Using the PFF DFS Lineup Optimizer to choose an elite WR for Week 1

Choosing from the biggest names can be a huge headache, but Tyler Loechner shows how our tool can lighten the brain load.

| 10 months ago
(AP Photo/Brad Penner)

(AP Photo/Brad Penner)

Using the PFF DFS Lineup Optimizer to choose an elite WR for Week 1

Whether you’re trying to take home a million-dollar prize, or you simply want to win a free head-to-head matchup against your fremeny, building your DFS lineup can be a daunting task. This weekly series will show how utilizing our easy-to-use DFS Lineup Optimizer can help you be confident in your lineup decisions.

First lesson: Choosing which stud wide receiver you want on your squad.

Let’s use Week 1 on DraftKings as an example. Perhaps more than other sites, DraftKings lineups tend to feature a big-named wideout. That’s because the site gives one point per reception with a starting lineup that consists of three receivers and a flex position.

So if you’re rolling into Week 1 and you need to decide between Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr., how can you use the DFS Lineup Optimizer to make the choice easier?


On the player research page, you can select Brown, Jones and Beckham, and then hit “Compare Players” down at the bottom. This makes it simple to compare each players’ projected stats for that week. It’s also an easy way to compare some of the PFF-specific metrics, such as their PFF Grade, their average return on investment (points scored compared to salary), the grade of their individual matchup, and their overall value (a combination of all metrics).

A great first place to look when making this type of decision is in the “matchup” column. The DFS Lineup Optimizer gives you individual matchup rankings. If we put Sterling Shepard into the system, for example, he’ll have a different matchup grade than Beckham.

This is a great way to get even more granular in your research. Some websites — including DraftKings — show overall team rankings against receivers, but the PFF DFS Lineup Optimizer takes it a step further by showing individual matchup rankings. (But remember, matchup strength isn’t everything. Factors like game flow and projected target volume still need to be taken into account.)

So how do these three players stack up in the matchup department? Well, Beckham actually has the best individual matchup of the three, and he’s the cheapest with a salary of $9,300. The data show that he’s got the third-best matchup of the week among wide receivers. That would seem to make him a great choice — but we still need to examine the other options.

It turns out Jones isn’t far behind in terms of strength of matchup. He’s going up against a rookie cornerback in Week 1, and he sports the fifth-best matchup of the week. He’s projected for more targets, receptions and yards than Beckham, and he has a better chance to score a touchdown. Given that he only costs $100 more than Beckham, Jones seems like a better choice.

But what about Brown? Antonio Brown has the toughest matchup of this group of three — but it’s still a relatively easy one. All three players have a “matchup” grade between 80 and 95 (out of 100) this week. There’s no heavy favorite in that department.

Brown is projected to have similar targets and receptions than Jones, but he’s projected to gain more yards and he has a slightly better chance of scoring. Brown’s historical ROI is also the best of this group of three, meaning he’s the safest choice, even when factoring in the fact he’s $400 more expensive than Jones and $500 more than Beckham.


Obviously, all three players are good. But after examining each player’s individual matchup rating, historical ROI, price tag and projected Week 1 stats, the choice really boils down to Brown vs. Jones. Despite having an excellent individual matchup, Beckham will likely see less volume than Jones and Brown. And it’s not like Jones or Brown have terrible matchups.

If you’re playing with just one lineup, the choice, ultimately, is yours. I’d personally lean Jones, given that he has a top-five individual matchup this week and he costs $400 less than Brown while projected to see nearly identical targets and receptions.

If you’re going with multiple lineups and you’re set on having one of these stud receivers on your squad, then the data suggest you should split up ownership fairly evenly between Browns and Jones.

This is just one way you can use the DFS Lineup Optimizer tool to help you make difficult decisions. Check back next week for more tips.

Tyler Loechner is a lead writer at PFF Fantasy. He has played fantasy football since 1999 and has been a part of the PFF Fantasy staff since 2010. Tyler was also previously a fantasy football featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

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