FanDuel Roundtable #6

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

This week we discuss the following:

Tight ends

Consistency has been hard to come by at tight end in recent weeks. Rob Gronkowski hasn’t gotten into the end zone, and it has been feast or famine among his peers. Which tight ends do you think will feast this week? And which will make their fantasy owners go hungry?

Alex Miglio: It seems likely that Rob Gronkowski will get back on track sooner rather than later. There is no reason to think he'll have a down day against Indianapolis. He scored in each game against the Colts last year, after all, though he only caught seven passes for 99 yards combined. Darren Fells is a great GPP option at just $4,800, going up against a Pittsburgh defense that looks like it caught Oakland's inability to cover tight ends.

On the flip side, can Gary Barnidge continue his tear? He was supposed to come back to earth last week against a Ravens defense that was by far the stingiest against the tight end position, but a strong game paired with the luckiest of touchdowns gave him yet another huge fantasy score. I'm not so sure that happens against the top defense in the league in Denver, though.

Maurile Tremblay: I think Antonio Gates stands out for his value at just $5,500. Nobody's a sure thing to collect a handful of catches, but he's about as close to a sure thing as exists outside of Rob Gronkowski. He and Philip Rivers have been playing catch for many years, and Gates was in mid-season form last week in his first game back from suspension.

I also like Greg Olsen this week because I think the Panthers will put the ball in the air far more often against the Seahawks than they did against the Jaguars, Texans, Saints, or Buccaneers.

With the Bengals passing offense so hot right now, I also like Tyler Eifert in GPPs. You mentioned feast or famine, and it could go either way with Eifert, but he's got a good enough chance at feasting to make him worth the $6,000 he'll cost.

Mark Wimer: I like Gary Barnidge to do well on Sunday despite the tough matchup against the Broncos. He is very simpatico with both Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel—if McCown can't play due to his injured ankle I think we see Barnidge continue to thrive with Manziel under center. In fact, Barnidge (24/374/3 receiving so far this season) is the #3 fantasy tight end this year ahead of Travis Kelce (fourth) and Jason Witten (fifth).

Speaking of Kelce, I like him to get more action going forwards with Jamaal Charles now out for the season. Alex Smith loves to dump off passes short and Kelce is the best option left in that role—he's averaged about seven targets per week to date but now I think that number climbs into the low double digits—more opportunity should mean more production.

If you want to go safe-but-expensive the New England matchup with Indianapolis could produce a whale of a game—the Colts average 286.8 net passing yards allowed per game, 28th in the NFL, with eight passing scores given out versus five interceptions and only six sacks generated to date (tied for tenth in the NFL, tied for 29th in the NFL, respectively). Last week, the Texans put up 31/41 for 362 yards passing, two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Colts (and Tom Brady is way better than the Hoyer-Mallett tandem that played in that game!). The Jaguars had 30/47 for 266 yards passing, one touchdown and zero interceptions passing against this defense two games ago.

I am avoiding Martellus Bennett this week—despite 12 targets last week he was a fantasy flop, and once Bennett slumps it is usually a multi-week affair. Also, the matchup with Detroit is one of those unpredictable NFC North grudge matches—I can see it degenerating into a penalty-ridden, low-scoring slugfest or I can also see a Chicago blowout where they rest starters beginning midway through the third quarter. The Lions are weak at defense in both phases of the game, but I think that this week Matt Forte does the heavy lifting with minimal passing via Cutler-to-Bennett.

James Brimacombe: It is hard to get away from Rob Gronkowski in cash games this week even at the huge $8,200 price tag. Gronkowski is coming off his lowest FanDuel score of the season with only 8.7 points last week but the three games prior had 12.1, 20.8, and 29.9. The nice thing about taking Gronkowski is that you only have to pick one player at the tight end position and you can just lock in the best player on the board and move on. On the lower end I would feel good about going with Antonio Gates at $5,500 and in GPPs I like Zach Ertz at $5,000 on Monday Night Football. Both Jimmy Graham at $6,300 and Travis Kelce at $6,200 have been too hit or miss for their prices and I will likely be fading them in all formats.

Steve Buzzard: I think this is the week that Gronkowski gets back on track and is the first week that I will be looking to use him heavily since Week 1. The Colts defense is quite porous and the Vegas total reflects a high scoring game. Oh, and there is this little thing called deflategate that will be hanging over this game so don’t expect the Patriots to ease up even if Andrew Luck sits out and the Patriots pull away.

If you want to go away from Gronkowski then Antonio Gates is as good of a bet as anyone. Without Stevie Johnson to eat up targets Gates should be the favorite target of Philip Rivers and is priced right at only $5,500

Andrew Garda: As both Alex and Maurile alluded to, Gronkowski will be a good play most weeks and rebound sooner rather than later. I think there is a strong argument that one of the guys you should consistently have in a lineup (specifically a cash lineup) is Gronkowski as (1) you know a lot of other people are rolling him out because (2) 99 times out of 100 he will be far and away the best TE option out there. Other tight ends might meet or beat his production but it’s tough to find them each week. Besides, Gronkowski is like having another receiver out there as well.

I like the shout-out to Olsen and Gates, though the latter makes me nervous. I have to think Green Bay does a better job covering him after seeing the damage he did last week. So you could see a dip in production. Still, as Maurile says, the price is right. If you want to add some of that GPP flavor Alex mentioned, Gates is a good choice. He has a boom-or-bust vibe for me but the cost-risk ratio still seems beneficial.

Bucking matchup trends

Last week we saw a bunch of matchups go haywire. Devonta Freeman scored a bunch of points on a Washington team that had previously given up the fewest to running backs. Gary Barnidge went wild on the Ravens, who had given up 0.8 standard points per game to that point to tight ends. Carlos Hyde ran through a tough Giants defense. Owen Daniels put up a goose egg against the hapless Raiders defense. Who are some players this week that you think will buck seemingly good or bad matchups this week?

Alex Miglio: They might be a tough matchup on name more than substance thus far this season, but the Seahawks might instill fear in fantasy owners when it comes to starting players in Seattle. That's where you could capitalize on Greg Olsen, who takes on a team that has hemorrhaged fantasy points to the tight end position.

Maurile Tremblay: I like Cam Newton against the fearsome Seahawks defense. He'll drop back to pass more often this week than he has in previous weeks, but that's where he does a lot of his damage on the ground as well. The linebackers take their drops and the field opens up for him as a runner. I feel pretty comfortable thinking that he'll get fantasy points one way or another this week.

The same reasoning applies to Alex's choice of Greg Olsen, so count me in agreement there as well.

Mark Wimer: I like Gary Barnidge to do well despite facing the Broncos' defense.

Chris Ivory has had a week of rest on bye, he tore up the Dolphins before the rest, and the Washington defense is reeling after coughing up 31/176/1 rushing to Atlanta last week. The Jets get an ailing Washington team to pick on this week—Washington will do without Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson, Matt Jones has a sprained big toe and may not be effective—three are a lot of key weapons missing from around Kirk Cousins (and Cousins has more picks than TDs thrown—and the Jets have the second-most turnovers forced in the NFL at 13 with six interceptions and seven fumbles to their credit). I think that the Jets force a lot of three-and-outs and turnovers in this one, giving Ivory lots of time-of-possession and also short fields, which should spell success for Ivory.

In the passing phase of the game I like Ted Ginn Jr to overcome a seemingly-bad matchup against the Seahawks' pass D—Ginn is averaging six targets per game through four contests, he has scored at least one TD in two of his four games played this year (3 total so far) and the fact he faces Seattle this week which may scare off other DFS players based on their reputation from years' past—even though the Seahawks have given up five passing scores and generated just one interception THIS year, and allowed 310 net passing yards and two TDs to Andy Dalton last week (he did throw one pick)—at $5,500 on FanDuel I'll bet Ginn comes up with a TD or two and blows past his modest salary.

James Brimacombe: The obvious plays are QB Tom Brady and WR DeAndre Hopkins—both jump off the page to me and are almost must plays for cash games. The volume, production, and matchup for the two this week is just too good to pass up. I am finding running back really difficult this week to know exactly who to pick and who to fade. I like guys like Eddie Lacy, Lamar Miller and C.J. Anderson all to have bounce-back games, but how do you really trust any of those three after the first five weeks of the season? You also have to like both the Giants and Eagles passing games against each other on Monday Night Football and the Patriots stack is looking like the chalk plays of the week.

Steve Buzzard: Defensive matchups tend to be overrated by fantasy owners. While there are very special defensive players in the league like Vontae Davis or Darrelle Revis in general the offensive players will tend to overcome these difficulties in the long run. Again this isn’t to say completely disregard the defensive matchups but you should be careful to not overweight their impact. The matchup I like the most for this week—Randall Cobb and Aaron Rodgers against the Chargers—is the perfect example. Everyone is going to be off of Cobb but I will take my chances on two of the most talented offensive players in the league to overcome any defense.

Andrew Garda: I think Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill have a tough matchup on paper against the Bills, but I think they’ll have a solid day for a few reasons. First, nobody is running against the Bills. They have the sixth fewest rushing attempts in the NFL right now and while that’s in part due to how bad they are against the pass (No. 24 per, teams aren’t testing them enough. I think you’ll find the Bengals, who are running a very balanced offense these days, will test them and succeed.

The other reason I like the Bengals’ ground attack is because with Andy Dalton throwing the ball as well as he is, there is no way to stack the box against the run.

The big question here is, which guy do you go with and honestly, that’s a pickle. I’d lean towards Bernard, who is getting a lot more work despite not being the starter. Hill has some upside value, but given the cost of both I would lean towards Bernard.

As for who might fail—I know a lot of folks high on Charcandrick West as he takes over for Jamaal Charles. I get it. Low price, middling Vikings run defense. However, the Vikings have not allowed a 300-yard passer this season and Alex Smith scares exactly nobody. I think Mike Zimmer stacks the box against West (and Knile Davis) and tells Alex Smith to beat him.

In which case, it could be tough sledding for the Chiefs backfield.

Dolphins coaching change

The Dolphins are coming out of a bye with a new head coach. What do you do with that knowledge in terms of picking players for both Miami and Tennessee?

Alex Miglio: For the most part, I am sitting this game out. Outside a few GPP darts, there is just no way of telling how the Dolphins are going to come out of the gate. They were popular choices to win the AFC East for a reason, and the coaching change might fire them up to have a huge week. Or maybe they aren't who we thought they were and get throttled in Tennessee. Titans players are just as risky for the same reason—what if Miami's defense finally lives up to the hype?

Maurile Tremblay: If there hadn't been a coaching change, I'd be higher on the Tennessee defense than I am. I'm still very high on them. But—from a fantasy defense perspective—I love the way that Miami has given up on the running game so easily this season. Tannehill isn't particularly turnover prone, but any quarterback without a running game is going to give up sacks and interceptions as defenses pin their ears back. I'm worried enough that Dan Campbell will emphasize balancing the offense that I'm going to back off just a bit from including the Titans defense in as many lineups as I otherwise would—but not so much that I'll actually consider starting Lamar Miller.

Mark Wimer: I am putting Lamar Miller back in my DFS mix as I think that we may finally see Miller get a more rational level of usage rather than the horrid 37/131/0 rushing and 10/87/0 receiving he was allotted during the first 1/4 of the season by the now-departed-and-unlamented Joe Philbin. Dan Campbell was the tight ends coach before getting the interim head coaching gig, which could spell more targets and fantasy points from Jordan Cameron (he almost scored a TD in the last game against the Jets but put a foot out-of-bounds in the end-zone, finishing with nine targets but 2/19/0 receiving in that game—hopefully he reels in more catches going forwards).

James Brimacombe: I like both Jarvis Landry and Lamar Miller to have good games coming off a bye and trying to flip the script on the season after the coaching change. The Titans defense has been better this year but there is still plenty of holes in that defense that the Dolphins could take advantage of and start to build momentum and turn their season around.

Steve Buzzard: This certainly makes all players on the Dolphins a little riskier for cash games and better picks for GPPs due to the uncertainty. Unfortunately this isn’t an ideal high scoring game to take advantage of in GPPs so it may not be the best opportunity this week. However, in general coaching changes leads to unpredictability in opportunity which is a good recipe for GPP success.

Andrew Garda: I agree with Alex in that I am pretty much avoiding the Miami side of things. Unlike Maurile though, I am tempted by Lamar Miller—just not enough to pull the trigger. I do think Campbell tries to balance to offense and Miller could finally get proper use, but let’s be honest—until I see it, I don’t believe it. So I’ll avoid it.

Footballguys Football Championship

In the Footballguys Football Championship contest, FanDuel is adding $40,000 of prize money to the Week 11 contest, which players won't be able to buy into directly: they have to win a ticket beforehand by beating David Dodds, Joe Bryant, and Sigmund Bloom in one of the weekly contests leading up to Week 11. The weekly contests are in the form of double-ups, but the presence of the tickets add a tournament flavor to them as well. What's the best strategy to use in the weekly contests? Should people construct safe lineups intending to double up, or should they take on more risk and shoot for a ticket?

Alex Miglio: In a twist, my best scores of the season have come from cash lineups. For the most part, I think I would approach these with a cash game mentality while hoping my lineups have big weeks. If I am entering multiple times, I might throw a GPP lineup in there.

Maurile Tremblay: I would treat this like a GPP. It's all about the tickets. The Week 11 contest will have $40,000 in prizes, and it's worth noting that tickets haven't come easy so far this season. There have been relatively few tickets handed out during the first few weeks (compared to last season), which increases the value of each ticket quite a bit. So that's what I'd go for. Doubling-up is nice, but a ticket to the Week 11 contest is worth far more than that, and beating all of Dodds, Bryant, and Bloom is generally going to require taking some risks. As a Footballguys staffer, I'm not allowed to play in this contest, but if I were, I'd completely ignore the Double-Up status and treat it strictly like a top-heavy qualifier.

Mark Wimer: In my opinion the sole reason to be playing in the Championship is to, well, end up playing in the Championship. Take the risk and shoot for a ticket! Have some fun!

James Brimacombe: Why not make one lineup that is safe and one lineup that you are all in on for a GPP style entry? I actually took down the Footballguys FanDuel Championship back in 2012 and won $15,000 before I was on the Footballguys Staff. These type of contest are all about putting yourself in position at the end to have a chance at the big prize. Today the GPPs on FanDuel are gigantic and your odds are very thin when you are entering these 10,000+ entry tournaments. So a nice alternative is trying to find a GPP contest that gives you a better chance at winning in the end and the Footballguys Championship contest is just that as you have 10 weeks (5 weeks left now) to try to get that ticket into the Week 11 final. One of the big aspects about fantasy football that has been lost with the emergence of DFS is patience. With DFS you want that win now and get rich feeling and sometimes you forget about the grind of fantasy football and that the goal is to make it to the playoffs with your best team and be the last man standing in the end. With these type of contest it gives you just that as it gives you a shot to be the best DFS team come Week 11 as you used those previous 10 weeks to get to that position.

Steve Buzzard: I would take a blended approach in this contest. Play relatively safe players so that you can at least double up but play the correlation game such that if they succeed you are more likely to get the maximum score needed to win a ticket. For example, if you were completing two lineups and you wanted 50% exposure to Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Tom Brady, and Rob Gronkowski. Put Rodgers and Cobb in the same lineup and Brady and Gronkowski in the other. This way you have a solid shot at both doubling up and winning the tickets.

Andrew Garda: I fall on the side of Mark and Maurile in that you might as well shoot for the moon. However if you are playing multiple entries, I wouldn’t hate you for playing one cash to cover your end. Then again like Mark says—have fun. It’s a low cost entry and the amount of players isn’t high (1130 total) so competition-wise you have a good chance to make your money while shooting for the ticket as well.

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

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