FanDuel & DraftKings NFL DFS Week 4 Value Picks. Weekly Fantasy Football Value Plays for Sunday, October 4 DFS Contests. Focusing on low-priced DFS options for FanDuel & DraftKings cash game & GPP contests (Oct 4, 2015 slates).
First, let’s talk some strategy.
The approach I take when looking for “value” (an often leveraged term in daily fantasy sports) is to identify players that are relatively low-priced and have a solid chance of bringing a strong return on investment.
The tricky thing to keep in mind is that DFS is really the art of maximizing your total return on investment in a given lineup. You want your fantasy team salary cap dollars to work as hard as possible against delivering the most fantasy points on a given slate.
So, you’re effectively always looking for “value” in the context of high returns on your investment.
However, it’s fairly easy for most to identify the players we’d typically group into the “studs” category as they tend to be the stars of their respective teams and sports. Sometimes a “stud” will have an attractive matchup and could even bring a valuable return on investment similar to someone that may be much lower in salary.
Simply put: If Antonio Brown is $10,000 on FanDuel and scores 30 points (what I will call a 3.0 ROI based on points per $1,000 invested) but Stevie Johnson scores 18 points against a $6,000 price tag, they net out with the same ROI mark.
That doesn’t necessarily mean both players were of equal value to your team. Clearly Antonio Brown was more valuable in the context of scoring 12 incremental points to that of Johnson in that scenario, even though the ROI metric shows the same relative “value”.
The difference here is what you are able to do with the delta in salary. What about that $4,000 savings you had from Brown to Johnson? What did you do with that?
If you leveraged that to buy Aaron Rodgers instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick (and I’m just throwing names and numbers out there to help illustrate my point… don’t get too carried away with precise examples) but Fitzpatrick happened to come within 10 points of Rodgers – which route would you have been better off?
Scenario 1 – Rodgers (30 pts scored) + Johnson (18 pts scored) = 48
Scenario 2 – Fitzpatrick (22 pts scored) + Brown (30 pts scored) = 52
Imagine both sets of duos cost you $20,000. Scenario 2 had you at an ROI of 2.6, while Scenario 1 finished with a return of only 2.4 times your investment.
All I’m trying to do here is help illustrate ROI as it relates to the context of your entire team. Each individual contribution from the top to the bottom of the lineup are important factors to creating a winning lineup.
Sometimes a stud and a player a few tiers below can finish with the same relative “return on investment”, despite large gaps in actual production. It’s really about the sum of the entire lineup’s parts that helps determine how the collective roster is going to fare in a particular DFS slate.
My hope is that this column will help you identify some players who I believe have a good shot at hitting the required ROI target to “earn their keep” as a part of your lineup in week 4.
Typically on FanDuel ($60,000 salary) you’re in good cash game shape if you are able to hit a team total of over 120 points. Matt shared a great column that goes into more detail on this regarding ROI – have a read if you haven’t yet had a chance.
Simple math says that a collective team ROI target, in that case, is 2.0. That’s a solid number to use as a baseline in you research, but you should always be striving for more.
Well, the best of the best lineups on a particular slate are going to see multiple players on a given squad with ROIs of sometimes even double or triple that 2.0 ROI target.
Take a look at Travis Benjamin in week 2, for example. He finished with 31 FD points against a $5,000 salary (good for a 6.2 ROI). This isn’t something that we can expect to see come to life across the board (a 6+ ROI does not happen often in a given season) – but if you manage to find someone with that kind of return – odds are you’re going to be in great shape.
So, we want to add some filters to our research in attempting to sift through the hundreds of player names to consider for your lineups.
One of the filters I’ll use here is thinking of 3.0+ ROI candidates on FanDuel to help identify the best of the best from a value standpoint.
On DraftKings, there tends to be a bit more fluctuation. I’ve had 50-50 cash lines some weeks come in around 130, but others need over 170 to see a payday. Let’s use 160 points as a threshold here so we know what we’re working towards (3.2 team ROI for a cash game win on a $50,000 salary). Let’s try to find 4.0 ROI targets for DK, to be a little more precise with our selections.
Another filter I’m using is thinking “lower-tiers” of players for the most part. I’m not going to look at if Aaron Rodgers is going to have a strong ROI game. That’s a job for our other columns like the Expert Picks and The Moxy List that we publish each and every week.
The task here is looking for cheaper priced options that have a good chance at performing well, and effectively, returning on-target production for their price point to help you win.
As a reminder, the targets for this column are as such:
FanDuel – 3.0 ROI
DraftKings – 4.0 ROI
Derek Carr: Here’s a guy that I think is a great value option on both FanDuel and DraftKings. You can make the argument that he’s even more underpriced on DK ($5,300) than FD ($7,000). There aren’t any QBs cheaper than him worth starting in offenses and matchups that could prove to bring 4.0+ ROI on DK with a very good chance at 3.0 on FD. He should have no problem finding Amari Cooper & Michael Crabtree against Chicago on his way to being one of the safest value QBs on the board in week 4.
Michael Crabtree: Adding him here with a brief callout thanks to the price. He’s a GPP option to consider in a mini stack strategy with Carr, if you decide to run him. The $4,600 price tag on DK and $5,800 salary on FD give him a tremendous amount of upside if you think about the week 2 game he had when he finished with over 20 points on both sites. He’ll be a boom or bust option most of the season, but worth targeting in a heavy passing scenario like we have this week with Chicago as the opponent.
Martellus Bennett: Bennett is the proud TE of the week that gets to say “give me that Oakland defense, please!”. Through the first few games in 2015, the Raiders sit dead last at FD points allowed to the TE position with 23.67 per game on 7 receptions, 101.67 yards per game and almost 2 TDs per (1.67; 5 total). The next highest in this regard is New Orleans, followed by the Giants… but they check in at 17.77 and 17.37 respectively. That’s a massive difference (essentially 7 fantasy points) and Bennett is a great play at the TE spot after having a slower than expected start in 2015.
Karlos Williams: With an injury to LeSean McCoy this week, all signs point to the Bills’ rookie as the lead back for this game against the Giants. Volume should be his friend, and the price tag on both FanDuel and DraftKings make him almost an autoplay considering his production thus far. He’s shown extremely well as a downhill runner with great bursts through the line in the early going, and based on the DK salary of only $3,400 this week, he’s a must-start assuming nothing changes with Shady’s status heading into Sunday. I’m also running him across the board on FanDuel considering the value at $6,300. He’s almost a lock to hit the ROI target on DK, and with a strong showing, he’ll hit 3.0 on FanDuel, too. Even if he gives you 12-14 points on FD, you really have to lock him in as your RB2 and take that for your cash games to spend up elsewhere.
Lance Dunbar: A great play on DraftKings this week considering their PPR scoring, and a very reasonable $3,600. He’s a volume receiver out of the backfield for Dallas, and with Tony Romo out for the next little while, Brandon Weeden has shown he’s going to rely on him in the passing game. The PPR format on DraftKings and the sub-$4,000 price tag make him a great target for both studs & scrubs cash games and all kinds of GPP approaches. He leads the RB position so far in 2015 (23 and 21 respectively). Lots and lots to like here.
Alfred Blue: If Arian Foster is out this week, I’m going to be giving Blue a lot of GPP love on both sites. However, he gets the edge for me on DraftKings due to the FLEX position and $3,900 price tag. Atlanta (week 4 opponent) comes in as the last place team vs opposing RBs from a fantasy point perspective, giving up almost 40 to the running back position through their first 3 games (39.37 to be exact). That’s due to a 12 reception per game average thus far. TWELVE FULL RECEPTIONS! Clearly they are more focused on stopping the ground game from a run play perspective, but we have some weakness in the screen and dumpoff game that can be exploited. Again – this play is purely something to look at if Foster is ruled out prior to game time on Sunday.
Marvin Jones: I really like this play for GPPs this week. Jones has 5 redzone targets through the air so far this year which is only 2 behind the league leaders (Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry, A.J. Green). He’s scored in 2 straight games and has seen increased targets overall through the first 3 games played in 2015. I can see him breaking the 4.0 ROI threshold on DK due to the way this one is lining up for Andy Dalton and company. I like the $5,500 price on FanDuel as well for a WR3 in GPPs.
Percy Harvin: With Sammy Watkins more than likely to sit this one out for Buffalo, it looks like Harvin should be a key point of the Bills’ passing attack on Sunday. He’s shown good chemistry with Tyrod Taylor so far, and with increased targets, he could make for a highly productive play in week 4. He’s averaging 12 YPC on the season and has seen this number increase each game from 9.4 to 11.8 to 15.8 while seeing at least 5 targets in each. He can push for close to 20 points on DraftKings and high teens on FanDuel with 7 or 8 catches for 80 or so yards. A TD would make things even more magical, but a game similar to his week 1 output is certainly within reach given how things seem to be lining up for Sunday.
Thomas Rawls: He’s going to be a popular name for DFS this week in GPPs, particularly on DraftKings and other late-switch sites. We probably won’t have a great idea of what Marshawn Lynch‘s status is going to be until later in the day on Sunday or perhaps closer to game time on Monday, so locking Rawls in on a site like FD will be hard to do unless you’re a big risk-taker and want to roll the dice for a GPP. If the Seahawks are going to ask him to carry the load (which will likely happen if Beast Mode sits this week out), you have to love the value at $3,000 on DraftKings ($6,000 on FanDuel is good, but not as good as DK). For me, I’ll set up a lineup with him as one of my FLEX or RB2 GPP options in a couple low-investment contests just in case he happens to be the lead back on Monday night. The ROI potential here is immense considering a potential 20 touch workload.
Frank Gore: Another DraftKings value play that I really like this week. I wouldn’t call him a value on FanDuel per se. His price doesn’t quite make him a candidate to hit our ROI targets for this column. However, his sub-$5,000 price tag on DraftKings makes him a very affordable target to consider for your cash and GPP lineups this week. He rushed 14 times for 86 yards and 2 scores last week against Tennessee and has an attractive matchup on Sunday against the Jags. He should get 15 touches and a TD here, if all goes according to plan. There’s a pretty easy path to a 4.0 ROI here and I suspect he’ll fly under the radar for many.
Note – with Andrew Luck looking like he won’t suit up this week, I’m downgrading Gore and only playing him in a low-risk GPP scenario.
Andy Dalton: The $5,900 price point on DraftKings feels somewhat criminal. He’s had 3 very good games to start 2015, with 18.86, 21.56, 35.32 in those contests. I have a hard time seeing him scoring under 20 points on DraftKings this week, and there’s a very good chance that he’ll hit at least that and possible into the mid-20s against a Chiefs defense that hasn’t looked great so far in 2015. I like Derek Carr plenty this week on both sites, and slightly more than Dalton on FD, but I can’t help to feel like with the DraftKings salary under $6K you need to think about him for both cash and GPP contests today considering the high floor and upside.
Richard Rodgers: This is less about the stats he’s accrued so far this year and more about the bargain bin price on DraftKings. He’s $2,500 on DK and happens to play in one of the league’s most high-powered offenses. With Randall Cobb and James Jones in town (and all playing very well), there isn’t exactly a ton of volume going Rodgers’ way at the moment. However, he can earn his keep for GPPs and slightly more studs & scrubs cash game approaches considering he’ll more than play his part if he’s able to find pay dirt in the red zone. I’ve watched a fair amount of Green Bay football so far this year, and Aaron Rodgers has definitely been looking his big TE’s way within the 20 (and especially within the 10 yard line). Like Gavin Escobar, you’re more so looking for a touchdown when you put him in your lineup, but when you think about the flexibility you’ll get in your lineup with him at your TE spot, it’s not outrageous to consider dropping him in and enjoying some premium plays at WR this week that should have big games.
Don’t forget to check out our feature column – The Moxy List – which has game-by-game analysis and top picks from across the league for week 4 of the NFL season.
Best of luck out there this week!
OUR FEATURE NFL DFS WEEKLY COLUMN: THE MOXY LIST – WEEK #4
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