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Cesar Becerra

NFL Lineup Daily Fantasy Football: Week 3 Cash and GPP Plays

We close the book on Week 2 of the NFL season after a relatively chalky NFL slate. We saw several of the obvious plays hit like Tom Brady, Ty Montgomery, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, and even Coby Fleener all hit value

 

Now we transition to Week 3, which opens up as an unusual ten home teams as current underdogs. The Patriots, Eagles, Panthers, Titans, and Packers are the only home teams that are favored in the main slate. That doesn’t exactly say everything about the slate quite yet; it just means ownership may be more spread out than what we’ve seen the first two weeks. So without further or do, let’s dive in.

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan (DK $7,100, FD $8,500) – One of the first things I look for when looking into Quarterbacks are team implied totals. Matt Ryan comes in after a dominant performance against the Packers on Sunday Night Football with an implied team total of 26.75 against the Lions. That’s good enough for third highest on the slate behind only the Patriots and the Raiders. The Lions are currently 12 worst in the league by averaging 236 passing yards per game and are averaging 40 passing attempts allowed per game. This game originally opened up with a 48.5 o/u and has since moved to 50.5, which is good enough for the second highest total of the week. The game is on the road for the Falcons, and Ryan is known for performing better at home, so there is a reason to temper expectations. But in a matchup against an improved Lions offense with a secondary bad secondary, the game flow could mean Ryan will a lot of opportunities to chuck the ball.

Matthew Stafford (DK $6,200, FD $7,900) – Pivoting to the other side of the ball, Stafford has done reasonably well his first two weeks against the Cardinals and the Giants. Two opponents that are tougher on paper than his matchup this week. Stafford comes into the week as a 3 point underdog and with an implied team total of 23.75. Stafford is returning home where he threw for 4 touchdowns and 292 yards in Week 1 against a good Cardinals secondary. Out of all the games this week, this Lions/Falcons game is my favorite for quarterback points.

Kirk Cousins (DK $6,100, FD $7,600) – Cousins has been disappointing the first two weeks. He had a disappointing game on the road against the Rams and was mediocre against the Eagles in the opening week. This week could potentially be a rebound spot for Cousins. He’s at home facing a Raiders defense that has been overachieving the first two weeks of the season. The Raiders are averaging only 200 passing yards per game and have only allowed two passing touchdowns on the year. Last year the Raiders were one of the worst secondaries in the league and did very little to improve that unit this offseason. Oakland does have one of the league’s best offenses in the league, which explains the high o/u at 54 (highest of the week). Give me a low-owned Kirk Cousins against a weak secondary at home, even as a 3 point underdog.

Value QB

Andy Dalton (DK $5,100, FD $6,800) – Andy Dalton has been terrible the first two weeks. In fact, the entire Bengals offense has as they are 1 of 2 teams (49ers) that have yet to find the end zone this season. That being said, Dalton has had two difficult matchups after facing the Ravens and the Texans on a short week. The Bengals opened the week as a 10 point underdog on the road against the Packers, but have since narrowed the line to +8.5. Aaron Rodgers is without a doubt looking to light up the scoreboard after getting run over by the Falcons (again) on national TV, so I expect Dalton to have plenty of garbage time opportunities to throw the ball.

Running Backs

Le’Veon Bell (DK $8,800, FD $8,700) – To say Bell has been disappointing the first two weeks is an understatement. He’s been so disappointing that Elliott eclipsed him as the most expensive running back on this week. But this week could be the week we get Bell at depressed ownership and in a bounce-back spot. He doesn’t quite check all the boxes going up against an improved front seven in Chicago, but the Steelers are 7 point favorites. We saw Bell get 27 rushes last week and also 4 targets, so the volume is much improved after that bizarre first week. We all know Big Ben’s struggles on the road, yet the Steelers are still are implied to score 26 points. This should be a get well spot for Bell.

CJ Anderson (DK $5,800, FD $6,900) – Anderson is way too cheap on DK at 5.8k. The Broncos have shown that Anderson is the feature back while Jamaal Charles has only found his way on the field in passing situations. Anderson owns 70% of the Broncos rushing attempts after two weeks and has produced just under 200 yards (199). He also has 4 catches on 6 targets, which adds to his value on DK. The Broncos are a 3 point favorite against the Bills in a game that could feature both running backs with their pedestrian passing games and minimal projections. Anderson is projected as the third best running pack (point per dollar) on LineupLabs.

Isaiah Crowell (DK $4,800, FD $6,600) – If you drafted Crowell as I did in season long or redraft leagues, you’re probably frustrated with the thought of playing him in DFS. But the truth is, if there is ever a spot to play Crowell, it might be this week. Crowell is facing a Colts defense whose defensive line may have more holes than swiss cheese. This game has one of the lowest totals on the week and rightfully so as both teams have young offenses. Crowell does have the luxury of running behind the best offensive line in the league per PFF.com, so this could be a breakout week for Crowell.

GPP Flyer

Mike Gillislee (DK $5,700, FD $6,800) – Probably the better site to play him is on FD since he’s so touchdown dependent, but that’s exactly why he’s a shot in the dark. Gillislee has scored 4 touchdowns in the first two weeks. He leads the league in rushes inside the 5-yard line, converting each 4 of his carries into touchdowns. Although Gillislee is touchdown dependent, he does own 59% of the market share of rushes out of the Patriots backfield. The Pats are the biggest favorite of the week (13.5), and at home so Gillislee should get a shot at a cheap TD.

Cash game plays not noted above: M. Gordon, K. Hunt, J. Ajayi, T. Montgomery.
GPP Flyers: L.McCoy, D. Freeman, C. McCaffrey

Wide Receivers:

AJ Green (DK $8,100, FD $ 7,500) – I talked about Green’s quarterback up top. I like the idea of targeting this game from the Bengals passing attack with the likelihood that they will be playing catch-up for the majority of the game. Green currently accounts for 30% of the Bengals’ targets through the first two games of the season. He’s seen 18 targets and has caught 10 of them for 141 yards. He has yet to find the end zone, but as I mentioned with Dalton, they have had two tough matchups. This week they go up against a Packers secondary that got torched by Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in really what was only one-half of competitive football. The Packers rank 18th in the league in FP allowed to opposing WR by allowing 18 points through the first two weeks. I can see Green getting one, possibly two touchdowns in garbage time.

Michael Crabtree (DK $7,400, FD  $7,700) – I really thought that Amari Cooper was going to peak this season and Crabtree was going to begin declining. That clearly wasn’t the case last week when Crabtree scored 3 times on 6 targets, while Cooper only saw 5. I still think this may happen, but at least for this week, Crabtree might be the play over Cooper again. The big reason is that I expect Josh Norman to spend most of his time against Cooper, which would leave Crabtree lined up against Bashaud Breeland who currently has a PFF grade of 67.2. If Crabtree does face Breeland throughout the game, he should be able to find the end zone again.

Value

Rashard Higgins (DK $4,000, FD $5,100) – Higgins got a lot more playing time once the Brown’s top receiver Corey Coleman left the game. Coleman was eventually placed on IR and Higgins looks to be the biggest beneficiary from the move. Higgins got 11 targets from Kizer and caught 7 for 95 yards last week.

Devin Funchess (DK $4,200, FD $4,800) – With the injury to tight end Greg Olsen, Cam Newton will have to find someone over the middle of the field to dump the ball off. Per PFF.com, Funches is expected to lineup in 2 and 3 wide receiver sets against P.J. Williams. Williams is by far the Saints worst graded corner (42.7) in a secondary that has gotten torched by Brady and Bradford to begin the season. With Olsen out that’s going to open up more targets for the Panthers passing attack. I expect McCaffrey to see an uptick in targets but Funches should also benefit from Olsen’s absence.

** Devonte Adams is practically a free square if Nelson and Cobb are out ** 

GPP Flyer

DeAndre Hopkins (DK $6,200, FD $ 7,500) – Similar to Green’s situation, Hopkins is likely to find his team chasing a high-powered offense. Hopkins is currently third in the NFL in targets with 13 and also leads the NFL in team target market share 54.2%. It’s amazing how Watson just continues to chuck the ball Hopkins way. The Pats are currently 29th in the league against WR by allowing an average of 27.6 points to opposing wideouts. Hopkins is GPP only because Belichick is notorious for taking away the opposing team’s best weapon, which is Nuke.

Other Middle/Top Tier Options: M. Evans (GPP), K. Allen (Cash), D. Baldwin (GPP), T. Hill (Cash)

Tight End

For the first time this season there isn’t a clear-cut chalk tight end that will be heavily owned in cash games. At least for now. Below are a few of the best options when considering price per dollar spent.

Martellus Bennett (DK $4,400, FD $ 5,600) – Bennett is the tight end that I’m watching pretty closely. As I’m writing this Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have missed practice early in the week after leaving last week’s game against the Falcons. If one or neither of these players play that leaves plenty of targets up for grabs for the Packers, pass catchers, and I expect Bennett to be a beneficiary. Last week Bennett saw 11 targets with both Nelson and Cobb out of the game. Bennett would face a Bengals defense that ranked 30th in the league against tight ends last season.

Jack Doyle (DK $ 3,600, FD $5,300) – Doyle may be the heaviest owned TE on the week considering many DFS players will stick to recency bias and save their money by using Doyle as their value play. Doyle is certainly cheap and is coming off of a nice outing with Colts’ new quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Brissett targeted Doyle 8 times last week and Doyle caught every one of those targets and gained 79 yards to lead the team in receiving.

GPP Flyer

Jordan Reed (DK $5,400, FD $ 6,700) – Reed is limited to a tournament play only because he has missed practice early this week. Reed is listed as questionable which is likely to drive down his ownership. I already expressed my interest in the ‘skins offense in the QB section and I think adding Reed to a game stack for this Sunday night hammer could lead to a big payoff. Reed is among the top 5 TE in targets this season accounting for 20% of the team’s targets.

Cash game plays not noted above: Z. Ertz, T. Kelce, E. Ebron

Gpp Flyer: R. Gronkowski, D. Allen (if Gronk is inactive)

Defense

With 10 home teams as current underdogs ownership is likely to be spread out at defense.

New England Patriots (DK $3,800, FD $4,900) – The Patriots are at home facing the Texans who are implied to score a slate low 15.25 points. According to Vegas, they seem like the safest play. The issue is that they’re the most expensive option on DK and 4th most expensive on FD. If you’re able to fit them in your lineups, you probably should. Belichick will without a doubt have a scheme to unravel rookie QB Deshaun Watson

Tennessee Titans (DK $ 2,700, FD $4,300) – If you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel on defense I won’t blame you. As we get deeper in the week, I find myself justifying using the Titans for a few reasons. They’re home favorites (-3), Russell Wilson’s terrible home/road splits, and the Seahawks’ team total has dropped from 20.25 to 19.75. The Seahawks haven’t got their offense going this season and were lucky to survive a home game against the 49ers. The Titans like to control the clock by running the ball which could limit possessions, which limits scoring

 

NFL Lineup Daily Fantasy Football: Week 2 Cash and GPP Plays

The NFL Week 2 slate kicks off with two games on the main slate that currently have Vegas over/under greater than 53. Per usual, these games will see the heaviest amount of ownership in cash games and tournaments. The difference this week from the first week is that these games actually consist of four high-powered offensive teams. Before I dive into this week’s positional breakdown, I’ll give a preview of the two games that could dictate the landscape of week 2.

NFL Lineup Daily Fantasy Football - Lineuplab.com - fanduel lineup advice nfl - perfect lineup draftkings
Put our picks into the optimizer and let us help crunch the numbers, or browse through the Week 2 studs and sleepers with NFL Player Lab.

Patriots (31) @ Saints (24.5) o/u 54 (open) 55.5 (live)

The Patriots come into week 2 0-1 for the first time since 2014. If you’re panicking as a Patriots fan, you really shouldn’t, the last three times the Patriots started 0-1 they went on to win the Super Bowl. Bill Belichick is 42-6 following a loss. The Vegas lined open with the Patriots as a 4.5 point favorite but has since moved to a 6.5 favorite over the Saints giving the Patriots the highest implied team total on the main slate. They are going up against a Saints defense that just got lit up by Sam Bradford on Monday night football. Last season the Saints ranked 27th in the league in Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) and 23rd against opposing wide receivers. To say the Saints have a bad secondary is an understatement. So Tom Brady against the Saints after not throwing a touchdown pass in the first game of the season is in a great spot. The Patriots offense as a whole with 10 days to prepare for this week going up against a Saints defense that has had 5 days to prepare an irritated Belichick.

Now the Saints aren’t in a bad spot themselves. They are playing in what many of the DFS community call the Coors Field of the NFL, the Superdome. The Saints offense passed the ball on nearly 60% of their offensive plays in the first week against the Vikings. The fact that they are about a touchdown underdog shows that Vegas believes they could be trailing throughout the game and could lead to more of the same game script for the Saints offense. Drew Brees is notorious for his home and road splits, and this week he’s back at home, and the Saints offense has performed much better when playing at home.

We always got to remember that Vegas isn’t always 100 percent right, but they are often a good indicator of game scripts. Figuring out how to roster a few players in this game will be key having a successful week 2.

NFL Lineup Daily Fantasy Football - Green Bay Packers - Lineup Lab

Packers (25.5) @ Falcons (28) o/u 53.5

These two teams meet up for the first time since the NFC Championship in a highly anticipated rematch. These two teams are also coming off of a week 1 offensive let down where they had similar positive Vegas numbers. Both teams had their fair share of concerns back in week 1. The Falcons were on the road, and the Packers were going up against an improved Seahawks defense. But onward to this week!

The Falcons return home where they flat out dominated the league with their high-powered offense. The difference is that this season they have a new offensive coordinator in Steve Sarkisian who managed the Falcons to a 57-43 pass to run ratio. Matt Ryan is going up against the Packers defense that was 31st in passing yards allowed and 29th in quarterback touchdowns. Matt Ryan at home against a mediocre Packers secondary is just as must as a lock as a top quarterback could be.

While the Falcons are favored by just under a field goal, the Packers implied total is also top 10 in the week. The Packers offenses threw at a 60-40 percent ratio against a tough Seattle passing defense and were able to manage over 300 yards. Aaron Rodgers has lit up the Falcons in his first two meetings against them accumulating 7 touchdowns on 573 yards against the Falcons.

This game will be featured as the Sunday night game, and you’d want to construct your lineups to have some exposure to this game or else you could see yourself dropping on the leaderboards.

Now that we looked into the two games that could have the highest impact on this week’s slate let’s take a look at a few other options at the different positions.

NFL Lineup Daily Fantasy Football - Lineuplab - Derek Carr

Quarterbacks:

If week 1 taught us anything, it was that paying up for the premium quarterbacks is over rated. The average quarterback scored 15.5 points on DraftKings and 14.62 points on FanDuel. We saw plenty of lineups at the top of the leaderboards with Carson Wentz and Matthew Stafford, and there were plenty of bust in the higher tier (I’m talking about your Russell Wilson). This week it may be harder to get away from the top tier (Brady, Brees, Rodgers, and Ryan) but there are always a few options in the middle and lower tier we can consider.

Derek Carr (DK $7,200, FD $8,300)
There are two quarterbacks that I like this week as a pivot from the quarterbacks mentioned above and the first is Derek Carr. Carr is coming off a week 1 performance where the Raiders offense controlled the game against an improved Titans defense and Carr completed over 68% of his passes. This week the Raiders are a huge 14 point favorites (second biggest on the slate) with an implied total of 28.5 at home against the Jets. The Jets have among one of the worst defenses in the league and last year allowed 30 passing touchdowns, which ranked in the bottom 10 in the league. The Jets also have a funnel defense which could force the Raiders to more passing situations with the Jets ability to limit the run game.

Russell Wilson (DK $6,800, FD $8,100)
Similar to Carr, Wilson comes into week 2 with an implied total of 28 points at home against a 49ers team that also allowed 30 passing touchdowns last year. The 49ers front seven is much improved from last season but could be limited depending on the status of rookie linebacker Reuben Foster. In week 1 the Seahawks had a 60-40 pass to run ratio, and Pete Caroll could look to stick with that ratio as Seattle has a lot of question marks in their backfield. Wilson has traditionally performed better at home than on the road, and Wilson is averaging 2.83 DK points at home than on the road. Wilson has averaged 19.7 DK points against the 49ers at home in two meetings against them in his career. These two quarterbacks are likely to be the most popular pivot from the high priced guys.

Carson Palmer (DK $6,000, FD $7,500)
Palmer did not look good against the Lions last week. He completed just 56% of his passes and threw 3 bad interceptions that allowed the Lions to come from behind and steal a victory. The bright side is that Palmer did throw the ball 48 times. The Cardinals also lost their star running back, David Johnson and have a mess in the backfield. Although Johnson is a huge weapon for Palmer out of the backfield, this could force even more passing plays for Palmer. This week Palmer is going up against a Colts defense that just got exposed for a 300 yard game by Jared Goff and a mediocre Rams offense. The Cardinals are an 8.5 road favorite with a score of 25.75. Palmer doesn’t quite check all the boxes you’d like to see for a quarterback, but he’s worth a flyer in tournaments, especially if you stack him with Larry Fitzgerald.

Joe Flacco (DK $5,200, FD $7,000)
Recovering from back injury, Flacco was eased back into live action in week 1. The Ravens protected Flacco by running the ball 71% of their offensive plays, but Flacco has a juicy matchup against the Browns. With an implied total of 23.5 and an 8 point favorite, the Ravens could very well continue to run the ball, but Flacco could be a big part of getting the big league for the Ravens. The Browns cut Joe Haden this preseason and ranked 30th against the pass last season DVOA, so this could be a get well game for Flacco down at $5,200 on Draftkings.

NFL Lineup Daily Fantasy Football - Ty Montgomery - Green Bay Packers - Lineuplab.com

Running Backs:

Last week I was a part of #TeamJamEmIn and rostered both LeVeon Bell and David Johnson. It didn’t work so well last week, and we no longer have that option with DJ out until possibly December. This week there aren’t a lot of backs that fill the bill with situations I like (home favorites with a high team total), but I’ll give you a few that stand out.

Melvin Gordon (DK $7,000, FD $7,600)

Gordon is insanely cheap on FanDuel, but he’s also relatively cheap on DraftkKngs as well. Due to the amount of volume he receives, he could be a steal at that mid-tier price point. Last week, Gordon had a pretty solid showing on the road against a tough Broncos defense. He totaled 23 touches and 79 yards and a touchdown (16.4 FDp & 18.9 DKp). This week Gordon is one of the few running backs that check all the boxes for being a home favorite running back with a decent team total. Gordon is the 6th highest price running back on DraftKings and 10th on Fanduel so he could warrant lower than expected ownership on DK considering he’s $200 more than Kareem Hunt.

Ty Montgomery (DK $5,800, FD $6,500)

If you’re looking for another non-expensive running back look no further than Montgomery. Montgomery is the 15th most expensive back on DK and 20th on FD. When you look at Montgomery’s game log in week 1, the one thing that stands out was his pass catching ability. A former receiver converted to running back, Montgomery caught each of his 4 targets against the Seahawks and turned that into 19.3 DK points. Although Montgomery is a road underdog against, he does have a high team total (25.25) in a game that is projected to be a shootout (53.5 o/u) and faces a Falcons defense that ranked dead last this past season in allowing running backs receptions (109) and yards (870). Montgomery is a good way to get exposure to this game at a very cheap cost.

Kareem Hunt (DK $6,800, FD $7,800)
The rookie burst onto the scene last week with a huge night racking up 248 total yards and 3 TD’s in 23 touches against a much improved Patriots defense. Hunt is likely to be very popular this week as he’s up against the Eagles who rank 22nd in aFPA per 4for4. Hunt is one of those running backs that check all the boxes as he’s a home favorite (-4.5) with an implied total of 26 points. It’s important to note that he’s not as cheap on FanDuel, where he is the 7th highest priced back.

Jacquizz Rodgers (DK $4,400, FD $6,000)
Rodgers will get his first of three starts as the Bucs premier back with Doug Martin suspended for three games this season. Rodgers had over 17 touches per game in spot starts last season and could be in for a heavy workload as a home favorite against the Bears. The Bears do have an improved front 7, so I could see a game script where Dirk Koetter elects to test out Winston’s new weapons on offense. Rodgers is cheap and should get anywhere from 15-18 touches in the game.

Tarik Cohen (DK $4,1000, FD $7,000) – A road underdog that has the game script that will likely feature a pass-catching running back. The Bears showed that Cohen is their clear pass catching back.

Adam Thielen - Minnesota Vikings - NFL Lineup Daily Fantasy Football - Lineuplab.com

Wide Receivers

In a slate that features four high-powered offenses with great Vegas totals, all of the high-priced receivers are in good spots this week to have a monster year. Antonio Brown is a beneficiary of Big Ben’s home splits and the same goes for Julio Jones.

Julio Jones (DK $9,200, FD $8,800)
Julio is in a ridiculous matchup. We’ve already talked about his high team total and the fact that that game has shootout written all over it. On top of all that, Jones is going up against the Packers defense that ranked 29th in wide receiver fantasy points allowed last season. Even last week when they bottled up Wilson, Baldwin was still able to manage a decent 63 yards on 4 catches. Julio will go up against Damarious Randall who allowed the second-most fantasy points per snap on a per-route basis in week 1 per Mike Clay. Julio and Ryan at home are a dynamic duo and could be in line for a monster game.

Brandin Cooks (DK $8,200, FD $7,900)
Another wide receiver in a high over/under game. Naturally, Cooks would have to make this list. He’s returning to the Superdome to play against his former team #NarrativeStreet. The Patriots were already without Julian Edelman and are more than likely to be without Danny Amendola who has not practiced this week due to a concussion and knee injury sustained in week 1. The Patriots will likely have two healthy receivers who are familiar with the playbook and Cooks has the upside to have a huge game.

Larry Fitzgerald (DK $6,500, FD $6,600)
Fitzgerald is a stud in the first six weeks of the season. Last week he received a team-high 13 targets and caught 6 of them for 74 yards. This week without David Johnson I expect the Cardinals to rely heavily on the passing game. We already talked about how the Colts got torn apart by a mediocre Rams offense. The savvy vet Fitzgerald is almost a sure bet to find the end zone.

Marqise Lee (DK $3,800, FD $5,900)
If you’re looking for value, unfortunately, it may lie on Marqise Lee. Lee could be the benefactor from the injury that causes Allen Robinson to miss the rest of the season. Lee is likely to move into the starting wide receiver spot and will play alongside Allen Hurns who caught under 50% of his targets last season. Lee was held without a catch last week against the Texans, but he should be in line to see more volume this week. Bortles leaves a lot to be desired, but Lee is very cheap and could help you fit in some of these top priced studs.

Adam Thielen (DK $ 5,000, FD $5,800)
Thielen had a breakout game 1 of the 2017 season on Monday night. He racked up 157 yards on 9 catches and out-targeted the Vikings number 1 receiver Diggs. He’s not a big red zone factor for Bradford, but his game script does indicate the Vikings could be playing catch up and throwing a lot as a 5.5 underdog against the Steelers on the road.

NFL Lineup For Daily Fantasy Football - Coby Fleener - Indianapolis Colts

Tight End

Tight End is a position I traditionally like to find value. This week is no different. While there are viable top-tier options that are worthy of rostering, I find that in this week it’s easier for roster construction to find value at tight end.

Coby Fleener (DK $3,100, FD $5,300)
Fleener will be the consensus chalk on DraftKings. As the 15th price tight end, Fleener opens up a lot of salary to afford a higher priced stud. Fleener looks to benefit from the absence of Willie Snead as in the two games without Snead, Fleener has averaged 8.5 targets for an average of 81 yards and a touchdown. The Saints are a home underdog, but Fleener has traditionally done better at home. Fleener is looking to be like the free square that Ertz was last week.

Jared Cook (DK $3,300, FD $5,100)
I like Jared Cook as a pivot off Fleener’s high ownership this week. Cook receiver 20% of the target market shares in an Oakland offense that is implied to score the second most points on the slate. He looked like a nice security blanket for Carr down the seems and is an excellent pivot from both Fleener and the popular Carr/Cooper or Carr/Crabtree stack. He’s up against a Jets funnel defense that allowed the third-most touchdowns to tight ends last season.

Gpp consideration
Carles Clay (DK $3,300, FD $5,100)
Another pivot from Fleener, Clay led the Bills with 9 targets in week 1. Clay is going up against the Panthers who allowed the second-most touchdowns last season.

NFL Lineup For Daily Fantasy Football - Oakland Raiders Defense - Lineup Lab Advice NFL

Defense

If week 2 is as crazy as week 1 was we better be ready to hit on defense. Last week we saw 4 different defense score over 20 DK points, and it was almost impossible to land atop the leaderboards without them.

Oakland Raiders (DK $3,500, FD $5,300)
There are a few chalk options this week, starting with the Raiders.They’re at home and face a Jets team that is implied for 15 points (second lowest on the slate). The Raiders are coming off of an impressive performance on the road against a much improved Titans offense. Playing the Raiders with Marshawn Lynch could be a nice way to get exposure to the game on both sides of the ball.

Baltimore Ravens (DK $3,700, FD $4,700)
A better play on FanDuel, the Ravens defense comes into week 2 in a great spot. After holding the Bengals to 0 points in week 1, the Ravens shift their focus to the Browns. Like the Raiders, the Ravens are a double-digit (10) favorite against a poor offense. Although the Brown showed some promise last week against the Steelers, the Ravens are at home and had a 71% run percentage last week, which suggest there could be very limited possessions in this game. The Browns are implied to score 15.5 points (third worst on the slate), so the Ravens could be a nice pivot for teams that want to save the $200 with the Raiders.

Other considerations;
Seattle Seahawks (DK $4,000, FD $5,400)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (DK $3,200, FD $4,500)






Daily Fantasy Football: NFL DFS Week 1 Cash and GPP Picks

Quarterbacks:

Daily Fantasy Football - Marcus Mariota - Lineuplab.com

Quarterback is the most underpriced position in both Draftkings and Fanduel. The main reason why the quarterback position is wildly underpriced is that there isn’t a large gap between the top scoring QB opposed to the 12th scoring QB. It also has to due in large part with the fact that their scoring is weighted lower than other positions. QB’s receive 4 points per touchdown and 1 point for every 25 yards gained. If you play on Draftkings they give a bonus for quarterbacks that throw over 300 yards. That may alter your decision making because it makes quarterbacks more reliant on touchdowns in FanDuel than in Draftkings. Now that we broke down the scoring discrepancies, let’s take a look at a few quarterbacks you should be targeting for both cash and gpp games.

Cash:

Marcus Mariota (DK $6,700, FD $7,700)
Mariota comes into week 1 as the consensus chalk quarterback. The 6th highest priced QB on DK and 7th highest priced QB on FD, Mariota won’t be heavily owned because of his bargain price. Instead, Mariota will likely be the highest owned QB in cash games because of his favorable Vegas totals. The Titans come into week one as a 3.5 point favorite against the Raiders in a game that features the highest over/under 50.5. This high over/under gives the Titans an implied total of 26.5 points, good enough for second on this slate only behind the Steelers. Quarterbacks with similar Vegas totals have gone on to perform well in the past. Mariota has had the best red zone touchdown efficiency rating since joining the league in 2015. When you add up all that and include that the Raiders had one of the worst secondaries in the league last season, you can see why Mariota is expected to be the highest owned quarterback.

GPP:

Russell Wilson (DK $ 6,900, FD $8,000)
After a let down 2016 season, Wilson finds himself looking to hit the refresh button. His fantasy production last season took a dip because he only rushed for 259 yards on the season with one rushing touchdown. It’s been heavily reported that Wilson changed his workout routine over the offseason and is looking to recapture his 2015 form this season. Well, week 1 is a nice opportunity for Wilson to put his new offseason regime to the test against the Packers. The Packers allowed the seventh-most fantasy points per game last season and did hardly anything to improve their secondary in the offseason. This game opened up with an over/under just under 50 but has since increased to 51, giving this game the highest over/under on the slate. The Seahawks are on road underdogs, and that generally isn’t a recipe for success, but the Packers secondary is bad enough for you to consider taking a flier on Wilson in tournaments.

Plays worth considering in Cash & GPP:

Matt Ryan (DK $6,900, FD $8,500) – The Falcons are tied for 1st on the slate for implied team points with 27.5. Matt Ryan is going up against a Bears defense that is significantly improved in the front seven and new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian could look to air it out in their first game to get Falcon’s fans over their 28-3 blown Super Bowl win. However, Ryan does come with some red flags as he is playing on the road and there truly is no way of telling how the offense will function without Kyle Shanahan.

Ben Roethlisberger ($DK 7,300, FD $8,200) – Big Ben comes in with the same implied team total as the Falcons. He’s playing an abysmal Browns team and is an 8.5 point favorite. Ben will have his full assortment of weapons to his use with the return of LeVeon Bell and Martavis Bryant. The concern here is Ben’s home and road splits.

Running Backs

Daily Fantasy Football - Carlos Hyde - San Francisco 49ers

The running back position is almost always dominated by Le’Veon Bell (DK $9,800, FD $9,300) and David Johnson (DK $9,400, FD $9,400). This week is no different. Both are elite plays and expect to be the highest owned backs in this slate. Now the question is if you can play both of them. The answer is yes. There’s certainly enough value in other positions that allow you to make your lineup construction with these two elite backs. But if you have to choose one over the other I like Johnson over Bell because of the simple fact that the game has a closer spread and David Johnson plays for a Cardinal team that has fewer mouths to feed than the Steelers.

Chalk

Todd Gurley (DK $6,000, FD $7,300)
If you’re looking for a chalk alternative from the two safe, elite backs look no further than Todd Gurley. More of a value on Draftkings than Fanduel, Gurley comes into week 1 in an elite spot. The Rams are currently home favorite against the Andrew Luck-less Colts and have seen the Vegas line shift them from 3 point underdogs to 4 point favorites. With a poor offensive line and Jeff Fisher calling the plays last season, Gurley had a letdown year after being selected as the number 1 RB in most season-long drafts last season. This year the Rams have made some moves to improve their offensive line and also brought in Sean McVay to jumpstart their offense. Gurley should have an ample amount of opportunities to get to the 100 yard DK bonus and could even fall into the endzone.

GPP

Carlos Hyde (DK $4,600, FD $6,800)
If you’re looking for a cheap running back in your roster construction, Carlos Hyde is your answer. With Joe William landing on the IR and Tim Hightower being a surprise cut out of the 49ers camp, Hyde only has to share targets with undrafted rookie Matt Breida. Hyde should be a lock for 25 touches with Kyle Shanahan calling the plays now and his price on both sites could help open up salary in other roster spots.

 

Wide Receivers

Daily Fantasy Football - Amari Cooper - Lineuplab.com

Depending on lineup construction, wide receiver could be where you really differentiate yourself from the field. The top 3 studs are all in strong positions. Antonio Brown (DK $ 8,800, FD $9,100), Julio Jones (DK $8,500, FD $9,000), and AJ Green (DK $8,000, FD $ 8,400) are all in spots where we can see them have a big game. But let’s take an audible into some plays that people may be overlooking

Doug Baldwin (DK $6,700, FD $7,500)
I mentioned how the Seahawks passing offense was in a good spot against the Packers. The game flow looks to be in Baldwin’s favor as the Packers had the worst secondary in the league last season, and quite frankly their cornerbacks don’t scare any passing attack. Baldwin will face either Quinten Rollins, Davon House, or Damarious Randall neither was graded higher than top 50 of Pro Football Focus Cornerback Rankings.

Kendall Wright (DK $3,200, FD $5,200)
Kendall Wright looks poised to take advantage of a Bears receiving corp that is extremely depleted after losing Cameron Meredith for the season. Although Wright is not listed as the number two receiver behind Kevin White, Wright will be on the field in three wide receiver sets. That may sound concerning, but during preseason the first-team Bears offense ran three wide receiver sets 14 out of their 15 plays, so Wright is a sneaky cheap option to get some much volume. Wright was signed by the Bears after his previous work with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains. Under Loggains, Wright saw and an average of 8.7 targets per game back in 2013. In a game that the Bears are heavy underdogs against the Falcons, the offense could be throwing the ball more than 40 times opening up cheap targets for Wright to snag.

Amari Cooper (DK $7,200, FD $7,600)
Amari Cooper should be another popular play. Playing in the game with the highest over/under on the slate, Cooper is going to have an ample of opportunities to bring in targets. The Titans last season ranked in the bottom of the league in points per game allowed to wide receiver, and with a duel of Cooper and Crabtree, the Raiders passing game could be in store for a big game.

Larry Fitzgerald (DK $5,900, FD $6,400)
Fitz is a veteran that could be heavily owned in this first few weeks. The one thing about the vet is that he has some drastic splits from the first half of the season and the second. Fitzgerald has averaged 13.9 points in the first 6 games of the season compared to 11.3 games in the second half. The Cardinals passing offense faces the Lions who were 32nd in DVOA.

** Fanduel only ** Terrelle Pryor (FD $6,200) is extremely underpriced in Fanduel. Although his preseason action with Kirk Cousins left a lot to be desired, Pryor should see a massive target amount.

Tight End

Daily Fantasy Football - Zach Ertz - Philadelphia Eagles

Drafting a tight end in DFS is often dependent on the site you play. In Draftkings touchdowns become less important than targets, while on Fanduel touchdowns valued higher than targets/receptions.

Chalk

Draftkings – Zach Ertz (DK $4,300, FD $6,100)
Ertz is the uber chalk on Draftkings. With the Eagles getting rid of Jordan Matthews and Alshon Jeffery expecting to be shadowed by Josh Norman, Ertz becomes the immediate beneficiary of targets from Carson Wentz. Ertz doesn’t have the touchdown upside that others like Jared Cook or Tyler Eifert may have, but his price and volume make him a nice cash play on Draftkings.

Fanduel – Tyler Eifert (DK $4,600, FD $6,100)
Eifert is an example of how site determines what would be the better player. With Green sucking up most of the targets, Eifert is left with minimal targets. Fortunately for Eifert, he scored on over 40% of his targets last season. Although that number is likely to regress, Eifert is at a good price for such a volatile position.

Defense

Daily Fantasy Football - Los Angeles Rams - Lineuplab.com

Los Angeles Rams (DK $3,200, FD $4,600)
The Rams’ defense is in a good spot as a 4 point home favorite against a team that doesn’t have their starting quarterback. The Colts could very much be a train wreck come Sunday, and although the Rams will likely be without their All-Pro Aaron Donald, their defense should be able to handle Scott Tolzien and Frank Gore.

Houston Texans (DK $3,800, FD 5,100)
The Texans are the chalkiest defense with the highest upside. Aside from the fact that they are with the most talented defense in a prime matchup, they get to face Blake Bortles. Bortles looked dreadful this preseason and last year ranked in the bottom-10 in interception rate (3.7%). They are the most expensive defensive option out of the other chalk defense.

 

 

Fantasy Football 101: Draft Picks Strategies and Running Back Concerns

Last week I wrote up a report on how to approach your fantasy draft before your draft day. Whether this is your first ever fantasy football draft or your tenth, that guide will help you craft a team that will put you in a good position to win your league with the proper draft pick strategies.

Now, being that it is “National Draft Week,” I’ll look into providing you with a strategy for wherever you may be picking, either 1-12 through the first five rounds in this installment of Fantasy Football 101. A lot can be pre-decided if you know where you are picking in your fantasy draft, but the later picks in the draft should generate some discussion.

Generally, a top 5 pick guarantees you a top tier running back to build your team around. Unfortunately, that’s not the case this season. This season the “top tier” running backs ranked 3 through 12 all have question marks. That leaves us with two consensus running backs, Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson. Those two will be the first two players off the board in 98% of leagues. There’s no justification needed to draft either of these guys in the first round because they’re so far and beyond better than the next best running back. I’m going to point out some concerns over the next running backs with their average draft position (ADP) within the first two rounds.

LeSean McCoy - Buffalo Bills - draft pick strategies

LeSean McCoy – Ever since the news about the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott, McCoy has moved up to the number three ranked running back. While McCoy provides lots of upside for the number three ranked back, he has some concerns heading into the 2017 season. McCoy plays for the dumpster fire that is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills offense will be managed by former Denver Broncos Coordinator, Rick Dennison. Dennison ranked in the middle of the pack in run-pass percentage last season with the Broncos, which is surprising considering they had a subpar quarterback for most of the season. It will be interesting to see how much Dennison decides to utilize McCoy in his offense that no longer has a receiver that could stretch the field. That is because the Bills also just traded away their number one receiver and cornerback, so it’s anyone’s guess what direction this team is heading and if they even are looking to win this season. The Bills could find themselves out of several games early and often this season, and that doesn’t bode well for McCoy’s touch numbers.

Verdict: McCoy is a talented back that has finished in the top three of running back scoring in three of the last four seasons. His talent isn’t questioned, it’s the team that surrounds him that makes me skeptical of using a top 3 or even 5 pick on him with the direction of the organization. I’d be willing to pick him as early as 8th overall.

Melvin Gordon – Like McCoy, Melvin Gordon provides a good deal of upside, which is why I have him ranked as my number four running back. He had a nice bounce back season after a terrible rookie year in 2015. With Anthony Lynn as the new head coach, Gordon could be a lock to have his first 1,000-yard season. The biggest flaws with Melvin Gordon is his offensive line. Pro Football Focus ranked the Los Angeles Chargers as the 21st ranked offensive line in the league. The Chargers did their best to upgrade their offensive line by adding Russell Okung and Dan Feeney but whether or not they have a good year remains to be seen. Gordon is also coming off of a knee injury that cut his season short last season. He didn’t have surgery in the offseason, so that’s a good sign, but owners who are investing a top 10 pick would want to keep an eye on that knee this preseason.

Verdict: Gordon plays for a Charger offense that has plenty of weapons to keep the defense honest, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Gordon has a breakout season. He relied heavily on touchdowns last season so if his TD numbers don’t translate into this season he could see a drop in points. There’s no other running back on the Chargers roster that will take away from Gordon’s reps, and Anthony Lynn has proven to feed his running backs the ball with 14 consecutive 1,000-yard rushers in his career. I can justify taking Gordon as the 10th pick.

Devonta Freeman - draft pick strategies - Atlanta Falcons

Devonta Freeman – Freeman has been a pleasant surprise over the past two seasons. He’s a dual threat running back that plays for the most dangerous offense in the NFL. However, there are reasons to be wary of drafting him in the top ten. Freeman’s touches last year were down from his 2015 breakout season. Last year Freeman had 58 fewer touches than he did in 2015, that is due in large part to Tevin Coleman. Also, Atlanta lost their offensive guru Kyle Shanahan and replaced him with Steve Sarkisian. There’s no telling how Sarkisian will run this high powered offense, but that could mean that Freeman loses some pass catching opportunities, which hurts his value.

Verdict: Freeman is the more talented back out of the two in Atlanta. He received most of the goal line work last season and didn’t have to worry about eight men in the box with Matt Ryan under center. Freeman is a borderline top 12 pick in my opinion as the wide receivers available at the end of the first round are too consistent to pass up. He’s missed time this preseason due to concussion concerns so that would be a situation to monitor moving forward.

DeMarco Murray – Murray had a nice bounce back season last year after an atrocious season with the Eagles. Despite being 29, he didn’t falter with production, totaling over 1,500 total yards last season. The concern here is with his role in the team moving forward. We saw rookie running back Derrick Henry steal some of his touches last year, and he was producing with the opportunities. Henry had 123 touches and scored five times last season. Being that it’s Henry’s second year in the offense, you can expect to see him eat into Murray’s production particularly in the second half of the season. Aside from Henry’s presence, the Titans also revamped their passing game by drafting Corey Davis and signing Eric Decker in free agency. Mariota has plenty of offensive weapons now with Davis, Decker, Delanie Walker, and Rishard Matthews, so it’s fair to question Murray’s workload this season.

Verdict: Murray will still be the featured back in this backfield, but barring injury or a breakout season by Henry who knows what his workload could look like. The Titans like to run the ball, but with a revamped passing game perhaps the offense becomes more balanced this season. Nonetheless, Murray is still a solid option if you’re drafting at the later part of your draft. I see Murray as a top 14 pick in non-PPR format.

draft pick strategies - Ezekiel Elliott - Dallas Cowboys

Ezekiel Elliott – This is pretty clear, the suspension really killed his ADP. After being hit with a six-game suspension, Elliott went from number 3 overall to a borderline second rounder, in my opinion. There’s no doubt about Elliott’s talent and supporting cast, but the fact that he’s going to miss half of the fantasy season puts teams who draft him in a difficult spot.

Verdict: Elliott was one of the few running backs that could look to improve off of a stellar rookie season. The suspension is certainly something that should weigh down his value, but if you do decide to take him, make sure you’re drafting Darren McFadden as a handcuff in the later rounds. There are too many solid wide receivers to justify taking Elliott in the first or even early second round. I see Elliot drafted within the top 24 picks, but even that could be a reach. There’s no doubt that he has the talent to be a top 5 back. But risking half of the fantasy season on one player is a risk too steep for me to get over. Elliott would need to fall dramatically for me to own him this season.

These next few guys I’m going to bunch into one category because they all fall under the same tree.

Jay Ajayi, Jordan Howard, Todd Gurley, Leonard Fournette, and Isaiah Crowell – All these running backs round out the top 12 of the running back position. What do all these backs have in common? They all play for bad teams. Every one of these running backs plays for a team that has quarterback questions. This leads to more men in the box and less running lanes. It also will be difficult for running backs to get consistent touches on a weekly basis when their team projected always to be trailing. It isn’t as if these running backs are multi dimensional. For the exception of Gurley and Crowell, none of these backs caught more than 40 passes last season so, for the most part, they are dependent on rushing yards and touchdowns.

Verdict: We know that each of these running backs possesses high upside. We saw Ajayi’s 200-yard weeks, Howard and Crowell had nice seasons last year for terrible teams, Gurley was an absolute stud two years ago, and Fournette is considered the best running back out of this rookie class. They just aren’t as safe as the wide receivers available in their draft range.

If I’d have to go with two of these backs, I’d say my favorite would be Gurley and Crowell. Gurley had a terrible follow-up to his rookie season, but now with new head coach Sean McVay and an upgraded offensive line, it’ll be interesting to see how McVay incorporates Gurley into the offense. The Rams offense added a few offensive weapons in Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins so if Jared Goff can make a leap perhaps Gurley can have another big season. Isaiah Crowell had a sneaky good season last year, which is why I like him. I’ve seen Crowell fall on draft boards because he plays for the Browns but here’s the thing. The Browns actually come into the season with the number 2 ranked offensive line according to PFF.com. Although the Browns are likely to be terrible yet again, Crowell has established himself as the feature back in Cleveland over Duke Johnson and should score the majority of the points that Clevland scores this season.

Recap:

The Running Back position is the most important position in fantasy football. This is a position where it’s difficult to find production when you miss on top players. This year is not easy just jamming in the top running back in your first two picks. Aside from the creme of the crop, the other top running backs have some issues that you should at least consider before investing your first pick on one of them. When you compare that to the depth of top wide receiver position, it’s tough to justify forcing a running back to your team in the early rounds. It really depends on where you draft and who’s available, so I’ll show you how I’d approach a draft based on the different draft slots available.

Live Draft

The picks below were taken from a draft that I participated in earlier this week where I picked 7th. I’ll add some input on each team’s picks through the first five rounds.

Team 1

1.01 – Le’Veon Bell (David Johnson)

2.12 – Dez Bryant

3.01 – Demaryius Thomas

4.12 – Larry Fitzgerald

5.01 -Jordan Reed

What sticks out to me is Bell over Johnson, but there really is no right or wrong answer here. Picking at the top of the draft is always difficult to find a solid RB 2. I can understand how this team went WR in three consecutive picks.

Team 2

1.02 – David Johnson

2.11 – Doug Baldwin

3.02 – Rob Gronkowski

4.11 – Danny Woodhead

5.02 – Jarvis Landry

Solid start. Again this shows that when you pick early in the draft, it’s hard to find a decent RB 2 in the first three rounds. I think this team made out okay by drafting Woodhead in the fourth round.

Team 3

1.03 – Antonio Brown (Julio Jones)

2.10 – Leonard Fournette

3.03 – DeAndre Hopkins

4.10 – Frank Gore

5.03 – Delanie Walker

This team was a prime example of drafting a player based on the need to fill every starting spot right away. Drafting Walker was a reach if I’ve ever seen one. Walker has an ADP of going in the 8th round and the fact that he got taken in the 5th shows this team panicked when they saw the TE position thinning out and drafted by need, not by value. Also, I can’t see drafting Hopkins over Pryor or Crowell, but maybe this team knows something I don’t.

Team 4

1.04 – Mike Evans  (Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr.)

2.09 – Ezekiel Elliott (Dez Bryant)

3.04 – Terrelle Pryor

4.09 – Bilal Powell

5.04 – Mark Ingram

This team took the chance to draft Elliott. Elliott was drafted in the late second round, which is right around where I’d expect him to go. My issue with this is that he didn’t do that great of a job covering his grounds by drafting Ingram and Powell, both are backs that split time and don’t have lots of upside. Ingram? Maybe but that’s only at the end of the season if Peterson gets injured.

Team 5

1.05 – LeSean McCoy (Julio Jones or Odell Beckham Jr.)

2.08 – Brandin Cooks (Dez Bryant)

3.05 – Marshawn Lynch

4.08 – Golden Tate

5.05 – Devante Adams

Out of the first five teams, this is the team to beat right now. One thing that this team did that’s worth noting is that they skipped over three pretty good wide receivers (Jones, OBJ, & Green). This team was set on running back early and drafted McCoy. In this case, it worked out because of how low the receivers dropped, and the team was able to draft a good WR in the second round. Not a bad strategy when you consider how deep WR is.

Team 6

1.06 – Julio Jones

2.07 – Michael Thomas

3.06 – Isaiah Crowell

4.07 – Alshon Jeffery

5.06 – Greg Olsen

Solid start. Would be interesting to see where this team goes for their second running back slot.

Team 7 – My team

1.07 – Odell Beckham Jr.

2.06 – Todd Gurley

3.07 – Christian McCaffrey

4.06 – Aaron Rodgers

5.07 – Emmanuel Sanders

First off, I was thrilled that OBJ fell this far in the draft. This was a no brainer for me, and I still can’t fathom how this happened. The one thing I did here that I RARELY do is I drafted a QB. But to me drafting Rodgers in the fourth round was too good of a value to pass up. The decision was between Rodgers and Tate, and I felt that Rodgers production was far and away better than the other QBs than Tate was with the remaining WR. Hence the Sanders pick that followed.

Team 8

1.08 – Devonta Freeman (Melvin Gordon)

2.05 – Amari Cooper

3.08 – Dalvin Cook

4.05 – Martavis Bryant

5.08 – Julian Edelman

I felt Bryant was a reach in the early fourth round, only because you don’t know what role he’ll play with this offense that already has so many mouths to feed.

Team 9

1.09 – A.J. Green

2.04 – Lamar Miller (Dez Bryant or Todd Gurley)

3.09 – Carlos Hyde

4.04 – Kelvin Benjamin (Alshon Jeffery or Aaron Rodgers)

5.09 – Allen Robinson

This team has a solid balance of players who are going to see a lot of volume. I have Gurley and Bryant ranked over Miller, but I can understand why he decided to go with Miller over those two.

Team 10

1.10 – Melvin Gordon

2.03 – T. Y. Hilton

3.10 – Michael Crabtree

4.03 – Doug Martin (Alshon Jeffery)

5.10 – Kareem Hunt

My biggest issue here is drafting Hilton this early. With Luck’s timetable up in the air, you don’t know what type of production you’re going to get from Hilton Scott Tolzien behind center. Also, Doug Martin is suspended for the first four games.

Team 11

1.11 – Jordy Nelson

2.02 – DeMarco Murray

3.11 – Tom Brady

4.02 – Travis Kelce

5.11 – Jamison Crowder

This team jumped the gun on Tom Brady and Travis Kelce. Certainly two of the top players in their position but this puts the team under pressure to have a strong back end of the draft at essential positions.

Team 12 

1.12 – Jordan Howard

2.01 – Jay Ajayi

3.12 – Ty Montgomery

4.01 – Keenan Allen

5.12 – Tyreek Hill

The triple running backs method. It didn’t seem to hurt this team as they were able to get some wideouts with high upside. Ironically I think the wideouts are safer than the running backs, though.






Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 101 – Season Long

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 101

It’s that time of the year again. That time when you dust off your football jerseys and start getting text messages from your buddies talking about when your league draft day will be. Fantasy Football has become society’s latest epidemic and has become the ultimate way for friends, family, or even strangers to bond. And by bond, I mean to trash talk. Trash talk for four months. That’s if you are winning.

The key to winning is almost entirely linked to a good draft. Drafting can be complicated. There’s nothing worse than when you have your next pick in your queue list and the person before you snags him up before it’s your turn. Good times, good times.

But that’s why I’m writing this draft strategy outline let’s call it. That picture I painted above is going to happen, but it’s the teams that are able to think on their toes that end up making the playoffs and evidently winning a championship. So enough rambling. Let’s get to it.

Dividing the Draft Round

Creating a Ranking System

Creating Rounds/Position Tiers

Splitting the Draft in 3’s

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 101 - Season Strategies via Lineuplab.com

When I approach a draft, I found that dividing the draft rounds into sections is a helpful way to determine what my goal is in that round. I separate rounds into three sections. The Early Section, Meat Section, and the Late Section. Here’s a breakdown of the thought process during each of these sections.

“Early Section” or Rounds 1-5

Naturally, you’d expect the early section to be the most important aspect of your team. And it is to some extent, it is, after all these are supposed to be the best players on your team. But when I pick in the early section I’m not looking for “safe players.” Safe doesn’t win you championships and doesn’t always provide the best value. I look for players who have a high ceiling (meaning they can have a breakout game any given week), but players who also have a high floor (a good amount of base points to account for those weeks they don’t happen to have a breakout week).

Everyone always wants their first round pick to score 3 touchdowns and when they do you’ll likely win the week. But it’s when they don’t is when it that hurts your team’s overall performance. Finding a player with a good balance of high floor and ceiling helps in these early rounds helps you eliminate this problem.

“Meat Section” or Rounds 6-10

The middle aka meat section is where things unravel, but at least in my opinion, this is where leagues are won. Players you thought would be available during this section are no longer available, and players you thought would be gone in this section are magically still on the board. What I look for here is still a high ceiling, but the difference from the early section is that I’m willing to sacrifice the floor of the players.

In this section, we find players like DeSean Jackson or Adrian Peterson who are players that may not give us the greatest consistency but do provide big games upside in certain situations. Now it’s important to note; I’m not giving up on a good floor (base) all entirely. I’m still looking for players who are part of the offensive gameplan and provide real upside to have double-digit games.

“Late Section” or Rounds – 11-16

This is my ‘boom or bust” section. At this point, you already have your starting lineup already drafted and are starting to fill in the bench players. In this section, I sacrifice the necessity of a good floor, meaning I’m solely looking for players with high upside because they could provide a big boost to a team that already has a good balance between floor and ceiling. While there are instances where you’d want to draft a corresponding player that may be injured or suspended to begin the season, this is a good section to pick those players.

One thing I see a lot of fantasy players do wrong is draft players that they think would be best replacements for bye weeks or if one of their starting players gets injured. Those outcomes to me are situations you deal with on a weekly basis, and that’s what the waiver wire is for. But not on draft day. Draft day is about securing a team with the highest possible ceiling while maintaining a solid base for expected points.

*Writer’s Note* Don’t be the team that drafts the Broncos or Stephen Gostkowski before your final two rounds. These positions are interchangeable with the waiver wire, and often the points difference isn’t significant enough to justify passing on a player with good potential.

So now you’ve split the draft and have an idea for what players you are expecting. Now let’s put it all together and build a ranking system.

Creating a Ranking System

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 101 - Season Strategies via Lineuplab.com - Ranking System - Le'Veon Bell - David Johnson

There are several ways you can go about drafting a fantasy football team. One,  you can prepare your butt off so that you know team depth charts like the back of your hand. Two follow whatever site rankings that are defaulted when you sit in front of your computer. Or Three you could not prepare at all and just let auto pick choose the top guy available.

If you’re not one of those guys who could set his team on auto pick and still make the playoff,  I’d recommend approaching your fantasy football draft is a mixture of 1 and 2. Not everyone has the time to read every team preview and memorize each team’s depth chart, so we need to find a way to be more efficient with our time. Here’s how I start.

The biggest thing that will help you build a solid core to your team is creating your own rankings. Whatever site you use whether it’s ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sports, or even NFL, DON”T rely on whatever is automated in your draft room. Most casual fantasy players draft based on the default rankings in the draft room, by following them you limit yourself to finding players with greater value.

If you’re not comfortable creating your own rankings from scratch, take some time to look at other analyst rankings. Find two or three that you agree with and average the player’s rankings out. By doing that you’ll not only have expert type guidance, but you’ll be customizing it so that you have the final say on creating YOUR team based on YOUR rankings.

You’ll see a lot of Top 50 or Top 100 rankings. Here’s where the customization of your league comes to play. If you’re playing in a 10 team league, you don’t need to rank more than the top 50 players. If you’re playing in a 12 team league, that’s when you’d want to stretch the rankings to a top 60. The reason for this is you want to have coverage on players you like for at least the first 5 rounds.

Once you have your own “consensus” rankings, you’re ready to draft. Now here’s the key. No matter where you are slotted to be drafting, the key here is staying committed to your rankings.

By staying committed to your rankings, you’re finding players that you value more than others and have more control of your team.

Let’s say your heart was set on drafting a running back in the first round, but you have the fifth pick, and both David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell are gone. That doesn’t mean you should force your way to draft LeSean McCoy when receivers like Mike Evans or A.J. Green, who offer better value are likely still available. At least according to my board.

A big reason to keep following your rankings is so that you don’t reach for players in a draft position that they are not worth (according to your rankings). If the player you think you want to select is not the first player on your rankings list, chances are you’re reaching for that player and passing up on a player with better value.

Follow your rankings list to the core for at least the first 3 rounds. After the first three rounds, you evaluate your team. You could be looking at a situation where you drafted three straight wide receivers. That’s not necessarily a bad thing this year when you consider that running backs ranked from 5-14 all have question marks, but at some point you need to draft running backs.

If you find yourself in this situation, use your rankings to find the best available non-wide receiver position player available. You want to make sure you have a decent balance but aren’t forcing picks that make you end up losing value.

A good way I found that’s helpful in keeping my roster balance in the first 5 rounds is creating round tiers. What that means is your labeling the players on your rankings into positional order.

Draft Tiers

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 101 - Season Strategies via Lineuplab.com - Antonio Brown - Odell Beckham Jr.

Create tiers based on your league size and by round. Say you play in a 12 team league you’d want to have 12 players in your first tier, second, and so on and so forth. This helps you visualize what round you would expect your top 60 players to go. So for a 60-player rankings you will have 5 tiers.

Once you have the over players tiers, then you separate the tiers by positions. If you noticed 6 running backs were in the first 12 players (tier 1) then you would classify those 6 running backs as RB Tier 1. You may notice that you don’t have any tight ends or quarterbacks expected to go in the first round and this is when you place value into the tiers.

Say I have 6 running backs and 6 receivers going in the first round. That would mean my first tier of wide receivers and running backs would be valued in the 1st round. You continue to do these positional tiers until you have 12 players from the same position in that tier. Then you check what’s that last player’s projected round and place value on the tier.

WR Tier 1

  1. A. Brown
  2. J. Jones
  3. O. Beckham Jr.
  4. M. Evans
  5. A. Green
  6. J. Nelson
  7. M. Thomas
  8. D. Bryant
  9. T. Hilton
  10. B. Cooks
  11. A. Cooper
  12. D. Baldwin

Starting with my top receiver to my 12th this tier should last me up until round 3, meaning this tier would be “WR Tier 1-3.” What this is saying is that I would be willing to draft anyone of these receivers within as long as it’s round 3. If anyone of these players should be available in round 4 I’ve found tremendous value.

Now you can choose to create tiers the way I do, or you can choose to create tiers based on players you would draft in that round. For example, if I’d break that tier down into rounds it would sort out like this.

WR Tier 1 Round

  1. A. Brown
  2. J. Jones
  3. O. Beckham Jr.
  4. M. Evans
  5. A. Green

WR Tier 2 Round

  1. J. Nelson
  2. M. Thomas
  3. D. Bryant
  4. T. Hilton

WR Tier 3 Round

  1. B. Cooks
  2. A. Cooper
  3. D. Baldwin

The problem I have with this is that I’m leaving out other players that I would consider drafting at the end of the 3rd round. There are receivers I would consider drafting in the 3rd round, but they didn’t make the top 12 of the position. That’s why I choose to sort it out based on teams and put the round value based on where that tier starts and ends.

Bring it All Home

I know that was a lot of information to take in so I thought I’d leave you with some nuggets at the end.

  • Divide your draft into separate parts to place value on the rounds/players you pick.
  • Create your own Top 50/60 ranking to cover your first 5 rounds.
  • Divide your Top 50/60 rankings into positional Tiers to help you view the value of the round you are picking them in.
  • Do not lock into any specific position in the first round. Follow your rankings and after 3 rounds evaluate how balanced (position wise) your team is.

Extra Point

Just because the top guy in your positional tier gets drafted doesn’t mean you need to rush into drafting the next guy on the board (i.e., Gronkowski gets picked there’s no need for you to rush to draft a tight end).

For my next article, I’ll cover a specific strategy for when to draft Quarterbacks and Tight Ends. I’ll give you my opinion on where to draft Ezekiel Elliott and other promising rookie running backs. As well as dive into pick strategies for first three rounds.