Welcome to my new article here on Fantasy Sharks. “Good Call/Bad Call” has been retired, and here in its place is “Finding Value in DFS.” If you’ve been watching any TV in the past month you’ve seen all the commercials for DraftKings and their daily fantasy games. They seem to be on during every commercial break. Daily fantasy sports (DFS) or in the case of NFL football, weekly fantasy, have been becoming more and more main stream. ESPN has partnered with DraftKings and some of their fantasy analysts are even talking about who would be a good start for your DFS lineup that week in their Sunday pre-game show. I’ve been playing them for the past couple of seasons and I’ve found I like them even better than my season-long leagues. I’ve been spending more of my research time on DFS and hence the premier of this article.
DFS has two main game types. The first are cash games (head to head, 50-50, and double ups) where around 50-percent of the entrants win money and the other half go home empty-handed. The other type are the big tournaments you see on the commercials with the million dollar prizes otherwise known as guaranteed prize pools (GPP), as well as multipliers and qualifiers where around 20-percent or less of the entrants win and the very top tier win the big bucks.
I put about 80 percent of the money I’m playing that week into cash games, and that will be the focus of this article. For cash games, you want to find guys who will be a good value and have a very high fantasy floor. What I mean by that is you want guys that have a very low point per $1,000 of their salary (PPK), and they have a very good chance to not have a dud of game. You want guys with very low risk for cash games. I try to shoot for around 2.5 PPK for my cash game lineups since that should be right where the “cash line” is in most 50-50 and double-ups. Any points over that 2.5 PPK mark will help make sure you’re “in the money” for the week or cover for guys who fall a bit short. The player’s ownership percentage doesn’t matter since this isn’t a big tournament where you get rewarded for finding the guy who blows up that week that no one else thought of. Here are some players that are good values this week:
DraftKings typically releases their contests for the following week during the Sunday night game. That means players in the Sunday and Monday night games don’t have their salaries adjusted much, if at all. Because of that, Ryan Fitzpatrick ($5,100) is a great value pick this week. Fitzpatrick seems to have a good handle on the New York Jets offense and Geno Smith can pretty much keep riding the pine when his jaw heals up. I like grabbing quarterbacks facing Philadelphia because of the pace of the game Philadelphia makes teams play to keep up with them. Combine that with Philadelphia’s poor pass defense and it leads to lots of yards and fantasy points.
Fitzpatrick would need 12.8 fantasy points to hit my 2.5 PPK mark which means a little over 200 passing yards and one touchdown. Playing the Philadelphia defense, who averages 270 passing yards to opposing quarterbacks, he should have no problem getting value for you. Plus getting a cheap value at quarterback lets you go big at running back and wide receiver.
Marcus Mariota ($6,100) is another fairly cheap quarterback who has a ton of value this week. Mariota has six touchdowns and zero turnovers in his first two NFL games, and those were both on the road. This week in his very first home game he gets a weak Indianapolis defense. I expect this game to be more of a shootout than Indianapolis had on Monday night with the New York Jets. Tennessee’s defense isn’t as good as the Jets and Mariota will be playing from behind if the game flow goes as expected. That should lead to some solid passing stats for Mariota this week. He’s projected around 240 passing yards with a touchdown or two. Throw in 20-30 rushing yards and Mariota has a pretty high fantasy floor for a middle-of-the-budget quarterback.
Matthew Stafford ($6,300) is a guy who should not be on your roster this week. His matchup with Denver is just too questionable to be a reliable quarterback this week. Denver hasn’t allowed a passing touchdown yet this year, and were able to hold Joe Flacco and Alex Smith both to less than 200 passing yards. Denver also intercepted both quarterbacks twice each. Could Stafford have a good day? Possible, but that’s not the type of questions that should be asked of a quarterback you’re rostering on your cash game lineups. You want players that have very few questions on whether they’re going to have a good day or not.
Marshawn Lynch ($7,400) is a guy who seems to play much better at home. He has 12 touchdowns over his last 10 home games, including playoffs. That’s some steady production right there. This will be his first home game of the year, and it’s against a very weak Chicago defense. Eddie Lacy, who is a similar running back to Lynch for fantasy purposes, had 85 yards and a touchdown against Chicago in Week 1, and that game was in Chicago. Lynch should have no problem running all over Chicago and I wouldn’t be surprised if he got more than one touchdown on Sunday.
Another player I like this week is Latavius Murray ($5,800) against Cleveland. Murray has had value in eight straight games dating back to last season. Cleveland has been giving up more rushing fantasy points than people might be aware of. In Week 1 Cleveland gave up two touchdowns to Chris Ivory, and last week the Tennessee running backs had 150 rushing yards. Murray has also shown that he can be a pass-catching running back this year if the game calls for it, evidenced by his 10 catches on the season. Murray would need a touchdown and 80 rushing yards to hit value this week, and that’s without catching any passes. He’s an easy decision for me to put in my lineup.
DeMarco Murray ($6,600) is a guy who isn’t going to hit his value this week. His offensive line hasn’t been giving him the room to run like he had in Dallas. He had value in Week 1 against Atlanta but that was because of his touchdowns. A running back who can’t gain yards isn’t the reliable kind of guy you want in your cash game lineups. His matchup this week is pretty tough playing the New York Jets. New York has allowed just 3.8 yards per carry on the season, and Murray is playing on the road. Philadelphia is an underdog in this game according to the Vegas odds, and running backs on road underdogs tend to under-perform their salaries in daily fantasy.