Emotions are a bad thing.
Most people who play DFS are males. Most males would agree with that statement.
And I would generally disagree with that sentiment myself. As an author, I’m not a particularly emotional person, but I am what I would call “emotionally attuned.”
Here’s the funny thing, though: most Sundays or Mondays, you could come to my house and hang out with me and you would have no idea if was having a good NFL DFS day or a bad NFL DFS day - me, the guy who tries to be emotionally attuned.
But most people who would generally claim to be unemotional go through extreme highs and lows with every DFS slate they play. Every good thing that happens for their team is cause for celebration; every bad thing that happens is cause for extreme frustration.
I think this is natural for everyone, honestly. I’d say the main reason I do not go through the major highs and lows of each slate is that I have been working for over a decade to curb my emotional highs and lows in life, just in general. It took a good year or more of DFS play for that emotional stability to carry over to DFS, but it finally has.
I am thinking about emotions at the moment, because I did have a sharp, negative dip in the Emotions Department on Sunday night. As a born-and-raised New Englander and a life-long Patriots fan, that Rob Gronkowski knee injury sunk me pretty low. I sort of pulled my knees up onto the couch on which I was sitting; I sort of curled up into a protective ball; I sort of sunk into a state of despair. “Is this really happening?” It was the same way I felt in the Super Bowl when Malcolm Butler knocked the ball away from Jermaine Kearse…and Kearse landed on his back, bounced the ball around on his hands a few times, and caught it.
When that happened in the Super Bowl, I got onto my feet and walked away from the couch on which I was sitting and stood in the corner. I didn’t say a thing. I just stood there. True story.
A couple plays later, of course, the Seahawks decided to not run the ball with Marshawn Lynch for the win; instead, they threw on second and goal from the one and Malcolm Butler made the play of his life and the Patriots won the Super Bowl.
Tonight, about thirty minutes after the Gronkowski injury, a video emerged of him walking just fine. Then we started seeing reports that the injury was not as severe as it had appeared on the field.
Each of those times, I was reminded exactly why it helps nothing to allow sharp dips of emotions to get to you. And anyway, a lot of times, things work out all right in the end.
And sure, I’ll admit: the emotional highs are fun sometimes. They really are! It’s fun to have a big weekend and freak out about it and get all wrapped up in the excitement. But it’s even more fun to put up a huge weekend, make a bunch of money, and just sort of look at that great slate and say, “Nice…time to start getting ready for next week.”
There’s something about this approach that I feel helps you sort of reach a place where you say, “Okay, great - I won; no big deal - that’s not unexpected - now it’s just time to get back to work and do it all over again.”
Maybe that strikes a chord with you, maybe it does not. But I think it’s important to talk about, and I think it’s important to think about. It’s not just something that helps you in life; I feel that keeping a level head is genuinely something that also helps you in DFS. I feel that when you don’t really get too down about losses and don’t get too excited about wins, it makes it a whole lot easier to focus on the next weekend’s slate without getting wrapped up or influenced by the emotions that can otherwise lead you astray.
You had a great Week 12? Awesome - but that doesn’t matter now. Put that behind you, don’t let it seep into your thoughts, and start working on Week 13.
You had a poor Week 12? No biggie! - that doesn’t matter now. Put that behind you, don’t let it seep into your thoughts, and start working on Week 13.
Hey - look at that. I still have Josh McCown and Gary Barnidge and Buck Allen going tonight, and am already on the edge of double-ups and have a great shot for a solid weekend in tourneys. But there is nothing I can do about that now, right? That doesn’t matter; I’m putting it behind me. I’m getting started on Week 13. You may as well follow along with me.
Rather than looking at exact players worth considering as we begin the week, I’m going to look at some of the situations to pay attention to this week; these are situations potentially worth looking into and capitalizing on as we move into Week 13 - situations where we can play off the “emotions” others will have after Week 12, and can gain an edge by keeping a level head ourselves.
“The Bills are bad at pass defense now”: After Jeremy Maclin ripped the Bills on Sunday, plenty of people are likely to jump back on board the DeAndre Hopkins train with the thought that they can capture a bounce-back game against the Bills. The truth, however, is that the Bills have one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. I’m sure DeAndre will have a solid game, but the chances of him putting up the sort of game that will make you regret fading him - at his salary - are not very high. Dig in deeper to this matchup to determine your own thoughts, but that is probably where my thoughts are going to end up.
“Jarvis Landry is an awesome play”: Jarvis Landry is an awesome real-life player, but his role in the Dolphins’ offense almost always limits his upside. In Week 12, the Dolphins were behind by so much, so early, they were pretty much forced to pass. Ryan Tannehill tossed the ball 58 times (in the previous six Dolphins games - which is another way of saying “since Dan Campbell took over as head coach” - Tannehill had gone over 36 passes just once), which led to a huge workload for Landry. Although the Ravens have a poor secondary, they are also going to have a difficult time scoring points against the Dolphins without Flacco, Forsett, and Smith. Landry is always a solid, high-floor play - one of the best cash game plays each week. But for tournaments, we are unlikely to see this same ceiling from Landry for a long time.
“All the A.J. Green!”: The reason I have had a hard time rostering Bengals’ offensive weapons this year is that their usage is extremely inconsistent and unpredictable. That has not changed, and even though recency bias will lead to Green being ranked as a top five or six wide receiver, and people will want to roster him on FanDuel out of fear of missing out on a big game, the truth is, he’s just as unpredictable as he is any other week. With unpredictable players who have lots of upside, we want to roster them when they’ll be low-owned and avoid them when they’ll be high-owned. This may very well turn into one of those high-owned Green weeks. It’s a great matchup, and he might have another big game, but think twice about your reasoning behind liking him before you decide to put him on your team.
“Russell Wilson for the win”: There is a reason you have hardly considered rostering Russ this season: the offensive philosophy of the Seahawks rarely puts Russ in position for a big game. The Steelers are one of the few teams in football that can force the Seahawks to have to be aggressive on offense; the Vikings are not in that category. This should shape up as a very standard Seahawks game script, which means this should shape up as a typical Russell Wilson game.
“Julio Jones is not worth the price”: Last year, Xavier Rhodes was one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. This year, he has been among the worst. On Sunday, the Vikings had Rhodes shadow Julio a large chunk of the game, and he played - by far - the best game he has played all season. The Bucs have no one with that type of talent, and what’s more, the Bucs play a strict defensive scheme, which should enable Kyle Shanahan to create ways to get Julio open. I am expecting a big bounce-back game from Julio this week.
“Blaine Gabbert is awful!”: Blaine Gabbert has played really well this year against some really tough defenses. I’m not saying you can necessarily roster him against the Bears, but I am saying he’s worth a look. And I’m saying Anquan Boldin is worth a look. And I am definitely saying Shaun Draughn is worth a look. Furthermore, I’m saying I would not give the Bears’ defense a big upgrade just because they’re playing Blaine Gabbert. He may not yet be “good” - but he’s a whole lot better right now than most people think.
“Kendall Wright is not even worth considering”: Wright had a really poor game in his first action after missing three weeks with injury, but he is still one of the two most important weapons on this offense (alongside Delanie Walker). The weakness of the Jaguars is their secondary, and that is exactly where the Titans are likeliest to attack this week - making Kendall Wright a guy who should have plenty of involvement, and who sets up nicely for a big game.
One of the best ways to start each week is to look at the preconceived notions others’ emotions will lead them toward that week, and to then ask yourself if these notions are likely to be accurate or inaccurate. By finding places where others are likely to start out with misguided thinking, you can start to find the places where you can gain an edge. And really, that’s what DFS is all about.