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.
Patrick Mahomes II ($7,600) and Dak Prescott ($7,200) face each other in the game with this week’s highest implied point total (55.5 points). At only $400 more than Prescott, and coming off a vintage 39.24-point performance on primetime television, Mahomes will be the more popular of the two, but this game will be heavily stacked on both sides. Those who forego the Cowboys at Chiefs game when shopping for a quarterback will either spend up to Josh Allen ($8,100) or down to Cam Newton ($5,100), who is underpriced by $800-$900 relative to his rushing upside and red-zone role.
Flip the Build: The heavy concentration on Allen and Mahomes should allow us to get Lamar Jackson ($8,000) at his lowest roster percentage in weeks. No one expects a shootout in the Ravens at Bears game (O/U 45), but Baltimore is coming off extended rest and should be eager to bounce back after losing to the lowly Dolphins last Thursday night. Other quarterbacks with a high enough implied team total to hit their respective ceilings include Joe Burrow ($6,600), Ryan Tannehill ($6,700), and Jimmy Garoppolo ($5,600).
Back-up running backs thrust into starting roles will take center stage in stock lineups. A.J. Dillon ($6,200) should have the highest roster percentage on the slate at any position in his first game with Aaron Jones sidelined. James Conner’s price mysteriously dropped by $200 after he played on 82% of the snaps in Chase Edmonds’ absence last week. Conner draws a Seahawks rush defense that trails only the Jets in PPR fantasy points allowed to enemy running backs. With Christian McCaffrey ($8,900), Nick Chubb ($7,800), D'Andre Swift ($7,000), and Myles Gaskin ($5,700) each in attractive spots, it looks like a week where the field will use a running back in the flex spot more often than not.
Flip the Build: If the public is bargain hunting for running backs in the $5K-$6K range, some of the position’s top projected scorers will go underexposed. Jonathan Taylor ($8,300), Dalvin Cook ($8,200), Ezekiel Elliott ($7,700), and Joe Mixon ($7,600) aren’t sneaky plays by any means, but they’re tough to fit under the cap alongside an expensive quarterback and WR1. Each is in a potentially high-scoring game environment and can easily be the player you need in lineups to finish inside the top 1% of a GPP.
Tyreek Hill ($8,200) and Davante Adams ($8,400) are the two reasons so many high-end running backs will check in with lower roster percentages than they deserve. Assuming many of our opponents want to build their lineups around the Mahomes/Hill stack, plus Dillon and Conner (or Swift) at running back, there won’t be much cap room leftover for the WR2 and WR3 slots. Tee Higgins ($5,400) and Jaylen Waddle ($5,600) remain too cheap for their expected target volume and are the likeliest candidates for chalky builds. The return of a professional quarterback to Carolina might also put D.J. Moore ($5,900) on the crowd’s radar at his season-low price point.
Flip the Build: Stefon Diggs ($7,900), Ja'Marr Chase ($7,200), A.J. Brown ($7,700), and Deebo Samuel ($7,800) qualify as moderately-rostered price pivots off the Adams/Hill chalk. The prices on Tyler Lockett ($6,000) and DK Metcalf ($6,800) remain too low after Russell Wilson bombed in a tough matchup at Green Bay in his return from a finger injury. When Wilson inevitably shakes off the rust, you’ll want to be a week early on his wide receivers rather than a week late.
The popularity of the Cowboys-Chiefs game, coupled with an impressive showing on Sunday Night Football (22.9 DraftKings points), should make Travis Kelce ($7,100) the crowd’s top target at the position. Unlike most weeks, there is enough value elsewhere on the slate to fit Kelce’s TE1 salary under the cap. Those who can’t get up to Kelce or George Kittle ($6,300) are most likely to turn to Dan Arnold ($4,100), who is essentially operating as Jacksonville’s WR1.
Flip the Build: Outside of Kelce, Kittle, and Darren Waller, the position doesn’t project very well (as usual). The best place to seek out touchdown potential is on home favorites with high implied team totals. Dawson Knox ($4,000) and Mike Gesicki ($5,200) meet the criteria this week.
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:
A.J. Dillon (@MIN, $6,200, 23% rostered)
Dillon has topped 25 DraftKings points in both of his career games with 20+ touches. While that doesn’t mean we can place his median projection close to 25 points, Dillon remains mispriced relative to his upside as Green Bay’s unquestioned lead back. Aaron Jones’ salary never dipped below $6,800 this season despite sharing the backfield with Dillon. It’s fair to say Jones would cost at least $8,000 if it were Dillon who was inactive, and it’s not clear Jones is the more impactful player. Dillon is a load to bring down in the open field and the Packers have shown a willingness to get him the ball in space this season. The only way this spot breaks badly for Dillon is if Davante Adams steals all the touchdowns against a porous Vikings secondary. Taking nothing away from Adams, that’s a risk worth taking in at least 40% of your lineups.
James Conner (@SEA, $6,100, 17% rostered)
It was irresponsible of DraftKings to drop Conner’s salary by $200 one week after he appeared in 17% of lineups in last week's $3.5M Fantasy Football Millionaire. Conner’s 64 all-purpose yards and one touchdown were nothing to write home about, but we saw exactly what we wanted to see with Chase Edmonds inactive. Backup running back Eno Benjamin only saw the field for 27% of the team’s offensive snaps and Conner was given 68% of the backfield touches, which included four targets. Assuming he gets a similar workload this week, the Seahawks will have no answer for Conner and Arizona’s overachieving offensive line. Seattle has allowed 26.5% more PPR fantasy points to enemy running backs than league average over the previous five weeks. Like Dillon, Conner is simply a great play at his salary. If he projects less than 20% rostered by Sunday, you’ll want about 1.5x the field’s exposure.
Tyreek Hill (vs. DAL, $8,200, 19% rostered)
$8,200 is a fair price for Hill given his high target floor (at least nine in all but two games this season) and slate-breaking 50-point upside. There are, however, problems with playing him too heavily in tournaments. The value at running back makes it easy for the crowd to stack Mahomes with Hill in the game that will attract the highest roster percentage on the slate. If you follow the crowd on Hill, and he doesn’t deliver one of his trademark ceiling games, your lineup won’t have much chance at reaching the top 1% outcome you’re after in GPPs. Are you that confident the current version of the Chiefs offense can boost Hill to a 30+ point game we haven’t seen since Week 4? There are better top-end wide receiver plays on the board for tournaments.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Patrick Mahomes II||QB||DAL||$7,600||15%||Is he back or did the Raiders just defend him terribly?|
|Josh Allen||QB||IND||$8,100||9%||Stack this game. Possible overlooked shootout.|
|Christian McCaffrey||RB||WAS||$8,900||15%||10 catches last week. The Return of the King.|
|Myles Gaskin||RB||@NYJ||$5,700||16%||If MIA can't get run game on track vs. NYJ, forget they exist.|
|Davante Adams||WR||@MIN||$8,400||18%||Possible slate-breaker. Hill keeps roster % somewhat in check.|
|Tee Higgins||WR||@LV||$5,400||18%||How many targets does it take to raise his salary?|
|Jaylen Waddle||WR||@NYJ||$5,600||14%||49 targets over last five games.|
|Travis Kelce||TE||DAL||$7,100||14%||Looked like himself last week. Gets another soft matchup.|
|Carolina Panthers||DST||WAS||$2,700||15%||Fade due to % rostered, but can't argue with price, opponent.|
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.
Deebo Samuel (@JAX, $7,800, 10% rostered)
Samuel shouldn’t be able to keep up his remarkable efficiency, but it’s past time to accept him as an outlier. Cooper Kupp trails Samuel for the league lead in yards-after-the-catch by just 21 yards...on 31 more receptions. San Francisco has a sneaky-high 25.5-point total and their passing game runs through Samuel’s 33% target market share. With Jacksonville’s bottom-10 pass defense unlikely to slow him down, Samuel is the perfect price pivot off Hill at $8,200. Based on their season-to-date output, Samuel is the more likely of the two stud receivers to eclipse 30 DraftKings points.
Dalvin Cook (vs. GB, $8,200, 12% rostered)
Vegas likes Green Bay at Minnesota to be close (GB -2) and fairly high scoring (O/U 47). If the game goes according to the script, it’s unlikely Kirk Cousins is the reason why. The Packers’ pass defense has solved Kyler Murray (274-0-2), Patrick Mahomes II (166-1-0), and Russell Wilson (161-0-2) in three consecutive games. If the Vikings want any hope of keeping things close, they'll lean on Cook to sustain drives and keep Aaron Rodgers off the field. Ceiling games have been elusive for Cook in 2021, but his talent and workload aren’t in question. He isn’t less likely to appear in a winning lineup than Nick Chubb, which is what Cook’s projected roster percentage implies.
Lamar Jackson (@CHI, $8,000, 6% rostered)
Jackson’s three 35+ point performances this season have all come in games that totaled at least 54 combined points. Ravens at Bears is no one’s idea of a shootout, but stranger things have happened. Chicago has allowed 33 points per game over their last three games against the Buccaneers (understandable), 49ers, and Steelers (not so much). With Justin Fields looking more capable each week, it’s possible the Bears put enough pressure on Jackson to keep his foot on the pedal and reach his ceiling, which is every bit as high as Mahomes’ and Allen’s, who will appear in twice as many lineups.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Joe Burrow||QB||@LV||$6,600||6%||Over/under in CIN @ LV has crept up to 50 points.|
|David Montgomery||RB||BAL||$5,500||12%||Returned from multi-week injury to 85% snap share.|
|Jonathan Taylor||RB||@BUF||$8,300||8%||Unstoppable force (BUF defense) vs. immovable object (Taylor).|
|Ja'Marr Chase||WR||@LV||$7,200||12%||Burrow-Chase stack with Waller run back = leverage + upside.|
|A.J. Brown||WR||@TEN||$7,700||10%||Usually makes a habit of spanking Houston.|
|Tyler Lockett||WR||ARI||$6,000||12%||Led league in air yards in Wilson's Week 10 return.|
|Mike Gesicki||TE||@NYJ||$5,200||6%||Leverage on Gaskin, Waddle.|
|Baltimore Ravens||DST||@CHI||$3,300||7%||Rookie Fields improving but still struggles with pressure.|
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 (vs. NO, $6,800, 3% rostered)
Sticking with the theme of rushing quarterbacks, Hurts has to be part of your plans any time he projects to appear in fewer than 5% of tournament lineups. While his counting stats have taken a downtick since the Eagles rediscovered their running game, Jordan Howard and Boston Scott are going to have a tough time running on New Orleans. The Saints have allowed exactly one running back to top 70 yards this season, and that was back in Week 2 when Christian McCaffrey ran for an inefficient 72 yards on 24 carries. Philadelphia will need to lean on Hurts’ arm and legs to score points, placing his ceiling projection close enough to those of Allen, Jackson, and Mahomes.
DeVonta Smith (vs. NO, $6,400, 4% rostered)
We have ourselves a contrarian tournament stack. Smith has scored over 22 DraftKings points in each of his previous two games and is in line for a massive target share if Dallas Goedert can’t clear the concussion protocol. While their defensive front is as stout as they come, the back end of the Saints’ defense is suspect. They’ve allowed a 100-yard receiver in each of their last three games, including a 6-5-100 line to Marcus Johnson (who?) last week. Look for Smith to keep it rolling in a game that could go back and forth.
Brandon Aiyuk (@JAX, $5,000, 2% rostered)
Considering we’ve already covered Samuel as an ideal tournament play, mentioning Aiyuk is probably more of an endorsement of Jimmy Garoppolo than anything. Aiyuk is one of the most disappointing stories of the 2021 fantasy season, but there have been signs of life recently. Over the last three games, his snap share hasn’t dipped below 88% and his target share has been 21% or better. If the 49ers win big over Jacksonville, a 20+ point game from Aiyuk could easily be one reason why.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Jimmy Garoppolo||QB||@JAX||$5,600||2%||Tethered to high upside receivers in plus matchups.|
|James Robinson||RB||SF||$6,400||6%||Your runback in SF stacks.|
|Rashod Bateman||WR||@CHI||$4,500||2%||Hat tip to Dan Back on the Power Grid for this call.|
|Corey Davis||WR||MIA||$5,000||5%||Should benefit most from switch to Flacco.|
|Quez Watkins||WR||NO||$3,700||3%||PHI WRs in great spot, especially if Goedert scratches.|
|Dawson Knox||TE||IND||$4,00||5%||TE on big home favorite with high implied team total.|
|Philadelphia Eagles||DST||NO||$2,900||4%||The Trevor Siemian thing always ends poorly.|