This article takes a look at the previous week of NFL action while breaking things down from a daily fantasy perspective. We will review winning lineups and provide main takeaways to consider for future weeks in DFS.
I believe this is a beneficial process for any DFS enthusiast. It is something I have been doing for years while trying to retune my approach and recognize any blind spots I missed in my previous week of research. Having said that, it’s important to identify the overarching themes that led to a winning lineup and how they can frame your mindset moving forward. In other words, I’ll be looking to separate the “signals” from the “noise” while recognizing some GPP strategy moves that did/didn’t pay off.
FanDuel Sunday Million Week 8 - 10/28
Here was the winning lineup from FanDuel’s Sunday Million contest:
QB Derek Carr – OAK (27.76)
RB Jordan Howard – CHI (14.1)
RB Joe Mixon – CIN (27.3)
WR Sammy Watkins – KC (26.7)
WR Mike Evans – TB (26.9)
WR Tyler Boyd – CIN (24.1)
TE Jared Cook – OAK (15.4)
FLEX James Conner – PIT (35.7)
DEF Pittsburgh Steelers (7)
Derek Carr had been struggling prior to Sunday’s game. However, he came through with a sweet 27.76 FP total that was boosted by a rushing touchdown. The matchup was good enough on paper, and Carr was able to pile up some quality numbers before the Colts pulled away with a 21-0 margin in the fourth quarter.
MAIN TAKEAWAY #1: Finding adequate bounce-back situations can go a long way in tournaments. In hindsight, we could have expected plenty of volume from Carr, as Marshawn Lynch was ruled out and a heavy reliance on the passing game seemed likely. Despite playing at home vs a Colts’ team that ranked top ten in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks, Carr only had a 4.2% ownership rate that was largely based on his recent struggles. Remember, past performance is not always indicative of future results, and we only care about the game at hand in DFS.
I’m going to take a moment and focus on the Joe Mixon play of this lineup. Most people took Kareem Hunt at a similar salary at running back. By comparison, Hunt had a 38.2% ownership rate compared to 13.7% for Mixon. This turned out to be a key pivot play that won this lineup the $500,000. Both running backs had game flow and matchup potential on their side, but Mixon outpaced Hunt by 10.2 fantasy points.
MAIN TAKEAWAY #2: Finding pivot plays for a similar price makes for a strong strategy in large-field tournaments. This requires some finesse, as you will first need to identify which players will be highly owned. From here, it’s all about finding strong plays with similar projections (and upside) in case the popular player underachieves. The Mixon-Hunt situation provides a perfect example of this.
Sammy Watkins ended up being the top receiver for Kansas City on Sunday. Yeah that’s right, it wasn’t Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, or even Kareem Hunt – Sammy freakin’ Watkins came out of nowhere to explode for 26.7 FP. This was the secret sauce that put this lineup over the top, as Watkins had an unbelievably low 2.4% ownership rate.
Marvin Jones Jr. was actually cheaper while notching 27.2 fantasy points with a 2.8% ownership rate himself. It always comes down to one cheap receiver who breaks out for a 20+ FP game to boost the top ten lineups every Sunday.
Marlon Mack was once again a top value at the running back spot, piling up 27.9 fantasy points on a $6,700 salary. I’m surprised his ownership rate was only 8.3% after a strong showing last week. Despite his fantastic return on investment, Mack only appeared in two of the top ten lineups in this contest.
MAIN TAKEAWAY #3: There are so many ways to slice a lineup, you don’t have to nail every pick. The winning lineup could’ve been even more powerful if they upgraded Jordan Howard to Marlon Mack, then went cheaper at a WR spot and/or defense. However, this combination was good enough to take home $500,000 – so I don’t have much room to criticize.
Players with a much lower-than-anticipated ownership rate. This players surprisingly went under-utilized in tournaments:
Marlon Mack – RB (8.3%): We touched on this earlier in the article. Mack had a breakout performance last week, and the matchup at Oakland looked good enough to warrant fantasy consideration yet again. Maybe it was his questionable status or the other value plays at running back pulling ownership rate, but I expected Mack’s baking to be nearly double this 8.3% rate.
Jared Cook - TE (12%): Cook was my second-favorite tournament tight end behind David Njoku. Game flow and Amari Cooper’s absence led to more targets his way. It appeared that most DFS players were apprehensive with his recent game log despite the proven upside earlier this season.
The highest owned players of the week. These players were some of the most popular fixtures in lineups:
James Conner – RB – 40.3%
Kareem Hunt – RB – 38.2%
Philip Lindsey – RB – 29.3%
Jordy Nelson – WR – 26%
Arizona Defense – 24.3%
Tyler Boyd – WR – 24.2%
Taylor Gabriel – WR – 20%
Landmines of the week. These are players who had high ownership percentages, but ended up with subpar fantasy output:
Jordy Nelson – WR: 1.9 FP @ 26%
David Njoku – TE: 0 FP @ 14.9%
Taylor Gabriel – WR: 7.2 FP @ 20%