Gaming the Game – Wild Card DFS Strategy
Renee Miller looks at how each key player in this week's wild card match ups stacks up in terms of efficiency, matchup, and year long production for your DFS lineups.
Gaming the Game – Wild Card DFS Strategy
I prefer a smaller slate of games because I think it’s easier to pick the best players out of a smaller pool.If you miss, however, it can crush you in a small slate. Others prefer a larger slate of games because multiple players can can perform equally well to get you into the money. If you miss on one guy, you’re likely to make it up with another.
It’s a moot point now, as we only have four games to talk about this weekend. So let’s be sure to get them right.
Continuing with the idea that the best way to arrive at the top DFS plays is to combine multiple metrics, I’ve created some new charts that look at the positions player by player. Because there are so few options at each position, we can look directly at each guy and how he stacks up (literally) in terms of his matchup, his season long fantasy production, and his efficiency (using PFF’s points per opportunity metric). You get an instantaneous view of the best plays.
In the charts below, the players are listed from left to right in order of decreasing DraftKings salary. Each player was assigned a value in category (matchup, volume, and efficiency) based on how good they were. So the player with the best matchup gets an 8, next best a 7, worst a 1. The highest volume and efficiency gets an 8 (or 10 or 12 depending on how many players I’ve included) and so on down.
Ben Roethlisberger jumps out to me as the most well rounded option this week, with a nice balance of production, efficiency, and a decent matchup with the Ravens at a median salary. He’ll be my main QB.
Joe Flacco is the best of the cheaper options, and in fact the best overall if you look at the peak of his pyramid (17 of a maximum 24 points).
I’m not paying up for Luck this week as he has the highest salary and worst matchup. He’s thrown for under 200 yards in each of his last three games.
Cam Newton is interesting; because of his mid-season slump he is likely to be under owned in a good matchup. The second highest DK salary, $7600, isn’t a killer. He and Flacco will find their way into my GPP lineups.
Those looking to stack their lineup elsewhere can take advantage of Ryan Lindley getting a great matchup. He has to make fewer mistakes, but the Panthers defense is not as good as the 49ers defense and he looked a lot better in start No. 2 than he did in start No. 1. There’s a good chance he improves again here.
Jeremy Hill is the best RB option this week, even with Giovanni Bernard back. Indianapolis allows the 9th most fantasy points to RB, and with Andy Dalton shaky at best lately, the Bengals best chance to win this game is rushing and defense. Bernard himself is a great play you’re getting at a discount. Remember the Bernard of the early season – unstoppable. He’s still reaching value the past few weeks on the strength of his contributions in the passing game.
I included Le’Veon Bell here, but it’s up in the air whether he’s going to be playing as of now. I’ll be using the Steelers pass game and fading Bell against the league’s 4th best Ravens run defense (per PFF).
While I like Dallas to win the game, I don’t like investing too heavily in teams facing Detroit’s defense. Although it’s softened substantially the second half of the season, they are still PFF’s 2nd best rushing and 3rd overall defense. I’m not using the two most expensive RB opens up a lot of options elsewhere.
I think relatively few people will be on Justin Forsett, but he only looks limited by his workload right now. Pittsurgh is a fairly neutral matchup, so if he gets close to 20 carries, he should meet value.
The cheap options, Dan Herron and Kerwynn Williams are in play based on matchup and workload. I like the idea of mixing one of them into my lineups in order to load up on WR. Herron, especially, gets to face the Bengals who allow the 5th most fantasy points to RB. I’m not sure if the Colts will hammer the run game like they should, but if so, Herron meets value easily.
Antonio Brown is the No. 1 WR option this week, hands down. He ought to be 100 percent owned. Dez Bryant edges him in efficiency (0.64 ppo vs 0.59 for Brown), and also makes a nice play if you can afford both or if the rain scares you off of Brown. I’m not keen on any of the Lions or Colts passing games, in part due to matchup challenges and in part due to the recent poor production out of Luck and Stafford.
If you go with Flacco at all, using Steve Smith Sr makes a cost-efficient stack. You can’t argue with what Martavis Bryant has done this year. I wish the weather was going to be better in Pittsburgh, but I’m still probably going all in on Bryant too. He has eight TD on 26 receptions this season, now going against the Ravens 5th most generous secondary. He had two of those TDs the last time the Steelers played the Ravens.
Many people will chase Michael Floyd’s two-TD performance and if you’re using Lindley that’s probably what you have to do. John Brown was a factor, but it was clearly Floyd that Lindley trusted most. For me, he’s a GPP option only.
I’m not really having a hard time fitting Greg Olsen into lineups this week and he’s clearly the top choice.
People still love the Colts’ TEs, but with both on the field both lose value, particularly with Luck struggling recently. Dwayne Allen was the better option for the Colts until he was forced to miss time with a knee injury. Then Fleener variously dazzled and disappointed, or always disappointed if you’re me and used him for all the wrong games and none of the right ones. I’d use Allen over Fleener if I had to choose one.
Jermaine Gresham is a guy I’d definitely use if I knew he was healthy. He has a TD in each of the last three games, but has been held out of practice so far this week. Heath Miller is a decent option as the Steelers should be one of, if not the strongest offense this week. Owen Daniels, Daniel Fells, and Eric Ebron are all close or at minimum salary for good reason. None are the trusted, proven option for their team and that’s what I’m looking for in the playoffs.
A couple of sample DK lineups for Wild Card Weekend:
Renee Miller is a neuroscientist and fantasy sports enthusiast. She's played NBA and NFL DFS since 2011/12 and added MLB to her addiction this summer. Recently, Renee combined her knowledge of the brain with her love of football in an eBook, "Cognitive Bias in Fantasy Sports: Is your brain sabotaging your team?". You can find the book on her website www.unbiasedfantasysports.com. She'll be writing this weekly NFL DFS strategy column.