NFL Week 8 Recap - The DFS Truth Report
Lots of times folks will reflect upon the prior DFS slate (or week in the case of the NFL) and look at a specific player and their production and focus on who was a "good" play or a "bad" play simply based upon the results. And while that certainly is a large pat of the equation and not to be diminished, there remains the factor of not just value but also roster construction and thought process.
Ultimately in NFL DFS we are picking 9 players for a reason. Sometimes we are stacking a QB-WR combination, other times we might be correlating a RB with a DEFENSE or correlating two players from different sides of one game expecting a shootout. Maybe there was a value play who had a great match-up that history had told us would lead to them doing well? What was the process and how did the PROCESS of building a succesful lineup work out.
The time spent discussing Quarterbacks in DFS is waaaay too long in my mind. The difference between a "bad" day and a "great" day for most Quarterbacks is minimal. Yes there will always be a couple guys who have that really special day over 30 points and a couple guys who are atrocious down around 10 points, but for the most part we'll see QB's range in the 18-22 point range more often then not.
This week was no different as NO QUARTERBACK went above 28 points on FanDuel and the WORST Quarterback had 11 points -- that is a 17 point difference from the best to worst. If we remove the top 5 and the bottom 5 then that means the middle 50% of Quarterbacks scored between 23.36 fantasy points (#6 - Andrew Luck) and 14.64 (#15 - Eli Manning), which is a 9 point swing. Andrew Luck won 42-28. Eli Manning lost 20-13. The difference in their score was more than twice the difference between the Bengals (19) and the Ravens (-4). But how much time did you spend researching a defense?
I am not trying to diminish the QB play or say that it's random by any stretch of the imagination, but more that the "value" idea of Quarterbacks is sometimes overblown and especially on FD where there aren't min priced players and we do not get a 300 yard bonus.
That said, lets recap the QB spot this week.
Cam Newton at home remains a cash staple as he led all scorers with 27.96 fantasy points. Cam's rushing ability to score on the ground always has him in play.
Derek Carr in a spot where the Raiders lacked a true running game without Marshawn Lynch and going forward we might expect more of that. Jordy Nelson was a popular value WR who didn't come through but Carr got it done in fantasy this week. He was someone likely only considered as a tournament play and we shouldn't overreact to his big game as he really lacks quality targets.
Patrick Mahomes and Jared Goff came in 3rd and 4th as they have done most of the season. Mahomes remains a DFS machine but for his price is often going to be overlooked.
Russell Wilson was someone that I was highly on this week and he got the touchdowns but lacked the yards. He came in 5th overall and for his price did very well this week.
POINT Differential between #1 and #10 raw point producing QB: 9.96 points
RUNNING BACK REPORT
No other position in week 8 was more critical in deciding who placed than Running Back and this has been a consistent theme in the 2018 NFL DFS season.
We outlined in the AMBUSH this week and even in our cash game breakdown how there were a decent number of second tier RB behind Todd Gurley who were in very good spots this week. But once again the upside at running back continues to far outweigh the upside of Quarterback or Wide Receiver. As teams are using their RB more and more in the passing games we're seeing these RB involved early in the game and they have the upside of multiple touchdowns as the game moves along and they get scores late in spots where the team is leading.
James Conner and Todd Gurley both topped 30 fantasy points with Conner leading the way at 35.7 fantasy points on FD and Gurley barely beating 30.5 before he took a knee to end the game.
The next group of running backs included for the second week in a row, Marlon Mack totaling a nice 27.9 points on the road, Joe Mixon at 27.3 and Adrian Peterson at 26.1.
But this is where the drop off comes in and the key thing to pay attention too. The 10th best running back overall this week was Kareem Hunt who was highly recommended in a fantastic spot at home against Denver. Hunt scored 17.1 fantasy points which in most weeks you would say is good, right?
But what if you only played TWO running backs and NOT a third running back in your FLEX spot. If you paired Hunt with the 4th best RB -- Joe Mixon you got 44.4 fantasy points from your RB, which is great -- but you were very much risking gaps in your lineup at the higher variant WR spot and by not using a RB in the flex spot.
The lesson from week 8 was that RB was the deepest position with a HIGH number of HOME running backs who aren't in time shares being favorable plays. Conner, Gurley, Mixon, McCaffrey, Hunt all finished in the top 10 and all fit that mold.
POINT Differential between #1 and #10 raw point producing WR: 18.6 points
WIDE RECEIVER REPORT
No wide receiver in week 8 had a better week than Marvin Jones who scored twice for the Lions and totalled 27.2 fantasy points. I was very high on this game for the pass catchers and rolled with Kenny Golladay for Detroit who was the exact opposite of Jones. However, we see ownership at WR get spread out more often and neither was highly owned so the pivot alone was not the only potential issue in a cash game lineup. If you had Conner at RB for example instead of Hunt then you can make up for issues at one of your WR spots where ownership and the ceilings are typically lower.
Six wide receivers topped 20 fantasy points this week and three of them had 2 TD games. Jones, Mike Evans, SammyWatkins, Tyler Boyd, Antonio Brown and Larry Fitzgerald were the six.
After that, a total of SIXTEEN wide-outs ranged from 10 points to 20 points. This means we have 22 total options who collectively had a smaller margin of difference from 1 to 22 than the difference between the #1 and #10 running back.
Value WR In high scoring games ... This remains something that does depend on the team and the system, but typically you can find more value in the WR spot due to the fact that TD can be spread around more to lower priced WR than lower priced RB. Marvin Jones was arguably the #3 WR for Detroit at $6000, Sammy Watkins for KC, Tyler Boyd for Cincinnati (talent is great, but still not the #1 option for them), Josh Reynolds (Rams) are specific examples of non WR1 plays who are in high total games that came through. Finding value at WR should remain part of the roster construction for cash games and in certain spots like this week has great tournament ownership upside as well.
POINT Differential between #1 and #10 raw point producing WR: 16.1 points
TIGHT END REPORT
Let's look at Tight End. Without a doubt one of the strong positions of the week last week.
Travis Kelce was the highest scoring player on FanDuel with a 16.9 score. Kelce was my top ranked TE on the Ambush article and certainly as the highest priced TE on the slate he was expected to produce well in a home match-up against Denver. His 16.9 score is over 2x so it would not be considered a disaster result for cash games but his salary consumed a hefty amount for a position that has generally been weak this season.
The next top four Tight Ends in raw points were Jack Doyle (16 points, $4900), Jared Cook (15.4 points, $5900), OJ Howard (14.8 points, $5800) and Greg Olsen (13.6 points, $5800).
What is notable here is that we had a good week of TE scoring and all four of those guys were in the 5k to 6k range on FanDuel so they were above the min priced plays but below Kelce.
So how do we use this type of information to help us determine if you are on the right path or not in lineup construction?
Of the top five tight ends, four of them were in games that had projected O/U above 50, with Greg Olsen being the one who was not in that range. Only OJ Howard was seeing less than 15% of his teams receiving targets on the season
Recommended player who frustrated owners: C.J. Uzomah - TE - Cincinnati
Uzomah was perceived to be in a fantastic spot as the Tampa Bay Bucs came into the game ranked 32 in the NFL defending opposing teams Tight Ends and Uzomah was seeing increased usage in the Bengals offense since replacing Tyler Eifert earlier this season. But Uzomah was still a low upside play and mostly a cash recommendation given his low usage. The total in this game was very high and Cincinnati obviously came through with 37 points. But Uzomah's goose egg 0 left a bad taste in fantasy owners mouths. That said, your construction to pay in the mid 5k range on FD (Uzomah was $5400) for a TE in a high total game was not a bad one.
POINT Differential between #1 and #10 raw point producing TE: 8.8 points
LOOK AHEAD & WEEK 8 LESSON LEARNED FOR WEEK 9
The purpose of a recap article should not be just to give you an idea of what happened, but also to pick a nugget, trend, strategy, etc, to use going forward into the next week
1 - Identify what is going into the FLEX spot: The depth of a position should be our focus point for building a main core lineup on a given week. Identify if there are a bunch of home RB in good spots or if we have a bunch of high total games where we can find WR2/WR3 plays who are in good spots.
Quick glance the following RB1 plays are at home and favored this week: Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram, Adrian Peterson/Chris Thompson, Latavius Murray
As you can see it's not the same profile we had last week with Conner, Mixon, Hunt, Gurley all as home favorites. We also have a couple spots with split usage rates so my immediate thought is that we do not have to force a 3rd RB into lineups this week, but it remains something in 2018 that has produced more often than not. But the risk of a flop this week is greater.
2 - Find the right mid range Quarterback who for his price has a good value, but do not be afraid to just pay up at Quarterback for the safety.
It will be difficult this week to find someone who does not agree that Cam Newton at home against Tampa is a solid play this week. His 8600 price tag on FanDuel remains reasonable -- especially considering we're looking at a 25 point potential target and an easy path to get there compared to Pat Mahomes for 9500. Jared Goff, Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson are all solid plays this week as well and then the value options on FD like Baker Mayfield, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Sam Darnold will be referenced -- but your savings on someone like Fitzpatrick at 7100 compared to Cam at 8600 is half that of deciding to between Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara. Just food for thought.
3 - Spend time identifying a defense. The D/ST scoring is not something that generally one can project, however if there is a chalk defense against a turnover prone quarterback (Bengals vs Winston) you usually want to take that and move on. The risk of fading a chalk defense who scores is too great to bother with.
The Chicago Bears are facing Nathan Peterman this week and will have Khalil Mack back. Yes, they're $5400 on FD. But really, this concludes the analysis on who is in the "best" spot defensively for raw points.
4 - Value WR2 and WR3 plays in high over/under games
There are three games on the main slate out of ten that have totals over 50 points this week. The teams in them include the Rams, Saints, Panthers, Bucs, Chiefs and Browns. Some names that immediately jump out this week include Cooper Kupp (expected back), DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, DJ Moore, TreQuan Smith. Having one of these guys as a cash game play this week makes a ton of sense.