Usually, if you want to take down a GPP, you need to have a bit of a contrarian mindset. From a simplified macro game-theory perspective, if you have the same players as everyone, it’s a lot harder to win a larger tournament.
Most tournament winning teams have a mix of “the chalk” or higher owned players, as well as contrarian, lower owned players. I’ll be bringing you my preferred lower-owned players each week on DraftKings, but sometimes will also mix in what I perceive to be “good chalk.”
This year I have made a conscious effort to tighten my player pool, play fewer lineups, and zero in on what is the most optimal lineup possible. (I owe a great deal of that to watching Joe Holka review high stakes lineups on Twitch). From there, I might make one or two alterations based on the type of tournament structure I plan on using it for. Being contrarian really isn’t all that hard, especially when you game stack and are aware of how particular players correlate with one another.
Normally, I’m locked in on one or two quarterbacks, but I’m not as bullish as I normally am at this point of the week. There are a lot of strong plays at varying price tags, which should make for an interesting week.
Kirk Cousins – All things being equal, I prefer my quarterback to be playing in front of their home crowd. This week, however, three of my top quarterbacks are on the road: Patrick Mahomes (7.6k), Cam Newton (6.6k), and last but not least, Kirk Cousins (5.5k), who is the significantly cheaper option of the three. Cousins may not have the 40+ point ceiling that Mahomes has, but believe it or not, his ceiling is higher than Cam Newton’s despite not being as consistent. Cousins has scored 30+ DK points three times this season, while Cam surprisingly has only done it once (31.6) – in Week 2. Cousins put up 30 just last week against the Packers (30.2). He also put up 35.68 in Week 4 against the Rams and 37.5 in Week 2 against the Vikings first showdown against the Packers. Something that has gone under the radar is Cousins home-road splits – he is averaging over six more fantasy points on the road (25.6) compared to at home (19.5). Considering the fact that the Vikings will likely need to be pass-heavy against the Patriots, I expect Cousins to have a good chance at cracking 30 points again this week.
One factor that could change things is Stefon Diggs – he has struggled to be productive when he has been on the injury report – noted by PFF’s Scott Barrett. Cousins will need a healthy Diggs to keep the Patriots from keying in on Adam Thielen. If Diggs doesn’t play or looks to be limited, then pivoting to Tom Brady is an option, who is only a few hundred more.
Other considerations: Patrick Mahomes (priced way up, but with no Kareem Hunt, he might actually be a value), Tom Brady, Jared Goff, Marcus Mariota
I’m not going to get too cute at running back this week, especially since I tend to keep a tight core and focus on single entry contests. In larger field tournaments, I am more willing to stray a little farther from the optimal lineup but I don’t know if it’s as necessary this week.
Todd Gurley vs. Christian McCaffrey – I think roster construction will force you to pick either Gurley or McCaffrey and it’s likely that McCaffrey is the chalk due to recency bias. I will most likely split my exposures between the two. Regardless, don’t overlook Gurley just because of an outlier game like the Rams-Chiefs shootout.
Aaron Jones – One of the first players that I’m locking in my lineups. The Packers have finally cleared the way for Jones to be the Packers bell cow back and I don’t expect that to change as long as Jones is healthy. Do you remember what happened the last time the Packers were a heavy home favorite? Let me refresh your memory – in Week 10, Aaron Jones racked up 172 total yards and two TDs and 35.2 DK points against the Dolphins. Since then, Jones has continued to see elite playing time and usage, while still managing to put up 45.6 DK points over his last two games on the road against the Vikings and Seahawks. His matchup couldn’t be more different this week versus the run-funnel Cardinals defense. This is another week that I recommend stacking him with the Packers defense.
Spencer Ware – Core play. The Chiefs didn’t have much time to prepare for life without Kareem Hunt this week, so I would expect Ware to become the bell cow running back. At 4k, he is mispriced for his expected workload in an elite offense who are heavy favorites.
Other considerations: Saquon Barkley, Phillip Lindsay, Gus Edwards, Lamar Miller, T.J. Yeldon, Carlos Hyde
Tyreek Hill – The cheetah has feasted on the road (30.2 DK points) in comparison to playing in Arrow Head (17.3 DK points). If you read any of my previous GPP articles or listened to any of my Prime Time Process breakdowns, you know about this trend – courtesy of Mr. Evan Silva, who spotted it before anyone. The Chiefs will likely lean on Hill, even more, to carry the Chiefs offense after the release of Kareem Hunt. I think he’s worth the price.
Adam Thielen – If you don’t want to pay all the way up for Hill, Thielen is the next best option and a strong value at 1.1k less than Tyreek Hill. The best thing about playing Thielen is that he never leaves the field. i.e. 96 percent of the snaps – third-highest in the NFL. The Vikings offense is incredibly concentrated – you usually just have to decide if you want to play Thielen or Diggs – or both. Since Diggs is on the injury report – it makes it a little easier since he doesn’t typically put up fantasy points when he’s playing with an injury. h/t Scott Barrett
Robert Woods – If Darius Slay shadows Brandin Cooks, it should lead to a Goff-Woods target funnel. Woods is a very strong play as he should feast on the outside and in the slot – where he is seeing more usage with Cooper Kupp on IR. Deciding between Woods and Golladay is a tough decision, but I plan to have plenty of both.
Kenny Golladay – The Lions passing offense isn’t sexy, but Golladay’s usage is. With no Golden Tate (traded to Philly) and Marvin Jones (IR), Golladay’s is now on the field as much as Adam Thielen (96 percent of snaps). Since Week 9, Golladay is first in the NFL in MS air yards (53 percent – tied with Nuk) and fourth in WOPR. The downside is that the Lions passing offense outside of Golladay is a mess and the Rams expect “Two Chainz” Talib to return this week. Regardless, Golladay is a strong process play, especially considering the Lions will have to pass to try and keep up with the Rams offense.
Emmanuel Sanders – One of the three 6k receivers that you need exposure to this week. Last week, I strongly recommended him as a core play. Sanders did not disappoint, as he caught seven passes for 86 yards on 12 targets. According to our own Eliot Crist – the Bengals are giving up 19.09 DK points per game, 83.1 yards, 0.7 touchdowns and allowing 22 percent of the targets per game to go to opposing WR1s.
Corey Davis – Still mispriced and a value on DK despite not seeing his normal volume last week. He did make up for it in air yards (67 percent MS Air), however. Despite an up and down season, Davis consistently pops in predictive metrics such as Target share, WOPR, Air Yards, and MS Air.
Chris Godwin – With no Desean Jackson in the lineup this week, Godwin becomes a must play at 3.9k against the Panthers in what should be a high scoring affair.
Dante Pettis – Targets. Snaps. Starting receiver. With no Goodwin or Garcon last week, Pettis had a target share of 23 percent, 105 air yards – which translates to a 40 percent market share of air yards (MS Air). In Week 10 – Pettis still saw six targets, but only (seven percent MS air) – due to Goodwin soaking up 21 percent of the air yards (M.S. air). Bottom line: Pettis is now the deep threat with Goodwin out of the lineup – increasing his aDOT and making him a viable tournament play.
Other considerations: Mike Evans, OBJ, Quincy Enunwa, Chris Conley
Eric Ebron – Don’t be a DFS donkey and fade Eric Ebron. The truth is he is ridiculously underpriced and should be one of the first players you lock into your lineup – especially in cash games. Ebron has smashed all season long despite up and down usage when Jack Doyle has been in the lineup. Now with no Jack Doyle to steal his snaps, Ebron is easily the best tight end value on the slate and arguably the best play regardless of position. His floor is around 15 points while his ceiling is 35+. In small field tournaments and in cash, lock him in as a core play and move on.
George Kittle – Don’t get it twisted – George Kittle is the WR1 in SF. Boxscore scouts might be off-put by the lack of production last week, but Kittle’s usage was still elite: 39 percent target share and the highest WOPR among TE’s last week (.84).
Other considerations: Gronk, Cameron Brate
Joe Paeno is a contrarian with a growth mindset. During the “offseason” he spends all of his free time grinding film, pouring over statistics, and looking for edges for the upcoming season. From March to August he leverages those edges for best ball leagues – which he has been profitable three years in a row and has averaged a 64.5% ROI over the last two.
Once the season begins, he uses his naturally contrarian mindset to find low owned DFS tournament plays. In 2018, he broke down the primetime slates for TQE subscribers with his podcast “Prime Time Process” and brought in a 38.57% ROI.