Roundtable: Identifying GPP Value

When you look to differentiate in GPP contests, are you looking through the bargain bin for low-salary guys, allowing you to stock up on expensive studs? Or are you balancing your lineup with mid-salary targets?

It seems there are roughly as many pearls of wisdom offered across the globe on tournament (GPP) strategy as there are DFS players cursing Kendall Wright's name this week. Various DFSers disagree roundly on the ideal method of constructing a volatile, high-ceiling GPP lineup. So, tell me: When you look to differentiate at the RB/WR positions, are you looking through the bargain bin for low-salary guys with low value bars, thus allowing you to stock up on expensive studs? Or are you balancing your lineup with mid-salary targets, hoping to strike oil on a handful of them?

Dan Hindery: My general rule for GPP strategy is that I will not play a wide receiver or running back unless I feel he has a realistic chance of scoring 20-25 points. I will avoid the low-priced players with limited upside (like a $3,000 receiver who projects for 12 points). I'm not concerned about salary multiples and hitting 3x or 4x, but filling each spot in my lineup with solid options. At wide receiver, I will only roster a guy if I think he has a decent chance of something like 6 receptions, 100 yards, and 1 touchdown. 

If there are some low-salary players who I believe have legitimate upside, I will not hesitate to play them. For example, I am intrigued by Alvin Kamara ($3,500) this week. He should get at least a handful of carries and 4-6 receptions. He's explosive enough to turn his 10-12 touches into a big week in a game that might shootout. 

In terms of diversifying my lineups without sacrificing too much upside, I've found the most success when I target talented players in what are perceived to be difficult matchups that keep their ownership lower than normal. Some examples in Week 2 are Ben Roethlisberger, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murray, Alshon Jeffery, Kelvin Benjamin, Martavis Byrant, Jarvis Landry, and Jordan Reed. Each of these guys is currently projected to have GPP ownership of 5% or less. The goal should be to add some uniqueness to your lineup without sacrificing your realistic upside or rostering mediocre players.

Justin Howe: I think Dan's rule is a good one to follow: if a guy isn't a serious pre-game candidate for 100 yards and a touchdown, then he doesn't belong in your GPP lineup. I got swept up in the Kendall Wright excitement myself, but in doing so I ignored this rule. There was little chance of Wright, even as the Bears' No. 1 wideout, hitting 100 yards, and the Bears offense doesn't project to much touchdown opportunity on the whole. So, while Wright came dirt-cheap in some corners of the industry and allowed me to shoehorn in an extra high-ceiling guy, the opportunity cost was high. Wright would've been a nice placeholder with 10-13 points, but also would've blocked one of my WR spots from achieving GPP-tilting upside.

This week, I see gobs of GPP potential around the middle salary tiers. The top tier of rookie running backs all carry strong value, and Christian McCaffrey will come lower-owned than any of them. He has the upside of 18 rushes and 5+ receptions, and if he finds the end zone, it would be hard not to generate 20-25 fantasy points. I also love Chris Hogan at what should be depressed ownership. His salary is up in the middle tier, which is more than I'd like to pay for a guy with one catch on the year. But it's worth noting that Hogan actually led Patriots receivers in snaps (73) - and that was with Danny Amendola playing half the game (he won't suit up this Sunday). Hogan is adept at both slot routes and downfield play, and down the 2016 stretch (playoffs included) he posted lines of 5-129-1, 4-95, and 9-180-2. Yet he DFS community will probably flock to the primary receivers in this wild matchup, and many - including those burned badly in Week 1 - will ignore Hogan.

Justin Bonemma: It kind of depends on the goal. Obviously, I want to cash with every lineup I enter, but I also want to protect my bankroll as much as possible. So for every studs/duds lineup that I build with hopes of taking down a mega tournament, I'll also build a mid-tier lineup that features more logical plays in the mid-salary range. Those balanced lineups are unlikely to win the whole thing, but they do stand a good chance of at least min-cashing and covering the wild lineups that feature bargain bin players and long shots. So if your goal is to only take first place, then go crazy with those highly volatile lineups. If your goal is to simply cash, then go balanced and try to make the cut.

James Brimacombe: I feel like I have been burnt one too many times with the bargain-bin types of plays, especially when it is a player who has the opportunity to step in but still lacks the talent and I insert him because of the price and opportunity. I have liked going with more of a balanced lineup of late and hoping those chalky, low-salary players have a hard time reaching value and hope that they are highly-owned. I like to look for the high-volume running backs that I know are going to touch the ball 20+ times and am not afraid to pay up for them. At wide receiver, you often can find a few players in the mid-salary range that can help you build a strong lineup. A player like Kerwynn Williams is a prime example this week as he will be inserted into a lot of peoples lineups based on the idea that he will take over for David Johnson, and that offense has a system where that position is so important. I will be fading Williams this week and hoping that he has an average game and using my running back spot with players with more upside and opportunity such as Melvin Gordon, Ezekiel Elliott, and Leonard Fournette.

Jason Wood: I play a lot more cash games than GPPs, so others may be better equipped to speak on a holistic, weekly GPP strategy. That said, my personal strategy on GPP lineups is to trust my process. I never roster a bargain-basement player for the sake of unlocking value elsewhere. I only roster bargain basement players when my analysis of the underlying game script points to an advantageous outcome. If a game has an over/under of 50+ and the opponent has a subpar pass defense, then I'll flag that receiving corps for values. If there's a player I forecast to play a suitable number of snaps, and the cost is low, they become part of the same rubric of available players I use to build lineups. Game script and underlying defensive analytics first, salaries/value later. 

In GPPs, you are trying to create a diverse lineup with a maximum possible point output. That requires risk. One of the ways I like to create GPPs is to first figure out who the chalk cash lineup options will be, and then find ways to leverage those games with different players. For example, if Julio Jones and Antonio Brown have fantastic matchups that week and will be the top % owned players in cash games, I'll quickly turn my attention toward spending high on top running backs instead. Basically, I try to figure out the best way to create a distinctive lineup by changing the tier of spending. If everyone is plowing into three or four low-cost quarterbacks that week, it'll be a week I look hard at a high-priced elite quarterback with a WR/TE stack. Zig while others zag, but not without zigging into equally compelling game scripts.

Chris Feery: It really depends on the salaries for the week at hand. Each week is its own puzzle. There are times when a value play amounts to a free square (see Zach Ertz’s pricing for Week 1 on certain sites for reference). Using the Kendall Wright example from last week, I wasn’t as sold on him as many players were. His salary definitely popped out, but there were too many questions about his overall role in the offense.  

When looking to roster a value play, I’m looking for at least a little more certainty on targets and touches for the week. This week, Jaguars wide receivers Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee are in line to see extra volume due to the injury to Allen Robinson. Neither players price has caught up to their projected opportunity for the week, so that leads me to circle them as intriguing value play options while building lineups. 
For a general rule, I prefer the balanced approach for my initial build of lineups. As the week moves along, a value play may become too appealing to pass up. When that happens, I’m swapping out a skill position player to add in the value play, and then I’ll have the room to swap out another player for a high-priced stud.