NFL DFS Strategy

THE CHALKBOARD – NFL WEEK 1

Hey LineupLogic listeners! I am very excited to bring you the first edition of “The Chalkboard” articles for the NFL season! Whether you have read my MLB articles or are a new reader just trying to find a source for unbiased DFS info, I would just like to welcome you to “The Chalkboard”. In these articles we will be determining which players on Fanduel are chalky (highest ownership percentages) and trying to decide which players may go lower owned which gives you an edge on the competition in a GPP. I’ll give a little information regarding GPPs to some of the newer DFS players.

What is a GPP? – GPP stands for Guaranteed Prize Pool. In other words, it is a large scale tournament where all prizes are guaranteed regardless of whether or not the contest fills up.

How is a GPP different from a double-up or “cash game” – In double-ups, head-to-heads or other “cash games”, roughly the top 50% of lineups profit. In a GPP however, only the top 18-25% of lineups profit.

How does this correlate to lineup construction? – Since only 20% of lineups cash, you need to make sure that your lineup is different from the rest of people who entered your contest. This means you need to take more risk to differentiate your lineup so you can get as close to 1st place as possible. It’s a high-risk high-reward contest type.

Now that we all have a basic understanding of what a GPP is, let’s try to determine the chalky players and sleepy pivots we can make to help get an edge on the rest of the competition.

It is very difficult to predict exact ownership percentages for week 1 of NFL season because you don’t know which mid-tier and lower priced options other players will use to make salary space for the studs. I will do my best to make the most optimal pivots so we can gain ownership leverage.

The Chalkboard

Quarterbacks

Chalkiest plays

Ben Roethlisberger ($8,200) PIT @ CLE – 22%

Why? – Pittsburg has the highest implied team total on the main slate at 27.75 points and Cleveland is an obvious great matchup. He should easily be the highest owned QB on the slate.

Like/Dislike – Like for cash games/Dislike in GPPs He’s a great cash game play because he has the best matchup and the most weapons surrounding him. I don’t like him that much in GPPs because you can’t gain ownership leverage if 1/4 of the field is rostering him. Plus, Le’Veon Bell could score 2-3 rushing TDs which means Big Ben may only pass for 1-2 touchdowns which may limit his fantasy upside.

Matt Ryan ($8,500) ATL @ CHI – 16%

Why? – Atlanta has the second highest implied team total at 27.25 points. Chicago has a mediocre defense and people love to pair Ryan with Julio Jones.

Like/Dislike – Like-ish –  I think Ryan has a solid floor and decent upside which are the main reasons I like Ryan. However, I don’t like having to pay $9,000 for Julio Jones to pair with him. It seems like a lot of money for a QB/WR duo when you want to roster Le’Veon Bell or David Johnson.

Aaron Rodgers ($8,300) SEA @ GB 14.5%

Why? – I don’t think Rodgers would be owned this highly if this game was mid-season. The reason I believe he will be one of the higher owned QBs are for these reasons. Name recognition and most importantly, new players. By that I mean, players new to Fanduel don’t really know how it works. So what do they do? They pick the player that they know is elite and the player with the highest FPPG (fantasy points per game). Rodgers hits both of these points which is why I believe he will go higher owned than expected.

Like/Dislike – Like (with caution) – Rodgers can pick apart any defense on any given day, this we know. That said, the Seahawks aren’t just any defense. Rodgers could struggle to find open receivers leading to punts and field goals. On the flip side, I don’t think Ty Montgomery will be able to rush well against this defensive unit and Rodgers will have to do it all himself. That could mean 4 TD potential and that is what I like about him here. I will have him in a couple of lines, but I will definitely limit my exposure.

Sleepers/Pivots

Cam Newton ($7,900) CAR @ SF – 10%

Why? – I think the only reason he won’t be owned near 15-20% is because of his questionable status. That alone will lower his ownership to around 10%.

Like/Dislike – Like – I can’t tell how the Panthers’ will run their offense. It will likely revolve around Newton, but they may run in a different direction if Christian McCaffrey performs well. It is also hard for me to trust this wideout corps. They are very hit-or-miss, but I think Newton will find a way to make this team score. The fact that McCaffrey is a receiving back also gives Newton some additional TD upside. Not my favorite play, but I am very comfortable rostering him.

Russell Wilson ($8,000) SEA @ GB – 10%

Why? – Again, focus will be drawn up to the top guys which makes people forget about Wilson.

Like/Dislike – Like – He is one of my top QB options week 1. He has rushing TD upside and has some great weapons in Doug Baldwin, Tyler Lockett and Jimmy Graham. I don’t expect much from the Seattle RBs which means Wilson will be airing it out a lot leading to massive upside.

Tyrod Taylor ($7,500) NYJ @ BUF – 7%

Why? – I think Taylor will go overlooked because people don’t like to take as much of a risk on their quarterback. He has a great matchup which is why he will be owned higher than 5%, but most players will be focused on Big Ben, Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan.

Like/Dislike – Like – Taylor is my favorite pivot this week. Here’s what I’m asking myself when choosing a GPP quarterback (Remember: you need to choose somebody with the most point per dollar upside). Is he in a good matchup? Check! Does he have good receivers? Check! Does he have rushing upside? Check! Will his running back take away from his production? Maybe, but LeSean McCoy is also a receiving back and could score multiple receiving TDs. All of those things make me super comfortable picking Taylor this week.

Running Backs

Chalkiest Plays

David Johnson ($9,400) ARI @ DET – 25%

Why? – Obvious chalk. Great matchup for an elite running back. He should perform well in this game.

Like/Dislike – Like – Johnson and Bell are very similar in my eyes. I like them equally and will either own them with a low-owned option or play both and fill the rest of my lineup with sleeper options.

Le’Veon Bell ($9,300) PIT @ CLE – 25%

Why? – Another obvious chalky option. Great matchup with amazing upside. He will be owned with David Johnson in a large number of lineups.

Like/Dislike – Like – Bell is about as safe as you can get at the running back position. He will be super chalky, so I will pair him with a low-owned option to differ my lineup from the rest.

LeSean McCoy ($8,500) NYJ @ BUF 20%

Why? – Amazing matchup and he is the only elite player on the Buffalo offense. He has a great chance to score multiple touchdowns and will be very highly owned.

Like/Dislike – Like – Very very solid play. I don’t have any problem owning him regardless of his ownership.

Ezekiel Elliot ($8,700) NYG @ DAL 15%

Why? – He just won his appeal and is now available to play in week one and likely won’t serve his suspension until the case is concluded. Hype and news stories will ramp up ownership.

Like/Dislike – Dislike – Elliot only rushed for 158 yards on 44 carries in 2 games against New York last season. I’m not risking that happening again which is why I will be fading Elliot in the majority of my lines. I will only include him in one line because of his high upside and I don’t want to have zero exposure.

Christian McCaffrey ($6,500) CAR @ SF – 15%

Why? – Cheapest option in a good matchup. He will be chosen by plenty of people due to his performance throughout college.

Like/Dislike – Dislike – I’m not willing to take a shot on an high-owned unproven rookie who has yet to prove himself in the NFL.

Sleepers/Pivots

Devonta Freeman ($8,300) ATL @ CHI – 10%

Why? – He’s a great running back, but people want to afford Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, LeSean McCoy, Antonio Brown, etc. You can’t afford those other players while rostering Freeman which means he will go overlooked.

Like/Dislike – Like-ish – Solid matchup with a decent number of touches who will be lower owned. He has incredible upside, but he gives up some reps to Tevin Coleman so I don’t like him nearly as much as some of the other pivots.

Jordan Howard ($7,500) ATL @ CHI 7.5%

Why? – Similar to Freeman, you can’t really afford him and still get elite options at RB, WR and QB.

Like/Dislike – Like – I like Howard quite a bit because he will be very heavily used. I don’t think Mike Glennon and the Bears will be able to keep this game close without relying on Howard to carry the ball 20+ times.

Todd Gurley ($7,300) IND @ LAR 7.5%

Why? – The Rams’ offense is bad. This alone makes people overlook Gurley. The few that take him will love this incredible matchup.

Like/Dislike – Like – Super solid matchup and offense will need him to produce in order to win this game.

Marshawn Lynch ($6,900) OAK @ TEN – 4%

Why? – People will want to see how he does before trusting Marshawn again.

Like/Dislike – Like – I’m not in love with this matchup, but I am in love with how I think the Titans defense will play against Oakland. I think they will be really focused on Derek Carr and the passing game, opening a window for Lynch to have a great return to the NFL.

Ameer Abdullah ($6,100) ARI @ DET 3%

Why? – Offensive players versus the Cardinals will automatically get depressed ownership.

Like/Dislike – Like – Okay, this may be slightly biased because I am a Detroit fan. Get your laughter out of the way……….Okay, now that you took a minute to laugh at my pain, I like Abdullah in this spot. He is finally healthy and the Lions O-line has gotten better in the offseason with the addition of T.J. Lang. He could very well have a breakout season and it could start week 1. I’m willing to take him as a high-risk high-reward option.

Tevin Coleman ($6,200) ATL @ CHI – 1%

Why? – Automatically overlooked because he’s second to Devonta Freeman.

Like/Dislike – Like – Here is my super sneaky pick to pair with my chalky plays. Coleman had over 10 fantasy points in 11 of 16 games last year. Freeman just recovered from a concussion and I’m hoping the Falcons play it a little bit safe with him opening the door for Coleman get a few more touches.

Honorable Mentions: (Bilal Powell and Matt Forte) – I have a good feeling about Matt Forte having a solid game, but Bilal Powell is a safer choice.

Wide Receiver

Chalkiest Plays

Antonio Brown ($9,100) PIT @ CLE – 30%

Why? – Great matchup, elite receiver, 2-3 td upside. Enough said.

Like/Dislike – Like – Impossible not to like him in a great matchup. Always has multiple touchdown upside.

Martavis Bryant ($6,500) PIT @ CLE – 27.5%

Why? – People will be stacking the Steelers very heavily and Bryant at $6,500 will be a key part of that stack. He has great upside and is very very reasonably priced.

Like/Dislike – Like (limit exposure) – I like him because of his upside. However, this is a perfect spot to fade him. He has a lower floor and Brown and could possibly have a bad game. If you don’t have him and that scenario plays out, your lineup will be ahead of 27.5% of the competition. I’m not saying that you should completely fade Bryant, I definitely won’t have him in all of my lines.

Julio Jones ($9,000) ATL @ CHI – 22.5%

Why? – Another elite wideout against yet another mediocre defense.

Like/Dislike – Like – Similar to Brown, but I think I like Jones slightly more. He is far and away the best receiver on the Falcons and should have plenty of targets in this game.

Doug Baldwin ($7,500) SEA @ GB – 15%

Why? – Great matchup and has a very solid floor. Projections also list him as a good play which means that he will be popular.

Like/Dislike – Like – Probably my favorite WR play this week. I think he has very very high upside with a solid floor. He is really affordable for the amount of points he can put up against the Packers this week.

Sleepers/Pivots

Amari Cooper ($7,600) OAK @ TEN – 12.5%

Why? – The Titans are bad against the pass and Cooper proved himself as a reliable DFS asset in his rookie campaign. He will be somewhat popular in week 1.

Like/Dislike – Like – I like Cooper even though he will be a popular play. He won’t be as highly owned as Martavis Bryant, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown and he still provides similar upside as a WR1.

Zay Jones ($5,100) NYJ @ BUF 9%

Why? – Very affordable and against a bad defensive unit.

Like/Dislike – Like – Really cheap play and basically the WR1 on the Bills. He’s too cheap not to play for the upside he provides.

Jaron Brown ($4,500) ARI @ DET – 2%

Why? – Nobody picks Arizona wideouts not named Larry Fitzgerald.

Like/Dislike – Like (PUNT) – He is supposedly the WR2 for Arizona and has a good matchup against Detroit. If he gets the amount of targets that an average WR2 gets, he will be an incredible value.

Honorable mentions: (Michael Crabree, Eli Rodgers, Tavon Austin, Kevin White, Tyler Lockett)

I am going to make Tight End short and sweet because there isn’t as much explanation needed.

Tight End

Chalkiest Plays

Jordan Reed ($7,100) PHI @ WAS 12.5% (LIKE)

Greg Olson ($6,600) CAR @ SF – 20% (LIKE-ISH)

Delanie Walker ($6,200) OAK @ TEN 10% (DISLIKE)

Jimmy Graham ($6,100) SEA @ GB – 10% (LIKE)

Sleepers/Pivots

Zach Ertz ($5,900) PHI @ WAS – 8% (LIKE)

Marcellus Bennett ($5,700) SEA @ GB – 4% (Undecided)

Evan Engram ($4,900) NYG @ DAL – 5% (LIKE-ISH)

Charles Clay ($4,600) NYJ @ BUF 2.5% (LIKE – Favorite punt play)

Now let’s build a lineup!

Lineup 1:

QB: Russel Wilson ($8,000)
RB: Todd Gurley ($7,300)
RB: Marshawn Lynch ($6,900)
WR: Zay Jones
($5,100)
WR: Doug Baldwin
($7,500)
WR: Julio Jones
($9,000)
TE: Jordan Reed
($7,100)
K: Phil Dawson
($4,500)
DEF: Rams
($4,600)

Lineup 2:

QB: Ben Roethlisberger ($8,200)
RB: Jordan Howard
($7,500)
RB: Le’Veon Bell
($9,300)
WR: Antonio Brown
($9,100)
WR: Doug Baldwin
($7,500)
WR: Jaron Brown
($4,500)
TE: Charles Clay
($4,600)
K: Matt Prater
($4,700)
DEF: Rams
($4,600)

That’s it for this episode of “The Chalkboard”. If you enjoyed this article you can follow me on Twitter @joejberg. I appreciate everybody who took the time to read this article and everybody who listens to the LineupLogic podcast. I would like to give a big “thank you” to Sean Kane for giving me a platform to share my ideas. Thanks for reading and let’s go out there and take down a GPP for the LineupLogic Crew!

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