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.
Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter with any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this article or anything else tangentially related to fantasy football.
- QB- Justin Herbert
- RB- James Robinson
- RB- Ronald Jones II
- WR- Cooper Kupp
- WR- Keenan Allen
- WR- Antonio Brown
- TE- Cole Kmet
- FLEX- Justin Jackson
- D/ST- Atlanta Falcons
Ronald Jones II was featured in the Sharp Core last week, leading up to his first start of the season against the Carolina Panthers. Jones is an undeniably talented ball-carrier with an impressive track record of fantasy production in the number-one role in Tampa Bay's backfield. Week 16 was a fantastic opportunity for Jones to get back on track and earn an increased role in the offense come playoff time. Below, in italics, is the forward-looking analysis used in last week's article to project Jones as a sharp selection at running back.
- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were decimated by injuries in their Sunday Night Football clash with the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. The team lost Leonard Fournette, Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans to injury during the game, and all three are expected to miss at least one month of action while Godwin is out for the year with a torn ACL. Ronald Jones II is the obvious next-man-up in Tampa Bay's backfield. Last season, across the four outings that Fournette missed or was limited in, Jones scored an average of 21.78 DraftKings points per game. Although 21.78 points would be an unreasonable expectation for him this weekend, his modest $5,100 price tag requires just 13.0 points to reach value. Additionally, the combination of a soft matchup against the Carolina Panthers' 24th-ranked run defense, according to DVOA allowed, and a favorable game script as 10-point favorites will provide a fantastic floor of rushing production for the fourth-year running back from USC. Fortunately, Jones II's history of lackluster performance in pass-protection, which has limited his playing time in the past, should not be much of an issue for him this week if the Buccaneers intelligently deploy a simplified, quick-hitting passing attack in their first game with their second-team receiving corps. Expect Ronald Jones II to stuff the stat sheet on the ground in Week 16, when he will undoubtedly be one of the most popular running back selections amongst sharp NFL DFS players.
James Robinson was a staple of sharp cash-game lineups once again on DraftKings in Week 16. After a solid Week 15 showing against the Houston Texans, Robinson got an even softer matchup against the New York Jets. The Jets defense ranks 29th in rushing DVOA allowed this season, 3 spots below the lowly Houston Texans. Additionally, after scoring 17.8-points and playing 85-percent of Jacksonville's offensive snaps in Week 15, Robinson's price rose to only $5,900 on DraftKings last week. Sharp NFL DFS players typically do not pass on the opportunity to lock in a bell-cow running back in a soft matchup at such an affordable price tag. Week 16 was no different, as 85-percent of entrants in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 rostered James Robinson. Unfortunately, Robinson scored just one point before he went down with a season-ending Achilles injury.
Austin Ekeler missed out on the Los Angeles Chargers Week 16 bout with the Houston Texans due to COVID. Justin Jackson was first in line to fill the starting role, especially after he played 54-percent of the side's offensive snaps in Week 15 against the Chiefs when Ekeler played a limited role due to a lingering ankle injury. Jackson also jumped off the page in Week 16 due to his $4,200 price tag. In Week 15, the Sharp Report highlighted James Robinson as the Sharp Play against the Houston Texans' bottom-ranked defense. Rostering another high-usage running back against the same horrid run defense at a price $1,200 cheaper was a near-no-brainer for sharp NFL DFS players. In total, 85-percent of entrants in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 plugged Justin Jackson into their cash-game lineups. Jackson produced one of the week's best fantasy performances, as he scored 35.2 points thanks to a pair of scores to go along with 64 rushing yards and 98 receiving yards on 8 receptions and 9 targets.
In Tampa Bay's receiving corps, a bevy of injuries forced Antonio Brown into an immediate high-volume receiving role upon his return to action. Brown, who missed the last ten games due to an ankle injury and three-game suspension, posted remarkable per-game stats in the league's deepest wide receiver's room earlier this year. Now, without his top-two competitors for targets, the $4,900 veteran was impossible to ignore. In #Trendspotting last week, I noted that Brown should expect to see double-digit targets per game while Mike Evans and Chris Godwin are sidelined, and he did so with ease last weekend when he hauled in 10 out of 15 targets for 101 yards and 23.1 points on the afternoon. Antonio Brown was an easy selection in Week 16, as his projected volume matched that of the slate's best wide receivers, but he was priced over $2,000 cheaper than other similarly-projected pass-catchers. When the dust settled, 90-percent of entrants into the GIANT $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings chose Antonio Brown to fill a wide receiver spot in their respective Week 16 cash-game lineups.
Given the plethora of high-quality salary-saving options in Week 16, paying up for Cooper Kupp was an easy way to secure top-end production at wide receiver. Kupp's record-setting pace has been no secret this season. He had scored at least 20 DraftKings points in 11 out of 14 games this season leading up to Week 16. Still, however, Kupp's price remained relatively unchanged on DraftKings, where his $9,100 price tag was $500 cheaper than his highest mark of the year. Cooper Kupp's unmatched consistency and efficiency numbers have his name firmly planted atop the charts as the league's projected highest-scoring fantasy wide receiver. The preferred roster construction in Week 16, which featured a trio of sub-$6,000 running backs and a $4,900 wide receiver, helped to make Cooper Kupp one of the most-rostered players in high-stakes cash games. Ultimately, the MVP candidate made his way into 90-percent of lineups in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings, the highest tally of any player on the main slate, alongside Antonio Brown.
Week 17 Sharp Core
Build Week 17 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 Core Feature #1: Antonio Brown
DraftKings increased Antonio Brown's price to $6,100 after his stellar Week 16 performance, but this $1,200 increase should have reasonably been much closer to a $3,000 increase. Antonio Brown averaged over 19 points per game while Mike Evans and Chris Godwin were active. That 19-point mark would be more than enough to pay off his modest $6,100 price tag this weekend, but the increase in projected target volume makes him one of the most likely 20+ point scorers on the Week 17 main slate. Locking this mid-priced wide receiver into cash-game lineups is a relatively low-risk and high-upside proposition. Do not think twice about plugging Antonio Brown into Week 17 cash-game lineups.
Sharp Core Feature #2: Trey Lance
Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a series of injuries to his throwing hand last weekend, including a broken bone in his thumb and a potentially torn UCL in his arm/wrist. Should Garoppolo not play this Sunday against the Houston Texans, Trey Lance becomes an immediate must-play quarterback in cash games. The dual-threat rookie scored over 35 points across 1.5 games of playing time earlier this season, and there are few softer matchups in the league for a quarterback than playing host to the Houston Texans. As 13-point favorites, there should be no shortage of scoring opportunities for the 49ers' offense in Week 17, and if Trey Lance quarterbacks Kyle Shanahan's offense at just $4,800, he is a near must-play.