Daily Fantasy Football
Vol.1 Issue 1
A Shot in the Dark – NFL DFS Winners for Week 8 (and Origin Stories)
I love football. To be more precise, I love fantasy football. To be exact, I love daily fantasy football. But it wasn’t always this way. I’ve dabbled with DFS over the last few years, but until this year my first fantasy love has always centered around my home league redraft teams. For this story, it might help if I just started at the beginning. I have been an NFL fan since I was 4 years old. My grandmother, who we lived with growing up, was a die-hard Raiders fan and introduced me to the beautiful violence just in time for her Raiders to steam role the hometown Redskins in Super Bowl XVIII. How she came to claim the silver and black in a sea of burgundy and gold, I will never know. I think she liked ass-kickers. I, on the other hand, was fiercely loyal to my hometown and firmly entrenched myself as a Redskins fan. No, not those Redskins. The Joe Gibbs coaching, Darrell Green punt returning, Dexter Manley sacking, Alvin Walton spearing, Joe Jacoby mauling, Art Monk gracing, Gary Clark TD grabbing, Super Bowl Fucking Champion Washington Redskins!!!. May they rest in peace (double chest tap, point to the heavens, and pour some out for all the good fans lost along the way).
Fast forward to my twenties, my childhood football team is fading into obscurity thanks to boy wander and I was lost. I didn’t renew my season tickets and nothing mattered to me anymore. It was a bad time for the empire. I was just about to give up and become a college football fan (I had already started looking for face paint) when my brother-in-law reached out and invited me to try fantasy football with him. He explained that in fantasy football, we get to pick the players that we liked and thought were good, build our own teams. I was intrigued. Unfortunately, the first time I tried fantasy football, I didn’t feel anything at all. Other people said that I looked like I was feeling something, but I don’t think that I was. I was soooooo disappointed. I thought maybe that fantasy football wasn’t for me. Then some friends invited me over to a live home draft they were having. Everyone, there was doing fantasy football and it looked so cool. The next thing I knew, it was in my hand, and then I was doing it too, everyone cheering me on. This time, I felt it immediately. I couldn’t stop smiling and just kept saying “Houshmandzadeh” over and over again for no reason. It was one of the greatest days of my life. I started fantasy footballing hardcore. By my second season, I was out of control. What had started as a casual, one team a season standard league side hobby (that I enjoyed recreationally a few times a week, in the comfort of my own home) had now somehow morphed into a three day online “auction-style IDP league” that led to a daily addiction that was completely unsustainable. It was too fast, too soon. The league dissolved after one season and I was left to do some real soul searching. My thoughts were everywhere. “Do I really need IDP in my life? Are two QBs better than one? Was staying up for 72 hours to monitor the live auction-related in any way to the nervous ticks I developed and compulsions to start Steven Jackson all season (despite his abysmal yards per carry average)?” I quit cold turkey, for the whole offseason, and then I got back up on the horse and formed a new PPR league. Just one wouldn’t be that bad. I could manage it. And I did. It started off perfectly. I was constantly talking smack and starting arbitrary fights on our league message boards. I rallied the league to veto an obvious attempt at collusion and moved us from two WRs to three. I pulled off the greatest most devastating fantasy football draft day prank ever (story to come, for sure). Hell, Matthew Berry and I even ended up exchanging tweets about the blowup doll that my fantasy football league used as our championship trophy (shout out to “The Ballaz League” you are all savages, except for you Vince, you are still you). I sent him a photo of the blowup doll and he asked if her could use the story in his book. I was on fantasy cloud nine. Nothing was going to stop me.
Ten years later and so much has changed. The blowup doll popped without me. In the end, she never made it over to my place. The fantasy football landscape looks a lot different as well. While I spent the last decade consistently falling short of fantasy glory, fantasy football itself had become a multi-billion dollar industry, with the surge in dynasty leagues and the introduction of DFS helping to forge a year-long fantasy football season. I ate it all up. My research for my redraft leagues now begins every year on January 1st and runs until late December 31st (I’m great at holiday parties if you want to talk about all the misconceptions surrounding Zero RB). Once my redrafts are completed in early September though, all the research, obsessions with podcasts, player projections, target share data, 1st down run percentage tendencies, it all has to go somewhere. So I decided to put all the time spent to good use and focus my efforts on DFS this season. No better way to jump write in than to launch a weekly DFS winners article that no one asked for (Yes, I know. It’s a pun. Yes. That’s where we are at right now. Sorry. It will happen again.).
I turned 40 this past April and it led me to reflect on what was important to me in my life and besides the obvious, (incredible wife, two beautiful daughters, my parents, amazing friends) I realized that fantasy football was at the top of the list of what matters most to me. More importantly, it makes me happy. I made a promise to myself then that I was going to do more of what I love with the time that I have left. Fantasy football is what I love. This is my break away from the machine. You can fade me or roll with me. Either way, here’s my shot in the dark at fantasy football writing and picking weekly DFS winners. May the TDs be with us both, but mostly with me.
Constructing the Perfect Lineup(s) for Tournament Play (multi-entry)
There are a lot of considerations that go into constructing a potentially perfect lineup. One of the most important is the contest that you are entering. Context matters for lineup construction. If you are entering the millionaire maker or large tournaments, you are going to approach the contest in a measured and strategic way. Carefully selecting only your very best players to your offer to the fantasy football gods for their humble consideration.
When you enter smaller tournaments you have the opportunity to diversify your approach and expand your player pool to include more variance. It helps to establish a core of potential breakout players that you can build your team around each week. Once you have your core group, you can start to play around with slight variations that maximize your exposure to players that might not be included in a large percentage of the field.
The focus of this article will be how to approach constructing your perfect lineup for multi-entry tournaments ranging from $0.05 to $1. These tournaments often feature an entry cap of 150 entries per contest. If you are starting off your DFS experience with less than $100, I encourage you to maximize your lineup exposure in these types of tournaments. My analysis will focus on the weekly winners from three Fanduel Week 7 contests. We will break down their lineups to see where they gained an edge over the field and determine what patterns led to their overall success.
Winning lineup for Week 7 Fanduel $6K Sun NFL Pooch Punt ($0.5 to enter) contest.
Winning lineup for the Week 7 Fanduel $75K Sun NFL Hail Mary ($0.25 to enter) contest.
Winning lineup for the Week 7 Fanduel $150K Sun NFL Dive ($1 entry) contest.
After analyzing these weekly winners, several observable roster construction strategies jumped out to me.
- All three teams featured a QB/WR stack. Double points are double points.
- The $6K winning roster included a QB/RB/WR stack which accounted for double points across multiple positions groups.
- The Raiders vs. Packers match-up from week 7 also featured a Raiders pass funnel defense for Aaron Rodgers and company to feast on. Opposing QBs are averaging a QB rating of 115.6 against the Raiders (For reference, Pat Mahomes has a QB rating of 113.1 and Russell Wilson comes in at 114.1). The Raiders also allowed QB’s a 67% completion rating and were in the top third of the NFL in passing TDs allowed.
- The $150K weekly winner exploited injuries to stars Alvin Kamara and David Johnson by featuring their backups, Latavius Murray ($5,300) and Chase Edmonds ($5,500). This allowed him to pay up for studs Dalvin Cook, DeAndre Hopkins and Julio Jones to bolster his lineup.
- Feature RBs against run funnel defenses. The Lions give up 4.9 yards per carry, 171.8 yards per game, 194.1 total fantasy points on the season and they are giving up an average 32.4 fantasy points a game to RBs. If you didn’t start Dalvin Cook last week, you only have yourself to blame.
- All three teams featured Darren “The Walrus” Waller and his 88% catch rate. Tyrell Williams was out during week 7, which meant that Waller was the number one target in a come from behind shootout loss in Green Bay. Look for skill positions that are enhanced by injuries at other positions when projecting a players value.
- All three lineups included players who featured prominently in a high scoring games. Using the Vega weekly over/under lines can be useful in predicting increased opportunity for players who are seeking more touches or targets due to positive game flow in their direction. Find out what the team splits are for the game.
- Identify undervalued players whose low costs creates the potential for them to well outperform their price tag. Marvin Jones ($5,600) returned 6.8x his value. Austin Ekeler ($6,900) returned 3.2x his value. Darren Waller ($6,200) led all TE with a value of 4.5x his price.
From what I learned in week 7, here are the factors that I am taking into consideration when targeting my players for inclusion in my lineups (all prices are from Fanduel).
QB/WR Stacks with favorable match-ups
*Bonus play QB/RB stack: Tom Brady ($7,900) and James White ($6,000)
*If Keenan Allen is out on Sunday, Hunter Henry is a steal at $6,700.
High-Cost players value plays based on the match-up, opportunity, and breakout potential.
Low cost/high value plays based on match-up, opportunity, and breakout potential.
In closing, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that there are so many outstanding fantasy football analysts currently producing outstanding daily and weekly content for DFS and redraft leagues. I am grasping at the coattails of true giants in the fantasy football industry and have been inspired to do this because of them. Fantasy pioneers like Dave Richard, JJ Zachariason, Denny Carter, Min Cash Pete, Scott Fish, The Football Guys, Brad Evans, Pat D, Pat Thorman, LordReebs, Joe Pisapia, Matt Harmon, Tags, the Footballers (not JayGriz, his takes are static), Ian Hartitz, Matt Waldmen, The Great Sigmund Bloom, Warren Sharp, Scott Barrett, and the list has so many more people on it! These are the brilliant football minds that I follow/study/idolize on my fantasy twitter each day (sorry for all the fanboying and GIFs gentlemen). They are all my true heroes!
May the fantasy gods be with us all!