The Chalky Introduction
How you handle the most popular plays of the week will play a large role in where your tournament lineups finish. To help you approach guaranteed prize pools successfully, we now offer projected ownership percentages.
This article is less about breaking down particular players and more about approaching roster construction and exploring different ways to deal with a few players who are expected to be among the most popular of the week.
Note that the projections and metrics used in this article are from the time of writing (Thursday/Friday) and are subject to change. Our Player Models update in real time to reflect the current status of each player.
Week 1: It Is Finally Here!
Rejoice! The NFL season is finally here. Week 1 is a week like none other. Due to salaries being released several weeks in advance of the actual games, there is typically more value on the board than there is later in the season. Obvious point-per-dollar value is sure to come with high ownership. With plenty of that available this week, let’s get into some ideas on how to deal with it.
Quarterback: Dak Prescott (DK)
Projected Ownership: 17-20 percent
Simply, you could fade Dak and find significantly lower ownership with any QB at a similar salary, but there remain ways to have a unique lineup while still unlocking the value that comes with rostering Prescott.
Dak’s ability to run makes him a candidate for the naked-QB strategy (not stacking your QB with a teammate), but as the popularity of stacking continues to grow, the next most common move after selecting Prescott will be to pair him with Dez Bryant (13-16 percent proj. ownership).
One solution to rostering Prescott will be to fade Dez in favor of Terrence Williams.
Not only does Williams offer a +2.4 point differential in Projected Plus/Minus compared to Bryant, but we are also receiving an incredible discount in projected ownership, with T-Will projected to be owned at only two to four percent in the DraftKings Millionaire Maker.
For more on Williams, check out the Week 1 Wide Receiver Breakdown where he is a featured player.
Since Dallas is currently implied to score 23.5 points, you could take it a step further with a stack of Prescott, Williams, and Jason Witten (five to eight percent proj. ownership). At that point, even if you roster the most expensive defense you will still have left an average of $6,740 to spend at your remaining positions — with the freedom to target high-upside players without needing to put a lot of emphasis on projected ownership percentages.
Running Back: Spencer Ware (DK/FD)
Projected Ownership: 26-30 percent
There is always an argument to be made for fading a player who approaches 30 percent ownership, but assuming that Jamaal Charles doesn’t play (our news page will keep you updated on that), there are several reasons to like Ware this week. Aside from the projected work load, there is a favorable projected game script: The Chiefs are currently 6.5-point favorites at home versus the Chargers.
Absorbing (perceived) negative correlation is an excellent way to fit some chalk players into your roster while remaining unique. Rostering opposing running backs is considered by most DFS players to be a suboptimal strategy, but that might not be true in this case, as the running back opposite Ware gets significant work in the passing game. Danny Woodhead, who last year caught 80 of his 106 targets for 755 yards and six touchdowns, is currently projected at only two to four percent ownership — a number that will be even lower in lineups that also feature Ware.
San Diego is likely going to lose this game, but since joining the Chargers in 2013 Woodhead has averaged over 6.3 targets/game in the team’s losses. Additionally, he accounted for 75 percent of their rushing touchdowns over the past year, which is the sixth-highest of any running back. Woodhead makes more sense on DraftKings due to the full-PPR scoring format, but his 2.69 red-zone opportunities per game last year and 97 percent FanDuel Bargain Rating allow for consideration of this strategy on FanDuel as well.
I don’t think there should be any hard-and-fast rules in DFS. Although avoiding opposing running backs makes sense in most situations, not all running backs are created equal. Going against some of those ‘rules’ can often lead to lower-owned players. Rostering a ball carrier versus the Chiefs is not something I would do often, but Woodhead allows you to roster Ware without worrying too much about ownership going forward.
Wide Receiver: Marvin Jones (FD/DK)
Projected Ownership: 17-20 percent
There are a few ways to handle the Marvin situation. On DraftKings, you could decide to fade him entirely in lieu of a player like Rishard Matthews, who has similar point projections and an 87 percent DK Bargain Rating and is $1,300 cheaper and projected for only 5-8 percent ownership. An added bonus to Rishard is that he also serves as a pivot off of teammates Tajae Sharpe and Delanie Walker, who both carry higher projected ownership. Sharpe is currently projected to be in nine to 12 percent of lineups, but he has a Projected Plus/Minus 0.8 points lower than Matthews’ mark.
If you’re looking for more of a leverage play, than look no further than Anquan Boldin. He is currently projected to be in only 0-1 percent of lineups and is sporting a 72 percent Bargain Rating on FanDuel. He converted 20 percent of his red-zone targets into touchdowns last year but is currently projected at 1.2 points below his salary-based expectation. Boldin is a fringe-GPP play at best, but he has the potential to serve as great leverage off of Jones if he gets some work in the red zone.
Tight End: Jordan Reed (FD/DK)
Projected Ownership: 21-25 percent
I won’t argue against moving to Rob Gronkowski any time there is a tight end who is going to be owned in more lineups, but there are injury concerns to add to an already shaky situation for Gronk: the no-Tom Brady situation.
Travis Kelce is not a ‘true pivot’ due to his being $1,300 cheaper on FanDuel, but his floor, ceiling, and median projections are no more than a single point lower than Reed’s. He also comes in at a projected ownership of only five to eight percent.
If you wanted to play Reed on DraftKings, you could simply differentiate by selecting another TE in the flex position, but that strategy was becoming increasingly popular as last season concluded. Not only does Kelce offer salary relief as a pivot off of Reed, but he could also serve as a leverage play off of Ware. At only five to eight percent ownership, Kelce will offer a lot of upside with a big game, which is exactly what you are looking for when selecting players in large-field tournaments.
If you are thinking that Eric Ebron could also serve a similar purpose as a pivot off of Reed and leverage play on Jones, you are right, but his 11.3 percent market share on receiving targets leaves a lot to be desired.
Best of luck in Week 1!