FanDuel GPP Domination - Week 1

A Deeper Look at Who to Target for FanDuel GPPs this Week

For those of you who are new to Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS), GPPs are "Guaranteed Prize Pool" Tournaments with larger, sometimes very large prize amounts.  FanDuel is one of the biggest sites in DFS and offers some of the biggest prizes in the industry.  The goal of this article is to guide you towards some players that could help you take home that big prize.  Footballguys offers a ton of resources to help you build that winning lineup, and this is just one of the many - but I hope that you will find it a valuable resource and check this article out on a regular basis.

Before we talk about the players for this week, we cannot completely ignore cash game plays.  Typically a "GPP player" for the week is one that can score big or score terribly - the classic "boom or bust" player.  A wide receiver that can catch two deep balls for two scores can get you 30+ points - or he might wind up with nada.  Chasing 1-3 big plays can win you a tournament, but filling out a roster completely with these types of options will likely leave you well short of first place.  That is why you cannot ignore the cash game plays each week as well, as combining the two groups is what usually leads to those big victories in GPP contests.  So expect some mention of players who are cash game plays each week, as well as some players that could be considered for both GPP and cash games.

Note - this article is not intended to provide a fully exhaustive list of every possible player.  That would be an immensely long group of players.  These are just some of the best options I see for GPPs this week when considering value, price, upside, and matchups.

Second note - Keep in mind the multiplier target(s) you want to hit for both cash and GPP / tournaments on FanDuel.  In general, you are looking for 2x in cash (twice the cost of the player in $1,000 increments) and 3x in GPP.  That means a player that costs $6,000 should produce 12 or more points in cash and 18 or more in GPPs.

Now, on with this week's top options:

GENERAL THOUGHTS ON WEEK 1

To help you out each week, I will give you some general thoughts as we progress through the season (you can also find more on the weekly Power Grid show - be sure to watch and subscribe!).  For this week, there are many options at all positions, especially with 30 teams in play (Miami and Tampa Bay were postponed due to the Hurricane Irma threat).  Whenever we start a new year, we think we know more than we actually do.  There will be surprises over the first few games, but that uncertainty can lead towards more big swings in tournaments.  Do not be afraid to take some GPP shots this week and fade the players that are expected to be more highly owned.

Here are a few general references I will be using as the season progresses:

Footballguys' DFS Week 1 Page

Vegas Value Chart

Interactive Value Chart

Projecting Ownership


CASH GAME TIPS

LET OTHERS MAKE THE MISTAKES!

Cash games continue to get tougher to win (which is why we want to target GPPs even more) - but in Week 1, there will be a lot of new blood in the water.  Let everyone else get cute and just take the chalk.  You can make a pretty strong lineup with the top names at QB, RB, WR, K and D from Steve Buzzard's ownership chart, and let the Interactive Value Chart do the rest of the work.  That seems pretty solid to me.  Even if you have players all at 75% ownership, over nine players that works out to be under 8% of teams with the same exact lineup.  Let's really round up and say 15% have your exact roster in cash.  Are you worried?  No, since you have all the chalk and they will all go up and down together.  You should be fine in Week 1 playing this way and playing at least 50% of your play in cash (I recommend at least 60%, with some 10-man and triple ups mixed in for cash to increase your ROI).  I'll mention cash game players in each positional section.

GPP TIPS

WINNING A TOURNAMENT ON OPENING WEEKEND: 

I think most everyone knows to stack by now, but if not - be sure to go back and read our DFS e-book on Cracking FanDuel.  You want to consider QB-WR and QB-TE pairs, but sometimes a QB-RB pair works (especially if the running back likes to catch), but other stacks are also in play.  In particular, an overlooked stack approach this week could be RB-Defense, since several defenses are chalky but they do have a reasonable lead back to consider.

Also, let Vegas do your heavy lifting.  John Lee's Vegas Value Chart is a great tool to use here as it points towards the teams and players expected to be in higher scoring contests.  With so much still unknown in the NFL as the season starts, leveraging the best minds who are supposed to know who is going to do well this weekend is a very good idea.

Now, without further ado, here are the players I like the most this week.   

QUARTERBACKS

Player Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Ownership Comments
Matt Ryan $8500 n/a 2 Medium Road team with a big expected total - huge numbers last year
Aaron Rodgers $8300 2 3 High Also run or pass; weaker run game; high scoring expected
Ben Roethlisberger $8200 n/a 11 Med-Hi Steelers expected to win, but Roethlisberger not great on road
Kirk Cousins $8100 n/a 8 Low Uncertainty in backfield; close game at home with the Eagles
Russell Wilson $8000 n/a 5 Med-Hi Two-dimensional QB in a high scoring game
Marcus Mariota $7800 1 4 High Run or pass; high scoring game at home
Derek Carr $7700 4 1 Med-Hi Similar to Mariota and Wilson - between both
Matthew Stafford $7600 n/a 10 Medium Home game expected to score plenty with questions in run game
Carson Palmer $7300 n/a 7 Low Healthiest he will be all year; and shootout expected in Detroit
Eli Manning $7300 n/a 9 Low Run game a mess; if Beckham is out ownership will be small
Carson Wentz $7100 3 6 Low Wentz has thrown a ton in preseason and end of last year; new and better targets
Scott Tolzien $6000 5 n/a Very Low #NeverTolzien

CASH: I really do not see a chalky cash play this week at QB, which lends itself well to playing GPPs.  Marcus Mariota, Aaron Rodgers, Derek Carr and Carson Wentz are all strong options, with Matt Ryan as a borderline option.  But before I leave cash, a word on Scott Tolzien - or several.  We have done studies on what constitutes a good lineup, and it rarely includes a cheap quarterback.  There's a reason for this - quarterbacks produce the most points per dollar, so you typically want to spend UP, not down, to maximize your score here.  Also, no other position has the potential for negative points than quarterback.  Rarely will a non-QB give you two turnovers, but certainly a quarterback can do that or worse.  Taking a safer option is usually wise. 

GPP: As I mentioned above, there are several viable options at quarterback this week, with all of the cash plays having upside for tournament values.  Lower-owned options with big game potential are highlighted by Matt Ryan, who is going to be lower owned despite Atlanta's projection of 29 points in Chicago.  That makes him far more attractive than Ben Roethlisberger, who will be more owned and has a lower ceiling due to his road game splits and the likelihood that the Steelers coast in the second half against the Browns.  Carson Palmer and Matthew Stafford could easily be in a shootout, as could Carson Wentz and Kirk Cousins.  Washington lacks confidence in their run game, and Cousins has big game potential with Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor both healthy and ready to get going on the season.  Russell Wilson will have to step up against Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay, and Wilson can run as well as throw for production.  Lastly, Eli Manning could close out Sunday with a big performance in Dallas.  The Giants look strong on defense but weak in the ground game, so they will have to rely on Manning.  I actually prefer him more if Odell Beckham is unable to play, as his ownership will be very low.

RUNNING BACKS

Player Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Ownership Comments
David Johnson $9400 1 2 High High scoring game; workhorse back
LeVeon Bell $9300 2 1 High Good game script; but no preseason warmup
LeSean McCoy $8500 4 4 Medium Good game script with weak passing game
DeVonta Freeman $8300 n/a 9 Medium Much better at home
Lamar Miller $7500 5 6 Medium Home favorite; QB is not good; backups hurt
Todd Gurley $7300 3 3 Medium Good game script; but has struggled in similar spots
Carlos Hyde $6800 n/a 7 Medium Workhorse for the 49ers; but can they score 21+?
Christian McCaffrey $6500 n/a 5 Low Returns to Stanford area for NFL debut
Tevin Coleman $6200 n/a 8 Low Much better on the road
LeGarrette Blount $6200 n/a 10 Very Low Everyone is on Zach Ertz and the passing game to score

CASH: Do I really need to say it?  It seemed like all last year, the two backs to play every week - if you could make it work - were LeVeon Bell and David Johnson.  Well, I can definitely tell you that you can fit both these guys in without too much struggle for Week 1, and I can pretty much guarantee that they will be heavily, HEAVILY owned in cash games this week.  Fade them at your own risk, but I would not do so.  They will be so chalky that I hesitated to even list other options, but I mentioned a couple just to be fair and unbiased.  Running backs that should be in favorable game script situations (teams expected to be leading in the fourth quarter and looking to run the ball) include Buffalo, Houston and the Los Angeles Rams, so LeSean McCoy, Lamar Miller and Todd Gurley are all reasonable pivots - but I still say stick with Bell and Johnson in cash.  Miller is the most intriguing for me, as the Texans could be dominating the Jaguars (who have more garbage time than at most landfills).  The Texans could be rather shorthanded at running back, so 25+ touches for Miller is not out of the question at all.    

GPP:  For tournaments, I would encourage you to pivot off of Johnson and Bell.  Both backs will be owned quite a bit, so game theory suggests that if you can find a comparable option for a cheaper price, your team will be more unique - and if Johnson or Bell underperform, you will be way ahead of the rest of the tournament field.  This is where I like Gurley, McCoy and Miller much more, but I will consider a few other options.  Both backs for Atlanta should be productive in Chicago, but historically Tevin Coleman has put up better road splits than DeVonta Freeman, and Coleman is expected to be owned at a fraction of Freeman's ownership.  That's a fantastic option if he hits, and the likelihood of him reaching value far exceeds his ownership expectations, putting him very much in play.  I would fade Freeman and use Coleman in a bigger tournament.  I also like Carlos Hyde for the 49ers, as San Francisco is riding a six-game Week 1 winning streak and will ride Hyde as far as he will take them at home on Sunday.  It that same game, I also like Christian McCaffrey, who gets to debut in the NFL near his old stomping grounds of Stanford.  A final, deep - DEEP option that has game theory written all over it is LeGarrette Blount.  Everyone likes Zach Ertz at tight end this week, and Carson Wentz is also in that mix.  What if Philadelphia gets some goal line opportunities rather than throwing for their touchdowns?  This is why Blount was brought to town, and he could be that one-off play that gets two touchdowns that virtually no one else has that could vault your team to the top of the standings.     

WIDE RECEIVERS

Player Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Ownership Comments
Doug Baldwin $7500 3 1 Med-Hi WR1 for Seattle where they likely will need to throw
Alshon Jeffery $7000 n/a 5 Low Big upside with the Eagles; but risky
Michael Crabtree $6900 5 4 Med-Hi Until Cooper becomes a true WR1; give me Crabtree
Kelvin Benjamin $6500 n/a 8 Medium Great preseason; but is Cam Newton ready?
Larry Fitzgerald $6400 1 2 High Healthy veteran who gets a lot of red zone targets
Terrelle Pryor $6200 4 3 Medium High volume receiver for Washington; but new team
Marvin Jones $6100 n/a 7 Very Low No one looking at the Lions this week; it seems
Rishard Matthews $6100 7 6 Low Tennessee WR1 this week could get overlooked
Sterling Shepard $5800 6* 10* Low Highly dependent on Odell Beckham playing (if out; great for cash)
Kendall Wright $5200 2 9 Medium Lots of targets to soak up with Cameron Meredith out for year
Nelson Agholor $4900 n/a 11 Very Low Alshon Jeffery sees Josh Norman, but Agholor could break one

CASH: Part of the DFS challenge is shrinking down a huge list of possibilities to a scant few.  Normally, wide receiver has a ton of options, but I think this week it is rather limited, particularly in cash.  Larry Fitzgerald has an outstanding matchup against a weak Detroit secondary, which struggles against slot receivers of any caliber, let alone a future Hall of Famer.  The other easy call is Kendall Wright, a candidate for the "Who?" list for most casual NFL fans.  Fortunately for you, that does not describe you as you read this article.  Wright will likely be targeted 8-12 times for Chicago in Week 1 and has a floor close to 2x his salary ($5,200, or 10.4 points).  Even if he does not find the end zone (and Chicago is projected to score three), a 7-70 day hits cash value, and that feels like just a little bit higher than his floor (he is projected for 5-50, which feels low).  The third wide receiver option in cash really comes down to value and salary cap.  Doug Baldwin should see plenty of targets as Seattle will try and keep up with the Packers in Green Bay, while Terrelle Pryor could be the most productive Washington receiver with the Eagles focused on shutting down tight end Jordan Reed and slot receiver Jamison Crowder.  Michael Crabtree could be a cash option if Amari Cooper is not fully healthy, and honestly, Crabtree has looked more like the Oakland wide receiver to use than Cooper.  Rishard Matthews appears to be the top wide receiver for Tennessee, but the name to watch (and injury report) comes out of Dallas on Sunday.  If Odell Beckham is a scratch on Sunday, Sterling Shepard immediately leaps up the chart and becomes a strong cash and GPP option. 

GPP: Most of the wide receivers listed above have GPP potential, but Wright really needs to score to hit that 3x mark.  A wide receiver that could see more targets than expected is Marvin Jones, who will see a better matchup than Golden Tate and may get 100 yards and a touchdown seemingly out of nowhere.  Both Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are viable tournament plays, but for differing reasons.  Jeffery will be blanketed by Josh Norman, but if he can beat that coverage, he has great upside, as does Agholor who can break off a long touchdown on any touch.  Kelvin Benjamin rounds out my list as he had a great preseason for Carolina, but I am taking a wait and see approach with Cam Newton

TIGHT ENDS

Player Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Ownership Comments
Jimmy Graham $6200 3 2 High Russell Wilson targeted Graham more in back half of 2016
Delanie Walker $6100 2 1 High Favorite for Mariota; Oakland bad against tight ends
Zach Ertz $5900 1 3 High Saw a lot of targets from Wentz without Jordan Matthews
Martellus Bennett $5700 n/a 5 Medium Cheap piece of the Packers - high scoring contest
Jack Doyle $5100 n/a 7 Low 11 targets from Tolzien last year
Charles Clay $4600 4 4 Medium Sammie Watkins gone; Tyrod Taylor favored target
Zach Miller $4500 n/a 6 Low Bears expected for 21 points; WR1 lost for the year
George Kittle $4500 n/a 7 Very Low San Francisco is expected to score 21, and Kittle looked good in preseason

CASH: There are a few names to consider for tight ends in Week 1, particularly for cash.  Zach Ertz is going to be a favorite option for many owners, but with only 0.5 PPR on FanDuel, his attractiveness slightly dips.  Washington is expected to closely defend Alshon Jeffery with Josh Norman, so Ertz could still see plenty of work, but I think the choice in cash lineups is not as clear cut as some make it out to be.  I personally prefer Delanie Walker (in both cash and GPP) with Oakland simply terrible against tight ends.  Even Jason Witten torched them in Week 3 of the preseason for over 70 yards and a touchdown and was a perfect 6-for-6 receiving.  Expect a big game for Walker this week.  Other cash options - albeit less attractive - are Jimmy Graham of the Seahawks as Seattle visits Green Bay, and Russell Wilson will need plenty of help on offense against Aaron Rodgers.  Charles Clay of Buffalo is a nice sleeper pick, as he is likely the top target for Tyrod Taylor in a Sammy Watkins-less Bills passing game.

GPP:  Building on the tight end list, there are two other realistic options that I can see being used in most tournaments, and two real fliers.  Martellus Bennett offers a solid piece of the Green Bay passing game, and he has plenty of touchdown upside.  Zach Miller could be the WR1 for Mike Glennon in Chicago, and while I really want no part of Indianapolis, Jack Doyle did see 11 targets the last time Scott Tolzien started a game for the Colts.  Lastly, George Kittle pushed Vance MacDonald out of town and is the new starter for San Francisco, and a solid game with a score is not out of the question at all.  

KICKERS

Player Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Ownership Comments
Matt Bryant $4900 1 1 High Best kicker last year; Atlanta expects 29 points
Ryan Succop $4600 2 2 Medium Criteria met (home favorite; 24+ points)
Mason Crosby $4800 3 3 Medium Criteria met (home favorite; 24+ points)
Justin Tucker $5000 n/a 4 Medium Most accurate kicker in the NFL; 7 50+ FGs last year; expensive
Phil Dawson $4600 n/a 6 Low Hit from 50+ in Week 3 preseason; Arizona should score plenty
Greg Zuerlein $4500 4 5 Low Big Leg; Criteria nearly met (Rams 23 points expected)

CASH & GPP: These general kicker comments will likely be repeated week after week, but they are important so take note.  Yes, FanDuel is the only DFS site left that uses a kicker, but you have to deal with it if you are playing on FanDuel.  Sorry, that's how it goes.  But there's some good news - you can actually make smart, informed decisions that can go a long way towards increasing your bankroll.  First, there are four general criteria in picking a kicker:

  1. Pick a kicker who is playing at home
  2. Pick a kicker who is in a game where his team is favored
  3. Pick a kicker whose team is expected to score at least 24 points.
  4. Pick a kicker who will not be in bad weather.

Just following that above recipe will help you quite a bit.  Remember - a 50+ yard field goal is five points or almost as much as a touchdown.  That's significant.  

So, who do we like for Week 1?  Start with Mr. Reliable from last year, Matt Bryant.  He doesn't check all the criteria boxes since Atlanta is on the road, but he hits the rest of them and is the top cash option.  Ryan Succop is my second option as he is relatively cheap, hits all the boxes and also can raise the floor for any team using Marcus Mariota or Delanie Walker.  Mason Crosby also hits on all four cylinders, and he rounds out our Top 3 kickers.  For tournaments, I am looking hard at Justin Tucker, who will be low owned due to his big price tag and playing on the road, but neither scares me.  Phil Dawson should do well in the Detroit dome and Greg Zuerlein has a nice, big leg and he checks almost all the boxes (Rams expected to score only 23 points).

TEAM DEFENSES

Team Defense Salary Cash Rank GPP Rank Ownership Comments
Buffalo Bills $4700 1 2 High Home game against the Jets. Any questions?
Houston Texans $5100 4 1 Medium Will be highly motivated; similar to the Saints after Katrina
Pittsburgh Steelers $4800 2 3 Medium Pittsburgh defense can carry them in Cleveland
Los Angeles Rams $5000 3 4 Medium The Colts are Luck-less this week
Philadelphia Eagles $4600 n/a 5 Low Strong front four; turnovers and special teams

CASH & GPP:  We have three teams expected to score fewer than 20 points, which makes the opponents of the Jets, Browns and Jaguars quite attractive this week and are the Top 3 options on the board.  Buffalo hosts the Jets, and New York may push for a tie of the Detroit "0-16" Lions from last decade (2008 to be exact).  The Bills are favored by more than a touchdown, and one could make a reasonable argument that they will not only never see a more favorable line this year, but may not even be favored the rest of the season.  Cleveland hosts the Steelers, and Pittsburgh is 17-3 against the Browns over the past decade.  Jacksonville travels to Houston, where the Texans may encounter a home crowd advantage similar to New Orleans after Katrina, which will elevate the entire Houston area for 3+ hours on Sunday.  The Texans are my favorite GPP option this week and J.J. Watt may even find the end zone.  One other team to consider is the Los Angeles Rams, who host the Andrew Luck-less Colts, a team likely to struggle behind Scott Tolzien (#NeverTolzien).  One final team to think about are the Eagles, who have a strong front four and are always good at special teams with Darren Sproles, who can score any time he touches the ball.  To close out Week 1, remember this GPP thought with defenses - it is never a bad stack play to pair a defense with a running back, such as the Rams and Todd Gurley.  That has very good correlation for positive results.   

Good luck this weekend!

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com