The DraftKings NFL Pick‘Em format allows owners to create lineups with no salary cap. Players are assigned to eight different tiers. Owners pick one player from each tier to create their rosters. Below we break down the tiers and some of the players in each group for the eight-game early-only slate. For more of our weekly football content, visit our NFL homepage.
Tier 1 – Elite Wide Receivers
A.J. Green, Bengals
In Week 3 the Bengals offense finally showed up and A.J. Green looked like himself again (10/111/1). The Bengals are -3.o road favorites against the Browns. With a great matchup against cornerback Jason McCourty, Green should continue to look like himself. Green leads the Bengals with a 36.1 percent target share.
Antonio Brown, Steelers
Antonio Brown is probably the best receiver in the league. Right now he’s first with 354 receiving yards and 492 air yards (AirYards.com). He has a tough matchup against the Ravens, who last year were 10th against the pass in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and this year have held opposing wide receivers to the fifth-fewest fantasy points with 22.8 DraftKings points per game (PPG), but Brown has the highest median projection in our Models. With his matchup, he could be a contrarian option in this tier. For more on Brown, see our Week 4 wide receiver breakdown.
Tier 2 – Elite Running Backs
Lesean McCoy, Bills
Lesean McCoy has struggled with a 26/30/0 rushing line in his last two games, but he’s compensated for his inefficiency with his pass-catching ability, leading the Bills with a 25.6 percent target share for the season. The Bills are +8.0 road underdogs to the Falcons and are likely yo have a pass-happy game script, which should benefit McCoy. Last year the Falcons allowed 28.1 PPG to opposing backfields as well as league-high marks in targets (141), receptions (109), yards (870), and touchdowns (6).
Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys
Ezekiel Elliott will probably be the most popular play of this tier, and he has the highest median and ceiling projections of all running backs. He’s played on 86.5 percent of the offensive snaps, and the Rams this year have been exploited by running backs, allowing the third-most fantasy points to the position with 31.6 DraftKings PPG. The Cowboys are -6.0 home favorites and could use Zeke with a run-heavy game script. For more on Zeke, see our Week 4 running back breakdown.
Tier 3 – Week 3 Studs
Christian McCaffrey, Panthers
As -8.5 road underdogs, the Panthers and Christian McCaffrey will like face negative game script and be forced to pass heavily, which caters to McCaffrey’s strengths. In a game in which where the Panthers had no Greg Olsen and lost Kelvin Benjamin, McCaffrry led the team in targets (11). McCaffrey could again see lots of passing game work, as the Patriots have allowed the second-most receiving yards (253) to opposing backs this season. In a tier with the biggest performers of Week 3, McCaffrey could have depressed ownership, making him a sneaky tournament play.
Todd Gurley, Rams
Opportunity is king in fantasy football and Todd Gurley sits on an Iron Throne of Touches. Gurley is first with 63 carries and top-10 at the position with 17 targets. With an absurd 11 opportunities inside the 10-yard line in his first three games, Gurley leads the league with six scrimmage touchdowns. Tier 3 features the top producers of Week 3, so the Pick’Em format may be the only one in which you can Gurley while avoiding high ownership.
Tier 4 – High-End Flex Plays
Rob Gronkowski, Patriots
Without Tom Brady as an option in the early-only Pick’Em slate, DFS players will have to look elsewhere to benefit from the Patriots offense. Rob Gronkowski leads the Patriots with a 22.7 percent target share, and he has the highest median and ceiling projections in our Models. Going against running backs and wide receivers with more locked-in touches, Gronk could have reduced ownership.
Dalvin Cook, Vikings
Dalvin Cook is second in the league with 24.7 opportunities per game and has dominated touches in the Vikings backfield: He’s the only player on the team with double-digit carries. As a -1.5 home favorite, Cook could be chalky against a Lions team giving up 27.0 PPG to running backs.
Tier 5 – Mid-Level Quarterbacks
Dak Prescott, Cowboys
Dak Prescott’s Komani Code capability gives him some weekly consistency, and the Cowboys are -6.0 home favorites. Even when Dak has limited usage he still has the ability to score multiple touchdowns (as he did last week), and as a home favorite Dak has 22.68 PPG. He has the highest median projection of all quarterbacks in the tier.
Cam Newton, Panthers
Play Cam Newton, and then burn all your money. After failing to top 15 points for three consecutive weeks, Newton is the ultimate contrarian play against the Patriots, who have allowed 36.6 pass plays per game. As a -9.0 road favorite in a game with a slate-high 49.5-point over/under, Newton should have every chance to make big plays. Newton isn’t the Cam of old, but his ownership will be low.
Tier 6 – Low-End Quarterbacks
Tyrod Taylor, Bills
Tyrod is a low-floor, high-ceiling option best used in guaranteed prize pools. On the one hand, he leads all available quarterbacks in ceiling projection. On the other hand, he’s averaged just 13.93 PPG as a road dog with the Bills. He and McCoy make for an intriguing GPP stack, given that they have a 0.33 correlation coefficient.
Deshaun Watson, Texans
Deshaun Watson has the highest floor projection of any available quarterback on account of his rushing ability (41.3 yards per game) and matchup against a Titans defense that last year was 27th in pass DVOA and has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this year with 22.7 PPG. For more on Watson, see our Week 4 quarterback breakdown.
Tier 7 – Mid Level Flexes
Joe Mixon, Bengals
The Bengals’ early struggles may have been a blessing in disguise for Joe Mixon. After the firing of offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor was promoted and in his first game as play caller he gave Mixon 18 carries and three targets. As -3 road favorites, the Bengals could be in a position to leverage Mixon with a run-heavy game script.
Adam Thielen, Vikings
It doesn’t seem possible, but because of his target volume (24), catch rate (79.2 percent), and big-play ability (15.7 yards per reception), Adam Thielen has the highest ceiling projection among all receivers in the slate. With Stefon Diggs likely to draw the shadow coverage of Darius Slay, Thielen could have a massive performance against a defense that last year was 32nd in pass DVOA.
Tier 8 – Low-Level Flexes
Rishard Matthews, Titans
In Corey Davis’ absence last week, Rishard Matthews garnered 31 percent of Tennessee’s targets and 36 percent of the air yards. Without Davis in Week 4, Matthews is once again likely to see enhanced volume. In his last 12 games he’s never played fewer than 70 percent of the snaps, averaging a 4.7/68.9/0.67 stat line.
Mike Gillislee, Patriots
The Patriots are -9.0 home favorites, and they lead the slate with a 29.25 implied total. Rex Burkhead is recovering from a rib injury, so Mike Gillislee could see an increased workload. He’s tied for the NFL lead with four rushing touchdowns and averaging 15 carries per game.
Good luck this week, and be sure to use our Tools to research the Pick’Em players.
After this piece is published, FantasyLabs is likely to provide news updates on a number of players herein mentioned. Be sure to stay ahead of your competition with our NFL news feed: