FanDuel Roundtable #7

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

This week we discuss the following:


After a tough week

Last week was a down week for a lot of sharp players. What was your biggest takeaway, whether you were down or one of the lucky ones?

Chad Parsons: Any overly positive or negative DFS week requires a tempered response. While a short-game on face value, the overall scope is a long-term one as the weeks and results accumulate. A big landmine is putting more bankroll in play after a highly profitable week. Stay the course, plan your bankroll, and assess results periodically to tweak your approach based on results.

Dan Hindery: My major takeaway from a losing Week 6 was probably that it does not make sense to pay up for one of the top quarterbacks each week. Tom Brady was solid enough and his 23.5 points were probably enough to "hit value." But paying top dollar for a quarterback forces you to take risks at other positions. Owning Brady pushed me to roster three RB/WRs at relatively low prices (Dion Lewis, LeSean McCoy and Jordan Matthews) and only one of the three produced solid numbers, which sunk my roster (despite getting solid production at the other spots).

With so many strong quarterback performances from the mid-lower priced guys, I've decided going forward that in both tournaments and 50/50s, I am going to focus on more bargain options at quarterback.

Justin Howe: Week 6 was a break-even enterprise for me, discouraging after a down Week 5. Honestly, I think I overanalyzed all last weekend. It paid off in adding a lot of Chris Ivory exposure, but I also wound up swapping DeAndre Hopkins to Larry Fitzgerald in most of my cash lineups for salary relief. I spent that relief on a blend of Rob Gronkowski and Adrian Peterson, so the results were mixed. Going forward, I'm looking to return to trusting my mid-week instincts. It's not that some narratives aren't valid, but great players like Hopkins need to be treated as largely narrative-proof.

Andrew Garda: Chad hits the nail on the head. You always have to take the long view, which is something DFS has in common with season-long fantasy. You have to adjust but you can’t panic or get overconfident based on one week.

To Dan’s point on QBs, if you’re careful and pay attention the value in mid-tier quarterbacks is there and finding consistent value and production from quarterbacks is easier than at other positions, especially considering pure numbers. There are just 32 quarterbacks starting in the NFL each week, and maybe—MAYBE—half of those are worthy looking at each week. You know what you have to work with and your margin for error really is a lot less than the oodles of running backs and wide receivers that look like values but can disappear.

Overall, like has been said—don’t let the highs get you too high or the lows get you too low. Remember, it’s a long season. Manage your bankroll and your expectations as well.

Here’s one thing I do to avoid overdoing it off a good week and getting over my skis on a bad one. When I win a chunk, when I lap my initial investment especially, I pull my original bankroll. If I start the season with $100 and win $300, I pull that first $100 and play with house money. That mitigates the potential that a bad week will wipe your whole bankroll out. I’ll do that every time I lap my original investment.

I do this at casinos when I play craps and it has helped me build some big bankrolls there. Then again, some will tell you that means you won’t win as much so your mileage might vary.

Maurile Tremblay: I'll echo Chad's sentiment. Even the top players have losing weeks about 30% of the time, so having a down week here and there is completely normal. No matter how good you are at DFS, there is plenty of risk involved. That's why it's important to be disciplined in managing your bankroll.

In terms of specific lessons, like maybe you shouldn't have spent so much at one position versus another, I think there's a natural tendency to overreact to recent occurrences because they're still fresh in your mind, but that tendency should be fought. Continue to build the best lineups you can and recognize that any edge you have will be manifested in the long run, but not necessarily in the short run.


Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford got off the schneid last week with a huge game, and his receivers benefited from his re-emergence. Are you buying that he has finally gotten things going in 2015, or will he Keyser Soze his fantasy owners this week?

Chad Parsons: Stafford has played poorly up until Week 6, but the schedule was pretty brutal as well. The Bears last week was a much-needed break in the schedule and logical 'get well' game. While the schedule improves for Detroit's passing game going forward, much of it is in the fantasy playoffs with the Saints and 49ers in Weeks 15-16. My general approach with the Lions are to start them at home and (preferred) with a neutral or better matchup.

Scott Bischoff: Chad has summed up the big parts on the Matthew Stafford problem, but one thing happening in Detroit is the square peg/round hole that is their partnership between their offensive scheme and their personnel. The offense looked pretty potent last week, but that's a game without much pressure on Stafford.

The schedule was brutal for the first five games as Chad has pointed to, and they got healthy versus the Bears, but Week 7 brings the Vikings, a team that dismantled the Lions offense in Week 2. The Vikings defense throws a lot of exotic looks in their pre-snap alignments, and then they bring tremendous pressure to the offense via A gap blitzing to go along with normal pressure from the interior and edges of the line. This has confused, and paralyzed Stafford in the past and offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi hasn't shown the ability to adjust his scheme. When the Lions offensive line is under assault, Stafford is at his worst, but there isn't any consideration to help that offensive line, and the quarterback for that matter, from the coordinator. Instead of designing plays to have Stafford get rid of the ball quickly, they call for Stafford to hold the ball too long without an addition to the amount of blockers on offense, and it puts him in an entirely uncomfortable situation as a player. It literally pits him in his weakest position as a player.

All that said, I'd expect the Vikings to bring significant pressure in Week 7 and I wouldn't anticipate the Lions having answers to the things that Vikings bring to the table on defense. As Chad pointed out, start your Lions at home, but the caveat is not to start them at all if a team can bring pressure (see Denver in Week 3) to the quarterback.

Dan Hindery: As mentioned above, I am focusing in on some of the mid-lower priced quarterbacks for all formats in Week 7. Stafford is one of the main quarterbacks I am considering. He looks like a strong option again this week. While the Minnesota secondary is solid, the pass rush has been lacking (averaging just two sacks per game) and when Stafford has time, he has generally been a pretty good fantasy quarterback. With the brutal early schedule in his rearview mirror, Stafford should bounce back and be a top 15 fantasy quarterback the rest of the way. He has talented targets to throw to and playing his home games in a dome will be a huge advantage when the weather turns cold. He won't have to deal with the wind, rain and snow like most of his cold-weather counterparts.

Justin Howe: No thanks; I've seen this movie, and it doesn't end well. I don't like the correlation between inconsistent, mistake-prone quarterbacks and reliable fantasy value. Their high ceilings come with especially low floors due to their weekly potential to come apart at the seams. And Stafford fits the profile of a fall to earth in Week 7, facing Xavier Rhodes and an underrated Vikings secondary.

Andrew Garda: The Stafford Phenomenon is a great way to raise your investment in Advil because he’s going to make you reach for that bottle too often. In other words, I don’t think he’s going to be consistent. Yeah, it was a brutal part of the schedule, but they have some tough games left as well.

The Chiefs have struggled but they can play some defense. The Packers, Eagles and Rams all have solid defenses and Oakland is much better than you think it is on defense. Heck, the Vikings may be playing some shaky defense but they can ball as well.

I think Stafford remains a matchup guy and while I would consider him this week, I would be leery of him on a week to week basis.

Maurile Tremblay: I agree with Andrew that Stafford will continue to be inconsistent from week to week. Stafford is a good candidate to stack with Calvin Johnson in GPPs, but I don't think he's a great value in cash games. I'd rather save $500 and go with Brian Hoyer, or pay an extra $600 or $700 and go with Philip Rivers or Cam Newton.


Rob Gronkowski

We seem to talk about Rob Gronkowski every week, but he continues to be an interesting topic. Is his priced justified considering his floor and ceiling, or is he an auto-fade when he’s above $8,000?

Chad Parsons: Gronkowski is not an auto-fade, but using him typically requires a significant downshift at running back or wide receiver or, at a minimum, rolling out a bargain bin quarterback. With DeAndre Hopkins and Devonta Freeman such strong plays in recent weeks, I have faded Gronkowski in most lineups and opted. Also, there is typically a tight end with a strong matchup for $2,000 or less available each week.

Dan Hindery: The current pricing at tight end makes it pretty easy to fade Gronkowski. Specifically, the $5,800 price tag for Antonio Gates. Gates has as much upside as Gronkowski and arguably has a higher floor in the Chargers pass-heavy offense with so many of the other top receiving options banged up. The $2,300 pricing gap is hard to justify considering Gates' prominent role and the way in which Brady has spread the ball around to different receivers over the first six weeks.

Justin Howe: He's never an auto-fade, ever, ever. He carries one of the week's top-3 value ceilings every week he suits up, and with such high ownership he'll rarely torpedo your cash games. But the discount to guys like Gates, Barnidge, and Olsen is just too helpful at the moment. They can at least rival his ceiling and carry high floors of their own with their great usage rates. And this is a position that's easy to stream/punt with a touchdown lottery ticket like Ladarius Green at bargain-barrel costs.

Andrew Garda: I love Gronkowski, and I think there is always a strong case to play him but we’ve seen some nice plays by other tight ends for a lot less. Automatic fade? No. However, you can find a lot of good plays and move your money to another position.

Maurile Tremblay: "Auto-fade" is too strong because Gronkowski has so much upside potential, but I like Antonio Gates and Greg Olsen much better given their respective salaries.


Team Defenses

It seems the Broncos defense is a chalk play until the price becomes exorbitant. With Denver off this week, though, are there any surefire defenses you can count on for Week 6?

Chad Parsons: I am preferential to the Rams for Week 7. St. Louis is top five in sacks and one of six NFL defenses with as many or more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed. The Browns are one of the lowest team totals by Vegas and the Rams are at home. Finally, St. Louis at $4,500 saves a few bucks on the salary cap over similar options and projections for Week 6.

Dan Hindery: While I agree with Chad that the Rams are the best play for Week 7, I don't think there's necessarily a slam dunk "chalk" play without the Broncos on the slate. The Rams are a fairly young defense and the youth has shown itself in some real inconsistency over the first six weeks (and in 2014). Plus, the Cleveland offense with Josh McCown at the helm has been fairly dangerous. While the risk/reward probably makes the Rams the top option this week, it feels much riskier than the Broncos defense has been this season. Part of the reason for a lack of a true "chalk" play this week is the Seahawks baffling slide towards mediocrity. They no longer seem invincible after giving up double-digit leads late in each of the past two weeks. The Jets have been consistently good, but face a brutally tough matchup against arguably the top offense in the NFL (Patriots) in Week 7. None of the other defensive matchups stand out as obviously favorable either, so it looks like a gamble in all directions this week.

Justin Howe: There's no such thing as a surefire defense at the moment. I've begun exclusively targeting the highest-owned yet affordable defense to sink or swim with the field. There's just so many outcomes in play for all of them, as even a dominant performance can slip back to the mean when garbage time turns a 27-3 lead into a 37-30 final. That said, I do like the Rams (great sack and turnover outlooks) and Washington (hosting Jameis Winston) of this week's options.

Andrew Garda: I’m in the Rams camp but as everyone said, there’s no sure thing. I do like Carolina because Sam Bradford is handing out early Christmas interceptions on a regular basis. I like to look for potential turnovers and Bradford is good for an average of 1.5 picks a game.

I don’t know there is a slam dunk though.

Maurile Tremblay: I think the Rams are a solid play in cash games, but I expect them to be over-owned, and therefore less attractive in GPPs. I'll still put them in about 20% of my lineups, but I plan to sprinkle in some Minnesota (at Detroit), New England (versus the Jets), Washington (versus Tampa Bay), and Pittsburgh (at Kansas City) as well.


DeAndre Hopkins

DeAndre Hopkins is now the most expensive receiver. Does that make him a fade this week?

Andrew Garda: I’m rolling with Hopkins. He’s hot, he’s on a roll and while Miami seems to suddenly have a clue again, I don’t think they have the secondary to shut Hopkins down. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money and Hopkins is that guy this week.

Maurile Tremblay: Not at all. Even as the most expensive receiver, I think he is among the best values. He is getting so many targets this season, and doing so much with them, that fading him becomes pretty risky. He's likely to score a lot of points, and when he does, a large number of your opponents will benefit. That's a lot of ground you'll be left having to make up.

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


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