Week 7 NFL DFS Insights – Making the best picks on FanDuel, DraftKings (and any other DFS site you play on) is critical to success, right? Right. Well, sometimes that means going beyond the numbers and trusting your instinct or looking at game flow / game script when deciding on your lineups when all is said and done.
Welcome to the NFL DFS Insights column for FanDuel & DraftKings.
This week’s post focuses on making sure you don’t rely solely on numbers to help you make top lineup decisions. Often times DFS can be about “quantitative” data, but we should not allow that to get in the way of leveraging intuition, too. In our column this week, I’ll walk you through a bit of a “personal rant” that helps articulate what I mean here.
The Patriots and Seahawks came through as the 2 teams to look at, when we filtered out any other options that didn’t fit the criteria. Seattle came through as a top 6 scoring play, but the Patriots fell in the middle of the pack. We often want upside out of this spot, but we also don’t want a negative (or zero) from our team defense, so at the end of the day neither of these choices hurt us in any way.
Today, I want to talk (or rant, perhaps) about something that Brad and I were discussing at length yesterday – making sure you look beyond just the numbers when you’re making your final lineup decisions.
There is a lot of comfort in numbers, I will fully admit that. And it’s a great place to start your research each and every week.
However, you won’t always see the best plays on the board stand out like a sore thumb when you keep a sole focus on things like targets for WRs, touches for RBs, and pass attempts for QBs – just as examples.
It can be pretty easy to miss different plays that may look more like “secondary” options, like Brandin Cooks in week 6, for example.
The discussion around the industry was focused on Cam Newton and Greg Olsen for the most part. Which ones are you going to play this week? Are you paying up for Cam? What is Olsen’s output going to look like after having Derek Anderson regressing back to a bench role once Cam comes back (after putting up fantastic week 5 numbers with him).
We were having that conversation because this was the highest total on the board, and we knew Newton was going to be hungry coming off another loss (despite sitting it out due to a head injury). That was the primary dialogue all week long.
However, with a total of 53 points per Vegas, we should have also been talking about the guys on the other side of the ball, too. The Saints were at home and play at an extremely high level when they do so in New Orleans.
Drew Brees should have jumped out to us like a sore thumb as a great option here. The same goes for Brandin Cooks, who is often his number 1 receiving target (and has the most explosive skill set on offense). Michael Thomas was seeing a very nice set of targets (progressing in the right direction over the last few weeks), and Colby Fleener was starting to emerge as a key piece of the offense.
With everyone focusing on Newton, Olsen and maybe even Kelvin Benjamin, many of us missed the guys that ended up being the even stronger group to target in DFS. Cooks had a huge game. Thomas had one of (if not his best) as a pro. Fleener scored twice. Brees finished Sunday as the highest-scoring QB on both FanDuel and DraftKings.
Don’t get me wrong, as Sunday morning came around, I gave my head a shake as I was finalizing my rosters and went heavy on Brees and Newton… but I originally was planning to spend down on a guy like Brian Hoyer, Tyrod Taylor or Alex Smith as I had planned over the course of the week. It took me until a mere 30 minutes before lineups locked on Sunday to realize I wasn’t giving Brees the kind of attention he deserved, as well as his receiving corps.
Does that mean I made perfect choices at all other spots, too? Absolutely not.
I was high on T.Y. Hilton all week long, because I kept coming back to the fact that he was the only wide receiver in the league to date that had received double-digit targets in each of his 5 games to start the year. I couldn’t get that fact out of my head.
I also couldn’t displace the killer stat that showed how productive he is when Donte Moncrief is out of the lineup (something crazy like 140 yards per game receiving in that split… can’t put my exact finger on the number, but it’s a substantial line).
I made such a point to keep that top of mind that I didn’t care about the Questionable tag he had all week – and if I looked closer at the news – I would have realized he was playing at less than 100%.
You know who was $100 less on DraftKings? Brandin Cooks, that’s who. And as the guy that started Brees in my cash game lineups, the wise thing would have been to pair him with Cooks, right?
Well, I did play Thomas to have exposure to a 2-man stack, but perhaps I should have made sure Fleener and/or Cooks was in there too if I took game flow (and game script) expectations into consideration in a more substantial way.
That said, I didn’t maximize the opportunity I had in front of me, and in retrospect, left points on the table.
That was my cash game lineup. Luckily I played a number of different GPPs that ended up going heavy with Brees/Fleener/Cooks/Thomas and put up some very big scores – along with Cole Beasley and LeSean McCoy. It didn’t end up being a million dollar week for me, but it was a highly profitable one at the end of the day.
The fact of the matter for me is that this week was a very helpful reminder for me to leverage more than just what my algorithms spit out. I had Kenny Britt on my GPP radar (believe it or not, and played him in a few low-investment DK GPP lineups), but I was too hesitant to tout him on the Fantasy Pros week 6 podcast when he was on my prep sheet (fact!). Who in their right mind goes on a podcast and talks up a veteran that hasn’t done much in a number of years like Britt, even though he was clearly getting looks in the offense and had a pretty decent matchup to exploit.
If you like a guy, play him. Sometimes the numbers won’t tell you it’s the smartest play on the board, but it could end up working out.
Trust your gut and take advantage of your knowledge of the game (or at least how you think things will play out from a flow perspective) to make picks that you can feel good about. Even if it feels weird – sometimes it’s the right thing to do.
People that played Golden Tate are feeling great today, even though he had been absolutely awful thus far in 2016. Once Theo Riddick was ruled out, that should have been an immediate kick-starter to get Marvin Jones Jr and Golden Tate on our radars. Matthew Stafford was going to throw the ball more to his WRs, but much of the dialogue leading up to Sunday was about if Justin Forsett or Zach Zenner were going to be high-end plays. We should have known to focus our attention to the stronger talents in that offense, especially for a game that had plenty of offensive and point-scoring potential.
On that note, I’ll end our column there this week.
Listen to your gut and pay attention to game flow.
There is a time and place to do both of those things in DFS, and it’s the type of calls that you’ll make in situations as such that will often lead you to lower-owned plays, too.
Best of luck in week 7 and beyond, everyone.