly low-volume passing game.|
|CeeDee Lamb||WR||NYG||$6,200||14%||See Cooper, Amari.|
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.
Aaron Jones (@CIN, $7,900, 6% rostered)
The crowd must think A.J. Dillon’s 15 carries in Week 4 is a trend that’s here to stay -- a miscalculation we can exploit in tournaments. Most of Dillon’s work came in clock-killing mode, where his success running the ball made it an easy decision for head coach Matt LaFleur to give Jones (and his mild ankle injury) some rest. The Packers are on the road this week against a pesky Bengals team in a game Vegas implies will be close. We should see a return to the normal 70/30 backfield split in Jones’ favor -- the type of workload that restores his 40+ point ceiling at a fraction of Henry’s roster percentage.
Marvin Jones Jr (vs. TEN, $5,700, 6% rostered)
Laviska Shenault Jr turned seven targets into 99 yards after D.J. Chark Jr was lost for the season last Thursday in Cincinnati, while Jones busted with 5.4 DraftKings points. At $900 less than Jones, and with more theoretical upside, Shenault projects to draw about double the roster percentage of his elder teammate. We want to target a Jacksonville wide receiver against Tennessee’s pass defense, but Shenault (he of the 4.6-yard average target depth) isn’t the guy. As Christian Kirk, Tyler Lockett, and Corey Davis have proven this season, the best way to beat the Titans pass defense is downfield. Jones -- the Jaguars leader in target share and air yards -- is best suited for the role. If you’re going to play Henry in lineups, consider stacking him with Trevor Lawrence and Jones to decrease the overall roster percentage of the lineup.
A.J. Brown (@JAX, $6,500, 8% rostered)
Speaking of Henry, Brown is your leverage play on the Titans offense. He has been out of sight, out of mind for almost two weeks and failed to deliver value in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively. But Brown was practicing in full on Thursday, which suggests he’ll be a full go against Jacksonville. When factoring in cost, upside, and roster percentage, Brown has a better chance than Henry of landing in a first-place GPP lineup. Julio Jones is likely to miss a second-consecutive game, which leaves Brown competing with no one of consequence for targets, against a Jaguars pass defense that has allowed five 100+ yard outings to wide receivers through the first four games.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Trevor Lawrence||QB||TEN||$5,800||5%||Titans have been smoked by every QB besides Carson Wentz.|
|Ezekiel Elliott||RB||NYG||$7,000||10%||Same story every week - improved Zeke is leverage on DAL passing game.|
|Christian McCaffrey||RB||PHI||$8,700||9%||If he plays, CMC has a good matchup, low price, and reduced roster %.|
|Justin Jefferson||WR||DET||$7,700||8%||WR1s torching DET secondary. Blow-up spot.|
|Ja'Marr Chase||WR||GB||$5,800||7%||Matchup not what it seems with CB Jaire Alexander expected to miss.|
|Mike Evans||WR||MIA||$6,800||6%||Top red-zone option with Gronkowski out. Fournette leverage.|
|Mike Gesicki||TE||@TB||$4,200||10%||Different player last two weeks with Brissett at QB. No Kittle could make him chalk.|
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.
Jalen Hurts (@CAR, $7,000, 4% rostered)
This tweet from Mike Leone says it all.
This Jalen Hurts role is absolutely phenomenal for fantasy.— Michael Leone (@2Hats1Mike) October 6, 2021
PHI second in pass rate over expectation and Hurts has been somewhat efficient.
Plus, he's still running 9 times a game.
Whether or not you think Hurts is the long-term answer for Philadelphia, all the man does is score fantasy points. In his seven full games as an NFL starter, he has reached at least 21 DraftKings each time. At $7,000, you’re locking in a 3x floor, along with a ceiling only Kyler Murray can rival at quarterback on this slate. The difference is Hurts costs $1,000 less than Murray and comes with significantly less crowd exposure.
Mike Williams (vs. CLE, $7,200, 2% rostered)
Cleveland at LA could be the shootout no one is talking about if the Chargers defense has trouble stopping the run. Regardless of game script, one of Williams or Keenan Allen is likely to get over on the Browns’ secondary. Williams is the pick for three reasons:
- Allen’s percent-rostered will be about four times higher because Williams busted everyone’s Showdown lineups on Monday night.
- Williams has flashed a higher ceiling than Allen thus far in new offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi’s offense.
- Cleveland has been consistently burned by the opposition’s top downfield threat, including Tyreek Hill (15-11-197-1), Brandin Cooks (14-9-78-1), and Justin Jefferson (7-6-84-1).
DeVante Parker (@TB, $5,400, 4% rostered)
If the masses want to run back their Tom Brady stacks, they’re more likely to look in the direction of Jaylen Waddle for $600 less, or Mike Gesicki, who has been productive since Jacoby Brissett took over as Miami’s starting quarterback. Parker deserves priority over both teammates due to his steady target volume (minimum seven targets in each game this season) and multi-touchdown ceiling, in addition to the strong matchup against Tampa Bay’s depleted secondary. Look for Parker to feast on coverage from Richard Sherman, who looked awful in his Buccaneers debut and is still getting his legs back under him after being signed off the street ahead of Week 4.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Justin Herbert||QB||CLE||$6,800||3%||Sneaky shootout potential if CLE run game hits.|
|Aaron Rodgers||QB||@CIN||$7,100||3%||Roster percentage trailing Adams' by too much.|
|Nick Chubb||RB||@LAC||$6,700||2%||See Herbert, Justin. Hunt also in consideration.|
|Jaylen Waddle||WR||@TB||$4,800||5%||Hedge on Parker and Gesicki.|
|A.J. Green||WR||SF||$5,100||4%||Looking like his old self. Mismatch for diminished SF secondary.|
|Courtland Sutton||WR||@PIT||$5,500||5%||Hogging targets and air yards.|
|Tyler Conklin||TE||DET||$3,500||2%||Quietly has 14 targets in last two games.|