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Creating Your FanDuel Core – Week 3

Michael Dubner highlights the players he’s considering for his core FanDuel lineup in Week 3.

Week 2 Recap

After getting one week of data, Week 2 player pool evaluation was about properly balancing reactions to trends that will stick and those that will correct itself. Being above the cash line in Week 2 pretty much came down to having exposure to the Chiefs @ Pittsburgh game. Here are some of the lessons I learned in Week 2, and how I can improve my process moving forward.

  • Where my process was good:

    • Underpriced RBs: James Conner ($7,000) and Tevin Coleman ($5,900) were each underpriced by at least $1,000 given their workhorse roles. Each had results on the lower end of their range of outcomes and both still 2.4x their salary, even with Coleman having two rushing touchdowns flukily vultured by Matt Ryan. Coleman wasn’t mentioned in last week’s article because Devonta Freeman wasn’t ruled out at the time, but I did tweet an update that Coleman was a core lock.
    • Value WRs: Nelson Agholor ($6,100; 12 targets; 3.1x salary) and Quincy Enunwa ($5,000; 11 targets; 2,5x salary) both paid off big. Emmanuel Sanders ($6,800; 11.6 points) provided a respectable floor.
    • Identifying the plus-matchup for Christian McCaffrey and increased target share with Greg Olsen inactive was an easy call (20.9 points).
    • George Kittle (3.2 points) didn’t pan out and only saw four targets, but I’m still fine with the process of identifying the 49ers as a team who could put up a lot of points last week (30 points). Also, pretty much every tight end had sub-par weeks.
    • Identifying the correct core plays as well as the who don’t belong in your core are both important processes.  Keenan Allen didn’t belong in the elite WR tier last week because I thought he didn’t have the upside in a matchup with low shoot out probability and Melvin Gordon as the primary touchdown finisher.
  • Where my process can improve:

    • Mentioning Dalvin Cook as a possible core option even if Aaron Rodgers was active was a mistake. In hindsight, Cook should have been a secondary piece to rosters (rather than your core) and more of a GPP play if Rodgers was active. Hopefully you pivoted down from Cook to Coleman once inactives became clear.
    • I didn’t mention a QB in last week’s article because I didn’t think any were worthy of “building your roster around”. I luckily played Ben Roethlisberger on my main roster because I thought that was optimal game theory if I was already rostering Conner and Antonio Brown. In hindsight, the mistake here was not purposefully building around Roethlisberger as part of my core considering the total, easy matchup, home splits, splits without Le’Veon Bell in the lineup, and affordable price.
    • As the week progressed, I was all in on Gurley and Brown as must-roster players. I’m identifying this as an area to improve because I should have had more conviction with this take in last week’s article rather than just grouping the high priced RBs and WRs together all as strong plays.

Creating Your FanDuel Core – Week 3

I’m primarily a cash game and single-entry tournament player, and have the vast majority of my money (80 percent) on one lineup. Playing one team forces me to make the optimal lineup. Below are the primary players I’m considering for my core lineup on FanDuel in Week 3.

Update: The plays below have been revised since originally publishing to reflect the news that Jay Ajayi, Dalvin Cook, and Jack Doyle will all be inactive on Sunday. 

Free Squares

Corey Clement ($5,800)

Both Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi will be inactive when Philadelphia squares off against Indianapolis this weekend. That will thrust Clement into lead back duties. With Sproles out last week, Clement saw six targets, and should continue to see passing-game usage with the plethora of injuries to skill position players. After seeing 15 red-zone touches last year, Clement has the second most red zone touches (four) on the team this year, and I expect him to takeover Ajayi’s seven red-zone touches. Clement also draws a favorable matchup as a 6.5-point home favorite, and the Colts rank 19th in yards per carry against (4.0).

Giovani Bernard ($6,400)

We’re now 3 for 3 with the free-square backup RBs. Although Bernard is a little more expensive than Coleman and Conner were, and Carolina isn’t an ideal matchup, you shouldn’t overthink it. Lock in the backup RB expected to see a feature back role at an affordable cost. While Bernard hasn’t been used much this year, we should expect his usage to be similar to the end of last year, when he averaged 14.2 carries, 6.4 targets, 101.4 yards and scored twice in Weeks 13-17. Importantly, Bernard will be game-script independent with his pass-catching role, and now also gets the red-zone work.

Latavius Murray ($5,200) – If Dalvin Cook is inactive.

Cook has been ruled out of Sunday’s game against the Bills, making Murray my favorite free square of this group.

Underpriced Volume

Nelson Agholor ($6,600)

Agholor barely saw a price increase after last week’s monster game. His 22 targets (27 percent target share) will remain status quo with Mike Wallace, Ajayi, Sproles, and Alshon Jeffrey all likely to be inactive. Carson Wentz is making his season debut, and even if he has some rust, he’ll still be an upgrade over the struggling Nick Foles, who is 30th in Yards per Attempt (5.5). Agholor is far more effective in the slot, but recently signed former Eagle Jordan Matthews could force him to play more outside. However, I think the Eagles will prioritize optimizing Agholor’s strengths.

Devin Funchess ($6,200)

FanDuel simply has not corrected Funchess’ price since Greg Olsen’s injury. Last week, Funchess saw nine targets, and while that was only a 20 percent target share with Cam Newton attempting passes at an elevated rate (45 attempts), Funchess also has positive history without Olsen in the lineup.

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 12.40.26 AM

Even with a below average matchup at home versus Cincinnati, we should expect Funchess’ opportunity to exceed what his price tag suggests. The target opportunity and touchdown upside as the team’s primary receiver sets Funchess up as an appealing salary saving WR on FanDuel.

Eric Ebron ($5,500)

With Jack Doyle already ruled out, Ebron’s snap share (29 percent) should spike closer to Doyle’s (90 percent). Doyle’s absence frees up 18 percent of the Colts’ targets, and that target redistribution will go a long way for Ebron as he’s only seen nine targets over the first two games (11 percent target share). Opportunity share in an already thin skill position group just get even more condensed. Using Dave Caban’s Weekly Explorer, we see that Ebron is priced as the TE12. (insert picture). Ebron is now the clear top TE value on the slate, and is arguably a top three overall TE regardless of salary.

Screen Shot 2018-09-21 at 10.05.35 PM

Path of Least Resistance

Alvin Kamara ($8,600)

In Week 1 I leaned toward Kamara; in Week 2, Todd Gurley; and now, I’m back on Kamara. Using the RotoViz Screener, we see Kamara and Gurley have scored nearly equal FanDuel points, and their opportunity also suggests similar expected fantasy points.

PLAYERHalfPPRreEPruEPTotal EP
Alvin Kamara49.526.215.942.1
Todd Gurley4911.929.941.8

Kamara travels to Atlanta, which is the premier matchup for pass-catching RBs, as we highlighted in last week’s article when considering McCaffrey, who ended up seeing 15 targets and clearing 100 receiving yards. While Gurley has slightly higher touchdown equity, as he out-touches Kamara 18 to 12 in the red zone, Kamara has 15 receptions to Gurley’s six. Kamara and Gurley more or less have similar range of outcomes, which is why I’ll favor the $600 savings with Kamara.

Tyreek Hill ($8,200)

While Hill’s archetype suggests he should be boom-or-bust and is a risky cash game investment, I’m done betting on “unsustainability.” Clearly Tyreek is a freak athlete who continues to make weekly splash plays, has insane chemistry with Patrick Mahomes, and their leaky defense forces the offense to keep the foot on the gas. I think I’m coming around to idea that at this point we should assume Hill will smash, until we see him fail. Sure Hill’s lower volume theoretically implies that he can underperform his salary expectation, but cash games aren’t all about floor, as Hill’s ceiling can make up for any duds at other positions.  It helps that Hill is more affordable on FanDuel than on other DFS sites.

Other Options to Consider

I also like DeAndre Hopkins as another high priced WR given his usage (11 targets per game) and touchdown upside. I will likely be deciding between Hill and Hopkins as my high priced WR this week.1

I don’t have any strong takes on quarterbacks or tight ends this week, as I think they’re all mostly priced appropriately. I think I’m leaning towards Cam Newton right now, but he’s always risky to trust in cash.

Minnesota Vikings (home vs Buffalo Bills) are my top defense this week, but I rarely force a defense into my roster given the volatility of the position. I can also see myself going down to the Chicago Bears (@Arizona).

Final Thoughts

  • Pricing appears to be much more efficient this week, making it harder to find obvious plays. While that may lead to less certainty, it also means our opponents are more likely to make mistakes.

You can follow me @Michael_Dubner, where I’ll provide any updates to my FanDuel core as they may arise through the weekend. Good luck everyone, I hope to see you all at the top of the leaderboards.

  1. Yes it will be in the back of my mind all week that the one time I play Hill in cash is when he fails…  (back)
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