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The key to success in Week 4 FanDuel tournaments is going to be identifying the less popular plays with slate-winning upside and combining those players with the “good chalk” to construct winning lineups.
Over the past few weeks, my focus has been on refining and improving my simulation model based on Footballguys consensus projections. My method separates production into two separate factors. First, we analyze and simulate team-level passing, rushing, and receiving fantasy production based on both base productions and historical standard deviations. We also simulate the variance in each player’s share of team production in each category. Simulating the slate 1,000 times and generating an optimal lineup from each simulation and then counting how many times each player shows up in those 1,000 optimal lineups gives a good idea of which players have the most realistic upside. It gives us some percent rostered targets for our builds that we can then compare to Devin Knotts’ Percent Rostered Projections to determine the players at each position who are going overlooked. Throughout this week’s article, we are going to be especially focused on highlighting the spots where our numbers like players more than the we think the field will land.
In the table above, the Optimal column shows how often each player showed up in the optimal lineup of my 1,000 simulations. This is a good method to determine what percentage a player should be rostered at. We see a lot of the usual suspects at the top of the list, led by Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts. However, this is not the end of our analysis. We also need to compare how often a player should be rostered to how often we actually expect each player to be rostered in FanDuel tournaments this weekend. The Ownership is how popular each player is expected to be based upon Devin Knotts' percent rostered projections. Both Allen and Hurts are expected to be rostered in about the same percentage of lineups as they should be. That makes them solid plays despite their chalky status. On the other hand, both Kirk Cousins and Justin Fields are expected to be popular but do not project well enough in my model to justify their popularity. Both look like bad chalk, appearing in optimal lineups about half as often as their ownership projections would indicate they should. There are also some players who are expected to be less popular than they should be (see Gap column). The biggest gap this week is between how often a player appeared in optimal lineups of my sims is Bryce Young who was in 5.7% of optimals but is only projected to be 0.5% rostered.
Anthony Richardson, Colts ($7,600)
- The best way to put Richardson’s incredible fantasy start into context is this stat:
Richardson had a big Week 1 (21.9 FanDuel points) and was on his way to a monster performance in Week 2 with 17.7 fantasy points in just 18 snaps before being knocked out with a concussion. The sample size here is small (1.3 games), but we knew coming into the season that Richardson had elite fantasy upside, as a freakish athlete in a fantasy-friendly system.
- The Colts will be without two starting offensive linemen (LT Bernhard Raimann and C Ryan Kelly), which adds more risk to this play. It is less comfortable to play Richardson than it is to click the button for some of the more proven commodities at the position. However, that hesitation is where the potential edge comes in. We know there is a strong chance (roughly 8%) that Richardson is the top performer at the position, but he is expected to be less popular than that, which is the definition of good chalk.
Josh Allen, Bills ($8,800)
- For his career, Allen is 9-1 as a starter against the Dolphins and has regularly put up massive fantasy numbers in those games.
- Allen scored 35.9 FanDuel points in a 32-29 Bills win over Miami at home last December. He threw for 304 yards and 4 touchdowns and rushed for 77 yards. Allen also put up big numbers in the playoff matchup against the Dolphins, throwing for 352 yards and 3 touchdowns.
- The Bills have the second-highest implied team total on the slate (28.3), and this game has a slate-high 53.5 total. The Dolphins will be without their best pass rusher, Jaelen Phillips. There is obvious shootout potential here.
Others to Consider
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins ($8,000)
- As with Richardson, Tagovailoa is good chalk. The only drawback here is that Tagovailoa brings almost nothing on the ground (his rushing over/under is 3.5 yards). His passing upside makes up for the lack of rushing ability. He has already had a pair of huge passing games (309 yards and 4 touchdowns last week and 466 yards and 3 touchdowns in Week 1). The matchup with the Bills is difficult, but this Miami offense may be explosive enough to succeed even in this tough spot.
Jalen Hurts, Eagles ($8,800)
- This is not the best game environment for the Eagles as 8.5-point favorites against a Washington offense that does not look capable of turning the game into a shootout. However, with a solid team total of 26.0 points and Hurts’ obvious fantasy upside due to his goal-line rushing usage (three rushing touchdowns over the past two weeks), he makes sense at a solid price. He’s decent chalk.
Bryce Young, Panthers ($6,800)
- Anyone who watched Young the first two weeks will scroll past his name when building lineups. It makes sense that he is going to be on fewer than 1% of the rosters. However, this is where ignoring the basic eye test and leaning into the data may be helpful, and Young’s very low popularity makes him an interesting option.
- We know this Panthers passing offense has some upside. Andy Dalton just threw for 361 yards and 2 touchdowns last week. Is there a chance that we get a similar game script with Minnesota’s high-flying offense building an early lead? If that game script plays out, is Bryce Young capable of the same level of play as Andy Dalton? That’s all it takes at this price (as long as none of the top guys goes nuclear).
Joe Burrow, Bengals ($7,200)
- Burrow does not look like himself with the calf injury. The most likely outcome is that he has a solid passing yardage game (his gambling over/under is 259.5 yards) with one or two touchdowns. That does not kill you at this price, but also probably is not going to win you a GPP.
- There is also more upside than meets the eye, and we typically do not get Burrow at 2% rostered. The Titans take away the run and force teams to beat them through the air. Burrow threw 49 passes last week and could be in for similar usage again in Week 4. For a guy as skilled as Burrow throwing to other top talents like Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, that is a lot of chances for big plays. I think the simulation is right that if you played this slate 100 times, Burrow would be the top quarterback value about 6% of the time.
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