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.
Salaries on the Week 9 slate are a bit softer than in recent weeks, which makes rostering a quarterback in the $7K-$8K range easier than usual. Josh Allen ($8,200), Lamar Jackson ($7,300), and Jalen Hurts ($6,700) look like the crowd’s preferred targets when spending up. Depending on how the injury report shakes out, however, Tua Tagovailoa ($5,800 vs. HOU) and Taysom Hill ($5,500 vs. ATL) could tilt common roster builds towards cheaper quarterbacks, leading to heavy spending at running back.
Flip the Build: Contrarian quarterbacks are often found in games with middling Vegas totals that can shoot out just as easily as finish under the betting line. The Raiders at Giants game qualifies (LV-3, O/U 46.5), which puts both Derek Carr ($5,900) and Daniel Jones ($5,600) in play for tournaments. Likewise, Joe Burrow ($6,800) is too expensive by about $500 in another game with a 46.5-point total. If you believe Nick Chubb can put pressure on Burrow and co. to keep their foot on the gas, Bengals at Browns makes for a contrarian game stack with upside. Justin Herbert ($7,000) and Dak Prescott ($6,900) will be somewhat popular, but each should offer a measure of leverage over the running backs on their respective teams.
The reason Herbert and Prescott can be used for leverage is due to the presumed popularity of Austin Ekeler ($7,900) and Ezekiel Elliott ($7,000). Elliott, in particular, is mispriced relative to his season-to-date output and should be particularly chalky. While the Saints offense doesn’t inspire much confidence with Hill set to take over, Alvin Kamara ($8,200) will also have plenty of fans in the top salary tier due to the Saints’ home matchup against the dismal Falcons defense.
Flip the Build: Chubb ($6,700) was already mentioned as a differentiator in the quarterbacks section. He projects well against the Bengals and can be used as a lowish-rostered one-off play, as well as in-game stacks. Keep an eye on Aaron Jones’ ($7,200) popularity. If concerns about the Packers’ offense sputtering on Jordan Love’s watch drops Jones below 10% rostered, he makes for a strong play in tournaments. Kansas City’s defensive front has no answer for Jones or Green Bay’s offensive line, and we should expect the inexperienced Love to check the ball down to his running backs at a greater rate than Aaron Rodgers.
Adams ($8,200) was the clear chalk until Rodgers hit the COVID list. Tyreek Hill ($7,900) will take Adams’ place as the crowd’s favorite wide receiver luxury purchase, but won’t reach the same popularity. Instead, we’re likely to see roster percentages concentrate around the middle tier of wide receivers while the masses force expensive running backs into their lineups. Even before the Rodgers news, lighter spending at wide receiver was likely due to Cooper Kupp playing on Sunday night and an abundance of wide receiver value. DeVante Parker ($5,300), Jaylen Waddle ($5,600), Amari Cooper ($5,700), Cole Beasley ($5,400 - ribs), Tee Higgins ($5,300), Hunter Renfrow ($4,800), and Rondale Moore ($4,200) headline the group of wide receivers that make spending up at running back possible.
Flip the Build: If heavy spending at wide receiver is going to be the exception, you can splurge on a pair of expensive wideouts to create a unique build. Deebo Samuel ($7,800 - heel), Stefon Diggs ($7,700), CeeDee Lamb ($7,200 - ankle), and Ja'Marr Chase ($7,600) will pick up some of Adams’ vacated roster percentage, but shouldn’t exceed moderate popularity.
Noah Fant hitting the COVID List paves the way for Albert Okwuegbunam ($2,600) chalk. Okwuegbunam doesn’t have much of a name brand, but he’s crazy athletic, productive in small samples, and as we saw with Dan Arnold last week, tight ends only need to be cheap and on the field to attract the crowd.
Flip the Build: Playing just about anyone outside of Okwuegbunam should get you building in a different direction than your opponents. Due to the number of people spending down, it’s as good a week as any to pay up to Travis Kelce ($7,000), Kyle Pitts ($5,900), and Darren Waller (assuming he’s active), and think of them as underpriced WR1s.
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:
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. DEN, $7,000, 19% rostered)
Elliott is coming off a ho-hum outing against the Vikings on Monday night (11.3 DraftKings points), but remains glaringly mispriced. The Cowboys are at home, favored by nearly double-digits, and implied to score about 30 points. It’s the type of game script we’ve already seen unlock Elliott’s ceiling in Weeks 3-5 against the Eagles, Panthers, and Giants, respectively. You’ll recall these are the same Broncos that made D'Ernest Johnson (23-122-1) look like Walter Payton in Week 7. Elliott looks like the best running back in all DraftKings formats. Play him in about 40% of your lineups if you’re multi-entering, and roster him if you’re only entering a single lineup.
Josh Allen (@JAX, $8,200, 15% rostered)
Allen had the highest roster percentage of any quarterback in the Week 8 Fantasy Football Millionaire (13.8%). Considering there is more value at other positions on this week’s slate, Allen’s price remained close to static, and the Bills are visiting the lowly Jaguars as 14.5-point favorites, it’s a safe bet he’ll once again top the crowd’s wish list. If you were looking for reasons to fade Allen, there is a chance he’s without both Cole Beasley and Dawson Knox -- his two most reliable underneath targets. But even shorthanded, Allen should have his way with a Jacksonville defense that came off their bye and got dissected by Geno Smith in Week 8. Allen belongs in about 10-15% of your lineups and would become far easier to stack if both Beasley and Knox miss.
Albert Okwuegbunam (@DAL, $2,600, 16% rostered)
Assuming Noah Fant isn’t activated from the COVID List in time to play on Sunday, Okwuegbunam should become chalky. At only $100 above the site minimum, it’s hard to argue with a tight end who possesses Okwuegbunam’s athleticism and red-zone chops if he projects to play on 70% of the Broncos offensive snaps. Play him in cash games for sure, but in tournaments, we need to think about Okwuegbunam’s individual ceiling, as well as the ceiling he helps create for our overall lineups. Keep in mind that tight end is the most volatile position outside of DST, Fant saw just four targets in Jerry Jeudy’s return last week, and Denver is implied to score fewer than 20 points on the road in Dallas. Okwuegbunam, like any high-rostered tight end, is an easy tournament fade.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Lamar Jackson||QB||MIN||$7,300||13%||Best projected point-per-dollar play at the position.|
|Tua Tagovailoa||QB||HOU||$5,800||10%||Thrives against bad defenses. HOU is a bad defense.|
|Austin Ekeler||RB||@PHI||$7,900||18%||Would be best RB on the slate if Elliott wasn't so cheap.|
|Alvin Kamara||RB||ATL||$8,200||17%||Were pass-catching struggles with Hill last year small sample trap or trend?|
|Tyreek Hill||WR||GB||$7,900||19%||Can't argue with Hill, but prefer RB-heavy lineups this week.|
|Amari Cooper||WR||DEN||$5,700||20%||Mispriced before Lamb got banged up. Good mega-chalk if Lamb misses.|
|Tee Higgins||WR||CLE||$5,300||17%||DraftKings refuses to raise his salary.|
|Mark Andrews||TE||MIN||$5,500||11%||Jackson's popularity will inflate roster %. Fade candidate.|
|Kansas City Chiefs||DST||GB||$2,300||16%||Doesn't matter how bad they are vs. rookie QB making first start in Arrowhead.|
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.
Myles Gaskin (vs. HOU, $5,800, 14% rostered)
Gaskin’s projected roster percentage and inflated salary (thanks, Texans defense) aren’t particularly attractive until you consider the overall popularity of the Dolphins’ passing game. Tagovailoa, Parker, and Waddle should combine for about three times Gaskin’s roster percentage. If multiple touchdowns come on the ground for Miami, your Gaskin teams will blow past your opponents’ traditional Dolphins stacks. He can also be used alongside Tagovailoa to stack differently from the crowd. Gaskin has received a double-digit target market share in all games but one this season, including each of the previous four.
Jarvis Landry (@CIN, $5,100, 11% rostered)
Landry returned to a 25% target share on just 54% of the snaps in Week 7, but was back to a full-time role in Week 8. The results didn’t jump off the stat sheet (11 DraftKings points), but the 90% snap rate and 32% target share he enjoyed against a tough Pittsburgh defense were encouraging signs. The Bengals secondary is far more forgiving, and Landry will continue to have little competition for targets due to Kareem Hunt’s injury and Odell Beckham Jr’s impending release. Perhaps Landry is best suited for cash games, but the glut of viable receivers in the $5K range will shade his popularity, and as previously mentioned, Cincinnati is capable of forcing a shootout.
Cordarrelle Patterson (@NO, $6,300, 10% rostered)
Patterson let the crowd down, relatively speaking, after news of Calvin Ridley’s absence broke just ahead of lineup lock in Week 8. While he salvaged a 3x multiple of his salary, Patterson fell back into a timeshare with the insufferably boring Mike Davis against Carolina. Perhaps we see a repeat of last week’s disappointing snap share (60%) and route participation (48%) for Patterson in New Orleans. But with Ridley sidelined, we can also safely pencil him in for a ~20% share of Atlanta’s targets. Despite no one knowing who their starting quarterback will be as of this writing, New Orleans is still favored to win by nearly a touchdown at home. Matt Ryan will have to throw 40-45 passes in this game (compared to just 27 last week), which puts Patterson in line for eight-to-nine targets. With that type of pass-catching volume, Patterson won’t need much as a runner to appear in winning lineups.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Dak Prescott||QB||DEN||$6,900||8%||Elliott's popularity should keep Prescott's roster % in check.|
|Josh Jacobs||RB||@NYG||$6,200||10%||Raiders could lean more run-heavy without Ruggs. Multi-TD upside.|
|Chase Edmonds||RB||@SF||$5,300||7%||ARI WRs are either out (Green) or banged up (Hopkins).|
|CeeDee Lamb||WR||DEN||$7,200||6%||If he's active, leverage on Elliott, Cooper.|
|Kadarius Toney||WR||LV||$5,200||11%||Last man standing at WR for NYG. Big-play upside.|
|Emmanuel Sanders||WR||@JAX||$5,600||8%||Should bounce back from poor Week 8 showing.|
|Dalton Schultz||TE||DEN||$4,800||5%||Broncos historically defend TEs poorly. Upside if Lamb misses.|
|Carolina Panthers||DST||NE||$2,600||5%||Looked good last week vs. ATL. Rookie QB visiting this week.|
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.
Christian Kirk (@SF, $5,300, 5% rostered)
People are buzzing about Rondale Moore ($4,200) in the absence of A.J. Green (COVID List), but Kirk is the one who is now earmarked for more of the downfield targets typically aimed at Green. Even without Green’s absence, Kirk warrants some consideration in a game that could easily end up high scoring (O/U 45). He has exceeded a 3x multiple of his current salary in three out of eight games this season -- a 37.5% clip which is about seven times his percent-rostered projection.
Tyrod Taylor (@MIA, $5,000, 2% rostered)
With Tagovailoa, Taysom Hill, and possibly even Jordan Love hogging roster percentage in the sub-$6K range at quarterback, Taylor’s return to the lineup is going flying below the radar. What little we’ve seen of Taylor in a Texans uniform has looked surprisingly good. He finished with 23.64 DraftKings points in a Week 1 win over the Jaguars and was carving up a solid Cleveland defense on the road before getting injured in Week 2. No team has allowed more fantasy points per game to enemy quarterbacks over the last five weeks than Miami. Consider stacking Taylor with Brandin Cooks, running it back with Myles Gaskin, and filling the rest of your lineup with chalk.
Bryan Edwards (@NYG, $4,100, 6% rostered)
The fallout from Henry Ruggs III’ release creates a larger opportunity for Edwards to step in as the 1B to Darren Waller’s 1A in the Raiders’ passing game. While Zay Jones ($3,000) will inherit Ruggs’ snaps, he’s not the type of wide receiver who can command targets or produce downfield splash plays. Edwards, the physical prototype of a No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, is now the team’s top big-play threat and should see his target share bump into the 15-17% range. It’s enough volume to put him in play at just $4,100 against the Giants, who rank bottom-12 in PPR fantasy points allowed to enemy wide receivers over the previous five weeks.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Joe Burrow||QB||CLE||$6,800||5%||Bengals should bounce back after sleepwalking through NYJ game.|
|Aaron Jones||RB||@KC||$7,200||5%||Packers will lean on him vs. terrible rush defense.|
|Tyler Boyd||WR||CLE||$5,000||4%||Higgins and Chase will be rostered. Boyd will not.|
|Zay Jones||WR||@NYG||$3,000||3%||Not in love with the player, but snaps/routes will be there at min price.|
|Jerry Jeudy||WR||@DAL||$5,000||4%||Returned to full-time role. Volume should ramp up in pass-heavy script.|
|Tyler Conklin||TE||@BAL||$3,000||5%||TE is a blind spot for BAL defense.|
|Houston Texans||DST||@MIA||$2,400||3%||Tua can be turnover-prone. Cuts the Miami chalk nicely.|