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.
The highest implied team totals on the slate belong to the Bills (31.5), Rams (31), and Buccaneers (28). As a result, we can safely expect Josh Allen ($8,100), Matthew Stafford ($7,600), and Tom Brady ($7,400) to split roster percentage in the top pricing tier. With a lack of clear value-plays at running back and wide receiver, however, spending all the way up at quarterback may not be possible. The chalkiest lineups will likely feature Jalen Hurts ($7,200), who is never pretty to watch but has delivered a 3x multiple on his current salary in each of his games this season.
Flip the Build: Justin Herbert ($7,400) is your clear price pivot off of this week’s most popular quarterbacks. New England’s defense still carries enough weight with casual fans that LA’s 27-point implied total will go overlooked, as Herbert and the Chargers enter Week 8 fresh off their bye. Saving salary at quarterback makes it easier to create unique builds on this slate. Despite a scary-low floor, you can try Tua Tagovailoa ($5,500) in what projects as a pass-heavy game script against the Bills. Buffalo is admittedly an awful matchup for enemy quarterbacks, but Taylor Heinicke managed nearly 24 DraftKings points in Washington’s 43-21 road loss to the Bills in Week 3. Tagovailoa is capable of achieving similar results in a game he’ll need to throw at least 40 passes.
Derrick Henry ($8,900) and Alvin Kamara ($8,700) will top the wishlist of most entrants, but fitting either under the cap alongside both an expensive quarterback and Cooper Kupp ($9,000) is a difficult exercise. Assuming more of our opponents are likely to chase Kupp than a high-end running back, greater roster percentages will concentrate around upper-middle-tier backs, such as D'Andre Swift ($7,100), Darrell Henderson ($6,500), and James Robinson ($6,600).
Flip the Build: With the possible exception of Henderson, the public is correct in focusing on the $6.5K-$7K tier of running backs. But Jonathan Taylor ($7,200), Joe Mixon ($6,900) and Leonard Fournette ($6,300) also have 30-point ceilings and will appear in far fewer lineups. Punting running back altogether (relatively speaking) is usually not advisable, but doesn’t project poorly this week given the middling price tags of impressive (and unheralded) rookies Khalil Herbert ($5,400), Elijah Mitchell ($5,400), and Kenneth Gainwell ($5,000).
Kupp is the first name the majority of your opponents will click on when creating lineups, which necessitates mid-range and low-end wide receivers to fill in the other two slots. Michael Pittman Jr ($5,300), Tee Higgins ($5,200), and Emmanuel Sanders ($5,400) are likely to see inflated roster percentages as a result. Deebo Samuel ($7,400), D.J. Moore ($7,200), and Calvin Ridley ($6,600) each profile as popular one-off plays, but they are priced too high for stock builds.
Flip the Build: Mike Williams ($7,700) and Keenan Allen help cut the chalk, especially if you believe Herbert can reach a ceiling vs. New England. Ja'Marr Chase ($7,500) saw a staggering $1,300 salary increase from last week headed into a matchup against the Jets’ run-funnel defense. Chase has demonstrated overall WR1 upside, and strangely, may end up a leverage play on Higgins. From a cap allocation standpoint, the $6-$7K range at wide receiver is packed with upside. Filling all three of your wide receiver slots from this tier will lead you to balanced builds that go against the grain.
Part of what makes Hurts so appealing is the ability to stack him cheaply with Dallas Goedert ($4,800), who looked solid in his first game without Zach Ertz in the lineup (5-3-70-0). Goedert figures to out-roster the field at tight end, with Ricky Seals-Jones ($3,800) continuing to draw the most attention among sub-$4K players.
Flip the Build: With no Travis Kelce or Darren Waller on this slate, Kyle Pitts ($6,300) is the closest thing to a tight end who can outscore the rest of the position to the degree that you’ll need him in lineups to win a tournament. But Pitts’ price point is so unattractive and difficult to build around, you’re better off punting the position altogether. Dan Arnold ($2,800) and Adam Trautman ($2,700) qualify as cheap, athletic, every-down tight ends with exploitable matchups.
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 (@HOU, $9,000, 26% rostered)
We mentioned in this space last week that Kupp is as unfadeable as Jerry Rice in his prime. It would be easy to say the same holds true after he broke the Week 7 slate with 40.6 DraftKings points, but at least two factors are working against him. The $600 increase in Kupp’s salary is significant on this slate, and there is potential he rests the entire fourth quarter in a blowout win over the Texans. Both concerns, however, are overblown. Kupp is getting targeted heavily at every level of the field, including in the red zone, where he leads all pass-catchers in targets and touchdowns. A week will come where he “only” reaches his median projection and busts relative to his salary/percent-rostered profile, but the Texans defense doesn’t seem like the one that will get in Kupp’s way. He’s the best player on the slate until proven otherwise.
Darrell Henderson (@HOU, $6,500, 19% rostered)
Henderson hogging LA’s touchdowns might qualify as a third reason to reconsider Kupp as an auto-play, but it’s more likely he ends up busted chalk for a second consecutive week. While Henderson has a stranglehold on touches in the Rams’ backfield, it’s not resulting in high-ceiling performances because the passing game is so efficient. For Henderson to help you win tournaments at his current salary and projected percent-rostered, he HAS TO score multiple times, which isn’t a bet you want to make considering LA has scored 79% of their total touchdowns through the air. Come in at half the field’s exposure if you’re setting multiple lineups and leave Henderson out if you’re only playing a single lineup.
Dallas Goedert (@DET, $4,700, 14% rostered)
We saw what we needed to see from Goedert in his first game since the Zach Ertz trade. He easily set season-highs in snap share (93%) and route participation (88%), and was deployed as a downfield weapon against Las Vegas. We haven’t yet seen what Goedert’s ceiling looks like in his newfound full-time role, but it’s safe to assume it’s higher than last week’s 12 DraftKings points. It’s doubtful, however, that there is enough production to go around in the Eagles passing game for Goedert to be a difference-making tight end in tournaments. He’s an easy fade this week.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Jalen Hurts||QB||@DET||$7,200||14%||Priced too high to get excited about in what could be ugly game vs. DET.|
|Josh Allen||QB||MIA||$8,100||13%||Top projected QB on the slate warrants heavy exposure as huge home fave.|
|D'Andre Swift||RB||PHI||$7,100||16%||Has one of the best PPR roles in fantasy football. Soft matchup.|
|Alvin Kamara||RB||TB||$8,700||17%||You have to give up too many projected points to fit him in lineups.|
|Deebo Samuel||WR||@CHI||$7,400||22%||Has emerged as best PPR WR after Kupp. Don't love the % rostered.|
|Chris Godwin||WR||@NO||$6,400||20%||No Antonio Brown consolidates targets. CB Lattimore should be on Evans.|
|Calvin Ridley||WR||CAR||$6,600||17%||Continues to test the theory that opportunity trumps all.|
|Ricky Seals-Jones||TE||@GB||$3,700||9%||Price remains stagnant despite every-snap role and steady volume.|
|Washington FBT||DST||@DEN||$2,100||13%||Stock builds need the savings. Easy fade in GPPs.|
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.
Jonathan Taylor (vs. TEN, $7,200, 10% rostered)
Taylor won’t pop in projection models at his salary, but he’s exactly the type of player who can ruin even the best projections on a single play. This week’s game environment is promising for Taylor. Indianapolis is playing at home as a short favorite (-1.5) in a game Vegas likes for scoring (51-point over/under). Tennessee might believe their own press clippings after smoking Kansas City last Sunday, opening the door for Taylor to catch their defense sleeping for one of his trademark breakaway runs. If the Colts do jump out to a big lead, it would make sense to run Taylor back with A.J. Brown, who regained his dominant form in Week 7.
Stefon Diggs (vs. MIA, $8,100, 11% rostered)
Josh Allen is chalk, Miami has allowed 65% more PPR fantasy points to enemy wide receivers over the last three weeks than league average, and Diggs will only be moderately rostered? Betting on a Diggs blow-up game hasn’t been a profitable endeavor in 2021, but he has eclipsed 20 DraftKings points in two out of his last three games. And with Buffalo coming off a bye, Diggs and Allen had extra time to get on the same page. With so many people spending up to Kupp at $900 more and Emmanuel Sanders available to smooth out Allen’s QB1 salary in Buffalo stacks, we may never have a better opportunity to play Diggs in tournaments all season.
Diontae Johnson (@CLE, $6,700, 7% rostered)
The crowd seems to have forgotten about the Steelers following their Week 7 bye. Despite the potential for a low-total slog in Cleveland (over/under 42.5), we can play some Steelers at low roster percentages due to how heavily concentrated the offense is around Johnson and Najee Harris. With the exception of a wonky Week 5 game script in which Ben Roethlisberger only had to throw 25 times, Johnson has commanded double-digit targets in every game this season. His reception projections all but guarantee a 15-point floor and his upside lies in how awful Cleveland has defended the opposition’s No. 1 wide receiver. While it’s possible Chase Claypool is the one who capitalizes on the plus-matchup, he requires a quarterback who can challenge defenses downfield. Roethlisberger, at this stage of his career, no longer appears capable.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Justin Herbert||QB||NE||$7,300||5%||Elite QB the fewest people are looking at. Fresh off bye week.|
|James Robinson||RB||@SEA||$6,600||13%||Every-down workhorse vs. punching bag rush defense.|
|Leonard Fournette||RB||@NO||$6,300||9%||Leverage on TB passing game. Should be leaned on in close game.|
|A.J. Brown||WR||@IND||$6,900||12%||Finally looked healthy. That's all we need to know.|
|Mike Williams||WR||NE||$7,700||6%||Won't pop as a value play, but has overall WR1 upside.|
|Robert Woods||WR||@HOU||$6,300||9%||For use in non-Kupp lineups.|
|Tyler Higbee||TE||@HOU||$4,500||6%||HOU allowing 45% more PPR pts to enemy TEs than league avg.|
|Chicago Bears||DST||SF||$2,700||5%||Good price for DST facing Garoppolo at home. Cuts Deebo 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.
Tua Tagovailoa (@BUF, $5,500, 2% rostered)
As we alluded to earlier, Tagovailoa is in an awful spot visiting Buffalo. If we forget about what it looks like on paper, however, the upside is undeniable. The Bills run plays at the NFL’s third-fastest situation-neutral rate and Miami also ranks inside the top half of the league in adjusted pace of play. When you stack an abundance of plays on top of what will almost certainly be a pass-heavy game script, Tagovailoa may throw the ball 50 times in this game. It’s not like he’s playing poorly either. Neither of his last two matchups (JAX, ATL) was remotely as difficult as the Bills in Buffalo, but to his credit, Tagovailoa has combined to produce a 5.6x salary multiple since returning in Week 6.
Khalil Herbert (vs. SF, $5,400, 6% rostered)
No one wants any part of the Bears offense or the slate-low 39.5 point game total in Chicago at San Francisco. But Herbert provides salary relief and appears to have locked down a workhorse role in David Montgomery’s absence. Even with Damien Williams back last week, Herbert played 77% of the offensive snaps and ran a pass route on 53% of Justin Fields’ dropbacks. The results (18 carries, 100 rushing yards, five receptions, 33 receiving yards) were impressive in a lopsided loss against the league’s best rush defense in Tampa Bay. The 49ers aren’t pushovers on the ground either, but as the engine of Chicago’s offense, 25 DraftKings points is within the range of Herbert’s possible outcomes.
T.Y. Hilton (vs. TEN, $4,900, 3% rostered)
Hilton (quad) is exceptionally risky. As of this writing, it’s unclear if he’ll even suit up against the Titans. And even if he does, he’s at elevated risk of aggravating the injury in-game. With a return to limited practice on Thursday, however, it appears Hilton should be able to play. He showed instant downfield rapport with Carson Wentz in his Week 6 season debut, and despite their surprising dominance over Patrick Mahomes II in Week 7, Tennessee typically struggles to contain big plays in the passing game. With Michael Pittman Jr expected to draw the crowd at a similar price point, Hilton adds leverage in what should be a shootout.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Sam Darnold||QB||@ATL||$5,600||3%||Turned into a pumpkin. ATL defense could be the glass slipper.|
|Trevor Lawrence||QB||@SEA||$5,500||3%||Interested to see how the rookie looks off his first bye week.|
|Zack Moss||RB||MIA||$5,200||5%||Multi-TD upside. Mega-leverage off Allen stacks.|
|DK Metcalf||WR||JAX||$6,800||4%||Season-low price. Geno looking for him. JAX can't stop him.|
|Marvin Jones Jr||WR||@SEA||$5,900||3%||Highest upside Lawrence stacking partner.|
|Chase Claypool||WR||@CLE||$6,300||2%||If it's not Diontae Johnson, it will be Claypool.|
|Noah Fant||TE||WAS||$4,900||5%||WAS D friendly to pass-catchers of all types.|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||DST||@CLE||$4,300||1%||If Baker plays with a hurt shoulder, good. If he doesn't, good.|