The Hail Mary (NFL DFS) – Week 1 WEEKEND UPDATE – September 12, 2015
September 12, 2015 | Doug Shain
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The Huddle – Opening Statement (I will try to keep this relatively short most weeks, but this week we’ll go a little longer)
As the week has gone on I’ve found that some things have changed. New HuLo plays have emerged, some Public Plays have become less public, and the Expert Plays are changing as well. In order to give you the best possible chance to win I’m going to try to get an article out early in the week with my initial thoughts and then update it closer to roster lock as trends change. I will italicize and bold everything that’s new. This is the last update for this article for Week 1. Keep an eye on my Twitter (@bankster17) for any further updates if something changes that needs to be addressed.
Welcome to the UPDATED inaugural edition of the The Hail Mary. For those of you who’ve read my work on The Fake Hockey (The One Time Shot) or The Fake Baseball (The Longball) you’re going to find this article very familiar. For those of you who are new please allow me to take a moment to explain where I’m coming from and what you’re going to see in this article.
First and foremost I’m mostly a GPP player and that’s who this article is mostly designed to help. I write for players like me; the guy or gal who enters a single bullet in a couple of low limit GPP’s each week. This group of players probably makes up a much larger percentage of the DFS community than you think. If you are a cash game player or a high buy-in/high volume/multi-entry GPP player you should still read this because it’ll give you an everyman perspective that you might not get in other articles (there are plenty of those on this site and I urge you to read them as well because they are fantastic).
Be advised that playing a single bullet in a large field GPP is a very volatile game and you’re going to lose more often than you win. That’s a fact and it’s something you have to know before you start playing. Due to the volatility of this game I’m going to try to give you plays that can help you zoom to the top of your GPP leaderboard. These plays are very boom or bust, so please know that going in.
One way that I like to separate from the field is by trying to anticipate ownership rates of certain players. Over the course of the year I’ll get into this more deeply, but just know for now that all things being equal (and even in some cases when it’s not), I’m going to recommend the player that’s going to have a lower ownership rate.
In my mind there are 2 groups of people who play in large field GPP’s that dictate ownership percentages. One group is the true amateurs who are just going to play for fun and not put too much time into making optimal lineups. We’re going to call them “MOST PEOPLE” – they’ll be referred to as Public Plays. Most people don’t do the DFS thing for a living or for higher stakes and they are going to play players they know and like. They’re not going to dig deep and look for Eddie Royal or Alfred Blue (yes, that’s digging deep for MOST PEOPLE). They are going to target very well-known players like Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, and Calvin Johnson. These well-known players aren’t going to change much and should have a fairly high ownership every single week regardless of matchup.
The other group of players that play in large field GPP’s are people who follow every fantasy expert on Twitter, watch all the fantasy shows on TV, and are up to date on all the big “sleepers” (there is no such thing anymore as sleepers). We will refer to these players as DFS EXPERTS. They are hip to the ins and outs of DFS, they are well-informed, and they are going to win by playing their big sleepers like Sam Bradford. What’s that you say? Everyone who’s ever read anything about fantasy knows that Bradford has a great matchup? No kidding, and he’s going to be really highly owned (and deservedly so) in Week 1. Like I said, there are no sleepers. I will be looking at Twitter and listening to Fantasy Sports Radio to see who the experts are talking up to derive this list.
My goal is to try to find players that don’t fit either of these two categories. I want to find guys that’ll be low owned and could have a good game (I call them HuLo players – High Upside, Low Ownership). These players tend to either be “boring” veterans, very risky plays, or players who are overshadowed by bigger names on their teams. For example, nobody is talking about Joe Flacco for Week 1. I think he could be a part of a GPP-winning team. Do I think he will be the highest scoring QB in Week 1? No, I think that’ll be Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan, but I do think he can return significant value and is priced in such a way that you can field a winning lineup with him as your QB. Fantasy is all about you finding the value that your opponents didn’t.
I have some “musts” when I set my GPP lineups. I’ll highlight those as I go through the explanation of how I built my teams.
– It is a must that I get a QB that is going to throw a lot when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I get RB that are guaranteed touches when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that my WR have upside when building my GPP teams.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my TE gets me 3 catches for cheap or is Rob Gronkowski.
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my defense is cheap and gets to the quarterback.
– It is a must that I take a min-priced kicker when building my GPP teams.
– It is a must that I include at least some HuLo plays when building my GPP teams.
The Depth Chart – The Plays of the Week
I’m going to list 3 groups of players for each position (except K). These groups are going to be PUBLIC plays, EXPERT plays, and HuLo plays. They are not ranked in any order. I’ll give a little analysis after each position section, but I won’t necessarily give a narrative about each player (I’m trying to keep this relatively short going forward).
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Aaron Rodgers – GB||Matt Ryan – ATL||Cam Newton – CAR|
|Andrew Luck – IND||Sam Bradford – PHI||Joe Flacco – BAL|
|Peyton Manning – DEN||Jameis Winston – TB||Teddy Bridgewater – MIN|
|Drew Brees – NO||Ryan Tannehill – MIA||Ryan Fitzpatrick – NYJ|
|Tony Romo – DAL||Tyrod Taylor – BUF||Carson Palmer – ARI|
|Russell Wilson – SEA|
– The Public Play I’m going to be playing a lot of is Rodgers who has a great matchup against the Bears. Down his best WR, Rodgers is going to go out of his way to show the world that the Pack is going to be just fine this year. I think that Andrew Luck is one of the bigger busts this week against a staunch Rex Ryan defense. I won’t be playing any of the other Public QB’s.
– All of the Expert Plays appeal to me but I am concerned that their ownership is going to be sky high. The Philly/Atlanta game should be a shootout so I don’t blame you if you grab Ryan or Bradford and try to differentiate your lineup elsewhere. I know that I’m going to have a lot of lineups with these guys in it. I will say, though, that there isn’t a single article I’ve read (and I read a lot) that hasn’t included Sam Bradford. That should give you an indication of just how highly owned he’s going to be this week.
– Tyrod Taylor is a guy I’m hearing about everywhere and he’s suddenly becoming the “sleeper” QB du jour. I don’t love it. Yes, he’s got the running ability; and yes, the Colts don’t play great run defense…but it’s Tyrod Taylor. I just can’t get into this one. Let his ownership rate go up and I’d look elsewhere.
– The hate on Cam has gone too far. Yes, Benjamin is gone but Newton’s best years were without a real #1 WR (don’t get me started on Steve Smith). I think he’s going to be fine and his legs will make him a good play. Flacco is going to have to throw to beat Denver and I love volume like that for my QB. Everyone will be on AP this week but Bridgewater looked great at the end of last season and seems to be ready to air it out this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went for over 250 yards and 2 TD this week. Fitzpatrick always has 2 or 3 games a year where he goes nuts. He’s got weapons around him and he faces a relatively weak Browns defense.
– Carson Palmer enters the HuLo list. He’s got a tremendous matchup against New Orleans and is priced very well. I’m seeing a lot more of his name popping up on Twitter, but not so much that’d I’d worry about ownership. He’s an excellent GPP play, especially if paired with fellow HuLo Cardinal Larry Fitzgerald.
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Jamaal Charles – KC||Jeremy Hill – CIN||LeSean McCoy – BUF|
|Adrian Peterson – MIN||Joseph Randle – DAL||Eddie Lacy – GB|
|Marshawn Lynch – SEA||Alfred Blue – HOU||Doug Martin – TB|
|DeMarco Murray – PHI||Ameer Abdullah – DET||Darren McFadden – DAL|
|Lamar Miller – MIA||Ryan Mathews – PHI|
|Chris Ivory – NYJ||Jonathan Stewart – CAR|
|Benny Cunningham – STL||Danny Woodhead – SD|
– You can’t go wrong with any of the Public Plays. They are high volume runners that will ensure you get a return on your price at that position. If there’s any position where I consistently play what the public plays it’s at RB. My only concern is that Murray may get some TD’s vulture by Mathews, Sproles, Barner, Herschel Walker, Brian Westbrook, and any other Eagle that’s ever touched a football. The yards should still be high enough that he’ll be a decent play.
– Aside from Jeremy Hill I’m totally off the rest of the Expert Plays. I just don’t trust any of them enough to put them in my lineup when I can use some less risky players from the other 2 columns.
– The dangers with some HuLo plays is that they get talked up during the week and then they become Expert Plays. I can definitely see this happening with Darren McFadden. He’s one of the two players on the HuLo list that I’m most worried about. The other is Ryan Mathews because he’s not his team’s primary runner and we don’t know how Chip is going to use him. Lacy and Martin are good plays that are overshadowed by their big name QB’s. Both catch a ton of passes and both play defenses they can exploit. McCoy’s injury is scary but if he plays then he’s a real target of mine against a very poor Colt’s defense (if he sits then you can play Karlos Williams in his place). As long as he’s not injured Jonathan Stewart is a good play, but who knows how early in the game that injury is coming.
– The Dolphins should crush the Redskins so I expect a lot of clock chewing in this one for Lamar Miller. He could be a real breakout player this year so get him this week while he’s still affordable. I’m seeing his name all over Twitter, so I’m moving him off the HuLo list and onto the Expert list as I expect his ownership to rise. Another player people are building their lineups around is Chris Ivory of the Jets. He will be a very popular expert pick with his matchup and price. I’m not saying to avoid these guys (I have LOTS of Lamar Miller and will have a lot more Ivory by kickoff on Sunday), but I am saying to know that they’re not a sneaky of a play as they were a week ago.
– With Todd Gurley out and Tre Mason questionable there’s been a lot of chatter about Benny Cunningham. For his cost, yeah, I guess he’s a good play if you’re punting one of your RB slots because of his ability to catch passes, but I’d feel much more comfortable paying up a little and grabbing Ivory or Danny Woodhead. Like I said earlier, I try not to mess around too much with RB. That being said, I’d definitely play Cunningham over guys like Darren Sproles, Christine Michael, Reggie Bush, Gio Bernard, Shane Vereen, and Roy Helu.
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Julio Jones – ATL||Jordan Matthews – PHI||DeAndre Hopkins – HOU|
|Dez Bryant – DAL||Eddie Royal – CHI||Jeremy Maclin – KC|
|Calvin Johnson – DET||Devante Adams – GB||Brandon Marshall – NYJ|
|Amari Cooper – OAK||Brandin Cooks – NO||Steve Smith Jr – BAL|
|Demaryius Thomas – DEN||Allen Robinson – JAX||Larry Fitzgerald – ARI|
|O’Dell Beckham – NYG||John Brown – ARI||Terrence Williams – DAL|
|Devante Adams – GB||Stevie Johnson – SD||Keenan Allen – SD|
|Kamar Aiken – BAL||Brandon Coleman – NO|
|Randall Cobb – GB|
– I tend to shy away from the real Public Plays at WR when I’m competing in a GPP. With 3 WR slots I don’t mind if you use one of them, but I try to find some real HuLo value at this position more than any other. That being said, I can’t try to talk you out of Julio Jones. His matchup is golden and he could very well be the #1 WR this week. The only other guy from the Public Plays list that I’ll consider is Randall Cobb, but his injury and high expected ownership might scare me off by kickoff.
– There is a really interesting thing happening at WR right now centering on the Green Bay WR. Devante Adams is going to be the no doubt, hands down most highly owned player this week in GPP’s. That moves him from an Expert Play to a very Public Play. This move for Adams, along with Randall Cobb’s pre-season injury, have moved Cobb off the Public list and squarely onto the HuLo list. I don’t see anyone talking up Cobb anymore on Twitter. I actually think his ownership is going to be way lower than originally expected. Here’s where things get even more interesting. As I’m listening to the Fantasy Sports Channel on SXM all I’m hearing are the experts trying to find ways around rostering Adams, and the guy they are most focused on is Stevie Johnson. With Ladarius Green dealing with a concussion Johnson all of the sudden has come into a high level of demand. I’m not saying to fade him (he’s a great pivot off of Adams), but don’t expect his ownership to be as low as you’d like.
– With Brashad Perriman not playing this week I see Kamar Aiken being a guy the Experts are going to start pumping very soon as an alternative to Adams and Johnson. Of the 3 I think his ownership will be lowest. I might go off all them for the old, reliable duo of Smith and Fitzgerald.
– I’ve pulled Devin Funchess from the lists completely. Nobody is really talking about him, nor do I think he’ll be a good play this week.
– I love just about every play on the Expert Plays list but I can’t see how Matthews, Royal, and Adams aren’t among the 5 highest owned WR this week. Price and opportunity make them really valuable plays. They are great for cash games but I want to hunt those HuLo guys instead for a GPP. That said, if you have 1 guy from this list I’m ok with it, but really try to limit it to that.
– DeAndre Hopkins is a top 10 guy by the end of this year and nobody is going to play him Week 1. On the other side of the field is Jeremy Maclin who looks like he’s fitting in nicely with the Chiefs. I could see both having great games this week. Marshall, Smith, and Fitz fall into the old and boring category. They are productive players still and come at a discount. I wouldn’t play all 3, but they make a nice, safe complement to some more risky plays. Williams and Allen both play in offenses that are going to throw a lot and I expect them to both see their fair share of targets. The Saints cut Nick Toon for a reason. That reason is Brandon Coleman.
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Jimmy Graham – SEA||Martellus Bennett – CHI||Charles Clay – BUF|
|Greg Olsen – CAR||Travis Kelce – KC||Owen Daniels – DEN|
|Jason Witten – DAL||Richard Rodgers – GB||Delanie Walker – TEN|
– The only guy on the Public Play list that I think is worth a look is Greg Olsen. He’ll be Cam’s go-to guy and could actually put up WR2 type numbers this year. We don’t know enough about Graham’s role yet this year and Witten is toast.
– I love Richard Rodgers this year but I’m going to guess that by kickoff of Week 1 so will the rest of the world. You can get a comparable player from the HuLo list that’ll be way less owned. Bennett could be a Greg Olsen clone this year but everyone knows it so I’m looking elsewhere.
– With all the WR injuries it’s going to be hard to fade Martellus Bennett at this point. He’s going to see Greg Olsen-like targets this week. I still say if you can get Delanie Walker at a significant discount then he’s the guy to play.
– For TE the HuLo list is where I live. They’re usually cheaper and will put up the same production as just about every other TE other than Gronk, Graham, Olsen, Bennett, and Kelce…and even those guys are too inconsistent for me to spend up. I liked Charles Clay last year in Miami and he sure seems to be fitting in nicely with the Bills. Owen Daniels in a Gary Kubiak offense catching passes from Peyton Manning? Where do I sign up?? Delanie Walker is going to be a very popular check down for Marcus Mariota. He used his TE a lot in college and Walker is athletic enough to be a real difference maker for this team.
|Public Plays||Expert Plays||HuLo Plays|
|Seattle Seahawks||Miami Dolphins||Saint Louis Rams|
|Baltimore Ravens||Buffalo Bills||Philadelphia Eagles|
|New York Jets||Carolina Panthers||Minnesota Vikings|
– Seattle actually struggles a lot in St. Louis. Baltimore has to face the Broncos. The Jets are fine but you can do just as well with a team likely to be lower owned.
– I really like Miami and Buffalo (what a sneaky play against Indy) but I don’t want to deal with Miami’s high ownership or the threat the Luck actually carves up the Bills.
– Everyone loves the Seahawks but the Rams front seven does a number on them. I could see a 5 sack game here easily. It’ll be low scoring either way. Philly might seem like a curious pick in such a high scoring game but their Special Teams are so good that they still should make value. The Vikings against the 49ers (who I find terrible) could be a < 5% owned team that plays like a stud defense.
Check out the Fake Football Cheat Sheets for my sample lineups. I do the Fantasy Aces section but the process of selecting the lineups is the same on all the sites.
Follow me on Twitter @bankster17 and good luck with your Hail Mary!