In daily fantasy football, there are two main types of playing formats; cash games (including 50/50 and double-up formats in which half of the entries win and half of the entries are very sad) and large field guaranteed prize pool tournaments (GPPs) where somewhere between 10-20% of the field is paid out.
In this article we will utilize the FanDuel Week 2 NFL contest period from Sunday through Monday’s highest projected scoring matchup of the week with the Eagles heading to take on the Indianapolis Colts. Looking through the lens of the FanDuel pricing and scoring system, we will key in on players suited for both H2H and GPP game formats.
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The important thing to remember about this format is that you want assemble a team that has the highest projected “floor” scoring. The reasoning behind this is simple, you just need to be better than half of the field. Whether it is mano-a-mano or a whole crowd, the top half are victorious and the others are left wondering what just happened to them.
For this reason, we will want to focus on players that have the highest projected probable points per salary cap dollar. The key word to remember is probable. In today’s NFL, just about any offensive player could have a 3TD day or they may not see the end zone for a month.
We are looking for those projected stats that are likely to occur. As a general rule of thumb, in this format on FanDuel you will need to score about 120 points in order to put your team in a good position to win. Sometimes you will win with less points, other times you will lose with a much higher score, but that is a reasonable target figure.
With an overall in-game salary cap on FanDuel of $60,000, this means we need our players to score 2 points for each $1k of salary. The roster format includes 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE, 1 K and 1 D/ST.
Depending on the style that best suits your team building skills and appetite for risk; you can go with a premium guy like Peyton Manning or Drew Brees; with a mid-tier QB who has a great matchup or perhaps even someone who has come into the starting job after that week’s pricing was already created. The key thing to keep in mind though is that we need to find a production ratio of 2pts/$1k of salary.
For example if we choose Payton Manning as our QB at his current $10,200 price, we would need him to produce about 21 points or 300pyd, 2.5 TDs and 1 INT. Now considering Peyton AVERAGED 340pyd and 3.4 TDs per regular season start during last year’s magical run, it is possible. However, with the Broncos nearly two touchdown favorites against the Chiefs this week, how likely is it that Peyton will need to unleash the fury for all four quarters?
Now let’s look at someone like Carson Palmer who is priced at $6,900 in an above average matchup against a NY Giants team that just got dismantled by Detroit. We would need Palmer to get about 14pts to reach our benchmark target which could be accomplished with a game line of 250pyds 1.5 TDs, 2 INTs which nets him just over 14pts. Now let’s see what happens if we give him a little boost to 275pyds 2 TDs and 2 INTs, with that we are looking at a performance just shy of 18pts. This is what we are looking for in our H2H players, an achievable floor that meets our points/dollar ratio, but with upside.
Now for the fun part, let’s look at a few players at each position that should be able to “return value” on their FanDuel in-game salary. These will be players that I will be using myself on various iterations of my FanDuel H2H lineups this week.
Andrew Luck vs. PHI - $9,200: Luck was excellent in his Sunday Night Football opener at Denver with 370pyd 2 TDs and 19ryd 1 TD for 28.7 FanDuel points. This week we will need him to approach 20pts to pay off his salary cap number (in my experience when you spend a premium amount at QB you need them to get a little more than 2pts/$1k). Chad Henne looked like an MVP for a quarter against the Philly D and Luck is much, much more talented. A reasonable projection for Luck would be something along the lines of 275pyd 2 TDs 1 INT and 30ryd 0.5 TD for 24pts. Again, we want a solid foundation with upside and I think we have found that combination this week with the Colts QB.
Jake Locker vs. Dallas - $7,400: As discussed on last Thursday’s RotoGrinders NFL Game Night, the Cowboys are lining up to have a potentially historic defense, which will pretty much be the polar opposite of the ’85 Bears. Locker will need to reach a 15pt plateau in order to make his backers happy, that is easily in play with 250pyd 1.5 TDs and 1 INT. Add in 25 rushing yards, which is what Locker has averaged per game over the last two seasons and bump him to two full TDs and we get to nearly 20pts of production without overreaching.
While QBs are important to constructing a solid fantasy roster, RBs are crucial. Because running backs can earn points with touchdowns, rushing and passing yards AND receptions, they are usually the most steady source of daily fantasy production. Generally it is wise to “pay up” for a premium RB in a good matchup by utilizing your savings from another position like Defense and Kicker which will be addressed in short order.
Montee Ball vs KC - $8,100: Ball is just the 9th most expensive RB on the FanDuel Sunday/Monday slate and I like him to finish as a top five option, so he will be on a large percentage of my lineups this week. Kansas City allowed 162 yards on the ground to Shonn Greene, Dexter McCluster, Bishop Sankey and crew, it would seem that 100ryd and a TD would be a good stat line for Ball. With upside potential for 2 TDs in play and a handful of swing passes, you too can see why I am mile high on Monte in this matchup.
Giovani Bernard vs ATL - $7,800: This is projected to be one of the higher scoring games of Week 2 and the Bengals “do-everything” back is well suited to this type of affair. It would not be a shock at all if Bernard approached 150 combined yards, four catches and a score or two. As the 10th most expensive RB, you can expect to see a lot of teams that will have rostered Gio Bernard.
There are always great WR options at varying price levels and matchups, typically what you do at the other positions will dictate how you assembled your receiving corps.
Top Shelf Options
Calvin Johnson $9,200 vs CAR (simply the best), A.J. Green $8,500 vs ATL (the top option for Cincy in what should be a high scoring contest) and Demaryius Thomas $8,700 (hard to see him going too long without a score, I think Peyton will get him involved early when the Broncos are trying to build up a cushion).
Pierre Garcon $6,900 (he will be getting double digit targets every week as the focal point of the Washington aerial game), Eric Decker $6,300 (easily the top option on his new team and the Jets will need to throw to keep up with Green Bay) and Michael Floyd $6,600 (Larry Fitzgerald $6,900 shockingly did not even have a pass thrown his way until the fourth quarter).
Bargain Bin Ballers
Justin Hunter $5,700 (only three catches, but the eight targets show that the opportunity will be there), Brian Quick $5,200 (was very involved with nine targets culminating in a solid 7 catch/ 99 yard afternoon) and Andrew Hawkins $5,200 (10 targets for 8/87 in Week 1 and the Browns will need all-hands-on-deck against the Saints).
Once again Jimmy Graham $8,000 is the premium cash game TE option. Behind Door #2 we have mid-tier players with solid matchups like Jared Cook $5,600 at TB, Kyle Rudolph $5,500 vs NE or Zach Ertz $5,600 at IND. There are punt plays like Niles Paul $4,500 who will be filling in for the injured Jordan Reed vs JAX and Levine Toilolo $4,500 who looks like he will become a very popular short yardage scoring target for Matty Ice in Atlanta.
Kickers are very tricky to project, so I typically look for the lowest priced kicker in a decent matchup, ideally in a dome or a fair weather stadium. This week I again like Greg Zuerlein $4,500 at TB, Josh Brown $4,700 vs AZ and am including Robbie Gould $4,600 at SF.
Defense / Special Teams (DST)
DST is another position that is very hard to predict because so much of their value comes from return touchdowns. The best teams will have ten return scores on the season and the worst around four, which makes it tough to know when these may occur.
Generally I start at the bottom of the price list and work my way up until I find a defense that has a matchup that doesn’t completely scare me. This week I am looking to Washington $4,500 who is hosting Chad Henne, the Oakland Raiders $4,500 at home against Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers $4,900 who are hosting St Louis. The Rams are likely to be forced into starting undrafted rookie Austin Davis (he was even a walk-on to his college team before becoming the starting QB for Southern Miss), of course the Rams already had their amazing QB story once, could it really happen again? Nah, I don’t think so.
Large Field Tournaments aka Guaranteed Prize Pools (GPPs)
Depending on the contest, GPPs will generally pay out 10-20% of the field. It will take an outstanding score in order to finish in the money, so your mentality needs to be that you want to be in the top 10% or finish last. Being middle of the pack or even above average does not come with any reward, so don’t be afraid to take a few risks and stray from the herd.
Andy Dalton vs ATL - $7,800: This contest has one of the higher over/unders this week at 48.5pts. I like the upside of Andy Daulton and A.J. Green and I will have that combination on several of my GPP entries. Over the last two seasons, Dalton has had 11 games with 3+ TDs (including rushing scores), so essentially in one out of three games he vaults himself into the upper tier of scoring for the week. This is exactly what we need to see from our QBs if we want to do well in large field contests, so it is a good idea to select players with that type of upside.
Chad Henne at WAS - $6,000: Yes, I just got done mentioning about how we should be targeting QBs that have displayed the ability to reach lofty numbers. In today’s NFL, any QB can have a 3+ TD game if things line up in their favor. It is my belief that this may be the week to use Chad Henne in a GPP. With a healthy Toby Gerhart the Jags could only muster 64ryd on 25 attempts against Philly. This week with Gerhart banged up and Jacksonville nearly a full TD underdog, it is going to be up to Henne to keep them in the game. Last year Washington gave up 250pyd per game and it wouldn’t shock me if they let Henne unleash 50 attempts for 300 yards and a couple scores and still managed to maintain a comfortable lead for most of the afternoon. I expect Henne to be on less than 10% of all GPP rosters.
Aaron Rodgers vs NYJ - $9,100: Depending on the health of Eddie Lacy (pending concussion protocol clearance as of this writing), I like Rodgers as someone who is likely to be under-owned against the NY Jets. Even though this is a tough matchup, it will feel like a walk-in-the-park after the shellacking the Packers received last Thursday in Seattle.
Matt Forte - $8,600: A lot of DFS players are going to look at this price point and matchup and head the other way. Perfect, that is just what we want. Depending on the health of the Bears WRs, Forte is going to have a heavy workload against the 49ers or an EXTREME workload. The beauty of FanDuel scoring is that receptions are worth 0.5pts each and with Cutler facing pressure every play, it would not be a stretch for Forte to exceed the 8 catches he had in Week 1. With his likely low ownership, this is the perfect recipe for a GPP play.
Rashad Jennings - $6,700: It wasn’t pretty and it did take most of the game, however, Jennings final MNF numbers were solid with 4 receptions, 96 combined yards and a touchdown. He is going to be heavily involved in a Tom Coughlin offense and it wouldn’t be a shocker if he has a couple 2+ TD games this season. We just don’t know when those are going to occur.
Pierre Thomas at CLE - $6,500: Last week when I recommended Thomas I asked if two TDs would be out of the blue. Well, the Saints RBs accounted for three scores, sadly none of them went to Pierre. No worries, this just lowered his price a tad and will keep the rest of the riff raff from rostering him Week 2. Remember we want to finish in the Top 10% or it just doesn’t matter.
Isaiah Crowell - $5,100 and Terrance West $5,300 vs NO: If Ben Tate is ruled out, I don’t mind making a roster with one of these Cleveland RBs, both of whom had nice fantasy days. One trick in building a contrarian GPP roster is to go extreme at one position with either a high priced option or a low priced option that is not likely to be on a lot of rosters that week. This will force you into allocating your salary cap differently than the majority and in turn help you reap the rewards if your players do well and the more popular picks fade away.
Generally in a GPP it is a good idea to pair a receiver with your QB so you can double up on your points if they connect for a score or two. Remember you want to go big or go home in this format.
A.J. Green $8,500 and Mohamed Sanu $4,700 vs ATL: Green is going to be a popular option in all formats this week, however, don’t overlook Sanu who will be involved a lot this week with Jermaine Gresham joining Marvin Jones on the sidelines in street clothes as they convalesce.
Randall Cobb $7,600 and Jordy Nelson $7,900 vs NYJ: With 10 days to prepare I think one of these guys will have a great game and if Eddie Lacy is out or limited, I wouldn’t be adverse to playing them both.
Lightning in a Bottle: There are a few boom/bust cheap options that warrant mentioning this week. Rod Streater $5,100 (had a nice game in the opener and his matchup with the Texans is intriguing), Devin Hester $4,600 (returning kicks in a high scoring affair and coming off a 5/99 week gives him cheap upside) and Golden Tate $5,000 (looked great in his Lions debut, and would have had a monster game if he had scored).
This a good position to take chances on. Rob Gronkowski $7,900 is someone I always like to work into a couple GPP lineups because he is as good a bet as anyone in the NFL to have two TD games. However, he is also a major risk to get injured so I prefer to contain these dichotomous outcomes to my risk/reward rosters.
This week for my low-end options I am looking at Niles Paul for the minimum $4,500 and Dwayne Allen $4,800 (who I like more than Colby Fleener $5,400, but with all the options available to Andrew Luck, I only want Allen on my GPP teams).
Kickers and Defense / Special Teams
Generally I will utilize the same handful of cheap kickers and DSTs across my H2H and GPP lineups because of their inherent boom/bust nature.
Feel free to send questions via Twitter: @EmacDFS
Good Luck Gamers!