Large-field 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 concentrate on just one scenario in a player’s possible range of outcomes. What was once a good play in a vacuum can become suboptimal as chalk. And what may feel thin at first may actually be plus-EV at low ownership.
One of the benefits of using the RotoViz Lineup Optimizer is that it provides information that is unbiased and unaware of 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 to bink a large GPP prize.
First, we’ll look at the top values and overall plays at each position, then at the end walk through the optimal lineup.
Player pricing and projections do not exist within a vacuum, but must take into the consideration of the context of the slate. To do this, I will use the DFS Lineup Optimizer to generate 100 lineups and we’ll look at the players who appear most frequently. Before generating the lineups, I excluded players I don’t want in my player pool. I also set the randomness to 50% in order to enhance player diversity.
Chalk: Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, and Jared Goff are likely going to be the four highest owned QBs on the slate, and the optimizer agrees that the high ownership is warranted. All four are in fantastic matchups and three have implied team totals above 28 points. Every article you read this week will probably highlight them, so I’m not going to waste your time and talk about them.
Contrarian – Baker Mayfield
Mayfield has been dreadful to start the season, only scoring as a FanDuel QB1 in one of six weeks. He now goes on the road to face a generational Patriots defense, which has held opposing QBs to 9.2 fantasy points below the opposing QB’s average per game (in the last five games).
The most likely scenario is Mayfield has a game to forget. But in tournaments we don’t care about the most likely scenario. Rather, we care about ceiling and ownership. Mayfield will likely be less than 1% owned on FanDuel, and the Game Level Similarity Projections seems to like him way more than the public does.
Odell Beckham Jr.’s ownership will also probably come in below 5%, so the Mayfield-to-Beckham-Jr. stack will be infinitesimally low-owned. OBJ is just 34th in fantasy points per game but is 10th in expected points per game. He is also due for positive touchdown regression. If the positive regression hits on a week where no one is on this stack, then you’re sitting in a really good position to take down a GPP.
Climbing Price Tag – Christian McCaffrey
FanDuel is finally pricing him up enough where we have to actually think about the opportunity cost of spending 16% of the salary cap on one player. McCaffrey’s insane usage is what matters most for his projection, but on the road in San Francisco is not a great spot. The Panthers only have an implied team total of 18 points and the 49ers are allowing the least fantasy points against to opposing RBs.
But those negatives are also reasons why McCaffrey may only be about 15% owned in tournaments. McCaffrey may not be the best points-per-dollar play this week, but his shear upside should always put him into tournament consideration. With a bunch of value on this slate (Ty Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Courtland Sutton, Kenny Stills, and possibly Chase Edmonds and Latavius Murray), it isn’t that hard to get up to McCaffrey on some teams. When deciding if you should click the button on McCaffrey on FanDuel, just keep these fantasy football point distributions in mind.
Touchdowns Galore – Todd Gurley
I faded Todd Gurley in season-long this year because I am concerned about his ability to stay healthy throughout the year. But in DFS we only care about one week sample sizes, and Gurley is set up beautifully in Week 8. The Rams have the highest implied team total of the week (31), as 13.5-point home favorites. Teams have run all over the Bengals over the past few weeks, allowing opposing RBs to score the sixth-most fantasy points. Gurley has the highest touchdown equity on the slate.
Game Stack – Lions vs. Giants
Marvin Jones Jr. is coming off a slate-breaking four-touchdown performance. Meanwhile, Kenny Golladay saw just two targets. While performances like Jones Jr.’s would make him one of the highest owned plays the following week in previous years, that hasn’t been the case this year. With more good information widely available, the public seems to not be doing quite as much game log scouting from the previous week. I actually think Golladay will still be the higher owned player this week.
The Lions passing attack is set up for success as touchdown home favorites with an implied team total of 28. The loss of Kerryon Johnson increases our confidence in the Lions funneling targets to their top-two WRs. Matthew Stafford should be double-stacked whenever rostering him in tournaments given his dependence on fantasy points through the air, since he doesn’t run much. Stafford is typically thought of as a consistent high-floor, low-ceiling fantasy player, but his distributions this year has shown he is capable of hitting a ceiling.
Ty Johnson can also be used in Stafford stacks, but leaving him off your roster will increase your leverage sine Johnson will be highly owned. T.J. Hockenson won’t project well, but is pretty cheap ($5,300) and tight end is a wasteland.
The way the Lions stack wins you a GPP is if the Giants can score points, so I would definitely bring it back with a pass-catcher. That includes Saquon Barkley, who the optimizer used in 26% of lineups, as seen above. Evan Engram is one of the few tight ends with a projection in double-digit points, and could go under-owned compared to expectation since everyone was burned by him last week.
Breaking My Michael Thomas Rule
It may come as a surprise that I haven’t played Michael Thomas since Drew Brees has been out. My reasoning is I won’t pay $8k-plus for a WR with a low yards per reception (123; 58th), since it inherently makes him so touchdown dependent for ceiling games. He really needs two touchdowns to burn you. That might sound crazy considering Thomas is first in weighted opportunity rating and second in fantasy points per game, but it’s actually worked pretty well. Fading Thomas has only killed me one week this year (Week 5). Every other week he’s been held under 18 FanDuel points.
However, Week 8 is different, and I will be breaking my “Fade Michael Thomas Without Brees” rule. We should expect the Saints to have elevated play volume since the Cardinals play at the second fastest pace in the NFL. The last five WR1s to face the Cardinals have averaged 17.3 fantasy points per game. However, I should acknowledge that I am still considering being underweight on Thomas compared to the rest of the field, since game theory suggests we should do so anytime an expensive WR projects to be greater than 25% owned in GPPs.
Darren Waller, Austin Hooper, Evan Engram, George Kittle, Zach Ertz, and Hunter Henry are the only TEs with a tangible projection this week. There are only six tight ends we can feel comfortable rostering, and we might even lose one (Hooper) if Matt Ryan is inactive. Looking at the “frequency” column, you can see that four of those TEs were placed on 88% of rosters made by the optimizer. All six are in consideration and you probably already know that, so I want to touch on the two TEs who won’t be on the public’s radar.
Dawson Knox and Noah Fant are both rookie TEs who haven’t done much in the box score, but are seeing the field are fair amount, playing over 64% of the snaps. Knox has seen five targets in back-to-back games and is Josh Allen’s second most efficient pass-catcher this season (7.67 Adjusted Yards Per Attempt). Fant is 12th among TEs in air yards and could see his role expand after the Broncos traded Emmanuel Sanders. They are priced at the minimum on FanDuel and TE is gross. Punting the position with two players who have a chance to post a respectable score might be the way to go this week.
Week 7 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 to take down a FanDuel GPP. I configured the flex to fill with a running back, since RBs tend to provide more upside in FanDuel’s half-PPR scoring format.
Constructing a Game Stack
Watson to DeAndre Hopkins appears to be the optimal stack of the week. Hopkins finally had his first spike-week game since Week 1. Hopkins’ target projection is enhanced with the loss of Will Fuller. I have a tweet thread that goes into more detail on the Texans’, Watson’s, and Hopkins’ splits with vs without Will Fuller in terms of his impact on volume versus efficiency.
Due to Watson’s rushing ability, he only needs to be paired with one pass-catcher. But he can still be paired with a second since he has three-plus passing touchdown upside. Kenny Stills makes a lot of sense with his big play ability at just $5,700.
You can run it back with one of the few TEs with a double-digit point projection in Darren Waller. Waller leads all TEs in weighted opportunity rating and is second in expected fantasy points per game.