Daily fantasy football is pretty sweet, and I’ve become very active in it this year. I’ve only played on FanDuel (affiliate link, here), so my analysis will be limited strictly to that site.
At FanDuel, you start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K, and 1 defense, with a salary cap of $60,000. The scoring system is pretty standard, with 0.5 points per reception being the most notable feature to keep in mind. There are generally two that I play: 50/50s, or what people refer to as cash games, where you say, pay $25 to enter a tournament of 50 people, and the top 25 people win $45. The house gets roughly the same cut of ~10% in most games, so the 50/50 is the low-variance play.
The other option is to play in tournaments, which can range from large, to very large, to absurdly large. Anyway, enough minutia. Here are my thoughts on 3 of the 50/50 lineups I entered tonight:
1) My main focus this week is on the three quarterbacks that should have monster games: Ben Roethlisberger vs. the Jets, Matt Ryan vs. the Bucs, and Peyton Manning vs. the Raiders. While obviously price is part of the equation, I find that with quarterbacks, it’s better to spend a little more and get great production. That’s because the variance in quarterback play, at least in my opinion, is much wider than the variance in quarterback salary.
2) I have entered three different 50/50s, and for those, I like using a combo of all three and their WRs: i.e., going:
- a) Roethlisberger/
- (Total cost of $17.3K)
- b) Manning/
- (Total cost of $18K)
- c) Ryan/
- (Total cost of $16.9K)
This way, I get the matchups I like while also decreasing my variance for a 50/50. At least, in theory. If you were to play in a tournament, you would want to stack the same QB/WR combos, but I think this is the smart way to approach 50/50s.
3) Footballguys.com (where I go for my projections) is high on Jeremy Hill, which makes him one of the top values among RBs this week. I’m not sure I love him that much, but if you are entering Thursday games, you have to decide to ride the wave and play someone like Hill or “fade” him. That’s because you can be sure that a large number of people in your contest will have Hill in their lineups. I’m on board with Hill, and the Browns terrible run defense is a big reason why.
I also like:
- Justin Forsett for $6500 (he’s averaging 13 FP/G in FanDuel this year, and Tennessee at home seems like a better than average matchup and game script combination);
- Denard Robinson for 6800 (he’s averaging 16.1 FP/G over last 3 weeks); and
- LeSean McCoy (over the last 4 games, he’s averaging 108 rushing yards per game and catching 3.75 passes. Meanwhile, Carolina ranks 32nd in yards per carry allowed).
Since I’m in three 50/50s, that’s six RB spots to fill. I have decided to go with Hill twice, McCoy twice, and Forsett/Robinson once.
4) Now that QB, RB1/2, and WR1 are out of the way, in 50/50s, the next thing I like to do is D/K. I think most people tend to fill these positions out last with whatever money they have left, but one can gain an advantage by spending just a bit more money at these spots (again, in my view).
I really like the Arizona D against St. Louis ($5100) and the Broncos D ($5300) against the Raiders. The Rams had less than 200 yards of total offense and two turnovers last week, while the Raiders are going to be trailing by a lot for most of this game. For a cheap defense, I will roll the dice on the Panthers because, Mark Sanchez. I will put the Carolina defense in the Manning 50/50 to save money (Manning is significantly more expensive than Roethlisberger/Ryan; he’s not as good of a value as those two, but Manning’s consistency is incredible, making him a good 50/50 play almost every week regardless of price).
At kicker, I like Chandler Catanzaro and Brandon McManus for the same reasons: kickers at home when they are heavy favorites are generally good. McManus has not been great this year, but is cheap, and should have a floor of about 5 points. I also will go with Cody Parkey because, #Sanchize.
For variance purposes, I put McManus in the Manning lineup (if a Manning drive stalls, I can still get points), and Catanzaro in the non-ARI D/ST lineup (I’m not quite so sure this one makes sense – perhaps something to look at in the future is the relationship between kicker and D/ST scoring — my guess is they are slightly correlated). I would have liked to put Parkey in a McCoy lineup, but it was not to be money-wise. I am not too bothered by this.
5) From there, I just filled out the rest using players I like, which include (and when combined, perfectly fill out my cap):
— Martavis Bryant (Jets secondary, used in a non-Roethlisberger lineup)
— Allen Robinson (Cowboys secondary remains a question mark)
— Jason Witten (Jaguars have been weak vs. TE)
— Percy Harvin (Game Script should be in his favor, Jets seem to be building offense around him)
— Larry Donnell (cheap, SEA has struggled at times against tight ends)
— Davante Adams (more on him later)
— Mike Evans (ATL defense is terrible, playing well lately)
— Kendall Wright (Baltimore secondary has question marks, game script, cheap)
I also entered three tournaments, although my top lineup had twice the entry fee of the other two. Let’s begin there:
Roethlisberger – my favorite QB value of the week, for obvious reasons. He’s got 12 passing touchdowns the last two weeks, and the Jets have allowed the most passing touchdowns this season. Also have to stack him with Brown in a tournament, I think.
The key to any lineup with star power is being able to find a pair of super cheap players with upside. I chose to do that at wide receiver:
1) Davante Adams – the Bears secondary is pretty bad, particularly down the depth chart. A WR3 may not be too exciting, but Adams had 9 targets in his last game and 8 targetes three games ago, sandwiched around a 1-target game where he caught a touchdown. In a tournament you are looking for upside, and Adams has exceptional upside considering his salary of just $5200.
2) Justin Hunter. Most folks are nearly split on Kendall Hunter and Justin Wright. Personally, I prefer Wright, but the difference in price is steep (Wright – $6500, Hunter – $5400). The Ravens secondary is in shambles: for $5400, this could be a home run.
The hope here is that for $10,600, between Adams and Hunter, one of them goes off. To win a tournament, you need things like that to happen, but I would prefer to place my chips on those players and add some superstars around them.
Which superstars? A player who could be undervalued this week is Jimmy Graham. Tournaments are like March Madness brackets — going away from consensus is just as important as getting things correct, and my assumption is Graham’s ownership will not be very high this week (we will find out as soon as Browns/Bengals kick off). With so many people wanting (I presume) to spend money on the DEN, PIT, and ATL passing games, folks will not choose to pay up for Graham. So I view snagging him in a dome when his ownership percentage is low as a great play. He’s scored touchdowns in each of the last two weeks but hasn’t quite had a Jimmy Graham kind of day in awhile, which is another reason his ownership percentage might be a bit low.
That leaves RBs and D/K. Mccoy is my top target this week, and I like Denard Robinson against the Cowboys. Both Alfred Morris and Andre Ellington have done well against Dallas the last two weeks: with Justin Durant out and Rolando McClain dealing with a knee injury, the Dallas D has fallen back to where we expected it to be. If I’m the Jaguars, I keep pounding the rock with Robinson, who is — incredibly — second in rushing yards over the last three weeks behind Murray.
At K/D, it’s Catanzaro and the Broncos. If you think the Broncos are going to obliterate the Raiders, you have to like the idea of the Denver D playing Derek Carr with a great game script. Catanzaro seems like a good bet to produce at home against a Rams defense that I hope is good enough to contain Arizona in the red zone but not good enough to stop them from getting into field goal range.
I also entered two tournaments based around the trio of a Matt Ryan/Julio Jones stack with Jeremy Hill (if you think he will do well, it’s risky not taking him in a tournament: I decided to cut my risk by excluding him from the Roethlisberger tourney entry, but including him in the two cheaper tournaments).
From there, I went to Ronnie Hillman (we know the Broncos will score – could he get 2 TDs?), Martavius Bryant (we know the Steelers will throw for TDs – could he get 2 TDs?), Calvin Johnson (I have a feeling this will be the best combination of ownership % and price we will see for Megatron all year — he’s now healthy, so why not swing the fences in a tourney with him) and Owen Daniels (6 catches, 9 targets each of the last 2 weeks). Rounded it out with Parkey (high volume offense, Sanchez in the red zone) and Green Bay (at home, Cutler).
The other Ryan/Jones/Hill lineup added Forsett and Demaryius Thomas (Broncos passing game!), Heath Miller (Steelers passing game!), Shayne Graham, the Panthers and Brandon Marshall. The Marshall pick was the last one: he was not someone I previously identified, but he was the clear best value after all the other picks were made.