Each week this season, I'll go through some tournament strategies for that week's slate, then give out some picks I like at each position. Let's start this week's article by discussing some strategies to consider for tournament lineups in Week 10.
Week 10 tournament strategy session
The big question last week was what to do with Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook at the top of the RB pricing. And as it turned out, McCaffrey put up another 40-point game that made him essential to top lineups.
McCaffrey is now priced at $10,500 on both DraftKings and FanDuel. And whether to keep paying that type of price tag for McCaffrey is a central talking point this week, especially given Saquon Barkley and Alvin Kamara come in under $9,000 on both sites as the next two highest-priced running backs.
I talked a bit inabout McCaffrey's dominance so far in 2019:
"He's leading the NFL in high-value touches per game, but is also tied for the league lead in touchdowns on low-value touches, which is to say long runs, and all four of his have come from at least 40 yards out, including a 58-yarder in Week 9. I suppose we can try to poke holes by saying he likely can't keep that up, and then maybe we could talk about how he's on pace for "only" 84 catches after 107 last year ... but the reality is his profile is pretty unimpeachable."
While his profile is unimpeachable for season-long, there is a strong case to be made that his weekly upside has been inflated in recent weeks by the big plays. His current price tag is somewhat relative to what value you can find — points are points, and if he puts up 30 points instead of 40 in a week where we get multiple boom games from cheap options, he could still find himself in the optimal lineup — and his matchup with a Packers defense that has allowed a ton of yards on the ground all year is a great one.
But for tournaments this week, I'm trending toward being underweight on him, and I want to take that a step further. I don't want to fade top running backs entirely, but one of the bigger trends this season is the value we've been able to find on a weekly basis at wide receiver, which has made the lineup construction where you pay up at running back and down at wide receiver a popular option.
But the past few weeks, the puzzle that is DFS has been solved by lineups that featured top-end wide receivers. Last week, the Millionaire Maker winner on DraftKings did have McCaffrey, but Jaylen Samuels at $4,000 was the only other running back and Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans and Russell Wilson were the three other higher-priced options.
The week before, in Week 8, the winning lineup again featured Evans, as well as DeAndre Hopkins and Michael Thomas as the other top-priced options. All three running backs — Latavius Murray, Tevin Coleman and David Montgomery — were priced below $6,000.
We can get in trouble chasing recent trends like this, as we're looking at a very small sample and they typically become more popular in the weeks that follow, often too popular relative to the probability of success. But in this case, the overall focus on top running backs seems unlikely to shift too much, and there are some enticing mid-range running backs with big upside in Week 10.
I won't be fading all the top guys this week — I will almost certainly have some of McCaffrey, as well as Barkley given the state of the Giants skill position group with Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard both out — but I'll also be building several lineups that feature higher-priced wide receivers and no top running back names. That lineup construction won't have as much contrarian appeal as it did in recent weeks, but I still expect it to provide some leverage on the field.
Let's get to the player picks.
KC Kansas City • #15
Age: 25 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson at the top of the quarterback pricing list are both great options. Jackson draws a Bengals defense that has been carved up on the ground, particular by speed to the edge, and Jackson torched them for a season-high 152 rushing yards and a score on a season-high 19 carries the last time they met. But I suspect Jackson will come in a bit higher-owned than Mahomes, and a sickness Jackson had all week might limit Baltimore's willingness to use him on designed runs as much this time around. So instead, I'm siding with Mahomes, and I'm thrilled it's looking like he might come in a bit underowned given his always-present upside. He's been practicing for a couple of weeks now, and while the Chiefs have been cautious, he seems fully healthy. Fire him up.
Kyler Murray QB
ARI Arizona • #1
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
You know I love dual-threat quarterbacks. And while the Cardinals will get David Johnson back this week, I suspect they'll put this game in Kyler Murray's hands against a Bucs defense that's great against the run but very beatable in the secondary. Both Johnson and Kenyan Drake are excellent pass-catchers out of the backfield, and with Christian Kirk fully healthy, Murray has his best weaponry in some time, perhaps for the full season. Murray hasn't really shown off his theoretical upside yet, and this is the spot to bet on it.
Marlon Mack RB
IND Indianapolis • #25
Age: 24 • Experience: 4 yrs.
If Mack doesn't run for 100 yards this week, I'll be legitimately surprised. The Colts draw Miami, and should control the game, but they are likely to play with either an injured starter or a backup quarterback. Meanwhile, Parris Campbell drew some short-area targets and rush attempts last week in a role that perhaps limited Mack's receiving a bit, but he'll miss this game. Both from a game script and personnel perspective, this game favors Mack seeing a ton of touches.
KC Kansas City • #26
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
I'm not buying into the 91-yard touchdown run last week, but I am buying into Damien Williams' upside as the likely lead back in the Chiefs backfield. With Mahomes returning and Williams seemingly back to the lead role, we should see Williams running some downfield routes out of the backfield like we saw in Weeks 1 and 2, and even in the preseason when he caught a 62-yard touchdown. Just a few weeks ago, the Titans gave up a 41-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to Austin Ekeler. A play like that would go a long way to us seeing Williams' upside at this price tag.
Ronald Jones RB
TB Tampa Bay • #27
• Experience: 3 yrs.
It's finally Ronald Jones week! We've made it. Bruce Arians has denoted him the lead back, and while he's still giving up too much passing game work to Dare Ogunbowale, he should be able to find some success running against the Cardinals. Jones' low price tag on DraftKings is makes that the site to bet on him, especially considering they also have the 100-yard bonus and what we're shooting for here is a big rushing day.
PIT Pittsburgh • #38
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Jaylen Samuels' salary rose a bunch this week, but I'm absolutely going back to the well after 13 of his 21 touches last week were receptions. It's easy to get bogged down looking at his eight-carry, 10-yard rushing line, but what we have here is a passing back playing the majority of the snaps, a la Austin Ekeler in the early part of the season. Samuels' 16 high-value touches last week were the most by any back in a game this season, and with James Conner and Benny Snell likely out and Trey Edmunds also looking like he might miss, Samuels' workload might only increase this week.
NO New Orleans • #13
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Even with Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara missing time recently, and defenses certainly trying to contain him, Michael Thomas has been impossible to stop. Now that Brees is back and the Saints are playing a Falcons team that has been absolutely hammered by wide receivers, there's little reason to expect anything other than a typical high-efficiency day from Thomas with perhaps double-digit receptions.
GB Green Bay • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Davante Adams looked mostly healthy last week in what was an outlier game for the Packers, one where Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense just looked flat all day. He's underpriced relative to his ability, in a great matchup with the Panthers and the Packers have to be motivated to put last week behind them. There's a potential blowup game incoming from Adams.
Golden Tate WR
NYG N.Y. Giants • #15
Age: 32 • Experience: 11 year
Tate has been remarkably consistent over the past month, catching at least six balls in every game. With Sterling Shepard and Evan Engram out, Daniel Jones will need to lean on him once again, and the Jets aren't well-equipped to take away an opposing team's top option. Tate averaged 10 targets per game from Weeks 6-8 before seeing six last week, but expect him to be up around double digits again in Week 10.
LAR L.A. Rams • #11
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
The Rams were on a bye last week, but before their bye in Week 8 Josh Reynolds had a pretty solid day after Brandin Cooks left with a concussion. Reynolds wasn't super efficient with just three catches on eight targets, but he totaled 73 yards and a score and led the Rams with 138 air yards. The way the Rams operate, they'll play their three main receivers a bunch, and when any of them is out, Reynolds goes from a complete afterthought to a nearly every-down player. The matchup isn't great and Jared Goff has been far worse on the road throughout his career, but there are few better options than Reynolds at this price point.
Travis Kelce TE
KC Kansas City • #87
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
I'll also be using some Tyreek Hill, but with a lot of focus on cheaper tight ends like Mike Gesicki and Rhett Ellison this week, I'm not going to shy away from paying up for Kelce with Patrick Mahomes back. There's not really much that needs to be said — he's Travis Kelce, and his profile certainly gets a boost with the league's best quarterback under center.
O.J. Howard TE
TB Tampa Bay • #80
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
What, where are you going? Come back! Hear me out! O.J. Howard is back this week, and look, I don't want to do it either. But it's the Cardinals. And that stat about how one of the Buccaneers' wide receivers has been an elite tournament play every week since Week 1 is all over the DFS industry. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will carry tons of ownership, and Howard and his still-elite efficiency but lack of opportunity will be mostly underowned by the field, creating some amazing leverage if Howard were to, say, score twice. (I know, I know, it will be Cameron Brate instead.)