THE SHARP REPORT
One of the most proficient gamblers that sportsbooks have ever seen, Haralabos Voulgaris, is on record saying the main reason he retired from professional gambling is that he was gradually losing his edge against the sportsbooks. Voulgaris explains that every time he placed a bet, he gave the sportsbook a metaphoric piece to the puzzle that, once solved, would completely erase his edge to the point where he would no longer be a profitable bettor. The same way sportsbooks learned from Voulgaris’ bets and eroded his edge, daily fantasy sports players can learn from their top competitors and eat away at their edge. These top competitors, known as sharps, typically play DFS at a much higher level and for much more money than others. These players normally have very advanced and accurate projection systems that give them their edge over the field. Fortunately, every time they enter a contest the sharp players’ lineups are available to the public to be broken down, analyzed and learned from. The Sharp Report will be a weekly article that uses all available and applicable data to draw conclusions regarding how the industry’s smartest decision makers and their projections systems come to their final conclusions when building lineups. Over the course of the entire season, The Sharp Report’s goal will be to project what the best players in the industry will do in upcoming contests and, in turn, figure out what it is that gives these high-level players their edge over the field.
Throughout each week, more and better information regarding things like player availability, individual matchups, and depth charts will become available. The section of this article projecting which player is likely to be rostered by most of the sharp players next week will be updated by Saturday afternoon each week after all applicable information has become available. If enough data reveals itself that a completely new player is deemed worthy of being mentioned as Next Week's Sharp Play, the original section will appear in red font and the new section will appear in green font. If all available information leads to the same conclusion made earlier in the week, the original section will be changed from black font to green font.
The players analyzed in this article consistently play, and win, in high-stakes contests and are also ranked in the top ten percent in RotoGrinders’ super heavyweight division of DFS players. Players’ names will be omitted from the article, but all lineups analyzed are from the $30K Sun BIG NFL $1,065 30-Man 50/50 on FanDuel.
These are the full lineups entered by two of the sharpest NFL DFS cash-game players in the industry. This week, both players cashed in the BIG NFL $1,065 30-Man 50/50. This article, however, is not focused on the results of these two teams, but rather the process that led the DFS players to select the players in their lineup.
TEAM #1: 188.60
TEAM #2: 183.50
Deshaun Watson finds his way into The Sharp Report once again this week after being rostered by 72.2 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel. Watson's price dropped after last week's stellar performance as the most-rostered quarterback in the high-stakes cash games. For just $7,600, Watson checked all of the right boxes for the sharpest players in the industry as they filled the quarterback spot in their cash teams.
This weekend, the Houston Texans traveled to Indianapolis to take on the Colts inside the dome at Lucas Oil Stadium. Houston was favored by a single point in this matchup projected to total 48.5-points between the teams. Last weekend, against the New York Giants, Deshaun Watson was priced at $7,700 and was rostered by 47.2 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50. This weekend, his price dropped $100 down to $7,600, leading 72.2 percent of high-stakes cash players to roster him. Watson is one of the league's premier dual-threat quarterbacks and he chipped in an additional 41 rushing yards this week in addition to a 375-yard passing day. Deshaun Watson had the highest H-Value of any quarterback on the slate via David Dodds' weekly projections (those projections for the coming week can be found here.) The inexplicable decrease in price along with the favorable road matchup were the main drivers for Deshaun Watson being the chalkiest quarterback on the slate amongst the best players in the industry.
Why Deshaun Watson?
- Top H-value at quarterback via David Dodds' projections
- Inexplicable price decrease
- Quarterback in a dome
- Slight favorite in a game with a high projected game total
Ezekiel Elliott entered Week 4 at $8,200 on FanDuel leading up to Dallas' home game against the Detroit Lions. Elliott's consistent role in the offense justified rostering him at over $8,000 for 61.1 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel.
Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys faced off with the Detroit Lions at home as 2.5-point favorites this past week. Elliott had touched the ball at least 18 times in each of the Cowboys' first 3 games this season entering this matchup. Ezekiel Elliott's role in the offense as the top option has been clear since the moment he signed his contract following his selection with the 4th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The defense of the Detroit Lions, with the exception of their Week 3 performance against the New England Patriots, has shown signs of significant weakness. In Week 1, Isaiah Crowell ran for over 100 yards on just 10 carries, and following that, in Week 2, Matt Breida eclipsed the century mark on the ground in just 11 carries. Few will argue that either Breida or Crowell is currently more talented NFL running backs than Ezekiel Elliott-- and as a 2.5-point favorite at home, the expected game script favored a run-heavy attack from the Cowboys. Ezekiel Elliott's hefty price of $8,200 was not enough to steer the sharpest players in the industry away from him in cash games.
Why Ezekiel Elliott?
- Slight favorite in the game
- Positive projected game script
- Top offensive option for the team
Once again in Week 4, Alvin Kamara makes his way into the vast majority of lineups in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel. Kamara, for $9,100, was rostered by 86.1 percent of players this week, even at this astronomical price-point. In Week 4, the Saints' final game without Mark Ingram II II, New Orleans traveled up to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Giants in a game with a startling 52 projected points between the 2 teams.
There is not much left to say about Alvin Kamara that has not already been said in the previous three editions of The Sharp Report. Kamara finished the 2017-18 season as the most efficient running back the league had ever seen to that point, and to start the 2018-19 season, he is receiving substantially more playing time during Mark Ingram II II's 4-game absence due to suspension. Alvin Kamara is one of the best pass-catchers in the league as a running back, and he has been used accordingly in the Saints' offense this season, logging at least six catches in each game this season. Also, as three point favorites in the matchup, the expected game script for the New Orleans Saints favored a strategy that heavily involved Alvin Kamara, the team's running back, throughout the game
Why Alvin Kamara?
- Elite efficiency
- Slight favorite in the game
- Positive projected game script
- Price still has not risen enough to reflect involvement and production
- Other viable running back is not available for the game
Giovani Bernard entered Week 4 as the Cincinnati Bengals projected three-down running back following the injury to Joe Mixon. At $6,400, 86.1 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel rostered Giovani Bernard, the player noted as the Sharp Play in last week's volume of The Sharp Report. In Week 4, Bernard finished in a tie with Alvin Kamara as the most rostered player amongst sharps in the highest-stakes cash games.
Giovani Bernard stepped into the every-down role for the Bengals in Joe Mixon's absence with a knee injury. His pric adjusted more than Latavius Murray's did last week, but this is also a completely different matchup. Giovani Bernard, over the course of his career, has derived much of his fantasy value through the air. Bernard is one of the league's premier pass-catching running backs, and this week he and the Bengals take on the Atlanta Falcons. The same Atlanta Falcons that, without Deion Jones, allowed Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara to catch 14 and 15 passes, respectively. This matchup between Cincinnati and Atlanta was expected to be the highest scoring game of the Week 4 main slate and, as underdogs, the expected game script favored a pass-heavy attack. For just $6,400, Giovani Bernard's matchup and situation was too good to pass up on.
Why Giovani Bernard?
- Other viable running back is not available for this game
- Elite pass-catching back in a fantastic matchup
- Underdog in the game
- Positive potential game script for the passing game
Antonio Callaway, a rookie wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns, checked in at minimum-price on FanDuel for Week 4's main slate ($4,500.) Following the commitment by head coach Hue Jackson to fellow rookie Baker Mayfield, the Cleveland Browns' passing attack was expected to take a substantial step forward. Callaway's combination of price, talent, and opportunity led 63.9 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 to roster him on FanDuel.
In Week 3, Baker Mayfield's first NFL action, Antonio Callaway played over 90 percent of snaps for the Cleveland Browns. In those snaps, Callaway racked up 10 targets and over 185 air yards. He was unable to convert those targets into substantial production, but the opportunity was clearly there for Callaway to succeed. In Week 4, the Browns flew out west to take on the Oakland Raiders, a team that has proven to be incapable of putting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. Given this weak matchup, Callaway and the Cleveland receivers projected to be one of in one of the best matchups on the slate. Couple the weak matchup with the projected game script associated with the Browns being 2.5-point underdogs, according to the betting markets, and the passing game for Cleveland received a solid increase in projected output. The salary relief afforded by inserting Callaway into cash lineups was critical for DFS players who prioritized rostering high-priced players like Ezekiel Elliott and Alvin Kamara.
Why Antonio Callaway?
- Salary relief on a slate with many elite expensive option
- Priced as a backup with the playing time of a starter
- Upgrade at quarterback for an improved passing attack overall
NEXT WEEK'S SHARP PLAY
In Week 4, Leonard Fournette re-aggravated his hamstring injury he sustained earlier in the season. He is expected to miss a couple of weeks at this point, depending on how severe the injury is. What is known, at this point, is that Leonard Fournette will not be available for the Week 5 clash with the Kansas City Chiefs. While the Chiefs have one of the most prolific and entertaining offenses seen in years, their defense is far less impressive. Through 4 games, the Chiefs have allowed at least 23 points in every game. On Monday night against the Broncos, both Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman ran for at least 67 yards and a score. This week, stepping in for the injured Leonard Fournette, T.J. Yeldon will get the bulk of carries for the Jacksonville Jaguars as they look to put an end to Kansas City's magical start to the season. Yeldon is also significantly more involved in the passing game than Leonard Fournette typically is, giving Yeldon an additional floor not normally associated with the Jacksonville backfield.
Why T.J. Yeldon?
- Other viable running back is not available for the game
- Capable receiving running back as a slight underdog
- Positive game script for heavy involvement through the air
PREVIOUSLY PROJECTED SHARP PLAYS
Week 1: Christian McCaffrey- 20.9 FanDuel points (2.8x value)/30.9 DraftKings points (4.4x value)
Week 2: Corey Clement- 9.0 FanDuel points (1.6x value)/10.5 DraftKings points (2.4x value)
Week 3: Giovani Bernard- 23.6 FanDuel points (3.7x value)/25.6 DraftKings points (4.1x value)
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