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 9.

Week 8 tournament strategy session

Pricing has gotten a bit tougher, with Christian McCaffrey notably hitting $10,000 on DraftKings, and it forces us into some tricky decisions, particularly at the top of the running back position. 

McCaffrey is always in play as the top Fantasy option every week, regardless of matchup. His workload is just that valuable. But Dalvin Cook sits just behind him with a cake setup against Kansas City, and if Cook is a less appealing option, it isn't by much.  

A ton of lineups will feature one or the other of these top two running backs, especially with the news Friday that both James Conner and Benny Snell are unlikely to play for Pittsburgh, which makes Jaylen Samuels a near lock at his dirt cheap $4,000 (DraftKings) and $5,000 (FanDuel) price tags. Playing both McCaffrey and Cook is still challenging, but it's not impossible, especially in a tournament lineup that features a contrarian game stack, say the — *gulp* —Dolphins-Jets game.

Then there's the question of fading both the top running backs as another way to be contrarian. It's a scary idea, but there are other solid running back plays near the top of the position — Le'Veon Bell and Aaron Jones are two of my favorites — that offer a substantial discount to the $9,000-plus you have to pay for either McCaffrey or Cook. For a strategy fading those two to hit, you don't necessarily need McCaffrey and Cook to fail; you need them to not be top three running backs — say they finish RB5 and RB6 on the week, which wouldn't be particularly shocking — and if you've selected the backs who out-produced them, you've gained a ton of leverage because of the additional money you'll have been able to use to upgrade at the other positions, each of which is challenging this week.

It's easy to get caught up in the fear of fading players like this, but you're also fading their price tags, and that means what you're fading is that they don't have ceiling games and become indispensable parts of winning builds. I'll ultimately be playing plenty of lineups with just one of those two backs, but thinking outside the box to come up with contrarian roster builds is a good way to differentiate lineups in large-field tournaments. And this week, that discussion starts with how you want to approach McCaffrey and Cook at the top of the RB position.  

Let's get to the player picks for this week. 

Week 9 DFS Picks
Top players
Position
Quarterbacks
KC Kansas City • #8
Age: 39 • Experience: 13 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs MIN MIN -PK O/U 48
DK Salary
$4800
FD Salary
$6500
YTD Stats
PAYDS
384
RUYDS
1
TD
3
INT
0
FPTS/G
10.7
Before their win against Washington last week, the Vikings had given up back-to-back 300-yard passing days with multiple passing touchdowns to Carson Wentz and Matthew Stafford. Moore's only filled in for Patrick Mahomes for about a game and a half, and it's not even a certainty he'll start, but assuming we get word Mahomes is out again, Moore's salary provides some much-needed flexibility this week. Andy Reid's schemed up some clever designs to put him in situations to succeed, so he's not without upside, either.
WAS Washington • #14
Age: 41 • Experience: 18 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs NYJ NYJ -3 O/U 42.5
DK Salary
$4800
FD Salary
$7000
YTD Stats
PAYDS
907
RUYDS
49
TD
6
INT
7
FPTS/G
9.3
Look, I'm clearly scraping the bottom of the QB barrel this week. Fitzpatrick is willing to push the ball down the field and has looked decent in two straight road starts. While the Jets defense is fully in play because of Fitzpatrick's propensity to turn the ball over, a 300-yard game with three scores is not out of the question in this matchup.
LAR L.A. Rams • #9
Age: 36 • Experience: 16 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ OAK OAK -2.5 O/U 50.5
DK Salary
$6800
FD Salary
$7900
YTD Stats
PAYDS
2093
RUYDS
60
TD
16
INT
4
FPTS/G
24
I hate where Stafford is priced, but I love his willingness to throw the ball down the field. Third among quarterbacks in total air yards thrown, Stafford heads to Oakland to face a secondary that has been torched several times this season. It's a great setup for a big game.
Running Backs
ARI Arizona • #38
Age: 27 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs IND IND -PK O/U 41
DK Salary
$4000
FD Salary
$5000
YTD Stats
RUYDS
50
REC
13
REYDS
83
TD
1
FPTS/G
5.6
The former NC State product should be the feature back for Pittsburgh this week. Thus far in his career, Samuels has four career games with double-digit rush attempts and has hit 15-plus PPR points in all four. He's known for his versatility and will be involved in the passing game, which builds out a nice floor that makes him nearly impossible to fade at dirt cheap pricing.
TB Tampa Bay • #6
Age: 32 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ MIA NYJ -3 O/U 42.5
DK Salary
$7700
FD Salary
$7000
YTD Stats
RUYDS
349
REC
32
REYDS
187
TD
2
FPTS/G
13.3
Bell should be modestly owned, and this is the week we should see his massive snap share and opportunity share of the backfield manifest itself. His receiving has been glaringly nonexistent over the past three weeks, but he continues to run routes on more than 70% of dropbacks every week so it's not something I'm attributing much signal to. The Jets have looked awful the past few weeks, but the Dolphins defense has a way of rectifying those blues.
BAL Baltimore • #33
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs GB GB -3.5 O/U 48.5
DK Salary
$5000
FD Salary
$6300
YTD Stats
RUYDS
112
REC
11
REYDS
37
TD
2
FPTS/G
8.5
I don't have McCaffrey and Cook listed here, but I'll be much heavier on them than someone like Gordon. But I'll have some exposure to Gordon on DraftKings at his $5,000 price tag after Ken Whisenhunt's firing that was reportedly due to a lack of running recently. The Packers defense is built to defend the pass and allow yards on the ground, and Gordon's workload has been fine. His 10 touches last week were mostly due to the Chargers running only 42 plays in the entire game.
Wide Receivers
TB Tampa Bay • #14
Age: 28 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ SEA SEA -5 O/U 52.5
DK Salary
$7300
FD Salary
$8200
YTD Stats
REC
47
TAR
62
REYDS
705
TD
6
FPTS/G
22
A Tampa Bay wide receiver has scored at least 25 DraftKings points in every game since Week 1. On the road in Seattle against a secondary that has given up 100-yard games to Julio Jones, Odell Beckham and Cooper Kupp in the past four weeks, I expect that trend to continue. My guess is it's Godwin's turn this week, but Mike Evans is also in play.
ARI Arizona
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ PIT PIT -1 O/U 41
DK Salary
$4100
FD Salary
$5300
YTD Stats
REC
14
TAR
21
REYDS
245
TD
3
FPTS/G
7.9
The Colts receiving corps is always a difficult one to parse, but with T.Y. Hilton out the best guess is Pascal will be the lead. Pascal played a season-high 92% snap share last week after his 7-6-106-2 showing in Week 7, but he was limited in Week 8 to two targets due to a low-scoring game where Jacoby Brissett threw just 25 passes. Week 9 might bring another low volume passing game, but Pascal's price makes him worth considering.
BAL Baltimore • #82
Age: 30 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs MIN MIN -PK O/U 48
DK Salary
$4900
FD Salary
$6000
YTD Stats
REC
28
TAR
46
REYDS
410
TD
3
FPTS/G
13.7
CHI Chicago • #2
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs TEN CAR -3.5 O/U 42
DK Salary
$4800
FD Salary
$5400
YTD Stats
REC
38
TAR
58
REYDS
463
TD
1
FPTS/G
12.4
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #81
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs GB GB -3.5 O/U 48.5
DK Salary
$4600
FD Salary
$5700
YTD Stats
REC
26
TAR
50
REYDS
419
TD
0
FPTS/G
9.1
HOU Houston • #86
Age: 38 • Experience: 14 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ OAK OAK -2.5 O/U 50.5
DK Salary
$4700
FD Salary
$6000
YTD Stats
REC
28
TAR
39
REYDS
347
TD
1
FPTS/G
11
There are several wide receivers in the four thousands on DraftKings or five thousands on FanDuel that are in play to be able to afford higher-priced options at other positions. I think each of Watkins, Moore, Williams and Amendola has solid upside given their pricing allows for some pricier selections elsewhere, and I easily prefer each to Pascal where I can afford them.
Tight Ends
WAS Washington • #86
Age: 33 • Experience: 12 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CHI PHI -4.5 O/U 41.5
DK Salary
$4700
FD Salary
$6000
YTD Stats
REC
37
TAR
64
REYDS
424
TD
1
FPTS/G
10.3
There's concern about Ertz because of the presence of Dallas Goedert's recent play, but Ertz is still running a full share of routes every week. Goedert is a fellow tight end, but the Eagles have been running a lot of two tight end sets with DeSean Jackson out. Jackson should return this week, and I expect that to cut into Goedert's snaps, but that doesn't really matter for Ertz, who is now way cheaper than he should be, especially on DraftKings, just because another tight end on his roster has been solid of late.
NYG N.Y. Giants • #12
Age: 31 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Salary Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs DET OAK -2.5 O/U 50.5
DK Salary
$6300
FD Salary
$6800
YTD Stats
REC
46
TAR
58
REYDS
496
TD
3
FPTS/G
15.9
Both of my tight ends picks here are not the cheapest, and that's mostly because I haven't settled on the low-priced option I'll use. But if I can find the salary — and it will be tough this week — I'd love to use Waller coming off a two-catch game where he still saw eight targets. Few tight ends have seen such consistent volume, and Waller has also shown off plenty of upside with seven or more catches four times and 125 or more yards twice.