For those of you who are new to Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), GPPs are "Guaranteed Prize Pool" Tournaments with larger, sometimes very large prize amounts. FanDuel is one of the biggest sites in DFS and offers some of the biggest prizes in the industry. The goal of this article is to guide you towards some players that could help you take home that big prize. Footballguys offers a ton of resources to help you build that winning lineup, and this is just one of the many - but I hope that you will find it a valuable resource and check this article out on a regular basis.
Before we talk about the players for this week, we cannot completely ignore cash game plays. Typically a "GPP player" for the week is one that can score big or score terribly - the classic "boom or bust" player. A wide receiver that can catch two deep balls for two scores can get you 30+ points - or he might wind up with nada. Chasing 1-3 big plays can win you a tournament, but filling out a roster completely with these types of options will likely leave you well short of first place. That is why you cannot ignore the cash game plays each week as well, as combining the two groups is what usually leads to those big victories in GPP contests. So, expect some mention of players who are cash game plays each week, as well as some players that could be considered for both GPP and cash games.
Note - this article is not intended to provide a fully exhaustive list of every possible player. That would be an immensely long group of players. These are just some of the best options I see for GPPs this week when considering value, price, upside, and matchups.
Second note - Keep in mind the multiplier target(s) you want to hit for both cash and GPP / tournaments on FanDuel. In general, you are looking for 2x in cash (twice the cost of the player in $1,000 increments) and 3x in GPP. That means a player that costs $6,000 should produce 12 or more points in cash and 18 or more in GPPs.
GENERAL THOUGHTS ON CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND
To help you out each week, I will give you some general thoughts as we progress through the season. The playoffs are a different animal entirely, and for several good reasons. First, there are just four games, so the player pool is clearly shallower. Adding to the difficulty is the level of competition – all of these teams are rather good, so the matchups to exploit are harder to find. There are still a few that are there, but many other lineups are going to be targeting these same players. To win a GPP, you are really going to have to take some stands on game scripts and players and pick your roster accordingly.
We all know the deal by now – we have two games left and they pit four of the best teams in the NFL against one another. Points are going to be at a premium. I shared my thoughts on each game in For The Win – feel free to go read those – but I wanted to devote this section this week as to how to win a two-game slate. I think that’s probably what you care about the most, so let’s try and hit it big to wrap up the year.
On a two-game slate with thousands playing in the big tournaments, you are going to have to find a way to differentiate your lineups. The classic methods may not work where you stack a running back with a defense or a quarterback with a tight end or wide receiver or both. Targeting lower-owned players is unlikely to work simply because there will not be many options that will be underowned. Unique paths to uniqueness is the most logical way to attack this slate. Some recommended paths:
- Stack a quarterback with one of his running backs. This has worked before and it could easily work again. Tom Brady and Dion Lewis or James White come immediately to mind.
- Stack a quarterback with the defense he is facing. That sounds ludicrous at first, but it would have worked wonders for your roster if you had Jacksonville and Ben Roethlisberger last week.
- Stack running backs from the same team. Not often done, but it could pay off if you stack Minnesota (Latavius Murray / Jerick McKinnon) or the right two backs from New England
- Find one guy with touchdown equity to punt with on your line. This will be the most popular approach for lineup construction, but it offers decent upside and affords you more cap space for the rest of your roster. Target players that have at least two touchdowns this season and could see a goal line carry or target.
- Game stack. Think about how some of these games can play it. Is it likely that New England and Jacksonville get into a 45-42 contest? No, but the Jaguars and Steelers did. If you had a roster that said Jacksonville gets up early and score on defense but the Steelers throw a lot to rally, you likely won some money last weekend. Consider similar rosters that speak to that game plan for either the AFC or NFC Championship.
As always, I will break down each position below based on my thoughts for each game and the best approach for this smaller slate – but do keep the big picture in mind. Squeezing in regular starters and expecting to be alone in first place by the end of Sunday is rather unlikely, so think differently this weekend. Dream up different ways that these games can play out and build your lineups accordingly.
One last thing since it is January, and both games are outdoors. Based on long range weather forecasts, both New England and Philadelphia are going to be unseasonably warm, which takes the weather out of impact consideration. Also as far as I can tell so far, the only injury concern is Rex Burkhead, and he is on track to play this week as I write this on Wednesday (and I will look to update later in the week). Should he be active, I love him as a potentially low-owned option that may get overlooked by the masses. He is my top call for a sharp play this weekend.
Here are a few general references I will be using one last time this year:
Please note that if a player isn't mentioned in the write-ups but is in the table, it does not mean that I like the player more in the write-ups. The discussion sections are to add more detail, support, and clarity for those players mentioned, but all of the picks in the tables are viable options if they are ranked.
Now, without further ado, here are the players I like the most this week.
|Name||Salary||Cash Rank||GPP Rank||Comments|
|Tom Brady||9000||1||4||New England projected for the most points, but Jacksonville's strength is against the pass|
|Case Keenum||8000||3||3||Road favorite in Philadelphia, but the Eagles have been tough of late|
|Blake Bortles||7600||2||1||Rushing stats elevate his floor, and likely will have to throw to keep up with Brady|
|Nick Foles||7100||4||2||Most GPP upside, and the Vikings gave up a big game to Brees last week|
It is a two-game slate, so that limits our choices to four quarterbacks. Tom Brady will be the most popular by a good margin, as New England is projected to score the most points with 27 implied points based on the point spread and Over/Under. While he may appear to be the safe choice, I would lean towards picking one of the other three options for two main reasons - the Jacksonville defense and the Patriots run game. The likely game script for New England will be to run the ball and control the game and clock while avoiding the strength of the Jaguars which is their pass defense. Jacksonville is smaller in the interior and struggled last week against Vance McDonald (10-112 receiving). Rob Gronkowski could easily have a big game here, which would push Brady to have solid numbers, but New England could just as easily run the ball in the red zone to punch it across the goal line. I would think that the likelihood for Brady to get over two touchdowns passing is no higher than any of the other quarterbacks on the slate. I recommend being underweight on Brady.
The underdog quarterbacks are my preferred option for tournaments. My favorite is actually Blake Bortles, who will fight Nick Foles for the lowest ownership in tournament lineups Sunday. Bortles actually has a higher floor than the rest of the quarterback options due to his rushing ability (15-123 rushing the past two playoff games). Given his price and the likeliness that Jacksonville will have to throw in the second half when trailing, Bortles has good tournament upside.
Turning to the NFC, Case Keenum will be looking to move the ball through the air. The Eagles have a very strong run defense (3.8 YPC against and just seven rushing touchdowns) which will force the Vikings to throw. Adam Thielen, Stefon Diggs and tight end Kyle Rudolph can create headaches for any defense - although the Eagles handled Atlanta pretty well last week. The upside is definitely there for Keenum, and he is worth at least one lineup.
Nick Foles is also worth a dart throw on a week where uniqueness will be key. He is the cheapest option, but I think that there is a reasonable argument that he offers some of the best upside. His price tag affords using him and 1-2 of his teammates in a stack, as the receivers for the Eagles are also relatively affordable. Minnesota has a very good defense as well (which is part of the reason the game total is under 39), but Drew Brees did throw for 294 yards and three touchdowns including two to Michael Thomas. That means Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor - who should have the best WR/CB matchup coming out of the slot - have solid upside in a stack. The winning lineup Sunday could easily include a Foles/Agholor or Foles/Jeffery stack.
|Name||Salary||Cash Rank||GPP Rank||Comments|
|Leonard Fournette||8500||3||1||Huge game last week, and the Jaguars would love to ride him to the Super Bowl|
|Dion Lewis||7700||1||5||Workhorse back for New England, heavy usage if Patriots up big in second half|
|Jay Ajayi||7200||4||6||Was on the path to a big game last week before fumbling, lower upside due to Blount|
|Latavius Murray||6900||2||4||Top option for Minnesota, especially if they have a lead|
|Jerick McKinnon||6800||6||7||More of a receiver for the Vikings, and getting outsnapped by Murray|
|Rex Burkhead||6000||n/a||9||Has to be healthy to be a consideration|
|LeGarrette Blount||5700||n/a||3||Goal line pounder for the Eagles. Game script could lead to his usage in red zone|
|T.J. Yeldon||5200||n/a||8||Second back option for the Jaguars and third down back, could see more work if Jaguars trail|
|Corey Clement||5000||n/a||10||Potential receiver out of the backfield, but third on the depth chart. Kick returner|
|James White||4800||5||2||So cheap that he is in play in all formats, and offers strong touchdown upside|
The list of viable running backs is pretty short this week, as I can only rustle up 2-3 options for each of the four teams in action on Sunday. All of the teams will want to establish the run to control the clock and keep the other offense off of the field, but that may not work well against some of the better rushing defenses in the NFL facing one another. The one exception appears to be Jacksonville’s defense, as the only way it seems to consistently move the ball on them is to try and push it through the middle of their smaller interior defensive line. While it is true that teams run on Jacksonville because they are so good against the pass (opposing QB rating of 68.5 and 6.0 yards per pass, both tops in the NFL). That bodes well for the New England backs, and the only question is to which one to rely upon this week. I like Dion Lewis as the safe option, but if Rex Burkhead is active – and all signs as of Wednesday point in that direction – he is the other back I am likely to use. He may get overlooked after James White’s big game last week, but his two touchdowns came on just eight touches. Jacksonville of course will want to use Leonard Fournette, and he is likely to be the most popular tailback on rosters this weekend – so there is the first reason to fade him. The second is that Tennessee tried to run on New England and was shut down (Derrick Henry only had 68 yards). The third strike for me is that Jacksonville is expected to fall behind in New England, which leads to using more of T.J. Yeldon, who I like using a lot more as a pivot away from Fournette.
Philadelphia and Minnesota are both top end rushing defenses, which makes it tough to target running backs from either squad. Receiving backs may be the way to go here, as the Eagles have yielded five receiving touchdowns (as opposed to six rushing) to running backs. Jay Ajayi is another interesting GPP option as he was targeted five times last week against the Falcons, but his removal down in the red zone in favor of LeGarrette Blount limits his upside. A sneaky path to success could be to take the third down back, Corey Clement, who also returns kicks. While rare, a returned kick paired with the Eagles defense would be a huge boost to a tournament lineup this week at a low price.
|Name||Salary||Cash Rank||GPP Rank||Comments|
|Adam Thielen||7400||1||5||The Eagles are top rated against the run, so Case Keenum will need Thielen to produce|
|Alshon Jeffery||7300||5||1||Philadelphia may have to throw a lot more against Minnesota, and Michael Thomas had a big game last week|
|Brandin Cooks||7000||4||6||All wideouts are GPP options only for the Patriots, as Gronkowski and Lewis dominate looks from Brady|
|Stefon Diggs||6700||2||4||Similar to Thielen - bigger upside but lower floor|
|Danny Amendola||6400||n/a||9||Big game last week, but feels like chasing points if you use Amendola. GPP only|
|Nelson Agholor||6200||3||2||Slot receiver for the Eagles could be in store for more work against a tough Vikings secondary|
|Chris Hogan||6100||n/a||10||Touchdown last week, but just that one catch on four targets|
|Marqise Lee||6100||6||11||Led Jaguars in targets (6) and catches (3) last week - but still not that productive|
|Keelan Cole||5800||n/a||7||One long catch last week - two targets on 23 snaps. GPP only|
|Dede Westbrook||5500||7||3||Feels like the safest Jaguar receiver, but I am not sure there is such a thing|
|Torrey Smith||5400||n/a||8||Saw plenty of targets last week, but Vikings secondary is a tough matchup|
|Allen Hurns||5300||n/a||12||Just 17 snaps last week, hard to trust as Jacksonville does not want to throw often|
|Mack Hollins||4500||n/a||13||GPP only - third wideout for the Eagles could get a red zone target or two|
As with the running backs this week, there are only a few options to really consider for inclusion on this two-game slate. The top targets for Minnesota, Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, are the safe choices are clear choices for Sunday's slate. Philadelphia and New England both have a top wide receiver and a tight end that vie for the most targets on each team. The Eagles offer up Alshon Jeffery (120 targets in the regular season) against Zach Ertz (110), while the Patriots have Brandin Cooks (114) against Rob Gronkowski (105) Both have parallels as Ertz and Gronkowski missed two games each, so the big tight ends actually had more targets than the WR1s for each franchise. Moreover, the target distribution continues to evolve for both squads. Now that Nick Foles is under center, he has targeted Ertz 23 times in Weeks 15 and 16 while spreading it around evenly against Atlanta (Ertz, Torrey Smith, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement all had five). That makes Jeffery a shaky WR1 option, although Minnesota did just allow Michael Thomas two touchdowns and 85 yards on seven catches. Jeffery may be a nice option to stack with Foles for at least one tournament lineup.
Going back to New England, Rob Gronkowski has the best matchup against Jacksonville, who offers up two of the best cornerbacks in the league with Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Coupling that with Brandin Cooks up and down usage all season (four games with five or fewer targets this year) and the incorporation of both Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola makes it very difficult to rely on any of the three for consistent production. Amendola likely has the best upside this weekend as he is likely to work out of the slot while Cooks and Hogan line up out wide.
Jacksonville is very risky when it comes to wide receivers. Four players are splitting time at the position with Marqise Lee (39) and Dede Westbrook (42) seeing the most snaps last week. Keelan Cole and Allen Hurns are also being utilized in the passing game – to the extent that Jacksonville actually attempts to throw the ball. None of these receivers except Lee had more than three targets last week, and Lee turned his six chances into just 3-28 receiving. Considering that the Jaguars scored 45 points with next to nothing from their wide receivers tells you all about you need to know when it comes to relying on these four options. Cole and Westbook offer up some upside, but overall I am taking a hard pass on the Jacksonville wide receivers.
|Name||Salary||Cash Rank||GPP Rank||Comments|
|Rob Gronkowski||8400||1||4||Jacksonville just gave up 100+ yards to Vance McDonald|
|Zach Ertz||7000||2||3||Minnesota tough against tight ends, but still a red zone weapon|
|Kyle Rudolph||6100||n/a||2||Middle-priced option, but not seeing a ton of targets lately|
|Trey Burton||4800||n/a||1||Sneaky cheap option in red zone situations|
|Marcedes Lewis||4500||n/a||5||GPP only option, but tight ends have been used by the Jaguars lately - most snaps|
The list of tight ends, as expected, is short this week. Rob Gronkowski is head and shoulders above the rest of the list - even Zach Ertz. Jacksonville just gave up 112 yards and 10 catches last week to Vance McDonald, and the outside cornerbacks (A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey) are two of the best in the league. Tom Brady will look to Gronkowski early and often in the passing game, and the Jaguars do not appear to have a good answer to defend against him.
As for the other options, it mostly comes down to the NFC with Zach Ertz and Kyle Rudolph. Minnesota has been one of the best defenses against tight ends (see their top NSOS ranking in the last five games against tight ends) but that fact combined with Ertz's hefty price tag ($7,000) could make him lower owned. Kyle Rudolph is the only other realistic option this weekend, but his targets continue to decline. Last week he did reel in five catches but they only added up to 28 yards. Unless he finds the end zone - and the Eagles have only allowed five touchdowns to tight ends all year - the odds are against him coming close to value.
I did not forget about Jacksonville. The Jaguars do not throw the ball often, and when they do they spread it around too much for any one player to have a ton of value. Marcedes Lewis leads the team in chances and snaps but three different tight ends have caught at least one pass the past two weeks – and none of them have more than three. Ben Koyack and James O'Shaughnessy are no more than dart throws. If you are going to take a shot at a lesser-owned tight end with good touchdown equity, it would be Trey Burton of the Eagles. He has not been utilized much of late but he has several plays in the playbook designed to get him open, especially in the red zone. Even one catch for a touchdown might be enough to make the rest of the lineup work given the price savings on a $4,500 tight end this week.
|Name||Salary||Cash Rank||GPP Rank||Comments|
|Jake Elliott||5100||4||1||Big leg at home, and weather should not be a factor|
|Stephen Gostkowski||5000||1||3||Second-most expensive, but highest implied total for a home favorite|
|Kai Forbath||4900||3||4||Also has a big leg and Minnesota is favored|
|Josh Lambo||4600||2||2||Longest shot to score, but Jacksonville will need every point they can get, also cheap|
CHALK and GPP: These general kicker comments will likely be repeated week after week, but they are important so take note. Yes, FanDuel is the only DFS site left that uses a kicker, but you have to deal with it if you are playing on FanDuel. Sorry, that's how it goes. But there's some good news - you can actually make smart, informed decisions that can go a long way towards increasing your bankroll. First, there are four general criteria in picking a kicker:
- Pick a kicker who is playing at home
- Pick a kicker who is in a game where his team is favored
- Pick a kicker whose team is expected to score at least 24 points.
- Pick a kicker who will not be in bad weather.
Just following that above recipe will help you quite a bit. Remember - a 50+ yard field goal is five points or almost as much as a touchdown. That's significant.
Kickers are problematic most weeks, but never more than with just four to choose from on a two-game slate. Stephen Gostkowski looks like the safest option overall as the second-most expensive but the biggest favorite at home, with New England projected to score 27 points. Every other team projects for under 21 points, so Gostkowski is your safe play.
Josh Lambo will be a target if only for his cheap price ($4,400). He seems like a reasonable option to get a few extra hundred bucks to spend elsewhere, but that savings may make him popular. The downside to using Lambo is that he has just two attempts from 50+ yards this year (made them both, however). Both kickers in the Philadelphia-Minnesota matchup have more, as does Gostkowski (4/4 from 50+). I prefer taking either Jake Elliott (5/6 from 50+ and another last week from 53 yards into the wind) or Kai Forbath (6/9 from 50+) in tournaments as I expect every point to be meaningful in the NFC Championship.
|Name||Salary||Cash Rank||GPP Rank||Comments|
|New England||5200||1||3||Patriots have not given up over 17 points at home in last six games|
|Minnesota||4900||2||4||Expect the Vikings to come after Nick Foles|
|Philadelphia||4800||4||2||Shut down Atlanta last week, #1 rush defense|
|Jacksonville||4400||3||1||Suffocating defensive unit sets up short fields - or scores themselves|
To win a GPP this weekend, you are going to have to do something different than most everyone else - and get it right. That could mean taking a defense against your quarterback, which is usually a negative correlation play. My favorite pairing is the Jaguars and Tom Brady, which on the surface makes no sense at all, but look no further than last week. Jacksonville had several turnovers and sacks plus a Pick-6 against the Steelers, while Ben Roethlisberger had 469 yards and five touchdowns.
Both the Vikings and the Eagles are going to be looking to create turnovers and short fields for their offenses in a game where neither team is expected to score 20 points. Philadelphia shut down Atlanta last week and only gave up one touchdown after a turnover created a short field for the Falcons. Minnesota will get after Nick Foles as they did against Drew Brees, who threw two interceptions last week. Both defenses are solid GPP plays.
Last but not least are the Patriots. Jacksonville may be a big underdog, but the Over/Under implies that the Jaguars will get 20 points - more than either of the NFC teams. Blake Bortles is also a good scrambler, which lowers his sack likelihood for Sunday. He also will not drop back often if Jacksonville sticks to their game plan. All of those factors make New England my least favorite defense this weekend.
Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.