To win a DFS tournament, building a unique roster that embraces the randomness within each NFL game is essential. We must identify players and game scenarios the rest of the field is overlooking so that when these low-rostered plays hit, rosters soar past the competition and into first place.
Week 9 gave us one of the weirder Sundays in recent memory, and we failed to hit on any of the true slate-breaking performances. Brandin Cooks turning a season-high 14 targets into a measly six-catch, 56-yard receiving line sums up our performance well. Still, we must chase process over results.
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QB Tom Brady & WR Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (13% and 10% projected rostership)
The Brady-Evans stack will not sneak by anyone, but I expect their rostership to come in lower than this projection because there are so many other attractive options in the expensive price range.
Brady has tallied over 30 DraftKings points in five of his eight games this season, and a matchup against a weak Washington defense could easily yield game No. 6.
Here is the passing production allowed by the Washington Football Team this season:
|58 completions of 15-plus yards||30th|
|113.5 passer rating||30th|
Tampa Bay’s receiving corps has been ravaged by injury recently. Antonio Brown is likely to miss this game, Chris Godwin is not practicing with a foot ailment and Rob Gronkowski has back problems. Scotty Miller is expected to return, and Tyler Johnson has proven a capable target, but there is no doubt that Mike Evans will be Brady’s No. 1 option if Brown, Godwin and Gronkowski are out or limited.
Evans has seen at least eight targets in five games this season, posting the following receiving lines:
The Bucs' star wide receiver should see a target spike in this spot due to these injuries, and he carries true slate-busting potential. Stack up Brady and Evans with confidence, but you can also consider Terry McLaurin or J.D. McKissic as viable bring-back options.
WR Julio Jones, Tennessee Titans (4% projected rostership)
This situation reminds me of the one we saw with Adam Thielen a few weeks ago when he was priced down at $5,800 and went completely overlooked by the field at sub-5% rostership. Of course, Thielen smashed with an 11-126-1 receiving line and 32.8 DraftKings points. Perhaps Julio has one of his patented nuclear games up his sleeve against a Saints defense that he is very familiar with.
The Saints' defense has posted an 83.6 team run-defense grade, second in the league through nine weeks, and this is likely to tilt the Titans toward the passing game. The recency-bias narrative is strong on A.J. Brown and down on Jones, so take advantage of this with depressed rostership on the future Hall of Famer at his bargain price.
The star wideout's matchup against Saints left cornerback Paulson Adebo is one of the greatest mismatches of the week. If Marshon Lattimore shadows or tilts his coverage toward A.J. Brown, that could open up a few extra looks for Jones in Adebo’s soft coverage.
WR Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys (6% projected rostership)
There is a huge edge when starting players in their first game back from injury. Nobody is confident in health or role, which often leads to depressed rostership numbers as the field takes a wait-and-see approach. For example, Christian McCaffrey came in at a ridiculously low 3% rostership in the DraftKings Milly Maker last week.
This week, Gallup will return from the calf injury he suffered back in Week 1. He is priced down at $4,000 on DraftKings and $5,500 on FanDuel, and nobody is going to play the talented Cowboys receiver.
Gallup’s game is boom-or-bust by nature, but we are chasing those boom performances and want them when he comes in at very low rostership. Last season, Gallup hit for three smash games of 28.8, 21.6 and 33.1 DraftKings points. These are true slate-breaking scores, especially at his low price tag.
A matchup against a Falcons defense that is susceptible to a big play or two could prove beneficial. Atlanta has surrendered 17 passing touchdowns and allows a catch of 15-plus yards on 25% of targets to opposing wide receivers, the third- and fourth-worst figures in the league, respectively. Additionally, emerging star cornerback A.J. Terrell is likely to clamp down one of Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb, opening up extra work for Gallup.
The Cowboys' offense is extremely spread out, with a slew of fantasy contributors across multiple positions. This lowers the likelihood of Gallup posting one of those monster scores, but it does not impact his true ceiling when it does hit. Embrace the uncertainty in Gallup’s role and take a shot at his massive upside.
RB Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos (3% projected rostership)
Williams has already tallied a league-high 35 forced missed tackles and a league-best 37% forced missed tackle rate. There is nobody better at making defenders miss.
It is only a matter of time until this mega-talented running back has a signature breakout game. He posted a career-high 111 rushing yards last week, and perhaps the Broncos decide to continue feeding him in a matchup against a soft Eagles rush defense.
Here is the rushing production allowed by the Eagles this year:
|272 rushing attempts||31st|
|1,077 rushing yards||26th|
|687 yards after contact||25th|
Williams is stuck in a frustrating timeshare with Melvin Gordon III, but committee backfields can post tournament-winning scores in the right matchup. Additionally, Williams is extremely cheap at $5,000 on DraftKings and $5,800 on FanDuel — a game of 100 yards and a touchdown is more than enough to pay off his salary.
There are several pay-up running backs we will want to jam into DFS lineups on this slate, and paying down for Williams allows the salary flexibility to fit any combination of Najee Harris, Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. This is a perfect slate to use a running back like Williams in your flex spot.