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When it comes to building a DraftKings lineup there is a certain 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.
This week’s tip will be explaining the difference between cumulative rostership and product rostership. On the surface, it is very straightforward. For cumulative rostership, you will simply just add up all the roster percentages to get a total. For product rostership, you will instead multiply all the roster percentages. For example, if you had chosen four players all of who have a 20% roster percentage, the cumulative rostership would be 80%. The product rostership would then be 0.16%. Now if you would choose four players, two of whom have a 35% roster percentage and the other two of whom have a 5% roster percentage, they would also have an 80% cumulative rostership. However, this group would have a 0.03% product rostership. This indicates that the second build will create a much more unique lineup. When building tournament lineups, the lower the product rostership the more unique a lineup will be even if the cumulative rostership is the same or slightly higher. For more tips on leverage and contest selection, make sure to check out Week 7’s article.
Quarterbacks: Daniel Jones (NYG) – $5,700 @ SEA (7.7% projected rostership)
Heading into the season, I would have never expected that I’d be actively targeting a game between the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks. Here we are, though, halfway through the season. The Seahawks have become a great weekly target because they have actually been playing at a much faster pace this year and the offense under Geno Smith has been more than competent. The defense has also been bad. According to our Betting Predators model, the Seahawks have been the seventh-easiest defense for quarterbacks to face so far this year. They have also allowed the tenth-most DraftKings points to quarterbacks on the season as well. This is perfect for Daniel Jones and the Giants offense. Jones himself is coming off his best performance of the year after putting up 31.8 DraftKings points. He did this despite only 202 passing yards and only one passing touchdown. Jones rushed 11 times for 107 yards and a score. He’s now up to 58 carries for 343 yards and three touchdowns on the season. The attempts are fourth-most among all quarterbacks while the yards and touchdowns are third-most. This has fueled Jones to the ninth-most fantasy points among all quarterbacks so far. The game script should be in his favor for more dropbacks as well as the Giants are three-point underdogs.
This week, in addition to the great matchup, one of the most exciting parts about building a lineup around Daniel Jones is the leverage you can achieve. People have this negative view of Jones and can’t seem to separate real-life value from fantasy value at times. The Giants also have a rough cast of pass-catching options for the most part. These things should allow us to get Jones (and his weapons) at lower roster percentages than he should be. Saquon Barkley will also be one of the slate's most popular running back plays, so playing Jones provides direct leverage off of those lineups. There are two main pass-catching options that are viable when it comes to stacking with Jones. Wan’Dale Robinson ($4,700 / 7.0%) is my favorite but Darius Slayton ($4,600 / 6.6%) is a good option as well. Both of them are cheap enough and low-rostered enough that you can play them in single or double stacks. Barkley can be used with Jones as well since he’s very involved in the passing game and a lot of people may shy away from using both Jones and Barkley in the same lineup. My favorite bring-back option for the Seahawks is Tyler Lockett ($6,500 / 10.6%). Lockett is coming off two straight clunkers himself and is priced up more than he has been all year so people may shy away more than they have recently. That percentage may go up with D.K. Metcalf likely to be out but that only improves Lockett’s outlook. I don’t think the roster percentage will get too out of hand on Lockett because a lot of people will be wanting to play Kenneth Walker III ($6,500 / 17.6%) and people won’t want to play both Lockett and Walker III in the same lineup. Walker III is a great run-back option as well, though.
Stacks to Consider: Daniel Jones + Wan’Dale Robinson + Darius Slayton + Tyler Lockett / Daniel Jones + Wan’Dale Robinson + Kenneth Walker III / Daniel Jones + Saquon Barkley + Wan’Dale Robinson + Tyler Lockett
Other Quarterbacks to Consider: Kirk Cousins (MIN) – $6,100 v ARI (5.3%), Derek Carr (LV) – $5,900 @ NO (8.1%)
Running Backs: Christian McCaffrey (SF) – $8,700 @ LAR (5.8% projected rostership)
As I mentioned last week, anytime you can get an elite running back at a low roster percentage, that presents a great opportunity to take advantage of in tournaments. Sure matchups matter, but an elite talent can overcome any matchup any given week. This matchup looks tough on paper as the Los Angeles Rams have allowed the second-least DraftKings points to running backs so far this year. However, McCaffrey should be involved in the passing game and the San Francisco 49ers are currently 1.5-point road favorites. Last week there was the question as to how much he would even play in his first game with the 49ers since he was traded only a couple of days prior. He wound up playing a little more than expected but didn’t get any of the two-minute drill or third-down snaps. That is something that should drastically change this week. What we do know is that McCaffrey is one of the best talents in the league and now plays for one of the most efficient offenses in the league. What we don’t know is how much usage he will get. That uncertainty will very likely keep his roster percentage low despite his upside being through the roof.
Like last week the most popular build is going to be skipping the elite running backs and paying down a bit to guys like Tony Pollard ($6,100 / 31.4%), Rhamondre Stevenson ($6,400 / 22.1%), and Dameon Pierce ($6,300 / 20.5%). By playing McCaffrey, it’s automatically going to give you a different look than people who play the cheaper running backs simply because of the difference in salary. That will also force you into different price ranges for other positions and therefore give you a different-looking build than the chalky build types. You can also gain a bit of pricepoint leverage as most people who pay up at running back will most likely land on either Josh Jacobs ($7,500 / 18.3%) or Saquon Barkley ($8,100 / 14.8%). When correlating McCaffrey this week, my favorite option is Cooper Kupp ($9,600 / 2.6%). Kupp has been a bit down lately relative to his normal standards lately. That being said, we know how much upside Kupp has and how good he normally is. It’s an expensive pairing but to get arguably the two highest-upside players in fantasy football for less than 10% cumulative rostership is ludicrous. It will also force you even further into different builds and keep your lineup extremely unique. Tyler Higbee ($4,200 / 18.9%) is another great option although he will likely be one of the most popular options at tight end.
Stacks to Consider: Christian McCaffrey + Cooper Kupp / Christian McCaffrey + Tyler Higbee / Christian McCaffrey + Matthew Stafford + Cooper Kupp + Tyler Higbee
Other Running Backs to Consider: Derrick Henry (TEN) – $8,400 @ HOU (8.0%), Michael Carter (NYJ) - $5,900 v NE (3.3%), D’Andre Swift (DET) – $6,800 v MIA (4.7%)
Wide Receivers: Brandin Cooks (HOU) – $5,900 v TEN (9.4% projected rostership)
It’s no secret that Brandin Cooks has been struggling a bit this year. He’s only averaging 10.4 DraftKings points per game so far this season. Four of his six games have been single-digit scoring games. The silver lining with Cooks, though, is that he still has a 23.3% target share and a 94.2% route participation. The Houston Texans offense just hasn’t been great in general and that’s held Cooks back a bit. This week’s matchup is juicy though. According to our model at Betting Predators the Tennessee Titans are the fourth-worst team at defending wide receivers. They have also allowed the third-most DraftKings points to wide receivers so far this year. This game is also being played at home so it will be in a dome which only helps Cooks’ outlook this week. The Texans also are currently 2.5-point underdogs so the potential game script should be favorable as well.
By playing Cooks you can get some great leverage off of a chalky Dameon Pierce as well. As previously mentioned, Pierce will likely end up being one of the most popular running back plays this week and most people won’t want to put both Cooks and Pierce in the same lineup, especially since this offense and game environment doesn’t look like a game to do a full onslaught. Cooks also is in the same salary range as some of the likely most popular wide receivers as well such as D.J. Moore ($5,300 / 21.2%), Drake London ($5,100 / 18.1%), and Chris Olave ($6,000 / 12.5%). This makes Cooks a great leverage play both from a game standpoint as well as a salary standpoint which allows you to bust a lot of lineups should Cooks go off this weekend. There are really only two viable runback options with Cooks but Derrick Henry ($8,400 / 8.0%) is by far my favorite. He’s got the best matchup for any running back in the league, has been way more involved in the passing game, has been on a huge tear, and is looking like he’s going to be very under-rostered. The only other viable play would be Robert Woods ($5,400 / 7.8%) and even that seems questionable.
Stacks to Consider: Brandin Cooks + Derrick Henry / Brandin Cooks + Robert Woods / Davis Mills + Brandin Cooks + Derrick Henry
Other Wide Receivers to Consider: Justin Jefferson (MIN) – $9,100 v ARI (7.8%), Cooper Kupp (LAR) – $9,600 v LAR (2.6%), DeVonta Smith (PHI) – $6,300 v PIT (7.8%), Tyquan Thornton (NE) – $3,800 @ NYJ (5.8%)
Tight Ends: Mike Gesicki (MIA) – $3,800 @ DET (3.0% projected rostership)
Through the first five weeks of the season, Mike Gesicki was not only unplayable but unrosterable. He had a total of 12 targets, nine receptions, 101 yards and a touchdown and was being used as a blocker more than he ever had in his career. The usage has shifted the past two weeks as Gesicki has seen seven targets in each game. He’s always been more of a receiver than tight end as is and is extremely athletic. This week, assuming the target volume sticks, he should be able to showcase his talents against a horrible Detroit Lions defense. They have allowed the fifth-most DraftKings points to tight ends so far this year and have been one of the worst all-around defenses in the league. This game has the highest combined total at 51.5 points and the Miami Dolphins' implied total of 27.5 points is the highest on the entire slate. The game is being played in Detroit as well which means it will be in a dome which is another boost for the passing games. When looking for dart-throw tight ends, you could do far worse than playing one on this offense and in this game environment.
As we mention every week, getting leverage at tight end isn’t always the easiest thing since there aren’t too many tight ends that tend to be extremely popular. This week Gesicki can provide a lot of it though. Tyler Higbee ($4,200 / 18.9%), Pat Freiermuth ($3,900 / 18.6%), and Kyle Pitts ($4,000 / 12.8%) figure to be three of the most popular tight ends on the slate and all of them are in the exact same price range. By clicking on Gesicki you’ll be getting different than nearly half of tournament lineups between those three combined. Gesicki also offers plenty of game leverage as well. Tyreek Hill ($8,500 / 22.8%) and Raheem Mostert ($5,900 / 20.6%) figure to be two of the most popular plays at wide receiver and running back this weekend as well. All of this combined makes Gesicki an extremely intriguing play at tight end to get different and get some leverage. There are so many different ways to stack this game and include Gesicki in the stack as well. Some of the best runback options include Amon-Ra St. Brown ($6,900 / 13.9%) and D’Andre Swift ($6,800 / 4.7%).
Stacks to Consider: Tua Tagovailoa + Mike Gesicki + D'Andre Swift / Mike Gesicki + Amon-Ra St. Brown / Tua Tagovailoa + Tyreek Hill + Mike Gesicki + Amon-Ra St. Brown
Other Tight Ends to Consider: T.J. Hockenson (DET) – $4,900 v MIA (4.5%), Dalton Schultz (DAL) – $3,700 v CHI (4.7%)
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 – Daniel Jones ($5,700 / 7.7%)
RB – Christian McCaffrey ($8,700 / 5.8%)
RB – D’Andre Swift ($6,800 / 4.7%)
WR – Tyler Lockett ($6,500 / 10.6%)
WR – Wan’Dale Robinson ($4,700 / 7.0%)
WR – Darius Slayton ($4,600 / 6.6%)
TE – Mike Gesicki ($3,800 / 3.0%)
Flex – D.J. Moore ($5,300 / 21.2%)
DST – Philadelphia Eagles ($3,900 / 5.5%)
Cumulative Totals – ($50,000 / 72.1%)
Product Rostership – .000000003596%
Sample Small Field Tournament Lineup
QB – Tua Tagovailoa ($6,200 / 13.2%)
RB – D’Onta Foreman ($5,300 / 10.9%)
RB – D’Andre Swift ($6,800 / 4.7%)
WR – Tyreek Hill ($8,500 / 22.8%)
WR – Amon-Ra St. Brown ($6,900 / 13.9%)
WR – Jaylen Waddle ($6,700 / 7.4%)
TE – Mike Gesicki ($3,800 / 3.0%)
Flex – Van Jefferson ($3,000 / 8.8%)
DST – Los Angeles Rams ($2,700 / 4.7%)
Cumulative Totals – ($49,900 / 89.4%)
Product Rostership – .0000000197%
By Rob Norton
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