FanDuel Roundtable #5

Eavesdrop as various staff members share their views on a range of topics.

This week we discuss the following:


Choosing ownership frequency

If you play a number of different lineups in FanDuel contests, how do you decide what percentage of your lineups will contain a given player? Like Devonta Freeman this week—most people are going to include him in a decent number of their lineups. But how many? Is putting him in 50% of your lineups too much? Too little? Just right?

Jene Bramel: Unless I like two quarterbacks equally, I play three cash lineups with a handful of core players. I'll often have 2-3 players in all three cash lineups and mix and match in my other spots. If I feel a certain player is an optimal play—Aaron Rodgers and Matt Forte last week, Randall Cobb the week prior—I'll have 100% exposure. I won't have more than 50% of any player in my GPP lineups, even if they are under-owned.

I look for volume in my cash plays, so Freeman will make the cut of possible core players. But I believe I'll also be strongly considering Dion Lewis, Justin Forsett, and Eddie Lacy this week, so I doubt I'll have Freeman in more than one of my three cash lineups. I expect Freeman will be very highly owned in GPPs, so I'll probably not have more than 10-20% of him in those contests. However, if you strongly believe Freeman is a top cash player, his ownership percentage does not matter. Roster him, enjoy his volume, and look to separate yourself at other positions.

Andrew Garda: If I have Freeman in a bunch of my lineups, I'll offset him with a variety of guys to offset that overall risk. In other words, if I have one player I am high on and playing a lot, I try to add variety around him so that I don't get trapped.

I'm with Jene on his last point though—if you like a player and think he's going to produce a ton, ownership percentage isn't as big a factor. After all, if you were certain he was putting up 30 points, you wouldn't bench him just because others thought the same. While you want variety, especially in GPP, you don't want to cut your nose off to spite your face.

Going against the grain is good, but not if it's actually hurting you.

Maurile Tremblay: The more lineups I enter on a site, the less I think in terms of "Should I put this player in my lineup or not?", and the more I think in terms of "What percentage of my lineups should include this player?"

In GPPs, I think pretty much every starting NFL quarterback is playable as part of a QB-REC stack. At FanDuel, I'll have Tom Brady in ten times as many lineups as I'll have Nick Foles this week, but I don't consider Foles unplayable. If I'm crafting 50 lineups, he might be worth a shot in one of them. If I'm crafting 100 lineups, he's almost certainly worth a shot in one of them.

With 100 lineups, I would also say that every kicker is worth a shot in one lineup, and almost every defense. (I don't think Dallas, Washington, St. Louis, Seattle, or Chicago are good enough values this week to make an appearance even with 100 lineups, but the rest are.)

I am pickier with running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends, where the vast majority of my lineups will include the same handful of players. (At tight end this week, as things stand right now, I expect more than 60% of my lineups to include Rob Gronkowski, Charles Clay, or Jason Witten.)

That's because all quarterbacks, kickers, and defenses have a relatively decent chance of ending up as an okay value, but you can't say the same thing about running backs or receivers, at least not to the same extent. Tom Brady may be a large favorite over Nick Foles to hit value, but not nearly as big a favorite as Rob Gronkowski is over Jared Cook, or as Le'Veon Bell is over Joseph Randle. I therefore diversify at QB, PK, and DEF more than I do at RB, WR, or TE.

To answer the original question, I think 50% is generally my upper bound for owning any particular player, and I think you could make a case for putting any of Le'Veon Bell, Devonta Freeman, or Julio Jones in about 50% of your lineups this week.

Alex Miglio: I generally like to limit my exposure to 50% or so, but it depends on the situation. If there is truly a chalk play that shows an outrageous ownership percentage in a cash game, I would have no qualms putting that player in most or all of my cash-game lineups. In GPPs, though, I try to have nice diversification in case a player or team tanks.


Mid-range tight ends

There are a lot of decent tight end options in the $5,400-$5,700 range this week. Who do you like among Jason Witten ($5,700), Charles Clay ($5,700), Tyler Eifert ($5,600), Antonio Gates ($5,500), and Delanie Walker ($5,400)?

Danny Tuccitto: Witten for cash games and Clay for tournaments. Regarding Witten, a tight end is a crappy quarterback's best friend, Dallas doesn't have a clear-cut number-one receiving option, and New England has been pretty consistent so far this season in giving up around 10 FanDuel points per game to tight ends. Not to mention that Cowboys-Patriots has the highest over-under of the week. Clay, on the other hand, is facing a Titans pass defense that, per Football Outsiders, ranks dead last in play-by-play efficiency against opposing tight ends.

Jene Bramel: If the calf injury proves to be a non-issue on Friday, I like Charles Clay. The Bills will be without Sammy Watkins, LeSean McCoy, and Karlos Williams. Taylor and Clay are working very well together right now and the target volume will be there again. Jason Witten is another strong option. And don't overlook Owen Daniels at $4,900 either.

Andrew Garda: I like Clay. The matchup against Tennessee is nice, he's three really strong weeks (especially the last two), and half the offense is injured. Tyrod Taylor has looked for him a lot over the last few weeks as well. That said, as Doc Bramel alluded to, keep an eye on that calf issue.

All of the above are worthy starts though. Witten could get a lot of run as the Cowboys try to keep up with a high-powered Patriots offense, Gates has been working hard to stay ready while suspended and has a nice matchup against Pittsburgh. Walker's matchup is pretty good, and Tennessee might have more luck throwing than running, but if I am looking at guys I don't like as much, it's Walker and Eifert.

Walker, because he's been inconsistent and the Bills do have some good pass defenders and Eifert because of a tough Seattle defense. On the other hand, with Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas and company focusing on the wide receivers, there could be opportunity there for Eifert.

Still, I like Clay the best, followed by Gates and Witten.

Here's a side thought, though: Oakland is a great matchup for tight ends and Owen Daniels ($4900) has back-to-back games with touchdowns. While I know Peyton Manning wants to feed Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas, Daniels might be an intriguing GPP play to differentiate yourself and add value elsewhere.

Maurile Tremblay: As I mentioned in my previous response, I like Charles Clay and Jason Witten a lot this week. As Jene and Andrew noted, Clay is on the injury report with a calf issue, but assuming that isn't going to limit him, he and Witten, collectively, will be in as many of my lineups as Rob Gronkowski will.

Alex Miglio: All those options seem great. I have Tyler Eifert in a couple of GPP lineups, but Antonio Gates is rather intriguing. He's certainly a risk given it'll be his first action of 2015 and he's no spring chicken, but I am assuming Philip Rivers will be happy to get his favorite target back and Gates will want some sort of redemption. Of course, those are narratives—we may as well be talking astrological signs. The fact that the Steelers are giving up the fourth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends is a much nicer indicator.


Bargain quarterbacks

What cheap quarterbacks (under $7,000) do like for cash games this week, allowing people to pay up for stud running backs and wide receivers?

Danny Tuccitto: Alex Smith and Blake Bortles. The Bears can't cover anyone, and Smith is the definition of a value cash-game only quarterback (i.e., consistently mediocre). If you (quite understandably) think Kansas City is going to go run-heavy against Chicago, then Bortles is a good alternative because (a) the price is right for a quarterback averaging 17.5 FanDuel points per game, and (b) his game isn't likely to end up in wacky game-script territory (i.e., no blowout either way).

Jene Bramel: None. I won't be finalizing my cash-game lineups until Saturday, but I think I'll have three lineups with Tom Brady this week. Unless I'm 100% confident in a value QB, I'm paying up at this position. If you must have a value QB, look at Alex Smith. Jeremy Maclin, Travis Kelce, and Jamaal Charles should give him a high enough floor to meet value.

Andrew Garda: While I'm with Jene overall in that there aren't a ton of quarterbacks under $7,000 that I like, I do like Smith this week as a value play. What worries me a little about him is his continued lack of touchdowns. Just one over the last three weeks? That Week 1 Houston game looks like a massive outlier, though I think we all believed that anyway.

I'd add Blake Bortles in against a weak Tampa defense. Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson ('the Allens' from now on for this piece) have been very productive and Bortles has been sharp the last three games. Really, all season long. A 5:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio makes me happy as well and stacking Bortles with one of 'the Allens' makes a lot of sense to me if you are looking to add value elsewhere.

Maurile Tremblay: Alex Smith and Michael Vick are the two I like the most. But Jameis Winston, Josh McCown, and Blake Bortles aren't all that far behind. I'd be looking to stack any of those guys with one of their primary receivers in GPPs.

Alex Miglio: I frankly don't like any quarterbacks that far down in cash games, but if I had to choose one it would be Alex Smith. It's a great matchup at home, and even if Jamaal Charles winds up scoring a ton it could be from Smith dump-offs.


Lineup centerpieces

Who are the players you figure to make the centerpieces of your lineups this week?

Danny Tuccitto: Le'Veon Bell is my centerpiece running back. Julio Jones and Larry Fitzgerald are my centerpiece wide receivers. I'll be mixing and matching QB, RB2, WR3, and tight end-around them. Because Fitzgerald's a centerpiece, most of my lineups will have Carson Palmer at quarterback, especially in cash games.

Jene Bramel: As of Thursday night, I think I'm going to build my cash lineups around Tom Brady, Justin Forsett, and Julio Jones. I won't have any centerpiece plays in GPPs, but would expect to have a higher percentage of Jones, Forsett, Dion Lewis, and Rob Gronkowski than others at their respective positions.

Andrew Garda: Lots of Angry Tom Brady. I also have a fair amount of Le'Veon Bell and Devonta Freeman, though mostly for cash-game plays.

Maurile Tremblay: Le'Veon Bell, Julio Jones, Rob Gronkowski, Devonta Freeman, and Larry Fitzgerald will probably all be in at least 20% of my FanDuel lineups. Jamaal Charles and Demaryius Thomas are in that conversation as well.

Alex Miglio: All of the New England Patriots. I love them. They are the most stackable team in all formats, and they have the best Vegas total of the week. I also really like Le'Veon Bell ($9,000) in cash games, and Justin Forsett ($7,200) seems to be off everyone's radar despite a fantastic matchup.

That will do it for this edition of the FanDuel Roundtable. Please join us again next week.


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