I started playing DFS on DraftStreet in 2013. For the next six years, I primarily played cash games because I was in love with the slow, methodical grind, along with the safety that comes from playing a format where you only have to beat one other person or roughly half the field if you’re in 50/50s or double-ups.
Nowadays, I’ve decided to pull the ripcord on the safety net so that I could seek out more upside.
The hardest part of switching to GPP only? Getting comfortable with losing … a lot more often. However, with proper game selection and bankroll management, all you need is one or two nice scores to be in the black when the season ends.
One of my favorite ways to find these plays is by using the Minimal Tournament Model that I created late last year.
Additionally, our Lineup Builder is the perfect tool to use when hand-building your small-field GPP lineups. Otherwise, our Lineup Optimizer may be more your speed if you like to enter multiple lineups into tournaments.
Anyway, each week I’ll be discussing various one-off plays you could target to fill out the rest of your tournament teams after you’ve settled on your stacks and core plays.
Note: I primarily play on DraftKings, so that’s where this analysis will focus.
NFL DFS Running Back Leverage Plays
Usually, the running back position is one of the spots I am comfortable eating chalk the most. However, there are plenty of leverage plays off of the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, and Najee Harris, among others. Chances are I’m still locking in CMC into my single-entry GPP lineups, especially since I mostly play small-field tournaments.
However, if you’re willing to sacrifice a few projection points, Austin Ekeler should be under 10% rostered and has a comparable ceiling to CMC. Ekeler is in a strong game environment, with the Raiders-Chargers game sporting a 51.5-point implied team total with a close 3.5-point spread.
On DraftKings, Derrick Henry costs $100 more than CMC, and he doesn’t have the pass-catching chops that CMC has. That said, in any given week, Henry has a comparable ceiling. With my aggregate projection inputs, Henry’s ceiling is just two points fewer than CMC’s, but Henry will come in with around 10% ownership compared to the 27% we have on CMC right now.
Two other intriguing running backs are James Conner and Dalvin Cook, who have the seventh and ninth-highest ceilings but are currently projecting under 10% and 5% rostered.
Cook, Ekeler, and Henry all rank in the top three among running backs in our Leverage Scores.
It’s still possible to roster CMC + one of these leverage plays depending on your roster construction.
Leverage pool: Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, James Conner
NFL DFS Wide Receiver Leverage Plays
One of my favorite leverage plays at wide receiver is Mike Williams at $6,600 on DraftKings. Williams ranks fourth in the Minimal Tournament Model and has the fifth-highest ceiling projection with my custom inputs.
For those who don’t know, FantasyLabs subscribers now have the option to purchase Derek Carty’s THE BLITZ from our Marketplace. Projections from One Week Season and Establish the Run are available if you’re a subscriber to those specific sites (our optimizer is a separate add-on feature).
You can also combine them to create your own aggregate projections:
Williams was great last season, seeing a target on 23.5% of his routes while soaking up a team-high 32% air yards share. My favorite stack for single-entry tournaments this week is Justin Herbert + Williams.
If you’re looking for a punt leverage play, Parris Campbell doesn’t have a strong ceiling, but he’s projecting as a solid value this week. Campbell not only gives you leverage off of Michael Pittman but also leverage off Jahan Dotson, Romeo Doubs, and Wan’Dale Robinson.
Davante Adams could make for a strong one-off or bring-back option if you’re on the Raiders-Chargers game. Adams is projected for around 11% ownership, and since he’s projecting as a slightly negative value, it’s unlikely he finds his way into many optimals this week.
This seems like another season where Terry McLaurin consistently comes in with low ownership. It’s actually sad that Carson Wentz could be the “best” quarterback he’ll have played with. “Best” may be the wrong term — just different degrees of bad. McLaurin still boasts the 12th-best ceiling projections and has a top-five Leverage Score.
Leverage pool: Mike Williams, Terry McLaurin, Davante Adams, Parris Campbell, Diontae Johnson, Darnell Mooney, DeVonta Smith, Randall Cobb
NFL DFS Tight End Leverage Plays
In most of my builds, I’ve had a hard time passing on Travis Kelce, but if you’re looking to move away from him, Mark Andrews and Kyle Pitts are the most intriguing to me. Andrews is still projected for around 13% ownership, but Pitts is just below 8%.
Andrews and Pitts have the second and third-highest ceiling projections behind Kelce.
Leverage pool: Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, Mo Alie-Cox