The Sharp Report
One of the most proficient gamblers that sportsbooks have ever seen, Haralabos Voulgaris, is on record saying the main reason he retired from professional gambling is that he was gradually losing his edge against the sportsbooks. Voulgaris explains that every time he placed a bet, he gave the sportsbook a metaphoric piece to the puzzle that, once solved, would completely erase his edge to the point where he would no longer be a profitable bettor. The same way sportsbooks learned from Voulgaris' bets and eroded his edge, daily fantasy sports players can learn from their top competitors and eat away at their edge. These top competitors, known as sharps, typically play DFS at a much higher level and for much more money than others. These players normally have very advanced and accurate projection systems that give them their edge over the field. Fortunately, every time they enter a contest the sharp players' lineups are available to the public to be broken down, analyzed, and learned from. The Sharp Report will be a weekly article that uses all available and applicable data to draw conclusions regarding how the industry's smartest decision-makers and their projections systems come to their final conclusions when building lineups. Over the course of the entire season, The Sharp Report's goal will be to project what the best players in the industry will do in upcoming contests and, in turn, figure out what it is that gives these high-level players their edge over the field.
Throughout each week, more and better information regarding things like player availability, individual matchups, and depth charts will become available. The section of this article projecting which player is likely to be rostered by most of the sharp players next week will be updated by Saturday afternoon each week after all applicable information has become available. If enough data reveals itself that a completely new player is deemed worthy of being mentioned as Next Week's Sharp Play, the original section will appear in red font and the new section will appear in bold black font. If all available information leads to the same conclusion made earlier in the week, the original section will be changed to bold black font.
The players analyzed in this article consistently play, and win, in high-stakes contests and are also ranked in the top ten percent in RotoGrinders' super heavyweight division of DFS players. Players' names will be omitted from the article, but all lineups analyzed are from the GIANT $1,060 50-50 on DraftKings.
Team #1: 152.40 points | 22/50 | DID cash
- QB: Aaron Rodgers
- RB: Ronald Jones II
- RB: DeAndre Washington
- WR: Davante Adams
- WR: Breshad Perriman
- WR: Chad Hansen
- TE: Travis Kelce
- FLEX: J.D. McKissic
- D/ST: Seattle Seahawks
Team #2: 170.20 points | 1/50 | DID cash
- QB: Aaron Rodgers
- RB: Derrick Henry
- RB: DeAndre Washington
- WR: Robby Anderson
- WR: Breshad Perriman
- WR: Keke Coutee
- TE: Travis Kelce
- FLEX: J.D. McKissic
- D/ST: Dallas Cowboys
Although Davante Adams did not appear in both of the lineups shown above, he was an extremely popular option in the GIANT $1,060 50/50 on DraftKings, especially when paired with Aaron Rodgers. Paying up for one of the league's best quarterback-wide receiver combinations was not easy in Week 14, but numerous sharp NFL DFS players made this a priority for a good reason.
Last week, the Green Bay Packers played inside the dome of Ford Field in their clash with the floundering Detroit Lions. Detroit's season is a lost cause, and their defense is a driving force behind their struggles in 2020. As a result, Green Bay's 30.5 implied team total was the second-highest on the DraftKings main slate of games. Additionally, Detroit's pass defense is especially weak. The Lions rank 30th in the NFL in DVOA allowed against the pass, and all of these team-level deficiencies against the pass make a case for Aaron Rodgers as the consensus sharp quarterback in Week 14. Also, on top of Detroit's horrific team-level metrics against the pass, they have been shredded through the air by top-end receivers lately. In recent weeks, the Detroit Lions have allowed Will Fuller to post a 7-171-2 stat-line, DJ Moore to go for 7-127-0, Curtis Samuel to record 8-70-1, and Terry McLaurin to register 7-95-0. The Lions are helpless against number-one receivers, and they have allowed impressive performances to lesser talents than Davante Adams. Adams' usage-rate, as measured by Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR), dwarfs every other receiver in the league, thanks to his massive 37-percent market share of team air yards and 34-percent market share of team targets in Green Bay's passing attack. Davante Adams' recent production is highly reminiscent of Michael Thomas's 2019 campaign, and Thomas was regularly viable at nearly $10,000 on DraftKings. The opportunity to roster Adams at $9,300 in a dome against one of the league's worst pass defenses was too good for sharps to pass up on in Week 14.
In Week 14, DeAndre Washington ended up as the most-rostered running back on the slate for an obvious reason: he was priced at the minimum-allowed number for a running back, and he was projected to assume the starting role in Miami's backfield. Miami's running back depth chart has been decimated by injuries this season, and as a result, DeAndre Washington was thrust into the starting spot for the team's Week 14 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. One positive note for Washington's viability last week was Kansas City's susceptible run defense. The Chiefs rank 30th in the NFL in rushing DVOA allowed this season, and sharps expected Washington to capitalize on this weakness. Additionally, the salary relief that Washington afforded was critical in the context of this specific slate, as there were numerous expensive players worth jamming into lineups. This point is critical for evaluating why Washington was viable-- on another slate that lacked expensive players like Rodgers, Adams, Ekeler, and Kelce, Washington would not have been nearly as popular. He was not listed in last week's sharp core because of the projected game script and the potential for a timeshare situation, as Washington was expected to split snaps with Patrick Laird. Overall, however, Washington topped the charts as the number-one point-per-dollar running back in the FootballGuys consensus projections, and he made for a fantastic cash-game selection in the context of the Week 14 slate.
Breshad Perriman was the final salary-saving option that sharps zeroed-in on in Week 14. At wide receiver for the Jets, the team's expected passing volume in a game where they were 16-point underdogs played a large role in Perriman's viability. Also, Denzel Mims, the team's second-round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, was inactive for this game. When healthy, Mims typically commanded approximately eight targets-per-game. With him sidelined, a significant portion of Mims' volume was expected to be directed in Perriman's direction. Another positive note on Perriman's fantasy resume for Week 14 was his playing time. The Jets' veteran pass-catcher rarely leaves the field, as he has played at least 95-percent of New York's offensive snaps in every game he has suited up for since Week 7. As noted above, when analyzing DeAndre Washington, salary relief was critical on this past weekend's slate of games, given the numerous top-end options that sharps wanted to jam into their lineups. At wide receiver, there was no better bargain bin option than Breshad Perriman at $3,900 in his matchup against Seattle's 25th-ranked pass defense, according to DVOA allowed.
Below, in italics, is last week's analysis used to project J.D. McKissic as a piece of The Sharp Core for Week 14.
Washington's emerging star at running back, Antonio Gibson, went down with a toe injury last weekend that will keep him sidelined for the foreseeable future. In his place, J.D. McKissic played over 70-percent of the Football Team's offensive snaps while racking up 10 receptions on 10 targets for 70 receiving yards. McKissic projects to receive the majority of the receiving work in Washington's backfield once again against the San Francisco 49ers this weekend, and with Alex Smith under center, this role is invaluable. Throughout his career, Smith has been a low-aDOT quarterback with a penchant for dumping the ball off to his short and safe receiving options. He and McKissic have been a match made in heaven during Smith's short tenure as Washington's starting quarterback, and this is the perfect opportunity to capitalize on this pairing's connection. At the medial price of $4,900, J.D. McKissic will surely be a staple of sharp cash-game lineups across the industry, and he should certainly make his way into your lineups this weekend as well.
Below, in italics, is last week's analysis used to project Travis Kelce as a piece of The Sharp Core for Week 14.
Right now, Travis Kelce is the closest thing to automatic that we have seen at the tight end position since peak Rob Gronkowski almost a decade ago. As Kansas City's offense has tilted more in favor of a pass-heavy approach that puts the fate of the team in Patrick Mahomes II' hands, Kelce has thrived. Kansas City's All-Pro tight end has posted at least 22 DraftKings points in 6-out-of-8 games and at least 16 DraftKings points in 7-out-of-8 games. This week, in Kansas City's matchup with the Miami Dolphins, it comes as no surprise that Travis Kelce tops the charts as the best tight end option on the slate according to almost every available metric. Given Kelce's absurd target-rate in Kansas City's top-ranked offense, his $7,300 price tag is worth paying-up for in cash-game lineups in Week 14.
The Sharp Core
Projected Sharp Play #1: Brandon Aiyuk
Brandon Aiyuk has burst onto the scene for the 49ers in recent weeks, and his outlook for the final few weeks of his rookie campaign is exceptionally bright. Unfortunately, Deebo Samuel went down with a recurring hamstring injury last weekend, which will likely sideline him for the final few weeks of the season. Brandon Aiyuk has risen to the occasion as a potential number-one wide receiver for San Francisco in his absence. Aiyuk averages over 11 targets-per-game over his last 5 outings, and he has recorded at least 5 receptions for 75 yards in each of those games. Last week, after Deebo Samuel went down with his injury on the team's offensive snap of the game, Aiyuk commanded 16 targets against the Washington Football Team. This weekend, in a much softer matchup against the Dallas Cowboys' 23rd-ranked pass defense, according to DVOA allowed, Aiyuk is primed to dominate once again. Although his price has increased slightly since last week, San Francisco's rookie pass-catcher should be a staple of cash-game lineups in Week 15 at $6,400.
Projected Sharp Play #2: Alvin Kamara
Late in the week, news came down that, not only will Drew Brees return to the lineup and start under center for the New Orleans Saints, but, Michael Thomas also landed on the injured reserve and will miss the remainder of the regular season. We can now expect the Saints' offense to look more like it did early in the season, when Alvin Kamara was regularly a staple of sharp cash-game teams as he led his team in both rushing and receiving. Without Michael Thomas, Kamara's receiving volume will increase because of the absence of a premier play-maker on the outside. Additionally, with Drew Brees back at quarterback, New Orleans' offense should air the ball out at a much higher rate, which serves as another boost to Kamara's projected performance this weekend. In a relatively soft matchup against the NFL's 30th-ranked run defense, according to DVOA allowed, Alvin Kamara is by far the strongest cash-game selection on the slate at just $7,400.
Projected Sharp Play #3: Emmanuel Sanders
Sticking in New Orleans, Emmanuel Sanders projects to be another beneficiary of the Saints' new-look passing attack in Week 15. Earlier in the year, when Michael Thomas was out of commission, Sanders and Drew Brees built an impressive connection across the latter three games of this stint. Sanders averaged over nine targets-per-game over this span, and he should return to the top of the depth chart this weekend. At just $4,200, Emmanuel Sanders is a steal in a projected shootout against the Kansas City Chiefs, which is projected to total over 52 points between the teams. Also, this matchup will take place inside the friendly confines of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which will shield both offenses from any adverse elements of December weather. The stars have aligned for not one, but two members of the New Orleans Saints' offense to make their way into sharp cash-game lineups across the industry this weekend, and they should surely be featured in yours as well.
THE SHARP CORE
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