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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.
We’ve reached the ever-tricky final slate of the regular season, which means you’ll want to brush up on both team and player motivations (in addition to the usual slew of injury and COVID news) before setting your lineups. With Buffalo trying to beat out New England for the AFC East crown, and Josh Allen ($8,000) and co. facing the hapless Jets at home (-16.5), it’s not difficult to spot the overwhelming chalk at quarterback.
Flip the Build: Quarterback roster percentages should end up flat outside of Allen, so starting a build with most other quarterbacks should get you building in a different direction than the masses. Other signal-callers with implied team totals over 25 points who should play their usual allotment of snaps include Kyler Murray ($7,400), Ryan Tannehill ($6,000), and Matthew Stafford ($6,700). While New Orleans’ team total (22 points) doesn’t inspire as much confidence, Taysom Hill ($6,200) is cheap and projects to monopolize his team’s offensive production against Atlanta.
The major decision for most entrants will be whether to spend over $9K on Jonathan Taylor ($9,300) or Cooper Kupp ($9,700). Given Kupp’s back-to-back good (not great) performances and Indianapolis’ standing as a 15.5-point favorite in a win-and-in matchup vs. Jacksonville, we should expect more entrants to choose the Taylor side. DraftKings’ refusal to raise Sony Michel’s salary ($6,000) locks him into the RB2 slot next to Taylor in common builds. Devin Singletary ($6,000) is a strong bet to appear in non-Allen lineups, and James Conner ($6,300) will (correctly) pick up steam, assuming he returns from injury and Chase Edmonds is out with toe and ribs injuries.
Flip the Build: Spending in the mid-range across two running back slots and the flex is possible on this slate, but consider what Taylor’s popularity means for the other top-tier running backs. Nick Chubb ($7,900) should be Cleveland’s entire offense against Cincinnati’s second-stringers. Dalvin Cook ($7,800) has no workload concerns and a positive implied game script against the Bears. And even if Mark Ingram is active, shouldn’t New Orleans lean on Alvin Kamara ($8,300) with their season on the line? Price pivots in the middle range include Elijah Mitchell ($6,000) and DOnta Foreman ($5,700).
Kupp will have his fans, but he’s finally priced out of common builds. If entrants are going to spend up at the WR1 slot, they’re unlikely to look beyond Justin Jefferson ($8,100) or more likely, A.J. Brown ($7,000). The combined salaries of Allen, Taylor, and Brown require low-to-moderate spending at the remaining wide receiver spots. Look for Russell Gage ($5,600) to pop in point-per-dollar rankings with Kyle Pitts limited or sidelined. Inexpensive Allen stacking partners like Cole Beasley ($4,800) and Gabriel Davis ($4,900) should round out the wide receiver corps in stock lineups.
Flip the Build: Spending up for multiple wide receivers is a clear path to a unique lineup but probably not the way to maximize total points. You can gain differentiation in the mid-range with high-volume receivers on low-end passing offenses, such as Jakobi Meyers ($5,200), Jaylen Waddle ($6,300), and Darnell Mooney ($5,900).
Zach Ertz ($5,300) is the best value at the position, but even his middling salary will be too much for most of our opponents to squeeze under the cap. Cole Kmet ($3,400) is about all they’ll be able to fit. A chunk of field exposure could even end up on all-out punt plays, such as Washington third-stringer (turned-starter), John Bates ($3,000).
Flip the Build: Mark Andrews ($7,500) is overpriced, George Kittle ($6,700) has quarterback concerns, and Rob Gronkowski ($6,300) could get pulled early without much at stake for Tampa Bay. Ertz is close to a sure thing by tight end standards, but won’t differentiate your lineups. If you want to get weird at tight end, overpaying for Dawson Knox ($5,400) makes some sense given his opponent and the implied game script. Austin Hooper ($3,600) is a viable contrarian punt option. David Njoku is out, the Bengals will be playing backups, their linebackers have struggled in coverage all season, and Case Keenum has to be considered an upgrade over Baker Mayfield.
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:
Josh Allen (vs. NYJ $8,000, 16% rostered)
The 16.5-point spread in Buffalo’s favor tells the entire story here. New York has been a bottom-five pass defense all season, including the previous five weeks which includes games against Gardner Minshew, Taysom Hill, Tua Tagovailoa, and Trevor Lawrence. When Allen faced the Jets in Week 10, he lit them up for 366 yards and two touchdowns on only 28 pass attempts in a 45-17 cakewalk. In-season division rematches tend to be closer games, but this is the Jets in Week 18 of a throwaway season. Allen deserves to have the highest-scoring projection at his position and should be a part of your tournament plans if you are multi-entering.
Jonathan Taylor (@JAX, $9,300, 25% rostered)
Lock Taylor in for cash games, but at $9,300 and appearing in roughly a quarter of your opponents’ lineups, he’s a lackluster tournament option. Poor quarterback play and injuries on the offensive line have capped Taylor’s ceiling in recent weeks. While those factors should be mitigated against a Jacksonville defense that stopped trying weeks ago, it’s difficult to imagine Indianapolis leaning on Taylor for 30 touches in a game they should win easily. If he finishes with closer to 20-23 touches, Taylor will need multiple chunk plays and touchdowns to pay off his salary/roster percentage profile. There isn’t a running back in the league more capable, but the odds of a ceiling game are lower than his percent rostered implies.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Kyler Murray||QB||SEA||$7,400||9%||Highest ceiling outside of Allen. Cheap stacking partners.|
|Dalvin Cook||RB||CHI||$7,800||18%||Overall RB1 well within range of outcomes at a discount from Taylor.|
|Sony Michel||RB||SF||$6,000||23%||How many touches does he need for DK to raise his price?|
|Cooper Kupp||WR||SF||$9,700||20%||Expensive, but dominant and playing for individual records.|
|A.J. Brown||WR||@HOU||$7,000||17%||Houston has no one to defend him.|
|Justin Jefferson||WR||CHI||$8,100||18%||Like teammate Cook, could be best play at his position at a discount.|
|Zach Ertz||TE||SEA||$5,300||15%||11 targets per game since Hopkins went down. Way too cheap.|
|Cleveland Browns||DST||CIN||$2,600||16%||Facing Brandon Allen instead of Joe Burrow.|
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.
Washington Football Team Running Back
As of this writing, it’s too early to know if Antonio Gibson ($5,800) will play through his hip injury, though he was able to log limited practices on Wednesday and Thursday. If Gibson were to miss a second straight game, Jarret Patterson ($5,300) would likely slot into the same role that led him 20.8 DraftKings points in last week’s loss to Philadelphia (62% snap rate, 63% of backfield touches, five targets). The best-case scenario for tournaments is Gibson playing with an uncertain workload, which would keep his roster percentage below 15%. Gibson has a higher ceiling than Patterson, and the Giants are producing ideal running back game scripts with the overwhelmed Jake Fromm behind center. If Gibson sits, don’t be afraid to come in over the crowd on Patterson, who is capable of doing a good enough Gibson impersonation.
Michael Pittman (@JAX, $5,900, 12% rostered)
If we’re shorting Taylor in tournaments, it makes sense to come in overweight on Pittman. The Jaguars’ secondary has made Davis Mills, Zach Wilson, and Mac Jones look like the best versions of themselves over the last three weeks, so it’s possible Carson Wentz will be up to the task of carving them up. Pittman leads Indianapolis in every relevant receiving category and becomes the obvious beneficiary if touchdown variance bites Taylor.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Taysom Hill||QB||@ATL||$6,200||7%||Best combo of rushing upside, matchup on slate.|
|Alvin Kamara||RB||@ATL||$8,300||8%||Don't mind stacking with Hill and getting all NO TDs.|
|Nick Chubb||RB||CIN||$7,900||8%||Watch injury report, but get healthy exposure if he's active.|
|Darnell Mooney||WR||@MIN||$5,900||9%||Unquestioned WR1 in great matchup with pocket passer at QB.|
|Tyler Lockett||WR||@ARI||$6,400||7%||Preferred run-back in Murray stacks.|
|Russell Gage||WR||NO||$5,600||7%||If Pitts plays, he could be limited or used as a decoy.|
|Pat Freiermouth||TE||@BAL||$4,600||5%||Helps fill void in offense left by Johnson (COVID).|
|LA Rams||DST||SF||$3,100||5%||Doesn't really matter if Lance or Garoppolo starts.|
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.
Ray-Ray McCloud (@BAL, $3,800, 6% rostered)
With Ben Roethlisberger becoming less willing to throw the ball downfield each passing week, McCloud has quietly recorded at least eight targets in three out of the last four games. While he’s failed to generate much fantasy production, the presumed absence of Diontae Johnson opens up even more opportunity in Pittsburgh’s passing game. Entrants will jump on Chase Claypool before McCloud, but Roethlisberger isn’t able to consistently reach him on throws. McCloud profiles as the potential WR1 in his offense and faces a Baltimore defense that has allowed 59% more fantasy points to enemy receivers than league average over the last five weeks.
Andy Dalton (@MIN, $5,300, 3% rostered)
Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson will be popular one-off plays in tournaments, but not many will look to stack Bears at Vikings and its middling 44-point game total. The Vikings, however, have been a plus matchup for opposing quarterbacks over the last five weeks. If Jared Goff (296-3-1) and Ben Roethlisberger (308-3-1) can get over on the Minnesota defense, it’s not a stretch for Andy Dalton to end this game with 20+ DraftKings points. Stack Dalton with Darnell Mooney, who remained the WR1 in Chicago (13-7-69-1) despite the return of Allen Robinson.
|Player||Pos||Opponent||Salary||Proj. Ros %||Comment|
|Sam Darnold||QB||@TB||$5,000||1%||Bucs don't have much motivation to go full throttle.|
|Michael Carter||RB||@BUF||$5,000||6%||No Coleman. Was on his way to huge game before concussion.|
|Allen Robinson||WR||@MIN||$4,000||7%||Dalton in lineup makes him viable at $4K.|
|A.J. Green||WR||SEA||$5,400||3%||Cashes $250K incentive at 75 receiving yards.|
|Kendrick Bourne||WR||@MIA||$5,000||1%||Only if Agholor misses again.|
|Tyler Conklin||TE||CHI||$4,200||5%||Nine targets in first game without Thielen.|
|Houston Texans||DST||TEN||$2,600||<1%||At home, still playing with pride in division game.|