NFL DFS: The Hail Mary
August 11, 2015 | Doug Shain
Welcome to the 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 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.
My picks are going to be broken down into two tiers for each position. The top tier are the players that I’m targeting at that position. The 2nd tier is the less expensive fallback guys I’ll use if I can’t afford a top tier player. It’ll be a lot easier to create your lineups if you focus on tiers rather than locking in on a specific player. This is a very similar concept to how many people draft in their season-long leagues and I think it works very well for DFS as well.
I will try to keep this section short in the future so we can get to the analysis, but sometimes I have some advice to give and this is where I’ll give it.
You can always get a hold of me on Twitter (@bankster17) for lineup questions or general DFS banter. Enjoy!
The Starting Lineup
This is a lineup that I will be playing this week that can help you see how I build a roster from the recommendations I make to you.
Fanduel: Matt Ryan ($8800), Adrian Peterson ($9200), LeSean McCoy ($8400), Kelvin Benjamin ($7500), Eddie Royal ($5000), Jordan Matthews ($6800), Owen Daniels ($5500), Josh Brown ($4500), STL Rams ($4300) – $200 left over
DraftKings: Jameis Winston ($6000), Adrian Peterson ($7700), LeSean McCoy ($7200), Charles Johnson ($4900), John Brown ($4500), Randall Cobb ($8000), Owen Daniels ($3400), Melvin Gordon ($5500), STL Rams ($2800) – $0 left over
– 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.
– I had to go in two different directions for QB. DK’s pricing is a lot tighter so I had to move down to my 2nd tier of QB for Winston. On FD I was able to easily fit in Matt Ryan (my top QB play of the week). Both are facing weak defenses but have little running game to speak of. Also, both have big play WR. It is a must that I get a QB that is going to throw a lot when building my GPP teams.
– On both sites I was able to lock down my top two RB for the week (Peterson and McCoy). I love both of these guys because they are going to tote the rock a ton against bad defenses and face little competition from their backups. It is a must that I get RB that are guaranteed touches when building my GPP teams.
– I prefer to have high priced RB to high priced WR because RB touches are much more consistent than WR touches. Because of this I don’t usually get the top tier WR on my GPP teams. Instead I focus on well valued WR in good matchups with a lot of big game upside. It is a must that my WR have upside when building my GPP teams. On FD I was able to roster an underpriced Jordan Matthews, Kelvin Benjamin against a weak Jags secondary, and Eddie Royal (always good for a couple of wild games a year). On DK I actually got a top tier guy in Randall Cobb and teamed him with Charles Johnson and John Brown. Both of those guys are fast and have QB’s who can chuck it. They both are also expected to have big roles for their teams this year but are priced like backups.
– At TE I want a guy who will get me three catches for a low price or I want Rob Gronkowski. When building my GPP teams it is a must that my TE gets me 3 catches for cheap or is Rob Gronkowski. Owen Daniels going back to a Gary Kubiak offense that is QB’d by Peyton Manning? Check and check!
– When building my GPP teams it is a must that my defense is cheap and gets to the quarterback. The Rams have a monster defense and have given the Seahawks fits. They fit in perfectly.
– Kickers are a waste of time so I just take a min-priced one on a good offense. Josh Brown (NYG) fits that bill this week. It is a must that I take a min-priced kicker when building my GPP teams.
Top Two Tiers of players at each position
Matt Ryan (ATL) vs Philadelphia Eagles: Neither of these teams have a good defense which means that Ryan’s going to have to throw to keep up with Philly. I don’t see ATL running much with their suspect ground game and for the price you can’t really go wrong here.
Eli Manning (NYG) @ Dallas Cowboys: Eli excels in Dallas and on national TV. The Cowboys defense isn’t all that special, but this Giants offense could be. He’s priced ridiculously low for his upside. My only concern is that he’s going to be very highly owned which limits his appeal.
Aaron Rodgers (GB) @ Chicago Bears: He’s the best QB in the game but he’s also pricey. I won’t own any Rodgers in a GPP because he doesn’t allow me to meet my needs at RB. As a cash play I’ll gladly fire away since the other top QB (Andrew Luck) has a terrible matchup.
Joe Flacco (BAL) @ Denver Broncos: Denver’s defense isn’t all that great and the only way Baltimore has a shot is if they go toe to toe through the air. Marc Trestman is the new OC for Baltimore and he knows how to get the most out of his QB. This could be a very sneaky good play.
Jameis Winston (TB) vs Tennessee Titans: Tennessee’s defense is terrible and Winston has 3 giants to throw to. He might get picked a few times but he’ll also take his shots. He and Evans make for a really interesting stack.
Carson Palmer (ARI) vs New Orleans Saints: You beat the Saints by airing it out and putting a large number of points on the board. Palmer was way better than you realize in his limited time last year and he’ll pick right back up in a great matchup against a depleted Saints defense.
Adrian Peterson (MIN) @ San Francisco 49ers: Terrible 49ers defense, guaranteed touches, and Peterson has something to prove. This is a no-brainer top play for me today.
LeSean McCoy (BUF) vs Indianapolis Colts: The Colts can’t stop anyone on the ground and McCoy will get all the carries he can handle in Rex Ryan’s offense.
Melvin Gordon (SD) vs Detroit Lions: Who else is going to carry the ball for the Chargers? It’s not like Detroit has Suh stuffing the middle anymore. He was a stud in college and very reliable for a solid game each time out. He’s underpriced and people are hating on him way too hard right now. He makes for an excellent flex play on DK.
Justin Forsett (BAL) @ Denver Broncos: You’ve heard the stat all summer but it bears repeating, last year Matt Forte had over 100 catches in Marc Trestman’s offense. This year it’s Justin Forsett’s turn and it starts in a game where the Ravens are going to have to score big to win.
Joseph Randle (DAL) vs New York Giants: I could run behind that Dallas offensive line. He’s not going to be DeMarco Murray but at his cost he doesn’t have to be. If he gets 16-18 touches he should produce just fine for you. My biggest concern here is that he’s going to be 50%+ owned because of his cost/role.
Rashad Jennings (NYG) @ Dallas Cowboys: I don’t believe that Shane Vereen or Andre Williams are threats to Jennings if he’s healthy. This is a good matchup at Dallas, he’s cheap, and he’ll very low owned.
Julio Jones (ATL) vs Philadelphia Eagles: Matt Ryan is my top QB play. Who do you think he’s going to be throwing to? He’s expensive but he’s worth it.
Demaryius Thomas (DEN) vs Baltimore Ravens: Anytime you’re Peyton’s favorite target you’re worthy of a spot on my roster.
Jordan Matthews (PHI) @ Atlanta Falcons: He’s so underpriced it’s ridiculous. He’ll be highly owned but you almost can’t fade him at this point because of his upside and the flexibility he gives your offense.
Dez Bryant (DAL) vs New York Giants: In season long fantasy he’s my top play. He’s not the most expensive WR this week. He loves playing the Giants in primetime.
A.J. Green (CIN) @ Oakland Raiders: Oakland is bad. Green looked great in training camp. Dalton is fighting to save his job. Of all the top WR’s he’s the least expensive.
Mike Evans (TB) vs Tennessee Titans: Jameis is going to heave-ho all game and Evans is the guy he’s going to look for first. The price is a bit high but the matchup is so good.
John Brown (ARI) vs New Orleans Saints: He was poised for a breakout long before he got the extra 1st team reps after Michael Floyd’s injury. Palmer loves him and looks for him a lot. Great price, great matchup.
Eddie Royal (CHI) vs Green Bay Packers: His price on DK is so low it’s downright stupid. Royal loves playing with Cutler and always has a few games each year when he goes 100yds, 2TD. My biggest concern is that he’ll be very highly owned.
Steve Smith (BAL) @ Denver Broncos: Who do you think Flacco is going to look for first as he’s chucking it up against Denver this week, a rookie or Steve Smith? Yeah, I think Smith too. Don’t let the fact that he’s old scare you away.
Keenan Allen (SD) vs Detroit Lions: He was bad last year. A lot of solid WR have sophomore slumps and rebound just fine. He’s going to do just that. Rivers loves him and will look to him often with Gates suspended. This is going to be a really sneaky good play this week.
Pierre Garcon (WSH) vs Miami Dolphins: Garcon with a healthy RG3 is a very good thing. People are too down on Washington considering the talent on that team. DJax is going to clear up a lot of space for Garcon to run around. His big play upside is a bit limited but he could make up for it with sheer volume of touches.
Owen Daniels (DEN) vs Baltimore Ravens: A TE familiar with Gary Kubiak’s system catching passes from Peyton Manning. I’ll keep rostering him until that price goes up (and it will…quickly).
Greg Olsen (CAR) @ Jacksonville Jaguars: With Gronk not on this slate Olsen is the most consistent TE available. He costs more than I want to spend but he’ll be the safest guy you can pick at this position.
Travis Kelce (KC) @ Houston Texans: He’s full of promise and I love that. He’ll be highly owned but if he’s truly a mini-Gronk it might be worth it to join the crowd.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins (TB) vs Tennessee Titans: If Tennessee is able to cover the two big boys on the outside that’ll leave a lot of space for this young stud in the middle of the field. If he’s open Jameis will find him.
A quick look at the D/ST you should be playing this week.
Saint Louis Rams vs Seattle Seahawks
Buffalo Bills vs Indianapolis Colts
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Tennessee Titans
Kansas City Chiefs @ Houston Texans
4th and long
In this section I’m going to spotlight one RB and one QB/WR stack that I consider to be HuLo (High Upside, Low Ownership).
Jonathan Stewart (CAR) @ Jacksonville Jaguars: Until he gets hurt he’s going to be a very productive back. Roster him now in this good matchup before his price skyrockets after he pops off in the first 3-4 weeks of the season. Nobody is going to be on him because there are bigger names out there with good matchups and his injury history is going to scare people off.
Teddy Bridgewater/Charles Johnson (MIN) @ San Francisco 49ers: Everyone is looking at what Adrian Peterson can do against this awful 49er’s defense but few are talking about the passing game. Teddy B came on strong at the end of last year and that was without a running game and without Mike Wallace. This is Year 2 in Norv Turner’s system and Bridgewater has looked great in camp. I can see the 49er’s focusing everything on stopping AP while the passing game cashes in big. The addition of Wallace should open up the field for Johnson.
Follow me on Twitter @bankster17 and good luck tonight with your Hail Mary!