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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Tom Brady, the current favorite to win the NFL MVP award, was the second-most popular selection at quarterback in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings, trailing just Gardner Minshew, who cost only $4,000 in Week 12. Brady was a sharp selection at quarterback against the Atlanta Falcons due to a favorable matchup and favorable playing conditions for the most prolific passing offense in the NFL. Tampa Bay faced off with Atlanta's 29th-ranked pass defense, according to DVOA, inside the dome of Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Sunday. Unsurprisingly, this game featured the highest total of any game on the main slate, thanks to the perfect playing conditions for offenses in dome games. At $7,200, the NFL's leading passer, who averages over 300 yards and nearly 3 scores per game through the air, was a fantastic cash-game selection in one of the softest matchups he will have all season. When the dust settled, 35-percent of sharp NFL DFS players in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 rostered Tom Brady at quarterback-- a decision that paid off handsomely as the reigning Super Bowl MVP scored 32.62 DraftKings points.
Jamaal Williams was the lone player featured in last week's Sharp Core. Despite underwhelming production (9.0 DraftKings points) in Detroit's comeback victory, he made his way into 40-percent of lineups in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings last weekend. This mark shows that the process behind his selection for last week's Sharp Core was sound, and we should continue to trust the process that zeroed in on him as a player to build cash-game lineups around. Below, in italics, is the forward-looking analysis that was used to project him as a sharp play in last week's article.
Jamaal Williams has spent most of the 2021 season as second-fiddle in Detroit's backfield, as the Lions have relied heavily upon D'Andre Swift thus far. Still, despite maxing out at 49-percent of Detroit's offensive snaps before Swift left last Thursday's game early due to injury, Williams has averaged about 9.3 DraftKings points per game this season. Now, with Swift sidelined due to the shoulder injury that took him out of last week's game in the first half, Williams is an elite option to build cash-game lineups around at just $5,400. It is no secret that the Detroit Lions predominantly play from behind, which typically suppresses a running back's fantasy value. However, the team has produced one of the league's most consistent fantasy running backs in the league this season due to Jared Goff's penchant for throwing the ball to players coming out of the backfield. In short, no game script should be able to ruin Jamaal Williams's fantasy value this weekend. Williams should be the first player plugged into cash-game lineups on DraftKings in Week 13 against the Minnesota Vikings, given his exceptionally affordable price tag and stable role in the Lions' plan of attack, both on the ground and through the air
Hunter Renfrow leads the Las Vegas Raiders in receiving touchdowns per game and second on the Las Vegas Raiders in targets and receiving yards per game this season. Renfrow trails only Darren Waller in both targets and receiving yards per game for the team, but Waller was inactive in Week 13 due to a knee injury that he sustained in Week 12 against the Dallas Cowboys. Now, as the team's number-one target, Hunter Renfrow was primed for a strong showing against the Washington Football Team's secondary that ranks 30th in the NFL in passing DVOA allowed this year. Additionally, the Las Vegas Raiders were playing this game at home, inside the dome of Allegiant Stadium, which would bode well for the team's high-volume passing attack. Still, despite the increased role in Las Vegas's passing attack and the soft matchup, Renfrow's price only went up from $5,600 in Week 12 to $5,800 in Week 13. At such an affordable price tag and the combination of a soft matchup to go along with increased receiving volume, plugging one of the league's premier slot receivers into cash-game lineups was a fantastic decision last weekend. Hunter Renfrow made 30-percent of sharp NFL DFS players in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 very happy last weekend when he stuffed the stat sheet with 22.2 DraftKings points via 9 receptions for 102 receiving yards in the Raiders' close loss to the Football Team.
Once again, Chris Godwin was the buy-low receiver of choice for sharp NFL DFS players in Week 13. Godwin's DraftKings price and production fluctuated significantly throughout the season for numerous reasons:
- Tampa Bay's pass rate has unpredictably varied from week to week based on game script.
- Tampa Bay's receiving corps has sustained numerous impactful injuries, with Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski both missing extended time.
- The team's playing environments have varied significantly, playing 7 out of their 11 games outside leading up to Week 13.
Given his undeniable talent and the context surrounding his variant receiving volume, sharp NFL DFS players continue to roster Chris Godwin whenever his price drops after brief stints of underwhelming production. Although Godwin had not commanded more than seven targets in any of the three games that preceded this matchup with the Atlanta Falcons' porous secondary, 95-percent of sharp NFL DFS players in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 rostered him on DraftKings. A significant number of players stacked Godwin with his quarterback, Tom Brady, which was an intelligent way to correlate two of the top cash-game options in the DraftKings player pool. In the end, Godwin surpassed all expectations by scoring 33.2 DraftKings points against the Atlanta Falcons' 29th-ranked pass defense in the NFL, according to DVOA allowed.
As previously mentioned, the Las Vegas Raiders did not have Darren Waller in the lineup for their Week 13 tilt against the Washington Football Team. Foster Moreau filled his spot atop the team's depth chart at tight end for this matchup, and at just $2,700, the third-year player out of LSU was the top tight end in the player pool for most sharp NFL DFS players in cash-games. In Week 7, Moreau filled in for Waller against the Philadelphia Eagles, and he shined in that matchup. Moreau hauled in 6 out of 6 targets for 60 receiving yards and 1 touchdown while playing 100-percent of the Raiders' offensive snaps that week. At just $2,700, plugging such a cheap player into cash-game lineups when his role in the team's offense typically commands such significant and stable volume was a no-brainer decision for sharp NFL DFS players in Week 13. Ultimately, 90-percent of players in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings rostered Foster Moreau in Week 13. Although he underperformed by scoring just 4.4 DraftKings points, the process behind rostering Moreau was sound and should be trusted moving forward.
Week 14 Sharp Core
Build Week 14 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.
Sharp Play #1: Mike Williams
The Los Angeles Chargers placed Keenan Allen on the Reserve/COVID-19 List earlier this week. He will not play this weekend unless he is vaccinated, returns two negative tests within 24 hours of each other, and is asymptomatic for 48 consecutive hours before Sunday. This season, Allen has commanded an average of 10.3 targets per game, which will need to be redistributed throughout the offense if he cannot suit up. Mike Williams, the team's second-leading receiver, is likely to see the most notable increase in volume through the air. Through 12 games, Williams has commanded 7.75 targets per game. If he absorbs just 25-percent of the targets that would have typically gone to Keenan Allen, he can reasonably expect to see double-digit passes thrown his way this weekend against the New York Giants. As a player with such an impressive combination of size, speed, and talent, if Mike Williams commands 10+ targets, he should easily surpass the salary-implied expectations of a $6,000 player. If Keenan Allen stays on the Reserve/COVID-19 List and cannot play this weekend, Mike Williams is an elite wide receiver to build cash-game lineups around in Week 14.
UPDATE: Mike Williams landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List on Wednesday afternoon and is unlikely to play this weekend.
Sharp Play #1: Austin Ekeler
After a mysterious zero-target game in Week 1 against the Washington Football Team, Austin Ekeler has had at least five passes thrown his way in every game except one this season. Overall this season, Ekeler ranks 2nd in the NFL in targets amongst all running backs, trailing only Najee Harris. Now, as the Los Angeles Chargers enter battle against the New York Giants without their top two receivers on the outside, Ekeler's pass-catching prowess will be critical to the team's success through the air in Week 14. While he is the most expensive running back in the DraftKings player pool this weekend, priced at $8,300, an efficient price for Ekeler is much higher now that he will play a bigger role in the team's passing game. The 5th-year running back has scored an average of 12.48 DraftKings points per game through the air this season, and, on the whole, he has scored at least 19.4 DraftKings points in 8 out of his 12 outings. Expect Austin Ekeler to be one of the most popular running back selections in cash-game contests in Week 14 thanks to a significant increase to his already impressive profile of receiving production.
Sharp Play #2: Taysom Hill
Taysom Hill is back under center for the New Orleans Saints after a brief stint as the starter last season. This year, it took an injury to the Saints' starter, Jameis Winston, followed by dismal play from Trevor Siemien, the team's backup, to force Hill back in charge of Sean Payton's offense. Last week, in his first start, Hill was dreadful through the air, completing less than 50-percent of his passes for 264 yards, 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions. Still, Hill posted 27.66 DraftKings points thanks to his remarkable rushing production. With 11 carries for 101 yards on the ground, the gadget-player turned quarterback posted one of the strongest fantasy performances of any quarterback in the league last week. This week, at just $5,600 on DraftKings in a matchup against the horrific defense of the New York Jets, Hill is far and away the strongest quarterback option on the main slate of games. Even if he is unable to match his 13.1 points on the ground from last week, his passing production should increase significantly thanks to an exceptionally soft matchup. Taysom Hill will certainly be the quarterback of choice for sharp NFL DFS players this weekend, and he should be locked into your cash game lineups without a second thought.