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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 16’s article.
Quarterbacks: Trevor Lawrence (JAX) – $6,200 @ HOU (5.7% projected rostership)
Trevor Lawrence ($6,200 / 5.7%) has been playing at an insane level for a while now. Over his last five games, he’s scored at least 28 DraftKings points three times. That includes two games of 31+ DraftKings points as well. On the season he’s up over 20 DraftKings points per game. Lawrence has only thrown one interception since Week 8! He’s finally living up to that “generational talent” moniker he received as a prospect. He’s also in a great game environment as well. The Houston Texans have been stingy on paper against opposing passing games but mostly that’s been because they allow so much production on the ground. The Jacksonville Jaguars could certainly do the same thing, but they should be able to win through the air as well. They have a nice implied total of 24 points. They will also be playing in a dome which should give a nice boost to the passing offenses as well. The Texans have been competent on offense lately as well which should keep Lawrence dropping back to pass all game.
It’s honestly extremely surprising to see Lawrence come in with this low of a roster rate considering the level he’s been playing at combined with the fact he’s been in plenty of winning GPP lineups over the past month or so. Playing Lawrence also gives you some great game leverage. Travis Etienne ($6,400 / 18.3%) is very likely to come in as one of the chalkiest players on the slate, and rightfully so. As previously mentioned, the Texans get shredded by opposing running backs so people will definitely feel good plugging Etienne into their lineups. Playing Lawrence and the passing game at one-third to one-fourth of the ownership is a great way to gain leverage on the field. When stacking Lawrence my favorite piece to use is Evan Engram ($4,400 / 9.8%). Engram has been on an insane tear over the last four games scoring at least 14 DraftKings points in all four, including a 42.2-point outburst in Week 14. Over that span, he’s averaging an absurd 22.9 DraftKings points per game. In addition to Engram, Zay Jones ($5,000 / 12.6%) and Christian Kirk ($6,000 / 11.1%) are both good pieces to put in single or double stacks of Lawrence lineups. Etienne can even be stacked with Lawrence as a way to get Etienne in the lineup and create a more unique build.
Stacks to Consider: Trevor Lawrence + Evan Engram + Brandin Cooks / Trevor Lawrence + Zay Jones + Jordan Akins / Trevor Lawrence + Evan Engram + Christian Kirk + Brandin Cooks
Other Quarterbacks to Consider: Brock Purdy (SF) – $5,500 @ LV (6.1%), Gardner Minshew (PHI) – $5,500 v NO (3.6%)
Running Backs: Zonovan Knight (NYJ) – $5,100 @ SEA (4.5% projected rostership)
Just as fast as Zonovan Knight ($5,100 / 4.5%) burst onto the scene as a fantasy-relevant player, it seems like fantasy managers have written him off just as quickly. After scoring 13+ DraftKings points for three straight weeks as a starter, he’s scored exactly 2.3 DraftKings points in two straight weeks now. I don’t think there’s any coincidence that both of those games were games in which Zach Wilson was the starter while the other three all had Mike White as the starter. Luckily for Knight (and fantasy managers) White is back as the starting quarterback for the New York Jets this week and just in time for a juicy matchup against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks have been the second-easiest defense for running backs to face according to our Betting Predators model. They’ve also allowed the second-most DraftKings points to running backs this season. With White back at the helm, the Jets’ implied team total is up to a respectable 22 points. This game also has a 42.5-point combined total which is decent. The Jets should be able to move the ball in this one and should be able to run the ball well, much to the benefit of Knight. Even if they were to fall behind, White checks down to the running backs at a much higher rate than Wilson did which helps Knight become a bit less game-script dependent than he’s been with Wilson.
Knight is coming in at far too low of a roster rate considering the quarterback change, salary, and matchup. People seem to be fading him due to recency bias which is hard for most people to look past. On top of that, teammate Garrett Wilson ($5,500 / 19.0%) is very likely to be one of the chalkiest wide receivers on the slate. It’s interesting to me, though, that people are willing to plug in Wilson with White back but not Knight when both of them have played much better with White behind center. Playing Knight instead of Wilson gives you a cheap running back in a great matchup and incredible leverage off the field. If these ownership projections stick, I highly suggest being overweight on Knight in tournaments. When correlating Knight this week, my favorite option is DK Metcalf ($6,900 / 8.5%). Metcalf has been awesome this year averaging 15.1 DraftKings points per game and has scored double-digits in eight straight games. The other viable stacking options for the Seahawks are Kenneth Walker III ($6,200 / 16.5%), Tyler Lockett ($6,600 / 7.5%), and Noah Fant ($3,400 / 5.3%). Lockett is coming off an injury so if he were to miss another game, that would make the others even stronger plays, especially Metcalf.
Stacks to Consider: Zonovan Knight + DK Metcalf / Zonovan Knight + Tyler Lockett / Zonovan Knight + Geno Smith + DK Metcalf + Noah Fant
Other Running Backs to Consider: Dalvin Cook (MIN) – $7,000 @ GB (4.9%), D’Andre Swift (DET) - $5,300 v CHI (6.4%), Isiah Pacheco (KC) – $5,600 v DEN (6.7%)
Wide Receivers: DeVonta Smith (PHI) – $7,100 v NO (3.3% projected rostership)
DeVonta Smith ($7,100 / 3.3%) has seemed to be underrated all year this year playing alongside star teammate A.J. Brown ($7,900 / 3.9%). Brown has been incredible but Smith has been amazing in his own right. On the year Smith has 79 receptions for 1,014 yards and seven touchdowns with still two games to go to add to those totals. He’s averaged 15.6 DraftKings points per game in 2022. Smith has been especially good lately as he’s scored at least 17 DraftKings points in four straight games now, including 34.3 DraftKings points this past week. This week he gets another solid game environment to play in. The current combined total is 43.5 points. That’s a solid number on this slate. The Philadelphia Eagles have a 24.5-point implied team total which is one of the higher totals on the slate. That number could end up climbing even higher if Jalen Hurts ends up playing. Either way though, Gardner Minshew is more than capable of leading this offense and putting up points, as he showed last week and every time he’s gotten a starting shot.
With Smith, we’re looking at another spot to get amazing game leverage. As of now, teammate Miles Sanders ($5,900 / 18.4%) is looking like one of the chalkiest running backs on the slate. Sanders isn’t necessarily in a great spot or anything but he’s a cheap running back that gets good volume and is tied to a great offense so it makes sense. As long as Sanders stays anywhere near that ownership projection, Smith will be great leverage off of him considering he will be on six times fewer rosters. That will make Smith someone you would definitely want to be overweight on in tournaments. There are a few different correlated plays to use with Smith but my favorite is Alvin Kamara ($6,900 / 8.2%). Kamara has had a bit of a down year by his normal standards but has the ability to blow up in any given matchup and his salary has dropped a bit as well. In addition to Kamara, Chris Olave ($6,100 / 2.4%) and Rashid Shaheed ($4,000 / 4.3%) are both good correlated plays as well.
Stacks to Consider: DeVonta Smith + Alvin Kamara / DeVonta Smith + Chris Olave / Gardner Minshew + DeVonta Smith + Dallas Goedert + Chris Olave
Other Wide Receivers to Consider: Isaiah Hodgins (NYG) – $4,500 v IND (3.6%), Elijah Moore (NYJ) – $3,500 @ SEA (3.5%), Brandon Aiyuk (SF) – $6,300 @ LV (9.3%), Jahan Dotson (WAS) – $4,600 v CLE (2.0%)
Tight Ends: Evan Engram (JAX) – $4,400 @ HOU (9.8% projected rostership)
Evan Engram ($4,400 / 9.8%) is currently in one of the best stretches of his career right now. As previously mentioned he’s averaging 22.9 DraftKings points per game over the last four games. He’s scored at least 14 DraftKings points in all four games in that span and also has a 42.2-point performance in that span as well. During that span, he’s seen seven, 15, 10, and eight targets. That is absolutely insane usage for a tight end. He’s topped 100 receiving yards twice in those four games as well. No tight end has scored more DraftKings points in the last four games than Engram. As previously mentioned with Lawrence, this game environment is a good one. The Texans are not a good defense at all so the Jaguars should be able to move the ball and score with ease. They have a nice implied total of 24 points which is one of the higher implied totals on the slate. That combination of insane usage and a good game environment make Engram one of the best tight ends on the week and his salary has not caught up to his recent usage and production.
As mentioned with Lawrence, this is another great spot to get some good game leverage. Usually, it’s tough to get game leverage at the tight end position but this week it’s fairly easy with Engram since teammate Travis Etienne ($6,400 / 18.3%) is going to be one of the chalkiest running backs on the slate. Etienne is definitely a great play but twice as many people will be playing Etienne instead of Engram despite the recent usage and production and the fact they are both in the same game environment. There are a few different options for correlated plays but my favorite is Brandin Cooks ($4,800 / 9.1%). Cooks has had a down year compared to his normal standards but has been dealing with injuries. He missed the previous three games but returned last week to score 13.4 DraftKings points in his first game back. He also saw nine targets immediately upon his return and should continue to see that sort of volume. Jordan Akins ($3,100 / 3.7%) and Chris Moore ($4,200 / 5.3%), as well as stacking with Trevor Lawrence ($6,200 / 5.7%) are all good options as correlated plays as well.
Stacks to Consider: Trevor Lawrence + Evan Engram + Brandin Cooks / Evan Engram + Jordan Akins / Trevor Lawrence + Zay Jones + Evan Engram + Brandin Cooks
Other Tight Ends to Consider: Tyler Conklin (NYJ) – $2,900 @ SEA (8.2%), Daniel Bellinger (NYG) – $3,200 v IND (3.6%)
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 ($6,200 / 5.7%)
RB – Zonovan Knight ($5,100 / 4.5%)
RB – D’Andre Swift ($5,300 / 6.4%)
WR – A.J. Brown ($7,900 / 3.9%)
WR – Zay Jones ($5,000 / 12.6%)
WR – Brandin Cooks ($4,800 / 9.1%)
TE – Evan Engram ($4,400 / 9.8%)
Flex – Christian McCaffrey ($9,000 / 18.9%)
DST – Green Bay Packers ($2,300 / 4.6%)
Cumulative Totals – ($50,000 / 75.5%)
Product Rostership – .000000006254%
Sample Small Field Tournament Lineup
QB – Jared Goff ($5,600 / 12.3%)
RB – D’Andre Swift ($5,300 / 6.4%)
RB – Rhamondre Stevenson ($6,800 / 18.8%)
WR – DK Metcalf ($6,900 / 8.5%)
WR – Amon-Ra St. Brown ($7,800 / 19.2%)
WR – Garrett Wilson ($5,500 / 19.0%)
TE – Cole Kmet ($4,500 / 8.8%)
Flex – Zonovan Knight ($5,100 / 4.5%)
DST – Los Angeles Rams ($2,400 / 4.1%)
Cumulative Totals – ($49,900 / 101.6%)
Product Rostership – .00000007451%
Thank you all for reading this series this season! Hopefully, it helped you win some money!
By Rob Norton
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