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Footballguys has partnered with FanDuel and as part of that deal, I will be penning a weekly piece that tries to cover some of the finer points on beating their contests. This article will usually appear on Saturdays and not include the early Thursday games.
My approach to FanDuel's Daily Games
In salary cap games where other companies are determining prices, I like to see where their thoughts differ substantially from my projections. My value chart below matches my projections against FanDuel's prices:
Some explanation of my Excel manipulation is in order:
- Everything is sorted by position
- I have converted my projections to FanDuel Fantasy Points. These figures appear in the FP column.
- The Price column reflects FanDuel's Week 17 Price
- The Ratio column reflects the expected points multiplier (per thousand of salary). The higher value the better.
- H-Value represents our own proprietary formula that matches the price and expected fantasy points (the higher the value the better).
- ETP = A team's expected points via the Las Vegas spread and under/over totals. The higher the better.
- Indicator = Ratio squared x H-Value. It attempts to prioritize the value plays.
- In the 2017 Cracking FanDuel book, I demonstrated that selecting players who were in the upper half of Ratio, H-Value, and Expected Team Points at their positions led to the best fantasy success. I call these three factors the Criteria. The players that meet all three factors will have a yes in the Crit? column.
- I have highlighted player's names (in green) that should be strong considerations for your lineups. Most of these players meet the criteria factors. These selections generally reflect the most bang for the buck at their respective positions. Players in yellow represent other selections that I rate slightly worse than the top plays at their position but should be considered for diversification purposes while building your lineups.
Situations that stand out to me this week.
- This is not a usual week of NFL football. Many teams have NO MOTIVATION to play. Some teams will treat this as a preseason game trying new things, resting starters, and completely abandoning their typical depth charts. Understanding each team's motivation goes a long way towards missing the landmines that exist this week.
- The biggest landmine that exists involves anyone playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Theoretically, the Steelers could win the #1 seed with a win and a New England loss, but the Patriots are favored by 15.5 points. Both teams play the early game, but expect the Steelers to shut things down early should the Patriots get a big lead in their contest. I have zeroed Ben Roethlisberger and RB LeVeon Bell, but both might actually play a quarter or so of football. WR Smith-Schuster grades out as a favorable play, but I think the risk far exceeds the possible reward. I will be avoiding him as well. The Steelers defense (on paper) makes sense against the Browns, but it's also a situation I will avoid based on the uncertainty of how hard the Steelers will try. Simply put, if the 15.5 point favorite Patriots hold serve, the Steelers are the #2 seed in the AFC regardless if they win or lose. With Antonio Brown already out and a first-round bye intact, this team's best shot at post-season success is to come out of this game without any injuries.
- Ryan Hester outlines all the situations in his Trend-Spotting article this week. Here is a link to that article. The teams he has listed "all systems go" (should play their starters all four quarters). They include Baltimore, Tennessee, L.A. Chargers, Buffalo, New Orleans, Carolina, Atlanta, and Seattle. New England and Minnesota are also playing for home-field advantage throughout which is usually solid motivation as well. Nearly every other situation is a possible landmine. Read Ryan's article. It will help you understand every team's motivation including coaches that could be fired with a loss.
- Weather looks like it will be a non-issue, with no rain or snow or high winds projected, but I am starting to be leary of the New England passing and kicking games as the game will be played below 10 degrees (and it will feel like -4 because of wind-chill). It's likely I lower the projections for Tom Brady, Brandin Cooks, and Stephen Gostkowski in the morning after verifying weather. When in doubt, I generally prefer passing games in late December in games that will be played in domes. NFL Weather is your friend here for weather and dome games in an easy-to-read table.
- Pricing on this week's slate is extremely soft. In GPPs, you would be smart to try and save $1,000+ on salary just to get differentiation. With so many NFL stars being rested, the DFS field is likely to be on a lot of the same players.
- At quarterback, I am zeroing in on Matthew Stafford. The Packers have yielded the 4th most fantasy points to quarterbacks over the last four weeks and are resting nearly everyone as they mail this game in. Playing in a dome, I think Stafford should have an easy day moving the chains through the air. I prefer the Ebron stack in GPPs and Cash+ lineups as the field should solidly be on Rob Gronkowski.
- At running back, I think Dion Lewis is in a great situation. Both Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead are out and the team is favored by a lot in a very cold weather game at home. I expect Lewis will see massive volume and his price makes him an easy play in all formats. At the other running back spot, Derrick Henry is just too cheap to fade in a must-win game for the Titans. The Jaguars likely benefit from losing to the Titans and I see Henry in a great spot to score at least a touchdown. Although I generally prefer paying up at running back and going cheap at wide receiver, I think this week sets up to play Lewis and Henry in nearly all formats.
- At tight end I will have the majority of my action with Rob Gronkowski, Derrick Walker, and Eric Ebron. I don't like the cold temperature in New England, but Gronk still could have a big game with red zone looks in close.
- The Panthers have yielded a league-worst 38.1 fantasy points to wide receivers the last four weeks. I can't see a scenario where Julio Jones does not get his. He will be in nearly all of my lineups. Mike Evans ($6,900) is super cheap but has a tough matchup. Right now he is in a lot of my lineups, but that could flip Sunday morning as other options present themselves. Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, and Keenan Allen all seem very safe at the position in a week with tons of landmines. It feels wrong to pay up for Keenan Allen so I am struggling to do that at present. Will Fuller is my favorite cheap dart, but in a week with such lax pricing, I may not need to do that.
- On defense, I like both Minnesota and Seattle's situations the best. Both will be playing hard and are at home. I will be avoiding the Steelers because I have little confidence they will be trying their hardest.
- At kicker, I am leaning heavily towards using Wil Lutz (in a dome) as a super safe option in all formats. I expect to downgrade Gostkowski due to the cold temperature (kicking a big block of ice limits the length considerably).
- Read Steve Buzzard's ownership data (updated
on Saturday). It is the best pulse on what people will be doing. Although his chart reflects GPP ownership, it's also the best roadmap of the most popular plays in cash games.
Cash+ Stacks I am targeting:
Underowned GPP players I am targeting for differentiation:
- QBs: Jameis Winston (4%), Kirk Cousins (3%), Tyrod Taylor (2%), Case Keenum (2%)
- RBs: Melvin Gordon (or Branden Oliver if Gordon scratches - 5%), Devonta Freeman (4%), Carlos Hyde (3%), Frank Gore (2%), Marshawn Lynch (2%)
- WRs: Will Fuller (5%), Mike Wallace (3%), Mohammed Sanu (3%)
- TEs: Greg Olsen (5%), Cameron Brate (3%)
Sample Roster 1 ($60K) - Naked Stafford - Projected Points = 122.0
- QB Matthew Stafford, DET - $7,800
- RB Derrick Henry, TEN - $5,800
- RB Dion Lewis, NE - $7,200
- TE Rob Gronkowski, NE - $8,500
- WR Julio Jones, ATL - $8,400
- WR Mike Evans, TB - $6,900
- WR Will Fuller, HOU - $5,100
- PK Wil Lutz, NO - $5,100
- TD Seattle - $5,000