Fantasy Football 0

Extreme Wide Receiver Fantasy Point Variances

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  That’s quite the contrast from daily fantasy where every option on a slate is put under a microscope and one mistake can make or break your week. 

NFL players have their own tendencies where they perform better in various scenarios whether it be as a favorite or underdog, playing at home or in hostile territory, or when their respective team wins or loses a game.  We’re going to explore which players at each position performed at their best or worst in various situations from last season to try and help us discover ideal roster opportunities in daily lineups.  Note that these figures can vary from year to year when someone who performed better indoors the year before now suddenly performed better outside the following year.  Viewed in another light, these figures can be interpreted as an extension of consistency rankings.  

This piece isn’t just exclusive to DFS and has a place in non-DFS leagues where an available free agent may be in a better spot to perform than a rostered option that should be on the bench for a specific week.  This will be the final part of the three-part series that concludes with the wide receiver position and only evaluates those that played a minimum of 12 games. 

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP WIN

Robby Anderson: 5.86: The Jets didn’t win much in 2018 but when they did, Robby Anderson was involved as he registered a touchdown in three of those four victories.  He closed out the campaign strong and given another offseason with second-year starter Sam Darnold, their chemistry can only continue to flourish.

DeAndre Hopkins: 5.57: Opposing secondaries  that were able to somewhat stymie Nuk held him to 82.8 receiving yards and .4 touchdowns in Houston losses.  Those that fell to his wrath allowed 105.27 receiving yards and .82 touchdowns in Houston wins.  Hopkins and Davante Adams were the only two receivers to maintain a floor of 12.4 fantasy points in every game they suited up.

Jordy Nelson: 4.9: We hadn’t been accustomed to seeing Jordy Nelson without Aaron Rodgers and from Week 5-Week 12, it wasn’t a pretty sight.  In three Raider wins that he played, he maintained a double-digit FPPG average while he was boom or total bust in 12 losses.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP LOSS

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 8.89: Antonio Brown had a +1.37 FPPG differential in Steeler losses but still posted more fantasy production in games they were victorious.  Meanwhile, JuJu’s variance was much more extreme at a +8.89 FPPG differential in defeats as well as generating more production in those losses.  JuJu had a solid sophomore season as the WR8 in PPR scoring and put on a display in losses that he erupted for over 30+ fantasy points against Kansas City, Oakland, and Denver.

Tyreek Hill: 6.8: He generated 17 catches for 357 yards and five touchdowns in two shootouts against the Patriots and Rams that resulted in Chiefs losses.  Since 2017, Kansas City is 3-5 straight-up when their defense surrenders 30 points or more, a scenario Tyreek Hill thrives in as he has registered 20+ fantasy points in five of those eight matchups.

D.J. Moore: 4.06: His ceiling game of 28.7 fantasy points in a loss to the Lions was the major cause of this variance for the rookie receiver out of the University of Maryland.  His only competition at the position looks to be Curtis Samuel as he looks to build on a successful rookie campaign and possibly take the reins as the #1 receiver in Carolina.  

SMALLEST WIN/LOSS VARIANCE

Alshon Jeffery: +.07: While consistent in this metric in 2018, Alshon Jeffery has shown a more positive correlation in production with Nick Foles throwing him the football vs Carson Wentz doing so since 2017.  Whether Foles remained with the Eagles or not, Jeffery will compete for looks with Zach Ertz, Wentz’s preferred option and the team leader in receptions each season since Wentz was drafted in 2016.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN HOME GAMES

Amari Cooper: 10.37 (Cumulative with Oakland and Dallas): One of the ultimate boom or bust receivers throughout his career in Oakland, that attribute carried over when Amari Cooper was dealt to Dallas.  However, when he did erupt, it was in the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum/AT&T Stadium as 68.46% of his receiving yards as well as seven of his eight touchdowns came in home games.  

Brandin Cooks: 8.73: He had a positive correlation in games at Gillette Stadium in his brief stay with New England but as Jared Goff’s home/road splits were drastic, so were Brandin Cooks as his +8.73 FPPG differential at the L.A. Coliseum demonstrated.  He had nearly two times as many receptions in home games at 53 compared to 27 receptions on the road in 2018.

Michael Thomas: 8.52: While the inverse occurred in 2017, Michael Thomas flourished in games at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the tune of a +8.52 FPPG differential in games at that venue in 2018.  Drew Brees regressed back to his norm in games inside the fast-paced dome last year and that translated to a strong positive correlation in home games for both the future first ballot Hall of Famer and his trusty receiver.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN AWAY GAMES

Antonio Callaway: 8.89: Callaway was a non-factor in games at FirstEnergy Stadium as his 3.89 FPPG average in eight games played strongly suggests.  He was serviceable on road trips as he saw almost double the amount of receptions in road games as well as registering all of his five touchdowns away from Cleveland.

JuJu Smith-Schuster: 8.56: Victim of another strong correlation, JuJu was as useful in games the Steelers played outside of Pittsburgh as he was in games that they were defeated.  He posted crooked numbers in hostile territory with a floor of 14.8 fantasy points and posting 20+ fantasy points in five of eight road matchups.

Alshon Jeffery: 7.68: Like Antonio Callaway, Alshon Jeffery was another receiver that was nonexistent during the home portion of the Eagles 2018 schedule, a variance that became more extreme from 2017.  He saw 6.14 receptions and .71 touchdowns in seven road games vs 3.66 receptions and .17 touchdowns in six games at Lincoln Financial Field. 

SMALLEST HOME/ROAD VARIANCE

Curtis Samuel: +.16: He’s at worse the #3 receiving option for the Panthers behind  Christian McCaffery and D.J. Moore heading into 2019 but was the best in home/road consistency among evaluated receivers.  He was a low-ceiling fantasy option but when given additional snaps beginning in Week 12, Curtis Samuel maintained a solid floor of 11.2 fantasy points in five of those six games.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS A FAVORITE

Amari Cooper: 13.88: (Cumulative with Oakland and Dallas): Amari Cooper will have his breakout games as he has shown but Zeke being the focal point of the Dallas offense reduces his output some weeks.  Two of his three breakouts in 2018 were when his respective team entered the game as a favorite, averaging 71.2 receiving yards and 1 touchdown in four of those instances vs 40 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns in the underdog role.  

Nelson Agholor: 11.03: This variance reoccurring in 2019 would be quite the surprise as Nelson Agholor was rendered useless to the tune of .9 fantasy points in two games the Eagles went in as underdogs.  With the exception of the final two weeks, 2018 was a disappointing campaign that saw his touchdown receptions slashed in half from 2017

Allen Robinson: 6.46: The Allen Robinson that slaughtered the Eagles in the divisional round only appeared once in regular season action as his days of being drafted in the first four rounds may be over.  In fact, in PPR scoring, he finished just 1.4 fantasy points ahead of Taylor Gabriel for the WR1 on the Bears.  His variance exists largely due to the carnage he created against the Lions secondary in Week 10 last year.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS AN UNDERDOG

Tyreek Hill: 20.5: Since 2017, the Chiefs are 4-3 in games they enter getting points from their opponents with Tyreek Hill averaging a ridiculous 31.18 FPPG in six games in that role; he didn’t suit up Week 17 against the Broncos in 2017 as the Chiefs were locked in as the #4 seed.  He’s crossed the pylons at least one time in each of the last six instances he played in a game the Chiefs were underdogs.

Mike Williams: 11.25: Tyrell Williams departing for Oakland slots Mike Williams as the #2 wide receiver for the Chargers.  Underdog performances against the Rams and Chiefs saw the former 7th overall pick out of Clemson average eight catches for 78.5 yards and two touchdowns, a main contributor to Williams possessing this large differential.

Michael Thomas: 9.14: As Drew Brees saw a +11 FPPG differential in three games the Saints were underdogs, Michael Thomas was just as insulted in that role as he had a floor of 19.9 fantasy points in those matchups.  The Saints should be favored in nearly every game in 2019 with the exception of an NFC Championship rematch against the Rams, a secondary Michael Thomas torched for a 12/211/1 clip in Week 9.

SMALLEST FAVORITE/UNDERDOG VARIANCE

Jordy Nelson: +.29

The Raiders version of Jordy was a sad sight to behold after years of success with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.  Age and injuries have caught up with him and it’s no surprise to see him enter retirement after a successful 11-year career that netted him a Super Bowl ring in 2010.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE TOP HALF IN PASS DVOA

Amari Cooper: 10.29: Back for a third mention, Cooper wrecked havoc on some of the stronger secondaries as he posted 20+ fantasy point performances in five of six occurrences against defenses ranked in the top half in pass DVOA.  It’s maddening that he couldn’t put those performances together against the weaker secondaries but again, Zeke touching the ball as much as he does can be attributed to this issue.

Robert Woods: 8.29: Robert Woods was at his best when the secondaries were of the tougher variety.  While Brandin Cooks better correlated against defenses in the bottom half in pass DVOA, Woods was the opposite as he posted 87.2 yards and .5 touchdowns in 10 games against the top half vs 57.83 receiving yards and .17 touchdowns in 6 games against the bottom dwellers.  

Mike Williams: 7.67: Against 10 defenses that the Chargers faced that ranked in the top half in pass DVOA, Mike Williams saw double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring in seven of those games.  Despite injuries that hampered his rookie season, Williams rebounded nicely and will syphon some of the 64 targets that Tyrell Williams leaves behind.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE BOTTOM HALF IN PASS DVOA

Calvin Ridley: 8.03: He was on pace for 24 touchdowns at the conclusion of Week 4, a sure sign that regression would and did strike as Calvin Ridley only had four touchdowns in the final 12 games.  He thrived against defenses in the bottom half in pass DVOA, averaging 14.02 yards per catch to complement his 61.7 receiving yards and .9 touchdowns per game vs 10.2 yards per catch, 34 receiving yards, and .17 touchdowns per game against the better half.

Christian Kirk: 6.54: Nearly an identical situation as Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk was more effective against the weaker defenses in his rookie campaign.  While Ridley knows who will be throwing him the ball in 2019, Kirk awaits to see if Josh Rosen will be traded and the Cardinals take Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in Nashville in a few weeks.

Odell Beckham Jr.: 6.54: His situation certainly improves as he moves on from an aged Eli Manning to a blossoming Baker Mayfield.  Regardless, Eli always made it a point to target OBJ throughout his time in New York, more so against the weaker secondaries that saw the former Giant average 100.33 receiving yards and .83 touchdowns per game against bottom-half pass DVOA defenses last year compared to 75 receiving yards and .17 touchdowns against stiffer competition.

SMALLEST PASS DVOA VARIANCE

Adam Thielen: It was the tale of two seasons as the first eight games saw Adam Thielen average 25.38 FPPG while that number regressed to 13.16 FPPG in the final eight.  Dalvin Cook may have been a factor as Thielen posted a 9.6/111.4/.8 clip in 5 games Cook was inactive vs a 5.91/74.18/.45 clip in 11 games Cook suited up.  Regardless, Thielen posted stellar performances against superior and inferior defenses in 2018, especially in the earlier portion of the campaign.

WHO WERE THE MOST CONSISTENT WIDE RECEIVERS OF 2018?

This portion of the article is reserved for those who demonstrated a consistency in all of the above metrics.  As the WR9 in PPR scoring, Mike Evans rebounded from a disappointing 2017 campaign and reached double-digit fantasy points in 12 of 16 contests in 2018.  With the exception of a variance just shy of three in top-half vs bottom-half pass DVOA opponents, Evans was remarkably consistent with FPPG differentials no greater than 1.25 in the other three metrics.  The Bucs move on from one offensive-minded coach in Dirk Koetter to another in Bruce Arians, one that will continue to benefit Evans moving forward.

As mentioned above, Adam Thielen performed equally well against stingy and porous secondaries.  That consistency also carried over in the other evaluated metrics with variances no higher than three fantasy points.  Thielen has benefitted from Dalvin Cook’s inability to stay healthy in his first two seasons in the league, a positive for Thielen to keep in mind as his ADP currently sits around the end of the 2nd round/beginning of the 3rd round at the time of this writing.

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  […]

Fantasy Football 0

Extreme Running Back Fantasy Point Variances

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  That’s quite the contrast from daily fantasy where every option on a slate is put under a microscope and one mistake can make or break your week. 

NFL players have their own tendencies where they perform better in various scenarios whether it be as a favorite or underdog, playing at home or in hostile territory, or when their respective team wins or loses a game.  We’re going to explore which players at each position performed at their best or worst in various situations from last season to try and help us discover ideal roster opportunities in daily lineups.  Note that these figures can vary from year to year when someone who performed better indoors the year before now suddenly performed better outside the following year.  Viewed in another light, these figures can be interpreted as an extension of consistency rankings.  

This piece isn’t just exclusive to DFS and has a place in non-DFS leagues where an available free agent may be in a better spot to perform than a rostered option that should be on the bench for a specific week.  This will be part two of a three-part series that continues with the running back position and only evaluates those that played a minimum of 12 games. 

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP WIN

James White: 10.43: Dion Lewis heading to Tennessee and Rex Burkhead being injured for most of the season set James White for a career-high 87 receptions in 2018.  Considering his usage out of the backfield and the Patriots unusually lost five regular season games, you’d think this variance would be the inverse.  However, White averaged 5.9 receptions in wins vs 4.4 of them in losses.  

Marlon Mack: 9.25: When the Colts were victorious last season, Marlon Mack played an important role in those games.  He was rarely used out of the backfield which translated into horrible fantasy performances in games the Colts lost as Mack’s 10 carries and 0 touchdowns per game would indicate.  In games the Colts won, he saw 17.5 carries and averaged 1 touchdown per contest.

Philip Lindsay: 8.41: The undrafted rookie out of the University of Colorado turned heads when he averaged 6.14 yards per carry in the first two weeks against Seattle and Oakland.  Lindsay definitely turned heads in Bronco victories as he posted 102.33 rushing yards and 1.16 touchdowns compared to just 47 rushing yards and .22 touchdowns in Bronco losses

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP LOSS

Tarik Cohen: 8.63: Matt Nagy utilized his talented pass catching back more than Dowell Loggains did in the Bears mundane offense in 2017.  Tarik Cohen had some solid games in those that the Bears won but he was much more impactful in ones that the Bears lost.  He saw more than double the receptions in Bears defeats at 7.5 per game compared to 3.42 of them in Bear victories.

Christian McCaffery: 7.81 (Excluding Week 17): It’s hard to believe that Carolina was 6-2 at one point before a tumultuous seven-game losing streak ruined the season.  At 30.79 FPPG in PPR scoring during that tailspin, Christian McCaffery was the #1 overall fantasy performer with 215.5 fantasy points, 27.9 points more than Ezekiel Elliott who was #2 in that seven-week span. 

Alvin Kamara: 6.54: Alvin Kamara didn’t suit up in Week 17 so he was only part of two of the three games the Saints lost in the regular season.  A large part of this variance is from Kamara’s season-best 43.1 fantasy point performance of 2018 in a Week 1 loss to the Buccaneers.  It will be interesting to see how he is utilized now that Mark Ingram has departed via free agency and replaced with Latavius Murray.

SMALLEST WIN/LOSS VARIANCE

Saquon Barkley: -.4: The rookie out of Penn State was a high floor, high ceiling option that was as reliable in five Giant wins as he was in 11 Giant defeats.  He surpassed double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring in all but one game last year and exceeded 20 fantasy points a remarkable 12 times.  He is a true gamescript-independent back with a bright future at the pro level.  

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN HOME GAMES

Austin Ekeler: 8.46: Ekeler was nonexistent in games away from the StubHub Center.  In front of the home crowd, Ken Whisenhunt made sure to incorporate his pass catching back in the game plan.  69.2% of Ekeler’s receptions, 80.2% of his receiving yards, and 83% of his total touchdowns all occurred in home games last season.

Sony Michel: 7.35: The Patriots went undefeated at Gillette Stadium in 2018 which translated into an abundance of positive gamescript for Michel to operate.  He saw 19.5 carries for .83 touchdowns in home games compared to 13.29 carries for .14 touchdowns in hostile territory.

James White: 5.95: Gillette Stadium was where White excelled as he had a solid floor of 13.4 fantasy points along with eight of his 12 total touchdowns in 2018 occurring in Foxboro.  Those that rostered him in the divisional round weren’t the least bit surprised when he posted 15 catches against a Chargers defense susceptible to running backs out of the backfield.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN AWAY GAMES

Dion Lewis: 5.34: While Derrick Henry’s splits favored him playing at Nissan Stadium, the contrary applied to Dion Lewis who was more productive in enemy territory.  64.6% of his scrimmage yards along with all of his touchdowns took place outside of Nashville.  He certainly cashed in on his career year in New England in 2017 as he only hit double-digit fantasy points six times with the Titans after doing so eight times the year before.

Peyton Barber: 5.21: The Buccaneers rushing offense wasn’t anything to brag about in 2018 as Buccaneer running backs averaged 3.9 yards per carry, tied for the second-fewest with the Eagles.  Barber averaged 43.25 yards on the ground at Raymond James Stadium but was more useful in road games with 65.63 yards per game and four of his six touchdowns occurring in enemy territory.

Kenyan Drake: 4.33: Drake’s home/road rushing attempts and yards were all but identical but he was more involved out of the backfield in road games as the Dolphins went 1-7 away from Hard Rock Stadium.  Not to mention 67% of his touchdowns came in road affairs, a trend that carried over from 2017 as 75% of his touchdowns were road ones.

SMALLEST HOME/ROAD VARIANCE

Melvin Gordon: -.22: After nearly registering a double-digit variance that favored rostering him in road games, Gordon was the most consistent running back in this metric.  An MCL sprain in Week 12 put a damper on what was an incredible season for the fourth-year running back out of the University of Wisconsin.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS A FAVORITE

Joe Mixon: 11.58: 24.12 FPPG in PPR scoring as a favorite vs 12.54 FPPG as an underdog, no one saw a greater variance in this category than Joe Mixon as his Bengals went 4-1 in games they were favored.  He made his presence felt in those games as he converted 23 touches per game as a favorite into 1.4 touchdowns vs 18.33 touches per game as an underdog into .22 touchdowns.

Marlon Mack: 9.26: As indicated above, there was a strong positive correlation in Marlon Mack’s performance when the Colts won and that correlation is just as strong in games the Colts are favored.  9 of his 10 touchdowns took place with the Colts listed as a favorite along with a +6.67 touch differential for Mack in those games.  

Mark Ingram: 8.7: With the emergence of Alvin Kamara, 2018 was a disappointing season for Mark Ingram who went from 18 touches per game in 2017 to 13.25 touches last year.  Those who rostered him in matchups the Saints were underdogs were burned to the tune of a minuscule 4.9 FPPG when in that role compared to 13.6 FPPG when the Saints were favorites.  He’s bound for a rebound season in a Baltimore offense that should be rush-heavy with Lamar Jackson under center.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN THE RESPECTIVE TEAM IS AN UNDERDOG

Ezekiel Elliott: 9.73: Zeke possessed the highest variance as a favorite in 2017 with a +15.8 FPPG differential in games the Cowboys were favored.  He was on the opposite side of the spectrum last season as he posted the highest differential in games the Cowboys were getting points from their opponent.  Zeke averaged 131.75 scrimmage yards per game as an underdog with seven of nine touchdowns in that role.

Kenyan Drake: 6.95: In four games that the Dolphins were favorites, Kenyan Drake saw 7.75 touches for 35.75 scrimmage yards and .25 TDs.  He was much more productive when the Dolphins were underdogs as his 11.83 touches for 72.41 scrimmage yards and .66 TDs indicates.

Jordan Howard: 5.98: His yards per carry dropped from 4.06 in 2017 to 3.74 in 2018 and now finds himself as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.  Not known for his work out of the backfield, he was more efficient in games that Chicago was an underdog with a floor of 11.3 FPPG in PPR scoring.

SMALLEST FAVORITE/UNDERDOG VARIANCE

Christian McCaffery: +.03 (Excluding Week 17): For those running backs that don’t see work out of the backfield, glancing over weekly spreads can be an indicative measure on what to expect from a certain player.  When your running back leads the league in receptions and targets, Christian McCaffery’s has a role whether the Panthers are leading or trailing.  Only he and Zeke had a floor of double-digit fantasy points last season after McCaffery had the highest floor among qualified running backs in 2017.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE TOP HALF IN RUSH DVOA

Ezekiel Elliott: 5.35: Against top 10 defensive rush DVOA opponents in Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Philadelphia, Ezekiel Elliott plowed his way for a league-best 105.42 rushing yards per game against top-ranked rushing defenses.  Having one of the better offensive lines in the league was a big contributor as well as slaughtering the Eagles to the tune of 132 yards per matchup on the ground.  That line returns intact with the hopes of getting Travis Frederick back from Guillain-Barré syndrome, something that can only help Zeke heading into 2019.

Kenyan Drake: 3.89: Consistency wasn’t Drake’s cup of tea last season as observed above by posting the second-highest variance in games the Dolphins were underdogs and having seven games where he didn’t reach double-digit fantasy points.  However, this variance is a compliment as he posted two of his three best performances against a Texans defense ranked 1st overall in rushing DVOA and a Colts defense ranked 4th.  The hope heading into 2019 is Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea utilizing him more than his 10.81 touches per game with Adam Gase in 2018.

Marlon Mack: 3.03: Used to seeing Mack’s name in this article yet?  He’s back for a third mention as his +3.03 FPPG differential against the better half in defensive rush DVOA last season was the third highest among qualified backs.  With the exception of two matchups against Jacksonville, Mack fared well against defenses that shut down the run, his primary means of producing on the field and in fantasy lineups.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS RANKED IN THE BOTTOM HALF IN RUSH DVOA 

Nick Chubb: 12.83: Stout rushing defenses were able to contain the rookie out of Georgia last season.  Inferior rushing defenses were subject to a thrashing as Nick Chubb scored all 10 of his touchdowns against defenses ranked in the bottom half in rush DVOA, something to keep in mind next season as eight matchups are against teams in the bottom half of this metric.  The eight doesn’t include two matchups against a Baltimore defense that suffered heavy losses in free agency.

Tarik Cohen: 8.04: He isn’t the primary rushing option in the Bears offense which means he needs to thrive in the passing game.  In six games against top-rated rushing defenses, they contained Cohen to 20 receiving yards and .17 receiving touchdowns per game out of the backfield.  Against the 10 other opponents ranked in the bottom half of defensive rush DVOA, Cohen tripled his receiving yard output and averaged .4 receiving touchdowns in those games.

James Conner: 7.79: Like Nick Chubb, James Conner pummeled those that were unable to shut down running backs.  With a +6.93 FPPG differential in games the Steelers were victorious and a +8.05 differential in games the Steelers covered the spread, it’s no surprise Conner was less impactful in games that featured defenses in the top half in rush DVOA as the Steelers went 2-3 against such opponents with Conner active (2-4 overall) vs 6-1-1 against the bottom half (7-2-1 overall)

SMALLEST RUSH DVOA VARIANCE

Todd Gurley: -.09: Not that you would have considered benching Gurley at any point but there’s a comfort in knowing you’re going to get a consistent level of fantasy production regardless of the opponent.  That’s what Gurley gave his fantasy owners last season with an average of 26.6 FPPG against defenses in both the top and bottom half in rush DVOA.  Now we await further clarification on whether arthritis in Gurley’s surgically repaired left knee will impact him moving forward.

WHO WERE THE MOST CONSISTENT RUNNING BACKS OF 2018?

Naturally, there is more of a positive correlation in running back production in games their respective teams win.  Those that see backfield involvement may see correlations that are stronger in losses, more specifically in PPR leagues than standard ones.  Thus, for determining who was most consistent, three of the other four metrics covered in this article will be used.  However, knowing how your running back is utilized in positive and negative gamescript is critical as you’re not going to roster one that sees no targets in games that you expect a certain team to lose and/or play catchup.

Two running backs stood out above their counterparts in 2018.  Todd Gurley may have burned some unlucky owners in the finals but he was certainly a key component in helping your fantasy team advance to that point.  He was also an automatic roster in the DFS landscape last season regardless of salaries creeping as high as 10K on DraftKings and 11K on FanDuel.  Undoubtedly, Gurley was the most consistent fantasy running back in 2018 as he didn’t possess a variance over one fantasy point in either of the evaluated home/road, favorite/underdog, or top/bottom rush DVOA metrics.  He is an important cog in Sean McVay’s high-octane offense that has the coaching staff and fans praying for a clean bill of health heading into 2019.

Seattle entered 2018 with a crowded backfield that eventually saw Chris Carson emerge as the #1 option.  He will enter training camp as that option but we’ll see how Pete Carroll better utilizes former 2018 first-round pick Rashaad Penny now that Mike Davis resides in Chicago.  Carson was important in Seattle’s push for a wild card as he had a floor of 13.3 fantasy points in Seattle’s final seven games in which they went 6-1.   In the three metrics being evaluated, Carson had a differential lower than 2.2 fantasy points in each.

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  […]

Fantasy Football 0

Extreme Quarterback Fantasy Point Variances

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  That’s quite the contrast from daily fantasy where every option on a slate is put under a microscope and one mistake can make or break your week. 

NFL players have their own tendencies where they perform better in various scenarios whether it be as a favorite or underdog, playing at home or in hostile territory, or when their respective team wins or loses a game.  We’re going to explore which players at each position performed at their best or worst in various situations from last season to try and help us discover ideal roster opportunities in daily lineups.  Note that these figures can vary from year to year when someone who performed better indoors the year before now suddenly performed better outside the following year.  Viewed in another light, these variances can be interpreted as an extension of consistency rankings.  

This piece isn’t just exclusive to DFS and has a place in non-DFS leagues where an available free agent may be in a better spot to perform than a rostered option that should be on the bench for a specific week.  This will be part one of a three-part series starting with the quarterback position and only evaluates those that played a minimum of 12 games. 

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP WIN

Josh Allen: 11.29: A key to success for the rookie quarterback was the Bills going 5-1 in games he rushed for at least one touchdown.  Defenses that were able to keep him in the pocket were able to shut Josh Allen down as he only averaged 13.8 FPPG in seven Buffalo losses last year.  He’ll need to become a much more effective passer in conjunction with his ability to utilize his legs which should level out this extreme variance.

Dak Prescott: 8.52: Dak had a +4.64 differential in games the Cowboys won in 2017 and that differential increased in 2018.  As Dak goes, so does Dallas as combining passing and rushing touchdowns, he averaged 2.2 touchdowns and .2 interceptions in 10 wins vs 1 touchdown and 1 interception in six losses.

Aaron Rodgers: 6.64 (Excluding Week 17): Certainly a positive regression candidate for 2019, it wasn’t the Aaron Rodgers we’re accustomed to seeing last season as he threw just 25 passing touchdowns, the fewest in a season in which he played 15 games.  Once guaranteed wins for the Packers, the Bears and Vikings are much improved defensively as the team went 0-3-1 with Rodgers averaging 1.25 touchdowns in that span.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN A STRAIGHT-UP LOSS

Mitchell Trubisky: 7.4: Matt Nagy’s impact on Trubisky cannot be understated as the Bears offense in 2017 was simply inept under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.  The 2nd year quarterback averaged 273 passing yards and 1.66 passing touchdowns in Bears losses this season compared to a horrid 187 passing yards and .62 passing touchdowns in losses in his rookie campaign.  

DeShaun Watson: 3.22: Considering he set the world on fire before tearing his ACL in 2017, regression was bound to hit as he threw for more than two touchdown passes just once last year.  He had five 300 passing yard games, three of them in losses.  Also in games that the Texans lost, Watson averaged 6.48 FPPG with his legs vs 4.79 FPPG in Texan wins.

Patrick Mahomes: 2.79: It’s extremely rare to see an offense score 40 points and 50 points on separate occasions and lose both of those games.  Regardless of the splits, Mahomes undoubtedly will be the first quarterback off the board in every draft come August.

SMALLEST WIN/LOSS VARIANCE

Philip Rivers: +.18: Aside from a rough December, the 15-year veteran was as consistent as he could be last season as he threw for at least two touchdowns in all but three games.  His .18 FPPG win/loss differential was a vast improvement upon the +5.58 FPPG differential he saw in Charger victories last season.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN HOME GAMES

Jared Goff: 10.71: Goff averaged 2.75 passing touchdowns at home vs 1.25 of them away from the LA Memorial Coliseum.  Having played both high school and college ball in beautiful California weather, he fared horribly in two games under 30 degrees last season, averaging a minuscule 6.07 FPPG in those contests.  Keep in mind the Rams take trips to Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland in 2019, venues that can get cold in December if they are required to travel east late next season.

Mitchell Trubisky: 10.64: Trubisky eclipsed 300 passing yards four times in 2018 with three of those occurrences at Soldier Field.  Not to mention throwing for 2.37 passing touchdowns in front of the Chicago faithful vs .83 of them in hostile territory.

Sam Darnold: 9.91: If Sam Darnold played the entire season at MetLife Stadium, he would have measured out as the QB6 in 2018.  To level out this variance, Darnold will need to become more efficient in road games as he threw for 200+ passing yards just once to go along with his .71 passing touchdowns and 1.5 turnovers in hostile territory.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN AWAY GAMES

Patrick Mahomes: 8.36: The Chiefs were a solid defensive unit at the friendly confines of Arrowhead Stadium, allowing just 17.97 points per game.  Removed from there, their atrocious defense that surrendered 34.63 points per game put them in shootouts that assisted the 2018 MVP in generating some of the production that he did in three road losses.

Eli Manning: 6.1: The addition of Saquon Barkley and having ODB for most of 2018 helped Eli put together a better campaign then the dud from 2017.  However, it was the tale of two quarterbacks as road Eli outshined home Eli last season.  Away from MetLife Stadium, Manning threw twice as many touchdowns and committed half as many turnovers compared to playing at home. 

Kirk Cousins: 3.2: Minnesota invested $84 million in guarantees in Kirk Cousins and didn’t get their money’s worth in the first year of the three-year deal.  Other than the two road games against the Packers and Rams, his two best performances of 2018 and the main contributor of this home/road split, it was a less than stellar campaign that was encapsulated by a week 17 loss that knocked the Vikings out of playoff contention.

SMALLEST HOME/ROAD VARIANCE

Ben Roethlisberger: -.06: Big Ben’s spot in this category is shocking considering his splits over the last few years heavily favored him playing at Heinz Field.  He quietly had a great 2018 as the QB3 with his 22.44 FPPG in an offense with James Conner as the starting running back in place of a disgruntled Le’Veon Bell.  The question now becomes how the offense performs without Antonio Brown lining up as a Steeler.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL AGAINST TEAMS OVER .500

Marcus Mariota: 9.84: Truth be told, Mariota has been mediocre at best since coming into the league in 2015.  However, he fared much better against teams that made the playoffs last season as he only surpassed double-digit fantasy points against those under .500 just once in seven opportunities.

DeShaun Watson: 6.5: While the Texans went just 3-4 against opponents with a winning record, the second-year quarterback rose to the occasion in those matchups as he posted 25 fantasy point performances in four of those seven games.  

Jared Goff: 5.85: Aside from being stymied by a tenacious Chicago defense in Week 14, Goff three for over 300 yards against every other opponent that was over .500.  This was a substantial improvement from 2017 as he only did so in two of seven opportunities and continues to show why he was the #1 overall selection in the 2016 draft.

LARGEST DIFFERENT AGAINST TEAMS AT .500 OR BELOW

Josh Allen: 11.2: No one feasted on inferior opponents better than Allen as they had no answer for him scrambling out of the pocket.  Line him up against better competition and they not only kept him in the pocket but prevented him from scoring more than 15 fantasy points just once against an opponent over .500

Aaron Rodgers: 6.34 (Excluding Week 17): Mentioned above as having one of the higher variances in straight-up victories, Rodgers was more successful against weaker opponents, going 5-3 against those under .500.  We’re not used to seeing him struggle against stiffer competition as the Packers went 1-5-1 against those with winning records.

Matt Ryan 6.22: Like the Packers, the Falcons also struggled against opponents over .500 as they went 0-6 against those teams.  Unless it was against the Saints, Matt Ryan was rendered useless against winning competition.  Against those under .500, Matt Ryan eclipsed 20 fantasy points in 9 of 10 opportunities, a big contributor to his QB2 performance of 2018.

SMALLEST WINNING/LOSING RECORD VARIANCE

Case Keenum: -.28: If Case Keenum was consistent in one particular category, it was being awful as his 14.49 FPPG last season would indicate.  John Elway and the Broncos have not remedied their quarterback situation since Peyton Manning retired and will now start their fifth different quarterback in Joe Flacco come September 8th, 2019.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN RESPECTIVE TEAM IS A FAVORITE

Derek Carr: 6.69: Yes, the Raiders we’re favored twice last season and one of those games was the shootout against the Browns in which Derek Carr went off for 33.58 fantasy points.  2019 shows promise with the acquisitions of Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, both substantial improvements from the options that were available to Carr in 2018.

Josh Rosen: 5.87 (From Week 4 On): Things can only improve for an Arizona offense that finished dead last in a multitude of offensive metrics.  In 12 of the 13 games that Josh Rosen entered the matchup as an underdog, he averaged 9.57 FPPG, a main contributor this variance is as high as it is given Rosen only played in one game as a favorite.

Mitchell Trubisky: 5.20: Seeing Trubisky’s name for the third time in this article should hint at his inconsistency.  In games as a favorite, he threw for 2.1 touchdowns vs just .75 of them in the four games that the Bears were underdogs.

LARGEST DIFFERENTIAL IN GAMES WHEN RESPECTIVE TEAM IS AN UNDERDOG

Drew Brees: 11.04: The Saints were anything but underdogs in 2018 but when put in that role, Drew Brees put on two of his best three fantasy performances in that role against the Falcons in Week 3 and the Rams in Week 9.  His 29.59 FPPG as a dog trailed only one quarterback to be described below.

Patrick Mahomes: 9.77: When put in the underdog role, the Kansas City offense averaged 42.75 points per game.  Of course their defense put them in a position to have to score at will.  In the four games the Chiefs were not favored, Mahomes averaged a remarkable 34.27 FPPG.

Marcus Mariota: 9.37: It’s almost inexplicable how bad Marcus Mariota performed as a favorite.  His 7.49 FPPG is nearly eight fantasy points worse than the next quarterback with the least fantasy production in that role in Josh Rosen.  It’s extremely difficult to bank on Mariota playing as well as he did against stronger competition in 2019 but also a guarantee he will fare much better against inferior competition.

SMALLEST FAVORITE/UNDERDOG VARIANCE

Baker Mayfield: -.36: Mayfield’s final two games should give the Dawg Pound plenty of hope as he slaughtered the Bengals as an 9.5-point favorite as well as held his own against the Ravens as a 7-point underdog in a game that Baltimore needed to win to advance to the postseason.  Cleveland may have finally figured out the quarterback fiasco that has plagued this franchise for the better part of two decades.

WHO WAS THE MOST CONSISTENT QUARTERBACK OF 2018?

Three quarterbacks come to mind based off the evaluated metrics in this article, the first being the overall #1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft.  Baker Mayfield performed admirably in his rookie season and closed out the second half strong once Hue Jackson and Todd Haley were removed from the equation and replaced with eventual head coach Freddie Kitchens.  With an average of 18.29 FPPG, he didn’t have a variance of over two fantasy points in any metric listed above and now has Odell Beckham as a target heading into 2019.

Philip Rivers was just as reliable as Mayfield as he also didn’t exceed a two point variance in any of the above evaluations.  Remove the final four weeks from the equation and Rivers had a solid floor of 15 fantasy points in the first 12 games.  He was far more consistent than 2017 when he was most efficient in games that the Chargers either won straight-up or were a favorite.

The massive home/road splits were always associated with Ben Roethlisberger but his 2017 splits were volatile in numerous categories.  His win/loss, home/road, and favorite/underdog were at a minimum of 5.6 fantasy points.  Fast forward to last season and he displayed more balance in his QB3 campaign as no variance was greater than three.

Aside from the fantasy playoffs, redraft and dynasty leagues can be viewed from a macro level where you can survive two or three bad weeks or roster decisions and succeed.  […]

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Perfect DraftKings Lineup: Defensive and Other Lineup Construction Trends

This five-part series concludes with notable defensive trends as well as some overall lineup construction trends.  While it may not feel or look like it, defense still has a vital role in the league; look no further than Super Bowl 53 when Brian Flores completely shut down Sean McVay’s octane offense.  Defense does win games even in a league that is predicated on offense nowadays as this first trend illustrates.

NO DEFENSE IN THE PERFECT LINEUP LOST ITS GAME

The first two weeks hilariously contained defenses in the perfect lineup that played to ties.  However, coming as no surprise from Week 3 on, the perfect defense won their game straight up.  By predicting who will win games, it can eliminate half of the available pool of defenses to select from.  It’s very rare that the top defense in a week lost its game to the point that it hasn’t happened in fantasy football since Week 4 of 2015 when Detroit amassed 24 fantasy points in a loss to Seattle.

11 OF THE 17 DEFENSES WERE FAVORITES

Like the fans, Vegas is still learning about the 32 teams early on that for as bad as the Bills were offensively in the first half of 2018, they possessed a competent defense that everyone in suicide pools and DFS discovered as 17-point underdogs in Week 3.  Go back to Week 1 in 2017 and Jacksonville made the perfect lineup as six-point underdogs against an awful Tom Savage that ultimately gave DeShaun Watson the starting job.  

Once the first few weeks play out, Vegas has a better pulse on the teams and it shows as no defense heading into their respective perfect game was worse than 3.5-point underdogs.  This trend is an extension of the one listed above and further reduces the pool of suitable options.  It would take balls to start a double-digit underdog as a fantasy defense, the type of balls that less than a percent of people in the Milly Maker had who started the Bills as 17-point dogs.

15 OF THE 17 DEFENSES WERE PRICED NO MORE THAN $3000

Two viable defensive strategies proved effective in 2018.  Rostering the Bears defense each week would have given you nine double-digit fantasy point performances, the most in the NFL.  The other option was rostering the defense against a Cardinals offense that allowed a league-high 10 double-digit fantasy point performances.  Implementing these strategies would be costly as most weeks, the Bears or whoever the Cardinals dueled with were the priciest defenses on the board.

Luckily the best defense on the main slate was over $3000 just twice, demonstrating that paying down at that position can be just as effective as paying up for what are considered to be the top defensive options heading into the week.  Chiacgo and Miami were the top two defenses on the Week 9 main slate with a difference of $1300 in salary and three fantasy points.  That extra salary could find better use in helping to pay up for some top-tiered talent at other positions.  Especially when the top-priced defense was never the perfect defense at any point in 2018.

13 OF THE 17 DEFENSES HELD THEIR OPPONENT UNDER THEIR TEAM TOTAL

In its simplest form, the primary goal of a defense is to keep another team off a scoreboard.  Targeting games with low game totals is one way to go about this process.  Like running back, there is a stronger correlation in utilizing the team totals by rostering defenses against opposing offenses not expected to generate much offense.  The Cardinals were dead last in a variety of offensive categories and metrics last season that it made them a weekly piñata as they only exceeded their team total three times.  

Of course just keeping opponents off the scoreboard won’t be enough to earn a spot in the perfect lineup.  Pitching a shutout nets 10 fantasy points but every defense needed an additional boost to get on the exclusive list.

15 OF THE 17 DEFENSES FORCED MULTIPLE TURNOVERS

Ultimately, the goal of selecting a fantasy defense is identifying the one that has the best chance to hold an opposing offense to as little points as possible while scoring a defensive touchdown.  Forecasting which one will register a pick 6 or special teams touchdown can be as much of a science as meteorologists trying to predict the weather.  Even with the increase in technology and tools, you’d think that they be able to give an accurate report on a daily basis.  Selecting a defense can feel the same way as there have never been more databases and tools for fantasy players to access.  Yet, there are so many variables in 60 minutes of football that determine success and failure for fantasy defenses.  

Let’s not forget the low frequency of defensive/special teams touchdown that occur year after year.  There were 83 occurrences in 2018, an average of 5.18 per week.  Let alone trying to predict who’s going to return a kickoff or punt to the house will be enough to drive one bonkers and is simply not a viable option.

The best course of action in finding a defense that can score a touchdown is selecting ones that best create opportunities to allow that to happen.  12 of the 17 perfect defenses sacked the quarterback at minimum three times, all opportunities that force precious turnovers that increase the opportunity for a defensive score.  In the 15 games in which a defense forced multiple turnovers, nine of them did so in games they scored a defensive touchdown.

Playing on the road, inclement weather, backup quarterbacks, porous offensive lines, and increased wind speeds are just some of the variables that can influence turnovers.  If cognizant of these factors, it can help place you in the best spot to roster the best defense in what can be tough position to project.

OTHER NOTABLE TRENDS

15 OF THE 17 PERFECT LINEUPS FEATURED GAME STACKS

Each main slate featured at least one team stack and that was nearly identical for game stacks as only two of them didn’t feature one.  Of the 21 game stacks that occurred, the most common was an RB+WR which occurred four times followed by an RB+TE and WR+WR stack happening twice.  A variety of other game stacks from WR-WR+WR to QB-RB+WR found their way into the perfect lineup as well as unusual combinations from WR+DEF to RB+DEF.

Stacking as many players from both teams in matchups with low spreads and high game totals is a commonly applied strategy.  Regular season matchups like the Saints-Rams, Chiefs-Rams, and Chiefs-Patriots come to mind though the former two unfortunately weren’t on the main slate.  Like Al Zeidenfeld cleverly professes in these situations, “Play all the dudes.”

Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeSean Jackson formed a stack along with an opposing, underpriced stack of Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara at a Mercedes-Benz Superdome known for some shootouts in Week 1.  The following week saw another shootout where Jesse James and JuJu Smith-Schuster slaughtered a Chiefs defense that hardly played any in 2018 against a Steelers defense that had no answer for the duo of Mahomes and Kelce.  

More often than not, you will have the two or three-player game stacks that frequent the perfect lineup.  The RB+WR variety makes sense in that a running back slaughters a team on his own while the opposing offense utilizes a wide receiver in an effort to play-catch-up; Ezekiel Elliott and Golden Tate in Week 4 are the perfect illustration of this theory.  When the stars align and both offenses are clicking, nothing beats having pieces of both teams in a lineup and watching the DK points accumulate.

THERE WERE ONLY SIX INSTANCES OF BACK-TO-BACK ENTRIES IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

Recency bias plays a factor each and every week in any cash game or tournament.  The competition gets gitty when an Amari Cooper or a Tarik Cohen goes off the week before and then is highly disappointed when these players fail to meet the expectations bestowed upon them from the prior week’s performance.  

Observing from a macro level, taking all of the fantasy positions in 2018 other than the kicker, there were 28 occurrences in which a top-3 performance was duplicated the following week.  This doesn’t include perfect lineup figures but encompasses all of fantasy football players in full-point PPR leagues last season.  Of those 28, just three of them stretched multiple weeks with Todd Gurley posting top-3 performances at his position four weeks in a row along with Drew Brees and Zach Ertz doing so in three-week stretches.  

In terms of frequency, the running back position saw the most with 12 posting top-3 performances in consecutive weeks while the wide receiver had just two in Michael Thomas and Tyreek Hill.  With bell cow backs making up a majority of the 12, this reinforces two ideas that were discussed earlier regarding paying up for the top-tiered running backs and paying down at the wide receiver position with the inconsistency at the top of the fantasy point leaderboard for receivers each week.  

There are some variables that impact the low number of back-to-back top-3 performances in the DraftKings perfect lineup.  First, playing on Thursday, Sunday, or Monday night removes those respective players from eligibility on that week’s main slate.  That number of six back-to-back top-3 performances could certainly be higher if the main slate wasn’t limited to just the Sunday afternoon block of games.  Second, salary increases to those who excel the prior week make it more difficult to insert them the following week and still put together the best possible lineup.  Of those six repeat perfect lineup occurrences, running backs represented four of them (Barkley, Gurley, McCaffery, Mixon) while the wide receiver (Thielen) and tight end (Kelce) made up one each.

This teaches us the importance of when the masses zig in one direction, zag in another one.  Naturally it’s easier to go with what’s comfortable and select the player that had an incredible performance the prior week vs the contrary that didn’t post double-digit fantasy points.  If the same players kept repeating their dominant performances, fantasy football would be so easy and predictable that fantasy football analysts wouldn’t be needed and everyone would be printing money in DFS. Another way to understand recency bias is why pay an additional $600-$1000 in salary for a player that excelled the prior week that more likely than not will come back to earth or fall way short of projections? 

THE AVERAGE COST OF THE FLEX POSITION WAS $4135

8 of the 17 perfect flex spots went to running backs who averaged 22.5 touches at an average cost of $4587.  $203.86 per touch isn’t too shabby for trying to squeeze in a player with the last remaining salary available.  Tarik Cohen made it twice as a flex option while those that were in the fantasy playoffs in redraft leagues may recall Derrick Henry’s two games of dominance, one which landed him as a perfect flex off 34 touches and a steal of a $5000 salary in Week 15.

Double tight ends had its spots as five occurrences featured two tight ends making the cut.  Being that it was the most recent main slate, no one would have expected Blake Jarwin’s three touchdown performance in Week 17.  He paired with George Kittle as Kyle Shanahan did whatever it took to feed Kittle towards a record.

Four wide receivers were perfect flex options with two of them pairing with an opposing receiver to form game stacks.  DeSean Jackson and Michael Thomas both went off in a Bayou shootout that saw the Bucs shock the Saints to open the season.  Kenny Golladay has his way with the Panthers secondary while D.J. Moore did his best to duplicate that performance in Week 11

Back around 2015 when both FanDuel and DraftKings invested heavily in television advertising, DK’s commercial would ask who your million dollar player would be.  That commercial referred to the flex position and that low-rostered player that would be the difference maker.  It came in the form of Jesse James, Calvin Ridley, Maurice Harris, and Blake Jarwin at various points of last season.  That commercial still holds credence to this day as 13 of the 17 main slates had one player, not including the quarterback or defense, that was priced under $4000.  

CONCLUSION

While this series was intended to serve as an aid in roster construction, don’t treat it as gospel as these trends as well as offensive and defensive philosophies are subject to change each season.  The NFL is very much a copycat league as those who were looking for a head coach this offseason were trying to find the next Sean McVay.  By the end of the 2019 season, teams with coaching vacancies could be looking for the next Frank Reich or Brian Flores or whoever is the hot name enjoying success and implement their philosophies.

What we know heading into 2019 is that the NFL has become a passing league with quarterbacks and wide receivers posting record numbers in 2018.  While rushing attempts decreased, running backs experienced great success with their utilization out of the backfield which in effect has taken a toll on the tight end position as illustrated in part four of the series.

We can take this knowledge and gear our first few lineups of 2019 towards these trends.  After the first few weeks play out, we can reassess those trends and adjust our lineup construction philosophies if need be.  Staying flexible is an important attribute to have as some of the trends I described may change when I compose this writing following the 2019 season.  As long as we remain keen to what is transpiring on the field, we can remain prepared to generate the best possible lineups in an effort to build the perfect one.

This five-part series concludes with notable defensive trends as well as some overall lineup construction trends.  While it may not feel or look like it, defense still has a vital […]

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Perfect DraftKings Lineup Tight End Trends

We continue our five-part series with the fourth installment that analyzes a tight end position that leveled out after a horrendous 2017 season.  As many in redraft and dynasty leagues can attest, finding a reliable tight end was quite the endeavor in 2018 after the position was already a dumpster fire the year before.  In fact, 2015 saw 15 tight ends maintain an average of double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring but that number has dropped to only 13 of them in 2016 to just eight and nine in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

While overall tight end targets and touchdowns have decreased each season since 2015, overall tight end receptions and yards saw a slight bump in 2018 after experiencing the same decreases as the aforementioned targets and touchdowns.  There were 209 tight end touchdowns in 2015 and since that season, that number hasn’t eclipsed 200.

As we discussed in part two of this series, the running back has been integrated more and more into the passing game over the last few years.  Receiving touchdowns from the running back have increased from 94 in 2016 to 108 and 120 in 2017 and 2018, respectively.  Circa back to 2016 when total running back and tight end receptions were nearly identical with 2,516 of them at running back and 2,484 at tight end.  Since that season, running back receptions are up an average of 242 per year while tight end receptions are down an average of 169.  

This helps explain some of the reasoning why tight end fantasy production has been on the decline.  The running backs are syphoning work from their tight end teammates, especially when some of them are the best offensive asset on their respective teams and deserve additional work.  It also validates taking a top-tier tight end in fantasy drafts as early as the second round when Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle all led their offenses in receptions and targets.  The drop off after those three is pretty significant and one can only hope Eric Ebron continues what was an unexpected 2018 season and O.J. Howard rebounds from his season-ending foot and ankle injuries.

This first tight end trend should come as no surprise after reading the intro to this article.  While you were able to find bargains that did pay off, there was safety in paying up for the top options that delivered more than they disappointed.  

12 OF THE 22 PERFECT TIGHT ENDS REPRESENTED THE TOP FIVE IN SCORING AT THE POSITION IN 2018 IN FULL POINT PPR FORMATS

The struggle at this frustrating position could also be felt in the DFS community.  For the first half of 2018, rostering Zach Ertz or Travis Kelce yielded excellent returns as they represented the perfect tight end in five of the eight weeks when both were available on the main slate.  These two continued to dominate in the second half but an injury to Jack Doyle opened the door for the usually unreliable Eric Ebron to post his best season at the NFL level which generated two spots on the list.  Kittle had a December to remember as the top tight end in the final month and one that helped make money for those that rostered him in Weeks 14 and 17.

Ertz, Kelce, Kittle, and Ebron combined to make up half of the perfect tight ends with soon-to-be free agent Jared Cook sneaking into the list in Week 4 to complete the 12 occurrences from the top 5 at the position in 2018.  Pending the Week 1 schedule, the former three should represent the priciest options on the first main slate of 2019.

15 OF THE 22 TIGHT ENDS WERE PRICED UNDER $6000

Even the better tight end options had some pricing errors that made them so enticing, they couldn’t be passed up.  Travis Kelce was inexplicably priced under $6000 in Week 2 as he went off for 32.9 DK points.  Eric Ebron wasn’t correctly priced until week 13 as the DFS community took advantage of this low cost with Jack Doyle lost for the year.  George Kittle was slightly discounted at $5500 when he destroyed the Broncos to the tune of 210 yards and a touchdown.

As maddening as the position could be, 15 of the 17 weeks in 2018 featured at least one tight end not named Ertz or Kelce that scored 20+ fantasy points; Weeks 8 and 15 had no one eclipse that mark.  Like the wide receiver, this shows there were some perfect options that didn’t require breaking the bank in order to get to the coveted bell cow backs.  Austin Hooper took advantage of a Buccaneers defense that was extremely inept against the position prior to defensive coordinator Mike Smith being fired at the low cost of $3500.  Kyle Rudolph had dominated at Ford Field to the tune of 17.56 FPPG in his last three at that venue prior to the 2018 matchup that saw him continue that trend with a 36.2 DK point performance.  $3400 was the cost to roster his best performance of the year.

THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF RECEPTIONS PER GAME FOR THE TIGHT ENDS WAS 7.73 

This figure is nearly identical to the average number of catches for the perfect receivers.  The ceiling was 16 catches by Zach Ertz who slaughtered the Texans while Eric Ebron needed three touchdowns off as few as four touches to cement his spot in perfection.  There’s no secret here, paying up means obtaining a solid floor of volume while rolling the dice on a cheaper option can pay off but is certainly a riskier proposition; ask those that rostered Matt LaCosse and Anthony Firkser who both posted goose eggs in favorable matchups in Week 13 and 15 respectively. 

HOUSTON, CLEVELAND, OAKLAND, DENVER, AND MIAMI EACH ALLOWED TWO TIGHT ENDS IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

All five of these teams have been repeat offenders in the top 10 in FPA to tight ends since 2017.  Cleveland’s spot on this list should come as no surprise as they’ve been inside the top 10 in FPA in each of the last three years.  The Browns looked to have remedied their issues in the first eight games but allowed 17.81 FPPG in the second half to the position.  Pending where Jared Cook lands in the offseason and Gronk’s decision to continue to suit up or retire, the Browns tight end schedule eases up in 2019 as they would only face two tight ends inside the top 10 in FPPG in 2018 in George Kittle and Vance McDonald.  

Oakland and Denver fall victim to facing Travis Kelce twice a year which explains part of their heartache.  Still, the Broncos allowed a tight end playing his first game in the NFL in Will Dissly and an aged Antonio Gates to have their best performances of the season while the Raiders let a cornucopia of Ravens and Colts tight ends destroy them.  The Dolphins will benefit from a retired Gronk if that indeed happens but still deal with Zach Ertz and an Indianapolis offense that almost doubled up every team in touchdowns thrown to the position last season.  The Texans have dates with that same Colts offense and Travis Kelce who the Texans have failed to contain in three of four career matchups.

CONCLUSION

When August comes around and you get to the second round of redraft leagues, you will be faced with the decision of taking one of the big three tight ends or playing the crapshoot at the position.  That’s the same scenario DFS players will face weekly in 2019.   

Playing the defensive matchups can work to your advantage as the last trend indicates where paying down is viable.  However, that’s the headache in what can be an unreliable position.  Will you pay up for the consistent Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz, or let it ride on a cheaper option in a favorable matchup?  Hopefully our struggle is alleviated with the emergence of more reliable tight end options as the 2019 season unfolds.

We continue our five-part series with the fourth installment that analyzes a tight end position that leveled out after a horrendous 2017 season.  As many in redraft and dynasty leagues […]

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DFS in Review: Perfect DraftKings Lineup Wide Reciever Trends

Part 3 of the series reviews a wide receiver position that rebounded from a real life and fantasy perspective from 2017.  As a whole, wide receiver receptions, yards, and touchdowns saw sizable increases in 2018.  Also notable, wide receiver rushing attempts and rushing yards had substantial bumps from the prior year.

As you will discover from this piece, the position can be a roller coaster to evaluate each week.  44 different receivers made the perfect lineup out of a possible 55 occurrences.  Compared to the running back and tight end positions that saw 62% and 64% of its respective slots represented by different players, 80% for wide receivers shouldn’t be too surprising.  Especially when you consider there are at least two reliable receivers on most teams vs a single bell cow back or tight end that is heavily relied upon.

Some of these receiver trends aren’t as concrete as those that were presented in the previous two articles of the series regarding the quarterback and running back positions.  The wide receiver position displays more variables that show the fickle nature of the position.  At times, these variables can make it feel rather unpredictable as the trend below and others discussed in this article will illustrate.

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THE PERFECT WIDE RECEIVERS COMBINED FOR A RECORD OF 29-24-2

Tyreek Hill was the WR1 in Week 10 in a win that he did nearly all of his damage when the game was still within reach for the Cardinals.  In opposite fashion, Taylor Gabriel caught two touchdown passes in what already a rout against the Buccaneers.  Remaining cognizant to how coaches and coordinators approach and utilize their passing games in positive gamescript can be critical when a game gets out of hand.  Some may like to keep the foot on the gas while others may be content running the ball and draining clock. 

Negative gamescript can move one from six DK points and WR63 for the week and boost him all the way up to 23 DK points and WR8 on a deep throw in hopes of a late rally.  Of the 50 perfect receivers that did score a touchdown in their respective games, 30 of them did so when their team was trailing.  This isn’t breaking news but sometimes, a reminder of the obvious can be a cure for the overthinking that is possible on a week-to-week basis.  In this case, rostering receivers that are expected to be in a close game or playing from behind.

Defenses that possess a strong competency in stopping the run may be more targeted via the wide receiver.  Take the Saints as they surrendered the fourth fewest FPA to running backs but hemorrhaged the most fantasy points per game to opposing receivers.  These stout rushing defenses can funnel additional passing attempts and create more opportunity for damage through the air, especially when the secondary is a porous one.  The Saints allowed four perfect receivers with their inability to contain the position.

As evidenced, a lot goes into deciding which receiver to choose.  Where the perfect running backs show a positive correlation towards winning their respective games, it’s nearly a 50/50 proposition with their wide receiving counterparts.  Of course, none of this matters if there isn’t opportunity to make a difference on the field.

THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF RECEPTIONS PER GAME FOR THE WIDE RECEIVERS WAS 7.96 

Targets are fantasy gold that create opportunities for wide receivers to produce.  Without them, that receiver serves no purpose in lineups, especially when running backs are seeing increased touches and roles in the offense.  With the limited amount of opportunities they have each week, it is critical for receivers to capitalize on those balls thrown to them.  

For those that achieved perfection, the average number of receptions per game was 7.96 off 10.23 targets.  Michael Thomas saw a perfect lineup ceiling of 16 receptions in Week 1 while Tyrell Williams needed as few as three of them to do his damage.  Of course, Tyrell needed more than three receptions for 118 yards to get on that list by scoring two touchdowns on the day.  It’s no surprise that 50 of the 55 wide receivers on the list posted at least one touchdown. 

35 OF THE 55 WIDE RECEIVERS WERE PRICED AT $6000 OR LOWER

Considering 21 of the 34 perfect running backs, not including flex options, we’re priced over $7000, inexpensive wide receivers needed to be rostered and were available each week.  In fact, at least one perfect wide receiver was priced as low as $5000 in all but one main slate in 2018; Week 2 was the only week that featured all receivers over $6000.  

Needless to say, a wide receiver under $6000 won’t land a team’s #1 option in most cases.  However, a team’s second or third made the perfect lineup in 15 of 17 weeks as 44 different receivers made the list.  Targeting susceptible cornerbacks comes into play in identifying those cheap receivers that have favorable matchups.  P.J. Williams, M.J. Stewart, and Jalen Mills were just some of the corners that were weekly targets in the 2018 DFS landscape.  One secondary fell victim to more perfect receivers than the other 31 teams and resides in a division with strong quarterbacks and receiving corps.

CAROLINA ALLOWED SEVEN PERFECT WIDE RECEIVERS

In one corner sits Matt Ryan with his lethal perimeter receivers in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.  In another contains the surgical duo of Drew Brees and Michael Thomas.  Don’t forget about Jameis Winston and his trio of talented receivers in Mike Evans, Adam Humphries, and Chris Godwin; it remains to be seen if DeSean Jackson returns in 2019.  That’s a tall order of firepower for any secondary to endure in 6 of 16 games.  

The damage inflicted upon a Panther secondary that was in the top 5 in FPA to perimeter receivers wasn’t just limited to divisional foes.  Kenny Golladay got the best of them at one point as well as a pair of Seattle receivers in David Moore and Tyler Lockett that both posted 100+ receiving yard games en route to the perfect lineup.  Odell Beckham Jr. threw a touchdown pass on top of the carnage he created opposite James Bradberry and Donte Jackson.

Carolina’s 2019 schedule outside of divisional play features some tough perimeter receiver matchups to include Davante Adams, T.Y. Hilton, DeAndre Hopkins, the Rams duo of Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, and the aforementioned Tyler Lockett.  For what has been an Achilles heel for this defense the last two years, the Panthers need Jackson to continue to develop as he enters his second year in the league and Bradberry to shut down opposing receivers not just named Mike Evans.

CONCLUSION

DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown were the only two receivers to eclipse 300 fantasy points in PPR scoring in 2017, the fewest receivers to hit that benchmark since 2012 when Calvin Johnson and Brandon Marshall were the only two to do so.  In 2018, five other receivers joined Brown and Hopkins in this club, reiterating the aerial revolution that is sweeping the NFL.

As long as this pass-first mentality continues, the state of the wide receiver shouldn’t bottom out as it did in 2017 and maintain its current upward trend.  Even with the running backs more involved in the passing game, the current household names at the receiver along with the ascension of some younger stars projects a bright outlook for the position for the next few years.

Part 3 of the series reviews a wide receiver position that rebounded from a real life and fantasy perspective from 2017.  As a whole, wide receiver receptions, yards, and touchdowns […]

Draft Kings/Fan Duel 2018 0

DFS in Review: Perfect DraftKings Lineup Running Back Trends

Part two of the DraftKings perfect lineup series continues with the running back position that saw a rookie out of Penn State lead the NFL in scrimmage yards.  Saquon Barkley was a dominant force on a Giants team that had no other positives come from their 2018 campaign.  He carved up the Big 10 for three years and now looks like he will terrorize opponents in the NFC East for the foreseeable future.

Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott both eclipsed 2,000 scrimmage yards in 2018, the first time two running backs did so since 2014 when Le’Veon Bell and DeMarco Murray accomplished the feat.  Had Christian McCaffery played the whole game in Week 17, he would have made it three which would had been the most since 2006 when five running backs went over the total.

The bell cow back is alive and well as some of these figures we’ll discuss will certainly demonstrate.  Take Zeke for instance as his targets out of the backfield increased from 3.8 per game in 2017 to 7.0 last year.  When your running back is your best offensive weapon, why not feed him as many touches as possible? 

That’s not to say running backs on the ground didn’t serve a purpose; Sony Michel and Nick Chubb showed that they have promising futures in their rookie seasons. However, part of our success on DraftKings is made off receptions, an aspect that Michel and Chubb’s skillsets are currently lacking.  One thing that 76.2% of the perfect running backs shared was getting the W for their respective teams.

32 OF THE 42 PERFECT RUNNING BACKS WON THEIR GAMES STRAIGHT UP

Christian McCaffery made the perfect lineup four times in 2018 and did so each time in a Panthers loss, averaging 11.5 receptions in those games.  The 10 running backs that made the list off losses or ties averaged 9.1 receptions per game, thus showing the importance of being a back that is either gamescript-independent or ones like Tarik Cohen or Duke Johnson that see an increased role when their team operates under negative gamescript.

While some of the 32 running backs who won their games were the gamescript-independent types, there are some who thrive off operating when their team plays with a lead.  Marlon Mack, Derrick Henry, and Nick Chubb are those that fall into this category that were perfect at one point last year and perform better in positive gamescript as they don’t see much work out of the backfield.  Mack, Henry, and Chubb saw +9.16, +10.6, and +11.3 FPPG differentials respectively in games that their teams won in PPR scoring. 

It’s critical to roster these positive gamescript backs in games that you believe they will win or they could be a liability if their teams end up falling behind.  In fact, the average margin of victory for the 32 backs that made the list when their teams won their games was 13.88 points.

THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF TOUCHES PER GAME FOR THE PERFECT RUNNING BACKS WAS 24.7

Bell cow backs like Christian McCaffery, Todd Gurley, and Saquon Barkley that work independent of gamescript represented 22 of the 42 perfect running backs last season.  As running backs are being included in the passing game more and more, expect this trend to continue heading to 2019.  This is the main reason why these backs are highly-priced as they are all but locked in for 20+ touches each week whether their teams are leading or trailing.

There are instances where fewer than 20 touches has proven successful.  Isaiah Crowell earned RB3 honors as he torched the Broncos on the ground for 219 yards on 15 carries in Week 5.  A 77-yard touchdown run certainly helped his bottom line that day.  Tevin Coleman converted 18 touches into 32.6 DK points against a lifeless Redskins defense in Week 9.  Needless to say, each back that didn’t get 20 touches crossed the pylons at least once.

Projecting running backs that can produce without a ton of volume can provide salary relief to afford the top-tiered options.  Typically, these backs don’t exceed $6000 on DraftKings; Crowell and Coleman were an affordable $4100 and $4800 when they went off on their respective weeks.

31 OF THE 42 RUNNING BACKS WERE PART OF GAMES IN WHICH THEIR RESPECTIVE TEAM WENT OVER THE TEAM TOTAL

While 54.76% of the perfect backs participated in games that went over the game total, there was a stronger correlation for running backs that hit perfection and their respective teams going over their team totals, occurring at a 73.8% rate.

Positive gamescript usually indicates feeding the running back as much as possible, especially during routs with the leading team eating as much clock as possible.  The Bills didn’t do their part in reaching the game total of 44 in a 37-5 defeat in Indianapolis in Week 7 as it became the Marlon Mack show early in that game and throughout the contest.  The Dolphins didn’t have an answer for Aaron Jones as he turned 15 carries into 145 yards and two touchdowns.  The Packers easily covered their team total of 29 but without help of the Dolphins offense, the teams fell short of the game total of 45.

ATLANTA ALLOWED SIX PERFECT RUNNING BACKS

This should come as no surprise as no team in the NFL has been consistently hurt by running backs out of the backfield more than the Falcons since 2016.  In fact, their defense has allowed the most receptions and targets to pass catching backs in each of the last three years.  The Patriots won Super Bowl 51 by exploiting this weakness as they didn’t have an answer for James White’s 14 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

In DraftKings full PPR scoring system, targeting running backs who excel out of the backfield against the Falcons is the gift that keeps on giving, especially when Christian McCaffery and Alvin Kamara reside in the NFC South for two meetings each year.  McCaffery made the perfect lineup in both 2018 matchups while Kamara secured a spot in Week 3 perfection.  Other notable running backs who will clash with Atlanta in 2019 include Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Jerick McKinnon, Dalvin Cook, and Dion Lewis.

7 OF THE 17 PERFECT LINEUPS FEATURED RUNNING BACKS THAT BENEFITTED FROM A TEAMMATE EITHER HOLDING OUT, INJURED, OR SUSPENDED

Look no further than Week 1 when James Conner took advantage of Le’Veon Bell’s holdout and reeled off 39.2 DK points off 36 touches and an inexpensive $4500 salary.  Alvin Kamara’s volume was never higher in 2018 than Weeks 3 and 4 during Mark Ingram’s suspension that resulted in 37.0 and 44.1 DK point performances.  With Aaron Jones placed on IR with a knee injury, Jamaal Williams and his $5400 salary were an integral part in being able to roster Christian McCaffery and Antonio Brown in Week 16.  Not only that, Williams was just one of two active running backs available for the Packers in that game and saw all of the touches.

7 out of 17 isn’t the strongest correlation but it warrants attention when the average cost of these running backs, not including Alvin Kamara in Weeks 3 and 4, was $4520.  While Giovani Bernard didn’t make the perfect lineup when Joe Mixon was inactive in Week 3 and 4, he was a chalky play that returned value at his $5900 and $6400 salaries in those respective weeks.  Given the right circumstances, taking advantage of these opportunities to get 20+ touches at minimum cost is highly recommended.

Revisiting the Kamara scenario, we were filled in on the Ingram suspension back in May and while he was still too cheap in Week 1, he was correctly priced by Week 3.  Undoubtedly, he would see a bump in volume and in the two weeks he made the perfect lineup, he touched the ball 55 times at a combined $19100 in that timeframe.  On a dollar-per-touch basis, even as expensive as he was priced in those two weeks, Kamara was a bargain at $347 dollars compared to $383 dollars per touch off 24 touches and a $9200 salary from fellow perfect Week 3 back Todd Gurley.

There was substantial evidence that Melvin Gordon wasn’t healthy in Week 12 after fully practicing on Wednesday but being downgraded to limited on Thursday and Friday.  He would eventually leave the game against the Cardinals with a knee injury that made him questionable throughout the week.  Austin Ekeler was sitting at $3600 and for those who pulled the trigger to roster him in spite of Gordon playing, those people were handsomely rewarded with a 26.3 DK point performance as Ekeler was the flex option in Week 12’s perfect lineup.

These free squares that become available make for excellent flex plays that open up a lot of possibilities in terms of putting together a variety of lineups.  Once the salaries for the upcoming week release during Sunday Night Football, they do not change regardless of transactions, suspensions, or players declared inactive before kickoff on Sunday.  While a heavy focus was dedicated to the running back position, this concept applies to all of the other positions as well; Chris Godwin was a fine example that made the perfect lineup twice with DeSean Jackson declared inactive both weeks.  Other than quarterback, no other position typically touches the ball more than the running back.  When a starter is declared inactive, those 15-20+ touches need to go to the next man up that is usually available at an inexpensive price tag on DraftKings.

CONCLUSION

Looking at a macro level, total running back receptions throughout the league were about the same in 2018 as they were in 2017.  However, running back carries dropped by nearly 800 attempts from 2017 to 2018, further evidence of the passing epidemic that is spreading like wildfire.  To better understand where the league is headed and the magnitude of that number, 800 represents 3.13 fewer rushing attempts per NFL game.

Our lineup construction philosophies should be cognizant of this new utilization of the position.  Ground-and-pound backs will still serve a purpose in not just the league but in fantasy football.  However, in PPR scoring, receptions from the running back position are gold.  It’s why we pay up for Gurley, Barkley, and McCaffery that get nearly all of the running back touches and represent 18-20% of the salary cap on DraftKings.  Expect these trends to continue as we head into the 2019 season.

Part two of the DraftKings perfect lineup series continues with the running back position that saw a rookie out of Penn State lead the NFL in scrimmage yards.  Saquon Barkley […]

DFS-Fantasy Football 1

DFS in Review: PERFECT DRAFTKINGS LINEUP QB TRENDS

Welcome to another offseason in which we track how many Sundays until football graces our TVs once again.  The NFL season is such a whirlwind that Week 1 turns into another Super Bowl champion in the blink of an eye.  Now that it’s over and the Patriots have returned to championship glory, it’s time to reflect on 2018 and begin preparations for the 2019 season.  


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Introduction

Compared to the other three major American sports, the NFL allows us a week in-between main slates for quality preparation and research.  For some, that may not be enough time for those who have work and family obligations that consume large chunks of time.  However, there is enough time from the moment you’re reading this until the first Sunday of football on September 8th to invest time in preparing for the 2019 campaign.  At 15-30 minutes per week, you’re already putting in more time than the masses that will resurface from their fantasy football slumber around the end of July/beginning of August.  

This first article in a five-part series will cover the DraftKings perfect lineups from the 17 main slates in 2018; this will not cover the ones that won the Milly Makers.  It will identify and highlight some of the stronger trends and observations from those lineups that may prove useful in weekly lineup construction beginning with the quarterback position.  While FanDuel and Yahoo aren’t covered in this writing and some of those perfect lineups may be slightly different due to different pricing and PPR formats between the sites, some of the same principles and ideas can be utilized on those DFS platforms as well.  For those that want to access each site’s perfect lineups, they can be found on numberfire.com

Before we dwell any further, it’s important to clarify what perfect means for the purpose of this article.  The perfect lineup reflects the best possible fantasy score per week on DraftKings given the $50000 salary cap.  This differs from the best weekly lineup in redraft leagues that various sites put together that consists of the top QB, top 2 RBs, top 3 WRs, top TE, top flex option, and top DEF.  While there are some weeks when the DK perfect lineup and redraft perfect lineup are identical, most will have a few player variances.

This article is intended to shed some light on lineup construction tips for the novice players that are just getting their feet in daily fantasy and intermediate players that are beginning to find their groove and possibly need an extra boost. 

14 OF THE 17 PERFECT QUARTERBACKS WERE PART OF GAMES THAT WENT OVER THE GAME TOTAL 

Of those 14 games, 10 of them featured a game total of 50 or higher that saw the over go 7-2-1.  Targeting quarterbacks in games with a high over/under has been and will continue to be a strategy worth consideration each week, especially those games that combine high totals with lower spreads that possibly indicate a shootout.  

Overall, there were 73 instances in 2018 with a game total of 50 with the over going just 33-38-2.  Of the 146 quarterbacks involved, only 46 of them went over 25 DK points.  More than ever, the NFL has become a passing league which would lead you to believe that there would be more than those 46 to surpass 25 fantasy points.  This demonstrates that opportunities also exist with game totals under 50 where there is great potential for that matchup to eclipse the number. 

Mitchell Trubisky shredded a Buccaneers defense that surrendered 35.75 points per game away from Raymond James Stadium in 2018 en route to the best fantasy performance from a quarterback in 2018.  The Bears covered not just their team total but also the game total of 46 by themselves back in Week 4.  Fast forward to Week 16 where both the Packers and Jets were out of playoff contention with nothing to lose and possessed secondaries that were hemorrhaging fantasy points to wide receivers.  The teams comfortably hit the total of 47 points in the third quarter as Aaron Rodgers was the QB1 for that week with 45.88 DK points.  

As these two scenarios illustrate, some of the games with lower totals can yield as much fantasy goodness as the low-hanging fruit of the 50+ game totals.  Be prepared for some of those games with the high total to bust as 38 of them did in 2018.  The ability to pivot from the rest of the field when that happens can prove extremely effective if you project low ownership for players in games with lower totals that shows signs of a sneaky shootout.

12 OF THE 17 QUARTERBACKS THREW FOR OVER 300 PASSING YARDS AND THREE OR MORE TOUCHDOWNS

The other five quarterbacks who didn’t meet this benchmark achieved a spot in the perfect lineup by utilizing their legs; Josh Allen comes to mind as he made it in both matchups against a Dolphins team that he slaughtered for a combined 230 rushing yards and two touchdowns.  Rushing upside can compensate for what isn’t achieved through the passing game and makes quarterbacks like Allen and Lamar Jackson intriguing options.  Cam Newton and DeShaun Watson warrant weekly consideration as they can do it with both their arm and legs on a weekly basis.

300 passing yards and three touchdowns equates to 27 DK points, a solid floor that Patrick Mahomes achieved seven times in what was a MVP season for the first-year starter.  Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston combined to do this five times for a Buccaneers offense that struggled mightily to establish any sort of running game.  Put the two of them together and you have the QB2 for 2018.

Whether it’s operating in a pass-heavy offense, facing a stingy rush defense that forces passing attempts, or dueling in a shootout, you’re looking for a quarterback that’s going to sling the ball early and often and produce as this next subject will expand upon.

10 OF THE 17 QUARTERBACKS PLAYED IN GAMES WHERE NO RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS WERE SCORED UNLESS REGISTERED BY THEMSELVES

Excluding the formality of the extra point, these 10 quarterbacks accounted for 84.18% of the points on the scoreboard.  Naturally, this makes perfect sense as a quarterback can throw for 400 yards but without passing or rushing touchdowns to compliment that production, it’s a wasted fantasy effort.  

With a lethal aerial attack but an inefficient running back corps that scored just seven rushing touchdowns, the Buccaneers certainly didn’t have as dynamic of an offense as the Chiefs.  However, whether it was Winston or Fitzpatrick under center, Tampa Bay could throw with the best of them as the two quarterbacks joined to throw for the most passing yards and third most passing touchdowns last year.  Not including the extra point, the two accounted for 68.42% of Tampa Bay’s total points scored.  Depending on who started, each made for a viable quarterback option nearly every week as neither was priced over $6200 at any point.


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15 OF THE 17 QUARTERBACKS WERE PART OF A TEAM STACK

Stacking your quarterback with another teammate should be a fundamental tactic in weekly lineup construction as these figures show.  More likely than not, a quarterback needs a sidekick in order to secure a spot in the perfect lineup.

A QB-WR stack was unsurprisingly the most frequent stack with 10 occurrences, three of them as part of a QB-RB-WR stack.  QB-TE was the other common pairing which happened three times along with a QB-RB and QB-DEF stack each making an appearance once.

14 OF THE 17 QUARTERBACKS PLAYED IN GAMES WITH EXPECTED WIND SPEEDS OF 10 MPH OR LESS 

Of these 14 quarterbacks, nine played in a fast-paced dome where the elements didn’t play a role in the outcome.  When elevated wind speeds, gusts, and inclement weather become a factor in a game, it shrinks the playbook as running games along with dump-offs and short passes increase while deep throws are either reduced or rendered useless in extreme circumstances.

Running backs typically aren’t affected in these conditions as rushing attempts typically rise and they see more work out of the backfield.  Tight ends don’t see much of an effect as you usually don’t see that position stretching the field for 40+ yard completions.  The shorter passing game works in their favor in these circumstances.

As quarterbacks are affected in these situations, so are the wide receivers as 48 of the 55 to make the perfect lineup also played in games with wind speeds of less than 10 mph.  Monitoring weather reports should be a weekly ritual right around Saturday morning heading into Sunday before the first set of games begin.  

82.35% of quarterbacks and 87.27% of wide receivers that were perfect is enough of a correlation to ensure rostering players in ideal passing conditions.  Further, in 42 games with wind speeds over 10 mph or temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit in 2018, the average FPPG of the 84 quarterbacks was 16.56.  The other 150 outdoor games that were played with less than 10 mph winds and no inclement weather saw those 300 quarterbacks post 18.55 FPPG, a +1.99 FPPG differential in outdoor games played in ideal football conditions.

CONCLUSION

2018 may have felt like the year of Mahomes but Matt Ryan and Ben Roethlisberger quietly put together QB2 and QB3 campaigns with the former overcoming what had become drastic home/road splits in prior years.  DeShaun Watson and Andrew Luck returned from their respective injuries to post solid numbers as the QB4 and QB5.

The league won’t directly say they want more games like the Chiefs-Rams slugfest that took place in Week 11 but with more offenses trending towards more pass-centric gameplans, the future of the fantasy quarterback has never looked brighter.  39 different quarterbacks reached 20 fantasy points at some point in 2018 with each team having at least one representative in that club.  As long as this trend continues, it shows that paying down at quarterback can be just as effective as paying up for the top-tier each week.

Welcome to another offseason in which we track how many Sundays until football graces our TVs once again.  The NFL season is such a whirlwind that Week 1 turns into […]

DFS 0

WEEK 16 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS

QUARTERBACK

Baker Mayfield: vs CIN (DK 6100; FD 7700)

Winning.  Direction.  Hope.  These are all words that haven’t been associated with the Cleveland Browns organization in years while the Cincinnati Bengals are heading in the opposite direction of their interstate rivals.  No team allows more fantasy points to quarterbacks than the Bengals and one that Baker Mayfield enjoyed success against in week 12, throwing for four touchdowns.  Cincinnati gave soon-to-be fired Marvin Lewis one last hurrah in front of the home crowd and now winds down the season on the road and may lack motivation in the final two weeks.  Look for Baker to pierce through a porous, uninspired defense in Cleveland’s home finale to begin putting the finishing touches on its most successful season since 2014.

Dak Prescott: vs TB (DK 5700; FD 7300)

Dak Prescott has been lights out in home games since Cooper became a Cowboy, possessing a +7.89 DK point differential at AT&T Stadium and squares off against a Buccaneers defense that surrenders 37 points per road game.  The DFS community may overlook Dak after his dismal week 15 showing which would be foolish considering Dak has eight touchdown passes at home compared to just one on the road since the trade while the Bucs have allowed multiple touchdown passes in all but one road game.  His ability to scramble goes unnoticed at times but one he can utilize as needed as he’s found paydirt five times with his legs.

Nick Foles: vs HOU (DK 4700; FD 6000)

Rostering Nick Foles is like flipping a coin; will he be the quarterback that scorched the Vikings and Patriots en route to a Super Bowl title or will he be the version that struggled immensely against the Raiders on Christmas night and the Falcons in the divisional round?  He will be forced to throw as the Texans defense allows just 66.35 rushing yards per game but has surrendered the 8th most FPA to tight ends this season and the most FPA to perimeter receivers over the last four weeks.  There’s value to be found at other positions this week where you don’t need to necessarily pay down at quarterback.  If your roster construction involves jamming in two expensive backs or inserting as many high-priced options as possible, Foles allows for that strategy in a game where Philadelphia’s success on offense will be predicated on the MVP of Super Bowl 52.

RUNNING BACK

 

Ezekiel Elliott: vs TB (DK 9000; FD 8800)

The last time he didn’t touch the ball at least 25 times was back in week 9 and both DraftKings and FanDuel neglected to raise his salary heading into this juicy matchup.  Ezekiel Elliott has reached 100 scrimmage yards in every game since week 7 and it’s all but a guarantee he will shred a Buccaneers defense en route to another 100 as the last feature back that didn’t reach that mark against Tampa Bay was Nick Chubb back in week 7.  Zeke’s weekly reliability comes at a hefty cost but it’s a cost worth paying up for as he’s returned value in five of the last seven games.

Nick Chubb: vs CIN (DK 7300; FD 7900)

The Bengals have appeared competent against opposing running backs the last two weeks.  Against Nick Chubb, they will revert back to the turnstiles that allowed 100+ rushing yards in seven of the prior eight games.  Running backs against the Bengals have found the end zone with as much ease as Chubb has in the last month, averaging a touchdown per game in his last four.  As 8.5-point favorites (yes, the Browns are favored by more than a touchdown), look for Chubb to have plenty of opportunities to shred this Bengals defense that has been victim to the position throughout 2018.

Marlon Mack: vs NYG (DK 5500; FD 7000)

From a motivational standpoint, the Giants head into Indianapolis with nothing to play for while the Colts need a win to set up a possible showdown with the Titans for the final AFC Wild Card.  Enemy running backs have run for over 100+ rushing yards in six of the last seven against the G-Men and this is a game where Marlon Mack can once again take over as he did against the Cowboys the week before.  The loss of Damon Harrison to the Lions has really taken its toll on a Giants rushing defense that has struggled since the trade and in a game where the Colts are 9-point favorite, Mack will have plenty of touches to manufacture another solid performance.

Jamaal Williams: at NYJ (DK 5400; FD 5800)

At the time of this writing, Jamaal Williams and the recently signed Kapri Bibbs are the only two running backs on the active roster with Williams being the only one familiar with the playbook.  Essentially, you’re getting a running set to play a minimum of 80% of the snaps on a Packers team that is clearly trying to win this game as Aaron Rodgers is expected to suit up in the Meadowlands.  In an offense that is expected to perform much better now that Green Bay doesn’t have to battle with a vaunted Bears defense, this is essentially a free square in a game that the Packers should win for their first road victory of the season.  Williams totaled 97 scrimmage yards and a touchdown on 16 touches in that game at Soldier Field and should see between 18-20 touches this week at a bargain on both sites.

WIDE RECEIVER

DeAndre Hopkins: at PHI (DK 8600; FD 8900)

14.05 yards per reception, the highest target share on the team, the most red zone targets, and a floor of 12 DK points this season; DeAndre Hopkins meets all of the desirable criteria you’d want against an Eagles secondary that is decimated by injuries and can be exploited on the perimeter.  He’s excelled in road games as 7 of his 11 touchdowns and four of his five 100 receiving yard performances have been in hostile territory and it bodes well for Hopkins to continue his road dominance at Lincoln Financial Field.  He’s the second and most expensive option on DraftKings and FanDuel respectively and has a great chance to go off again as he did against the Jets last week.

Amari Cooper: vs TB (DK 7500; FD 7000)

Regression was all but inevitable for Amari Cooper after he destroyed the Eagles in epic fashion.  Like Dak, a good majority of the DFS community will remain sour on Cooper after a disappointing showing in Indianapolis and that’s a scenario to consider rostering him against a Tampa Bay defense that has been killed by wide receivers outside of Raymond James Stadium.  Cooper boasts a +2.17 target differential in games at AT&T Stadium since the trade from Oakland and should feast on a Bucs defense that surrenders a +8.34 FPPG differential in PPR scoring to wide receivers in road games.

Alshon Jeffery: vs HOU (DK 5300; FD 6300)

It lacks logic as to why it may be the case but Alshon Jeffery benefits by having Nick Foles as the starter instead of Carson Wentz.  In 24 games with Wentz under center, Alshon has just one game over 100 receiving yards vs one game over 100 yards in seven Foles starts.  Also, he has a +2.12 FPPG differential in PPR scoring with Foles as the starter, not including the throwaway game in week 17 last year.  These two figures along with a salary that was never adjusted after an excellent performance on Sunday Night Football put him on the DFS radar against a Houston secondary that surrenders the 7th most FPA to perimeter receivers, including the most in the last four weeks.  Given Houston’s proficiency at stopping the run, Foles may be forced to throw more than the 31 passes he tossed against the Rams and Alshon should be the beneficiary of additional targets in a game the Eagles need to win to stay in wild card contention.

Robby Anderson: vs GB (DK 4500; FD 5900)

He leads the team in targets since Sam Darnold returned to action in week 14 and with Quincy Enunwa missing another game against the Packers this weekend, look for Robby Anderson to once again be an integral part of the offense in a favorable matchup.  Anderson will duel with Josh Jackson and Javier Alexander, cornerbacks that are part of a Green Bay secondary that has been hurt by perimeter receivers over the last two months, giving up the 3rd most FPA to receivers on the outside.  It looks like he has recovered from the high-ankle sprain that bothered him earlier in the year and he has another good opportunity to close out 2018 on a good note.

TIGHT END

Eric Ebron: vs NYG (DK 5700; FD 6100)

In two games against Zach Ertz and one game against George Kittle, the Giants surrendered 23 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns, an average of 15.06 FD/18.9 DK points per game.  The Giants are not as horrid as they were to the position last year but have been burned by the top-tier of tight ends in 2018 and Eric Ebron is in that tier, especially when Andrew Luck throws to the tight end at the fourth-highest rate in the league.  Lower ownership will come into play after a one catch, eight yard performance against the Cowboys and given he hasn’t posted back-to-back single-digit DK point games all season, it correlates well for Ebron to rebound from last week’s clunker.  

Evan Engram: at IND (DK 4600; FD 5700)

On the other side of the ball, Evan Engram has benefitted from Odell Beckham’s absence as he’s seen a +3.79 target differential and +39.29 receiving yard differential in those two games.  Indianapolis has allowed just the 9th most FPA to tight ends largely in part because the defense keeps them out of the end zone.  However, the Colts have allowed the 2nd most receptions and most receiving yards to the position and if ODB misses his third straight game, fire up Engram with confidence as the Giants should be playing from behind as 9-point underdogs.

David Njoku: vs CIN (DK 3800; FD 5300)

Paying up for tight end didn’t prove effective in week 15 on the main slate as neither Kittle, Ebron, Gronk, nor Cook eclipsed double-digit fantasy points.  David Njoku is a nice pivot in a good matchup for those unwilling to pay up again at the tight end position.  He’s seeing a floor of four targets in five of the last six games and faces a Bengals team that has given up eight touchdowns to the position.  He crossed the pylons against them in week 12 and if he’s able to do so again this week, Njoku will certainly be on his way to easily returning value.

DEFENSE

Los Angeles Rams: at ARI (DK 3200; FD 4900)

The Cardinals allowed seven sacks, three turnovers, and a defensive score to the Falcons last week and now get to deal with Aaron Donald on Sunday.  The offense has been held to under 20 points in 11 of 14 games and after this date with the Rams, it will become 12 of 15.

Miami: vs JAX (DK 2700; FD 4400)

Take away the Dede Westbrook punt return for a touchdown and the Jaguars have averaged eight points with Cody Kessler as the starter.  Not to mention allowing five sacks and 1.5 turnovers per game in that two-game span.

New Orleans: vs PIT (DK 2300; FD 3500)

Contrary to popular belief, the Steelers have been sluggish offensively, scoring 21 or less in four of the last five games with Big Ben throwing 1.5 interceptions in his last four games.  Meanwhile, the Saints have forced multiple turnovers and kept opponents under 17 points in five of their last six games.

PRICE SHOPPING

Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site.  Here are the notable week 16 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Matt Ryan: 1.96

WR Chris Hogan: 2.23

TE Dallas Goedert: 3.3

TE Kyle Rudolph: 2.36

DEF Jacksonville: 2.6

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Ezekiel Elliott: 3.34

RB Jaylen Samuels: 2.24

WR Amari Cooper: 3.34

QUARTERBACK Baker Mayfield: vs CIN (DK 6100; FD 7700) Winning.  Direction.  Hope.  These are all words that haven’t been associated with the Cleveland Browns organization in years while the Cincinnati […]

DFS 0

WEEK 15 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS


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QUARTERBACK 

Mitchell Trubisky: vs GB (DK 6000; FD 7900)

Glance over the game logs of the Packers and it becomes apparent that they’ve faced weak competition at the quarterback position this season, especially at home.  When removed from the friendly confines of Lambeau Field, they’ve allowed multiple touchdown passes in five of six road games and face a quarterback who has put together three 30+ DK point performances at Soldier Field. 

Not many will start Mitchell Trubisky after posting a dud against the Rams last week but that’s the type of low-rostered individual that can win a GPP if he goes off.  The Packers are in the top 10 in FPA to both receivers lined up on the perimeter and in the slot and with the quality of weapons that he has in his arsenal, expect Trubisky to rebound from his dismal performance on Sunday night.

Tom Brady: at PIT (DK 5900; FD 7900)

The bye week has rejuvenated not just the future first-ballot Hall Of Famer but the New England offense as a whole as prior to the bye, Tom Brady had three 300+ passing yard games along with throwing 1.7 touchdowns and causing .9 turnovers per game in the first 10 weeks.  Since then, he’s thrown for two 300+ yard passing games, six touchdowns, and turned the ball over just once in the last three and duels with a Steelers defense that is stingy against running backs but can be penetrated through the air.  He’s discounted on both sites in a game that has the highest total on the main slate and given Pittsburgh’s effectiveness against running backs on the ground, look for Brady to sling the ball early and often in what could be a high-scoring affair at Heinz Field.

Josh Allen: vs DET (DK 5800; FD 7600)

As long as he continues to use his legs to return value, Josh Allen will be an asset for DFS purposes.  This play doesn’t come without risk as he’s completed just over 50% percent of his throws and turned over the ball five times in three games since returning from injury.  If he can put it all together against a middle of the pack Detroit defense, he is a bargain at his affordable salary.  An Allen, Buffalo defensive stack is in play here as the Lions offense has been anemic with Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson absent from action, scoring no more than 17 points in the last three weeks while turning the ball over five times.  

RUNNING BACK

Saquon Barkley: vs TEN (DK 9400; FD 9400)

He’s proving that he is indeed a generational talent as he hasn’t hit the wall that rookies encounter at this point in the season and is comfortably on pace to reach 2,000 scrimmage yards in his first year at the pro level.  Although the Tennessee defense has surrendered the 2nd fewest FPA to running backs and has improved tremendously from prior year against those out of the backfield, I’ll take my chances on Saquon Barkley who has posted 20+ DK point performances in all but one game. 

The Titans bolstered a respectable defense against running backs last year that Todd Gurley destroyed in week 16 to the tune of 44.6 FD/55.6 DK points and Barkley already possesses the ability and skillset to mimic that performance, even with the maddeningly inconsistent Eli Manning under center.  He’s worth paying up for as he’s all but a lock to touch the ball 20+ times and with Gurley, McCaffery, and Kamara all unavailable on the main slate, he’s worth the roster spot while the rest of the field ponders the tough matchup on paper and gets cute.

Ezekiel Elliott: at IND (DK 9000; FD 8800)

He’s touching the ball a ridiculous 32.5 times per contest in the last four and posting 24.42 FD/31.02 DK points in that span.  The coaching staff has succeeded in getting Ezekiel Elliott more involved out of the backfield and this is before he caught 12 balls in week 14 and now he faces a Colts defense that gives up the second-most receptions to pass catching backs, something to keep in mind in DraftKings scoring.  Jamming in Barkley and Elliott is in play with the lack of reliable running back options this week and with a +10.4 DK point differential since the arrival of Amari Cooper, look for Zeke to continue his second-half dominance.

Leonard Fournette: vs WAS (DK 7500; FD 8200)

Prior to the blowout loss against the Titans and the game he was ejected in Buffalo, Leonard Fournette was touching the ball 29.5 times and he should see that volume again in a game that the Jaguars should easily win with Josh Johnson suiting up as the starter. 

The Washington defense has been hemorrhaging yards on the ground as opposing backs are accumulating 154.25 rushing yards per game in the last four weeks and with Cody Kessler under center, expect another run-heavy gameplan against a team that simply can’t stop the run.  He’s a nice pivot in a great spot from the aforementioned expensive backs and will save at least $1000 in salary on both sites.

David Johnson: at ATL (DK 7100; FD 7400)

The Arizona offensive line is in shambles as three rookies are now thrust into starting action last week and it showed as David Johnson was only able to muster a meager 3.26 yards per carry on 15 attempts.  However, Byron Leftwich is trying everything he can to get his best offensive weapon involved as evidenced by his 25 touches per game in the last five weeks and eight receptions out of the backfield against the Lions. 

Even with a makeshift line, DJ is capable of more than the eight catches for 12 yards he generated in week 14, especially against a Falcons team that allows the most receptions to running backs and has been bitten by this weakness for the better part of two years.  He’s more of a GPP play as the Arizona offense has been a question mark all season but if there was a spot for DJ to erupt, this is the one.

WIDE RECEIVER

JuJu Smith-Schuster: vs NE (DK 8000; FD 7800)

The New England defense is in the bottom half in FPA to wide receivers but can be attacked via the slot receiver as defending the slot has been a challenge for the Patriots.  Enter JuJu Smith-Schuster who is leading the team in receptions and receiving yards and is cheaper than Antonio Brown on both sites. 

Recent slot receivers to face the Patriots like Jermaine Kearse and Adam Thielen have seen double-digit targets and a touchdown in two of the last three weeks while JuJu has seen double-digit targets in three of his last four games and crossed the pylons three times in that timeframe.  Getting exposure to the game with the highest total on the main slate is always a viable strategy, more so when this game is the only one that boasts a total over 50 and inserting JuJu is a great way to do just that.

Julian Edelman: at PIT (DK 7200; FD 7200)

Like their opponent, the Steelers have also been victim to the slot receiver, allowing the 2nd most FPA to those lined up in the slot.  Julian Edelman is seeing nine targets per game and it’s a safe assumption he’ll see at least that amount of volume with Tom Brady forced to throw more against a solid Steelers defense against running backs on the ground and Josh Gordon seeing shadow coverage from Joe Haden.  He’s already exceeded his 2016 touchdown total in nine games played this season and expect Brady to look for Edelman in the red zone as he’s seen the most red zone targets since he has returned from suspension.

Tyler Boyd: vs OAK (DK 5700; FD 6700)

His ceiling definitely drops with Jeff Driskel at the helm but this is about opportunity meeting a reasonable price point.  Fellow slot receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was last seen torching the Raiders and Tyler Boyd is capable of putting together a performance that at least returns value and possibly exceeds it if this game between two terrible defenses generates points on the scoreboard.  As this is the final home game of 2018 and possibly the final time Marvin Lewis coaches at Paul Brown Stadium, expect the Bengals to come out with extra motivation for their head coach and Tyler Boyd to be an integral part of that effort.

Adam Humphries: at BAL (DK 5100; FD 6200)

The Ravens don’t bolster many weaknesses on defense but the two positions that have given them fits are the tight end and the slot receiver.  Baltimore has been lights out against perimeter receivers which should funnel targets in the direction of Adam Humphries who has posted a double-digit fantasy point floor in five of the last seven games.  He’s tied for the team lead with 12 red zone targets, four which he has converted into touchdowns.  Given that Jameis Winston will be expected to throw the ball a ton as the Bucs are 7.5-point underdogs against a tenacious Baltimore defense against running backs, Humphries will be relied upon to move the ball in a tough matchup.

TIGHT END

Eric Ebron: vs DAL (DK 5900; FD 6500)

You could argue he’s still too cheap for the output he’s generated since Jack Doyle went on IR and as long as he remains underpriced, Eric Ebron will be an option worth consideration.  He draws a Cowboys defense that Zach Ertz has carved up twice and the way the Indianapolis offense utilizes the tight end, Ebron should find similar success in a game that could see the teams exchanges blows throughout the afternoon.  He’s as reliable of an option at the position in what has been anything but predictable this year; start him with confidence.

 Rob Gronkowski: at PIT (DK 5800; FD 6900)

His ownership levels are naturally going to skyrocket due to posting his best fantasy performance of the season as well as Kelce and Ertz being off the main slate this week.  However, Rob Gronkowski’s next two opponents are ones that he has crushed throughout his career and it begins with a visit to Heinz Field against a Steelers team that he’s found paydirt eight times in six regular-season meetings while averaging 110.66 receiving yards in those contests.  Tight ends have had their way with Pittsburgh throughout 2018 and an underpriced Gronk on both sites should continue this trend and his dominance of the Steelers.

Anthony Firkser: at NYG (DK 2900; FD 5100)

Even before Jonnu Smith was put on IR, Anthony Firkser has had a solid floor of three catches in the last four weeks.  The only competition he now has for targets at the position are Luke Stocker and MyCole Pruitt, both who have had no more than two receptions in any game in 2018.  Firkser enables the rostering of two or three of the higher-priced options on a main slate where value hasn’t opened up at any of the positions at the time of this writing.  If paying up for Gronk, Ebron, or Cook isn’t an option, Firkser is a punt with upside as he’s shown reliability by catching all 16 passes thrown his way this season.

DEFENSE 

Jacksonville: vs WAS (DK 3400; FD 4800)

Expect a more valiant effort from a Jacksonville defense in front of its fans for the final time in 2018.  With Josh Johnson assuming the starting role for the Redskins, the Jaguars should feast on this backup that saw his first NFL action last week since 2013.

Baltimore: vs TB (DK 3000; FD 5000)

No team has given away the ball more than Tampa Bay’s 31 offensive turnovers through 13 games.  Although the Ravens have forced less than a turnover per game, the chances of multiple Buccaneer turnovers in this game is likely as they’ve turned the ball over multiple times in 9 of 13 games this year.

Chicago: vs GB (DK 2900; FD 3700)

Byron Bell, Bryan Bulaga, and Lane Taylor were all inactive last week en route to Aaron Rodgers being sacked four times against the Falcons.  Taylor could be the only one of the three to suit up for the Packers offensive line which means only good things for a tenacious Chicago defense.  

PRICE SHOPPING

Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site.  Here are the notable week 15 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Aaron Rodgers: 2.1

QB Matt Ryan: 1.8

TE Anthony Firkser: 2.7

DEF Baltimore: 2.33

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Ezekiel Elliott: 3.34

RB Saquon Barkley: 3.14

WR Adam Thielen: 3.54

WR Odell Beckham Jr: 2.87




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QUARTERBACK  Mitchell Trubisky: vs GB (DK 6000; FD 7900) Glance over the game logs of the Packers and it becomes apparent that they’ve faced weak competition at the quarterback position […]

Draft Kings/Fan Duel 2018 0

WEEK 14 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS

QUARTERBACK

Patrick Mahomes: vs BAL (DK 7000; FD 9300)

He’s matchupproof at this point as he’s crushing defenses on a weekly basis and available at a discount on DraftKings.  While the rest of the field debates whether to roster Patrick Mahomes against a stingy Baltimore defense, lock him in without hesitation if extra salary remains.  

Philip Rivers: vs CIN (DK 6500; FD 8300)

With Patrick Mahomes dominating most of the news and headlines coming out of the AFC West, the Chargers have quietly put together an impressive 9-3 record.  Before they square off against the Chiefs in what could be the penultimate game that crowns the division champion, they face a Bengals team that is traveling cross-country and struggling on both sides of the ball.  One stat Philip Rivers can claim that Mahomes cannot is that he has thrown multiple touchdown passes in every game in 2018, including three pass touchdown games in three out of five at the Stubhub Center.  The Chargers average 30 points per game at home while the Bengals allow 31.8 points per game and multiple passing touchdown games in four of five on the road and it’s a solid expectation for Rivers to have his way against this hapless defense that will not be able to shut down this dynamic Chargers offense.

Jameis Winston: vs NO (DK 6200; FD 7700)

The difference between Drew Brees and Jameis Winston is the possibility that either Mark Ingram or Alvin Kamara score a touchdown on the ground as the Saints have 19 rushing touchdowns compared to the nine posted by the Bucs.  With the inefficient running game and Tampa Bay entering the game as 8-point underdogs, it should force Winston to throw at will against a Saints defense that gives up the 4th most FPA to quarterbacks and the most to wide receivers.  It’s hard to go wrong with either quarterback option as this game boasts the highest total on the main slate this week but given the choice between the two, give me the quarterback that should register more passing attempts with the better receiving corps.

RUNNING BACK

Christian McCaffery: at CLE (DK 9300; FD 9100)

Had it not been for four Cam Newton interceptions, Christian McCaffery may have been in line for an even better fantasy performance against the Buccaneers.  Nonetheless, he is certainly in play again this week as the Panthers travel to Cleveland to visit a Browns team that has been crushed by bell-cow backs all season.  The price tag is hefty but certainly worth it for the Carolina running back that is seeing all of the touches and keeping Ron Rivera true to his word back in the summer that McCaffery would be heavily involved.  He’s more than proven he’s gamescript-independent as he is averaging 35.15 FPPG during Carolina’s four-game skid and if they fall behind again to the Browns, he will still have plenty of involvement out of the backfield.

Ezekiel Elliott: vs PHI (DK 8600; FD 8800)

A trademark of the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles was their ability to shut down running backs.  However, that never carried over into 2018 as in two games against Saquon Barkley and a previous matchup against Ezekiel Elliott in week 10, the Eagles surrendered 558 scrimmage yards and five touchdowns in three games to those feature backs.  Adrian Peterson broke off a 90-yard touchdown on Monday Night Football and if the venerable 33 year old can do so, imagine the carnage that a well-rested Zeke could do against a Philadelphia defense traveling to Dallas on a short week.  The addition of Amari Cooper has benefitted not just the entire Cowboys offense but Zeke too as he owns a +9.5 FPPG differential in DK scoring since the trade and this week bodes well for another strong showing in a game that the Cowboys can all but seal the division title with a win.

Austin Ekeler: vs CIN (DK 6200; FD 6700)

Rostering running backs against Cincinnati’s putrid rush defense has become a flow chart item as they’ve allowed seven rushing touchdowns in the last four weeks.  Austin Ekeler is in a nice rebound spot after being contained in Pittsburgh last week and should receive a bulk of the running back touches on Sunday in a game where the Chargers are two-touchdown favorites.  His work out of the backfield gives him a nice floor as he’s seen at least eight targets in the last two games and at this price, it’s hard to find a better bargain at the position other than the next one listed below.

Jaylen Samuels: at OAK (DK 3700; FD 4600)

How long James Conner will be out has yet to be determined as being declared out on the Tuesday morning before a Sunday game is concerning beyond this week.  There is certainty that Jaylen Samuels will be the highest-owned player on the main slate in week 14 at his inexpensive salary against an Oakland defense that has allowed 100+ rushing yards in 9 of 12 games.  In a blowout win against the Panthers in week 10 and last week against the Chargers, he caught touchdowns in both those games and seems like the favorite to receive the backfield work in what could be a committee at running back.  Given the choice between the equally inexpensive Justin Jackson of the Chargers and Samuels, despite Austin Ekeler struggling mightily against the Steelers, Samuels should receive more of the running back touches compared to Jackson and register the required 11.1 DK/13.8 FD points to return value.

WIDE RECEIVER

Keenan Allen: vs CIN (DK 7400; FD 7900)

His second-half resurgence should come as no surprise as he posted a +9.46 FPPG differential in PPR scoring in the second half of the 2017 season.  Now, Keenan Allen has a 9.66 FPPG differential through four games of the second half of 2018 and looks to continue this success against the Bengals.  Philip Rivers has thrown for multiple passing touchdowns in every game this year and considering Allen saw nearly 53% of the targets last week and Melvin Gordon will be inactive again, his chances of crossing the pylons are very good in this spot.  He’s priced as a bargain after a monster performance as the salaries for this week posted while the Chargers were playing on Sunday Night Football and should be rostered with confidence as a core piece in both cash game and GPP lineups.

Amari Cooper: vs PHI (DK 6600; FD 6900)

The Cowboys offense has become a three-headed monster since Amari Cooper was dealt to Dallas and if it’s not Zeke causing havoc to opposing defenses on the ground, it’s the blossoming chemistry between Dak Prescott and his new favorite target.  Cooper has led the team in receptions in four of the five games he has donned the silver and blue and squares off against an Eagles secondary that is battered with injuries and hemorrhages yards to receivers lined up on the perimeter.  This game presents a good opportunity for another performance he displayed on Thanksgiving and it comes at an affordable salary on both sites.

Chris Godwin: vs NO (DK 4900; FD 5600)

Jenna Laine, the Tampa Bay beat reporter for ESPN, suggests that it’s “quite possible” the Bucs shut down DeSean Jackson for the remainder of the 2018 season.  At the time of this writing, nothing has been confirmed but if he does miss the game against the Saints, it’s time to once again fire up Chris Godwin.  Godwin, who was featured in last week’s article, has performed well in DeSean’s absence racking up 15 receptions for 310 yards and two touchdowns in those three missed games.  Eli Apple is definitely an upgrade over Ken Crawley but still beatable and given that Vegas has the Saints giving eight points, it suggests that the Bucs will be throwing often and presenting Godwin with ample opportunity to accumulate targets.

Zay Jones: vs NYJ (DK 4200; FD 5100)

The blooming connection between Josh Allen and Zay Jones certainly precipitated the releases of Kelvin Benjamin and Andre Holmes this week.  Jones will duel with Buster Skrine and a Jets secondary that is surrendering the 3rd most FPA to slot receivers this year and one that he fared well against back in week 10 to the tune of eight catches for 93 yards and a touchdown.  New York has defended extremely well against receivers lined up on the perimeter, giving up the 3rd fewest FPA to outside receivers, which should filter additional targets in the direction of Jones.  He’s not the sexiest name on the main slate but one that has accumulated at least 67 yards and a touchdown in two of his last three games and can allocate salary for one or two of the top-tiered running backs.

TIGHT END

Travis Kelce: vs BAL (DK 6700; FD 8000)

The Ravens are in the top 10 in fewest FPA to nearly every fantasy position in PPR scoring.  However, they are susceptible to opposing tight ends and face arguably the best tight end in football coming off his best game of the season.  DraftKings has aggressively priced down players facing tough defenses all year and like Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce should be priced much higher after posting 42.8 DK points against the Raiders.  If week 13 is an indication of how the Chiefs offense will operate minus Kareem Hunt, Kelce is not only going to make people money in DFS for the remainder of the 2018 campaign but assist people in winning fantasy championships in redraft and dynasty leagues.

Eric Ebron: at HOU (DK 5700; FD 6400)

The Browns weren’t able to get David Njoku as involved as they needed to against a Texans defense that had really struggled against the position three weeks prior to that game.  However, that shouldn’t be an issue for Eric Ebron as only a few offenses target the tight end more than the Colts.  It remains to be seen whether Mo Alie-Cox and the recently acquired Clive Walford will be active this week but without those tight ends available for Indianapolis in week 13, Ebron saw a massive 16 targets.  Not to mention Jack Doyle also being out for the rest of the season but Ebron should be in line for double-digit targets once again regardless if Alie-Cox or Walford suit up or not.

Vance McDonald: at OAK (DK 3800; FD 5500)

Travis Kelce and Demetrius Harris combined for a 15 catch, 207 yard, and three touchdown slaughtering of the Raiders last week.  Enter the Steelers who were already operating in a pass-heavy offense before the James Conner injury as Ben Roethlisberger has 40 or more passing attempts in five of the last seven games.  AB and JuJu will certainly get their looks but after the beating the Raiders took from tight ends the previous Sunday, look for the Steelers to implement their tight ends as well.  Vance McDonald has seen five targets in four of the last five games and all he needs to hit 3x on DraftKings is three catches for 25 yards and a score which is within his range of outcomes.  He’s as cheap as I’m willing to go this week in what has been a tough position to forecast this season aside from the top four or five at the position.

DEFENSE

Los Angeles Chargers: vs CIN (DK 3500; FD 4600)

The Bengals have lost both A.J. Green and Andy Dalton for the season and the struggles on offense against the Broncos don’t look to improve in enemy territory, especially with Jeff Driskel under center.  The Chargers have forced at least one turnover in 10 of 12 games and are positioned well to make it 11 of 13 this weekend.

Buffalo: vs NYJ (DK 3200; FD 4200)

Sam Darnold and his 15 turnovers in 9 games returns as the starter against a Bills defense that held the Jets to 10 points in their previous meeting in week 10.  Buffalo is forcing 1.5 turnovers and sacking the quarterback 2.5 times per game in their last four.

New York Giants: at WAS (DK 2500; FD 3500)

Though it dates back to 2014, in the 10 games that Mark Sanchez has started, he’s turned the ball over 16 times.  In typical Sanchez fashion, he threw a pick in Monday night’s game while filling in for Colt McCoy and the odds of him turning the ball over this week are very favorable as he’s been prone to doing so throughout his career.

PRICE SHOPPING

Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site.  Here are the notable week 14 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

TE Chris Herndon: 3.16

TE Ian Thomas: 2.76

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Christian McCaffery: 3.24

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster: 3.9

WR Michael Thomas: 3.34

QUARTERBACK Patrick Mahomes: vs BAL (DK 7000; FD 9300) He’s matchupproof at this point as he’s crushing defenses on a weekly basis and available at a discount on DraftKings.  While […]

DFS 0

WEEK 13 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS


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QUARTERBACK

Cam Newton: at TB (DK 6600; FD 8700)

It’s hard to go wrong with the QB1 in fantasy football through 12 weeks in Patrick Mahomes or the 2015 MVP in Cam Newton.  Cam provides salary relief on both sites and at least the Buccaneers can score and keep the game close compared to what should be a one-sided affair in the Chiefs, Raiders matchup.  Don’t let Nick Mullen’s lackluster performance fool you into thinking Tampa Bay can play any semblance of defense because that defensive unit is awful.  The formula remains unchanged and Cam Newton will prove yet again that targeting the Buccaneers against fantasy quarterbacks is still a viable strategy.

Jameis Winston: vs CAR (DK 6000; FD 7500)

He’s thrown for over 300 yards in three of the four games he has started and meets a divisional foe that has given up nine games of multiple passing touchdowns.  Jameis Winston has the weapons on the outside in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Godwin against a Panthers secondary that is exploitable on the perimeter and is part of a pass-heavy offense that should give the Panthers a run for their money in this potential shootout.  The risk in 2018 has been the rotation at quarterback at a moment’s notice but at this point, Tampa Bay’s front office needs to determine if he will be in their future plans that Winston being benched shouldn’t occur anymore.  He and the quarterback to be described below are two of the better mid-tier priced quarterback options on the main slate this week.

Lamar Jackson: at ATL (DK 5900; FD 7500)

He was still able to return value on both sites despite the Ravens defense keeping the offense off the field by forcing both a fumble and punt return for a touchdown against the Raiders.  Lamar Jackson has averaged an astounding 12.5 fantasy points with just his running ability in his first two NFL starts and now gets a Falcons defense that allows the second-most passing touchdowns and the second-most rushing touchdowns to quarterbacks.  Rostering the quarterback from Louisville comes with risk in the case that he doesn’t manufacture a touchdown which occurred in his first start against the Bengals.  Nonetheless, Jackson’s dynamic ability to scramble out of the pocket, as evidenced by his 39 yard run in the 4th quarter this past Sunday, makes him worth consideration for rostering at his reasonable salary for a third straight week.

RUNNING BACK

Christian McCaffery: at TB (DK 8800; FD 8800)

One of the deterrents in rostering Christian McCaffery this week will be the soaring ownership levels after an incredible 41.2 FD/52.7 DK performance in a loss against the Seahawks.  However, not rostering him can prove detrimental against this Buccaneers team that has allowed 641 scrimmage yards and six touchdowns to the position over the last four weeks.  McCaffery has handled 92.6% of the running back touches in this same timeframe including all of them in week 12.  Simply put, the Buccaneers defense has no ability to slow him down and paying up for CMC gets you the running back that posted three touchdowns against them four weeks ago.

Kareem Hunt: at OAK (DK 7800; FD 8900)

The last time Oakland gave up less than 100 rushing yards to the running back position was way back in week 6 against the Chargers.  If Gus Edwards can log 100 yards on the ground, Kareem Hunt shouldn’t find this task too challenging in a much more efficient Kansas City offense.   Back to his days with Philadelphia, teams led by Andy Reid have performed well following the bye week and against a terrible Raiders team that the Chiefs are favored to defeat by more than two touchdowns, there shouldn’t be any threat of an upset.  As long as that plays out, Hunt will be in line for plenty of work throughout the duration of this game.

Aaron Jones: vs ARI (DK 6700; FD 7600)

Like the Bucs and Raiders, attacking the Cardinals with running backs is in play each week, especially after Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler slaughtered them for 169 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns on the ground.  Enter Aaron Jones who has assumed the bell-cow duties for the Packers following their bye week and it correlates well for him to be a one-man wrecking crew against this Cardinals team that has allowed at least 75 rushing yards in every game this season.  He’s crossed the pylons six times since he was entrusted with the feature back duties and he has one of the highest Week 14 touchdown potentials-with the Packers favored by two touchdowns.

Phillip Lindsay: at CIN (DK 5400; FD 7000)

Andy Dalton is on season-ending IR, the Bengals were defeated by their in-state rivals for the first time in four years, and the inevitability of firing Marvin Lewis looms in the horizon.  The Bengals are a mess and it sets up well for the Broncos to head into Paul Brown Stadium and continue Cincinnati’s downward spiral.  Phillip Lindsay continues to dominate the touches over Royce Freeman and gets a Bengals defense this week that hemorrhages yardages and touchdowns on the ground.  11 carries for 60 yards has been the floor for Lindsay over the last five weeks with five rushing touchdowns in that span.  He has a solid floor that is slightly touchdown-dependent but has a great chance of crossing the pylons this week as the Bengals have allowed at least one rushing touchdown in six straight games.

WIDE RECEIVER 

Adam Thielen: at NE (DK 8000; FD 8100)

The Patriots have fared much better against receivers lined up on the perimeter as of late but are still susceptible to those lined up in the slot.  If New England determines that Stefon Diggs (if he plays) is the bigger threat and focuses on taking him out of the game, it’s going to open up more opportunities for Adam Thielen to slaughter this defense that surrenders the 5th most FPA to slot receivers.  He’s discounted on both sites this week after his 9th 100+ receiving yard game as the Vikings played on Sunday night.  Thielen is seeing 11.27 targets per game and it’s safe to expect double-digit targets again as the Vikings travel to Gillette Stadium as 5-point underdogs and may be required to play catch-up.

Kenny Golladay: vs LAR (DK 6700; FD 7300)

With Marvin Jones and Golden Tate removed from the equation, it leaves Kenny Golladay as Matthew Stafford’s best receiving option for the remainder of the season.  Since the Tate trade, Golladay has been peppered with targets, averaging 10 of them in those four games and now with Jones on IR, that number has a chance to rise.  This young receiver possesses the ability to break off a deep shot for a score against a Rams secondary that has been torched over the last month and one that is tied for last with the Raiders in allowing 12 pass plays of 40+ yards.  Vegas has Detroit as 10-point underdogs at home and it’s safe to say that the Lions could be playing from behind where Golladay will be counted on to get the Lions back in it.

Emmanuel Sanders: at CIN (DK 6300; FD 7000)

Truth be told, he could have done more damage against the Steelers if not for a few drops that he should have brought in.  Nonetheless, Emmanuel Sanders performed well against his former mates and now faces a Cincinnati defense that won’t be able to keep up with his daunting speed.  Recent receivers that have amassed the required 20+ fantasy points to hit 3x this week against this porous secondary include Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans, and Michael Thomas.  Evans ripped off a 72 yard shot for a score, something that is within the skillset of this speedy Broncos receiver who should have his way at Paul Brown Stadium.

Chris Godwin: vs CAR (DK 3900; FD 5400)

This play is certainly contingent on DeSean Jackson being unable to play on Sunday with a thumb injury.  In the final two games that Jackson missed in 2017, Chris Godwin posted 10 receptions for 209 yards and a touchdown in his absence.  Of course, Mike Evans will be the first receiving option but Godwin has shown he can be a reliable option and this weekend will battle opposite James Bradberry and Donte Jackson, cornerbacks that are responsible for Carolina allowing the 7th most FPA to receivers lined up on the perimeter.  If DeSean plays this weekend, it nullifies Godwin’s ceiling as they will eat into each other’s targets.  If he warms the bench, Godwin has the potential to do some serious damage at an inexpensive salary.

TIGHT END

David Njoku: at HOU (DK 4300; FD 5500)

He performed as he should have against a hapless Bengals defense and now faces a Houston one that also has its struggles against tight ends.  The Texans are surrendering a floor of seven catches for 71 yards and a touchdown to the position in the last three games; Jonnu Smith comes to mind as the latest to victimize that defense.  Ideally, more targets would provide more comfort as David Njoku hasn’t seen at least six in a game since week 7.  Yet, if he can continue to capitalize on the targets he does receive, catching 90.9% of since them since that game against Tampa Bay, he can prove viable in this spot at a reasonable salary on both sites.

Eric Ebron: at JAX (DK 4200; FD 5600)

Enjoy his lowest salary for the rest of the season as the week 13 salaries had already posted when Jack Doyle was placed on season-ending IR on Monday.  Eric Ebron benefits from being part of an Indianapolis offense that has thrown the most touchdown passes to tight ends and now that Doyle is out of the picture, he will assume additional snaps and volume.  He averaged 10 targets from week 3 to week 7 when Doyle was inactive vs 3.66 when he was on the field and it bodes well this week against a Jaguars team that had surrendered six touchdowns in three games to tight ends prior to their matchup against the Bills last week.

Matt LaCosse: at CIN (DK 2500; FD 4700)

He’s the bare minimum on DraftKings as Jeff Heuerman will miss the rest of the season but this is anything but a punt play.  Matt LaCosse encounters a Bengals team that gives up the 2nd most FPA to tight ends and allowed both David Njoku and Darren Fells to score touchdowns last week.  He made his presence felt right away by hauling in his first career touchdown against the Steelers when Heuerman succumbed to injury.  Returning value in this spot on DraftKings should be simple for LaCosse as all he needs is a few catches for some yardage against this Bengals defense that is in competition to be one of the worst units in the history of the league.

DEFENSE

Green Bay: vs ARI (DK 2800; FD 4400)

The Cardinals have eclipsed 20 points just twice this year, a perfect recipe for a Green Bay defense that possesses a +9.8 FPPG differential in games played at Lambeau Field.  The Packers have sacked the quarterback multiple times in every home game as well as forced multiple turnovers in three of five, something to keep in mind as Josh Rosen has thrown at least one interception in six straight games.

Denver: at CIN (DK 2700; FD 4500)

Jeff Driskel is now the starting quarterback for the Bengals and we’re not sure which A.J. Green will return Sunday now that he’s declared himself ready to play.  Both of these facts downgrade the Bengals offense against a Broncos defense that forces 1.63 turnovers and three sacks per contest.

Kansas City: at OAK (DK 2500; FD 4300)

The Chiefs have forced at least five sacks as well as multiple turnovers in three of their last four games.  They travel to the Black Hole to duel with an Oakland offense that is scoring 12.25 points per game in the last four weeks and has allowed 4.75 sacks per game in that same timeframe.

PRICE SHOPPING

Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site.  Here are the notable week 13 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Matt Ryan: 2.96

QB Andrew Luck: 2.06

TE Matt LaCosse: 2.86

TE Ricky Seals-Jones: 2.86

DEF Kansas City: 2.16

DEF Denver: 2.1

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Christian McCaffery: 3.14

RB Todd Gurley: 2.27

RB Dalvin Cook: 2.07

WR Tyreek Hill: 4.2


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QUARTERBACK Cam Newton: at TB (DK 6600; FD 8700) It’s hard to go wrong with the QB1 in fantasy football through 12 weeks in Patrick Mahomes or the 2015 MVP […]

DFS 0

WEEK 12 DRAFTKINGS/FANDUEL SELECTIONS

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QUARTERBACK

Cam Newton: vs SEA (DK 6200; FD 8600)

When a team faces the quality of quarterbacks that the Seahawks did in the first six weeks, it would be shocking if they didn’t allow the third-fewest FPA to the position.  Their last four games may be more an indication that the legion of boom no longer exists as they’ve surrendered multiple passing touchdowns in four straight games along with 300+ passing yards in three of the last four.  Cam has been lights out, throwing for multiple passing touchdowns in nine straight and while the rushing hasn’t been there the last two weeks, his legs are always in play and can alter the outcome of any game.  Against a Seattle team that is flying cross-country on Thanksgiving weekend, expect Cam to continue his incredible 2018 campaign in a game that the Panthers must have to end a two-game losing skid.

Lamar Jackson: vs OAK (DK 5700; FD 7400)

Oakland has more than had its struggles against running backs as that defense has allowed the most rushing yards to the position and now faces a quarterback that scrambled 27 times for 117 yards.  Lamar Jackson posted 16.7 fantasy points without contributing a touchdown against the Bengals in week 11 and should find success against an equally bad Oakland defense.  He nearly returned value with just his legs at $4700 last week and at his affordable week 12 salary, Jackson should run the ball at will again and hopefully throw or scramble for a score or two.

Andy Dalton: vs CLE (DK 5300; FD 7500)

Some of Andy Dalton’s best games have come against Cleveland at Paul Brown Stadium, throwing for multiple touchdown passes in five of seven career home games against his divisional rival.  The Browns have given up 300+ passing yards and multiple touchdown passes in three of the last four games and Dalton has a good shot at making it four of the last five.  Returning value shouldn’t be an issue here as a 20+ fantasy point performance is certainly in play against this Browns defense that started 2018 strong but has reverted back to their old ways.  Not to mention A.J. Green returning to the offense provides Dalton with his favorite receiver once again.

RUNNING BACK

Melvin Gordon: vs ARI (DK 8600; FD 8900)

A trio of Oakland running backs found success against an Arizona defense that has allowed 100+ rushing yards in 7 of 10 games.  Melvin Gordon should be in for a big day as the Cardinals have struggled to contain backs on the ground; performances from Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley come to mind.  His work out of the backfield is a valuable asset as he hasn’t seen fewer than four targets in any game this season and he should heavily relied upon as the Chargers are 12-point favorites heading into Sunday.  

Joe Mixon: vs CLE (DK 6800; FD 7300)

He averages 20.25 carries in games that the Bengals win compared to 11.75 in games that they lose and if you believe the Bengals will win this game, Joe Mixon will certainly play a major role.  The Browns are giving up the second-most touchdowns on the ground and have surrendered multiple rushing touchdowns in half of their games played.  Cleveland hasn’t won a road game since 2015 and it further reiterates the point above that if the Bengals win this game, it will involve Mixon touching the ball at least 20 times.  Start him with confidence.

Matt Breida: at TB (DK 5700; FD 6400)

Saquon Barkley single-handedly demolished the Buccaneers to the tune of 152 scrimmage yards and three touchdowns.  Matt Breida now faces this Tampa Bay defense that has squandered the most touchdowns to running backs and with Raheem Mostert on IR, he is the best running back option that the 49ers possess.  Alfred Morris was highly inefficient against the Giants, averaging 2.11 yards per carry compared to Breida’s 5.94 and won’t see the touches out of the backfield that Breida does.  The Bucs have been attacked by both running backs on the ground and through the air and Breida can certainly cause some damage in this game at an affordable salary on both sites. 

Marlon Mack: vs MIA (DK 5500; FD 7000)

He’s $500 cheaper this week on DraftKings in a matchup against a Miami defense that continues to hemorrhage yards on the ground to running backs, allowing at least 100 rushing yards and a touchdown in 7 of 10 games.  Aaron Jones shredded the Dolphins prior to Miami’s bye week and the Colts should continue to exploit this weakness and utilize Marlon Mack early and often.  He’s been boom or bust thus far but has been electric in games against Oakland and Buffalo when he’s really gone off.  His salary on both sites is affordable and should see ownership across the board in this amazing spot.

WIDE RECEIVER

Odell Beckham Jr: at PHI (DK 8800; FD 8500)

Some of the names that were part of the Eagles secondary that Drew Brees torched included Chandon Sullivan, De’Vante Bausby, and Cre’Von LeBlanc.  Odell Beckham Jr should have a field day against this depleted unit that allowed 373 passing yards in a blowout loss to New Orleans.  He has enjoyed playing at Lincoln Financial Field, scoring 24.66 FPPG in his last three in South Philadelphia and Eli should look to him for double-digit targets in this juicy matchup.  OBJ is the highest-priced receiver on the week 12 main slate on both sites but is worth the price of admission as targeting the Philadelphia secondary will be a part of lineup construction for the remainder of the season.

Julian Edelman: at NYJ (DK 7000; FD 7400)

He’s averaging 9.33 targets per game and has seen double-digit targets in three straight as the Patriots come off the bye to square off against a Jets defense that is giving up the 4th most FPA to slot receivers.  Julian Edelman has been one of Tom Brady’s favorite weapons for years and he should be targeted often while lining up opposite Buster Skrine, a slot corner that has been anything but impressive in 2018.  A touchdown from Edelman would be incredible as he’s crossed the pylons just five times in his last 22 regular season games.  However, he has a solid floor of 12.7 fantasy points through six games and if he continues to see the volume that he had prior to the bye, he should post solid numbers in this divisional tilt.

Jarvis Landry: at CIN (DK 5900; FD 6100)

His salary certainly stands out as it’s the cheapest it has been since the opener.  Jarvis Landry was seeing double-digit targets in six straight games before the last two in which Baker Mayfield has thrown his way just 12 times.  Perhaps a meeting with Cleveland’s cross-state rival will get Landry on the right track as Cincinnati is providing the 8th most FPA to slot receivers.  He has always been a target hog from his days as a Dolphin and it’s hard to envision him going three straight games without double-digit tosses in his direction.

Emmanuel Sanders: vs PIT (DK 5500; FD 6900)

He’s currently the top receiver on the Denver roster with the departure of Demaryius Thomas and is now the cheapest he has been on DraftKings since week 1.  Emmanuel Sanders has been contained over the last three games but still possesses a solid floor of 9.1 fantasy points considering he can be absolutely lethal one week and totally quiet the next.  He will spend a good amount of time running routes against Mike Hilton and a Pittsburgh defense that surrenders the 2nd most FPA to slot receivers.  The revenge narrative played a role in two meetings between Sanders and his former squad as he posted a 15/266/1 clip in 2015.  If you believe that he will have extra motivation again on Sunday, then it sets up well for a strong performance in the Mile High City.

TIGHT END

George Kittle: at TB (DK 6200; FD 7500)

One could argue that George Kittle is filling the void that Gronk left behind in being one of the top three tight ends in football to this point.  This week presents Kittle with another opportunity to build on a strong 2018 season against a Buccaneers defense that has allowed at least 50 yards in all but one game to opposing tight ends and the 3rd most FPA to the position.  Nick Mullens has shown a preference to him as he’s been the leading receiver in both games since filling in for C.J. Beathard and given the Bucs allow points on the scoreboard in chunks, Kittle should be able to find the end zone at least once this week.

David Njoku: at CIN (DK 3800; FD 5100)

This is the cheapest he has been on DraftKings since week 6 as he’s averaged a disappointing 1.66 catches for 23.66 yards in his last three games.  David Njoku draws a Bengals team that hasn’t fared well against tight ends, giving up the 4th most FPA to the position.  The Cincinnati defense is on pace to be one of the worst in NFL history and allows 7.6 targets per game to tight ends.  Njoku should find more involvement in week 12 compared to his last three games, seeing just a minuscule six targets in that timeframe.  

Cameron Brate: vs SF (DK 3600; FD 4400)

O.J. Howard being moved to IR opens up the door for Cameron Brate to rediscover the chemistry he and Jameis Winston once had.  The two of them had connected for 14 touchdowns from 2016 to 2017 prior to Howard seeing the most tight end snaps in 2018.  The Tampa Bay offense prioritizes the tight end position as Howard and Brate have combined for eight touchdowns through 10 games and with the news about Howard occurring after the week 12 salaries released, Brate is available at a discount this week.  Expect high ownership at this inexpensive salary against a 49ers defense that hasn’t faced a tough tight end schedule to this point but has been shredded by Travis Kelce and Jimmy Graham earlier in the year.

DEFENSE

Baltimore: vs OAK (DK 3300; FD 5000)

The Raiders have allowed 16 sacks in their last three games, plenty of opportunity for a strip sack for a defensive score.  They’ve also scored less than two touchdowns in half of their games in 2018 which is at least four fantasy points on DraftKings and FanDuel.  A Lamar Jackson-Baltimore stack can prove viable against this depleted Oakland offense that is missing components that played in week 1 against the Rams.

Indianapolis: vs MIA (DK 2900; FD 4400)

In what has been a resurgence for Andrew Luck and the Colts offense, the defense has quietly put together a better season than the prior year, forcing at least one turnover in every game this year.  They face a Miami offense that is giving up double-digit sacks in six of its last seven games and allowed four of five fantasy defenses to post double-digit performances away from Hard Rock Stadium.

Buffalo: vs JAX (DK 2700; FD 4000)

The Bills come off their bye against a Jaguars team that comes limping into this matchup as losers of six straight games.  Jacksonville has scored over 20 points just once on this skid and have turned the ball over in every game in 2018.  Not to mention the Bills owe the Jags for knocking them out of the playoffs last year.

PRICE SHOPPING

Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site.  Here are the notable week 12 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Philip Rivers: 2.23

QB Cam Newton: 1.93

RB Frank Gore: 2.13

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB James Conner: 2.44

WR Odell Beckham Jr: 3.44

QUARTERBACK Cam Newton: vs SEA (DK 6200; FD 8600) When a team faces the quality of quarterbacks that the Seahawks did in the first six weeks, it would be shocking […]

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DFS: Week 11 Draft Kings & Fan Duel Values, Favorite Plays & Bargain Bin Picks

QUARTERBACK

Drew Brees: vs PHI (DK 6500; FD 8500)

A game total of 56.5, a team total of 32.5, the home dome, and an injured Eagles secondary; what more could you ask for in this spot?  The only question is the willingness to pay up for the 1st and 2nd most expensive quarterback on DraftKings and FanDuel respectively that has scored 30+ fantasy points in three of his first four home games.  The dream scenario is the Eagles being able to live up to their end of the bargain offensively in this potential shootout.  The floor is 17.6 fantasy points at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this year for Drew Brees but it’s a safe expectation for at least 25 in this incredible spot.

Cam Newton: at DET (DK 6200; FD 8600)

The Lions have allowed multiple touchdown passes in seven of nine games while Cam Newton has thrown for multiple touchdowns in eight straight.  His rushing upside makes him worthy of consideration even against a Detroit defense that has allowed the fewest rushing yards to quarterbacks thus far.  The wheels look like they have fallen off during the Lions three game losing streak and after a shellacking courtesy of the Steelers, the Panthers come into Ford Field needing this game to keep pace with the Saints.  Cam should continue to play at the level that won him the MVP in 2015.

Lamar Jackson: vs CIN (DK 4700; FD 7000)

DraftKings is usually the site that is on top of salary adjustments due to injuries and much to my surprise, they never adjusted Lamar Jackson’s salary to one that reflects a starter.  At his $4700 on DraftKings, he possesses such sheer running ability that he could return value just with his legs alone.  He faces a Cincinnati defense that just gave up 51 points to the Saints and subsequently fired defensive coordinator Teryl Austin.  It’s a great spot for him to make his first NFL start and one that shouldn’t be difficult to return value at his inexpensive price tag.  The question will be how much carnage can he create by running the ball himself and whether he is officially named the starter, something that has not happened at the time of this writing on Friday afternoon.

RUNNING BACK 

Saquon Barkley: vs TB (DK 8700; FD 8800)

The Buccaneers have allowed 25+ FD/30+ DK point performances to Joe Mixon, Christian McCaffery, and Alvin Kamara and in those games, each of them crossed the pylons at least twice.  Saquon Barkley is on pace to just miss posting 2,000 scrimmage yards in his rookie year but a date against this Tampa Bay defense may be just what he needs to stay on track for that accomplishment.  He has no competition for running back touches as he’s seen 94.5% of them in the G-Men’s last three games and he will have plenty of work whether the Giants lead or trail in this game.  

Ezekiel Elliott: at ATL (DK 8500; FD 8400)

He’s an absolute must-start on both sites but FanDuel has him underpriced for the damage he will inflict upon an Atlanta defense that gave up a combined 265 scrimmages yards and three touchdowns to Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson last week.  Ezekiel Elliott is averaging six targets per game, an ideal number against a Falcons team that has traditionally struggled against pass catching backs.  He more than possesses the ability to duplicate Chubb’s performance on the ground and if he does, Elliott is in a prime spot for another 25 FD/30 DK point performance.

David Johnson: vs OAK (DK 7500; FD 7900)

The signs were there against the 49ers before Arizona’s bye and now we know for certain David Johnson is free from the unimaginative offensive mind of Mike McCoy.  Byron Leftwich knows how to utilize Johnson’s dynamic skillset as he looked to him on 30 of the 73 offensive snaps and posted 183 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns against a Kansas City defense that has been awful against running backs.  It only gets better against an Oakland one that’s allowed 100+ rushing yards in seven of nine games and if week 10 was any indication how the Arizona offense will operate, DJ should be in for another monster performance at a discounted price on both sites.

Dion Lewis: at IND (DK 4800; FD 5900)

The Titans never trailed in their victory against the Patriots which took away any negative gamescript that Dion Lewis could have worked with.  Not to mention Derrick Henry vulturing him out of two touchdowns but Lewis still touched the ball 11 more times and he’s the running back to roster against a Colts defense allowing the third-most targets and receptions along with the fourth-most receiving yards to running backs.  That’s 10.28 FD/14.20 DK points per game that the Colts allow to pass catching backs and Lewis should be the sole beneficiary as Henry has seen just 10 targets all year.  This game sets up as a trap for Tennessee after winning a game that not many thought they would and if they get caught smelling themselves, expect them to trail which sets Lewis up to rebound from last week at a much lower ownership.

Check out the Top 2 Staff Preview Week 11

WIDE RECEIVER

Michael Thomas: vs PHI (DK 8800; FD 8800)

Ronald Darby has been lost for the year to a torn ACL, Jalen Mills will miss this game, and Sidney Jones is banged up as he missed the Sunday night game following a bye week.  The cornerback situation is bleak for Philadelphia and it couldn’t set up any better for Michael Thomas who averages 12.5 targets per game at home, a +5.1 target differential in games played at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. As mentioned above, the Eagles keeping up on offense would make this spot even more attractive but even if they don’t, he should have more than enough opportunities to tear apart this injury-riddled secondary.  It’s another excellent spot for Thomas who finishes the 2018 campaign by playing against teams in the top half in FPA to wide receivers in six of his last seven games.

Keenan Allen: vs DEN (DK 6700; FD 7600)

This is the lowest he has been priced on DraftKings this year and he is underpriced as he is facing a “tough” Broncos defense.  The Broncos have allowed the 4th most FPA to slot receivers over the last three weeks and this is where Keenan Allen spends half of his snaps.  He draws the majority of the wide receiver targets and is certainly due for positive regression in touchdowns as he scored his second one of the season last week.  Allen has a good chance to find the end zone for the second week in a row at a reasonable cost against a Broncos team that has allowed a minimum of 27 points in three of their first four road games.

T.Y. Hilton: vs TEN (DK 6100; FD 6800)

Not only were the 2017 Colts in the top three in tight end target share but also the 2017 Eagles under offensive coordinator Frank Reich.  It’s no surprise that the Colts have maintained their membership in this club with Reich as the Colts head coach but considering the Titans have effectively shut down running backs and tight ends, this may be T.Y. Hilton’s breakout game.  The way to attack the Tennessee defense is through the wide receiver as they surrender the 9th most FPA to the position.  He will spend time opposite Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson who have been solid thus far but he should capitalize on snaps in Malcolm Butler’s coverage.  Reich has quietly revitalized Andrew Luck’s career as he’s thrown the second-most touchdown passes in the league and while a majority have been to the tight end, Hilton should be able to cross the pylons for the fifth time on Sunday.

Amari Cooper: at ATL (DK 5400; FD 6600)

He simply improves the Dallas offense just being another weapon that defenses have to account for other than Ezekiel Elliott.  While boom or bust in six games prior to the trade with the Raiders, Amari Cooper has shown more consistency with a floor of five catches off eight targets for 58 yards in two games with the Cowboys.  Like Keenan Allen, his salary on both sites is too cheap against an Atlanta defense that is not just decimated with injuries but has given up an average of 3.77 pass plays per game of over 20 yards.  That figure would be much higher if the Falcons had any capability of stopping running backs that have also slaughtered this defense.  Cooper is seeing 28.1% of the team’s targets since the trade and finds himself with an opportunity for a ceiling game in a fast-paced Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

TIGHT END

Zach Ertz: at NO (DK 6600; FD 7600)

He has seen at least nine targets in all but one game and he’s arguably Carson Wentz’s most trusted weapon on offense in a game with the highest total on the main slate this week.  Not to mention Zach Ertz is totally underpriced on both sites after his dominating performance on Sunday Night Football.  Although the Saints have allowed just one tight end to score this year, Ertz’s reliability and heavy involvement in the Philadelphia offense make him worth the price of admission.  He’s the Eagle I have the most confidence in performing to and exceeding his fantasy point projections and with Travis Kelce off the board, expect him to be heavily rostered across cash games and GPPs. 

Vance McDonald: at JAX (DK 4000; FD 5500)

In keeping Alshon Jeffery and T.Y. Hilton to a combined seven receptions for 125 yards in the last two games, the Jacksonville defense has been slaughtered by the tight end position to the tune of five touchdowns.  While Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster battle it out with a tenacious Jaguars secondary, it’s going to leave Vance McDonald open often in the middle of the field.  He’s experienced success against this defense as he posted 10 catches for 112 yards in the divisional round last season and if you’re unable to roster Zach Ertz, McDonald is a nice pivot at a reasonable cost with excellent upside.

Jordan Reed: vs HOU (DK 3800; FD 5400)

While it’s discouraging he hasn’t found the end zone since week 1, the targets have been there for Jordan Reed as he’s seen a minimum of six in four of the last five games; only Zach Ertz and Travis Kelce have also seen that volume in that span.  Then again, the passing options that Alex Smith has available keep dwindling due to injury and against a stingy Houston rush defense, it will force him to throw the ball more.  This is the lowest his salary has been all year and given the tight end position is highly touchdown-dependent outside of Ertz and Kelce, you could do worse than Jordan Reed as two catches for 30 yards and a touchdown returns value.  This is absolutely within the range of outcomes for what should be a lowly-owned Reed after a disappointing performance against a Tampa Bay defense that should have been a better spot.

DEFENSE

Arizona: vs OAK (DK 3100; FD 4000)

The Raiders are spotting fantasy defenses at least four points in four of the last five weeks because they aren’t scoring more than 14 points.  There are serious offensive woes when Jalen Richard is arguably the best weapon on offense, not to mention Martavis Bryant and Jordy Nelson are both not expected to suit up in this game.

Carolina: at DET (DK 2800; FD 4000)

Detroit’s offensive line has struggled in the last three weeks, giving up 6.33 sacks per game, along with the offense turning the ball over 2.33 turnovers per game in that span.  That’s a good amount of opportunity to force a defensive score and Carolina won’t be rostered by many after allowing 51 points to the Steelers.

Houston: at WAS (DK 2600; FD 4700)

Geron Christian, Brandon Scherff, and Shawn Lauvao are all out for the season while Trent Williams is not expected to play in this game against the Texans.  The pricing disparity between the sites is outrageous given the injuries to the Washington offensive line that it makes the Texans a must-start on DraftKings and absolutely worthy of consideration if extra salary remains on FanDuel.

PRICE SHOPPING

Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site.  Here are the notable week 11 bargains from both sites:

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Lamar Jackson: 2.26

QB Cam Newton: 1.93

RB Mark Ingram: 2.43

WR Brandon LaFell: 2.36

DEF Houston: 2.63

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Ezekiel Elliott: 3

RB Joe Mixon: 2.04

WR Michael Thomas: 2.94

WR John Brown: 2.8

WR Odell Beckham Jr: 2.64

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QUARTERBACK Drew Brees: vs PHI (DK 6500; FD 8500) A game total of 56.5, a team total of 32.5, the home dome, and an injured Eagles secondary; what more could […]

Draft Kings/Fan Duel 2018 2

How to Build the Perfect DraftKings Lineup: 25 Lessons Learned, So Far

We’re at the point in the NFL season when there is now a 1 in front of each week and now we have a clear picture of who these teams are as they head into the second half of their 2018 campaigns.  Let’s take a moment to step back and reflect on the first half of the season from a DFS perspective by analyzing the perfect lineups from the first nine weeks courtesy of numberfire.com.  

For the purpose of this article, I’m going to look at the perfect DraftKings lineups; I will go into a comprehensive analysis of Fanduel’s lineups in the offseason.  Keep in mind, some of the strategies and principles in this article can be applied when putting together lineups on FanDuel.  I will identify key trends and lineup construction pointers that will help you in the second half of your DFS seasons whether you have found success or struggled through the first nine weeks or whether you are a beginner to DFS or a seasoned veteran.

QUARTERBACK

EIGHT OF NINE PERFECT QUARTERBACKS WERE PRICED UNDER $6500

In redraft leagues, waiting to draft a quarterback has become an ideal strategy as the position can certainly be streamed on a weekly basis.  In fact, there have been 94 instances in which a quarterback not named Patrick Mahomes has posted a 20+ fantasy point performance in 2018.  With that being said, you don’t have to pay up for the top tier at quarterback as there are options below $6500 weekly that have proven viable.  Further, five of the nine perfect quarterbacks were priced below $6000; Mitchell Trubisky comes to mind as he has made the perfect lineup twice.

EIGHT OF NINE QUARTERBACKS THREW FOR OVER 300 PASSING YARDS AND THREE OR MORE TOUCHDOWNS

No surprise here as the league has been geared towards more offense.  There have been 66 instances where a defense has allowed 3+ touchdown passes so far, an average of 7.33 times per week.  Don’t forget the importance of the 300 yard passer bonus.  All points add up and can be the difference between profit and loss.

EIGHT OF NINE QUARTERBACKS WERE PART OF A TEAM STACK

Simply put, unless it’s a running quarterback like DeShaun Watson, Cam Newton, or Russell Wilson, there was a player that helped get that quarterback get to his 300+ passing yards and/or 3+ touchdown passes.  Quarterback stacking should be a focus in lineup construction as a QB-WR stack was part of the perfect lineup four times followed by a QB-TE stack occurring twice and QB-RB-WR and QB-WR-TE stacks each featured once.

EIGHT OF NINE QUARTERBACKS PLAYED IN GAMES WITH A GAME TOTAL OF 50 OR HIGHER

From a lineup construction perspective, targeting the games with the highest game totals is one of the best strategies to utilize when selecting a quarterback.  Vegas can give us a good gauge for the type of game to expect with their game totals.  Also, targeting games with a total over 50 and a spread of three or lower has proven successful as that indicates a shootout that should remain close for the duration of the game.  Quarterbacks with spreads under 3 and a total over 50 made the perfect lineup 6 times, a 66% success rate.

RUNNING BACK

19 OF THE 22 PERFECT RUNNING BACKS WON THEIR GAMES STRAIGHT UP

This is one of the most important trends to take from this article.  By predicting who will win the game, you can eliminate half of the running backs on a slate to select from.  Even if a running back has a great matchup on paper, if you don’t think his team will win the game unless involved in negative gamescript when his team is trailing, there’s no sense in wasting the roster spot.  

With a total of 59 between the Rams and the Saints in week 9, it was tempting to roster both Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara.  However, very rarely does it happen where running backs from opposing teams both end up in the perfect lineup.  Alvin Kamara was perfect but for the first time in what has been a 2006 LaDainian Tomlinsonesque season, Todd Gurley finished with less than 20 fantasy points in the Rams first loss of the season.

ONLY 1 OF THE 22 RUNNING BACKS WAS WORSE THAN A 1.5 POINT UNDERDOG

This coincides with the aforementioned point listed above, running backs that are favorites are those that are expected to win their games and if their respective teams play as they should, increased volume and opportunity should both present itself.  Starting an underdog in redraft leagues is one thing as reliable options at the position are limited but when the whole player pool is available, absolutely be selective, even if it means paying up as high as $9000, which leads to the next trend.

EXCLUDING THE FLEX POSITION, 13 OF THE 18 RUNNING BACKS WERE PRICED ABOVE $7000

Not shocking as Todd Gurley, Alvin Kamara, and James Conner have frequented the perfect lineup numerous times this year.  Most of the backs in this salary range are bell-cow backs that play for efficient offenses.  When we get to the wide receiver trends, it will make paying up for the top-tier running backs not as daunting or difficult as it may seem.

THE AVERAGE NUMBER OF TOUCHES PER GAME FOR THE PERFECT RUNNING BACKS WAS 23.91

The running back that made the list with the fewest touches was Matt Breida in week 2 against a Lions team that he shredded with just 14 touches.  Volume is critical for a DFS running back and with DraftKings full PPR scoring, targeting those that are involved in the passing game is something to be cognizant of each week.  12 of the 22 perfect running backs saw at least five receptions in those games they made the list.

One idea of importance to mention as it relates to volume is when a transaction occurs during the week leading up to the game or a running back being downgraded to out occurs after the salaries release on Sunday night.  While it breaks the rule of selecting backs that should win the game, in most cases, the backup that will assume the lead back duties could be extremely inexpensive for the amount of potential volume he will see.  Nick Chubb is a good example of this as he was priced at $3600 before Carlos Hyde was traded the Friday before Cleveland’s game against Tampa Bay.  These scenarios are welcomed in order to open up salary for other positions of need.

CLEVELAND AND ATLANTA HAVE ALLOWED AT LEAST THREE RUNNING BACKS IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

In fact, Cleveland has allowed four running backs to enter weekly perfection as no team has allowed more rushing touchdowns upon the conclusion of week 9 than the Browns.  Joe Mixon has yet to face them and will do so twice along with Christian McCaffery getting the Browns in Cleveland in week 14.  

Atlanta was another team that allowed three perfect running backs as the Falcons have been a team to attack in recent years due to their struggles against pass catching backs.  Running backs on tap in Atlanta’s final eight games include Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, and Christian McCaffery; unfortunately, Alvin Kamara’s juicy matchup lands on Thanksgiving night and leaves him off the week 12 main slate.

Other teams that allowed multiple perfect runners include the Buccaneers, Broncos, and Lions.  Don’t be shocked to find the Cardinals on this list at the end of the season as they’ve allowed 80+ rushing yards in every game along with 10 touchdowns on the ground through eight games.

WIDE RECEIVER

WIDE RECEIVERS IN THE PERFECT LINEUP WENT 15-13-2 STRAIGHT UP

Compared to the running backs where winning was a strong trend among the perfect ones, there was a lot more volatility among the receivers that made the list.  There are much more variables in consideration to include cornerback matchups, how offenses operate when leading or trailing, or defenses that bolster rush-stopping ability and force teams to throw more.  It’s the one position that requires extensive work and research with so much variability each week.

29 OF THE 30 WIDE RECEIVERS SCORED AT LEAST ONE TOUCHDOWN

Maurice Harris was the exception in week 9 as he easily returned value at an inexpensive cost and was a nice building block for the very few that rostered him.  The top fantasy receivers each week are much more touchdown-dependent than the running backs that see more touches.  With fewer opportunities, they need to capitalize on the targets they see and crossing the pylons is definitely an easy boost of fantasy production.  One strategy to consider is targeting the weaker cornerbacks of 2018 that are allowing the most touchdowns in their coverage to include Malcolm Butler, Janoris Jenkins, Marcus Peters, P.J. Williams, and M.J. Stewart to name a few.

27 OF THE 30 WIDE RECEIVERS WENT FOR OVER 100 YARDS

Reiterating the point above, volume is critical for receivers as opportunity can be limited in some weeks.  Not to mention 100 yards activates the three point bonus on DraftKings.  Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Danny Amendola, and Adam Humphries were the three that didn’t get to 100 yards but what they had in common in the weeks they made the perfect lineup was being priced under $4000 in which access to the necessary expensive options was possible which is further elaborated below.  

20 OF THE 30 WIDE RECEIVERS WERE PRICED AT $6000 OR LOWER

Back around 2015 when both FanDuel and DraftKings were investing heavily in advertising, the DraftKings commercial would ask who your sleeper would be to win you $1,000,000.  That old commercial holds up as there is a sleeper every week and is necessary to win the Milly Maker.  No position has more sleepers that make the perfect lineups than the wide receiver.  

As most of the running backs that make it are above $7000, 20 of the 30 perfect wide receivers thus far have been $6000 or lower.  Better than that, 17 of the 30 have been $5000 or lower and of those 17, nine have posted 30+ DK points.  The tools and resources available to DFS players regarding WR/CB matchups and performance metrics in various scenarios and situations has never been more accessible.  The key is putting in quality time and research to make the correct rostering decisions.

DETROIT, CAROLINA, AND NEW ORLEANS HAVE ALLOWED THREE WIDE RECEIVERS IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

The Panthers secondary has struggled against both receivers and tight ends through the first half of the 2018 season.  They have yet to see Michael Thomas but will do so in weeks 15 and 17, along with Julio Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Mike Evans in their final seven games.  

The Saints can keep up on offense with anyone but they have found themselves in three shooutouts so far as they are surrendering the most FPA to wide receivers as we enter week 10.  Receivers to keep an eye on for the rest of the Saints schedule include Tyler Boyd, Mike Evans, Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster; Julio Jones and Amari Cooper both land on Thursday night games and won’t be featured on the main slate.

The Lions were guilty of allowing two Packer receivers in the perfect lineup in the same week as Aaron Rodgers has enjoyed success against Detroit, tossing 11 touchdowns in his last three against his NFC North rival.  Keep in mind that the Packers finish the regular season against the Lions at Lambeau Field.  However, opponents have played to Detroit’s weakness but utilizing their running backs which explains its 6th fewest FPA to receivers.  Future Lions opponents include the triple threat of the Rams and the dual threat of the Vikings.

TIGHT END

FIVE OF NINE PERFECT LINEUPS HAVE FEATURED EITHER ZACH ERTZ OR TRAVIS KELCE

Redraft and DFS players can both agree how disappointing Rob Gronkowski has been since posting his best week of the season all the way back in week 1.  Last year, nearly every perfect lineup featured either Gronk, Ertz, or Kelce.  This year, the position is even more a dumpster fire and it shows the importance of paying up for the consistency of Ertz and Kelce, especially when bargains at the wide receiver position exist on a weekly basis.  Theoretically, take away week 6 as both were off the main slate and you could say they have been in five of the eight perfect lineups when at least one of them was available.  That scenario plays itself out again in week 15 as both are once again unavailable, leaving the DFS community to choose between Gronk against a Pittsburgh he has crushed throughout his career or one of the other options.

ALL OF THE TIGHT ENDS CAUGHT A MINIMUM OF FIVE PASSES

The floor for the tight ends in the perfect lineup was five catches for 70 yards which equates to 12 fantasy points in DraftKings scoring.  Targeting defenses that have struggled against tight ends was also a consistent trend as nine of the eleven achieved perfection against teams in the top 10 in surrendering FPA to the position.  Ertz and Kelce were the two that did it against teams outside the top 10 in FPA, further illustrating they are nearly matchup-proof and worth consideration every week.

9 OF THE 11 TIGHT ENDS SCORED AT LEAST ONE TOUCHDOWN

If your tight end scores a touchdown, more likely than not, that player has returned value for the week.  Kelce and Ertz are used frequently enough in their offenses that nine catches for 90 yards without a touchdown is a great week that you can live with.  The rest of the field is touchdown-dependent in having a decent chance to win a 50/50 or GPP.

8 OF THE 11 TIGHT ENDS PLAYED IN GAMES WITH A GAME TOTAL OF 50 OR MORE

There was a stronger correlation with tight ends making the perfect lineup in games with game totals over 50 than there was with wide receivers in games with game totals over 50.  73% of the tight ends made it compared to just 33% of the wide receivers.  Regardless, targeting players in games with the highest totals should be a strategy that is in consideration every week

CLEVELAND HAS ALLOWED TWO TIGHT ENDS IN THE PERFECT LINEUP

In 2017, if you rostered tight ends against the Browns, Broncos, or Giants, you usually found success in those decisions.  Cleveland has performed much better against the position this year but still shows flashes of their 2017 weakness.  Greg Olsen is the only tight end remaining on the Browns schedule that may cause a headache.  

The Panthers will continue to be a team to target each week as they’ve allowed tight ends to score at least one touchdown in six of eight games.  Also, keep an eye on the Rams as they face one of the hardest remaining schedules against the position as Ertz, Kelce, and George Kittle are some of their future opponents, though Kelce will be off the main slate for that Monday night showdown in Mexico City.

DEFENSE

NO DEFENSE IN THE PERFECT LINEUP LOST ITS GAME

The crazy part is seeing Cleveland and Green Bay make the list in games they tied.  In any case, selecting defenses that should win against teams with low team totals is an effective strategy.  It’s very rare to see a defense make the perfect lineup in a game that it lost. 

SEVEN OF THE NINE DEFENSES WERE PRICED UNDER $3000

Starting defenses against a historically bad Buffalo team has been a successful strategy in both redraft leagues and DFS.  However, the problem is DraftKings aggressively pricing up any defense that has the honor of facing the Bills where that additional salary has needs in other areas.  Fortunately, cheaper options are available and have been just as effective as defenses against the Bills, so much so that five of the nine were $2500 or cheaper.  

SEVEN OF THE NINE DEFENSES FORCED MULTIPLE TURNOVERS

Self explanatory as turnovers can lead to defensive touchdowns, all key components of fantasy production at the defensive position.  Also consider using defenses against teams with porous offensive lines as eight of the nine perfect defenses forced at least three sacks in their respective games.

SIX OF THE NINE DEFENSES WERE FAVORED HEADING INTO THEIR RESPECTIVE GAMES 

The first few weeks of an NFL season are the ones with the most upsets as both Vegas and DFS players are learning about the new versions of the 32 teams.  Games in which a 16.5-point favorite loses outright as the Vikings did against the Bills in week 3 typically don’t occur past week 4.  Thus, from week 4 on, defenses that were favorites were the ones that made the perfect lineup and I anticipate by the end of the season that this figure should be 12 or 13 out of 17.  

OTHER NOTABLE TRENDS

ALL NINE PERFECT LINEUPS FEATURED AT LEAST ONE TEAM STACK

There were a total 15 team stacks in the first nine weeks of 2018 with five of the nine weeks featuring multiple team stacks in the perfect lineup.  The two most common ones were either a QB-WR stack or RB-WR stack, both featured four times thus far.  Simply put, these figures show the importance of stacking and should be part of lineup construction weekly.

EIGHT OF THE NINE LINEUPS USED AT LEAST $49500 OF THE SALARY CAP

With the exception of week 1 when DraftKings releases the salaries a month prior to the start of the season and the week of the trade deadline, the pricing is extremely tight with very few bargains available.  This is why we were seeing scores of 270 and 280 to start the season because with James Conner being $4500, it made more expensive players like Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara easily available to us.  Once DraftKings makes their adjustments, it makes it imperative to use all of the $50000 and not leave anything on the table.

SEVEN OF THE NINE PERFECT LINEUPS FEATURED GAME STACKS

Four of the seven game stacks had game totals of above 50 and if you bring that number down a half-point to 49.5, it would be five out of seven as Chicago and New England ended up in a shootout.  It makes perfect sense to target the games with the highest totals as these games are expected to generate the most offense that leads to high amounts of fantasy production.

THE AVERAGE COST OF THE FLEX POSITION WAS $4000.

This reiterates the idea in the wide receiver section of the article that the sleeper exists every week.  Running backs made up four of the nine flex spots followed by wide receiver at three and tight end with two.

CONCLUSION

One of the beauties of daily fantasy is the availability of all players to the entire field.  An injury of two in a redraft league can wreck havoc to one’s season; DFS works where you can rebound from injuries every week.  The information above shouldn’t be treated as gospel as the unpredictability and parody of the NFL can ruin even the best lineups that you feel like should win cash games or the Milly Maker.  If anything, treat this article as additional tools in your toolbox when putting together your lineups. 

We’re at the point in the NFL season when there is now a 1 in front of each week and now we have a clear picture of who these teams […]

Draft Kings/Fan Duel 2018 0

DFS: 27 Top Targets, Values, & Bargain Bin Picks for Week 10

QUARTERBACK

Patrick Mahomes: vs ARI (DK 7200; FD 9800)

The only concern here is the entire Kansas City team looking forward to the Mexico City showdown and potential Super Bowl matchup with the Rams next Monday night.  Yet, whenever there has been potential a trouble spot on the schedule, Patrick Mahomes has proven the doubters wrong and it shouldn’t be any different this week.  300+ passing yards in eight straight games along with at least three passing touchdowns in the last four, should I go any further?  Mahomes is a must-start each and every week, just like Todd Gurley, Adam Thielen, and Travis Kelce.

Philip Rivers: at OAK (DK 6000; FD 8200)

Since Amari Cooper played his final snap as a Raider before being dealt to the Cowboys, Oakland is losing by an average of 23 points per game.   The Raiders are in full tank mode and if a third string quarterback can throw for three touchdowns, why can’t Philip Rivers?  Oakland has allowed three touchdown passes in its last three games and if the secondary struggled with the 49ers receiving corps, imagine how much pain a much more talented Chargers group will inflict.  Add in the receiving capabilities of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler and it gives Rivers several avenues towards success in the second meeting between these divisional foes.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: vs WAS (DK 5900; FD 7600)

This matchup features a Tampa Bay offense that posts the 3rd fewest rushing yards per game against a Washington defense that allows the 5th fewest rushing yards per game.  This should create additional passing attempts from Ryan Fitzpatrick against a team that not only allowed Matt Ryan to throw for 300 yards but also Eli Manning in the last two games.  In selecting Fitzpatrick, you accept that he will turn the ball over at some point as he has done so in all but one game that he was the starter.   However, he has thrown for either a minimum of 400 yards or three touchdowns in those four games and is a solid option at his salary on both sites.

RUNNING BACK

Melvin Gordon: at OAK (DK 9000; FD 8900)

As terrible as the Raiders have been against the pass, they have been equally awful against the run and as a double digit favorite heading into the Black Hole, Melvin Gordon is positioned to touch the ball quite a bit in this game.  He’s averaging at least 100 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in his last three against the Raiders and it aligns well for Gordon to make it a fourth straight game doing so.  Start him with absolute confidence as he possesses one of the highest touchdown expectancies this week. 

Kareem Hunt: vs ARI (DK 8500; FD 9000)

The Arizona defense has been shredded by running backs on the ground as it hasn’t allowed any opponent to rush for fewer than 88 yards on top of the 10 rushing touchdowns surrendered by this group.  Kareem Hunt has scored seven touchdowns in the last three weeks and like the aforementioned Melvin Gordon, he also has an outstanding chance of crossing the pylons.  Opponents have played to Arizona’s glaring weakness and it’s safe to expect the Chiefs to implement that same gameplan.

Tevin Coleman: at CLE (DK 5400; FD 7300)

Three of the last four games have featured the Cleveland defense being slaughtered by either Melvin Gordon, James Conner, or Kareem Hunt.  Tevin Coleman doesn’t need to be either of those guys to return value especially at his low price point on DraftKings but if he can get to 20 touches in a game the Falcons should win, that will suffice.  He has proven effective out of the backfield for the majority of his time in Atlanta and given that the Browns have struggled against both running backs on the ground and through the air, Coleman should have a productive day in Cleveland.

Dion Lewis: vs NE (DK 4600; FD 5800)

He should have extra motivation this weekend as he faces the team he won a Super Bowl with in 2016.  Dion Lewis should enjoy success against a New England defense that has allowed the 4th most catches and 2nd most yards to running backs out of the backfield.  The Patriots should be able to jump out to a lead where Lewis will need to work out of negative gamescript and see coveted receptions in DraftKings full PPR scoring system.  He’s seen 20 more touches than Derrick Henry in Tennessee’s prior two games and considering Henry is hardly utilized out of the backfield, Lewis is the Titan running back to roster this week.

WIDE RECEIVER

Julio Jones: at CLE (DK 8300; FD 8700)

And it’s not because he scored a touchdown for the first time in nearly a calendar year.  E.J. Gaines was put on IR, Denzel Ward and Damarious Randall are banged up, and Phillip Gaines was claimed off waivers after a horrible stint in Buffalo.  Indeed, this Cleveland secondary is a mess and one Julio Jones can slaughter on his own.  He’s seeing 11.4 targets per game in his last five games as the Atlanta offensive staff continues to find ways to use their most prolific player.  He’s gone for over 100 yards in four of the last five and there is a great expectation in this game for him to make it five of six along with a touchdown for the second week in a row.

Tyler Boyd: vs NO (DK 7500; FD 7800)

As long as the Saints continue to roll out slot corner P.J. Williams, attacking the Saints through the slot receiver will be a continuing trend.  Tyler Boyd has been dominant at Paul Brown Stadium, averaging 20.83 FPPG in PPR scoring along with a +6.33 FPPG differential in home games.  He has slaughtered the other three NFC South opponents to the tune of 26 receptions for 370 yards and 2 touchdowns and with A.J. Green expected miss this game, it should filter additional targets in Boyd’s direction.  Hopefully the Bengals keep him in the slot and let John Ross and Alex Erickson work the outside because if that occurs, it’s just another dream matchup for the young receiver in his breakout 2018 campaign.

Josh Gordon: at TEN (DK 6000; FD 6700)

The Patriots will certainly look to exploit their former cornerback that they benched in the penultimate game of 2018.  No team gives up more fantasy points to receivers lined up on the left side of the ball than the Titans and that’s where Josh Gordon spends nearly 60% of his snaps.  He’s developed a chemistry with Tom Brady as he’s averaging eight targets in the last four games and this matchup against Butler is as good as it gets.  His affordable salary on both sites makes him a viable option to do some serious damage this week.

Maurice Harris: at TB (DK 3900; FD 5900)

I’m not one to chase fantasy points but the injuries on the offensive side of the ball for the Redskins are plentiful.  Paul Richardson is on IR, Jamison Crowder hasn’t played since week 5, and Chris Thompson has already been declared inactive for week 10.  It’s shaping up for Maurice Harris to once again play a pivotal role against a Buccaneers defense that surrenders the most FPA to slot receivers.  Definitely check up on the Friday injury report and Sunday inactives to see if Jamison Crowder suits up on Sunday because if he is also inactive, Harris is in an even better spot to see additional targets and too cheap to pass up.

TIGHT END

Travis Kelce: vs ARI (DK 7000; FD 8000)

The Cardinals have given up the 6th fewest FPA to tight ends but if you look inside the numbers, they haven’t faced many names of note.  Arizona allowed 10 catches for 140 yards in two meetings to George Kittle, a tight end that commands respect.  Travis Kelce is in a tier above Kittle and in an offense that is capable of moving down the field at a moments notice, he’s worth the high price of admission.  At minimum, he’s caught five passes for 60 yards in all but one game and in a tight end position of such weekly uncertainty, Kelce provides a good amount of clarity.

Benjamin Watson: at CIN (DK 3400; FD 5900)

There’s such a disparity in the pricing for the Saints tight end between both sites that it certainly stands out against a Cincinnati defense that has struggled against the position.  Not to mention having Drew Brees throw Benjamin Watson the ball in a game with the highest total on the main slate and it makes him a solid play on both sites but absolutely on DraftKings.  He’s good for four targets per game and has an opportunity to find the end zone in this game as the Bengals have allowed five touchdowns to the tight end through eight games.

Chris Herndon: vs BUF (DK 3100; FD 5500)

In what has been a committee at the position for the Jets, Chris Herndon has been the tight end that has stood out in the last four weeks, averaging 2.75 catches for 44 yards and .75 touchdowns.  The Buffalo defense has been more susceptible to tight ends on the road as it allows 13.42 FPPG to the position in road games.  It’s a slight punt but a punt that could pay off with a score, something Herndon has done in three of his last four games.

DEFENSE

Los Angeles Chargers: at OAK (DK 3500; FD 4700)

After allowing 30 points per game in their first four contests, the Chargers have sliced that figure in half, allowing 15 points in their last four.  Easier competition has a lot to do with it and it doesn’t get easier than an Oakland team that has scored an average of 11 points in their last four and just a field goal in two of their last three.

New York Jets: vs BUF (DK 3400; FD 4900)

As long as Josh Allen is unable to play, as I explained last week and will do so again: NATHAN PETERMAN.  Not to mention Josh McCown shouldn’t turn the ball over as much as Sam Darnold and give the Buffalo offense shorter fields to work with.

Kansas City: vs ARI (DK 3300; FD 4600)

The Arizona offense has turned the ball over multiple times in three straight along with fantasy defenses scoring double digit points in five of eight games.  They also welcome back must needed help in the secondary with safety Daniel Sorensen activated from IR.

PRICE SHOPPING

Each week, I will identify what players are bargains based on the salary cap percentage difference they represent on the respective site.  Here are the notable week 10 bargains from both sites

NOTABLE DRAFTKINGS BARGAINS

QB Matt Ryan: 1.76

RB Tevin Coleman: 1.36

WR Maurice Harris: 2.06

TE Benjamin Watson: 3.03

TE Chris Herndon: 2.96

DEF Los Angeles Rams: 1.7

NOTABLE FANDUEL BARGAINS

RB Melvin Gordon: 3.17

RB David Johnson: 2.1

WR Tyler Boyd: 2

WR Cooper Kupp: 1.97

QUARTERBACK Patrick Mahomes: vs ARI (DK 7200; FD 9800) The only concern here is the entire Kansas City team looking forward to the Mexico City showdown and potential Super Bowl […]