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 may not know exactly which signal-caller will appear in the majority of our opponents’ lineups, but it’s a solid bet he’ll cost more than $7K. Patrick Mahomes II ($8,400), Tom Brady ($7,700), Lamar Jackson ($7,400), and Matthew Stafford ($7,100) are each playing as heavy favorites with high implied team totals. These studs will cannibalize each other’s popularity in the top salary tier, leaving the mid-range underexposed. Even fewer entrants will punt quarterback because the scoring gap between the upper and lower salary range is too much to make up, though Tua Tagovailoa ($5,500) could command modest attention due to his matchup (vs. ATL) and successful Week 6 return (25.36 DraftKings points).
Flip the Build: Jalen Hurts ($6,900) and Derek Carr ($6,000) are facing off in a boom/bust matchup in Las Vegas. Each side of that game warrants some exposure, but the best way to leverage common roster construction might be to pay up for a quarterback the crowd is overlooking. At $100 more than Jackson, Aaron Rodgers($7,500) qualifies. He’s always in play at Lambeau Field, and this week the Packers are implied to win big (-9) over a Washington defense that has given up the most fantasy points to enemy quarterbacks.
Derrick Henry ($9,200) is once again chalky despite his slate-high salary. As if Henry’s recent dominance weren’t enough, the public will be all over the Kansas City at Tennessee game and its 55.5-point total. It’s difficult to squeeze Henry, a high-end quarterback, and a luxury purchase at wide receiver under the cap, so light spending at RB2 feels like a necessity. The $5K range isn’t all too enticing but final injury reports could open up value, especially if Antonio Gibson is forced to sit, creating an expanded role for J.D. McKissic ($5,000). Those who fade Henry are most likely to do so in favor of two running backs in the $6K range, where the usual suspects are Darrell Henderson ($6,600), Leonard Fournette ($6,400), Chuba Hubbard ($6,100), and Darrel Williams ($5,800).
Flip the Build: Sandwiched between Henderson and Fournette in pricing, you’ll find Joe Mixon ($6,500) drawing little interest. Mixon was back near his normal workload and showed no ill effects from his ankle sprain last week. He makes for a great price pivot and adds leverage against Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and the always popular Bengals passing game. Aaron Jones ($7,500) is priced alone in a tier no one will look to for running backs. The same logic that makes Rodgers enticing applies equally, if not more so, to Jones. Finally, Arizona is set up for the perfect James Conner ($5,600) game script in a home matchup against Houston they’re implied to win by 18.5 points.
One of Davante Adams ($8,900), Tyreek Hill ($8,600), or Cooper Kupp ($8,400) will appear as the WR1 in common builds. But after our opponents choose their top wideout, cap space will be at a premium. As a result, we should see inflated roster percentages towards the lower and middle salary tiers, where A.J. Brown ($6,300), Chris Godwin ($5,900), Jakobi Meyers ($5,300), and Sterling Shepard ($5,600) stand out as public targets. The WR3 and/or Flex positions will need to be punted in common builds. As of this writing, Rashod Bateman ($3,400) is the most (only?) enticing play under $4K after he saw strong usage in his NFL debut.
Flip the Build: With roster percentages concentrated heavily around Henry, Adams, Hill, and Kupp, the second tier of wide receivers will get shaded. High-volume targets such as D.J. Moore ($7,100), Calvin Ridley ($6,600), and Mike Evans ($6,500) can be used to create balanced lineups that cut against the grain.
Travis Kelce ($7,600) will be a staple in Mahomes stacks that can’t fit Hill’s salary, but he’s far too expensive for the common construction. Those who spend up are more likely to settle for Mark Andrews ($6,000) or Kyle Pitts ($5,900) and take the cap savings. Most entrants will punt the position, but tight ends get dicey after Ricky Seals-Jones ($3,700), whose status must be monitored due to a quadriceps injury.
Flip the Build: From a contrarian roster construction standpoint, the middle salary range is the one to target. Players with the requisite upside include Dallas Goedert ($4,600) in his first game with Zach Ertz out of town, T.J. Hockenson ($5,100), who seems to be recovered from a lingering knee injury, and Tyler Higbee ($4,500). Higbee, in particular, would gain you massive field leverage if he delivers a big game at the expense of Kupp, Henderson, and/or Robert Woods.
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:
Derrick Henry (vs. KC, $9,200, 22% rostered)
Henry enters Week 7 on a heater, coming off back-to-back games with 130+ rushing yards and three touchdowns. Going back to Week 2, he has now eclipsed a 3x multiple of his current salary in four out of five games. At some point, Henry will “only” rush for 100 yards and a touchdown and disappoint relative to his salary/percent-rostered profile, but there is little reason to think a letdown is coming this week. Titans at Chiefs easily projects as the highest-scoring game on the slate, and Kansas City’s 31st-ranked rush defense (DVOA) is exploitable. While Henry has made us look silly all season for fading him relative to the field, there is leverage to be gained by avoiding him. For starters, you’ll be able to play more of Kupp, Adams, and Hill at wide receiver, each of whom is arguably better positioned to break the slate than Henry. And you’ll land on more balanced lineups, which figure to buck the conventional roster construction. Play Henry at about half the field’s exposure and prioritize him as the run-back in Mahomes stacks, where A.J. Brown should appear more frequently due to his modest salary.
Cooper Kupp (vs. DET, $8,400, 23% rostered)
Kupp is essentially the wide receiver version of Henry. He has produced a 3x multiple of his current salary four times through six games. Whereas following the crowd on Henry is often a poor process play due to his lack of pass-catching upside, the opposite is true of Kupp, who has commanded at least 10 targets in every game this season and is outpacing the WR2 (Tyreek Hill) by over two fantasy points per game. Would you have faded Jerry Rice in his prime? Because that’s the type of fantasy season Kupp is putting together, and Detroit’s defense has no one who can stop him. Simply put, Kupp is the best play on the slate. Fade at your own risk.
Matthew Stafford (vs. DET, $7,100, 14% rostered)
Jackson or Mahomes could easily end up the crowd’s top choice at quarterback, but Stafford makes the most sense. He’s the cheapest on a slate without much clear value, Kupp’s popularity correlates directly to Stafford’s, plus we have a good old revenge game narrative with Stafford facing his former team. We never have to sweat roster percentage at quarterback too much since it’s usually spread thin, but it might be a better idea to play more Kupp lineups without Stafford. Most of Stafford’s production can easily run through Kupp, and since Darrell Henderson will also be popular, your Stafford lineups can easily get buried if the Rams rush for multiple touchdowns.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Patrick Mahomes II||QB||@TEN||$8,400||13%||You know the drill by now. Requires every-week exposure.|
|Lamar Jackson||QB||CIN||$7,400||11%||Busted last week in weird game script. Should get back on track vs. CIN.|
|Darrell Henderson||RB||DET||$6.600||18%||Continues to get soft opponents to feast on.|
|Darrel Williams||RB||@TEN||$5,800||17%||Bad chalk. Easier to pass on TEN than run.|
|Davante Adams||WR||WAS||$8,900||22%||Can't argue with Adams on any slate. Weekly three-TD upside.|
|A.J. Brown||WR||KC||$6,300||20%||Too cheap for this game environment, but roster % too high.|
|Tyreek Hill||WR||NYG||$8,600||17%||Check on quad injury, but warrants heavy exposure if he plays.|
|Ricky Seals-Jones||TE||@GB||$3,700||15%||Can't argue with role, production. Salary savings is useful this week.|
|Arizona Cardinals||DST||HOU||$3,100||20%||Can't play heavily in GPPs due to inflated roster %.|
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 Rodgers (vs. WAS, $7,500, 5% rostered)
As mentioned above, Rodgers is in a terrific spot at home against Washington’s dismal pass defense, and he won’t attract the crowd due to the surplus of quarterbacks in his price range who have delivered higher-ceiling games this year. The table is set, however, for a vintage Rodgers performance at Lambeau Field. Over the previous five weeks, the Football Team has given up 49% more fantasy points to enemy quarterbacks than the league average. The game script sets up nicely for Aaron Jones and the Packers running game as well, but the public is discounting the probability Green Bay meets or exceeds their 28-point implied team total on the strength of Rodgers’ arm. Any time we see a wide receiver (Davante Adams) challenging for the highest roster percentage at his position, while his Hall of Fame quarterback struggles to crest 5% rostered, it should be easy to spot the leverage opportunity.
Joe Mixon (@BAL, $6,500, 7% rostered)
The public is scared of Mixon because he may not be 100% healthy and he’s matched up against a Ravens defense that just put the clamps on Austin Ekeler. But Mixon’s ankle sprain was clearly of the low variety. He was back to his usual two-thirds share of Cincinnati’s backfield snaps and touches, while also commanding a season-high 21% share of the team’s targets in Week 6. Baltimore is a perceived poor matchup for opposing running backs, but even after bottling up Ekeler in a wonky game script last week, the Ravens have allowed the eighth-most PPR fantasy points to running backs this season. Three out of Baltimore’s six games have eclipsed 56 total points this season, which indicates this game could shoot out despite its modest 47-point implied total. Load up on the key pieces from both sides, including Mixon who projects for 25 touches.
Calvin Ridley (@MIA, $6,600, 13% rostered)
Ridley’s ho-hum start to the season, a missed game in Week 5, and last week’s bye has removed him from the crowd’s consciousness. Hopefully, the time off has allowed the Falcons to figure out how to scheme the ball to Ridley downfield more efficiently. Despite failing to crack 19.3 DraftKings points this season, Ridley’s peripheral numbers remain intact. He has commanded over 27% of Atlanta’s targets this season, along with a 47.25% share of the team’s air yards, which trails only Brandin Cooks for the league lead. Ridley is too talented not to produce with elite usage, and Miami’s defense should cooperate. The Dolphins have been shellacked in the passing game by the Buccaneers (understandable) and Jaguars (not so much) over their last two games, and they enter Week 7 banged up in the secondary. If Ridley can’t deliver in this game, at $1,300 below his Week 1 salary, it’s officially time to recalibrate our expectations.
Update: It's probably incorrect to categorize Ridley as a leverage play. As Dan Back pointed out on this week's Power Grid show, the crowd is on to Ridley's soft price and his roster percentage is headed over 20%. He's still a fine point-per-dollar play, but rostering Ridley will not help differentiate your lineup.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Tom Brady||QB||CHI||$7,700||7%||Besides Rodgers, best QB leverage play in top salary tier.|
|Josh Jacobs||RB||PHI||$6,200||6%||PHI defense allowing 23% more PPR pts to RBs than league average over last five.|
|Aaron Jones||RB||WAS||$7,500||9%||For the same reasons we want to play Rodgers more than the field.|
|Ja'Marr Chase||WR||@BAL||$6,200||11%||In the midst of historic rookie year. Not many looking to stack Bengals.|
|Mike Evans||WR||CHI||$6,500||6%||% rostered likely to spike with Brown out. Same for Godwin.|
|Rondale Moore||WR||HOU||$4,400||7%||Nice call by Dan Back on the Power Grid. Could see more run in blowout.|
|Dallas Goedert||TE||@LV||$4,600||8%||Let's see what he looks like with no Ertz.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||DST||@TEN||$2,800||5%||Lowest rostered Chiefs "player" who can easily get to double-digits pts.|
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.
James Conner (@HOU, $5,600, 6% rostered)
Keep an eye on Conner’s roster percentage as we get closer to Sunday morning. As of this writing, he’s projected below his backfield mate, Chase Edmonds, but if too many people get the same idea and those numbers flip, you may want to reconsider the touchdown-dependent Conner. Touchdown expectation is, of course, in Conner’s favor this week. Arizona is hosting Houston as a staggering 18-point favorite and their implied team total is over 32 points. If ever there were a game script that favored a multi-touchdown game from Conner, this is the one. Conner is essentially the same player as Darrel Williams ($5,800) -- a plodder with a secure goal-line role in an elite offense -- only he’ll probably check in with about one-third of Williams’ roster percentage.
Robby Anderson (@NYG, $4,800, 6% rostered)
Anderson is in the midst of an awful season, but at $1,000 less than his Week 2 salary, it’s difficult not to chase his target volume and big-play potential. Over the last three games (since head coach Matt Rhule publicly acknowledged he wanted to get Anderson more involved), he has racked up 29 targets, which ranks ninth in the league. Anderson’s market share of the team’s air yards over the same sample (33.7%) is also right in line with D.J. Moore’s (36.7%). As long as the current usage trends continue, the receiving production in Carolina will eventually start tilting more in Anderson’s favor. A matchup against the reeling Giants’ defense could be the catalyst he needs to break the 20 DraftKings points barrier for the first time in 2021.
T.J. Hockenson (@LAR, $5,100, 6% rostered)
Hockenson scored 46.2 combined DraftKings points in the first two games of the season, hurt his knee, and went on to total just 15.2 over his next three games. Week 6, however, saw a return to 11 targets and 15.4 DraftKings points for Hockenson, which indicates he’s moving past the injury. If that’s the case, we’re getting one of the league’s best tight ends at a reduced salary and percent-rostered, in a game where Jared Goff will almost certainly be forced to throw more than 40 times to keep pace with the Rams in LA. Hockenson is your run-back for Stafford-Kupp stacks, as well as a great one-off play to cut against the chalkier Mark Andrews.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Joe Burrow||QB||@BAL||$6,200||2%||Sneaky shootout potential in CIN @ BAL. Burrow should have to throw.|
|Daniel Jones||QB||CAR||$5,400||5%||Competition much easier this week for inexpensive dual threat.|
|Myles Gaskin||RB||ATL||$5,300||5%||Maybe the Malcolm Brown injury gets him more run in soft matchup.|
|DeAndre Hopkins||WR||HOU||$7,700||3%||Hopkins wants actual revenge on Houston. It's not just a narrative.|
|Olamide Zaccheaus||WR||@MIA||$3,700||1%||If Ridley can't make a big play downfield, Zaccheaus possibly could.|
|Devonta Smith||WR||@LV||$5,400||6%||If there is scoring in PHI @LV, Smith should be involved.|
|Tyler Higbee||TE||DET||$4,500||5%||Leverage on Henderson, Kupp, Woods.|
|LA Rams||DST||DET||$5,000||2%||No one is spending $5K at DST this week, but 4x potential exists.|