MrTuttle's NFL DFS Picks - Leverage Core: Week 1

If you want to gain leverage on the field, check out this weekly article from Dan “MrTuttle” Gaspar. With numerous live finals to his name, Tuttle knows what it takes to claim first place in large fields. Gain a massive edge in your tournament play here.

Week 1

Hey fellas, welcome to another season! I apologize for the late posting of this article as things have been a bit hectic this week. Moving forward I will attempt to have this article posted by Friday at the absolute latest.

I’m also open to any advice or suggestions you may have on the format. I have taken the most simplistic approach to the article this week by offering up a leverage play or two at each position but am open to changing things up in the future.


Baker Mayfield

Salaries – DraftKings: $6,400 / FanDuel: $7,900

Projected Ownership – DraftKings: 5% / FanDuel: 4%

Baker Mayfield has all the hype in the world surrounding him this season but it’s unlikely that hype translates into heavy ownership in Week 1 when he takes the field against the Titans. On paper, a matchup with the Titans is a favorable one as Tennessee ranked 21st in pass-defense DVOA last season and 30th in QB Adjusted Fantasy Points (14.81) allowed. Mayfield wasn’t afraid of taking shots downfield last season, ranking third with 5.4 deep balls per game. It only makes sense that number could increase this season with an improved receiving corps (hello OBJ), and it matches up well with one of the Titans’ defensive weaknesses, as they ranked 22nd in explosive pass rate allowed last season.

Pace of play, and in turn overall passing volume, are the biggest concerns surrounding Mayfield’s fantasy output as Tennessee very clearly wants to establish the run against Cleveland. The Titans ranked second in the league calling run plays on 48.22% of offensive snaps last season and played at the 10th slowest situation neutral pace in the league. Despite these concerns, Cleveland is still expected to put up points with a respectable 25.5 implied team total.

However, it’s not Baker’s matchup merits that make him a strong leverage play on Sunday’s main slate, it’s the leverage he provides off Nick Chubb who is expected to be one of the chalkiest plays of the slate (16% DK; 23% FD). If Chubb isn’t the one finding paydirt, it’s Baker that will be involved. While it’s totally reasonable to stack Baker and Chubb together due to Chubb’s expected increased passing game workload I prefer using Baker with OBJ (10% DK; 10% FD) as a way to fully leverage off the high owned Chubb.

Nick Foles

Salaries – DraftKings: $5,300 / FanDuel: $6,500

Projected Ownership – DraftKings: 4% / FanDuel: 3%

Before you throw up, hear me out. Similar to Baker, the Nick Foles recommendation has a bit more to do with leverage off a chalky play (Leonard Fournette – 22% DK; 19% FD) than it has to do with Foles’ merits as a player. With that said, there is some indication that Foles could see enough volume to easily pay off his low price tag across the industry.

Projecting Jacksonville’s 2019 passing game is an undesirable task due to new coaching staff and new personnel, but the expectation is they’ll see a more pass-heavy approach than they saw in 2018. New offensive coordinator John DeFilippo is known as a pass-first offensive coordinator that was essentially relieved of his duties in Minnesota because he didn’t run the ball enough. That itself bodes well for Foles’ potential volume as does the fact they’ll be playing up in pace and the likelihood they’ll be playing from behind for the majority of the game.

While Foles’ price tag is obviously attractive, you’ll still need strong raw production from him if you want the chance to bink a GPP. While it’s not the most likely outcome, 2-3 touchdowns and 300+ yards is certainly within Foles’ range of outcomes, which would give him the chance to be on GPP winning rosters. Foles is best paired with Dede Westbrook.

Running Back

Todd Gurley

Salaries – DraftKings:$7,900 / FanDuel: $7,600

Projected Ownership – DraftKings: 7% / FanDuel: 7%

Sean McVay stated on Thursday that Todd Gurley won’t be on any sort of ‘pitch’ count against the Panthers. Prior to McVay’s latest remarks, most preseason chatter indicated that Gurley will likely see some sort of workload reduction. Accurately projecting Gurley’s workload is a tall task but the uncertainty should lead to low ownership and potentially massive edge if Gurley does, in fact, does see similar touch volume to last season.

The thing is, Gurley’s 2018 workload was so monstrous that even if he sees some sort of reduction in touches there’s still plenty of meat on the bone. Gurley ranked second in 2018 with an 86.2% opportunity share and thrived in the Red Zone with a 77.6% RZ opportunity share. Any potential role reduction is unlikely to occur in the RZ which means Gurley still has tremendous touchdown equity on a weekly basis.

To simplify the argument for Gurley: there is a non-zero chance that Gurley comes out and touches the ball 20+ times on Sunday. If that does happen, he’s possibly the best overall RB on the entire slate. Now factor in Gurley’s suppressed price tag due to offseason speculation and you have a potential GPP winner.


Sammy Watkins

Salaries – DraftKings: $5,000 / FanDuel: $6,300

Projected Ownership – DraftKings: 1% / FanDuel: 2%

What if I told you there was a player on a team expected to score the second-most points on Sunday that is going to be sub-5% owned and possibly closer to 1-2% owned? Now, what if I told you that player was actually #good and wasn’t some random third-string TE? That gets you a little excited, right? Well, it should.

Nobody is talking about Sammy Watkins this week, and honestly, I get it. Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill comprise for such a big part of the Chiefs passing game that there’s not a ton of scraps left over for the teams’ third target. Still, Watkins has proved last season that he can be valuable on any given week provided the right context.

In the 12 games Watkins played last season he ranked third on the team with a 17.6% market share. Of the ten games last season in which Watkins played at least 15 snaps he recorded either 60+ yards or a touchdown in 80% of the games. In those games, he averaged 4.9 receptions, 69.1 yards, and .3 touchdowns per game. While those averages are far from eye-popping, he did have three games over 100-yards, including an 8-catch, 107-yard, 2-touchdown performance. In other words, Watkins does have plenty of upside. Watkins put in a serviceable performance against the Jaguars last season when he tied Travis Kelce for the lead in targets (8) and caught six balls for 78 yards.

In addition to Watkins being a strong point-per-dollar option, he provides excellent leverage off the higher owned Travis Kelce (16% DK; 19% FD) and Tyreek Hill (8% DK; 12% FD). While I’m of the belief that Kelce is the top pass-catching option on the Chiefs this week, Mahomes + Watkins + Hill stacks have the highest ownership equity.

Tight End

Zach Ertz

Salaries – DraftKings: $6,100 / FanDuel: $7,100

Projected Ownership – DraftKings: 7% / FanDuel: 8%

On any other week, Zach Ertz would easily be projected for double-digit ownership in a matchup where the Eagles have the highest implied team total on the slate. However, current ownership projections have Ertz at less than 10% owned across the industry largely due to strong alternatives at the position (cough Travis Kelce, cough cough Hunter Henry on DK).

Despite the rise of Dallas Goedert, Ertz should still have plenty of opportunities to put up big numbers again this season. Last season, Ertz ranked second in target share (26.4%) and first in Red Zone target share (32.1%) at the TE position, giving him both PPR and TD upside on a weekly basis.

Zach’s two games against the Redskins last year were a bit of a mixed bag. In Week 13 Ertz converted 9-of-10 targets into 83 yards. He was less successful in their Week 17 matchup when the Eagles coasted to a 24-0 victory, catching 3-of-4 targets for just 15 yards. Currently, we have Ertz projected for eight targets this week, but there’s still upside on that number for the Eagles’ most consistent pass-catcher.

Ertz is my favorite player to stack with Wentz if you’re looking to stack the Eagles in tournaments. However, Ertz also makes for a strong individual play with 10-catch + 2-TD upside.

About the Author

  • Dan Gaspar (MrTuttle05)

  • Since his addition to the RotoGrinders community, MrTuttle has been continually climbing the Grinders leaderboards and is currently ranked in Top 150 overall. He has qualified for countless live finals as well and has proven himself to be one of the best high-stakes DFS players in the industry. You can find him on Twitter @MrTuttle05.


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