In daily fantasy football, there are two main types of playing formats; head-to-head 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. Check out this article on head-to-head and GPP strategies to help you get ready for this weekend’s action.
In this article we will utilize the FanDuel Week 17 NFL contest period, beginning with Sunday’s 1 PM games and continuing through the night cap, with the Cincinnati Bengals heading to Pittsburgh to take on their division rivals.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-week $2.5 Million Fantasy Football league for Week 17's games. It's only $25 to join and first prize is $300,000. Starts Sunday, December 28th at 1pm ET. Here's the link.
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 points per salary cap dollar. The key word to remember is probable. In today’s NFL, just about any offensive player could have a three-TD 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.
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.
Week 17 Strategy and Advice
Week 17 will be tricky waters to navigate, as there will be many variables that pop up at the last minute that will eliminate excellent plays or suddenly thrust a reserve player into a prominent role. Pay attention to social media and NFL beat writers as well as current daily fantasy articles, since a lot can change between Christmas Eve and the Sunday kickoff.
Things to look out for include players feeling a perceived Pro Bowl snub (Golden Tate), players in line for postseason awards (Odell Beckham Jr, Rookie of the Year candidate), teams that have quit on their coaches (Chicago), or teams that have coaches playing out the string (San Francisco). Also, if anyone is close to a record or a performance bonus clause, oftentimes they will get a few extra looks. So, be on the lookout as these stories begin to appear over the next couple days.
Depending on the style that best suits your team-building preference 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.
Russell Wilson $8,600 vs STL: Wilson has been outstanding this season and is currently the 15th-ranked rusher in the NFL with 842 yards and 6 touchdowns on the ground. Over his last ten games, Wilson has averaged just a tick above 8 FanDuel points per game with his legs. In his last matchup with the St. Louis Rams, he became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and run for 100 yards in the same game. Now, we cannot expect that to happen again, however, add in the fact the Seahawks are still hoping to earn a first-round playoff bye and Wilson should be in for a full workload in this Week 17 matchup.
Cam Newton $8,300 at ATL: If the Panthers beat the Falcons, they are in the playoffs. If the Falcons win, they clinch the NFC South. Either way, a sub-.500 team is heading to the postseason. However, all we are looking for in the daily fantasy world during this tricky week is a high likelihood of playing time. In his first game back from his terrible car accident, Newton surprisingly rushed 12 times for 63 yards and a touchdown. Five weeks ago against the Falcons, Cam had 20.7 FanDuel points on 293 passing yards, 30 rushing yards and two passing touchdowns. We just need him to get 17 fantasy points at his current price - anything else is gravy.
Robert Griffin III $6,600 vs DAL: RG3 looked solid in leading Washington to an upset over Philadelphia last week, and the Redskins have a matchup with their hated Dallas rivals this Sunday. Dallas has clinched a playoff slot, however, with a win and some help they can earn a first round bye. Washington is in their usual “building momentum for next season” phase, and despite being 6.5-point home underdogs, they will likely be pulling out all the stops this week. There is a little risk with this recommendation, because we need Griffin to come up with 14 FanDuel points, something he has only accomplished three times in his last ten appearances. The key this week will be if he can get two scores - if he can, this pick will really pay dividends.
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 such as defense and kicker, which will be addressed in short order.
Le’Veon Bell $9,300 at CIN: Once more, Le’Veon Bell is the top running back with a matchup this week against the Cincinnati Bengals, who have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to running backs on the season. Though both teams have clinched a playoff spot, the first-round home field advantage which comes with the AFC North Division title will go to the winner of this contest. With such high stakes in play, I am willing to spend up to have Bell on some of my FanDuel NFL lineups.
C.J. Anderson $8,300 vs OAK: Denver can still earn a first-round bye if they beat Oakland on Sunday, so they will likely once again be relying heavily on C.J. Anderson, who has been outstanding since earning the starting gig five games ago. Over that stretch, he is averaging 28.6 touches per game, 134.4 combined yards and has scored six touchdowns. All this adds up to 22.2 FanDuel points per game, which is about five points better than we need from him at this price point.
Matt Asiata $6,400 vs CHI: Yes, this is not really a sexy pick at all, however, with the Vikings just releasing Ben Tate on Tuesday and Jerick McKinnon on injured reserve, Asiata has the Minnesota backfield all to himself. Chicago has been a mess over the last three weeks, allowing 35 FanDuel points per game to opposing running backs. Hopefully most daily gamers will also be looking for style points this week and therefore will be ignoring Asiata.
There are always great WR options at varying price levels and matchups. Typically what you do at the other positions will dictate how you assemble your receiving corps.
Top Shelf Options – Odell Beckham Jr $9,200 vs PHI: ODB is incredibly expensive this week, however, in his last three contests he has averaged just over 30 FanDuel points per outing. That is an insane figure and one I don’t know that we can count on. However, we need him to get to 19 fantasy points in order to “break even” and that could be accomplished with 6 receptions, 100 yards and a score. The Eagles have given up 29 receiving touchdowns this season, the fourth most in the league this season. Another signature game this week and he will lock up Rookie of the Year honors. This price is starting to look like something we can manage with a little savings at two other roster spots.
Mid-Tier Choices – Kelvin Benjamin $7,400 at ATL: All season the Atlanta Falcons have been one of the more friendly defenses towards opposing wide receivers (gotta like that Southern hospitality), and with these two teams playing for the last playoff spot, it should be a fantasy friendly game. Kenny Stills $6,000 and Marques Colston $6,200 at TB: With Jimmy Graham potentially being held out of this meaningless game, I really like this Saints duo. The Pewter Pirates rank in the bottom three this season for fantasy points allowed to wide receivers, and at these very reasonable prices, either player makes for a fine addition to your roster.
Bargain Bin Ballers – Albert Wilson - $5,600 vs SD: Wilson has been solid over his last three games with 12 catches for 209 yards on a surprising 20 targets. Here we are in the last game of the season still waiting for a KC wideout to catch a touchdown pass. Perhaps it will be Wilson and not Dwayne Bowe who breaks this ignominious streak. Donte Moncrief $5,300 at TEN: Sadly, Moncrief’s best opportunity for production has come during the worst two-game stretch of Andrew Luck’s career. If T.Y. Hilton is again held out, Moncrief is an interesting option. The Colts are locked into their playoff spot and it remains to be seen how much their key starters will play this weekend.
Greg Olsen $6,400 at ATL: Prior to last week’s one-catch dud, Olsen had back-to-back double-digit reception games. As mentioned in previous recommendations for this week, Carolina is going to have to pull out all the stops this week.
Jason Witten $5,500 at WAS: The Cowboys are playing for a first round bye and Washington has been susceptible to tight ends all season. Over his last two games, Witten has 14 receptions for 159 yards and a score. He should be able to get 7-8 fantasy points on receptions and yardage, and if he finds the end zone, he will be a stellar play.
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 there are a pair of discount options I am focusing on, starting with Justin Tucker $4,800 vs CLE. He's at home and he has had 8 points in six of his last ten games. If you really need some salary relief to work in expensive options at other positions, consider Shayne Graham $4,500 and Patrick Murray $4,500, two minimum priced kickers squaring off in Tampa Bay, who are both nice options if the weather is temperate.
Defense / Special Teams (D/ST)
D/ST is another position that is very hard to predict because so much of their value comes from return touchdowns. The best teams will have 10 return scores on the season and the worst around four, which makes it tough to know which team to roster.
This looks like a good week to again spend at the D/ST position. I like the Baltimore Ravens $5,200 vs CLE, as it looks like practice squad quarterback Connor Shaw may get the start this week with Johnny Manziel and Brian Hoyer dealing with injuries. Also, the Seattle Seahawks $5,500 vs STL are always a top option at home, and if you want one last shot at picking on the Jacksonville Jaguars, the JJ Watt-led Houston Texans $5,400 vs JAX should torment Blake Bortles all afternoon.
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.
Ben Roethlisberger $8,100 vs CIN: Roethlisberger’s numbers have been a little anemic over the last two games from a fantasy perspective. A lot of this is attributable to him throwing just one touchdown despite 580 total passing yards in those games. Three weeks ago, in Cincinnati, Ben put up 350 passing yards and three touchdowns for an excellent 27.9 FanDuel point performance. If he can get 3x as many points as his $8,100 price point this week, he will be leading a lot of teams up the leaderboard.
Matt Ryan $8,800 vs CAR: Matty Ice is going to be a very popular play this week and for good reason. With the Falcons' running game out of commission, Atlanta is going to need a career game from Ryan if they want beat the Panthers for the final playoff berth.
Jay Cutler $7,500 at MIN: Well, the Jimmy Clausen experiment sure was quick, with a concussion ending his season. Smokin’ Jay Cutler is back at the helm, and there is no reason for Chicago not to showcase him either in order to help facilitate an off-season trade or to decide once and for all if he is going to remain a Bear. Minnesota is in the bottom third of the league against opposing quarterbacks from a fantasy perspective, so Cutler is worth a shot in the dark.
Arian Foster $8,600 vs JAX: Foster performed well last week considering the circumstances. He should be in line for another big game if he can stay on the field against the Jaguars. With Houston out of the playoff picture, they may opt to shut down Foster if he gets dinged up during the game. However, for his upside, it is worth that risk in a large field tournament.
Jonathan Stewart $6,600 at ATL: Atlanta is allowing the second-most fantasy points in the league to opposing running backs this season. If Stewart gets another start, he is a great high potential play, having posted 19 FanDuel points in two of his last three starts.
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.
Antonio Brown $8,900 vs CIN: Brown has been outstanding this season and is averaging 19.6 FanDuel points per game. With just one game below 15 fantasy points in his last ten, even if he has a “bad” game, you are not going to totally be out of contention.
Julio Jones $8,700, Roddy White $7,000 and Harry Douglas $6,200 vs CAR: Pairing one or more of these guys with Matt Ryan is going to be a popular strategy. Conceivably there could be enough fantasy value to go around for all three of these guys to be productive.
Dez Bryant $8,600 at WAS: Once again, Dez will be a high-upside option. Over his last half dozen games, he has had three 24 FanDuel point outings. Make sure to have at least some exposure to him this weekend.
Alshon Jeffery $8,600 and Marquess Wilson $5,800 at MIN: Both of these guys had solid games with Jimmy Clausen at the helm, so why not pair one or both of them with Jay Cutler in a low-level contest for a little entertainment fun?
Tim Wright $4,500 vs BUF: With the Patriots having clinched home-field advantage through the playoffs, there is a good chance their stars are limited or sit this one out completely. Wright has six touchdowns in his last ten games this season and is a nice punt option in the big tournaments this week.
Jermaine Gresham $5,200 at PIT: Gresham has been quite productive with 9.8 FanDuel points in three of his last five contests. Andy Dalton has really been leaning on him for a solid month now, and that is not likely to change in this week’s must win contest.
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!