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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.
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 8’s article.
Quarterbacks: Trevor Lawrence (JAX) – $5,200 v LV (6.2% projected rostership)
It’s a battle of underwhelming quarterbacks this week when the Las Vegas Raiders travel to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. On one hand, we have Derek Carr who has been solid his entire career but was expected to take the jump to the next level this year with the acquisition of Davante Adams. On the other hand, we have Trevor Lawrence who was supposed to be a true “can’t miss” prospect but has mostly underwhelmed since being drafted first overall last season. Luckily he gets an awesome matchup this week. According to our Betting Predators model, the Raiders have been the easiest defense for quarterbacks to face so far this year. They have also allowed the second-most DraftKings points to quarterbacks on the season as well so this is a perfect matchup for Lawrence to succeed. As for Lawrence, he’s averaging 17.1 DraftKings points per game. That’s the 11th-most among all quarterbacks on the slate yet he’s the 17th-most expensive. He doesn’t have any huge performances so far but does have two games of at least 24 DraftKings points and three games of at least 21 DraftKings points. The potential game script sets up favorably as well. The Jaguars are currently 1.5-point underdogs in a game with a 47.5-point combined total.
This week, running back Travis Etienne ($6,300 / 26.2%) looks like he is going to be one of the most popular plays at any position. This will create a lot of leverage by playing Lawrence instead. You can even play Etienne and Lawrence together since Etienne is so involved as a pass-catcher. This is a way to get different too because most people will shy away from playing both together because of the usual negative correlation between a quarterback and running back on the same team. Outside of Etienne, there are a few different viable options when stacking with Lawrence. Evan Engram ($3,300 / 6.3%), Christian Kirk ($5,500 / 11.1%), and Zay Jones ($4,100 / 6.9%) are all great options as they all look like great point-per-dollar plays, and all look likely to be under-rostered. There are two very strong run-back options as well in Davante Adams ($8,100 / 6.9%) and Josh Jacobs ($7,300 / 20.9%). Adams is my favorite, especially in larger field tournaments as he provides just as much upside and will be rostered in one-third as many lineups as Jacobs so he provides a lot more leverage.
Stacks to Consider: Trevor Lawrence + Christian Kirk + Zay Jones + Davante Adams / Trevor Lawrence + Christian Kirk + Josh Jacobs / Trevor Lawrence + Travis Etienne + Evan Engram + Davante Adams
Other Quarterbacks to Consider: Joe Burrow (CIN) – $6,600 v CAR (4.6%), Derek Carr (LV) – $5,400 @ JAX (8.2%)
Running Backs: Leonard Fournette (TB) – $6,600 v LAR (8.2% projected rostership)
The running back position is very interesting this week. It looks like another week to mostly “eat the chalk” with there being plenty of great running back plays that are going to be pretty popular. However, one running back that is going to go under-rostered for the upside that he has is Leonard Fournette. Fournette has looked more like “Uncle Lenny” than “Playoff Lenny” so far this season. In fact, the entire Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense has been out of sync in 2022. A lot of that has been due to all the injuries they’ve dealt with. In spite of all that, Fournette is averaging 17.0 DraftKings points per game this year. That’s good for the 12th-most among all running backs this year. He also has four games over 18 DraftKings points including a 35.9-point game. His saving grace has been his usage in the passing game. Fournette has the fifth-most targets, fourth-most receiving yards, third-most receptions, and most routes run among all running backs so far this year. The matchup against the Los Angeles Rams isn’t ideal but isn’t one to avoid either. Fournette simply has too fantasy-friendly of a role to go this under-rostered this week.
As previously mentioned, running back is very interesting this week. Most of the popular plays are going to be that way for a good reason. Playing Fournette, though, will help you get different when playing some chalkier wide receivers. The best leverage that Fournette provides is pricepoint leverage. Rhamondre Stevenson ($6,200 / 24%), Joe Mixon ($6,500 / 23.2%), Travis Etienne ($6,300 / 26.2%), and Kenneth Walker III ($6,200 / 21.8%) might be the four most popular players on the entire slate and all four are in the same salary range as Fournette. Most people are going to choose any of these four over Fournette so by playing Fournette instead, you’ll gain leverage there. You can also gain a bit of game leverage with Chris Godwin ($6,200 / 13%) likely checking in as one of the most popular wide receivers on the slate. When correlating Fournette this week, my favorite option is Cooper Kupp ($8,900 / 15.4%). Kupp’s salary has dropped big time despite him still playing well. He hasn’t been dominating to the extent he did last year but still great. Kupp did get his ankle rolled up on so make sure to monitor his status. Tyler Higbee ($3,700 / 17.9%) is another great correlated play.
Stacks to Consider: Leonard Fournette + Cooper Kupp / Leonard Fournette + Tyler Higbee / Leonard Fournette + Tom Brady + Chris Godwin + Cooper Kupp
Other Running Backs to Consider: Dalvin Cook (MIN) – $7,800 @ WAS (7.1%), Jonathan Taylor (IND) - $7,700 @ NE (5.6%), Raheem Mostert (MIA) – $6,100 @ CHI (13.9%)
Wide Receivers: DeAndre Hopkins (ARI) – $7,900 v SEA (8.1% projected rostership)
While the running back position is interesting, the wide receiver position might actually be more interesting this week. The rostership projection is extremely spread out with no clear chalky plays. Not a single wide receiver is projected for more than 18% rostership when usually there are multiple over 20%. With that being said, it comes as a bit of a surprise to see Hopkins checking in at under 10%. All he’s done since returning two weeks ago is average more than 30 DraftKings points per game. Hopkins has seen 13 and 14 targets in his two games so far and now gets to face a Seattle Seahawks defense we’ve been targeting all year. The Seahawks have been playing better defense as of late, but Hopkins should still be able to get his. This game also has a 50.50 combined total and the Arizona Cardinals have a 26.25-point implied team total this week. This one will also be played in a dome so all signs point to Hopkins keeping the good times going.
The interesting thing about playing Hopkins is that there isn’t much game leverage to be had here. If James Conner ($5,800 / 12%) plays, he could see that roster rate jump up a bit. The main thing here with Hopkins is simply the fact that he’s been so good and looks like a great point-per-dollar play yet is going so under-rostered in such a good game environment. He does present some pricepoint leverage as Stefon Diggs ($8,400 / 17.7%), Cooper Kupp ($8,900 / 15.4%), and Tyreek Hill ($8,500 / 15%) look likely to be three of the most popular wide receivers and all are in the same salary range. There are three viable correlated run-back options to pair with Hopkins. Tyler Lockett ($6,100 / 11.8%), D.K. Metcalf ($6,400 / 6.4%), and Kenneth Walker III ($6,200 / 21.8%) all look like great options. Metcalf would probably be the better choice in a larger field tournament with Walker III being more viable the smaller the field. Lockett is possibly the best from a point-per-dollar standpoint as well as a correlated ceiling standpoint and is right in the middle in terms of projected rostership.
Stacks to Consider: DeAndre Hopkins + Tyler Lockett / DeAndre Hopkins + Kenneth Walker III / Kyler Murray + DeAndre Hopkins + D.K. Metcalf
Other Wide Receivers to Consider: Darnell Mooney (CHI) – $4,700 v MIA (7.3%), Davante Adams (LV) – $8,100 @ JAX (6.9%), Zay Jones (JAX) – $4,100 v LV (6.9%), Tee Higgins (CIN) – $7,300 v CAR (6.7%)
Tight Ends: Evan Engram (JAX) – $3,300 v LV (6.3% projected rostership)
In like a Jaguar and out like a Jaguar, that’s how the old saying goes right? While that’s not exactly how the saying goes, it only stands to reason that if we like Trevor Lawrence we will probably like a cheap tight end he’s throwing to that has been quietly producing at a solid rate. Engram is averaging 9.1 DraftKings points per game which may not seem great but that’s 15th-best among tight ends this year and only a single point per game away from top-11 status. He’s also had five games of at least nine points and four in the double-digits. Looking deeper under the hood, Engram’s usage is even more encouraging. He has the seventh-most targets, fifth-most routes run, sixth-most air yards, eighth-most receptions, and eighth-most receiving yards. Engram is one of the few tight ends outside of the elite few that will actually get plays designed specifically for them. On top of that, we’ve already mentioned that this is an amazing spot for the Jaguars passing game. The Raiders have allowed the third-most DraftKings points to tight ends this year so Engram should have every chance to succeed here.
Per the usual, tight end isn’t necessarily the spot to try to get your biggest leverage each week. This week there look to be two fairly chalky plays at tight end with Kyle Pitts ($4,500 / 16.6%) and Tyler Higbee ($3,700 / 17.9%). Engram provides a bit of pricepoint leverage off Higbee and then just gives a different lineup build by using him instead of Pitts. There’s also some game leverage here by playing him instead of a chalky Travis Etienne ($6,300 / 26.2%). In addition to that, perhaps the most intriguing aspect of playing Engram is correlating him with Trevor Lawrence. With Etienne being so popular, playing a Lawrence + Engram stack gives you two, low-rostered players in the same game environment that are correlated and give you some massive leverage. As previously mentioned with Lawrence, the best run-back options to correlate with are Davante Adams ($8,100 / 6.9%) and Josh Jacobs ($7,300 / 20.9%). Keep in mind that Jacobs will likely be one of the more popular running back plays so be selective about the other players in the lineup and which contests you’re entering.
Stacks to Consider: Trevor Lawrence + Evan Engram + Josh Jacobs / Evan Engram + Davante Adams / Trevor Lawrence + Zay Jones + Evan Engram + Davante Adams
Other Tight Ends to Consider: Dawson Knox (BUF) – $3,500 @ NYJ (8.3%), Gerald Everett (LAC) – $4,800 @ ATL (5.6%)
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 ($5,200 / 6.2%)
RB – Austin Ekeler ($8,800 / 14.2%)
RB – Joe Mixon ($6,500 / 23.2%)
WR – Davante Adams ($8,100 / 6.9%)
WR – Zay Jones ($4,100 / 6.9%)
WR – Drake London ($4,900 / 12.5%)
TE – Evan Engram ($3,300 / 6.3%)
Flex – Amon-Ra St. Brown ($6,600 / 8.4%)
DST – Seattle Seahawks ($2,500 / 5.7%)
Cumulative Totals – ($50,000 / 90.3%)
Product Rostership – .00000003667%
Sample Small Field Tournament Lineup
QB – Marcus Mariota ($5,300 / 4.0%)
RB – Austin Ekeler ($8,800 / 14.2%)
RB – Leonard Fournette ($6,600 / 8.2%)
WR – Drake London ($4,900 / 12.5%)
WR – Joshua Palmer ($5,100 / 13.2%)
WR – Tyquan Thornton ($3,300 / 12.1%)
TE – Kyle Pitts ($4,500 / 16.6%)
Flex – Cooper Kupp ($8,900 / 15.4%)
DST – Seattle Seahawks ($2,500 / 5.7%)
Cumulative Totals – ($49,900 / 101.9%)
Product Rostership – .000000135%
Make sure to tune in next week to see the best plays and stacks for tournaments for Week 10!
By Rob Norton
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