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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.
On the heels of Week #15 where there were only a few elite quarterbacks on the main slate, the Boxing Day slate yields high-end options like Patrick Mahomes II ($7.7K vs. PIT), Josh Allen ($7.5K @ NE), Tom Brady ($7.4K @ CAR), and Justin Herbert ($7.2K @ HOU). Of these, you can expect Herbert to be most popular with Vegas' highest-implied team total (28) of the main slate and plenty of value from which to save at other positions. Another "JH" quarterback, Jalen Hurts $6.4K vs. NYG), should also be popular with the masses after scoring five rushing touchdowns in the month of December. Rounding out the top trio, expect Matthew Stafford ($6.7K @ MIN) to be chalky in the only game on the Vegas boards with a total approaching 50 against the Vikings. The top projected points-per-dollar options look to be Matt Ryan ($5.4K vs. DET) and Nick Foles ($4.0K @ SEA), neither of whom will be crowd favorites because of the ineptitude of their respective offenses.
Flip the Build: Due to the large number of COVD-related absences, Week #16 will enable many types of GPP roster builds. The most popular will be a "stars and scrubs" approach where DFS players will look to value options like Justin Jackson and Antonio Brown and building around them with higher-dollar players (i.e., Cooper Kupp). To create uniqueness this week, a balanced build is advised for you non-MME players. At the quarterback position, names like Joe Burrow ($5.9K vs. BAL) and Ben Roethlisberger ($5.5K @ KC) merit consideration because their receivers are priced in the mid-range with favorable matchups and lower projected rostership.
In line with last week, injuries and COVID have resulted in some serious value propositions at the running back position. Justin Jackson ($4.2K @ HOU) will compete against a pair of wide receivers (keep reading to discover their identity) for most popular player on the slate; with Austin Ekeler missing due to COVID, "JJax" should get plenty of opportunity to beat up on Houston's 27th-ranked DVOA rush defense at a 50% discount from Ekeler. Alexander Mattison ($6.8K vs. LAR) is in a similar situation to Jackson but comes with a heftier price tag against the Rams in a potential shootout. Lastly, Ronald Jones II ($5.1K @ CAR) should get the bulk of the action out of the Buccaneers backfield with Leonard Fournette landing on injured reserve due to an ankle injury last week.
Flip the Build: Najee Harris ($7.4K @ KC) is the most expensive running back option on the main slate, which makes it difficult to steer clear of the "stars and scrubs" build once again. There are a few diamonds in the middle-tier pricing, however, that stand out as excellent GPP flyers when you are looking to create uniqueness in your lineups. Of those options, Michael Carter ($5.2K vs. JAX) and Josh Jacobs ($6.0K vs. DEN) both rate highly in the model this Sunday with home matchups against pedestrian rush defenses.
Discussed in the next section, Cooper Kupp ($9.1K @ MIN) is this week's most difficult decision for tournament play. He is the most expensive player on the entire board but that will not stop nearly half of the field from rostering Kupp on Sunday. Meanwhile, Antonio Brown's ($4.9K @ CAR) return from IR could not have come at a better time with both Chris Godwin (knee) and Mike Evans (hamstring) both missing action against the Carolina Panthers. You can expect this combination of wide receivers to appear in approximately 20% of all GPP lineups on Sunday; if yours is one of them, be cognizant to select low-rostered players at your other positions.
Flip the Build: As alluded to in the previous sentence, you are advised to build unique rosters by intentionally adding wide receivers with 4x potential who will be overlooked due to Kupp's and Brown's overwhelming popularity. See below for more possibilities, but highlights include Byron Pringle ($3.3K vs. PIT), Laquon Treadwell ($3.5K @ NYJ), and Josh Palmer ($3.3K @ HOU) as potential low-dollar options.
A trio of tight ends represent the chalk options at the position this week. Dallas Goedert ($5.1K vs. NYG), Rob Gronkowski ($6.2K @ CAR), and Mark Andrews ($7.0K @ CIN) will all find themselves on > 12-15% of rosters this weekend; Goedert and Andrews are white-hot across the month of December, while Gronk should be expected to help Antonio Brown fill the receiving gap(s) left by injuries to Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
Flip the Build: If nearly half of all tournament lineups include a tight end that costs more than $5.0K, you can flip the build by spending down at the position. The players popping in the model this week are Cole Kmet ($3.3K @ SEA) and C.J. Uzomah ($3.0K vs. BAL); both are more likely to achieve 4x their salaries than Gronk/Goedert/Andrews and will be on far few lineups across the industry.
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:
Justin Jackson (@ HOU, $4,200, 35% rostered)
It is difficult to recommend a player who could land on over a third of DFS lineups but the reality is that Justin Jackson's combination of matchup and salary is just too promising to ignore entirely. Monitor Jackson's rostership projections heading into Sunday morning and adjust your exposure according to the following guidance: 1) If he is projected to be on less than 30% of rosters, go over the field to your respective level of comfort (> 50% of your tournament lineups), 2) If he is projected somewhere between 30-40% of lineups, stay with the field, and 3) If he is projected on greater than 40% of lineups, roster him on only 20% of your total percentage of GPP lineups.
Cooper Kupp (@ MIN, $9,100, 43% rostered)
The most difficult decision you will make this week is to Cooper Kupp or not to Cooper Kupp. His $9.1K salary would ordinarily keep the masses at bay but with all of the value that has opened up due to COVID and injuries, Kupp is the most logical option to spend salary this week. As a result, it would not be surprising if he ended up on half (or more) of tournament rosters on DraftKings. On this week's edition of the PowerGrid, I urged viewers to consider fading Kupp because you would gain a huge advantage on the field if he does not score a touchdown, which has happened on five different occasions this season. If he finishes in half of tournament lineups, he absolutely must deliver 30+ DK points to justify that level of rostership, which he has done on approximately half of this season's games. Thus, the recommendation here is to max your exposure to Kupp at no more than 20-25% and hope that other options on a talented Rams offense find the endzone this Sunday; if that were to happen, you would immediately finish in the top half of DK tournaments. One last thing: If you just cannot bring yourself to omit Kupp from your lineup, be sure to pair him with at least two players who are projected to be on less than 10% of lineups.
Antonio Brown (@ CAR, $4,900, 31% rostered)
Unless we learn on Sunday morning that Antonio Brown is on a snap count, you are advised to go overweight on his already lofty implied rostership. According to my model, AB is ~ 44% likely to hit 4x value on his $4.9K salary on Sunday, which makes him an elite play at the position and possibly underappreciated by the masses based on our current projections of being on "only" ~ 30% of tournament rosters.
|Justin Herbert||QB||@HOU||$7,200||14%||Leverage away from Justin Jackson's popularity.|
|James Robinson||RB||@NYJ||$5,900||18%||Going overlooked. NYJ DEF = Last vs. RBs (DVOA).|
|David Montgomery||RB||@SEA||$5,700||16%||Foles under center could actually help DMont's prospects.|
|Tyreek Hill||WR||PIT||$8,400||16%||Superior play to Kupp at similar $$ and upside. Leverage.|
|D.J. Moore||WR||TB||$5,700||12%||Favorable gamescript. 10+ targets in 3-straight games.|
|Nico Collins||WR||LAC||$3,400||10%||Next man in line with Cooks out. Plus gamescript to boot.|
|Dallas Goedert||TE||NYG||$5,100||15%||Averaging 27.5 DK PPG over past 2 games.|
|Falcons||DST||DET||$2,600||17%||Cheap with upside against Tim Boyle and lifeless Lions.|
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.
Patrick Mahomes II (vs. PIT, $7,700, 8% rostered)
We learned on Saturday afternoon that Tyreek Hill has cleared COVID protocol and that the Chiefs are holding out hope that Travis Kelce clears overnight. If Patrick Mahomes II has his full arsenal of weapons against the Chiefs on Sunday, he represents an excellent play that creates an unique roster build due to the amount of money required to create Chiefs stacks. Mahomes is coming off a 410-yard performance against the Chargers and could be rounding into form just in time for the playoffs.
Emmanuel Sanders (vs. NE, $4,000, 6% rostered)
Cole Beasley and Gabriel Davis will be at home watching the AFC East showdown between the Bills and Patriots due to COVID, which should open opportunities for the likes of Isaiah McKenzie and Emmanuel Sanders. Of course, Stefon Diggs is still in play but Sanders is a sneaky GPP option because of his pedigree and likely volume-based role standing in for Beasley. Sanders' production has waned later in the season commensurate with his snap count but both should look to tick up significantly without Beasley and Davis on Sunday.
Sunday AM Update: Looks like Allen Robinson is not going to be active today despite being on the COVID list for well over a week. Darnell Mooney ($5.4K) is now the WR1 for Nick Foles and can be double-stacked alongside Cole Kmet ($3.3K) with a DK Metcalf 'run-back.'
|Joe Burrow||QB||BAL||$6,100||7%||Receiving options driving exposure. Upside is there.|
|Josh Jacobs||RB||DEN||$6,000||7%||Bellcow duties & biggest redzone threat on team.|
|Devin Singletary||RB||@NE||$5,100||5%||Handled 93% of snaps in last. Easy multi-TD upside.|
|Allen Robinson||WR||@SEA||$4,000||8%||Recency bias will keep him unnoticed. Foles helps.|
|Tee Higgins||WR||BAL||$6,200||8%||100+ yards in 3 of previous 4 games. Double-stack w/Boyd.|
|Jakobi Meyers||WR||BUF||$4,900||5%||WR1 w/12 targets in last. No Tre'Davious shadow in this one.|
|Cole Kmet||TE||@SEA||$3,300||9%||7+ targets in 3 of last 4 games. Foles likes his TEs.|
|Eagles||DST||NYG||$3,600||7%||Must-win game vs. Jake Fromm in Philly. Yes, please.|
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.
Nick Foles (@ SEA, $4,000, 2% rostered)
It will not give you pleasure pre-lock but rostering Nick Foles in GPP lineups this weekend is a sneaky proposition. It was not that long ago when Foles was announced as the starter in Chicago and Justin Fields would learn from the sidelines. An untimely injury forced Matt Nagy's hand and we have quickly dismissed Foles as a legitimate NFL quarterback a few months later. This week, Foles gets another chance against Seattle's 28th-ranked DVOA pass defense due to injuries to Fields and Andy Dalton. He looks fabulous in a double-stack with Allen Robinson and Cole Kmet for a grand total of $11.3K and can be run back with DK Metcalf for an additional $6.4K. Such a build would open up a ton of salary (~ $7.4K per player) elsewhere and is unique enough that you could justify playing Cooper Kupp without worrying about his massive field exposure.
Josh Palmer (@ HOU, $3,300, 2% rostered)
The Chargers have the highest implied team total on the main slate, a running back that will be on 40%+ of rosters, and a pair of high-impact receivers (Mike Williams and Donald Parham) on the bench with injuries. These realities set up well for Josh Palmer in tournaments because he needs only a modest stat line to deliver 4x value on his $3.3K salary. If Palmer were able to find the endzone once on Sunday, it would almost assuredly pay off his salary; if he were to do so on multiple occasions, he would be the play of the day because those scores would likely come at the expense of Joshua Jackson and the multitude of people who rostered him.
Sunday AM Update: DAndre Swift has been announced as inactive, effectively eliminating any viable DFS plays from the Lions beyond making a small case for Amon-Ra St. Brown, but questions about Tim Boyle's abilities make that a risky proposition.
|Trevor Lawrence||QB||@NYJ||$5,200||2%||Jets allowed 2 or more TDs to QBs in 9 straight games.|
|Michael Carter||RB||JAX||$5,200||4%||Plush matchup with PPR upside. Milly Maker differentiator.|
|DAndre Swift||RB||@ATL||$6,300||3%||Remember him? Gets 26th-ranked DVOA rush defense.|
|Odell Beckham||WR||@MIN||$5,300||5%||Catching his stride in LA. Vultures Kupp's value w/TDs.|
|DK Metcalf||WR||CHI||$6,400||4%||Too talented to stay quiet. Analytics in his favor for big day.|
|Laquon Treadwell||WR||@NYJ||$3,500||2%||Most consistent WR option in JAX of late. Great matchup.|
|C.J. Uzomah||TE||BAL||$3,000||1%||Leverage against high-$$ tight ends. 2-TD game in Week 7.|
|Patriots||DST||BUF||$2,900||3%||Excellent defense @ sub-$3K and low Vegas total?|