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OFFSIDES: Week 12 Early Jump

by JM Tohline
Updated On: December 3, 2018, 6:02 pm ET

Why do you play daily fantasy sports?


It’s not a rhetorical question - I’m being serious. Pause for a moment. Think about it. See if you can answer that question.


Why do you play daily fantasy sports?


Some people play for income. Some play because they want a rooting interest in the games. Some play because they want to compete against their friends, and some play because they want to try to strike it rich all at once. Some play for other reasons - I may not even know what some of those reasons are.


Why do you play daily fantasy sports?


My answer? - I play for income. Sort of.


As many of you probably know, I’m a novelist. I spend several hours at the start of each day reading and working on my fiction writing. I am fortunate enough to then be able to spend the rest of my day studying and writing about sports. My fiction writing, my writing for RotoGrinders, and my RotoAcademy courses (which can be found under the RotoAcademy tab on RotoGrinders - duh!) make up my “minimum floor” income. I can take the money I make from those things, pay all my bills, take care of everything else that absolutely needs to be taken care of each month, and be fine. But there are a lot of extra things my wife and I have budgeted (from savings to travel to charity involvement… to things far less noble than that), and we rely on daily fantasy sports for that.


That’s why I play.


I play because I love it, sure. I play because “problem solving” is one of my favorite things to do, and DFS is one of the greatest outlets for profitable problem solving. I play because it’s just plain fun. But more than anything, I play because I rely on the money I bring in from DFS for a variety of things.


Why do I bring this up?


Because, quite simply, my DFS roster decisions are dictated by the purpose behind my DFS play.


I play to make money - consistent, reliable money. I don’t play “for entertainment”; I don’t play “to have a rooting interest in games.” I play to win.


A lot of people never pause to answer this question: “Why do I play daily fantasy sports?”


A lot of these same people might say they play to make money, but they make roster decisions that actually indicate they play for entertainment, or they play so they can have a rooting interest in games.


This is an especially valuable topic this week, with three games being played on Thursday. I entered a $1k tourney on Thanksgiving Day last year - a tourney that only included the three Thanksgiving games. That was a decision I made for “entertainment” - a decision I made to have a rooting interest in the games. I was fortunate enough to do well that day, but that was not a decision that could be credited as being for the purpose of making consistent, reliable money.


If you decide you want to play on FanDuel this Thanksgiving, go ahead! But be honest with yourself; acknowledge that a three-game slate is really nothing more than just “entertainment” and “rooting interest.” Have fun with it, but don’t fool yourself into thinking you are doing something smart!


And then, if your goal in DFS is “to make money,” keep that goal in mind as you move toward Sunday. Get ready to make plays that line up with that goal.


Today, we are going to take an early-week look at some of the guys who may not be great for “entertainment purposes” in Week 12, but who may nevertheless be great staples for helping you make money.


Use these thoughts to help you start your research on the week - and as you move forward through your research, make sure you are targeting guys who will help you make money… if, that is, “making money” is your goal.

Note: Sign up for FanDuel today and receive a FREE ENTRY into a one-week fantasy football league for real money. Finish anywhere in the top-half to win cash. Enter now.




Marcus Mariota v Raiders: We have seen time and again this year that Mariota has the ability to rip apart a weak passing defense - usually doing so at a low price and low ownership. The Raiders have been regularly abused by quarterbacks this season, and this game sets up perfectly for Mariota to have to pass a decent amount, as the Titans have no run game and the Raiders are better at stopping the run than the pass. This could be a great spot to capture a big game from Mariota, at low ownership.


Brian Hoyer v Saints: All season long, we have been able to capture great QB upside by using the simple strategy of “rostering whichever QB is facing the Saints.” With the Texans starting to really come around, and with this guy named DeAndre Hopkins available for Brian Hoyer to throw to, this is a great spot to roster Hoyer at a cheap price, and to capture all the reliable upside that comes from picking on the Saints’ pass defense.


Eli Manning at Redskins: Usually, I list two players at each position in this article, but I could not pass up Eli Manning at the Redskins. The Redskins stand alongside the Raiders and the Saints among the worst pass defenses in the NFL, and Eli has the talent and the weapons to absolutely rip apart a bad pass D. Best of all, the Giants’ pass D is so poor (as is the Giants’ run game) that Eli is usually forced to keep passing throughout the game. This is a great setup for a big game from the last Manning standing.



Tevin Coleman v Vikings: If Devonta Freeman fails to get cleared from his concussion in time for next Sunday’s game, most people will avoid Tevin Coleman at all costs after his poor showing in Week 11. Remember, however: this is a guy who beat out Freeman for the starting job at the start of the season - a job he only lost when he got injured himself. Coleman may not be a superstar-caliber running back, but he’ll likely see a massive workload if Freeman misses Sunday’s game, and considering how low his price will be, “a massive workload” may be all you need.


T.J. Yeldon v Chargers: T.J. Yeldon is one of the few, true workhorse running backs in the NFL. He gets reliable carries each game, he gets pass game work, and - except when the Jags’ coaches get cute (which they did last game…with horrible results) - he gets goal line work (hint: the fact that the Jags failed on multiple occasions to score when using Denard Robinson as a goal line back in Week 11 leads me to believe they’ll turn back to Yeldon this week). Yeldon is facing the worst run defense in the NFL, and he’ll get over 20 touches. He’s not a sexy play, but if “making money” is your goal, he will likely be the right play.



DeAndre Hopkins v Saints: Delvin Breaux is a genuinely good cornerback. Heck, so is Keenan Lewis. But the Saints cannot stop anyone! This may change a bit with Rob Ryan gone, but I don’t expect them to suddenly transform into a unit that can hold down DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins should be highly owned this week, but sometimes a player has high ownership because they are just that good of a play - and it’s still the right move to play them yourself.


Odell Beckham Jr. at Redskins: Here’s another “obvious play” (hey - I made up for the obvious plays with the strong backing of T.J. Yeldon, okay!), but unless Beckham sees a limited number of targets in Week 12, there is no reason to expect anything but a great game for him against the crumbling Redskins secondary. If you can find a way to fit Hopkins and Beckham onto the same team while still surrounding them with a solid group of ancillary parts, you could be “making money” all weekend long.



Antonio Gates at Jaguars: Oft-injured Jordan Reed is…well, injured. If he gets cleared to play the Giants, he’s pretty much a must-play in my mind - but if he is out, Antonio Gates is a great place to look. Gates is not fully healthy, which is one reason he had such a disappointing game on Sunday, but another reason is that he was facing the second-best team at defending tight ends (according to Football Outsiders’ DVOA). In Week 12? He faces the second-worst team at defending tight ends. I expect Gates to see lots of looks from Rivers in this one, and even though he will likely remain a bit hobbled, he’s a great bet for strong production.


Gary Barnidge v Ravens: People are likely to largely write off the Monday Night Football game between the Browns and the Ravens - especially with Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett now out with injury. But Buck Allen makes for a strong play on the Ravens’ side of the ball, and Gary Barnidge makes for a strong play for the Browns. The Ravens have a difficult time defending tight ends, and Johnny Manziel showed solid rapport with Barnidge last time out. This is a great spot for Barnidge to once again put up a big game - with plenty of yardage and red zone looks.

As you prepare for this week, remember: identify your goal in daily fantasy sports, then build your rosters accordingly!


My goal is to make money. If your goal is the same, feel free to join me.


Of course…I won’t blame you if you capture some “entertainment” on that Thanksgiving slate. I might be right there with you…

JM Tohline
JM “JMToWin” Tohline is a novelist in his spare time (no, really). The rest of the time, he studies and plays DFS. He began playing DFS at the beginning of the 2014 MLB season; by the end of that year, he had won three qualifiers into million-dollar tourneys and had won two separate trips to the Bahamas. His tendency to type a lot of words leads to a corresponding tendency to divulge all his DFS thoughts, strategies, and secrets…which is exactly what he does in his RotoGrinders and Rotoworld articles. You can find JM on Twitter @JMToWin.