NFL DFS: The Hail Mary Week 1 UPDATED September 8, 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)

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. In poker these people are referred to as fish, but I don’t love the connotation of that term, so we’re going to call them “MOST PEOPLE”. 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 “beat those fish” 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.

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
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.

– 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.


Running Back

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 Lamar Miller – MIA
DeMarco Murray – PHI Ameer Abdullah – DET Darren McFadden – DAL
Ryan Mathews – PHI
Jonathan Stewart – CAR
Doug Martin – TB

– 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, Hershcel 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.


Wide Receiver

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
Randall Cobb – GB 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
Mike Evans – TB Stevie Johnson – SD Keenan Allen – SD
Amari Cooper – OAK Devin Funchess – CAR Brandon Coleman – NO

– 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.

– 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.


Tight End

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.

– 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!

4 Responses

  1. Karl says:

    Uh Demarco Murray plays for the titans

  2. Tisrael says:

    How many is too many HuLo in a lineup? I assume you wouldn’t want an entire lineup filled with them but I could be wrong…

    • Doug Shain says:

      Hey Tisrael,

      That’s a great question and I’m glad you asked. I’m not sure a complete lineup of HuLo players is optimal because they tend to be a little more risk/reward and you don’t want to take that big of a chance with your lineup. Now, if you’re going to play multiple lineups then there’s no issue going full HuLo with one of them, but if you’re firing only one or two bullets then I’d sprinkle in some safer plays as well.

      In general I like to look at HuLo players for QB/WR (especially if there’s a nice stack you can make like Flacco/Smith or Fitzpatrick/Marshall….and I actually like Palmer/Fitzgerald too even though I didn’t have the room to write about them). I prefer to get guaranteed points at RB so I’m going to look for some workhorse backs. Now, that doesn’t mean you can go a little HuLo there (like Eddie Lacy), but I want to make sure I’ve got those touches lined up. I’m seeing a lot of people who are on to Benny Cunningham and Darren Sproles and they are a little too risk/reward for me. With the way pricing is across the board this week you could get a lineup of a QB like Palmer, a couple RB like Lamar Miller and Eddie Lacy or Jeremy Hill, a top end WR like Julio along with some secondary WR like Hopkins or Amari along with Fitzgerald. Depending on the site you play on the names may change, but you should be able to get a feel for what I’m looking at.

      I write about this in my baseball article all the time, but it bears repeating here; there’s a huge difference between going well thought out contrarian and stupid contrarian. I won’t insult you by telling you which one to avoid. Matt Berry says it all the time and it’s so very true, try to make sure you make plays based on “what’s most likely to happen.” You can do that and still be HuLo – most likely people are going to flock to Rodgers/Adams and kind of forget about Lacy. Most likely Lacy is going to get 20+ touches with a chance to score. That’s a good amount of production for a guy who I don’t expect will be highly owned.

      I hope this helps. Please let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help. Best of luck in Week 1.

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