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…which you can use to purchase very real things!)
:: 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
It’s highly recommended that you listen to the first 30 minutes of this week’s Chat Pod. Throw this bad boy on 1.2x or 1.5x speed and dive in. We spend the first 30 minutes exploring what leverage // proper roster construction thinking can looking like, with examples taken from this week.
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(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
I seem to have an affinity for doubling up on work, as my tendency to “dive deep” often leaves me diving deep in the writeup for a game, and (if I like the spot) doing so again in both the Angles Pod and the Player Grid. But in this spot, everything that needs to be said can be found in the SEA // BUF game writeup, with enough deep-diving into how this game looks for DFS to cover us across the board. I expect for Russ to be my highest-owned QB this week, and for Josh Allen to tie Deshaun Watson as my second highest-owned QB. I also expect over 50% of my rosters to be built around this game (with Lockett // Diggs the primary focuses through the air, DeeJay Dallas mixed in, DK Metcalf mixed in, and John Brown // Beasley given some looks as well). This game will be popular enough that I’ll make sure I’m finding some unique angles on other spots on these rosters; but there’s enough to like here that I don’t mind eating some chalk to get a piece of this upside.
In another week, Dalvin, CMC, and Julio might be Blue Chips (and one or two of the “Bonus” pieces might be Light Blue); but Seattle // Buffalo stands out to me as the clearest floor/ceiling setup on the slate, and these pieces come in a (slim) tier below.
Dalvin, of course, is a fantastic play this week against the Lions, as the matchup is soft and the workload is guaranteed. The only drawback on Dalvin is that ownership is likely to spike heavily as the field tries to chase after last week’s score. With that, it’s important to keep in mind something we’ve talked about a number of times this season ::
Before fading down the stretch last season, Dalvin had only two games (in 10) below 19.0 DK points, and he had an incredible seven games of 27.3+. Add in his first five games of this year (before his explosion last week), and he added another two games of 27.3+ (giving us 9/15 in the flexible sample size we’re creating). But last week was the first time ever in Dalvin’s career that he cracked 33 DK points; and in the six games in our 15-game sample where he didn’t go for 27 to 33, he failed to crack 23. This is because Dalvin derives a huge chunk of his upside through his massive touchdown equity; and when he fails to hit for a TD (or even when he fails to hit for that second touchdown), he misses the mid-20s altogether and lands in the high-teens or low-20s. To put all that another way :: Dalvin is extraordinarily valuable in a vacuum, as he always gets to at least 20ish points, and he gets up to 30ish about two-thirds of the time. But when he’s mega-chalk, we should also keep in mind that he has one game in his entire career when he has put the slate out of reach (and that game came last week, which is going to cause his ownership to artificially skyrocket), and there is leverage to be gained when he misses, as he tends to miss with a score that is lower than one needs at his price. I’ll likely have Dalvin on 40% to 50% of my 19 builds this week; but I’ll also be aggressively attacking “Dalvin scores ‘only’ 20ish points” scenarios on all my other builds (as explored in the Angles Pod this week, and as touched on again in the “Vikings Pass” writeup below).
CMC had 27 opportunities in his first game with Rhule/Brady/Teddy, and he had 23 opportunities in his second game before getting hurt and giving way to Mike Davis (who had nine further opportunities in that game). There’s a bit of uncertainty around whether or not he’ll be more “70% of snaps” or “90% of snaps” this week in his first game back; but as explored in-depth in the CAR // KC game writeup, I’d rather take “CMC with uncertainty at low ownership” than “CMC with certainty at high ownership.” There are also some clear leverage angles to play around with here (as explored in the “Vikings Pass” writeup below).
Julio had target counts of 20 // 15 // 13 in three games without Ridley at the end of last season (Ridley hasn’t practiced all week and looks highly likely to miss); and while he (laughably) has only eight touchdown receptions since the start of last year (the Falcons truly have no idea how to use this guy in the red zone), his yardage upside on double-digit looks always gives him one of the highest projections on the slate, and it’s not outside the range of possibilities for Julio to put up a 40-burger when everything comes together. On one of the pass-heaviest offenses in the league, with a clear alpha role and a talent edge over the defenders on the other side, it’s easy to isolate Julio this week. He’s expensive enough (and uncorrelated enough with a lot of what I’m doing elsewhere this week) that I may not end up with heavy exposure (I’ll likely isolate him in a few spots, but mostly I’ll “play him on rosters where he happens to fit”), but I like him plenty, and whatever ownership he grabs from the field this week will be fully justified by the setup in which he finds himself.
This spot would be more attractive if the Jags were working with a better QB under center, as we would love for volume to pile up at the price tags these guys are carrying. But as explored in the writeup for this game, the Texans have been very pass-heavy this year, and even with a lead they continue to lean on the pass as they know their defense can’t be counted on to hold up. Deshaun Watson will be on roughly 20% of my builds, and I’ll have some Fuller // Cooks spread onto other rosters from there. As explored both in the writeup for this game and in this week’s Angles Pod, I’ll bring back some of this action with a bit of Keelan Cole, a bit of DJ Chark, and possibly a bit of Laviska. As also explored in the Angles Pod :: all of this also exposes me to leverage off apparent James Robinson chalk, as a game environment in which “Texans pass” and “Jags pass bring-backs” are succeeding is likely to be a game environment in which Robinson disappoints.
This is not a premium spot compared to Seattle // Buffalo (mostly because it’s more difficult to take clear advantage of the likely scoring in this spot, but also because these guys are less likely to post a slate-breaking score than are SEA // BUF pieces). But this is still one of the better game environments on the slate, with a high probability of points being scored. Rosters that start with Carr buy you leverage off of likely Josh Jacobs chalk and get you a different roster construction than the field on a week in which “expensive QB” is likely to be the way most rosters go. Rosters that start with Herbert also gain leverage off Jacobs, and gain leverage on the field by taking a different high-priced QB than most will be taking (note: Herbert will have to be the top-scoring QB in order to really pay off, so Herbert rosters, as a rule, almost have to be brought back with a Raiders piece, as he’ll need a high-scoring game to be the winning QB on tourney rosters this week). Waller and Keenan are the clearest stacking partners here, but Henry is also in the mix for the Chargers, and you can branch out to the “thinner options with big downfield roles” (Ruggs // Williams // Guyton) from there.
As explored in our DET // MIN writeup (and as explored in this Week’s Angles Pod, where I laid out my early exposures for this slate), not only is Dalvin Cook a strong play this week, but the Vikings’ passing pieces have a lot going for them as well. With Minnesota coming off a 14-attempt game, most of the field is likely to be scared off Jefferson and Thielen; but with Thielen posting an elite score in 3/7 games and Jefferson getting there in 2/7, there is still plenty of space for one of these guys to be a difference-maker on the slate. As also explored in the Angles Pod :: if one of these guys hits, it increases the chances of Dalvin landing around 18 to 22 points (DK) instead of his typical 29 to 33 point ceiling, so “Vikings Pass” rosters can be further leveraged by adding Christian McCaffrey. Most Dalvin rosters will not have CMC, so if Jefferson or Thielen scores 30+ and pushes Dalvin down to the 20-point range, and if CMC scores 30+, you get a double-boost against the heavy Dalvin ownership the field is sure to have. I’ll be leaning Jefferson for the way this matchup sets up (again :: explored in the writeup for this game), but I’ll definitely have a mix of both these guys this week.
Julio is a Light Blue Chip for me || Drew Lock is going to attack downfield in a good matchup || Lock could easily approach 40 pass attempts || Lock-led stacks are cheap || Lock-led stacks are likely to be low-owned.
Most weeks when I build 19 rosters, I look to isolate one to three rosters for some low-owned, longer-shot stacks. The goal, of course, is to find a stack that may not be likely to hit, but that is far more likely to hit than ownership is going to give it credit for. At Lock’s price on DK, he’s producing a top-three point-per-dollar score 20% to 25% of the time on this slate if we could play out this weekend over and over again; and while he could fail hard some of the times he fails, those odds work nicely in our favor if he’s only 1% to 4% owned. With most people likely to pay up at quarterback this week, Lock also helps you gain a unique roster construction. I’ll likely have a pair of Lock-led stacks this week. I’ll also have some Tim Patrick // Noah Fant // (Jerry Jeudy?) // (Albert Okwuegbunam?) exposure opposite Julio on other builds.
Same as last week, the Chiefs have the highest Vegas-implied team total on the slate. Same as last week, they don’t shape up to have a particularly competitive game environment. Same as last week, their players are generally priced as they should be priced. Same as last week (and pretty much every other week), these guys will float around the fringe of my player pool as pieces I can plug into the final spot on a roster to give it a final “Upside” boost. I won’t be going out of my way to isolate these pieces on my builds; but as is the case in about 50% of weeks, I could end up with some fringe exposure to the powerful Kansas City offense.
Josh Jacobs appears to be gaining steam in the industry this week and will likely be chalky, which will naturally put me underweight on him (you can find the strategy behind this through the game writeup for LV // LAC), especially with both of the Raiders’ starting tackles expected to miss. But the reasons he’s likely to be chalky are the same reasons I was going to like him this week if he were going overlooked. In other words: he’s a rock-solid play in a vacuum, with “strategy” being the only real reason to avoid him. I’ll almost certainly go below the field’s ownership on Jacobs, but I may still have some rosters with him, and I definitely like the play.
Justin Jackson should be clear leverage off Jacobs, as those who roster Jacobs are highly unlikely to roster Jackson…and a big game from Jackson is likelier to come with the Chargers controlling this one, which would almost certainly lead to a lesser game from Jacobs. The deep-dive on Jackson can be found in the game writeup for LV // LAC. I won’t be shy about taking a few shots on him this week.
With these two priced roughly the same on DK (and each likely to be popular), I’ll likely take a stand with Edmonds and hope I come out on top (though that’s obviously not the only way to play this; you could flip that and take a stand on Conner; or you could grab equal amounts of each). Both are solid plays; but Conner’s role is not quite as guaranteed as Edmonds’ role is likely to be (role is the only concern with Conner, as the Steelers are likely to dominate in this one, and it won’t be surprising if they cap Conner at 22 to 25 touches once the game is fully in hand; because Conner lacks explosiveness to his game, he’ll likely need three touchdowns to post the sort of score you “had to have” in order to win; so while his floor is higher than Edmonds’, I like Edmonds as the player with a better chance of posting an “outlandish” score).
Edmonds has seen five to seven targets in four of seven games (including six or more targets in three of his last four), with three to six carries in each game along the way. Drake’s absence leaves an additional 17 carries per game and 1.4 targets per game, nearly all of which should fall to Edmonds, giving him a rough projection of 16 to 22 carries and five to seven targets in most game flow scenarios (the remaining Cardinals backs have combined for three total snaps on the year; Edmonds will be spelled at points in this fast-paced offense; but when they need a running back to do something, he’s the guy they’ll lean on). He’s explosive, in a good offense, in a good matchup, in a spot where his team should tilt toward the run. With Seattle // Buffalo dominating space in Blue Chips and pushing Dalvin and CMC to “Light Blue,” Edmonds is pushed down here. But in other weeks, he would have landed “Light Blue” for me with his Week 9 setup. I’ll likely have him on four to six of my 19 builds this week.
The Giants rank a respectable 13th in adjusted sack rate (the Washington offense ranks 31st), while both the Giants’ defense and Washington’s offense rank middle of the pack in turnovers per drive. No defense besides the priced-up-like-a-wide-receiver Steelers really pops this week, making the Giants a viable salary saver.
Washington’s defense ranks second in adjusted sack rate, while the Giants rank 16th on offense. Washington ranks middle of the pack in turnovers forced per drive, but the Giants are giving the ball away on offense at the third highest rate in the league.
Houston hasn’t racked up many sacks this year, but they rank 11th in adjusted sack rate, and the Jags’ offense ranks dead last. Houston hasn’t forced many turnovers this year (dead last in turnovers forced per opponent drive), but the Jags are giving the ball away on offense at the eighth highest rate in the league, and Jake Luton will be making his first start in the NFL.
Yeah. I mean, obviously you would love to play Pittsburgh; but unless you have a game stack on DK that just happens to leave you $5k in salary that you don’t feel like spending elsewhere, it’s tough to pull the trigger. This defense basically needs a touchdown to justify its price…and it might need two. With that said: sacks and turnovers are a near-guarantee (four to six sacks is a solid projection; one to three turnovers), and with Dallas unlikely to top 13 points, that gives a projection of 10 to 16 DST points in most scenarios here. As noted in the writeup for this one, DST pricing on DK stretches from 4% of the cap at the bottom to 9.8% at the Steelers; but on FD, the range is 5% to 8.3%. This makes the Steelers more affordable, and it makes the priced-down options less valuable. Pittsburgh is obviously in play on both sites; but FanDuel makes it much easier to feel good about playing them.
Arizona ranks only 21st in adjusted sack rate (and they no longer have Chandler Jones on the field), and the Dolphins rank a respectable 15th on offense. Miami’s offense and Arizona’s defense both rank middle of the pack in turnovers per drive as well. But with the Dolphins missing Myles Gaskin and Matt Breida in the backfield and facing a strong Arizona pass defense with Tua under center, there are going to be opportunities for some Cardinals goodness. If they’re able to take advantage, they could provide an edge at lower ownership, while also providing a lineup differentiator if rostering Chase Edmonds.
Baltimore and Indy are also in play against one another at affordable price tags, in a game that could go a number of different ways. Indy ranks third and Baltimore ranks 10th in turnovers forced per drive. Each team ranks middle of the pack in giveaways on offense. Baltimore ranks eighth in adjusted sack rate, though the Colts have taken only eight sacks all year. Indy ranks 17th in adjusted sack rate, but Lamar has taken 19 sacks on the season.
These are players who don’t fit into any of the categories above, but who will remain on the fringe of my pool as “last guy on the roster” pieces for their 30-point (or “elite-game-for-the-price”) upside; all carry risk, but all carry potential to be low-owned separators as well ::
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:
Russ || Allen || Watson || Lock
Dalvin || CMC || Edmonds || DeeJay || (Justin Jackson)
Lockett (or :: Metcalf) || Diggs (or :: JB/Beasley) || Julio (+ Patrick) || Cooks (or :: Fuller || + Jax) || Jefferson (or :: Thielen)
Hockenson || Waller || Fant
NYG || WAS || PIT || ARI
Remember to check out the Run To Daylight Pod to hang out with Tod, Hilow, Lex, and TJ Hernandez 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!