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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QB- Trey Lance
RB- Sony Michel
RB- Jonathan Taylor
WR- Cooper Kupp
WR- Braxton Berrios
WR- Antonio Brown
TE- Stephen Anderson
FLEX- Chase Edmonds
D/ST- Indianapolis Colts
Trey Lance was featured in last week's Sharp Core. Lance is one of the league's most promising young dual-threat quarterbacks, and his combination of rushing and passing production made him the premier quarterback selection in Week 17, when he made his way into 85-percent of lineups in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings. Below, in italics, is the forward-looking analysis used last week to project Trey Lance as a sharp cash-game selection at quarterback.
- 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.
Antonio Brown was featured in last week's Sharp Core. Brown was expected to see an increased role in Tampa Bay's passing attack upon his return to action, and while his mid-game antics limited him to under one-half of action and 5.60 DraftKings points, his inclusion in 80-percent of sharp cash-game lineups in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings justified his place in the Week 17 Sharp Core. Below, in italics, is the forward-looking analysis used last week to project Antonio Brown as a sharp cash-game selection at wide receiver.
- 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.
In Week 17, Stephen Anderson and Braxton Berrios, respectively priced at $2,500 and $3,700 on DraftKings, were the preferred bargain bin options for sharp NFL DFS players in cash games. Both Anderson and Berrios moved into larger roles due to injuries elsewhere on each player's team.
Anderson filled in as the Los Angeles Chargers' starting tight end after Jared Cook landed on the Reserve/COVID List ahead of Week 17. Cook averaged over five targets per game entering Week 17, and if Anderson commanded just 80-percent of Cook's typical volume in the same role, he would easily surpass the salary-implied expectations of his site-minimum price tag at tight end.
Berrios first stepped into the New York Jets' starting lineup at wide receiver in Week 16 after Jamison Crowder suffered a calf injury. In his Week 16 start, Berrios played 83-percent of the team's offensive snaps, which he converted into 5 receptions for 37 yards on 6 targets. However, his price increased just $200 to $3,700 ahead of Week 17, when the Jets were sure to increase their passing volume in a negative game script as heavy underdogs against the Buccaneers. Additionally, his role in the slot lends well to cash games, as he projected for a high-volume afternoon on short and easy-to-complete passes.
Overall, the salary relief that Stephen Anderson and Braxton Berrios afforded fantasy managers on DraftKings was essential for fitting the elite top-end options like Jonathan Taylor and Cooper Kupp into the same lineup. When the dust settled, Stephen Anderson was rostered by 45-percent of entrants in the GIANT $2,120 50-50 on DraftKings, while Braxton Berrios checked in with a 60-percent rostership number.
Week 18 Sharp Core
Build Week 18 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.
Projected Sharp Play #1: Taysom Hill
Despite lackluster win and loss numbers as the Saints' starting quarterback, Taysom Hill's fantasy production has been fantastic, aside from a Week 15 dud against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hill is unimpressive as a passer, but his rushing production provides a remarkable floor and ceiling of fantasy production. Now, in a Week 18 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, which will take place inside the dome of Mercedes Benz Stadium, Taysom Hill ranks as one of the week's best quarterbacks overall. Here, given his $6,200 price tag and a soft matchup against the 29th-ranked Atlanta Falcons defense inside a dome, where offenses are significantly more efficient during the winter months, Hill tops the charts as the best point-per-dollar quarterback on the Week 18 slate.
Projected Sharp Play #2: Sony Michel
Sony Michel has stepped into the starting lineup over the last 5 weeks, carrying the ball at least 18 times for at least 74 yards in each outing. Across this stretch, Michel averages over 17.7 points per game, yet he is priced at just $6,000 on DraftKings in Week 18. This season, sharps have regularly targeted the Rams backfield in cash games, whether Michel or Darrell Henderson top the depth chart. This weekend, the Rams are favored by 4.5 points in their NFC West clash against the San Francisco 49ers, which should afford Michel plenty of opportunity to reach or surpass his average production as the side's bell-cow running back. 17.7 points would be more than enough to pay off his mid-range price tag and justify a spot in cash-game lineups in the final week of the 2021-2022 regular season. Expect Sony Michel to feature heavily in cash-game lineups built by the sharpest NFL DFS players this weekend.