In this article, we’ll utilize the FanDuel Week 4 NFL contest period from Sunday’s Oakland vs. Miami matchup in Wembley Stadium through Monday Night Football with the New England Patriots visiting the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. We’ll look through the lens of the FanDuel pricing and scoring system we will key in on players suited for both H2H and GPP game formats.
As a reminder, there are two main types of playing formats in daily fantasy football; head-to-head games (including 50/50 and double-up formats in which half of the entries win, while 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.
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 is 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 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 fewer 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.
Depending on the style that best suits your team building preference and appetite for risk; you can go with a premium guy like Aaron Rodgers 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.
Andrew Luck $9,800 vs TEN: Luck treated us well last week as my #1 recommended quarterback. With six teams (CIN, CLE, DEN, STL, AZ, SEA) on bye this week, there will likely be more overlap at QB and RB than we have seen during the first three weeks. There is no need to get cute with your H2H rosters and Luck is a fine building block this week.
Philip Rivers $8,400 vs JAX: In all honesty, at the beginning of this season I would never have been able to imagine myself writing up Philip Rivers, however, that is the great thing about daily fantasy sports. You never know what is going to unfold week-to-week. At his $8,400 price point, he needs to score 18 FanDuel points, which is about 250pyd two TDs and one INT. With injuries to Danny Woodhead and Ryan Mathews, the burden of carrying the Bolts offense will be on Rivers. Against the Jaguars, it is not a stretch to project him for 275pyd and three TDs, which is similar to what he produced in Week 2 against the Seahawks.
Matt Ryan $8,700 at MIN: Ryan and the Falcons have had 10 days to prepare for their trip to Minnesota. After an efficient dismantling of the Buccaneers last Thursday, confidence will be sky high for ATL. Through the first three weeks this season, Ryan has averaged just under 40 pass attempts and 322pyd per game with seven TDs against just three INTs. I am projecting Matty Ice to go for 300pyd, two TDs and a pick. At his price point, that is solid production to lock in for your squad.
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.
Le’Veon Bell $8,800 vs TB: Bell had a fantastic game Sunday Night against the Panthers and despite scoring just one touchdown so far this season, he is averaging 19.3 FanDuel points per game. Tampa Bay is surrendering 125ryd per game and has already allowed their opponents to score five rushing touchdowns. Seeing the Steelers ride Bell for 150yds+ and a TD is very likely outcome and one which will easily pay off his price this week.
Lamar Miller $6,900 vs OAK (in London): With Knowshon Moreno out for a couple more weeks, Miller will be the unquestioned lead back for the Dolphins. With both teams dealing with overseas travel, it will not be a surprise to anyone if Miami continues to focus on their strength (7th in the NFL with 137.3rypg) and run, run, run against the Raiders this week. Miller has been efficient this season averaging 5.8 yards per carry and with the Raiders having the second worst rushing defense in the league, this is a perfect storm.
Donald Brown $6,300 vs JAX: As the last healthy RB for San Diego, Brown saw an amazing 36 touches last week (31 carries / 5 catches) in Buffalo. Though he totaled a disappointing 89 yards, he should find more room this week against the Jaguars who are allowing opponents to roll up 160yds per game on the ground. Brown will thrill those who roster him if he can get 100 combined yards and find the end zone just once.
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 $9,300 at NYJ despite underperforming the lofty expectations pinned on him last week by the daily fantasy community, you don’t want to be the one to shun Calvin this week. Despite a 1W 2L record, the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets have shut down opposing rushing attacks allowing a league low 55 yards per game. On the flip side, New York is second worst in the league defending the pass and have given up seven passing TDs through the first three games. Now is a good time for a bounce back week from Megatron.
Mid-Tier Choices – Steve Smith Sr. $6,100 vs CAR Revenge!!! What do you think the likelihood of a Smith TD is this week against his former team, 90% or 95%? Julian Edelman $7,200 at KC with 22 receptions already this season, Edelman is just three shy of the league lead. As one of Tom Brady’s most frequent targets this season, he should be in line for a good game under the bright lights Monday. Mike Wallace $6,500 vs OAK (in London) On the season, Wallace is averaging ten targets, six catches, 75 yards and has scored twice. The volume will continue to be there for him this week and he should have another solid showing at a great price.
Bargain Bin Ballers – Hakeem Nicks $5,800 vs TEN With T.Y. Hilton dealing with an ankle injury sustained last week, there is a good chance that Hakeem Nicks will get the start Sunday. Be sure to monitor the news leading up to kickoff. Golden Tate $5,500 at NYJ playing in the shadow of Calvin Johnson will ensure Tate several opportunities in one-on-one coverage against the worst passing defense in the league. Allen Robinson $5,100 at SD Back-to-back weeks of 75+ receiving yards and another likely start on a team that excels in garbage time make Robinson a great punt play this week.
Once again Jimmy Graham $8,200 is the premium cash game TE this week. Behind Door number two, we have mid-tier players with solid matchups like Greg Olsen $6,100 at BAL and a surging Martellus Bennett $6,000 at CHI. Additionally, there are bargain options like Owen Daniels $5,100 who will be starting in place of the injured Dennis Pitta and Travis Kelce $5,200 caught his first career TD pass last week and should be in the mix again on Monday against New England.
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 really like Shayne Graham $4,500 at DAL and Robbie Gould $4,600 vs GB.
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. Last week’s mid-tier recommendation of the Indianapolis Colts against Jacksonville paid off handsomely, so I will be going to pick on the Jags for a third straight week and rostering San Diego $5,300 as my main option. Where I am not taking the Chargers, I am leaning towards Pittsburgh $4,900 who are hosting Tampa Bay or Atlanta $4,700 who will be heading to Minnesota to take on Teddy Bridgewater in his first career start.
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.
Matthew Stafford $8,600 at NYJ: After a disappointing game last week, I am hoping that a fair number of daily gamers will jump off the Stafford bandwagon. The Jets tough run defense is actually going to work against them as the Lions are much better through the air. Stafford is my sneaky 300/3 play of the week.
Colin Kaepernick $8,100 vs PHI: It looks like taking a quarterback against the Eagles is a theme that will continue again this year. Kaepernick has looked lost at times this season and has underwhelmed anyone who has rostered him. This is good for us, because it will hopefully lower his ownership numbers this week. As we have seen many times in his short career, Kaepernick is prone to incredibly amazing days when you least expect it.
Teddy Bridgewater $5,900 vs ATL: Yeah, I know I recommended Atlanta as a potential D/ST option against the rookie QB in his first start. However, one thing I have learned over the years watching young quarterbacks in their first few starts is that the speed of the game overwhelms them. This leads to broken plays and especially rushing TDs as they approach the redzone. For his price if Bridgewater can get just 200pyd 20ryd and a rushing score he will have had a great day. Especially if he can also add a passing touchdown to offset his likely turnovers.
DeMarco Murray $9,000 vs NO: I was very temped to recommend Murray as a H2H option, however, my fear is that if New Orleans gets out to an early lead, Head Coach Jason Garrett will forget this is a home game and completely abandon the run as he did far too often last season. Also working against the injury prone Murray has been his heavy workload as 28 touches per game is well above what he has typically averaged. Add in his new found fumbling issue (he has a turnover in three straight games now) and I feel like his upside is better suited to a GPP team where if he craps out, it won’t expose as much of my bankroll as it would if I ran him out on a large portion of my H2H games (for NFL daily fantasy, I usually play between five and ten times as many H2H contests as I do large field tournament entries).
Ahmad Bradshaw $6,100 vs TEN: Bradshaw was great last week with 15.3 FanDuel points, however, he only touched the ball 11 times. This keeps him from being a volume H2H play and moves him into the GPP options for me. I like the matchup this week with Tennessee and it just feels like a game which will be controlled start to finish by Indianapolis which will mean a lighter second half workload for Bradshaw. However, this price and his likely lower ownership percentage make him someone to take a chance on and hope for a two TD first half.
Injury Upside Plays: This week I don’t mind waiting so see if there is a discount priced RB that emerges as a starting with several prominent RBs dealing with injuries. If you are really daring, you could roster Knile Davis $7,800 on an entry or two in the contests that start on Thursday and hope that Jamaal Charles is inactive again for Monday’s game. Bobby Rainey $5,800 at PIT, Darren McFadden $5,700 vs MIA (in London), Alfred Blue $5,500 vs BUF and Lorenzo Taliaferro $5,300 vs CAR all could again see significant action depending on how the lead RBs for their respective teams heal this week. Because they are all similarly priced, it shouldn’t be too hard if you had to do a little last minute tweaking of your lineups.
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 $8,400 vs TB: he looked fantastic on Sunday night against Carolina, my only worry is that the Steelers get out to a large enough lead and will focus on the running game if they are in control. Thinking back to the Julio Jones performance last week, I could see Antonio Brown having a huge game.
Randall Cobb $8,100 and Jordy Nelson $8,300 vs Chicago: Yes, they were part of the underwhelming offensive display last weekend in the highly anticipated game against Detroit. No worries, this is a new week and if Geno Smith put up 316 passing yards against the Bears, just what kind of videogame numbers will Aaron Rodgers and friends post?
Lightning in a Bottle: There are a few boom/bust cheap options that warrant mentioning this week. Torrey Smith $5,000 vs CAR Despite just eight receptions on the season, Torrey is still being heavily targeted (18 on the season) in the Baltimore passing game and he is the epitome of a boom-bust GPP play. Malcolm Floyd $4,600 vs JAX with double digit fantasy points in two of his three games this season, he has upside potential at this price point with Phillip Rivers not playing favorites this year.
This a good position to take chances on. Rob Gronkowski $7,600 at KC 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 multi TD games. However, he is also a major risk to get injured so I typically like to keep these type of risk/reward plays on my GPP entries. I expect him to be highly owned this week as a lot of people that play fantasy sports like to have someone on the Monday night game.
This week for my off-the-board play I am looking at Zack Ertz $5,600 at SF because I think he will be less than 15% owned and already he has become an important cog in the Eagles Offense.
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.