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When it comes to building a DraftKings lineup there is a particular art form to it. It becomes even more nuanced when you are building specifically for tournaments. There is a common misconception that you must pick these crazy, long-shot lottery ticket type picks. In reality, that’s not even close and actually a terrible way to go. You can still play plenty of the popular or “chalky” plays. They are popular for a reason and that reason is that they project very well and seem very likely to hit their projection. You can still play these but only a few of them in each lineup at a maximum and mix up the exposure throughout multiple lineups. Mixing those “chalky” plays into the same lineup as good leverage plays and great stacks is the ideal way to go to create a well-built tournament lineup. The entire roster build itself is really the true key to creating great tournament lineups.
When it comes time to start playing DraftKings and building tournament lineups there are a few important tips to remember. First off, contest selection is extremely important. You need to know the payout structure as well as the number of people you are competing against. All of these things can be found in the “details” section of each tournament you are looking to enter. These are both very important because you need to understand how much leverage you need to get. Leverage is something you’ll hear a lot, especially in this article, and it’s very important the larger the field is. To gain leverage on the field, you need to understand which plays are the most popular. Once you do that, you need to choose players that are directly negatively correlated to those popular players or players who are projected less (but still good) and in the same price range. These are ways to allow your lineup build to get different from thousands of other people in the same tournament. It’s hard enough to win a tournament any given week so the last thing you want is to finally win and have to split those winnings with hundreds or thousands of other people with the same lineup. For more tips on cumulative rostership vs. product rostership, make sure to check out Week 14’s article.
Quarterbacks - Trevor Lawrence (JAX) – $6,000 v DAL (3.3% projected rostership)
Trevor Lawrence ($6,000 / 3.3%) is on an incredible run right now. Over his last four games he’s averaging 25.7 DraftKings points per game. That includes a 36.4-point performance last week when he was the top-scoring quarterback on the week. Lawrence has scored more than 20 DraftKings points six times now including five of the past eight games. He’s up to 19.8 DraftKings points per game on the entire season now which is the 10th-most among all quarterbacks this year. Lawrence is finally starting to live up to his “generational talent” hype coming out of Clemson. The combined total of this game is currently 47.5 points which is the third-highest on the slate. The Jacksonville Jaguars are currently 4.5-point underdogs and don’t seem very likely to stop the Dallas Cowboys from putting points on the board. That’s going to lead to even more dropbacks for Lawrence to try to keep up. Travis Etienne ($6,000 / 19.9%) has been struggling lately with his foot issue as well. All of these things should ultimately lead to more throwing for Lawrence in this one.
Per usual, the leverage we are getting here is game leverage. As previously mentioned, Etienne has been struggling a bit lately. You’d think that would dissuade people from playing him this week, especially in a tougher matchup. That doesn’t look to be the case right now. Etienne is currently one of the chalkiest running backs projecting to be around 20% rostership. That’s the third-highest projected rostership among all running backs this week. It’s probably because he’s still the clear-cut workhorse for the Jaguars and his salary has dropped more than $1,000 over the past month due to his lack of production. Playing Lawrence instead of Etienne gives you big-time leverage in the same exact game environment, not to mention the player that has been on fire lately anyways. When stacking Lawrence my favorite piece to use is Evan Engram ($3,800 / 7.5%) is my favorite piece to use. Engram is coming off a monster 42.2-point performance last week and is a huge piece of this Jaguars' passing attack. On the season he’s seen at least six targets in seven games so far and is averaging 10.5 DraftKings points per game. In addition to Engram, Christian Kirk ($6,600 / 6.2%) and Zay Jones ($4,900 / 14.1%) are both good pieces to put in single or double stacks of Lawrence lineups. Etienne is also a viable piece as well, albeit my least favorite of the four.
Stacks to Consider: Trevor Lawrence + Evan Engram + CeeDee Lamb / Trevor Lawrence + Christian Kirk + Dalton Schultz / Trevor Lawrence + Zay Jones + Evan Engram + CeeDee Lamb
Other Quarterbacks to Consider: Ryan Tannehill (TEN) – $5,300 @ LAC (3.3%), Justin Herbert (LAC) – $7,200 v TEN (11.1%)
Running Backs - Isiah Pacheco (KC) – $5,900 @ HOU (9.8% projected rostership)
Heading into the season Isiah Pacheco ($5,900 / 9.8%) was mostly an afterthought although he started to gain some buzz late in the preseason. He was mostly useless for the first ten weeks of the season. Since then, however, Pacheco has scored at least 12 DraftKings points for four straight weeks now. He’s also seen at least 13 carries in five straight games. This week he gets one of the juiciest matchups you could ask for. The Houston Texans have been the second-easiest defense for running backs to face according to our Betting Predators model. They’ve actually allowed the most DraftKings points to running backs this season. It’s a combination of them having a horrible rush defense combined with constantly losing and teams can just run the ball up and down the field on them with ease. The Kansas City Chiefs are also the largest favorites this week. They currently have a massive 31.75-point implied team total and are 14-point road favorites. Pacheco has been used much more when the Chiefs are ahead and the game environment looks very ripe for that this week.
While there isn’t too much pricepoint leverage to be had with Pacheco, he does give some very nice game leverage. Both Patrick Mahomes ($8,100 / 14.7%) and Travis Kelce ($7,800 / 17.3%) are checking in as two of the chalkiest players at their respective positions. By playing Pacheco and the running game, that will give massive leverage off of all the people playing Mahomes and the Chiefs' passing game, especially if they still score 30+ points in this one. It seems very likely that the Chiefs are going to score a boatload of points and this is a bet on Pacheco being the biggest beneficiary of this game environment. The passing side of it can still be good and just not hit a massive ceiling they would need to pay off the expensive salaries. When correlating Pacheco this week, my favorite option is Chris Moore ($4,200 / 15.6%). With both Brandin Cooks and Nico Collins likely out again, Moore should be the lead receiver in this one. Last week he scored 25.4 DraftKings points in this same situation by catching ten of his 11 targets for 124 yards. The only other viable stacking option for the Texans is Phillip Dorsett II ($3,300 / 2.9%).
Stacks to Consider: Isiah Pacheco + Chris Moore / Isiah Pacheco + Phillip Dorsett II / Isiah Pacheco + Davis Mills + Chris Moore + Phillip Dorsett II
Other Running Backs to Consider: Alvin Kamara (NO) – $6,800 v ATL (7.6%), Miles Sanders (PHI) - $6,500 @ CHI (6.2%), David Montgomery (CHI) – $6,300 v CHI (3.3%)
Wide Receivers - Mike Williams (LAC) – $6,300 v TEN (3.6% projected rostership)
Mike Williams ($6,300 / 3.6%) has had a typical “Mike Williams” year in 2022. He’s averaging 15.8 DraftKings points per game this season but doesn’t have a single game between 10-20 points. Williams has scored 20+ points in five games this year while scoring single digits in four games. He’s also missed games due to injury as well. That is the ride you take with Williams. Last week he had an awesome game. Williams caught all six of his targets for 116 yards and a score on his way to 26.6 DraftKings points. This week he gets a juicy matchup against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are an extreme pass funnel as they stop the run very well and allow a ton of production through the air. They have allowed the second-most DraftKings points to wide receivers so far this season. The current combined total is 46.5 points, the fourth-highest on the slate. The Chargers have a 24.75-point implied team total and this game is being played in a dome. All of these things are great signs for Williams to continue producing this week.
The projected rostership for Williams is absolutely baffling to me right now. If it sticks, I will definitely be very overweight on him given the amount of leverage he provides here. On top of that, the game leverage to be had here is some of the best on the entire slate. Austin Ekeler ($8,500 / 20.2%) is looking like he will be one of the chalkiest running backs this week. On top of that Keenan Allen ($6,800 / 19.8%) is going to be one of the chalkiest wide receivers on the slate. It only makes sense that Williams becomes a bit of an afterthought. This makes him an amazing leverage play off of both of them, especially considering his massive ceiling and the game environment. There is also some pricepoint leverage to be had with Garrett Wilson ($6,000 / 26.7%) looking likely to be one of the chalkiest wide receivers on the entire slate, and rightfully so. There are a few different correlated plays to use with Chase but my favorite is Derrick Henry ($8,000 / 26.7%). Henry is a bit chalky himself but is a workhorse in a great matchup and should be used early and often. In addition to Henry, Robert Woods ($4,400 / 5.4%) and Chigoziem Okonkwo ($3,100 / 10.0%) are also viable correlated plays as well.
Stacks to Consider: Mike Williams + Derrick Henry / Mike Williams + Chigoziem Okonkwo / Justin Herbert + Keenan Allen + Mike Williams + Robert Woods
Other Wide Receivers to Consider: Robert Woods (TEN) – $4,400 @ LAC (5.4%), Phillip Dorsett II (HOU) – $3,300 v KC (2.9%), Chris Olave (NO) – $6,500 v ATL (3.8%), Christian Kirk (JAX) – $6,600 v DAL (6.2%)
Tight Ends - Evan Engram (JAX) – $3,800 v DAL (7.5% projected rostership)
In case you were living under a rock last week, Evan Engram ($3,800 / 7.5%) just posted a massive 42.2-point performance. Not only was that the top tight end score but also the highest at any position on the entire slate. The next closest tight end scored 18.70 DraftKings points. There’s only been a handful of 40+ point performances at any position, let alone at tight end. That is truly a difference-making level ability at a bad position. As previously mentioned, he sees volume that most tight ends only dream of. On the season Engram has the sixth-most targets, fifth-most routes run, fifth-most receiving yards, and fourth-most receptions. That has led him to TE9 production on the season. This week Engram will be in that same game environment as we mentioned with Trevor Lawrence earlier. The Cowboys have been fairly good against the tight ends specifically but that should help keep the roster rate down and Engram is used much more like a big wide receiver anyways.
The projected rostership for Engram is downright absurd given what he did last week. I’m extremely surprised that he’s projected to be in half as much (or even one-third as much) lineups as his teammate Travis Etienne. As previously mentioned, they are in the same game environment and the potential game script sets up much more favorably for Engram than Etienne as is. On top of that, Engram has been great recently while Etienne has struggled. Plus, we know how bad the tight end position is so for someone who just put up 40+ points, he should be in plenty more lineups. That should give him a nice amount of game leverage. There’s also a bit of pricepoint leverage to be had too as Greg Dulcich ($3,600 / 16.5%) will likely be one of the chalkiest tight ends again if Courtland Sutton misses. There are a few different options for correlated plays but my favorite is CeeDee Lamb ($7,300 / 19.2%). Lamb has been awesome this season averaging 16.7 DraftKings points per game and the Cowboys have been on fire lately. Tony Pollard ($7,100 / 5.4%), Ezekiel Elliott ($6,200 / 3.2%), Michael Gallup ($4,500 / 3.6%), and Dalton Schultz ($4,400 / 17.5%) are all good options as correlated plays as well.
Stacks to Consider: Trevor Lawrence + Evan Engram + CeeDee Lamb / Evan Engram + Tony Pollard / Trevor Lawrence + Christian Kirk + Evan Engram + CeeDee Lamb
Other Tight Ends to Consider: Tyler Conklin (NYJ) – $3,100 v DET (6.9%), Gerald Everett (LAC) – $4,300 v TEN (2.3%)
In terms of choosing a defense/special teams, generally, it is the last position I fill. There are, however, a few rules to follow when doing so. The first rule is that you should rarely, if ever, play a DST in the same lineup as the quarterback or running back they are facing. There is a strong negative correlation between them and you are building a lineup in which you want every piece to hit its ceiling. The second rule is to target defenses with high pressure rates and/or are facing offensive lines that allow high pressure rates. More pressure creates more opportunities for sacks and turnovers, which is where the defensive touchdowns come from. Those defensive touchdowns are needed to hit ceiling outcomes. The third, and perhaps more important rule is to try your best to avoid the popular or “chalky” defenses of the week. Defensive scoring is so random and variant that it makes it extremely unpredictable. It’s usually much better to get leverage and lean into that unpredictability and use game theory for the sake of being different.
Important Note: These rules are much more critical in larger-field GPP tournaments. As the field gets smaller, it becomes less crucial to stick strictly to these rules.
Sample Large Field Tournament Lineup
QB – Trevor Lawrence ($6,000 / 3.3%)
RB – Isiah Pacheco ($5,900 / 9.8%)
RB – Alvin Kamara ($6,800 / 7.6%)
WR – CeeDee Lamb ($7,300 / 19.2%)
WR – Christian Kirk ($6,600 / 6.2%)
WR – Chris Moore ($4,200 / 15.6%)
TE – Evan Engram ($3,800 / 7.5%)
Flex – James Conner ($6,900 / 10.8%)
DST – Atlanta Falcons ($2,500 / 2.5%)
Cumulative Totals – ($50,000 / 82.5%)
Product Rostership – .000000009243%
Sample Small Field Tournament Lineup
QB – Patrick Mahomes ($8,100 / 14.7%)
RB – Isiah Pacheco ($5,900 / 9.8%)
RB – Zonovan Knight ($5,300 / 13.7%)
WR – Robert Woods ($4,400 / 5.4%)
WR – Chris Moore ($4,200 / 15.6%)
WR – Phillip Dorsett II ($3,300 / 2.9%)
TE – Travis Kelce ($7,800 / 17.3%)
Flex – Austin Ekeler ($8,500 / 20.2%)
DST – Atlanta Falcons ($2,500 / 2.5%)
Cumulative Totals – ($50,000 / 102.1%)
Product Rostership – .00000004212%
Make sure to tune in next week to see the best plays and stacks for tournaments for Week 16!
By Rob Norton
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