This is, instead, a look at the player pool I’ll be fishing.
:: covered in-depth in the Angles Pod (it’s highly recommended that you listen to the breakdown of the roster in order to see the thinking behind it, and in order to understand what we’re talking about when we look at a “bottom-up build”; also, it is highly recommended that you join in our “Bottom-Up Build Challenge” on Twitter // DraftKings! — first prize is 200 Edge Points!)
:: these are my “Tier 1” plays: the plays I feel confident leaning into across different types of builds; players who have a high ceiling and a low likelihood of price-considered failure
:: these are games, offenses, situations, or scenarios I’ll be looking to build around across my rosters
:: these are players who don’t fit into the categories above — either Upside pieces who don’t have the floor to be Blue Chips (and are not being focused on within my game-focused builds) or players who may not have a strong shot at ceiling, but are worth keeping in mind from a “role” perspective; essentially, these are the leftover “Tier 2 // Tier 3” guys from the old Player Grid verbiage; ones who don’t otherwise fit into the Bottom-up Build or a “build-around” spot
Run To Daylight (hosted by TodFromPA || presented by OWS!) will be live at 8 PM Eastern.
Hilow will be on.
Lex will be on.
Xandamere will be on.
Let’s have some fun!
(Note: the podcast runs live, but it will be archived shortly after it finishes.)
And with that, let’s get to the Player Grid!
Full breakdown (of what this is, and what the thinking is behind these players) can (and should) be found in the Angles Pod
Jared Cook (I’m no longer on Cook with Taysom likely under center)
Cleveland (Cleveland loses steam with Myles Garrett Out)
This is a really good week to swing to the left or the right of the field. There’s a path right down the middle that’s chock-full (chalk-full?) of quality median scores, but A) not all of these plays have tourney-winning ceiling, and B) not all of these plays will hit for the Chalk Builds. (To put that another way: this is not a Week 7 type of week, in which the chalk is just excellent, rock-solid chalk. Take what you know about what winning rosters look like, and build for first place.)
I say at the top of the Player Grid that this is not a list of all the good plays. But sometimes, it sort of is. Or rather, a play is sometimes too good to leave off the Player Grid, even if I don’t expect to be heavily exposed to that play myself.
I love Dalvin, always. But he is being treated as though it’s impossible for him to land on a 2x or 2.5x score, which creates quite a bit of valuable strategy on such a high-priced player in just staying away and hoping he disappoints. If Dalvin hits for 30 (or even 35) and you don’t have him, that doesn’t prevent you from winning a tourney. (That’s really just him getting the score he needs to get.) But if Dalvin goes for 20 to 22, he provides a big edge for everyone who saved that salary and built a totally different type of roster. (This goes double for rosters that bet on the Minnesota passing attack with a bring-back from the Cowboys as well. Dalvin could simply “miss” because he fails to score multiple touchdowns in a blowout win in which the Vikings give him a couple extra series off with the game in hand. But if he misses the other way, with Dallas playing well off the bye, and the Vikings having to attack through the air, rosters that bet on this alternate scenario will have a double-win over chalky Dalvin rosters.)
If I do have some Dalvin rosters (and I like him enough that I may have a few, even with the strategy edge available in just leaving him alone), I’ll likely pair him with Davante Adams or Alvin Kamara (this would be the only place I’d be using Kamara) in order to gain a different-looking roster type than my Dalvin-competition will be working with.
No one wants to pay up for Davis, it seems, after he failed as chalk at a low price tag. But so far this year, Davis has failed vs Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Tampa. That’s four teams that rank top seven in run defense DVOA. The Lions rank 27th. I won’t be surprised if I have significantly more Mike Davis ownership than the field.
The weirdest thing about this slate is how few wide receivers there are to really feel strong about. Enter the Steelers. This is a unique group, in that all three of the Steelers’ leading receivers (Diontae // Claypool // JuJu) could easily finish among the top 50% of wide receiver scores this week; but it’s also very possible that none of them finish among the top seven or eight wideout scores. With the quick-out, short-area attack the Steelers have leaned on, floor is extremely high, while ceiling is dependent on busted plays or touchdowns.
Chase Claypool has the lowest floor of the group, as he’s technically the number three; but the Steelers are adamant about getting him the ball on the ground and through the air, and in most scenarios he would end up with at least nine opportunities in this game. He has nine touchdowns already this year, and he brings game-breaking traits into this game vs a sloppy, disorganized defense that has allowed the eighth most pass plays of 20+ yards and the sixth most rush plays of 20+ yards.
Diontae is the best blend of floor and ceiling, as he has been asked to fill a role remarkably similar to Antonio Brown’s old role. He has not yet developed all of AB’s skills, but he can often provide a remarkable stand-in. He’s played five healthy games. He has three strong scores (two elite-for-price scores), and only one game in five under 14 DK points.
JuJu is “all floor” from a role-in-this-offense perspective, but he’s almost as likely as the other two to bust a big gain. He gets enough targets to carry floor. His true ceiling is lower than the other two, but he can certainly wind up with the highest score of the bunch.
I’ll have plenty of the first two and likely a bit of JuJu.
I may pair Ben with one or two, though his range is about 20 to 29 points barring extreme outliers on the upward end, and there are more mobile quarterbacks who have clearer paths to slate-breaking scores.
There are two ways this game could play out ::
Cam is interesting in both scenarios (though more so in the second than in the first).
Harris is interesting in the first.
If building for the second scenario, Jakobi Meyers is the wideout to use on the Pats, and Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, or (a great way to gain leverage) Randall Cobb can be used on the other side.
Watson + pass catcher + Jakobi rosters also work.
Cam can be played naked (though I’d prefer him with a pass catcher from the Texans, at the least), or he can be paired with Jakobi. Originally, I was thinking Cam and Jakobi would be better used on separate rosters, as I wanted Cam’s rushing touchdowns, which would take away Jakobi’s touchdown opportunities. But two of Cam’s three biggest games this year came with Edelman and Jakobi posting the two biggest wide receiver games for the Pats. Ultimately, your best bet for Jakobi to be on a tourney-winning roster is for Houston to put up points, and for the Patriots to become aggressive both on the ground and through the air. I’ll likely make a rule of “only play Jakobi if also playing Cam,” though Cam (again) can be played without Jakobi. I’d prefer to have a Texans pass catcher on those rosters as well. I’d also (again) be fine with replacing Cam with Watson.
If anyone can break the slate when everyone is looking the other way, it’s Lamar. The Titans are not a great defense, and this game should be competitive enough that the Ravens will be putting plenty on his shoulders. I’m still not certain whether or not I’ll have any Lamar rosters myself; but he absolutely has the ability to post the type of score that would exceed even what you need at his elevated salary.
It should be noted that there is risk here. Understand that. A Schefter report is almost always rock-solid…but almost-always is not “100% guaranteed.” There is a scenario in which Taysom plays roughly half the snaps (or fewer).
With that said, I expect Taysom to man the quarterback position for the Saints in this one; and a fair expectation, if that’s the case, is around 60 to 80 rushing yards and 150 to 200 passing yards. If you’re comfortable with those projections, that’s a range of about 12 to 16 points before touchdowns; and he has a good shot at going for at least one rushing touchdown and one passing touchdown. That gets him into a really comfortable scoring range this week, to where even his “bad game” would likely be no lower than 15 or 16 points (barring complete outliers), and his median would be somewhere in the range of 20 to 26 points. I don’t see him having much non-outlier upside above there, but he really doesn’t need that at his price. He’s rock-solid on FanDuel (of course), and he’s very much in play on DraftKings if you believe he’ll be “the guy” this week.
Running back is thin; and I’d prefer to avoid the top tier of pricing for strategy purposes. Miles Sanders will see around 17 opportunities in a poor-usage game and as many as 26 or 27 opportunities in a high-usage game. He has quietly averaged 6.0 yards per carry (only Chubb at 6.1 has been better), and he’s a near-lock for four or five targets, with upside for as many as seven or eight. He’s dropped six passes this year, scored only three touchdowns, and finished five yards shy of the bonus two different times, but a lot of this has been more bad luck // variance than anything. Mike Davis + Miles sets you up for a different-looking roster than most of the field will have.
This was covered in-depth at the front end of the Angles Pod; but Kerryon costs only $4k on DraftKings and should see 12 to 14 touches (with slim upside for more, and with three to six targets in all). On a cost-per-touch basis, this gives him plenty of value, especially when considering the low ownership he’ll see this week.
All three are covered in the Angles Pod and in the NFL Edge; but the short of it is this :: all three are dealing with accuracy issues from their QB and bad-offense issues as a whole, but all three should also see seven or more targets at dirt-cheap prices. 4-60-1 is easily within range for any of these guys, and there are outlier scenarios in which a busted play leads to the bonus, or in which lightning strikes and a multi-touchdown game emerges. (Mims would be the best bet for a multi-touchdown game.)
The Titans should be competitive enough in this one for the Ravens to have to pass enough times for Andrews (especially with Boyle out) to see six to eight targets. Given his big-play ability and his multi-touchdown upside, he’s in play at his depressed price.
I don’t see Hockenson’s targets swelling with Amendola and Golladay out (as covered in the Angles Pod, Stafford is likeliest to throw only 30 to 33 times), but with those guys out, it becomes highly unlikely we see a dud from Hockenson, with around seven to eight targets fairly reliably locked in. At the tight end position, seven to eight fairly locked-in targets is plenty valuable.
Goedert should see six targets in a disappointing scenario, but he can get as high as 11 to 12 targets in a best-case setup. The Browns are attackable with tight ends, and Goedert has long been a Wentz favorite in the red zone. Richard Rodgers is also viable here; but Goedert is one of the only tight ends on the slate with legitimate potential for a true high-end score.
Thomas’ ceiling (outside of fluky scenarios) is around 5-65-1, as he rarely tops six targets and is almost never used downfield. This makes Andrews, Goedert, and Hockenson stand out to me over Thomas for the greater potential they carry for top-of-slate outputs; but Thomas is also very much in the mix, and I may have a few rosters where the few hundred extra in savings make enough of a difference for me to end up down here.
The Dolphins are really just head-and-shoulders above all other defenses this week (price considered, that is; I’d prefer the Steelers if the two were priced the same, but the difference in price gives the nod to the Dolphins), but just because a defense has a great setup doesn’t mean they’ll end up racking up a bunch of sacks and forced turnovers. (Though…yeah. The chances of that happening here are relatively high.)
The Steelers’ pass rush should create plenty of chaos around Jake Luton, opening opportunities for fantasy goodness.
Outside of Pittsburgh and Miami, you can always justify going to a spot where you think you can track down sacks and turnovers.
As explored in the Angles Pod, all five non-NFC-East teams to play Washington have scored 30+. The Bengals have scored 30+ four times, and 27+ five times. The Bengals love to pass, and that should continue here. This stack is going to be lower-owned than it should be for the floor and ceiling it has shown on the year. This roster can also be brought back in a unique way by rostering McKissic, who is likely to see increased work if Burrow + a pass catcher is paying off.
If we get out of the habit of trying to predict what will happen and instead concern ourselves with what would make us the most money if it did happen, a game in which Dalvin disappoints because the Cowboys came out of the bye looking good and were able to put up early points through the air would easily top the slate. This scenario would A) wreck all the Dalvin rosters (landing him around 18 to 22 points :: a fine score, of course; but not nearly what you need at his price), while B) giving you potential access to true slate-changing scores, as Amari // Lamb // Gallup are all talented enough to pop for a big game, and bringing back this roster with a Vikings pass catcher would give you exposure to the slate-out-of-reach scores those guys can post in the right situation. The leverage in this spot is tremendous, and if you’re building more than a handful of rosters (and especially if you’re building heavily with Dalvin), you should dedicate a small percentage of your builds to this exact scenario, with Jefferson or Thielen, a Dallas pass catcher, and possibly even Dalton.
We think the Colts’ pass defense is excellent; and we think the Packers have feasted on bad secondaries while playing more mediocre ball vs strong units. But betting on Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams at lowered ownership is always in the mix for “things that could win you a slate.” This roster can also be brought back in a unique way by rostering Hines, who is likely to see increased work if Rodgers + a pass catcher is paying off.
If I have 19 rosters this week, I’ll likely have anywhere from six to nine rosters built around these three Bonus Build-Arounds.
This is my narrowest pool, which means it’s the pool likeliest to change a bit as I move deeper into builds. If it changes throughout Saturday night, I’ll add an update in this space.
If I were building for single-entry // three-entry Max, my tightened-up player pool would be:
Taysom || Cam || Burrow || (Rodgers)
Dalvin || Mike Davis || Miles Sanders || (McKissic // (Hines) on Burrow // (Rodgers) rosters)
Steelers || Jakobi (+ Houston pass catcher) (Jakobi with Cam only) || Bengals (with Burrow) || Adams (with Rodgers) || (Cowboys + Jefferson for mega leverage) || Cheap WRs above
Andrews || Hockenson || Goedert
Miami || Pittsburgh
Remember to check out the Run To Daylight Pod to hang out with Tod, Hilow, and Lex from 8 PM to 10 PM Eastern.
And remember to check back on the Player Grid on Sunday morning. (Probably eight or nine weeks out of the season, we add late-Saturday-night/early-Sunday-morning notes to the top!)
I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend!