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.
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 $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings.
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Note: This week, there will be one Thanksgiving Day slate Sharp Play provided in the Sharp Core section of this article, in addition to the standard Main Slate Sharp Core that will be published in full on Thursday afternoon.
Below, in italics, is the forward-looking analysis used in last week's edition of The Sharp Report that projected A.J. Dillon as the Sharp Play of the week in Week 11.
- A.J. Dillon fits the same bill that D'Ernest Johnson, Mark Ingram II, and James Conner did [two weeks] ago. Dillon is poised to step into the starting spot in Green Bay's backfield after Aaron Jones went down midway through [Week 9's] game with an injury that will keep him sidelined for a few weeks. In Jones's absence, A.J. Dillon posted 66 rushing yards, 62 receiving yards, and a pair of scores. This week, Dillon is poised to assume the starting role in Green Bay's backfield against the Minnesota Vikings, when the Packers are 2.5-point favorites, which typically fosters a run-heavy offensive approach from the victors. At $6,200, Dillon's situation in Week 11 is a near-perfect match to James Conner's situation in Week 10, when almost three-quarters of the field in the highest-stakes cash-games locked Conner into their lineups. Don't overthink this selection, and build Week 11 lineups around Green Bay's new number-one running back.
Much like A.J. Dillon, Jeff Wilson was the primary beneficiary of a short-term injury ahead of him on the depth chart. San Francisco's preferred running back, Elijah Mitchell, was held out of action in Week 11 while recovering from surgery to repair a broken finger. Jeff Wilson looked to be the 49ers' new number-one running back against the Jacksonville Jaguars without Mitchell after Wilson reclaimed his role near the top of the depth chart one week ago. In Week 10, Jeff Wilson's season debut, Wilson was the only running back besides Elijah Mitchell to see playing time on offense for San Francisco. In that game, Wilson carried the ball 10 times against the Los Angeles Rams despite playing only about 32-percent of the team's offensive snaps, which led everyone to believe he would be the new number-one running back in Mitchell's absence.
In Week 11, at just $5,100 on DraftKings, locking Jeff Wilson into cash-game lineups was a no-brainer for sharp NFL DFS players, especially given the 49ers' status as 6.5-point favorites over the Jaguars.
One of the Cowboys' co-number-one receivers, Amari Cooper, was ruled out late in the week due to COVID. Cooper's absence pushed Michael Gallup up the depth chart into a more prominent role on the outside and bolstered the expected volume for Dallas's number-one tight end, Dalton Schultz.
Michael Gallup was an especially affordable option at wide receiver in Week 11 at just $4,200. Gallup just returned from a 9-week absence last weekend against the Atlanta Falcons when he played just over 50-percent of the Cowboys' offensive snaps and hauled in 3 out of 5 targets. Here, against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 11, Gallup was expected to fill an every-down role opposite CeeDee Lamb. An every-down role for a $4,200 receiver could yield massive returns in a highly-efficient passing attack, like the one led by Dak Prescott. Locking Michael Gallup into cash-game lineups at wide receiver was a simple, low-risk, high-reward decision for sharp NFL DFS players last weekend.
Dalton Schultz was the player of choice for sharp NFL DFS players at tight end due to the significant expected volume increase he saw without Amari Cooper in the lineup. Schultz's volume was already impressive leading up to Week 11, as he saw at least six targets in five out of seven outings leading up to this expected shootout. Now, there was plenty of room for Schultz's receiving volume to increase without Amari Cooper in the lineup. As one of the league's best wide receivers, Amari Cooper averaged nearly 9.5 targets per game when he was healthy enough to play at least 75-percent of the team's offensive snaps this season. The ripple effects of Cooper's absence were sure to be felt throughout the Cowboys' passing attack in Week 11 by concentrating targets with the team's most reliable remaining pass-catchers, like the $4,600 tight end Dalton Schultz.
Tee Higgins remained a favorite wide receiver option amongst sharp NFL DFS players in Week 11. Higgins' profile as a wide receiver with stable volume-- averaging 9.67 targets per game over his last 3 games before Week 11-- and a large frame that should provide a significant role in Cincinnati's red zone passing offense. Tee Higgins scored between 13.2 and 13.8 DraftKings points in each of his last 3 outings before this clash with the Las Vegas Raiders. Despite his consistent volume and yardage totals this season, Higgins has not found the end zone since Week 2. The second-year wide receiver's inability to find paydirt is almost certainly a random occurrence that will right itself in short order. This season, sharp NFL DFS players have made a living betting on talented players like Higgins returning to the impressive and sustainable levels of previous weeks or seasons. Tee Higgins was also an enticing option on DraftKings at just $5,400 in Week 11 due to a soft matchup in the game with the second-highest projected total on the main slate and the cushy playing conditions inside the dome of Allegiant Stadium.
Week 12 Sharp Core
Build Week 12 cash game lineups around the Sharp Core. The players featured below are selected using the same processes and research that the sharpest NFL DFS players use. The results for these selections over the last 3+ seasons have been strong, with documented success across every position and price range.
This article will be updated later in the week as more information becomes available leading up to kickoff. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, where I will send a tweet to notify everyone whenever I update any of my articles here at FootballGuys.
THANKSGIVING DAY SLATE Sharp Play: David Montgomery
David Montgomery is the plug-and-play option for cash-game lineups on the Thanksgiving Day slate of games on DraftKings. At $6,000, Montgomery is priced as an average, run-of-the-mill running back on Thursday. This midweek clash with the Detroit Lions will be Montgomery's third game since returning from injury, and he looks to be operating at full capacity right now. Montgomery played 85- and 95-percent of Chicago's offensive snaps in his two games since returning from injury, his two highest marks of the season thus far. Needless to say, there are no concerns about his playing time or workload entering Week 12. After accounting for the soft matchup against the Detroit Lions, Montgomery begins to look like one of the strongest running back options of the entire week, not just the Thanksgiving Day slate of games. An efficient price for Chicago's bell-cow running back against the Lions' dismal run defense (29th in rushing DVOA allowed) is likely over $1,000 higher than his current price tag. The Bears are favored to win this game by about three points, and although it is not a large spread, playing in a positive game script will be a welcomed change for David Montgomery at running back. Lock David Montgomery into Thanksgiving Day slate cash-game lineups in a favorable matchup against the NFL's only winless team.
SUNDAY MAIN SLATE Sharp Core Feature #1: Christian McCaffrey
Christian McCaffrey is 100-percent back. After missing a handful of games earlier in the season due to a hamstring injury, McCaffrey has put together back-to-back games with at least 24.9 points on DraftKings. This season, McCaffrey has scored at least 24.7 DraftKings points in every game he started and finished. The only thing that can stop the NFL's most consistent and productive fantasy running back is injury, which is effectively unpredictable. Paying top dollar for Christian McCaffrey at $9,000 on DraftKings is one of the easiest moves for building cash-game lineups that we have seen all season.
SUNDAY MAIN SLATE Sharp Core Feature #2: Brandin Cooks
Brandin Cooks is gifted an exceptionally soft matchup this weekend at home against the New York Jets, who rank 32nd in the NFL in DVOA allowed against the pass this season. The Texans' home stadium, NRG Stadium, is a dome that will comparatively boost the efficiency of the passing game compared to the other games being played outside in the harsh weather conditions that post-Thanksgiving football typically features. Next, Tyrod Taylor is back at quarterback for Houston, a massive upgrade over Davis Mills, the rookie that filled in while he missed time due to a hamstring injury. Although Cooks's numbers were unimpressive last weekend against the Tennessee Titans, there is reason to expect a substantial rebound in Week 12 in a more favorable environment for the passing game. Buy low on Brandin Cooks, Houston's clear-cut number-one receiver at $5,800 on DraftKings this weekend, as a bounce-back performance should be in store.