This week we discuss the following:
Josh McCown is back. Gary Barnidge owners rejoice! Or do they? Barnidge toasted the Ravens earlier this season, but a huge chunk of his production came on a touchdown he caught between his legs. Baltimore has remained vigilant against tight ends despite the rest of the defense being in shambles, and that matchup screams offensive dud. Do you trust Barnidge at $6,500?
Andrew Garda: Take the touchdown out of that game and he still has 121 yards on eight catches, so I don't think of that one game as fluky. I wouldn't be shocked to see him heavily used again.
Barnidge has been inconsistent at best, though he has seen the end zone three out of the last five weeks. The problem with Barnidge is that it's been an on-and-off-again affair and if the pattern keeps up, it's off again this weekend and his overall yardage production has been low.
Even with Rob Gronkowski there are no sure things in the world of tight ends. I feel as confident about him as I do anyone else in the same price range. Tyler Eifert and Delanie Walker are both just as shaky.
I like his upside as well as anyone else's.
Maurile Tremblay: I like Gary Barnidge just fine this week. Delanie Walker, Travis Kelce, Jordan Reed, and Tyler Eifert are all cheaper, but I think Barnidge has more upside than any of them (though it's close between Barnidge and Walker). This isn't a week where I feel like any single tight end is head-and-shoulders above the others in value, but Gronkowski, Walker, and Barnidge are my three favorites.
Chad Parsons: I am fading Barnidge in relation to his expected ownership by the field at large. I like the McCown-Travis Benjamin stack far more, or McCown independent of stacking with Barnidge. The stark difference between Baltimore's defense against wide receivers and tight ends is enough for me to side with similarly-priced Delanie Walker instead or pony up for Rob Gronkowski instead of the highly owned Barnidge this week.
Devin Knotts: In the games that McCown has started and finished the game, Barnidge has had six or more targets in each game. There is not another tight end in the NFL who has six or more targets in a game. Baltimore has been great against the tight end, but they have not faced many teams that have a prominent tight end. Antonio Gates is the only other tight end that is comparable to Barnidge and he still had four catches for 56 yards. I completely trust Barnidge this week, as they're going to line him out wide as they did the last time these two teams met in order to use him more as a wide receiver to create matchup problems.
James Brimacombe: I do like the Browns offense this week against the weak Ravens secondary and Josh McCown looks like a nice option to give you some MNF late DFS sweats. Barnidge is a decent option at tight end as you have to think the Browns get down into the red zone several times against the Ravens secondary. Even more than Barnidge I am liking Travis Benjamin as a deep threat for the Browns and taking a shot on McCown, Barnidge or Benjamin is all right in my books.
The chalk has been brutal the past couple of weeks. Do you keep plugging away until things normalize or are you thinking about different strategies?
Andrew Garda: I'm not changing my overall strategy but I'm not shy about taking a few extra chances in my lineups if they make sense. Not stupid or careless ones of course, but I'm not afraid to bail out of a chalk start for something with more upside.
Keep in mind though that, specifically in cash games, most people are running the chalk in which case, even missing on a chalk play puts you in the cash.
If your system is working, keep working it even if on occasion you see a Devonta Freeman or Aaron Rodgers implode. The truth is, there's not much you can do to dodge unforeseen circumstances, so changing your plan due to those is just asking for trouble.
Maurile Tremblay: There have been a lot of upsets over the past few weeks, and a lot of games that didn't go according to script at all—as well as a lot of injuries. In cash games, I don't try to predict any of those things. My projections tend to be in line with the Vegas spreads and over/unders, and I'm generally trying to maximize expected points based on those projections. There will be weeks where nothing goes to plan, but you can't (or at least I can't) see those weeks coming ahead of time. After the fact, we often fool ourselves into thinking some departure from the Vegas lines was obvious in hindsight; but it really wasn't obvious beforehand, which is when the insight would have been useful.
Over the long run, the chalk plays should be good values, which is why they're chalk plays in the first place.
In tournaments, I'm not basing my lineups on the Vegas spreads and over/unders to the same extent. I do think to myself, "What would things look like if this game unexpectedly ends up becoming a shootout?", or "What would things look like if that game is unexpectedly a blowout?", and I form lineups based on those departures from the Vegas expectations. In tournaments, it's not about being more right than wrong more often than not—it's about nailing things exactly every once in a while. That's going to take some luck. Reality departs from expectations in numerous ways every week. The winning lineups in GPPs are those that depart from the chalk plays in ways that happen to be right.
Chad Parsons: The sample size is small and a fresh take is always worthwhile to explore. I diversify plenty across even my cash lineups weekly in an effort to decrease the downside of investing heavily in a single lineup combination or two. If anything, the recent chalk struggles would be a reminder of bankroll management, diversity of lineups, and knowing the twists and turns over the short term with DFS.
Devin Knotts: The biggest problem with some DFS players is that they overreact based on the previous week or two. I am not changing my strategy as most of the chalk has missed due to injuries or game scripts which fell out of the players favor. With that said, I am always looking to evaluate my strategy to continue to improve it on a week-to-week basis, but I am not changing my strategy only because a few players that were highly owned had poor games.
James Brimacombe: The problem with just plugging the chalk into your GPP lineups is that you almost always have no advantage over the field. In cash games it is fine but in GPP you have to try to divide your plays between the chalk and the under-owned players. You have nine spots to fill so a good rule of thumb is play a chalk play at the RB and WR spot and try to find a low owned player at each as well to separate yourself from the field or chalky lineups.
Who are some players (at any position other than PK or DEF) under $6,000 that you think have attractive upside potential this week?
Andrew Garda: Travis Benjamin at $5900 is likely to be under-owned and I think with Josh McCown back, has some nice upside. I also like Karlos Williams at $5800, as before last week he scored a touchdown right weeks in a row and I expect him to get back on track against Kansas City.
Maurile Tremblay: Chris Givens at $4,500 is a decent shot to hit 3x value. Same with Steve Johnson at $5,500. Those are some pretty low prices for guys who figure to have decent roles in their respective offenses.
Chad Parsons: Alfred Blue fits the bill at running back (Spencer Ware and Tevin Coleman just miss the salary cut-off) with a good ratio of likely workload to salary. Steve Johnson is the wide receiver version and a heavy play in my lineups at WR3. Travis Benjamin is a high-upside option with a great matchup at $5,900. I like Tyler Lockett, Doug Baldwin, and Pierre Garcon due to matchups and low-cost as well.
Devin Knotts: I'm looking at Cecil Shorts. I am very bullish on Brian Hoyer this week. Prior to his injury, Shorts was averaging 10 targets per game and we started to see his usage in the offense increase as he had four runs last week which tells me he is getting closer to becoming 100% healthy. The matchup is ideal against New Orleans and Shorts presents a great pivot if you don't go with Hopkins.
James Brimacombe: As stated about I really like Travis Benjamin for a late night hammer on the MNF game against a Ravens defense that cannot keep up with his speed on the outside. Benjamin is a perfect WR3 to plug into your GPP lineup and hope for a home run pass down the field for an 80-yard touchdown. For $5,900 he is a great option at WR to pair with a Hopkins or Beckham Jr at much higher price tags.
Of all players at $8,400 or above, which ones do you think are most worth paying up for?
Andrew Garda: This week I would (and probably will be) all over DeAndre Hopkins. New Orleans is a trash heap on defense even without Rob Ryan. I think the Texans will be in a shootout, and Hopkins is already a tremendous start each week regardless. This matchup could produce some ridiculous points though, so Hopkins is the guy I would reach for.
Maurile Tremblay: I'm usually more willing to pay up for wide receivers than for other positions, and this week is no exception. DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown will be in a lot of my lineups this week. I probably won't be able to resist at least one Brady-Gronkowski stack, either, even though both guys are really expensive.
Chad Parsons: DeAndre Hopkins is a stud and has an outstanding matchup with the near-NCAA level Saints pass defense. Odell Beckham is another top receiver with a great matchup. I am willing to go with Rob Gronkowski in 25-35% of my lineups as well. The cheaper landscape of appealing running backs this week (plus a cheaper quarterback or two) allows for Gronkowski under the cap.
Devin Knotts: Julio Jones is the guy that I am going with, as even though the matchup is not the greatest, he is the most consistent wide receiver each and every week. With Hankerson out, it just will increase Julio's targets even more and he should see 15+ targets as he has seen in three of his last four games. Hopkins will be the highest owned guy, but I think there is some risk as prior to last week he had three straight weeks under 100 yards receiving.
James Brimacombe: DeAndre Hopkins as the targets have been there all season long as he doesn't have a game with at least 11 targets. I like to pay up for stats that are more predictable and Hopkins has been Mr. predictable all season long. On top of that the matchup this week is a great one.
That will do it for this edition of the FanDuel Roundtable. Please join us again next week.
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