Absolutely utlize EE. Being in the summer they will most likely be very early (probably 7am) and the earlier EE is the better it is for you because very few are willing to be up and ready that early. 7am EE's at DL have left me feeling like DL really is my own personal land because there were so few other people around and you start to recognize the groups around you and they become a little familiar, making it an even nicer experience.
Sunday July 17th is DL's birthday so I highly doubt that DCA will actually be more crowded as more people will probably be on hand to sing happy birthday to Disneyland and join in any festivities planned. The crowd levels are generated from wait times, so they may be accurate that the wait times in DCA will be higher, but the walkways in DL will be full of people there just for the experience of DL's birthday so another reason NOT to follow the crowd levels alone for your decision.
I have used many a touring plan and I feel like as long as you're not criss-crossing just to save a few minutes of wait times, they can work really well. I also try to build them at a slower pace (relaxed) and make sure I fit in at least one 10 min break every 2 hours. When we are walking from attraction to attraction our pace is pretty fast, but it is inevitable that we need to stop for water, bathroom, shopping and pin trading breaks. Doing these breaks helps keep me honest on how much we'll actually be able to do as we go along. Of course I also make sure that any time we will need to be eating in the parks, there's a longer break for a meal (usually 30-40 min for counter service meals, 60-75 min for table service). We don't usually take that long, but again, building in buffer to help me see what's actually possible with my family.
Also key to getting a lot done is to have a little hustle in the morning. Your wait times will be shortest in the morning, especially having EE so if you hustle without side-tracking you'll most likely be rewarded by being ahead of the plan.