This article is a data-driven deep dive on strategic decision-making and roster construction for DFS cash games and tournaments. It relies heavily upon FantasyLabs’ extensive suite of analytical DFS tools, as well as advanced metrics and film study. First, I walk through narrowing down the player pool at each position. Then, I lay out how to choose the highest-floor lineup combinations for cash games. Finally, I go game-by-game to present the biggest edges (stacks, pivots, leverage opportunities, etc.) in each.
Week 11 shmoney time!
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- Joe Burrow, Bengals ($5,500 DK, $7,700 FD) at WAS
- Deshaun Watson, Patriots ($6,500 DK, $7,700 FD) vs. NE
On DraftKings, Burrow projects for the fourth-highest floor among QBs at the 14th-highest price. The likely runner-up for Offensive Rookie of the Year is a higher-floor option than Taysom Hill, who costs $700 less but is no lock to play all of the Saints’ quarterback snaps and comes with a floor projection 14% Burrow.
Watson is the sixth-highest priced QB on FanDuel but comes with the highest projected floor of any passer in our models. The Patriots defense has slipped to 30th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA.
Running Back (Cash)
- Adrian Peterson, Lions ($4,000 DK, $5,100 FD) at CAR
- Kalen Ballage, Chargers ($5,600 DK, $5,800 FD) vs. NYJ
- Dalvin Cook, Vikings ($9,000 DK, $10,500 FD) vs. DAL
Adrian Peterson just doesn’t go away. This week, Peterson will get the start against Carolina’s 25th-ranked run defense in DVOA thanks to the absence of DeAndre Swift (concussion). The 36-year-old has a top-two Projected Plus/Minus on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Kalen Ballage has been a revelation for the Chargers and change of scenery narrative truthers alike, racking up 84 yards and a TD on 17 touches in Week 9 against Las Vegas and 102 yards on 23 touches last week at Miami. Ballage is the cheapest RB on the slate with a top-10 raw projection at the position.
Dalvin Cook has found the end zone at least once in all but one game and has not touched the ball less than 22 times in a game since Week 2. Set to take on a Cowboys defense ranked 28th in rushing DVOA, Cook owns the highest floor, median, and ceiling projection of any non-QB.
Wide Receiver (Cash)
- Jakobi Meyers, Patriots ($4,900 DK, $6,000 FD) at HOU
- Terry McLaurin, Football Team ($6,900 DK, $7,300 FD) vs. CIN
- Keenan Allen, Chargers ($7,400 DK, $8,000 FD) vs. NYJ
- Julio Jones, Falcons ($7,500 DK, $8,100 FD) at NO
Jakobi Meyers has played at least 98% of the snaps for three straight weeks, and that did not change last week despite N’Keal Harry’s return and Isaiah Ford being active for the first time. Meyers ranks third in Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and has the highest floor, median, and ceiling projection of any WR priced under $5,000 on the site.
Terry McLaurin has hauled in seven receptions in each of the past four games and has finished with 61-plus yards and/or a TD in all but one games this season. McLaurin ranks third in projected floor, median, and ceiling behind Davante Adams and Keenan Allen.
Keenan Allen has seen 10-plus targets and 7-plus in 6-of-8 games with Justin Herbert and has 62-plus yards and/or a TD in every game with Herbert. Allen ranks second in projected floor, median, and ceiling, behind only Adams.
Julio Jones will face off against a banged up Marshon Lattimore, Jones’s projected floor, median, and ceiling each clock in fourth among WRs behind only Adams and the aforementioned Allen and McLaurin.
Tight End (Cash)
- Taysom Hill ($4,500 FD) vs. ATL
- T.J. Hockenson ($4,200 DK, $6,000 FD) at CAR
Taysom Hlll‘s TE eligibility makes him the most valuable player on FanDuel this week. Hill projects to outscore every other TE on the slate by nearly double. Among FLEX-eligible players on FanDuel, Hill’s ceiling projection trails only Cook.
With Hill ineligible at the position on DraftKings, T.J. Hockenson slots in as the top TE on the slate in both raw projection and value. Hockenson will face a Panthers defense that is ranked 19th in DVOA vs. tight ends and has allowed the eighth-most schedule-adjusted targets (7.4) and 11th-most schedule-adjusted yards (55.4) per game to the position, per Football Outsiders.
Defense/Special Teams (Cash)
- Dallas Cowboys ($2,200 DK, $3,000 FD) at MIN
- Cincinnati Bengals ($2,300 DK, $3,500 FD) at WAS
Thanks to their minimum salary, the Cowboys project for the second-best FanDuel Plus/Minus among DSTs. The Vikings have allowed the fifth-most interceptions (11), most safeties (2), and are one of only five teams to give up a kick-return TD.
Our models give the Bengals the edge over all other DSTs on DraftKings in Projected Plus/Minus. The Football Team has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing DSTs this season. Alex Smith has been sacked 10 times on only 110 dropbacks and has three interceptions with only one TD.
Roster Build (Cash)
On DraftKings, you can fit Burrow, Cook, Ballage, Allen, McLaurin, Meyers, and Hockenson if you punt the FLEX spot with Peterson and DST with Cincinnati.
On FanDuel, you can fit Watson, Cook, Ballage, Jones, Allen, McLaurin, and Hill if you punt the FLEX spot with Peterson and DST with Dallas.
Leverage Plus/Minus: Rank in projected ceiling minus rank in projected ownership. The goal in tournaments is to roster the highest scorers at each position rather than simply optimize for value, and Leverage Plus/Minus identifies the players with a higher probability of posting a high score than of being in other entrants’ lineups.
Atlanta Falcons at New Orleans Saints (GPP)
QB Matt Ryan, ATL: Ryan is expected to be in fewer than 5% of lineups despite a full compliment of weapons and a matchup against the league’s top-rated defense against the run.
WR Calvin Ridley, ATL: Returns to face a Saints defense ranked 20th in DVOA versus No. 2 wide receivers. He is one of the few WRs on the slate with a top-10 ceiling that could also end up with single-digit ownership.
WR Michael Thomas, NO: Projected for sub-5% ownership against a Falcons defense allowing the second-most schedule-adjusted yards to opposing No. 1 wide receivers. With Drew Brees out, Thomas could see his 8.4-yards average depth of target tick up.
TE Jared Cook, NO: Atlanta’s defense ranks 32nd in DVOA on targets to tight ends is allowing the second-most schedule-adjusted yards per game to the position (68.3). With Josh Hill (concussion) out and Taysom Hill starting at quarterback, Cook should see an uptick in pass routes. At ownership that will likely be next to nonexistent, Cook makes for an intriguing contrarian stacking partner with Taysom.
Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Football Team (GPP)
RB J.D. McKissic, WAS: Averaging 14.5 targets and 5.5 carries over the past two games and is projected for half the ownership of Antonio Gibson.
WR Tee Higgins, CIN: Runs the majority of his routes to the right side, where Washington’s pass defense ranks 32nd in DVOA.
Dallas Cowboys at Minnesota Vikings (GPP)
WR Adam Thielen, MIN: HAs a top-six ceiling projection among WRs and provides massive leverage on Dalvin Cook, who is expected to be in four times as many lineups. Thielen also provides leverage on Justin Jefferson, who expected to be in twice as many.
RB Ezekiel Elliott, DAL: At ownership projected to be under 10%, Elliott is a great buy-low coming off the bye against a Vikings defense that ranks 27th in adjusted line yards (4.89) and is on a short week.
Detroit Lions at Carolina Panthers (GPP)
RB Mike Davis, CAR: Despite facing a Lions defense ranked 27th in run defense DVOA and 30th in DVOA on passes to running backs, Davis projects for under 10% ownership.
WR Marvin Jones, DET: With Kenny Golladay (hip) and Danny Amendola (hip) out, Jones will operate as the No. 1 wide receiver against a Panthers defense allowing the second-most schedule-adjusted targets (10.5) and fourth-most schedule-adjusted yards (84.5) to opposing WR1s, per Football Outsiders. Jones is expected to carry single-digit ownership, which gives him leverage on Adrian Peterson and T.J. Hockenson
WR Marvin Hall, DET: A starting role, 20.5-yard aDOT, and leverage on Peterson and Hockenson at sub-5% projected ownership.
WR D.J. Moore, CAR: Projects for half as much ownership as Robby Anderson.
Green Bay Packers at Indianapolis Colts (GPP)
RB Nyheim Hines, IND: Hines had 10 days to rest after logging a season-high 17 touches and posting his second multi-TD game in the past three weeks last Thursday. He could see another big workload against a Packers defense that is ranked 22nd in both run defense DVOA and DVOA on passes to running backs.
Colts DST: According to Pro Football Reference, the Colts have needed to blitz only 19.4% of the time to achieve the league’s 12th-best pressure rate (24.4%), so this could be an Aaron Rodgers meltdown spot.
Miami Dolphins at Denver Broncos (GPP)
WR Jerry Jeudy, DEN: Has posted 4-plus catches and 68-plus yards in each of the past three games while averaging 11.3 targets per game over that span. He runs nearly half of his routes from the slot, which should help him avoid Xavien Howard and Byron Jones some.
WR K.J. Hamler, DEN: Ranked fourth among in Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and is expected to be owned under 5%.
RB Salvon Ahmed, MIA: Broke out with 90 yards and a TD on 22 touches last week and now faces a Broncos run defense that got wrecked for 37 carries, 193 yards, and 4 TDs by the Raiders backfield last week.
WR Jakeem Grant, MIA: Top-five Projected Plus/Minus at sub-5% projected ownership.
Dolphins DST: The Dolphins have allowed the fifth-fewest points per game (20.2) and forced the fifth-most turnovers (15) — a recipe for success against a Broncos offense scoring the fifth-fewest points (20.7) while leading the league in giveaways (21).
New England Patriots at Houston Texans (GPP)
QB Cam Newton, NE: Leads all QBs in rushing TDs per game (1.13) and ranks third at the position in rushing yards per game (41.9) while the Texans rank dead last in run defense DVOA.
New York Jets at Los Angeles Chargers (GPP)
QB Justin Herbert, LAC: Top-three ceiling against a Jets defense allowing the fourth-most fantasy points and fourth-highest Opponent Plus/Minus to QBs.
WR Mike Williams, LAC: Has topped 80 yards in three of the past five games and provides leverage on Ballage and Allen at a fraction of the ownership.
WR Jalen Guyton, LAC: Projected for next to no ownership despite being good bet for a long TD on the cheap thanks to his 18.9-yard aDOT and a matchup against a Jets defense that ranks dead last in DVOA on deep passes.
RB LaMical Perine, NYJ: Projected for sub-5% ownership despite the news that the Jets will spend the rest of the season giving him an audition him for lead-back duties in 2021.
WR Denzel Mims, NYJ: Ranks second among WRs in Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and is projected for 2-4% ownership.
Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns (GPP)
RB Miles Sanders, PHI: Third in Leverage Plus/Minus on FanDuel and seventh on DraftKings as he goes against a Browns run defense that ranks 18th in DVOA And will be without defensive tackle Myles Garrett.
Eagles DST: The Eagles get the sixth-most pressure (25.3%) and Baker Mayfield’s passer rating under pressure is 30.8, which ranks 38th of 39 qualified QBs, according to Pro Football Focus.
RB Kareem Hunt, CLE: Out-snapped Nick Chubb last week , 58-43%, and leads all RBs in Leverage Plus/Minus.
Browns DST: Carson Wentz leads the NFL in interceptions (12) and sacks taken (35).
Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars (GPP)
RB James Robinson, JAX: Has handled over 95% of the Jaguars’ backfield carries this season the Steelers have allowed opposing RBs to average 5.23 yards per carry on 78 carries over the past three weeks.
WR D.J. Chark, JAX: Leads all WRs in Leverage Plus/Minus thanks to projected ownership expected to fall between 0% and 1%. The matchup isn’t as scary as it looks, as Pittsburgh ranks dead last in DVOA against No. 1 wide receivers.
WR Chris Conley, JAX: Ranks first in Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and is projected for 0-1% ownership.
Tennessee Titans at Baltimore Ravens (GPP)
QB Lamar Jackson, BAL: Highest ceiling projection on the slate.
WR Marquise Brown, BAL: The Titans 50.2% DVOA allowed on deep passes ranks 26th.
TE Mark Andrews, BAL: Projected TE2 for this slate, single-digit ownership.
RB Derrick Henry, TEN: Baltimore will be without two key run defenders in Brandon Williams (knee, doubtful) and Calais Campbell (calf, doubtful).
WRs A.J. Brown and Corey Davis, TEN: Both are projected for sub-5% ownership, giving them a top-three marks Leverage Plus/Minus among WRs. Despite talented cornerbacks and a pass defense that ranks 10th in DVOA, the Ravens are just 17th in DVOA against WR1s and 24th against WR2s.
TE Jonnu Smith, TEN: Projected for under 1% ownership against a Ravens defense ranked 21st in DVOA against tight ends.
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Chris Raybon is a Senior Editor at the Action Network who hosts the weekly NFL Betting edition of The Action Network Podcast and is featured each week on The Fantasy Flex edition of the pod, as well. He has watched every snap of every NFL game since 2010 — even the kneel downs. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisRaybon and read about how he quit his accounting job and got paid to watch sports.