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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 instead, only play 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.
Quarterbacks: Daniel Jones (NYG) – $5,200 v BAL (4.5% projected rostership)
Daniel Jones is the type of quarterback who is much better in fantasy football than in real life. This allows him to go under the radar more often than not. This is true this week as the New York Giants take on the Baltimore Ravens. Most people will avoid Jones because they have a generally negative view of him and a positive one of the Ravens' defense. However, Jones is averaging 16 fantasy points per game and that’s despite only three passing touchdowns on the year. He has already racked up 41 carries for 230 yards and two scores on the ground. All of those numbers are in the top four among all quarterbacks. On the other side, the Ravens have allowed the second-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and their secondary has been horrible.
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. Jones himself is only projected to be less than 5% rostered. His receiving weapons have not been great so far but have had a few flashes. Richie James ($4,200) is a cheap option who *could* have a very nice game. He’s only projected to be 2.4% rostered so he provides direct price-point leverage on the likely very popular Rondale Moore ($4,200) who is projected to be 20.2% rostered. Darius Slayton ($3,800) had a nice game last week and provides the same leverage as he’s projected to be rostered in less than 1% of lineups. Another reason to play these lineups is the leverage it gives you in the same game off of the likely very popular Saquon Barkley. My favorite bring-back option for the Ravens is Mark Andrews ($7,000) as he has a ton of upside, projects well, and is likely going to be rostered in fewer lineups (10.8% projected) than he should be.
Stacks to Consider: Daniel Jones + Richie James + Mark Andrews / Daniel Jones + Darius Slayton + Mark Andrews / Daniel Jones + Richie James + Marcus Johnson + Mark Andrews
Other Quarterbacks to Consider: Kyler Murray (ARI) – $7,300 @ SEA (5.7%), Joe Burrow (CIN) – $6,700 @ NO (4.4%)
Running Backs: Christian McCaffrey (CAR) – $8,300 @ LAR (5.5% projected rostership)
There aren’t too many running backs in the NFL with more upside than Christian McCaffrey. It’s also not often that you can get a running back with this much upside at such a low roster rate. Anytime you can combine high upside with high leverage, that is a player you want to be overweight on during that week. This week many people will likely avoid McCaffrey for a couple of reasons. The matchup against the Los Angeles Rams certainly isn’t ideal. The Rams have allowed the least fantasy points to running backs so far this season. The Carolina Panthers also have plenty of uncertainty and change this week as they fired Matt Rhule and P.J. Walker is likely to start at quarterback. However, despite what you may have heard, McCaffrey has been just fine this year as he’s averaging 20.2 fantasy points per game, including 23.4 fantasy points last week in a tough matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. The turmoil in Carolina combined with the tough matchup on paper is going to have people running away from McCaffrey this week but he’s talented enough and gets enough volume to overcome any matchup. These are the types of situations you want to be overweight on a player like McCaffrey in tournament lineup builds.
By playing McCaffrey, you are getting away from the typical build this week. Most people will be cramming in both Rhamondre Stevenson and Kenneth Walker III as much as possible which will lead them to different plays than when using McCaffrey. McCaffrey is only projected to be 5.5% rostered right now so he also provides nice price-point leverage off Barkley. Barkley is similarly priced and most people will see his price being $600 cheaper and choose to save the money. We’re seeing that right now as Barkley is projected to be 16.3% rostered so more than three times more rostered than McCaffrey. There isn’t too much game leverage to be gained here as D.J. Moore is the most popular Panther and he is only projected to be rostered in 6.6% of lineups. McCaffrey can be played as part of a small game correlation with any of Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee, or Cam Akers or as the bring-back option in a Rams stack.
Stacks to Consider: Christian McCaffrey + Cooper Kupp / Christian McCaffrey + Tyler Higbee / Christian McCaffrey + Matthew Stafford + Cooper Kupp + Tyler Higbee
Other Running Backs to Consider: Leonard Fournette (TB) – $7,400 @ PIT (11.8%), Jonathan Taylor (IND) - $8,000 v JAX (8.3%), Najee Harris (PIT) – $6,000 @ TB (3.4%)
Wide Receivers: Jakobi Meyers (NE) – $5,300 @ CLE (14% projected rostership)
Jakobi Meyers isn’t your typical tournament lineup wide receiver that you’d first think of. Most people think of big-play receivers whereas Meyers is more of your accumulator with a high floor. He’s also coming off of a big game so he’ll likely be a bit more rostered than usual. Even still, he represents one of the best leverage plays on the entire slate. Looking at the matchup itself, the Cleveland Browns are middle-of-the-road against wide receivers. It’s neither a matchup to attack nor avoid. Meyers himself though has been awesome this year. He’s currently averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game, eighth-best among all wide receivers. Meyers has a 31.8% target share which is fourth-best among all wide receivers. His 3.78 yards per route run is second-best. Meyers is #good at the game.
In addition to all that, the leverage is incredible here. Some of the most popular wide receivers on this slate are all in this price range. Tyler Lockett ($5,600 & 25.7%) and Chris Olave ($5,500 & 17.1%) will almost certainly be played in more lineups. By playing Meyers instead of them, it is a way to get your lineup a bit different than others who have similar builds. Perhaps the best leverage of all though comes in the form of game leverage. Stevenson is very likely to be the most popular running back (and possibly any position) at 35.9% projected rostership right now. There is a strong negative correlation between running backs and wide receivers on the same team. It makes sense when you break it down for the simple fact that any yards and touchdowns that Meyers gets are yards and touchdowns that Stevenson isn’t getting and vice versa. If the majority of people have Stevenson in their lineups, the best way to gain leverage on those lineups is to play Meyers. Bailey Zappe isn’t an ideal quarterback target so Meyers is better played as a part of a small game correlation with any of Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper, or David Njoku.
Stacks to Consider: Jakobi Meyers + Nick Chubb / Jakobi Meyers + Amari Cooper / Jakobi Meyers + David Njoku
Other Wide Receivers to Consider: Drake London (ATL) – $5,400 v SF (11.6%), Cooper Kupp (LAR) – $9,700 v CAR (8.9%), Ja’Marr Chase (CIN) – $7,700 @ NO (6.6%), D.K. Metcalf (SEA) – $6,800 v ARI (14.7%)
Tight Ends: Zach Ertz (ARI) – $4,900 @ SEA (7.1% projected rostership)
Zach Ertz feels like the tight end version of Meyers in that he isn’t known much for his upside but more for his steady volume and floor. This perception is what keeps his roster percentage fairly low in tournaments because people feel like he doesn’t have much upside. He may not have any big games so far this year but he’s averaging nearly 13 fantasy points per game so far, fifth-best among all tight ends. Ertz also has scored double-digits in all five games so far. He has the fourth-most targets and receptions among all tight ends. That should continue for at least one more week as DeAndre Hopkins is slated to return after this game. This game has the second-highest combined total on the slate at 50.5 points and the Seahawks have given up the most fantasy points to tight ends this season so far. To say the fantasy environment is good is an understatement.
Looking at this play from a leverage standpoint is interesting. The tight end position isn’t necessarily ever the spot where you are going to gain leverage more than the other positions outside of a week where a particular tight end becomes extremely chalky. This week doesn’t look like that type of week. Even still Ertz is only checking in at 7.1% rostership right now. That number is far too low given the state of the tight end position combined with this game environment. Another great way to use a tight end is in a stack with the quarterback. Kyler Murray has massive upside on a weekly basis and is only projected around 5.7% rostership which is far too low for him in this matchup. Being able to stack Murray with Ertz for a combined 12-13% rostership gives you a different-looking lineup with a lot of upside.
Stacks to Consider: Kyler Murray + Zach Ertz + D.K. Metcalf / Zach Ertz + Tyler Lockett / Kyler Murray + Marquise Brown + Zach Ertz + D.K. Metcalf
Other Tight Ends to Consider: Mark Andrews (BAL) – $7,000 @ NYG (10.8%), George Kittle (SF) – $5,100 @ ATL (2.1%)
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 Tournament Lineup
QB – Daniel Jones
RB – Christian McCaffrey
RB – Breece Hall
WR – Cooper Kupp
WR – Darius Slayton
WR – Marcus Johnson
TE – Mark Andrews
Flex – Rondale Moore
DST – Jacksonville Jaguars
Make sure to tune in next week to see the best plays and stacks for tournaments for Week 7!