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.
Maybe Dak Prescott’s ($6,700) 34.2 DraftKings points in Week 16 were enough to get him back in the crowd’s good graces, but the majority of entrants will ignore the middle tier of quarterbacks. Instead, they’ll pounce on Trey Lance ($4,800), who finally gets an opportunity to start in an ideal home matchup against the Texans. Those who can't trust a raw rookie making his second NFL start will pay up to Josh Allen ($8,000) or Tom Brady ($7,600), each of whom is playing as a double-digit favorite against a bottom-feeding pass defense.
Flip the Build: With the exception of Prescott, the mid-priced tier of quarterbacks is ripe for the picking from a leverage perspective. Taysom Hill’s median projection isn’t far off a 4x multiple of his $6,000 salary at home vs. the Panthers. It may be time to accept we won’t get much out of Russell Wilson this season, but he offers a proven ceiling and is in a prime spot for quarterback fantasy production with Seattle hosting the Lions as seven-point favorites.
Jonathan Taylor ($9,000) doesn’t inspire as much confidence as usual due to the prospect of Sam Ehlinger starting at quarterback for the Colts, as well as an injury/COVID-ravaged offensive line. With Dalvin Cook off the main slate and Austin Ekeler ($8,200) and Joe Mixon ($7,500) seemingly overpriced, we should expect the crowd to spend more of their cap at wide receiver than running back. David Montgomery ($6,500), Sony Michel ($5,800), and Ronald Jones II ($6,300) will split roster percentage in the middle salary range.
Flip the Build: Paying up to Ekeler, and/or Mixon gains you a high ceiling and moderate field leverage, but will leave you thin at wide receiver. Price pivots off this week’s most popular plays include Darrel Williams ($5,800), assuming Clyde Edwards-Helaire scratches with a collarbone injury, and Devin Singletary ($5,400), who appears to have seized the lead-back role in Buffalo. Eli Mitchell’s injury situation is one to watch. If he is able to play and the crowd appears hesitant to trust Mitchell in his first game back from a three-week absence, he makes for an outstanding leverage play off the presumed Lance chalk.
Antonio Brown’s salary ($6,100) increased by $1.2K from last week, yet he remains underpriced by at least $1K. He’ll be the first player most entrants click on when setting lineups this week. Assuming the stock build also includes Lance and a bunch of mid-priced running backs, there should be room for significant spending on at least one wide receiver slot. Cooper Kupp ($9,500) is finally priced appropriately but will be plenty popular against a struggling Baltimore pass defense. Those who can’t squeeze Kupp’s lofty salary under the cap are most likely to settle for A.J. Brown ($7,200), CeeDee Lamb ($7,100), or Stefon Diggs ($7,900). High volume, mid-priced rookies Jaylen Waddle ($6,700) and Amon-Ra St. Brown ($6,000) figure to round out the wide receiver corps in common lineups.
Flip the Build: There are nine games on the main slate with spreads greater than six points, so in theory, we should see several unpopular offenses skew pass-heavy. If you believe Jonathan Taylor can feast on the Raiders’ linebackers despite the potential hurdles, consider mini-stacking him with Hunter Renfrow ($6,500), whose volume is due to bounce back after consecutive quiet outings. Atlanta (Russell Gage) and Houston (Brandin Cooks) are also projected losers with capable enough offenses to produce contrarian wide receiver targets.
It’s possible some forego heavy spending at wide receiver to pair Lance with George Kittle ($7,100), but roster percentage will concentrate around less expensive tight ends, specifically Zach Ertz ($5,200), who seems to have inherited Arizona’s WR1 role in DeAndre Hopkins’ absence.
Flip the Build: Rob Gronkowski ($6,200) and Dallas Goedert ($5,100) will also be popular, so if you’re spending in Ertz’s range on a tight end already, you’re better off finding a way to get all the way up to Travis Kelce ($7,300). When we last saw Kelce, he was beating up on the Chargers (13-10-191-2), and no team has allowed more fantasy points to enemy tight ends than the Bengals over the last five weeks.
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:
Trey Lance (vs. HOU $4,800, 16% rostered)
Lance posted a ho-hum 15.58 DraftKings points in his only start of the season, but the circumstances couldn’t be more different now than they were back in Week 5. The 49ers threw Lance into the fire on the road against the Cardinals, who were playing some of the best defense in the league at the time. San Francisco was also missing George Kittle in that game, and Brandon Aiyuk was still taking up residence in Kyle Shanahan’s dog house. Despite the tough matchup and depleted weapons, Lance would have delivered an easy 4x salary multiple had he not come up inches short on a goal-line run. With the 49ers now at home, favored by 12.5 points, healthy at the skill positions, and taking on Houston’s lousy defense, we’re about to see why he was the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft. Don’t overthink this. Make Lance a high exposure play and get unique elsewhere with your roster construction.
Antonio Brown (@NYJ, $6,100, 30% rostered)
Brown appeared no worse for wear after hanging a dominant 15-10-101-0 receiving line on the Panthers in Week 16, but he was a non-participant at Thursday’s practice, so we’ll have to monitor his status leading up to lineup lock. Assuming Thursday was just a maintenance day, Brown is set up to obliterate the Jets. New York may have appeared to stiffen up against the pass in recent weeks, but their last six opponents were the anemic passing offenses of Jacksonville, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Houston, and Miami again. Even with Mike Evans expected to come off the COVID list, Brown will inherit Chris Godwin’s role as a target hog in the league’s premier passing offense. He’s the best overall play on the slate in any format for the second straight week despite a $1.2K salary increase. Don’t fade the chalk.
Jonathan Taylor (vs. LV, $9,000, 20% rostered)
Taylor represents one of the most difficult decisions on the slate. On one hand, he’s deserving of offensive player of the year and facing a Raiders defense that has allowed over 30% more fantasy points to enemy running backs over the last five weeks than league average. But on the other, he could be without his starting quarterback and all five of his starting offensive linemen. If Taylor cost $7,000 and was slated to appear in 10% of lineups, he would be well worth the gamble. At $9K, with a top-3 percent rostered projection at his position, and with plenty of running back value on the board, however, Taylor is a risky tournament play. Don’t exceed the field’s exposure.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Josh Allen||QB||ATL||$8,000||13%||He's Josh Allen. They're the Falcons. Yes, you want exposure.|
|David Montgomery||RB||NYG||$6,500||21%||True workhorse in great matchup. At least $700 too cheap|
|Sony Michel||RB||@BAL||$5,800||18%||Salary doesn't reflect Henderson on IR.|
|Cooper Kupp||WR||@BAL||$9,500||22%||Every-week chalk finally priced correctly. Tough call.|
|A.J. Brown||WR||MIA||$7,200||17%||Missing from Thurs practice. In line for heavy targets if he plays.|
|Stefon Diggs||WR||ATL||$7,900||16%||Playing him outside of Allen stacks is one way to cut the chalk.|
|Rob Gronkowski||TE||@NYJ||$6,200||12%||Multi-TD upside but expensive and sputtering to finish line.|
|Chicago Bears||DST||NYG||$3,200||15%||NYG in the midst of a season Fromm hell.|
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.
Ezekiel Elliott (vs. ARI, $7,100, 6% rostered)
Elliott has looked healthier while racking up three touchdowns over the Dallas' previous two games. He was more lightly used than usual in last week’s blowout win over Washington, which should have him well-rested for this week’s faux playoff matchup against Arizona. Cardinals at Cowboys has the highest over/under on the slate (51 points), but the crowd will choose to attack it with Dak Prescott and his pass-catchers ahead of Elliott. While Arizona has been a difficult matchup for running backs this season, they’ve been lucky to give up just one rushing touchdown since Week 13 despite allowing 90 rushing yards or more to David Montgomery, Craig Reynolds, and Jonathan Taylor. If this is the week rushing touchdown regression strikes the Cardinals defense, Elliott will benefit at the expense of the crowd’s Prescott stacks.
D'Andre Swift (@SEA, $6,000, 13% rostered)
Swift’s percent-rostered projection is a difficult one to peg. Will the crowd react more to his $6K salary ($1.3K below his season-high), or his uncertain workload as he returns from a four-week absence? Now that we've gotten a report that Dan Campbell plans to "cut Swift loose", there might be less of an opportunity to get greedy while our opponents get scared. It was always obvious Campbell is still trying to win games despite the Lions’ winless record, and he knows Swift is his offense’s most talented player. While his percent-rostered projection will likely creep up, Swift remains an excellent play in all DFS formats. We can ssafely pencil him in for a modest 10 rush attempts and four catches, which is all we need based on his season-to-date efficiency. When we factor in the poor quality of Seattle’s rush defense and the possibility he could receive closer to 20 total touches, Swift has the upside to help you finish in the top-1% of a tournament.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Russell Wilson||QB||DET||$6,200||6%||We have to get a vintage Russ game soon, right? Right?|
|Michael Carter||RB||TB||$5,100||11%||Tevin Coleman should scratch, opening up bell-cow usage.|
|Devin Singletary||RB||ATL||$5,400||8%||Dominating touches in last two. Could steal Allen's thunder.|
|Tyler Lockett||WR||DET||$6,400||9%||If we do get vintage Russ, vintage Lockett is the reason why.|
|Hunter Renfrow||WR||@IND||$6,500||7%||Tough matchups in last two. Heavy targets should resume.|
|Gabriel Davis||WR||ATL||$5,000||8%||Popularity will take off if Sanders is out. Much needed salary saver.|
|Tyler Higbee||TE||@BAL||$4,000||5%||Cheap leverage on Michel, Kupp. BAL awful vs. TEs.|
|Buffalo Bills||DST||ATL||$3,500||5%||Everyone is focused on Bills offense, but DST in a great spot vs. ATL.|
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.
Taysom Hill (@CAR, $6,000, 5% rostered)
One forgettable game and a bout with COVID have seemingly erased Hill from the public’s consciousness. Aside from Lance, however, he’s the best quarterback value on the slate and will appear in about one-third as many lineups. Hill’s opponent this week, Carolina, has allowed at least 27 points in five consecutive games (all losses). It’s easy to envision the Saints’ defense suffocating whatever combination of Sam Darnold and Cam Newton the Panthers throw at them, resulting in short fields and scoring opportunities for Hill on the ground and through the air. The only question for tournaments is who to stack him with. While the best answer might be no one, Marquez Callaway and Deonte Harris are both viable with Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore out and Tre'Quan Smith (chest) unlikely to play.
Dalton Schultz (vs. ARI, $5,000, 6% rostered)
Ertz is getting all the attention in the $5K range at tight end, but Schultz is also on a tear. Over the last two games, he has combined for 17 targets, 16 catches, 149 receiving yards, and two scores. He also leads all Dallas pass-catchers with a 22% target market share since Week 15. With opposing defenses focused on stopping Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup downfield, they’re content to let Schultz beat them underneath, and we have every reason to think it will continue. In addition to the reliable target volume, Schultz is in a good spot to score another touchdown this week. We want to play tight ends when their team is at home, heavily favored and implied to score at least 25 points. Schultz checks all the boxes.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Justin Herbert||QB||DEN||$6,800||5%||Will people play him in tough matchup after HOU debacle?|
|Rashaad Penny||RB||DET||$6,100||6%||In case I'm wrong about Russ/Lockett.|
|Brandin Cooks||WR||@SF||$6,000||6%||Mills playing well. SF secondary beatable.|
|Odell Beckham Jr||WR||@BAL||$5,700||4%||What if he is the one who shreds depleted BAL secondary?|
|Deonte Harris||WR||@CAR||$3,000||4%||Hill's favorite receiver back from suspension, min-priced.|
|Dawson Knox||TE||ATL||$5,500||5%||Multi-TD upside at home. Ideal Allen stacking partner.|
|Philadelphia Eagles||DST||@WAS||$3,700||3%||Coming in hot. Pay up to be contrarian.|