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NFL FanDuel Week 1: What The Lineup Optimizer Is Telling Us To Do in GPPs

GPPs are primarily won in three key areas: 1) player projections, 2) roster construction, and 3) ownership.

Groupthink can run rampant through the fantasy football grapevines and cause DFSers to hone in on just one scenario in a player’s possible range of outcomes. What was once a good play in a vacuum can become sub-optimal as chalk. And what may feel thin at first may actually be plus-EV at low ownership.

One of the benefits to using the RotoViz Lineup Optimizer is it provides information that is unbiased from public touting. Our goal here is to uncover players and roster constructions that are going overlooked by the public and can help vault us to the top of the leaderboards and bink a large GPP prize.

Week 1 DFS FanDuel Lineup Optimizer

Below is the optimal lineup using the RotoViz Lineup Optimizer.

I forced the optimizer to include a stack since it is basically mandatory to stack your quarterback with at least one pass-catcher in order to take down a GPP. I also configured the flex to fill with a running back, since RBs tend to provide more upside in FanDuel’s half-PPR scoring format.

Volume is the Name of the Game at RB

The optimizer stuffs the two RBs and FLEX with players it’s expecting to get a combined 60-plus touches from in Christian McCaffrey, Le’Veon Bell, and Todd Gurley.

Not all volume is created equal. Ryan Collingsworth’s Passing Revolution series found that modern-day RB1 fantasy football production is distributed in a 50-50 split between rushing and receiving. Similarly, long-time RotoViz contributor Ben Gretch found that we should be target RBs who catch passes and get touches in the green zone (inside the 10-yard line).

Roster Construction Takeaway: Jam in as much volume as possible, especially targets and Green Zone touches.

Dave Caban describes how the Game Level Similarity Projections (GLSP) are compiled, and the key component for our Week 1 lineups is that GLSP uses predictive stats from past performance. However, GLSP is not able to account for situational changes. It doesn’t know how much playing time Gurley will get. It doesn’t know Melvin Gordon is holding out which thrusts Austin Ekeler into an expanded role.

But it’s possible Gurley or Bell do see their typical workloads. Gurley is probably the healthiest he’ll be all year, and even if limited to 12-15 touches he will probably see the high-leverage touches through the air and the green zone. Even with the risks of being on a new team, Bell’s median projection should still include 20 touches as a three-down plus goal-line back.

Player Evaluation Takeaway: Week 1 is the best week to be contrarian. While the public thinks they know player roles going into Week 1, we don’t actually know anything. If you think Gurley is healthy, then go for it. If you trust Adam Gase to give Bell the full workload, then go for it.

One way we can be contrarian but still roster high reception and green zone volume is with Leonard Fournette. GLSP gives Fournette the sixth-highest RB projection (15.3). Fournette could go overlooked with Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb in a similar price range, and Austin Ekeler and Chris Carson cheaper.

Pay Up at Tight End

If you create 50 lineups using the optimizer, you’ll see the elite tight ends are in 49 of 50 lineups. Using the Range of Outcomes App, we see that the Big-Three TEs all have ceiling projections over 2.7 points per game more than the next TEs.

Roster Construction Takeaway: While on some DFS slates it could make sense to completely punt TE to afford players elsewhere, in Week 1 there is always enough value and soft pricing that we should roster a TE with tangible upside.

That could include The Big-Three (Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, and George Kittle), Evan Engram (top pass-catcher on own team), O.J. Howard (shoot out potential), or Hunter Henry (cheap with TD upside).

Maximize Correlation with Cheap Stacks

It would be nice to pay up for all of our favorite positions, but the reality is the salary cap forces us to pay down in some spots. Lower priced players generally have lower projections and/or higher variance (low floor/high ceiling). Roster Construction Takeaway: By stacking a cheap QB with a cheap WR, we increase the probability that our lower probability players will have good games together.

If we set each QB to 10% maximum exposure and create 10 lineups, we can see the optimizer’s 10 favorite QB-WR stacks.

We see the cheap QB-WR combination continue to play out. Only one of the 10 lineups uses both an expensive QB and expensive WR.

Player Evaluation Takeaway:  A trend the GLSP recognizes is the impact of mobile QBs, as four of the top-six QB projections have Konami code ability.

Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, Josh Allen, and Kyler Murray enter the conversation here. Wilson holds the top GLSP projection. A Wilson-Tyler Lockett stack will be one of my favorite stacks this week considering the lack of pass-catching depth in Seattle. The Panthers and Rams game could shoot out, and you could stack Newton with GLSP favorite McCaffrey or RotoViz favorites D.J. Moore or Curtis Samuel. Allen-Zay Jones is another konami code + cheap QB0WR combo. Murray will likely be very low owned after a poor preseason, even though we know the Cardinals were running vanilla offenses.

Continue the conversation by letting @RotoViz and @Michael_Dubner know who your favorite Week 1 NFL FanDuel GPP plays are!

Image Credit: Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Todd Gurley.

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