FanDuel Roundtable #11

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

This week we discuss the following:


Survivor and Footballguys Championship

The Survivor contest is entering its penultimate week, and the Footballguys Championship final is also this week. What would your overarching strategy be assuming you have one or more teams in either contest going this week?

Chad Parsons: Be bold. Championship fields are the best of the best. With each lineup, tell a story and take a stand on a stack, offense, or game script playing out where your odds of hitting pay dirt increase substantially. Also, consider the chalk plays with these bold calls and stacks. Instead of going Brady-Gronkowski or Brady-Amendola, look at talented, but under the radar stacks like Winston-Evans, Tyrod Taylor-Watkins, or Alex Smith-Travis Kelce will be far less traveled.

Dan Hindery: I agree with Chad that in a big GPP such as this, you need to be bold if you want to win it. But the payout structure is relatively flat so you don't necessarily need to shoot for the moon like you would in a huge GPP that has nearly all of the payout concentrated in the top 1%. I'd recommend a strategy of being somewhat aggressive and shooting for a relatively unique lineup but not chasing long shots either as the best way to maximize potential winnings.

One of the strategies I've had success with this season in GPPs is trying to make my lineup unique by going against the grain in terms of overall salary structure (vs. trying to find some 1% longshot player). For example, last week everyone was really hitting the $7,000-$8,000 salary range at WR very hard (Allen Robinson, Demaryius Thomas, Randall Cobb, etc. were all extremely popular). My best lineup was one in which I paid up for the three most expensive wide receivers (DeAndre Hopkins, Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. and Antonio Brown) while going cheap at every other position. Each of those individual receivers was owned by over 5% of the field, but the move to roster all three in the same lineup made that roster unique and allowed me to separate from the pack.

It's still early this week and it will be interesting to see which chalk plays emerge (and which salary structures seem most popular). But it could be that paying up for a pair of expensive running backs ends up being the contrarian move this week due to all of the value at the position.

Alex Miglio: It's not about finding one or two optimal lineups anymore. This has turned into a GPP, one filled with not-your-average bear. Every lineup should be a snowflake in this one as you try to win the whole thing. Contrarianism might reign here.

Andrew Garda: Take chances. Like Chad said, be bold, but as Dan says, don't be foolish. In a contest like this, uniqueness is huge but running out a lineup that is mostly made up of risky plays is a good way to win nothing.

I like Dan's tactic from last week. That's the sort of thing that makes a huge difference and is a way to be unique without being too risky. I'd have to see what the whole lineup was to see if I would have done it, but as he was successful it's hard to argue.

Chad's stacks are also a good idea. I usually like to play the less obvious stacks. A little research and you'll find one or two who have been productive who nobody is playing.

Maurile Tremblay: I would treat both of these contests as GPPs. That means, however many entries I had between the two of them, I'd want to create that many different lineups (to maximize the number of different combinations of players) in order to increase the chance that at least one lineup will hit it big. And make them GPP lineups rather than cash-game lineups—for example, lean towards stacking a quarterback and receiver from the same NFL team, and do not play a team defense going against any of your offensive players.

In survivor, the last place finisher (from this point forward) will get $25, but you have to be in the top 10% to get at least $100. That means you want to take a high-variance approach.

In the Footballguys Championship, there are 2,729 finalists, and you need to be in the top 40 (i.e., 1.5%) to get at least $100. So this means taking even more of a high-variance approach than in Survivor.


Quarterback debuts

Mark Sanchez, Brock Osweiler, Case Keenum and probably T.J. Yates are making their 2015 starting debuts, not to mention Tony Romo making his first start after missing half the season with a broken collarbone. What do you make of players on those teams given the uncertainty new or recently returned starters bring?

Chad Parsons: In general, I think the changes are positive impacts for the surrounding weapons. No many are considering Rams pass-catching options and Nick Foles was not asked to do much. But Keenum will be bolder pulling the trigger on situational deep shots. Maybe not in his first game back, but Tony Romo gets Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and Darren McFadden up in projections with extending drives and more red zone opportunities. Jordan Matthews and Zach Ertz gets a boost on my board with Mark Sanchez under center.

Jene Bramel: I'll consider Romo this week, though I'm always leery of road matchups against teams with a chance at an above-average pass rush and there's reason to worry about early game rust and inaccuracy. I'll generally avoid backup quarterbacks regardless of salary, unless they're veterans with experience. Sanchez could be considered in the latter category, plays at home, and may have enough weapons around him to support a high floor. I don't want any part of Osweiler or Keenum on the road and wouldn't trust Yates against the strong Jets front.

Dan Hindery: For Denver, the insertion of Osweiler could provide a nice boost to the skill position players (especially Demaryius Thomas). Football Outsiders ranks the Denver offense dead last in their DVOA rankings; so there's nowhere to go but up. Osweiler's mobility should open up much more of Gary Kubiak's playbook (he loves designed rollouts) and help the offensive line. I'm willing to take a shot on Thomas (in GPPs) based on the theory that Osweiler provides a real upgrade.

With Mark Sanchez, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates, the players they are replacing weren't playing particularly well. So it doesn't make sense to downgrade the skill position players on those offenses due to the replacement quarterbacks. But unlike with the Broncos, I also don't see much of a case for a possible upgrade for anyone on these offenses either. Most likely, we see more of the same from these passing offenses.

Alex Miglio: Two things matter here—talent and Vegas. If a player is supremely talented, he is probably going to get his no matter what. See: Hopkins, DeAndre. Of course, if Vegas is telling me he is going to be in a low-scoring affair, I might think twice. The over-under in Houston is hovering around 41, and Darrelle Revis lurks. Those factors are more important than Hopkins' quarterback.

Not everyone is elite, obviously, and that's where things get tricky. Do you trust Mark Sanchez to get Jordan Matthews the ball like he did last year? The over-under looks promising.

Andrew Garda: If I'm going with anyone here, it's Romo and the Cowboys as his return augers good things for Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and even DeMarco Murray. I'd be most likely to fade Brock Osweiler and the Denver passing offense because we have zero idea whether it's time to Rock out with our Brock out or if it's going to be a Brockpocalypse.

I'll show myself out.

Maurile Tremblay: All of these guys are difficult to peg down certain projections for. That makes them all more attractive in GPPs than in cash games. Yates appears to be the best value since he's so cheap at just $5,100, though Sanchez and Osweiler have more upside.

I'm fading Romo. I think there's a decent chance that he'll have a pretty good game, but at $8,000—the sixth-most expensive quarterback this week—he is overpriced.


Carson Palmer vs. the Bengals

Do you walk down Narrative Street and peg Carson Palmer to have a huge week against his old team or is the Bengals defense too good to expect such superstition to come true?

Chad Parsons: I don't travel down that street too far. The Bengals are a stingy matchup, plus Michael Floyd and John Brown are dinged up heading into the weekend.

Jene Bramel: Narrative Street is without potholes here. Palmer has acknowledged this game is big for him, the Bengals' pass rush has been inconsistent, and the Cardinals' offense has been strong at home. The issue here is the health of his wide receivers. If Brown and Floyd are healthy enough to play, I think Palmer is a top DFS play at quarterback this week. If not, his floor may be too low to trust in a cash lineup.

Dan Hindery: Perhaps I am falling into the trap of being a Bengals homer, but I have to disagree with Jene on this one. The Bengals are leading the NFL in scoring defense and are especially tough against the pass. They just held the Pittsburgh Steelers hot passing offense to 10 points a couple weeks back.

On the other side of the ball, John Brown has been slowed by his hamstring injury and Bruce Arians bemoaned the fact that he has been scared to "cut it loose" for fear of tearing it. He is questionable and that description of Brown's current mindset does not sound like a player who is likely to be playing at his highest level. Michael Floyd is also hurt and questionable to play. The Cardinals are also likely to be without both of their starting guards (and facing big-time DT Geno Atkins). I'm just having a hard time seeing Palmer going off for a huge game in this spot.

Alex Miglio: Which narrative street are we talking about here? The one where Carson Palmer gets revenge on his former team for… acquiescing to his trade demand? Or the one where the Bengals play angry and clobber their former quarterback? I might have Palmer in a lineup or two, but there is no particular draw here from a narrative standpoint.

Andrew Garda: I prefer Electric Avenue myself, but I think Narrative Street is okay this week. While I agree that the Bengals are a stiff matchup and John Brown and Mike Floyd being hurt is a problem, I think Jaron Brown will fill in well and Larry Fitzgerald is, well, Larry Fitzgerald.

On top of that, Palmer has been on fire the last two games, including against the vaunted Legion of Boom in Seattle. Are the Bengals a tough matchup? Sure. Am I scared of it? Not at all. Palmer can produce.

Maurile Tremblay: I'm with Alex in disregarding the narrative. Palmer is a middling value overall, but the best value in his price range, so he may make it into some of my lineups. But I base those decisions on my projections, and my projections do not take revenge-factor into account. I think stuff like that is more noise than signal.


Seahawks defense

Are the Seahawks a chalk play against the Blaine Gabberts despite being the most expensive defense, or do you feel there is too much value to be had with another D/ST?

Chad Parsons: I will have plenty of exposure to Seattle, but this is an important moment to mention diversification. Even having lofty expectations with a DFS play being 'can't miss' means a 40-50% exposure rate across lineups. Hit 50% with Seattle, but mix in 2-3 other defenses to reduce risk.

Jene Bramel: I'll probably have exposure to the Jets and Cardinals this week, but the Seahawks are clearly the chalk play.

Dan Hindery: The Seahawks are definitely the chalk play and I would lean that direction for cash games. In GPPs, there's a pretty good case to try to go with one of the cheaper options and separate yourself from the pack with either a big game from your defense of choice or by putting the extra $1,000 or so of salary cap space to good use. The list of new quarterbacks listed above provides a good list of defenses that could be strong GPP plays. The Ravens against Case Keenum and the Jets against T.J. Yates are especially attractive. But you can also make a case for the Bears against Brock Osweiler.

Alex Miglio: Chalk? Probably not. A good option? Absolutely. How can you resist starting the Seahawks defense at home against that offense? That unit had a nice fantasy output last week despite giving up a ton of points. I don't expect the 49ers to reach half Arizona's Week 10 output.

Andrew Garda: Like Alex, I don't know it's an automatic start, but they're a darn good one. I echo the sentiments that Jets versus TJ Yates is attractive, and Chicago versus Brock Osweiler appears attractive, though you just never know with that defense.

Maurile Tremblay: Yes, even as the most expensive defense, they are very chalky. Vegas has San Francisco scoring only 14 points, and I think that's about right. (My model says 15 points.) They are the only team projected to score fewer than 19 points. I think we can expect the Seahawks to be very aggressive—taking the opposite of a bend-but-don't-break approach—which could lead to sacks and turnovers. I think the Seahawks are the best value on defense by a decent margin.

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


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