The Hail Mary (NFL GPP Plays): Week 1 VERY Early First Look
August 4, 2016 | Doug Shain
The Huddle – Opening Statement (I will try to keep this relatively short most weeks, but this week we’ll go a little longer)
Welcome to the first edition of the 2016 Hail Mary for Week 1. For those of you who read this article last year or any of my stuff on The Fake Hockey and The Fake Baseball 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; the casual DFS player. 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 two 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 Players (or Casual Players). 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 Charles Sims and Michael Thomas (yes, that’s digging deep for MOST PEOPLE). They are going to target very well-known players like Andrew Luck, Antonio Brown, and Todd Gurley. 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 Coby Fleener. What’s that you say? Everyone who’s ever read anything about fantasy knows that Fleener is cheap, is in a great situation, and has a great matchup in Week 1? No kidding, and he’s going to be really highly owned. Like I said, there are no sleepers.
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, I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of people who are talking about Matthew Stafford 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 Drew Brees, 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 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).
– In Week 1 the casual public is going to play one to two types of players: big names they’ve heard of (Aaron Rodgers types) or guys they’ve heard being talked about a lot (Jimmy Garoppolo types). I don’t love playing too many public QB’s because I think we can get similar production from guys that will be much lower owned. That said, I have no issue using Brees or Luck this week as both should be involved in high scoring affairs. I won’t touch Jimmy G against a stellar Cardinals defense. Let him be someone else’s problem, he’s not Kurt Warner.
– As the season gets closer you’re going to hear a lot of people talking about the NYG/DAL game. Both defenses are weak and both offenses are high octane. I can’t see how either of these QB’s ends up being a sneaky play. Of the two, I prefer Eli but I also think he will be the highest owned QB of Week 1 due to his low price. I do kind of like Tyrod Taylor and, while I think a lot of pros are going to play him, the general public won’t. I’d avoid him in cash games but surely I’ll use him in GPP’s. I don’t think the BAL defense is all that good and I love QB’s who can get me points with their legs.
– I don’t understand the hate against Matt Stafford at all. He’s being drafted so low in yearly leagues and I think that’ll translate to DFS as well. He finished last year strong and it wasn’t as if Calvin Johnson was the same guy he’d been earlier in his career. I actually like the weapons surrounding Stafford more this year and a matchup against the Colts is delicious. He’s going to have to throw a ton and volume equals points. The other HuLo plays I’m really focused on for Week 1 are Derek Carr in a shootout with NO and Jameis Winston against an ATL team that just feels like a 3-13 group this year. If JJ Watt ends up sitting Week 1 then I give a bump to all the Bears offensive players, including Jay Cutler.
– Much like with the QB’s, the casual public is going to flock to guys they’ve heard of in Week 1 like Todd Gurley, Ezekiel Elliott, and Adrian Peterson. I’m not a huge RB guy (I prefer to spend up at WR) so I’ll probably leave most of the public plays right there for the public to have. If I were to pick one guy from this list it’d probably be Jamaal Charles because he’s got a good matchup and his ownership shouldn’t be sky high. We just have to hope he makes it through the game intact. I’d love to have Todd Gurley but so would everyone in the world and I’m not dealing with a 25% owned guy in Week 1.
– The Philly/CLE game could end up being a really surprising game. Neither defense is great and both offenses have just enough playmakers to keep things interesting. Duke Johnson is an Internet darling so I expect a lot of the big name DFS players to be on him this week with his cheap price and ability to catch passes. My preference is to go on the other side of the field and grab Ryan Mathews. The coaching staff in Philly let DeMarco Murray leave for a reason and that reason is because they love Mathews. This offense suits him very well and if he can avoid injury he’s going to smash his value in Week 1 against that poor Browns defense. Lamar Miller is another guy getting fawned over by the more hardcore players and I think they’re going to roster him quite a bit in Week 1 as well.
– Last year there was a stretch where the Falcons gave up major points to pass catching backs for a number of consecutive weeks. Guys like Charles Sims and Lance Dunbar were fantasy studs and nobody knew about them. Atlanta has a similar defense this year and Sims could be in line for a very sneaky big game. Three guys nobody seemed to believe in all offseason were Rawls, Hyde, and Langford. All 3 should get the bulk of the carries for their teams and will most likely see a very low ownership this week. I like all 3 despite the tough matchups. With injuries and suspensions, there’s really nobody to take carries away from Shady McCoy in Buffalo. He’s another guy that is flying under the radar right now that could have a very good Week 1.
– WR is the new glamour position in the NFL so you can expect all the big boys to be highly owned. They’re all studs and I have no issue with using any of them. With the way that prices are set up right now on FD it’s very easy to build a lineup that has 3 stud WR. You’re just not going to fool anyone when you go ahead and do that. You’re not being sneaky when your Week 1 lineup is Eli Manning, Ryan Mathews, Duke Johnson, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Dez Bryant, Coby Fleener, random $4500 kicker, and the Eagles Defense. That’s about as chalky a roster as you can put out there. Everyone is going to have that lineup or something very similar to it That’s not to say you shouldn’t use this lineup, just know that it’s not a particularly creative one.
– It hasn’t happened yet but at some point this preseason Michael Thomas is going to break Twitter. The DFS experts love him, he’s been a stud early on in camp, he’s $4900 in Week 1, and he faces the Raiders. Outside of the top tier guys, he might be the most highly owned WR in Week 1. Because of the flexibility that he gives your lineup I don’t mind eating the ownership and using him anyway. We have and will continue to talk about that Giants/Cowboys game and the high ownership that’s going to come with it. One of the ways to avoid the ownership while reaping the rewards of the matchup is to look away from the big names and look at the role players. Sterling Shepard is one of those role players (as Terrance Williams is for DAL) that won’t cost a ton and will still give you exposure to that shootout. The experts love Torrey Smith this year and in Chip Kelly’s offense he could put up monster numbers. He’s a guy to get in Week 1 before the casual public catches on.
– For some reason people seem to think that Donte Moncrief is going to surpass TY Hilton this year. I don’t get it and I’ll gladly take Hilton. Luck loves him and Hilton’s numbers are outstanding with Luck under center. Kamar Aiken is going to be the top WR for the Ravens this year. I don’t love that offense but even so he can still end up with a year of 80-1000-6. That starts this week. Parker and DGB are two personal favorites of mine because of their ability to get down the field for big plays. They’re not the most reliable of WR but that’s what makes them perfect GPP plays; boom or bust. Everyone is sleeping on the Bears and that might be a mistake. Alshon is supremely talented and he takes the next step this year. He’s got a big game coming against Houston. Speaking of the Texans, don’t be shocked if Jalen Strong, not Will Fuller, is the #2 WR for them.
– Obviously there’s going to be a high ownership on the Gronk this week because he’s Gronk…and he’s going to Gronk. I just don’t like to spend that much on a TE when he’s got a backup QB and is on the road against one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. As a matter of fact, I’ll probably avoid most of public plays this week since I think I can find some value at a cheaper price.
– Coby Fleener is everyone’s darling right now and his price is peanuts. He will be the most highly owned TE this week. I won’t use him because we have no idea how he’s going to fit into this offense. I know I might be missing out on a big game and his only low cost of the season but I’ll let others try him out while I go with some players that are a little more settled into their offense; guys like Delanie Walker and Zach Ertz. In the section below you’re going to read about how much I like the Vikings defense but that doesn’t mean I can’t use a guy like Walker. He’s the security blanket for Mariota and I expect a lot of short passes in this one. Those receptions add up quickly.
– One of my favorite plays this week is Jason Witten. He’s very much on the downside of his career but he always does well against the Giants and he’s a really inexpensive way to get exposure to this game without a super high ownership. I also have a slight man crush on Clive Walford and think he has himself a game in a shootout against the Saints.
– I know Chip Kelly isn’t in Philly anymore but when he was they were a great DFS defense. They got to the QB and their special teams were always a threat to house one. They’ve got one of the best matchups on the board today and they are pretty cheap. They’ll be highly owned but they should pay off well. SEA and KC are just too expensive for me to take with so many other good players at other positions.
– Arizona is a great defense but the public perception of NE is such that people may avoid the Cardinals. Experts won’t as Jimmy Garoppolo will be under center instead of Tom Brady, leading to potentially many more turnover opportunities. The Vikings are flying way under the radar but their defense is awesome and is only going to get better this year. They are one of my two favorite Week 1 defenses. The other team defense I love is the LA Rams. The high tempo offense from Chip Kelly means more plays for the defense to sack whomever is starting at QB for the 49ers. LA should put a big hurt on SF and might end up being the best play of the week on D.
– I’m not totally sold on Brock Osweiler yet. Chicago is a very interesting play that will be very low owned Week 1. I feel the same way about Buffalo against Baltimore. Joe “Elite” Flacco is bad and the Bills will put a ton of pressure on him. They are another team I’ll have in a few lineups as well.
I’ll update this piece a number of times before Week 1 kicks off (like when DK finally gets their prices out) so keep an eye out at The Fake Football and on Twitter for the latest versions.
Your feedback is always welcome. You can find me on Twitter @bankster17. I’m around all the time for questions, advice, and comments. I answer every single person that sends me a Tweet.