Week 1 DFS Value Picks: Weekend Update
September 10, 2016 | Ian Goldsmith
Hey there, folks. A lot has happened in the fantasy world since this article went live on Tuesday, which has led to an increase in the value options across the board. As with Doug Shain’s updates for The Hail Mary, I’ll put updates below in bold italics. Thanks for reading, and let’s get to it!
One of the best ways to separate yourself from the crowd in DFS is to be able to find players that are priced below where they should be for their potential output. Sometimes this is easy (e.g. when a starting RB is injured after prices are released and their low-priced backup all of a sudden is in line for a lot more work), sometimes it isn’t and requires a lot more research and – as is often the case – luck. However, as they say, preparation begets luck. Below, you’ll see four tables, each covering value plays from a different daily fantasy website. Picks are provided for DraftKings, FanDuel, FantasyDraft and Yahoo!.
There are two picks for each position, and one DST. Yes, I’ll even throw in kickers for FanDuel (well, ONE kicker). Why? Because I want to lose brain cells. The prices for each pick are loosely capped at 50% above the minimum value for that position. So, for instance, I’ll try to limit prices for running backs on DraftKings to $4,500. For QB’s, I’m limiting picks a bit further to 40% (if I didn’t, then this week I’d have my pick of 19 QBs!). Of course, there may be some weeks that few usable players fall under these thresholds, in which case I’ll up the limit a bit. These are arbitrary numbers of course. Everyone has their own idea of what a value pick is.
For a recap of how I did last year in this column, go to the end of the article. Otherwise, head into the picks right now!
Get in on the Week 1 DraftKings Freeroll! $100K in Prizes!
Join Yahoo’s Yearly DFS League for FREE in the Yahoo Cup Freeroll!
Chalk Value Plays
Week 1 is generally loaded with value. Prices come out weeks before the season starts, which means that players have been run through pricing algorithms before people even know their true roles. Injuries occur, trades happen, and players get dropped. Because there is so much time for people to get acclimated with moves, there are quite a few “chalk” value plays this week. For those new to the DFS scene, a chalk play is someone that is going to have a very high ownership, whatever the reason. In baseball, for instance, Clayton Kershaw is “chalk” basically every night he pitches, because people know they are likely going to get an incredible start from him. So, who are the chalk value plays for Week 1?
Spencer Ware (KC: RB) – Jamaal Charles is unlikely to play this week. Even if, by some miracle, he got on the field, he wouldn’t see many touches. It doesn’t make any sense. Why risk your stud RB who is recovering from (a second) ACL surgery this early in the season when you have a perfectly capable backup? You don’t. At least, smart coaches don’t. Barring time management issues, Andy Reid can be called a smart coach. So, Spencer Ware will be stepping into the starting RB role for the Chiefs. He gets a matchup against a Chargers team that he torched last season for 148 yards and 2 TDs on only 19 carries. Yes, that was over two games, but he was splitting the load with Charcandrick West. Everything points to Ware getting the bulk of the carries this week, and people have noticed. Look at these salaries: $4,400 on DraftKings, $12 on Yahoo!, $8,700 on FantasyDraft, and $5,400 on FanDuel. In each case, you are looking at spending 9% of your salary or less on a starting RB who could put up top-10 numbers this week. On Yahoo, you are only spending 6% of your salary. At that price, he is basically a must play. You can certainly veer away from him if you want in a few lineups for differential, but if he goes off, then 50% of the field will have a head start on your lineup. UPDATE: Well, Charles is definitely out. That’s the good part. Unfortunately, Charcandrick West somehow appeared atop the depth chart in the past couple of days. Andy Reed was coyly evasive when asked about the RB load share in the game against San Diego. Given the play of Ware in preseason, it makes sense that he will still be the lead back for the game. Still, the news has surely given his ownership levels tomorrow a big hit. He is a riskier play now than earlier in the week, but at his price, you have to have some exposure to him. He’ll still likely be the highest owned RB of the week. There is a great opportunity to pivot to guys like Christine Michael, who will start for Seattle, or even Theo Riddick, who is a PPR monster and just signed an extension with Detroit.
Marvin Jones (DET: WR) – I’m not exactly sure why Jones is priced as low as he is. No, he hasn’t really had a monster year before, but his targets, receptions, and yardage have increased in each of his first three seasons in the league. He is entering a situation in which his numbers are almost assured to increase based on volume alone. The Lions-Colts game should be a shootout. It is one of three games (PIT/WAS, OAK/NO) to have an Over/Under of at least 50 this week. It would be surprising if Stafford didn’t target Jones at least 8-10 times. If Ebron is still limited, then the numbers should increase for everyone. For only $4,600 on DraftKings, $17 on Yahoo!, $9,100 on FantasyDraft, and $5,500 on FanDuel, he can be yours in fake football land.
Dak Prescott (DAL: QB) – I’m not sure much needs to be said about Dak. His ownership should be the highest of any QB this week, though I don’t think it will rival Ware’s as there are a ton of excellent QB options on the board, relative to the RB position. He had a preseason for the ages. People are hoping beyond hope that the Mississippi State product will be able to translate that into regular season success. It’s hard not to take a flyer on a guy who has shown so much promise, especially when he is minimum salary on every site. Let’s put together a scenario in which he pays off in cash games: 200 yards passing, 1 TD, 30 yards rushing. That weak, but very plausible, stat line is worth 15 FP on DraftKings and is enough to make Dak worth it in cash games. You can see the appeal. Does he have 30 FP upside? Probably not, though if he does go off for that much, you’ll be scratching your head as to why you left him off your teams.
OK, so now we’ve seen the cream of the chalk crop. Mmmm, chalk crop. Who else is out there that is worth using, but is not being talked about as much?
Other Value Plays
Jared Cook (GB: TE) – Mr. Cook finally gets to play with a QB worth his salt. After years of miring in the QB hell that was St. Louis and pre-Mariota Tennessee, he gets paired up with Aaron Rodgers. Oh happy days! They have already developed a good rapport, and Cook – no offense to Richard Rodgers who, somewhat surprisingly, finished as a top-10 TE in standard leagues last year – offers Rodgers a huge upgrade at the TE position, especially in terms of speed. Cook is minimum value at Yahoo ($10), only $2,900 at DraftKings and $5,700 at FantasyDraft, which means he’ll take up less than 6% of your salary cap. He’s a bit pricier on FanDuel at $5,300 (8.8% of your cap), so only use him there in tournaments.
James White (NE: RB) – If it weren’t for Ware, then White would probably be getting the most attention of low-priced backs. With Dion Lewis on the shelf for the first part of the season, it will be White’s time to shine as the passing back in the New England offense. Arizona is a foreboding defense for opposing RBs; they gave up the 4th fewest yards per game on the ground last season. However, teams were able to use RBs in the passing game against them. The Cardinals gave up the 12th most yards to opposing RBs last season, an average of roughly 5 catches for 47 yards per game. I’m not that high on White this week, but if you are looking for a cheap tournament option on full PPR sites, he’s worth a look at his low price.
Jesse James (PIT:TE) – James is certainly getting some attention after his solid 4/25/1 TD line in the Steelers third preseason game. With Ladarius Green out for at least the first six weeks of the season, James will take over Heath Miller’s role as the #1 TE in Pittsburgh. I am heavily targeting the Pittsburgh/Washington game this weekend (especially the Cousins/Reed stack), and am happy to have a share of many of the players in that game. James may not put up a line like Jordan Reed will, but if he can put up a line similar to what I described above, then he will already have met his value. Of course, it comes down to price. On DraftKings, I’d rather have Cook as James is, quite surprisingly, $500 more expensive there. It’s basically a wash a Yahoo (he’s a $1 more). On FanDuel and FantasyDraft, however, consider using James over Cook if you want to go cheap at the TE position. He is minimum salary on both sites, which will help you free up room at other positions should you want to pay up at QB, or not ride the Ware train. UPDATE: James got a potentially huge boost with the news that Markus Wheaton will miss this week’s game against Washington. He was already in line for looks in the red zone, but he could see some more looks in the middle of the field with Pitt’s #2 receiving option out. Unfortunately, James is not an unknown, and his ownership levels will be relatively high. He won’t overtake Jordan Reed’s ownership numebrs by any means, but he should certainly be in the 10-15% range. While people argue about whether Eli Rogers, Sammie Coates, or Darrius Heyward-Bey will get more touches, I’m comfortable using the second year TE out of Penn State. I’m not sure Ladarius Green will be walking back into a starting job when he finally gets back from injury. As they say, you can’t teach 6’7″.
Robert Griffin III (CLE: QB) – While everybody talks about Dak (for good reason), Griffin is sitting pretty damn close to him price-wise, and offers similar, if not higher, upside. He gets a matchup this week against an Eagles team whose defense has given up the 3rd most fantasy points to QBs two years running. One can’t make predictions based off of past years performances alone, but one should at least take note. Griffin looked decent during the preseason (not DAK good, mind you), and…wait for it….showed that he now knows how to slide! Hallelujah! Take that, Michael Vick! I think that there will be bumps in the road, as he is relying on a rookie WR and a QB converted to WR as his top two passing options, but he does have a solid running game and a quality TE in tow to help him until Gordon gets back. If you are considering Dak, why not consider the veteran Griffin, who is only $600 more on DraftKings, and just $1,200 more on FantasyDraft? I would advise, however, to not use him on FanDuel or Yahoo!, where his prices are, in my opinion, a wee bit too high in comparison.
Cleveland Browns (DST) – While were talking about the Browns, let’s talk about their defense. First off, I am not excited about their defense in season long leagues. At all. That being said, as a one week option, sign me up. Why? Carson Wentz. I love streaming defenses against rookie QBs, and in Wentz we have a rookie QB that has not been practicing much this preseason due to a rib injury. Who knows, Wentz may well torch the Browns for 300 yards and a few scores, but rookies make mistakes, and veteran defenses – even the Browns – take advantage of mistakes. Are they a safe option? Hell no! But are they worth using in a GPP? Hell yes! Their bottom feeder salary lets affords you some room at other positions, and they will likely have fairly low ownership, which should offer some great differential if they’re able to force a few turnovers from the rookie QB. Only $2,300 on DraftKings, $12 on Yahoo!, $4,000 on FanDuel and $4,600 on FantasyDraft.
Tajae Sharpe (TEN: WR) – OK, obviously a lot has been written about Sharpe. However, he’s going to have near the ownership that Marvin Jones is…it won’t be close. The matchup is worse. He’s a rookie. Yada, yada, yada. However, he’s going to be starting, and he and Mariota look like they’ve been playing together a lot longer than just one preseason. Plus, he’s minimum salary on nearly every site (he’s just above min. salary on FanDuel). He’s best used if you are planning on entering a tournament with multiple lineups. I’d also suggest using him on full PPR sites rather than 0.5 PPR sites, as there will be less dependence on scoring.
Christine Michael (SEA: RB) – Well, looky who was #1 on the Seattle RB depth charts when they were released. Yup, Christine Michael. While this is largely due to the fact that Seattle seems to want to ease Thomas Rawls back slowly, it still is a pretty big deal for a guy who has worn twenty different fantasy faces in his three seasons in the Great Pacific Northwest. With Rawls expecting a somewhat limited load, the script seems good for Michael to get at least half the RB touches. Should Seattle get up early, I wouldn’t be surprised for Pete Carroll to turn to the former TAMU player to eat up the clock. He’s priced favorably across the board at 8% or less of your DFS salary cap. If you want to pivot away from the other cheap RBs on the board in tournaments, then take a look at Michael. UPDATE: Michael has been declared the starter for the Seahawks this week. While Rawls will certainly get some touches Sunday, the starting nod should be more than enough to convince you to have some shares of the Michael this week against last years worst fantasy run defense in the NFL (in standard leagues). For only $3,700 on DraftKings (7.4% of salary) and $4,800 on FanDuel (8%), you are getting a guy with 20 FP upside. Let it roll!
Nick Folk (NYJ: K) – Yeah, yeah. I’m going to spend three or four sentences analyzing a kicker. Pointless you say? Absolutely! So, why Nick Folk? Well, for one, because he is minimum salary. If I’m playing on FanDuel, I personally rarely like to pay up for kicker. If you have leftover salary cap, then feel free to pay up for Gostkowski. When a guy leads fantasy scoring at his position for four years in a row, he has earned some respect and deserves a look every single week. However, if you are using your fake cash better and spending it on other positions, then saving moolah on kicker makes sense. The Jets can move the ball well; only four AFC teams scored more points last season. However, they are going against a defense in the Bengals that excels in the red zone. That combination screams “send out the kicking unit!” OK, I have now written more about Nick Folk than Tajae Sharpe and Christine Michael. I must stop. UPDATE: Still love Folk, but I’m also considering Nick Novak for minimum salary as well. He’ll be kicking for a Houston team that should move the ball at will against the Bears. He’s an excellent option if you want a min-salary kicker.
Eli Rogers and Sammie Coates (PIT: WR) – These two guys are relevant now that their teammate, and starting WR, Markus Wheaton is out this week against Washington. Who will get more touches? Frankly, I have no clue. It would make sense, however, if Coates starts on the outside and Rogers stays lined up in the slot. Frankly, I think Wheaton’s injury benefits TE Jesse James the most, but both of these guys are now options for you to use as a WR flier if you are putting multiple lineups into a tournament and want some differential. Rogers is the better value on FanDuel, listed at the min salary of $4,500.
Martellus Bennett (NE: TE) – Going against Arizona’s defense is no easy task, but Bennett should get at least get a good number of targets now that Rob Gronkowski has been declared out for this week’s game. Tight ends actually fare better against the Cardinals than any other position, who gave up the 14th and 12th most points against the position in standard and PPR leagues, respectively, in 2015. I think Garoppolo will spend the day checking down to James White and looking for the big 6’6″ TE. At $3,400 on DraftKings, he is the same price as Jesse James. His matchup is worse, but he won’t have nearly the ownership that James will, which is a huge plus in tournaments.
Theo Riddick (DET – RB) – While everybody looks to Ware and Michael this week, why not pivot away in a couple of lineups with this reliable PPR stud? Frankly, I was not considering him when making my first lineups, but he has been growing on me as the week has progressed. The first reason was that, every time I run optimizers, he always seems to be in the lineup (for DraftKings, at least). He has an excellent matchup, as this game could easily see both teams score in the 30s. Stafford could easily throw 40-50 passes this week, and he should be looking Riddick’s way often; remember, this is a player who averaged 5 catches per week last season. I wouldn’t touch Riddick on FanDuel or Yahoo, but I’m happily plugging him into a few lineups on DraftKings and FantasyDraft.
Good luck in Week 1 everybody!!!
OK, enough jibber-jabber. Below you’ll see four tables with my picks for the week. If you have any questions at all, hit me up in the comments or, preferably, on Twitter @ianrgold. I respond more quickly there.
Value Pick Tables
In the tables below, you’ll see a few columns. The basics are Player, Team, Opponent, Type of Game (Cash, GPP, or both), and Salary. In addition to these, you’ll see the following columns:
% of Total $: This is simply the percentage of your salary cap that a particular player takes.
Cash Points: This is a loose estimate of how many points a player needs to hit a value multiple for cash games. This varies from site to site. On DraftKings, for instance, you will generally want your team to score at lease 3 FP per $1,000 in salary (on Yahoo!, it’s FP/$1, not per $1,000). We’d call this a 3X multiple.
GPP Points: This is a loose estimate of how many points a player needs to hit a multiple in GPP games. On DraftKings, for instance, I generally aim for a multiple of 4.
Of course, it is always better to aim for more than these multiples. You don’t always need 4X value in order to cash on DraftKings, but you usually need more than that if you want to win one of the huge tournaments. Yes, there are some weeks where you can win tournaments with under 200 FP, but those weeks are few and far between. If everything goes right, players can score 300 fantasy points – a multiple of 6! So, aim for more. The economist in me always screams “more is better” (Also, doesn’t The Economist in Me sound like a terrible title for a porno? “Hey baby, want to come back to my place and see my demand curve?”). Good luck this week!!!
|Player||Team||Opponent||Position||Type||Price||% of Total $||Cash FP||GPP FP|
|Robert Griffin III||CLE||PHI||QB||GPP||$5,600||11.2%||16.8||22.4|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||DET||IND||WR||CASH/GPP||$4,600||9.2%||13.8||18.4|
|Player||Team||Opponent||Position||Type||Price||% of Total $||Cash FP||GPP FP|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||DET||IND||WR||CASH/GPP||$5,500||9.2%||11.0||13.8|
|Player||Team||OPP||Position||Type||Price||% of Total $||Cash FP||GPP FP|
|Robert Griffin III||CLE||PHI||QB||GPP||$11,200||11.2%||16.8||22.4|
|Player||Team||Opponent||Position||TYPE||Price||% of Total $||Cash FP||GPP FP|
|Robert Griffin III||CLE||PHI||QB||GPP||$25||12.5%||15.6||18.8|
Quick 2015 Recap
For the few of you that have made it this far, congratulations! Do you need some eye drops? I know I do after reading that much. Anyways, last year I did this column for six different sites, picking three players at each position for the entire season. For the most part, the picks worked out well on a weekly basis. DraftKings and FantasyDraft crushed (3.49 and 1.71 multiples on average, respectively), StarsDraft, DraftDay, and FantasyHub were solid, but FanDuel and FantasyAces were a bit underwhelming. In the table below, you can see my averages for the entire season on each of the different sites. The first column shows the total salaries of the value players picked for that respective week. The second column shows the cumulative points that those picks scored. I left off FantasyHub as it is now defunct, and StarsDraft as it accepts players from only a few states. If you want to see those results, or any others in detail, go to my articles here and scroll down to last years value picks articles. Accountability is a must!
Cumulative Results, Weeks 1 – 17
Top 3 DraftKings Picks of 2015
The best pick of the year, by far, was Nate Washington in Week 7. With a salary of $3,000, he scored 36.7 FP for a multiple of 12.23.
In Week 12, Doug Baldwin’s price was still only $3,800. He had two big, but not massive games before that and was going up against the porous Steelers secondary. He went off for an incredible 41.5 FP, which gave him a huge multiple of 10.92.
Last, but not least, Gary Barnidge was a one of my picks in Week 3. Priced at only $2,500, he busted out for his first big week of the season, finishing with 25.5 FP and a 10.2 multiple.