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.
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!
I’m rocking one hour of sleep in the last 24 (it’s odd timing for this year’s Christmas Week slate, with Sunday on the 27th, and Christmas day thus landing on my typical Player Grid + Angles Pod day), and I still have the Angles Pod to record; so this week, we’ll be running out a special “Christmas Code” version of the Player Grid — with cliff-notes writeups, but with the Angles Pod tied directly into the Grid. If you don’t want to throw on the pod, you can get a sense of what I’m seeing by looking over the pool below. And if you want my deeper thoughts, fire up the pod alongside the Player Grid!
Pro tip :: select 1.2x or 1.5x speed on the player
Player Grid update, covering Jags and Browns ::
If you read the NFL Edge writeup for this game, you know I’m on the Mike Williams train. Keep in mind that he’s a wide receiver, which means this isn’t a backup running back seeing 20+ touches with targets locked in and a goal line role guaranteed (think Salvon Ahmed last week). Calling a player like Williams a Light Blue Chip is a different thing than calling a player like Ahmed a Light Blue Chip. But make no mistake :: Williams is an ultra strong play here, as Keenan will vacate double-digit targets (keep in mind that Williams was limited last week as well), with Williams carrying a high probability of 8 or more targets, and carrying a high ceiling on these looks. He has big-play and touchdown upside, with a high floor for the price. If Allen is indeed out, it technically makes every other skill position player on LA underpriced, as this team is relatively concentrated and a lot of work is being opened up. Williams is the player likeliest to take advantage, and he and Tyreek Hill are the two players on this slate with the highest opportunity to significantly outscore their price tag (with Williams carrying clear 30-point ceiling, and Tyreek carrying clear 40-point ceiling on a slate where no one else truly has that type of realistic upside). Obviously, this doesn’t mean either will get into their ceiling, but both are capable of being “players you had to have,” which makes both stand out to me on tighter builds.
Jalen Guyton would be the pivot off Williams, but I actually expect the field to outsmart themselves here, and for Guyton to end up in an ownership range not too far off from Williams. I don’t expect Williams to get above 12% to 15% owned, but this deep into the week, that’s largely contingent on how heavily (and how quickly) the content community gets behind this play, as people generally know little enough about what to expect from Williams in a spot like this that a lot of people will need confirmation from a voice they trust before jumping on board. This gives him a pretty broad range (lean on ownership projections in the morning!), but I’ll be surprised if he becomes too terribly chalky, making him an even stronger play as a rock-solid, low-cost, high-upside option.
Williams + Guyton is also an interesting way to bundle a “$7700 wide receiver” on DK — hoping to cover 30+ points across two spots, with upside for 45+ if everything goes perfectly. I prefer this in smaller-field contests; but honestly, it’s +EV anywhere (that is: it’s a play that would make money over time if we could play out this slate over and over again :: giving you a solid floor of expected points and enough ceiling to potentially contribute to a tourney win). Because these guys are so cheap and targets should be relatively concentrated, it’s not necessary to play Herbert on a Keenan + Guyton player block.
Full breakdown (of what this is, and what the thinking is behind these players) can (and should) be found in the Angles Pod
Patrick Mahomes // Tyreek Hill // Travis Kelce carry the highest raw projections on the slate. As explored here, these guys are all priced high enough that it will be very difficult for them to post a score that would make it impossible for you to win a tourney without them, but all of them also have a strong likelihood of posting a really strong score. This creates plenty of flexibility in how you can attack here.
This is practically a “provide your own writeup” spot, given how obvious this one should be to us. We were on Hurts in this space last week, and he’s still priced lower than he technically should be. This isn’t a mirage. In this matchup, in particular, Hurts carries a high floor and a high ceiling.
By conventional standards, Gordon is not a Light Blue Chip. But as you’ll see, there is almost nothing else I like at running back; and with Lindsay out, Gordon should be a 20+ touch workhorse at an affordable price tag. That’s good enough for me this week, making Gordon a guy I personally won’t mind “setting and forgetting” :: recognizing that he could obviously end up with 10 to 14 points (DK), but also recognizing that I could spend hours diving into running backs and not lock down a point-per-dollar floor/ceiling range on this slate that’s any better than what I can get here. When that’s the case, one of the most +EV things you can do is save salary and create more flexibility elsewhere (while crossing your fingers and hoping that your cheaper, lower-owned guy hits the high end of his range on the small sample size of a single week, while the more popular, expensive guys hit the lower ends of their ranges). Call Gordon a Week 16 Light Blue Special.
Explored here. If you think you might like the Browns this week, that’s a writeup worth reading. Mayfield is very much in the mix. Landry carries the highest floor here, while Higgins carries clearer paths to ceiling if the targets are there (though the target projection for Higgins is cloudier). As touched on in the Edge writeup for this game, Donavan Peoples-Jones is also in the tourney mix.
Explored here. You hate to see it, but only the Chiefs and Browns have a higher Vegas-implied team total than the Bears. Trubisky + Robinson will be popular. The linked Edge game writeup explores the limitations on Robinson’s price-considered ceiling; so while he’s obviously rock solid, a viable pivot away from Robinson is Mooney or Kmet.
Explored here. The Texans are going to put this game in the hands of Deshaun Watson and ask him to win it for them, which opens pathways to upside. Keke Coutee > Brandin Cooks > Jordan Akins > Chad Hansen is the order in which I would target pass catchers here, all things considered (with “all things” including price, expected popularity, range of outcomes, and upside).
Explored here. This isn’t what’s likeliest to happen, but this game does have the pieces in place for this to happen. Building around a shootout scenario (as explored in the game writeup) would entail grabbing three or more pieces from this game, with those pieces coming from both sides of the ball.
I won’t be going here myself, but Lamar is in that middle area where he deserves a mention even if he won’t be on my roster(s). He’s a rock-solid play as a quarterback whose entire offense flows through him, and he always carries upside.
I came out of the NFL Edge with only one running back on my list. It’s that kind of week. Since we have to roster at least two running backs, here are the guys I “dislike the least” ::
David Montgomery :: Currently, it looks like he might end up being chalky. Montgomery is a “bet on this offense scoring a lot of points” piece at a too-high price tag. I would like him if people were scared to play him, simply because there’s not a ton to love, and he has a shot at getting the job done. But if he ends up chalky, his chances of hurting the field are higher than his chances of helping them.
Nick Chubb :: Another “bet on offense” guy. People keep wanting to attack the Jets with running backs, and as we explored in the writeup for this game, that’s not the most profitable way to go here. As such, Chubb lands in a similar category to Montgomery, for me :: a guy I would prefer to play if everyone else were off him. With that said, he has monster touchdown and big-play upside. I’d like him a lot more at a cheaper price or lower ownership, but he’s still in play regardless.
Kareem Hunt :: If the Browns control this game completely, Hunt could see 15 to 18 touches of his own. Only six teams have allowed more running back receptions than the Jets. And most importantly :: if Hunt has a big game, it lowers the chances of a potentially-chalky Chubb having a big game. That’s quality leverage, which is enough to keep Hunt in the mix.
Miles Sanders :: He’s priced higher than I’d like, and his workload has been anything but exciting. But boy, this is a thin week. His big-play upside keeps him in the mix; and while he’ll likely be somewhat high-owned, he could easily come in lower-owned than Montgomery and Chubb, which is enough to keep him viable here.
Gio Bernard :: Of course…if you don’t think you can get 4x from any of the expensive running backs who will be popular, why not target “2.5x with upside” from a cheaper guy and give yourself a totally different roster construction from the field? Gio’s 26 touches last week seemed highly game plan-specific; but Tyler Boyd is going to miss this one, the Bengals should be playing from behind against Houston, and Gio is likely to see 15+ touches in a tremendous matchup at low ownership. There’s always risk right now that Zac Taylor could do something very different from what we should be expecting, and there’s risk that the Bengals fall completely flat here. But if you don’t mind the risk, this is a very interesting way to consider differentiating. I’ll also mention Tee Higgins in this spot, who isn’t “a good play,” given his quarterback situation; but with a heavy number of targets likely to flow his way in a soft spot, as a talented player, there is low-owned upside to hunt.
As explored in the writeup for this game, this matchup and game environment can only be comfortably bet on through volume. Even in what projects to be a lower-scoring game, Diontae’s floor is locked in from the volume; and with his floor locked in, a touchdown or two could vault him up the standings on a relatively thin week overall.
With McLaurin doubtful, five to six targets should be Cam’s minimum, and 11 to 12 targets is in the cards if Antonio Gibson doesn’t make it back. Particularly on DraftKings, where the savings matter more, he’s a very intriguing piece :: a guy who can’t really hurt you, given how cheap he is, and who can really help you.
Michael Gallup > Amari Cooper > CeeDee Lamb is the order in which I would target these players, all things considered (with “all things” including role, expected matchup, pricing, and ownership; raw projections would have Amari at the top and CeeDee a notch above Gallup, but Gallup’s high ceiling and always-low ownership would “miss more often…but make you the most money overall given the value gained when he hits”; a player like Gallup should be played on a roster that otherwise locks in more stable pieces).
Keenan seems likely to play; but if he misses, Jalen Guyton will be very interesting in tourneys. Mike Williams will be “very interesting in all formats” if Keenan misses, and “very interesting in tourneys” if reports have Keenan starting but potentially still hobbled.
Big mismatch vs the Jets.
Big mismatch vs the Giants.
Washington is too good to be ignored; and on DK, they’re too good to be priced at only $3k.
Quietly, the Falcons are the biggest underdog on the slate. The Chiefs have the second most interceptions in the NFL. Matt Ryan has been more mistake-prone than normal this year as he declines.
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:
Patrick Mahomes || Jalen Hurts || Baker Mayfield
Melvin Gordon || Gio Bernard || Kareem Hunt || Nick Chubb || David Montgomery
Tyreek || Keke (and Cooks) || Diontae || Cowboys || Cam Sims || Rashard Higgins (and Landry // DPJ) || (Tee Higgins)
Travis Kelce || Cole Kmet || Jordan Akins || Any cheap tight end with potential upside
Cleveland || Baltimore || Washington || Kansas City
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!