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
Note :: All of this was written right before news came out that the Saints game is going to play. Obviously: disregard contingency mentions, etc. All right. Back to it!
Getting back to it after taking a little break. I wanted to drop a few quick nuggets in here, then give you a sense of how my exposures are shaping up.
Using DK scoring // Week 4 pricing ::
Lamar Jackson has hit (roughly) 4x to 4.5x in eight of his last 18 games. (If you think this matchup is average to favorable, you should feel good about his chances of getting there again.)
Dak + Two WRs have combined to go for roughly 4x to 4.2x in seven of 19 games, going back to the start of last season. (As noted regularly: individual players are typically priced in such a way that they hit 4x roughly once every four games (or less frequently than that; quarterbacks hit more often, but generally speaking, one in four times is the mark), so 7/19 is a strong track record — as is Lamar’s 8/18 above.) Amari has been on six of these seven rosters. Gallup has been on five. “Cowboys slot receiver” has been on three (Cowboys slot = Cobb last year, Lamb this year; also, the math doesn’t add up there; that’s because there was one week when Dak + Amari + Gallup went for about 80, while Dak + Amari + Cobb went for about 90, meaning Amari was counted only once, but Gallup and “Cowboys slot” each notched an appearance).
Since the Dolphins offense got its feet under it last year, Fitzpatrick has been under center for 14 games. He has gone 4x his Week 4 salary nine times. He has gone 5x seven times.
Fitzpatrick // Williams // Parker have had six games together during this stretch. Fitz and Parker have not hit for big games together in this stretch. (Fitzpatrick and Williams have hit for big games together once.) It’s entirely possible for a Fitzpatrick + Williams or Fitzpatrick + Parker stack to buck that trend this week; but the big takeaway for me here is that Fitzpatrick naked has a track record of success when these three are on the field together (two games around 4x, two games around 5x, in six games together during this stretch — with only one instance of his WR hitting as well).
Going back to the Dak + Two WR stack: when that player block combines for 80 and Dak does heavy lifting on the ground (i.e., his 35 to 40 point games), his wide receivers produce at more modest levels. On the flip side, the times when that player block combines for 80 and Dak does his damage through the air, he puts up around 30 points and the wide receiver pairing puts up around 50 (sometimes more).
With this, I’ll be playing an angle on some rosters where I bet on Fitzpatrick having a big game without carrying any of his receivers with him, and of two Cowboys wideouts having a big game without Dak necessarily outperforming Fitzpatrick to any notable degree. If I get two things right here (Fitz having a big game vs Seattle and the Cowboys having a big game through the air), I free up salary while picking up an edge on the field.
I expect to have one Burrow roster.
I expect to have one “Dak + 2” roster.
I expect to have around five Fitzpatrick rosters in all (out of 12), with only a couple that include a stacking partner, and with Cowboys featured on a couple.
Assuming the Saints game gets played, I’ll mostly be avoiding Golladay on my Fitzpatrick rosters, as Golladay’s big games have almost entirely overlapped with big games from Stafford since the start of last year. Together, they have combined to hit between “just under 4x” and 5x in five of their last nine games together, and their individual scores have tended to be in the same range as one another in these spots. If I get that “one thing right” (Golladay having a big game), I want to give myself the easy opportunity to get two things right at once. I’ll probably have one or two Golladay away from Stafford. I expect to have five Stafford builds.
Of course: again — this is all contingent on that game being played.
If it’s played, I’ll be 12/12 Kamara. I’ll then have four to eight apiece of Dalvin Cook, Mike Davis, and Chris Carson. All three have a clear path to 20 touches in a good matchup with a pass game role and a green zone role. Carson is the wildcard coming off his injury, but the fact that he didn’t wind up as a true game-time decision bodes well, and the fact that Hyde is now a GTD himself helps as well. With the field on the passing attacks in this game, a big game from Carson provides substantial edge. There’s a clear path to that type of game, so I’ll be somewhere between 1/3 exposure and 2/3 exposure in the hopes that I can take advantage of it.
I’ll round out my roster with wideouts who “might be able to post an unusually high score.” Robby Anderson // D.J. Moore // Nuk // McLaurin // Keenan Allen? // Golden Tate? (Sonic and Lex might have gotten me on a sliver of this one; Tate has typically seen a lot of targets when this offense is limited in this way, and the Giants should be passing, and Slayton should see plenty of Ramsey) // potentially Tee Higgins (he got schemed looks last week and multiple downfield targets; Parris Campbell had a good game in Week 1 running routes similar to the ones Zac Taylor will likely look to use Higgins on here; I’ll have Higgins on my Burrow build, and on maybe one or two additional rosters) // potentially Scotty Miller (everyone looks for safe and obvious plays below $5k, but everyone below $5k is priced there for a reason; after Miller disappointed the last time Godwin was out, no one will want to roster him; he’s seeing legitimate downfield work (aDOT north of 15), and Godwin is out; I hate the matchup, but there’s enough pointing to this one at low ownership that I’ll probably have him on one or two of 12).
Tight end is a mess, as always. I may have a couple Olsen on my Fitzpatrick builds. (I was studying rosters the other night and it was the second-place roster in last week’s Wildcat, I believe, that had Jimmy Graham at sub-0.5% ownership for his two-touchdown game; when a position is question marks across the board, there can be value in just standing on the squares others aren’t standing on. If the squares are turned over and everyone standing on the Logan Thomas and Adam Trautman squares got 10 to 15 points (which would be a non-fluky big game from one of those two; Thomas could get up to 17 or 18, but 20+ is outside his reasonable range), you tip your cap and make up for those scores in other spots. But if we get another week of all the chalky guys finishing under 10 points, and you get 17+ out of your guy, you have a much clearer path to first place ahead of you. With that thinking in mind, I’ll have some Thomas and Trautman, but I’ll also have those couple Olsen builds, and probably a few others. I might take one Waller build so I don’t get left behind if it turns up aces for everyone who’s standing there; but otherwise I’ll lean lower-owned with — ) Hunter Henry // Engram // Schultz // Gronk?
DST, I don’t think I’m going below the Bucs. If I end up with some extra salary on a build, I’ll go up for variation (Bal is my other favorite target).
If the Saints game doesn’t get played, I’ll bump up running back exposures on the other guys I like, maybe layer in some TD upside with Zeke, and figure out what I’m doing with my Stafford // Golladay real estate. I’m unlikely to have time in that instance outside the Sunday morning email (i.e., likely no further updates here), but I’ll see you in your inbox about 30 minutes after Inactives are announced, and I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards.
Run To Daylight (hosted by TodFromPA || presented by OWS!) will be live at 8 PM Eastern.
Hilow will be on.
Lex will be on.
I’ll 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!
DK salary remaining :: $6000
Full breakdown (of what this is, and what the thinking is behind these players) can (and should) be found in the Angles Pod
Lamar Jackson ranked 12th in red zone completions last year, but second in red zone touchdowns. He also rushed for seven touchdowns, with only five carries (three touchdowns) coming inside the five. In other words: things broke Lamar’s way last season, to an extent. But he also accounted for multiple touchdowns in 11 of 15 games last year (only one of three so far this year), and he accounted for three or more touchdowns in nine of 15 games (including six of his last seven).
In two of the four games last year in which Lamar did not account for multiple touchdowns, one came against the stout Pittsburgh defense, and one came against the Chiefs. In the other two, Lamar rushed for over 100 yards (152 // 116) and a touchdown. In his two games this year without multiple touchdowns (one against Kansas City), he has rushed for 54 and 83 yards, and no touchdowns. In other words: things have not broken Lamar’s way this season.
But Kansas City has a track record of success against Lamar; and otherwise, Lamar’s Week 2 disappointment against Houston looks like a total outlier. While short-term memory is likely to push the field slightly off of Lamar and toward Russ, I’ll still be considering Lamar to be a Blue Chip piece. I’m still not certain if I’ll be going out of my way to make him a priority this week (there are some stacks I like as well), but I’ll make sure I have some Lamar exposure if I’m mini-multi-entering, and if I end up with a tighter set of builds (one to five lineups), there’s a chance Lamar is featured.
+ Mark Andrews :: If wanting to maximize upside, Andrews is the piece I like the most; though Marquise Brown is also in the mix for “low floor with upside.” (Lamar, of course, can also be rostered without a stacking partner.)
As noted in Miraglia’s Matchups this week :: Kamara since 2018 without either Ingram or Thomas has produced DK point totals of 46.1, 17.9, 37.0, 44.1, 38.4, 47.7. At his price tag, in this matchup, he’s actually the most underpriced player on the slate with Thomas out (he’s not quite the standout play on FanDuel that he is on DK (on DK, he’s just head and shoulders over the other RB plays), but he’s still the top back there, with the highest projected ceiling).
+ Leverage :: As explored in-depth on the Angles Pod (starting at 59:27), I’ll be setting a rule for myself of, “If I don’t play Kamara on a roster, play a different piece from the Saints.” Again: we go in-depth in the Angles pod (it’s recommended that you listen to that part; it’s probably five or six minutes; less if you listen at 1.5x), but unless you think the Saints just bomb in this spot, one or two of the cheap pieces on the Saints will hit if Kamara somehow misses. Latavius Murray is the clearest way to gain leverage here; though Tre’Quan Smith works, and Emmanuel Sanders works, while Adam Trautman is both a viable way to save salary (albeit with some “who knows what you’re getting” risk) and a way to theoretically add to leverage away from Kamara.
We go in-depth on this in the Patriots // Chiefs writeup in the NFL Edge, but this has been a really good matchup for Chiefs running backs in the past, and there are plenty of reasons to believe this will remain a good matchup for Chiefs running backs this week. When we say “Chiefs running backs,” we mean CEH; and when we say “good matchup,” we mean “slate-breaking three of the last four times it showed up.”
The Vikings’ rushing attack against the Houston run defense is one of the biggest mismatches on the slate. I almost bumped Cook down to “Light-Blue” Chips, as he’s priced so close to Kamara, and his floor/ceiling projection has him a clear second-best in that comparison. But if not for the random opportunity to grab “Kamara with Thomas out, and with his price not bumped up due to having played on Monday night the week before,” Cook would be a clear Blue Chip piece, so I’m keeping him here this week. Cook saw 23+ touches in half his games last year, and this is a good spot for him to notch his second such game of the 2020 season.
+ Deshaun Watson + Houston Pass Catcher :: Watson can be played without Cook this week, and he can be played without a pass catcher; but Cook is the starting point in this game for me, and if I end up with enough Cook, I’ll likely end up with a bit of the full bundle. In order for this pairing to work, the Vikings don’t need to be playing with a lead; they just need to keep this game close. If they do, they’ll keep looking to feed Cook; and the Texans should keep leaning on Watson when they have the ball. Watson + Fuller or Watson + Cooks are the two that stand out the most here. (Also, as noted in the Angles Pod: a low-owned, “Vikings pass” player block (Cousins // Thielen // Jefferson) also provides access to a ton of upside through a less-likely, but still-realistic path for this game to play out. It’s an angle that very little of the field will be on.)
When Christian McCaffrey got hurt in Week 2, he had already racked up 18 carries and four receptions. After that, Mike Davis stepped in for one carry and eight catches, and he followed that up last week with 13 carries and eight catches. He should play around 80% of the snaps, and he should be featured in scoring range. Pricing psychology and name value make him feel like a riskier play than he is. At his price tag, he pops on both FanDuel and DraftKings through both the research and the GPP Ceiling Tool.
There are so many games to like this week, I’m having to tighten up to only my favorites for my builds. This game doesn’t quite make that cut for me; but it’s on the borderline. And Zeke (with his massive touchdown equity) and Amari (with the high floor he has shown without any touchdowns on the season :: explored in-depth in the NFL Edge writeup for this game) are great ways to gain exposure to the upside in this game without going all-in. Each guy carries a high floor. Each guy carries a high ceiling. Zeke is a rung below Cook and two or three rungs below Kamara, but he’s seeing enough scoring opportunities to have viable (albeit slim) paths to the top running back score on the slate. And Amari isn’t seeing many scoring opportunities himself; but he’ll certainly score some touchdowns on the season, and the yards and receptions are already there.
+ Dak // OBJ // Gallup :: Dak, OBJ, and Gallup are all viable if moving deeper into this game. I’m leaning toward other spots at the moment myself, but it won’t at all be surprising if this turns out to be one of the games that matters.
Golladay is almost guaranteed eight or more targets, he has huge touchdown upside, and Marshon Lattimore is now out of action for the Saints this week. Golladay’s downfield role and attachment to this Lions coaching staff mean his floor isn’t quite high enough to make him a true Blue Chip; but he’s close. And most paths in this game have him producing at a solid to elite level.
+ Stafford :: I’ll have enough Kamara and Golladay that I’ll almost certainly have a percentage of my rosters dedicated to Stafford builds. As noted ad nauseum: Stafford was basically on pace last season to beat Jameis Winston in fantasy scoring. If that version of the Lions passing attack shows up in this spot, it could be a slate winner with most of the field likely focused on the game we’ll get to next…
Hilow hit on this in the End Around, and I covered it in the NFL Edge (and in the Angles Pod), but basically: because of the way this game/matchup sets up, and because of the way the Seahawks view football, it’s likely that the Dolphins will need to have a strong game through the air in order for Russ to once again produce at a true, tourney-winning level. And given the price gap between Russ and Ryan Fitzpatrick, there’s a good chance for Fitz to be “as valuable as Russ” from a dollars-spent standpoint. If Fitz disappoints from a point-per-dollar perspective, Russ almost certainly will as well. And if Russ is hitting for a big salary multiplier, it will likely be through Fitz doing the same.
Parker || Gesicki || Williams || Gaskin || Ford :: I’m valuing pieces outside of Fitz in that order, and I’m comfortable playing as many as two of those guys with Fitz in tourneys. I could see myself targeting this spot in a third of my builds this week.
While the Miami Pass stack provides the clearest path to upside on-paper, games aren’t played on-paper. Fitzpatrick could easily dud and drag that game down; and while ownership projections as I write this say that only about 13% of the field would be dragged down as a result, I’m guessing that late-week projections (and ownership at kickoff) will tell a different story, with probably 18% to 20% of rosters taking either Russ or Fitz. Typically, we don’t worry too much about ownership at QB (every roster can have only one QB, so ownership generally gets spread out; and QB is more predictable than, say, a spot like wide receiver or defense; so it often makes the most sense to just roster the QB(s) you like the most), but when 18% of rosters could get taken out of the running for first place in tourneys with Ryan Fitzpatrick simply having a bad game (with the assumption being that this would drag down passing production across the board in that game), eyeing some less-certain, but still-high-upside spots can have a lot of value. We explored this one in the NFL Edge; but if I go mini-multi-entry here, I’m likely to have a couple “Burrow + Bengals pass catcher + James Robinson” stacks. “Bengals pass catcher” for me (with price considered) goes Higgins > Boyd > Sample; but I could see a case for moving those around in any order you want.
The Chiefs are not a defense you want to go out of your way to attack with QBs; but scoring should pile up in this game, and it’s always comfortable to trust Josh McDaniels to figure out a way to get his offense going. The risk on Cam is that the points could come through the running backs; but we can at least feel comfortable betting that points will be there, and that Cam will have a shot at grabbing plenty of them.
+ Edelman :: If going heavy on Cam, I could also see myself adding in a splash of Edelman.
As explored in the NFL Edge, this isn’t “the best spot” to expect a huge game from Allen; but neither was his game against the Rams. Josh Allen is in the “always in tourneys” discussion. I’m likely going relatively broad at QB this week: mixing in six or seven different guys if I go mini-multi-entry…and potentially even building around three different spots if I go three-entry-max.
The concern with Henderson is that Brown is still playing about half the snaps (and getting carries, and running more pass routes). But “L.A. RB” is a thing again; and if “L.A. RB” is, in fact, Henderson’s show moving forward, then he’s pretty underpriced this week. The lack of complete clarity on role and the touchdown reliance leave him out of the Blue Chips for me, but I still like him plenty this week.
I like Drake less than I like Henderson (I would be surprised if I ended up with no Henderson (assuming mini-multi-entry, instead of three-entry-max), but I won’t be surprised if I end up without Drake), as Drake’s schemed work in the pass game has dried up completely. But the touchdown upside is there in this spot; and if DeAndre Hopkins misses, Drake would become more attractive, as the Cardinals could compensate by featuring him a bit more heavily in the short areas of the field. Right now, Drake is more of an, “Include him in the Grid because I know others like him, and I don’t dislike him” guy for me; but even with plenty to like at running back this week, I could see myself opening up a bit more to Drake if Hopkins is out.
Moore is working the deep-intermediate part of the field for this offense, and he’s seeing a massive share of the Panthers’ air yards. With bankable volume and a locked-in role against an Arizona team that should be able to score points (and with a running back for the Panthers who is better suited to pass game work than to a ground-and-pound approach), Moore stands out as a rock-solid play in terms of floor, and it doesn’t take too much going right for him to climb to some ceiling.
I didn’t expect to consider any Chargers, but if Herbert throws just 35 times here, Allen could easily see 11 to 13 looks. With that type of workload, a 7-85-0 game would be highly attainable, even in this tough draw vs the Bucs; and it wouldn’t take much from there for Allen to top 100 yards and/or score a touchdown. With Mike Williams out (and Jalen Guyton only likely to soak up a portion of Williams’ looks), and with the Bucs still so stout against the run, Allen is an interesting “bet on talent and volume” piece this week, in spite of the difficult matchup.
If you’re going to take a wide receiver attached to a bad quarterback, against a good defense, that wide receiver would A) optimally be low-owned, and B) optimally have slate-winning upside. McLaurin checks both of these boxes. It won’t be difficult for him to dud here; but if he hits, he can hit hard. He’s in the mix for me in large-field tourneys on rosters that otherwise carry solid floor/ceiling combos.
I don’t love anything at tight end this week, and because of this, I won’t make “spending up” a priority. Once again, Thomas will serve as the fallback option (as explored this week: the usage is there, and the big game will come), though I may end up embracing some uncertainty at tight end as well by creatively mixing in a few additional pieces.
Trautman is not a bankable play; but he should see the field for the Saints, and he’s cheap enough on DraftKings that he’s viable for loosening up some salary on any tournament build. Tight end scoring is unpredictable enough that this week’s “high-owned cheap guys” could all end up disappointing, so that saving that salary on Trautman could prove to be a boon even if he doesn’t slip in for a touchdown.
The blitz-happy Ravens against Dwayne Haskins.
The blitz-happy (and stout-all-around) Bucs against a rookie QB.
The “somehow, we don’t have to blitz because we’re getting immense pressure on the quarterback while rushing only four” Colts against Nick Foles. There are other viable defenses; but these are the three I expect to be leaning on most heavily.
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:
Lamar || Stafford || Cam || Fitzpatrick || (Josh Allen?)
Kamara || CEH || Dalvin || Mike Davis || (Zeke?) || (Henderson?)
Golladay || Amari || D.J. || DeVante || (Other Dolphins) || (Keenan?)
Gesicki || Thomas || Trautman
BAL || TB || IND
Remember to check out the Run To Daylight Pod to hang out with Tod, Hilow, Lex, and me 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!