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 an Everything NFL bundle!)
:: 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
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For all you single-entry // three-entry-max players (which is most of you), I wanted to consolidate something I’ve talked about over the last couple weeks (but which you may not have seen if you only hit other spots on the site sporadically before landing on the Player Grid) ::
Last week, I decided to shift from mini-multi-entry to single-entry for the remainder of the season, in search of a new challenge. My goal (albeit without giving myself much time to hit it) is to land a double-win in the single-entry Game Changer (each Week, DK posts two of these for the Main Slate). I actually hit first place in the one Game Changer they posted for Thanksgiving, but I think I’ll consider that to be “goal not yet accomplished” and stick to this approach the rest of the year. (It’s been fun the last couple slates to get back to my single-entry roots!) This will also, hopefully, ensure that we’re keeping this Player Grid as tight as possible(!).
As for you multi-entry players :: not a whole lot changes below; but in the places where I might not be branching out quite as far, I’m still layering in my thoughts on how I would attack things if mini-multi-entering.
With that :: let’s go!
As noted in the Angles Pod, Internet at my in-laws has thrown my week for a loop; and now that the hotel room I grabbed for five nights for OWS work is no longer available to me, I’ll be attempting to update the Player Grid from my phone. Thankfully, we’re on a pretty good track so far, with minimal updates necessary!!! Also, thankfully, Xandamere texted today with a few cash game questions that I mistook for tourney questions, which allowed me to answer with everything I would have put in this update. To simplify the update, here’s a look at that conversation ::
Full breakdown (of what this is, and what the thinking is behind these players) can (and should) be found in the Angles Pod
Olamide Zaccheaus* (assuming no Julio)
He has recent touch counts of 32 // 34 // 24 // 32. The Vikings don’t really have a shot at the playoffs, but you can be absolutely certain that’s not the message they’re preaching inside that building, which gives them no reason to change what they’re doing. Carolina ranks 22nd in DVOA against the run and has allowed the fifth most rushing touchdowns in the league. Dalvin is a “don’t worry about salary multipliers” piece on a week like this (where there are not many clear spots on the slate for guaranteed points). He’s a rock-solid piece to build around this week.
In the Vikings’ last four games, here’s what Jefferson and Thielen’s combined target counts have looked like (highest target count to lowest) ::
17 (Chicago stonewalling Dalvin)
16 (Dallas scoring 31)
9 (Dalvin rocking DET)
8 (Dalvin rocking GB)
Those are not typos. There have been two games in the Vikings’ last four in which Jefferson and Thielen have combined for under 10 targets. Jefferson has required nine or more targets in all three of the games this season in which he posted the sort of score you would be looking for from him this week (which isn’t to say he can’t hit on lower target volume, but you’d sure like the targets to be there), and Jefferson is likelier to see double-digit looks if the Panthers are putting up points. As such, I prefer to play Jefferson on rosters that also play a piece (or two) from the Panthers.
From the Panthers’ wideouts (using DK scoring), you’d optimally like 22 to 28 points; but on this week (when big scores will be tough to come by), even 17.3 points would be satisfactory.
That’s not an arbitrary number. I chose that number because the Panthers have played 11 games this year…and in 10 of those games, at least one Panthers pass catcher has scored 17.3 or more.
In four of those games, two Panthers pass catchers have scored 17.3 or more.
D.J. Moore has five games of 17.3 or more, and four of those five games have come alongside a strong game from one of the other Panthers pass catchers (two with Curtis Samuel // two with Robby Anderson).
Honestly, this is pure guesswork. There’s nothing predictive we can point to in the matchups that show us which wideouts on the Panthers are likeliest to hit here (and there’s not even any guarantee that Samuel and Robby can’t buck season-to-date trends and be the pair that hits together). But if multi-entering, I would mix and match these Panthers pieces on Jefferson rosters (including some builds with two pieces).
Because of the concentrated nature of this offense, “two Panthers hitting” doesn’t necessarily mean Teddy Bridgewater is hitting…but the Vikings have allowed the second most passing touchdowns in the league, which also keeps Bridgewater on the edges of my list.
Finally, the Vikings’ offense is concentrated enough that Dalvin and Jefferson can easily hit together. Using DK scoring, they need about 60 combined points at their salary, which is very doable. In fact, if you throw in Kyle Rudolph, you need about 70 to 75 points. They can do that. I might not pull the trigger on this in ultra-large-field tourneys (the Slant, the Milly Maker, etc.), but in smaller-field and/or single-entry tourneys, a Bridgewater // 2 pass catchers // Dalvin // Jefferson // Rudolph roster will be entirely unique…and could literally put you at about 140 to 150 points if everything goes the way you’re hoping, while still leaving you with as much as $13.9k in salary (DK) for RB // FLEX // DST(!). If we played out this slate a hundred times, this six-player combo probably hits 140+ 12 to 15 times…and on those times when it hits, your path to first place is clear. “One thing right” gets you six things right. A 12% to 15% chance at having a clear shot at first place is a whole lot higher than your chances of guessing nine different spots right on a single roster.
As noted in the Angles Pod this week, Gurley has scored one touchdown every 21.2 touches (nine touchdowns on the year)…and yet, he is averaging only 0.74 DraftKings points per touch. Hill, meanwhile, has only one touchdown so far on 60 touches…and yet, he is averaging 0.97 DraftKings points per touch. This team has been far more willing than in the past to give one back a full workload (in fact :: Gurley’s touches in games with Dan Quinn as head coach were 16 // 21 // 15 // 17 // 18 || Gurley’s touches in games since Quinn was fired have been 23 // 25 // 18 // 21 // 9 (injured)), and if Hill sees 18+ touches at his higher efficiency, he’ll A) have a very tough time “failing” at his price (especially in this matchup), and B) have a high likelihood of producing a score that will be difficult to win without at his price. Technically, Hill is a Blue Chip play, but backups filling in for starters always bring some small level of risk, thus bumping him down here. You should also keep in mind that a huge percentage of tourney builds this week will have Dalvin + Hill; so while this is an ultra-sharp way to start a roster, rosters that start this way should aim to do something different in other spots. (For example :: Bills // Chargers stacks with Dalvin + Hill will likely be the most common build. The other stacks listed in this Player Grid could provide a path around those clustered rosters.)
There are only three pieces from this game that I like for my roster(s) this week (if you want to know more, you can find the NFL Edge game writeup here), but those pieces work really well together:
Andy Isabella // Cam Newton // Jakobi Meyers.
As explored in the Angles Pod, here are DeAndre Hopkins’ seven career stat lines vs Bill Belichick’s Patriots (beginning with the most recent; playoffs included) ::
The Patriots will try to force the Cardinals to win without Hopkins. Larry Fitzgerald is out, opening five to six additional targets. And Andy Isabella (who typically sees a couple targets per game already) should be on the field for most of this one. Whatever the opposite of an “Andy Isabella Truther” is, that’s what I am. But five to seven targets is massively likely, and it won’t be at all surprising if he climbs into the 8/9-target range. Kingsbury will scheme some short and deep looks for him; and as our old pal Levitan would say, he’s “stone minimum” on DK (and $200 over the minimum on FD).
If Isabella has a tourney-winning game, that almost certainly means the Patriots are having to pass more often; and if the Patriots are having to pass more often, Jakobi (who saw a 40% target share in four consecutive games(!) before disappearing vs Bradley Roby last week and burning DFS players enough that they won’t want to play him this week) will likely jump back up to a heavy target share again. I prefer Isabella and Jakobi together, rather than Isabella or Jakobi solo; and adding Cam creates a really nice, high-upside, low-owned stack that doesn’t cost much in total salary and allows you to build in plenty of additional upside elsewhere. The fact that this one “feels” as risky as it does is a reminder that most people won’t want to play it.
Swapping in Kirk for Isabella also works; though if going here myself, I prefer to take the guy who costs almost nothing and should be on the field just as often as the other guy.
There are plenty of reasons to love this game. Stacks can be anchored on either side (Herbert or Allen), and can be built with any of the following pieces :: Keenan Allen // Mike Williams // Hunter Henry // Stefon Diggs // Cole Beasley // Gabriel Davis.
Though…since this appears destined to become the most popular game on the slate (and since we’ve already used the NFL Edge to explore the reasons to like this game), I’ll also throw this out there:
In all, I have a hard time seeing this game “disappointing.” And I think that those who build around this game will get top-seven (maybe even top-five) QB scores, with rock-solid WR pairings. But I also believe there’s a higher-than-the-field-will-assume chance that the winning tourney rosters come from a different game. Given that this game will be the most popular, and given that my thoughts are leaning as laid out above, I may end up avoiding this one myself. (I honestly don’t yet know. I’m down to Herbert // Allen // Mahomes // Matty // Cam // Teddy for my single-entry build; and if I were mini-multi-entry this week, I might end up with pieces of all those guys.) But I wanted to lay out those thoughts as well.
Of course, I’ll also note that I said something similar about the first Seattle // Arizona game, and was obviously wrong in the one-game sample size that played out that week. We’re talking percentages here, and the percentage chance of this game being the top DFS game are lower than the field realizes. But that doesn’t mean the field is “wrong,” as this is definitely one of the strongest spots on the slate. Just…again: not quite as locked-in-strong as the field will assume.
Weigh those thoughts against your own, and do with them what you will.
As is typically the case with these Build-Around spots, you’re best served reading NFL Edge game writeup; but we should see points scored in this one; and there are plenty of ways to work to secure some of these points.
Brian Hill is my favorite one-off play from this game.
As you can find in that game writeup, my favorite stack from this game is Matt Ryan + a Falcons pass catcher + Nelson Agholor.
As explored in the Angles Pod, Matt Ryan + Olamide + Hill can also viably get you there this week.
As laid out in the writeup for this game :: since the start of Week 6, the Chiefs have passed the ball on early downs with the score within seven points at the fifth highest rate in the league, while the Bucs (who are allowing 2.97 yards per running back carry) are facing the highest opponent pass play rate on early downs with the score within seven points. Mahomes has six games already this year of 42+ pass attempts, and this shapes up as another such game. Honestly, you should read the writeup for this game. (Go ahead! It’s painless; and it won’t take you long!) But with the highest Vegas-implied team total on the slate, and with ownership likely to move elsewhere, there is plenty to like about this spot. Mahomes // Kelce // Hill // Watkins are all in the mix for me. Given the price tags (with Watkins the only cheap guy of the bunch, and with Watkins’ big games always coming in games in which Hill gets slowed down), I prefer to play only one of these pass catchers on a given roster. But all are very much in play.
There is no natural bring-back on the Bucs, given their spread-out nature and the less secure certainty their offense as a whole carries; but if you wanted to go crazy, you could try to guess on a Tampa piece on the other side as well.
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As noted in the Angles Pod :: I didn’t like Hunt while writing up this game, as I was not yet at a point in my process where I was digging into pricing. But Hunt is cheap on FanDuel, and his price was dropped aggressively by DraftKings this week. In six games with Chubb, Hunt has three contests with 12 or fewer opportunities; but he has another three games with 19+ opportunities (with one coming in a pass-heavy game in a blowout loss, and with the other two coming in run-heavy Cleveland wins). The Browns have given Chubb opportunity totals on the year of 11 (blowout loss; pass-heavy game script) // 23 // 20 // 6 (injury; Hunt saw only 11 opportunities himself in this one) // 20 // 20. Chubb will get the first crack at 20 touches; but in a game the Browns should easily control (Jacksonville ranks 30th in time of possession, and they don’t set up all that well in this one), Cleveland could easily run the ball close to 40 times. In games Chubb has played, he has five touchdowns and Hunt has six. Chubb has four targets on the season and Hunt has 30. If you think the Browns control this game, you’re pointing toward a scenario in which Hunt is underpriced for the expected workload and upside. He’s a really interesting piece this week on a slate that doesn’t give us a whole lot to work with at the running back position. (Hunt also pairs well with the Cleveland defense, as a game with the Cleveland defense doing well is likely a game in which Hunt is doing well. Hunt also pairs well with your Jacksonville wideout of choice, as a game in which Hunt and the Cleveland defense are doing well is a game in which the Jags are left passing the ball plenty. With D.J. Chark and Chris Conley both out, Keelan Cole and Laviska Shenault will be the alphas. I explored this in-depth in the Angles Pod, but it appears likely that Cole will draw higher ownership, while Laviska carries a higher floor and a similar ceiling. With that, I’m planning to create some differentiation with Laviska. As a bonus: a tourney-winning score from Laviska likely hurts both Cole and Robinson, both of whom I expect to be relatively popular.)
If Ekeler returns, he almost certainly returns to 20+ touches with a big role in the pass game. And given the way the DFS public handles players coming back from injury, he’ll almost certainly go lower-owned than he would go if we all knew for sure he was going to be handling 20+ touches. The Chargers will have to make a decision by 4 PM Eastern (Saturday) on whether or not to activate him off I.R. in time for this game. If he’s out there, he’s a relatively exciting play, given what we have to work with on this slate (and given the likely differentiation and the Upside Potential he provides).
Robinson has recent touch counts of 26 // 25 // 25 // 19, and he played 70.7% of the snaps last week with Chris Thompson out. If ownership projections by Saturday night // Sunday morning have him low-owned, he’s very interesting. If they have him high-owned, I’ll likely pass myself (though keep in mind that I’m rolling single-entry the rest of the way this year), as it’s easy to see him piling up touches, but it’s tougher to see him pushing for slate-winning ceiling with multiple touchdowns in this Glennon-led offense.
Taylor saw 22 carries and four targets last week. That could disappear this week, as the Colts have been hot-hand + opponent-specific + mystically cryptic in how they’ve handled RB duties from one week to the next. But because of the way the Colts have been with RBs, no one is going to want to play Taylor. If he sees 25+ opportunities again, he could absolutely turn into one of the more important plays on the slate.
As noted in the NFL Edge writeup for this game, the Falcons have allowed the highest success rate on passes to tight ends, with a stunning, check-for-typo 83.8% completion rate on passes to tight ends, and with the second most yards and the most touchdowns allowed to the position. Waller’s average target comes only 6.4 yards downfield(!), which means he needs massive volume, busted plays, or multiple touchdowns to pay off his big price tag (and given how popular he’s likely to be, there are clear strategy cases to be made for moving away from him in tourneys); but taking away salary and strategy considerations and speaking only of raw production, Travis Kelce is the only tight end with a high likelihood of outscoring him, and Kelce comes with more risk in his matchup vs the Bucs. Waller is very much in the mix this week.
I like to condense things in the Player Grid where I can, but the full explanation is necessary on this one. Here’s what I said in the DFS+ Interpretation writeup for this game in regards to Reed ::
The other guy from this game I want to mention is Jordan Reed. “But what about his spotty playing time? But what about his injury risk? But what about Nick Mullens?” Exactly. No one wants to play Reed. People are going to pay up for Waller and his likely 15 to 18 points (obviously, Waller can pop off; but if he ends up with 20% ownership, there are clear cases to move away from him given his high price tag and his aDOT of 6.4(!)), or they are going to pay up for Kelce and hope he can break a tough matchup for another elite game. If paying down, low-ceiling guys like Kyle Rudolph (with no Irv Smith, and possibly no Thielen) will draw the eye, leaving Reed practically un-owned. Speaking of “spending too much time calculating things” :: Nick Mullens has 445 career pass attempts, and 119 have gone to tight ends. That’s good for a 26.7% tight end target rate.
To put that in perspective: the NFL defense that has faced the highest opponent tight end target rate this season has seen 25% of opponent targets go to tight ends.
That defense? Yeah. It’s the Rams.
To clean that up: Reed has played only two fully healthy games this year (he was ramping up his activity in two others, and he got hurt in another), and he has run a pass route on 61.6% of available drop-backs in that two game stretch. This only gives him a range of around five to seven targets; but Mullens loves his tight ends (leaning heavily on Kittle when Kittle has played, and leaning on Reed/Dwelley when Kittle has missed), and the Rams face the highest tight end target rate in the league, while ranking 21st (bad for them // good for tight ends) in success rate allowed to the position. Does the research “point to Reed”? No. But from a strategy perspective, he provides a different build than nearly half the field will have (“pay up at tight end”), and he provides a different pay-down option than your competition will have. If he duds, you can make up those points elsewhere (we’re all pretty used to overcoming tight end duds in 2020). If he hits for 10 to 15 DK points (especially if Waller ends up around 15 to 18 and Kelce ends up around 18 to 22), he can be an actual difference-maker for your roster.
(Finally, as noted in the Angles Pod, he has scored 12.0 and 11.3 (DK) before touchdowns in those two “healthy games.” In the first of those games, he added two scores to get up to 24.0.)
The Saints rank eighth in pressure rate and fifth in interceptions per drive. Denver has thrown the most interceptions per drive in the league.
The Giants rank a solid 12th in pressure rate and 13th in turnovers forced per drive, while the Bengals turned the ball over at the 13th highest rate before losing Burrow. Only the Eagles have allowed more sacks than the Bengals this year, and in three games started last season, Brandon Allen took nine sacks and threw two picks with only three touchdowns, while completing under 50% of his passes.
The Browns are missing Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward, and are down to three healthy defensive ends. But the Jags will be starting a statue at QB in Mike Glennon, and they’ll be without DJ Chark and Chris Conley. It’s very possible for Cleveland to wreck Jacksonville in this one.
The Broncos quietly rank ninth in DVOA (eighth against the pass) and sixth in drive success rate, while pressuring quarterbacks at the third highest rate in the league and picking up sacks at the seventh highest rate. They do rank a lowly 28th in turnovers forced per drive, and the Saints’ run-heavy, ball-out-quick attack will limit opportunities for turnovers; but Taysom Hill took three sacks last week and has attempted only 41 career passes. Denver is a viable lower-cost option.
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:
Mahomes || Allen || Herbert || Cam || (possibly Matty or Teddy)
Dalvin || Hunt || Brian Hill || Ekeler* || (Jonathan Taylor if you’re feeling ballsy and/or need some major differentiation for your path toward first place)
Jefferson (this is assuming no Thielen, of course; if no Thielen, Jefferson should be played if you’re not playing Dalvin; Jefferson can also be played with Dalvin) || Laviska (should have a Vikings piece opposite) || Isabella + Jakobi (would optimally be played together) || Keenan (can substitute Mike Williams; can add Gabriel Davis opposite; obviously, if you’re seeing things differently, Diggs or Beasley could go here) || Olamide (if no Julio; can add Agholor opposite) || Tyreek or Watkins (but not both together)
Waller || Henry || Reed || (Rudolph)
Saints || Giants || Browns || (Broncos)
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!