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
Hilow’s ‘End Around’ (Hilow is such a superstar; this is probably the single best week-specific read in the industry right now!)
Sunday morning, 9.11 AM ET
Happy extra hour of sleep? (Or…for me, happy extra hour awake!)
I’m putting a pause on my rosters at the moment (we’re just under 4 hours from kickoff). I feel good about where I am right now, but I want to get closer to kickoff before getting a sense of how I want to attack these wind situations. As such, I don’t have a clear feel for my exact exposures right now, but here’s what I do know:
I’m rolling Jamaal Williams on 9/9 builds — using him as a foundation piece. Obviously, he’s not “100% likely to hit” (no player ever is; if we get a player who’s 35% likely to smash, we’re feeling great about the setup!). But Jamaal is as likely as any player on the slate to post a high-end price-considered score (and his floor, in most instances, won’t kill you even if he misses). He’s just so heavily involved in all facets of this offense. From a “personal play-style” standpoint, I always like to go extremely overweight on one or two high-confidence pieces (last week, Davante and Hunt; the week before, the Tannehill stacks) in order to give myself a strong starting point across a large chunk of my rosters if I get that spot (or those spots) correct. Coming from a single-entry background, I obviously don’t mind the downside if one of those high-probability bets misses for me; but the weeks when they hit, I’m already starting with a lot less that I need to go right on my rosters. I only have one piece like that this week; but that piece is Jamaal.
The reasons I don’t have another “lock-and-load” piece are three-fold ::
1) The highest-certainty receiver (Davante) is priced high enough that he needs monster production to hurt you for not having him. I’ll take Davante any place where I have the roster flexibility to do so, but he’s too expensive to be a “build around him” piece for me this week. (Furthermore, those who force in Davante will likely find themselves on very similar roster constructions to the rest of the field. On rosters where I “end up with Davante,” it will be because a particular stack or a particular player pairing is cheap, which will leave those Davante rosters more unique than the “start with Davante, then figure out where to save salary” builds.)
2) I want some flexibility at the second running back spot, in order to give myself maneuvering space toward first-place builds. What I mean by that: Kareem Hunt is my next favorite running back play; but if I auto-jam-in Hunt on a large chunk of rosters, I not only end up on a likely chalky pairing, but I also end up having to use the Flex spot if I want to go anywhere else at running back. This isn’t a bad thing, in a vacuum; but “RB in the Flex” will be the most obvious approach this week, and I don’t want to put myself in the early hole of “Jamaal + Hunt + RB in the Flex.” I’ll have some Hunt (which means I’ll have some Jamaal + Hunt), and I’ll have some RB in the Flex; but similar to Davante above, I want to make sure those plays are finishing off an otherwise-unique roster, as opposed to laying the foundation for an all-around chalky build.
3) Wide receiver is already a bit thin this week (hence the likelihood of plenty of “RB in the Flex” rosters), but there are no “lock and load” stacks that pop off the page to me at this point. I’m souring on the passing attacks in LV/CLE (especially as Waller is likely to still be highly owned; if he’s the most popular player at his position and the weather increases the chances of him missing, there’s positive leverage in just going to any other “in a good spot” tight end; I like Waller plenty, still; but from a strategy standpoint, “chalky Waller in windy weather” opens paths to first place if he misses); and the weather in TN/CIN (while not as bad) still neutralizes that spot a bit against others.
With all this in mind, I’ll be building my wide receiver exposure primarily around the games I end up attacking.
Right now, I’m eyeing :: Burrow (and possibly Tanny) on one to three builds // Lamar-led game stacks on one or two builds // two to four Garoppolo rosters (possibly a Russ roster) to build around that game // and a bit of Stafford, as the research points away from that game…but these offenses do have shootout pieces if the game environment swings the right way in the small sample size of a single week (in other words: if one team jumps out to an early two-score lead, the other team has the pieces that would be required to catch up, which would stimulate a more aggressive game all the way around). Without a ton to love, and with ownership so low on this game, it’s +EV to target it — as long as you don’t mind the fact that this is a “miss more often than not, but make you a lot of money when it hits” type of spot.
That does it on my end for now.
I’ll see you in your inbox in a few — and I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards soon!
Run To Daylight (hosted by TodFromPA || presented by OWS!) will be live at 3 PM Eastern. (NOTE :: that’s 2 PM this week, if you want to listen live. (Obviously, it will still be archived if you want to listen at your normal time.))
Hilow will be on.
Lex will be on.
Elite GPP player Jordan Cooper from RotoGrinders 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
The Bears’ run defense has been good. Here’s a look at the directional numbers they’ve allowed to running backs on the year (courtesy of Sharp Football) ::
But how good have the Bears been, really? When we sort down to a list of D’Andre Swift, Darrell Henderson // Malcolm Brown, Jonathan Taylor, Mike Davis, Ronald Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Todd Gurley (taking out guys like Adrian Peterson, Jordan Wilkins, Brian Hill, etc.), the numbers look quite a bit different ::
Here’s what Kamara has done on the year ::
Of course, this isn’t even about any expected efficiency on the ground so much as it’s about the pass game role, with target counts on the year of 8 // 9 // 14 // 4 // 10 // 8. His floor is so high with that type of pass game role, and his big-play upside and touchdown potential give him clear paths to ceiling. Mid-week, I expected to be underweight on him (and maybe I’ll still end up there), as his chances of posting a “have to have it” score aren’t exceptionally high at his price; but without a ton to feel excited about paying up for this week, his rock-solid floor and clear paths to ceiling keep him very much in the Blue Chip mix. In order to differentiate from the field in this spot, I may work to bring back a Bears piece on any roster that deploys Kamara (i.e., “If the Bears are doing well enough through the air for one of their cheap pieces to be viable in DFS” (those cheap pieces being: Mooney // Miller // Graham // Kmet (if you think the Bears use him in the pass game more without Robinson on the field) // “whoever starts on the outside in place of Robinson” (likely Wims; Miller has been kept in the slot, which should continue to max out his snap share at around 65% even with Robinson out)), “this will increase the chances of Kamara having a big game through the air”; Mooney is the best bet on paper to see a spike in usage with Robinson out, though Graham or even Miller could be the place where that wheel lands). (UPDATE :: Allen Robinson cleared concussion protocol and is expected to play)
Any running back seeing 95% of his team’s running back touches against the Raiders is in a good setup. Add the fact that Hunt is in one of the better rushing offenses in the league, in a game where weather should tilt his team even more fully toward the run, and there’s even more to like. Add the fact that the Raiders (given their issues on the ground so far, and given the Browns’ relative strength in that area) will likely need to throw in order to keep this game close (heightening the chances of the Browns playing from in front, given the weather concerns), and there’s even more to like. Hunt has a low likelihood of true failure, and he has a high ceiling. He’ll be chalky, of course; but he’ll be chalky for a reason.
On DraftKings, with their salaries rising, these two need to combine for around 60 in order to keep you on a 200-point pace. If we take away the game against the stout defense of Tampa and keep the game in which Davante got hurt and left early, “RB + Davante” scoring for this offense has gone for 70.4 // 63.5 // 69.0. (These scores remove AJ Dillon. Dillon saw five carries last week, and no targets. He also saw five carries in Weeks 2 and 6. Jamaal is the workhorse.) Jamaal does not have the same explosiveness as Jones, and Adams may see his ceiling lowered if the Vikings are able to turn this into a tight game throughout (as noted in the NFL Edge writeup of this game, the Vikings were down only 8-7 until just before halftime vs the Packers in Week 1; they also led the Seahawks 13-0 at halftime in Week 5, were leading the Texans 17-6 at halftime the week before that, and were leading the Titans 17-9 at halftime the week before that), as “a tight game” will likely mean a game in which the Vikings find a way to limit the upside of the Packers (with the help of the wind, of course). But those are still eye-popping combined scores, underlining just how much the Packers’ offenses is set to center around these two guys. Each could be labeled a Blue Chip play individually (though Davante is more Light Blue for me at his price, as he needs so much to go right in order to post a “have to have it” score), but I like playing them together for some differentiation. I also, of course, like the idea of bringing back a Vikings piece on a double-Packers roster. Thielen and Jefferson are in play; but I also want to highlight the fact that Dalvin Cook is set to return, and most people will build around this spot as if the Vikings will be trailing. Given what the Vikings have done in the first half so many times this year (holding down an opponent and taking a lead), Cook has a better shot at a high-usage game than most will assume.
Part of Carr’s transformation into a fantasy-viable quarterback this season has been his willingness to let it rip downfield on occasion. If the weather remains as bad on Sunday as is currently being forecasted (wet, cold, and 25 MPH sustained winds with 40 MPH gusts), Carr carries fewer paths to ceiling than he will if the weather clears a bit. I like Carr as a tourney play regardless; but I’m especially hoping the weather largely misses this game, and that most DFS players simplify things by going “Waller only” and leaving Carr off their rosters.
I like Waller a lot this week, as he’s in line for double-digit looks in a winnable matchup. But I would like him a lot more without enormous amounts of hype and ownership around him, as his sub-6.0 aDOT creates plenty of opportunity for something like six catches for 45 yards and no first-place money raining down. In tourneys, I’ll likely be looking to only play Waller on game stacks (in order to get all the points associated with the type of game in which Waller would be posting a slate-winning score), or on builds that are otherwise focused on games or pairings that the field will be overlooking.
As explored in the writeup for this game, you need about 55 points from a Tannehill // A.J. Brown stack on DK in order to feel good about the pace they’re keeping you on in tourneys. Here are their last 10 games together (with Derrick Henry after the double-slash) ::
59.86 // 27.5
22.28 // 20.6
68.14 // 22.9
53.56 // 8.6
38.98 // DNP
43.32 // 39.1
28.26 // 13.1
51.2 // 18.3
56.44 // 43.4
47.6 // 15.2
Our “bolded” font on the site doesn’t pop off the screen; but there are five bolded numbers (out of 10 weeks) that would have put you in great shape with a Tanny/AJB stack, even at their elevated price tags.
But perhaps even more importantly, Tanny + AJB + Henry would have gone for 83+ in four of nine games (keeping you on a 200+ point pace with all three!). As explored a couple weeks ago (before they posted the fourth such game on this list), “Titans smash” games tend to allow all three of these guys to score together. Derrick Henry is obviously in play as a one-off this week; but I like the idea of differentiating Henry exposure with the all-in build. If hunting for first place, this is a solid bet for a “get three things right at once” type of setup. As explored throughout the week, I also like Jonnu in this spot, and Corey Davis (target counts of 8 // 5 // 6 // 10) is also in play as an off-chalk pivot.
I’ll point you to the game writeup for this one, if you haven’t yet read it; but the short of it is, the Bengals should be looking to win through the air in this one. They are missing multiple starters on the offensive line, but they’re fortunate enough to have a matchup against a Tennessee defense that has had a tough time pressuring QBs this year, which should leave enough opportunities for the Bengals’ offense to keep clicking. The Burrow Build has made multiple appearances in the Player Grid this year. As long as it continues to go overlooked, it will remain +EV. Burrow continues to get traction each week, but no one is taking his receivers seriously. All three of A.J. Green, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd are once again in play. It’s likely that two of these guys post a solid-to-very-strong price-considered score this week.
Carr + Waller + Hunt is the obvious stack. By playing all three together, you lower the collective ownership (i.e., a lot of people will have Waller, and a lot of people will have Hunt; but far fewer people will have all three together, so if this turns into a “get one thing right, get all things right” sort of spot, you still gain separation from the field), but there are also other pieces to consider here. From a leverage standpoint, something like Jacobs + Landry will go particularly overlooked. I may have at least one of those this week; not because I “think it will hit”; but because it’s likelier to hit than the field will be assuming; and if my Carr + Waller + Hunt combo misses, there’s a decent shot my Jacobs + Landry combo is hitting (or Jacobs + Hunt, in a “both teams score through the running backs” setup).
This game is going to draw ownership on Jimmy + Kittle + Kendrick Bourne + Tyler Lockett, each of whom can certainly hit, but each of whom is also likely to be overvalued by the field. When we run into a spot like this, we have a few options:
Seahawks games always draw the eye this year. I’m still not sure if I’ll have exposure to this one; but if I do, I won’t be going through the first pathway myself, and will instead be looking toward some form of the third.
This game total sits at only 46.5…but with so many totals dropping this week, this actually keeps it within striking distance of most of the top games on the slate. More importantly…well, what Hilow said here. I’m building nine rosters this week, and I’ll likely have a stack from this game on at least one. This is not a game that pops in the research; but that’s exactly the point. It’s not the best game on the slate; but its chances of topping the slate are higher than ownership will indicate. Both teams will be passing, and both teams will be looking to “outscore” the other (i.e., as opposed to assuming they can just grab a lead and sit on it). Given the gap between public attention on this game and realistic chances of points piling up, there is plenty of positive expected value in this spot (i.e., if we could play out this slate a hundred times, you’d be making money over that sample size by going here).
I jumped off the Cam train about two weeks before the field…but if there’s a chance the train gets going again, I also want to jump back on it before it fills back up. Cam looks like he can’t throw right now, and he’ll be without Edelman and N’Keal Harry in this one. But the Bills are also best attacked on the ground, and 10+ carries for Cam (with multiple goal line looks) is not outside the realm of possibilities. As I always say in a spot like this: it’s only worth taking on the risk if the player actually has potential to top the slate. Cam’s “likeliest game” won’t have him getting there; but he certainly has that potential. Cam is not a priority for me, but he’s in the mix this week.
He’s seeing RB1 workloads, and with Jordan Howard likely to remain a healthy scratch, he has a valuable red zone role as well. His pass game involvement (27 catches on 29 targets so far) gives him plenty of floor. His touchdown upside gives him ceiling. If the Dolphins can keep this one close with Tua under center, Gaskin could prove to be a really nice value this week.
Gio’s yardage ceiling is not all that high outside of busted plays, as the Bengals’ run game doesn’t profile real well between the injuries and Gio’s brand of football, and a lot needs to go right for a running back (or…a running back not named Aaron Jones or Alvin Kamara) to put up serious yardage through the air. But with the Bengals expected to lean pass-heavy, Gio has a high floor through receiving work, and he’ll be involved enough in the red zone to also boast some ceiling.
This is only if Phillip Lindsay misses; but if Lindsay misses, Gordon will be a workhorse running back for the Broncos; and an underpriced workhorse running back always has value in DFS. Gordon is never a strong bet for yardage; but he’ll have a pass game role, and he’ll have a major role in the red zone. There is usage-driven floor here, and there is touchdown-driven ceiling.
There just aren’t a ton of spots to fall in love with at wide receiver this week. And with the weather concerns in some of these other spots, the Colts // Lions game is looking a little more worthy of slim-exposure exploration. As explored in the game writeup for this one, I may end up with a T.Y. Hilton roster (or two?). And on that roster (or those rosters), I’ll likely take a swing on Golladay on the other side :: hoping the Lions are able to expose some holes in this secondary, and hoping Hilton finally sees things fall his way on the other side of the ball.
Waller and Kittle and Jonnu are the best in-a-vacuum tight end plays on the slate. But at a volatile position, it’s always good to look outside the “obvious/sharpest” pool. Henry creates double-leverage, as Keenan Allen is likely to be chalky for his high target volume (Henry, meanwhile, has tight-end-strong target counts on the year of 8 // 8 // 7 // 4 // 8 // 7), and on DK he’s priced right next to Jonnu, who is likely to be far more popular (Henry is scoring only 2.4 fewer points per game than Jonnu on DK, in spite of Jonnu having five touchdowns and Henry having only one). On the other side of this game, Fant is the best weapon available for a coach in Pat Shurmur who likes to lean heavily on his best players, in a matchup against a Chargers defense that ranks 21st in success rate allowed to tight ends. Fant has target counts on the year of 6 // 5 // 10 // 6 // 7. Both guys are in play as upside pivots off the chalk.
As always with defense, these are not the only viable spots. Any place where you think you can find turnovers and/or defensive touchdowns can be considered. These are some of the spots that are standing out to me.
The Chiefs’ elite defense at home against the mess that is the Jets offense.
The Saints in bad weather against a mistake-prone Nick Foles missing his best weapon.
The Packers in bad weather against a mistake-prone Kirk Cousins.
The Rams against a rookie quarterback making his first career start.
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:
Joe Burrow || Derek Carr || Lamar Jackson
Alvin Kamara || Kareem Hunt || Myles Gaskin || Gio Bernard || Melvin Gordon || Derrick Henry
Davante Adams || All 3 Bengals || A.J. Brown (+Corey Davis Leverage) || Marquise Brown? || Colts/Lions?
Darren Waller || Jonnu Smith || Hunter Henry
Chiefs || Saints || Packers || Rams
Remember to check out the Run To Daylight Pod to hang out with Tod, Hilow, Lex, and Jordan Cooper from 2 PM to 4 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!