While the daily fantasy sports world flocks to the massive games on DraftKings for Week 2 of the NFL season, we’re going to pivot. The same way you’d pivot off a chalky play in a big DFS tournament, let’s lock in on one of the most interesting types of games DraftKings offers for fantasy sports, and it’s incredibly unique.
Many seem to be set on playing the typical full-roster lineups, but we’re going to take a look at NFL tier games. And while the huge prize pools (including the millionaire maker) on the fantasy site’s main slate is where much of the attention goes, it’s worth noting that the tier games have some big options as well.
For starters, DraftKings offers a $4 game with $250,000 guaranteed and $25,000 to first place. If you want to bump up your buy-in a bit, they also offer a $25 game with $50,000 guaranteed and quite a few others beyond that.
How DraftKings Tier Games Work & Strategy
Before we dive fully into the actual picks for tier games, let’s first explain how these games work.
– No salary cap
– Eight tiers where you pick one player from each
– First two tiers feature various quarterbacks
– Final six tiers are mixtures of wide receivers, running backs and tight ends
When building a lineup in tier games, you need to consider ownership quite a bit, especially in games such as the $4 one above, which features 150-max entries. I’m going to break down a lineup for these games which should cover all the bases. It features a mixture of chalk players we simply can’t fade, as well as high-upside and low-owned options.
Let’s roll right into the optimal lineup.
DraftKings Week 2 Tier Games: Optimal Lineup
- Tier 1: Drew Brees vs. Browns
- Tier 2: Deshaun Watson vs. Titans
- Tier 3: Alvin Kamara vs. Browns
- Tier 4: DeAndre Hopkins vs. Titans
- Tier 5: James Conner vs. Chiefs
- Tier 6: Dalvin Cook vs. Packers
- Tier 7: Jarvis Landry vs. Saints
- Tier 8: Kenny Stills vs. Jets
It’s highly likely Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and James Conner will all have high ownership. Following the news of Josh Gordon’s release/looming trade, I also expect Jarvis Landry to receive a ton of interest from fantasy players as well.
But between Brees’ upside, the weapons around him and the fact that we’re essentially stacking two top players on the slate when putting the quarterback with Kamara, I can’t pass it up. I do believe the Cleveland Browns defense will be solid this season, but they allowed 135 rushing yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 while playing a game with 20-30 MPH winds. Now, they’ll have to defend Brees, leaving more room for Kamara to work.
Conner is just the type of chalk I don’t feel comfortable fading. He’s going to have a monster workload and the Chiefs allowed 14 receptions to running backs last weekend, so Conner’s floor is incredibly high. There’s certainly a chance other players in the tier games opt to pivot off him in an effort to be unique, and if that’s the case then we’ll happily take any ownership discounts possible.
As for Landry, it’s slightly unfortunate that Gordon isn’t in the mix for this game. His presence could have potentially lowered Landry’s ownership in an elite matchup. The Saints gave up 361 yards and four touchdowns to the wide receiver position last week, and there’s no way to overlook that. The former Miami Dolphins wideout is going to have a field day and will be a target monster.
The Deshaun Watson–DeAndre Hopkins pairing is where we start to differentiate. On the actual site inside the game where you pick players, Watson is listed at the very bottom of tier No. 2. It seems strange to say, but that mentally may impact how people approach their decisions. When names like Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, and Tom Brady are above him, it should keep ownership way down.
Then the choice to pair Watson and Hopkins gives us another stack and one that has a monster upside. The Titans were torched last week by wideouts, allowing 201 yards and two touchdowns to the position. I like the matchup and love the upside of this duo being played together.
I honestly don’t know what to expect in terms of ownership for Dalvin Cook. While the Packers aren’t bad against running backs, they did give up nine receptions to the position in Week 1. I love grabbing pass-catching backs because it’s easy for them to rack up stats fairly quickly. Cook’s workload and confidence are only going to grow after Week 1, and this has the potential to be a well-rounded and impressive game from him.
Kenny Stills has tremendous upside, and I was somewhat disappointed to see his name listed at the very top of the eighth and final tier. Even still, there’s a chance Zach Ertz, LeSean McCoy, Lamar Miller or possibly even Chris Hogan could draw some attention from him. Personally, his upside and matchup with the Jets, who allowed 253 yards and one touchdown last week, is an easy sell for me.