The Sharp Report Week 9

An in-depth analysis of the best DFS NFL players and what they deem most important in the lineup-building process.

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.

THE TEAMS

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 $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel. 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:

TEAM #2:

the overlap

Kareem Hunt

Kareem Hunt has seemingly found his groove in the revamped Kansas City offense run by Andy Reid. While the offense is heavily predicated around maximizing the strengths of quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, it properly utilizes the strengths of almost every player at every position. In Week 8, Kareem Hunt was rostered by 70 percent of players in FanDuel’s BIG $1,065 50/50.

Kareem Hunt found the end zone, whether it be on the ground or through the air, in 6 straight games preceeding this Week 8 matchup with the Denver Broncos. In Week 7, Hunt found scored 3 times en route to a 45-10 domination of the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football. Kareem Hunt is the only running back utilized with significant frequency in the Kansas City backfield, meaning he has seen the full complement of work both on the ground and through the air for the Chiefs. In Weeks 6 and 7, Hunt saw a spike up to 6 targets in each game, which signaled increased usage in one of the NFL’s most prolific offenses. As one of the NFL’s most talented running backs, increased usage for just a slight increase in price (from $7,800 in Week 7 to $8,100 in Week 8) caught the eye of nearly three-quarters of the sharpest NFL DFS players to the point that they built around in cash lineups.

Why Kareem Hunt?

  • Only viable running back for his respective team.

  • Running back at home on a heavy favorite.

  • Playing in a game with a high projected total.

James Conner

For $8,000, James Conner’s matchup at home against a reeling Cleveland Browns team was one of the most favorable on the main slate of games in Week 8. Conner has proven week-in and week-out to be a reliable running back, both for the Pittsburgh Steelers and fantasy lineups. This past week, 83.3 percent of the best NFL DFS players made Conner a staple in their high-stakes cash lineups.

The Steelers played host to the Cleveland Browns as 8.5-point favorites in a game projected to total 47.5 points between the teams. To this point in the season, James Conner has done an incredible job of making Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans forget about their star hold-out running back, Le’Veon Bell. In Week 8 against Cleveland, Conner continued on as Pittsburgh’s lone running back to receive any significant playing time, as expected. The Steelers have shown no signs of spelling Conner with any other running back on their roster at a level that would threaten Conner’s fantasy value. In cash, running backs receiving a dominant share of snaps in their respective backfields have dominated sharp lineups weekly. Against Cleveland this past weekend, James Conner made himself the first Steelers player ever to rush for at least 100 yards and 2 touchdowns in 3 straight games this past weekend against Cleveland. For just $8,000, James Conner made his way into the sharpest cash lineups in the industry yet again in Week 8.

Why James Conner?

  • Only viable running back available for his respective team.

  • Running back at home on a heavy favorite.

  • Continued elite production at a consistently low price (relative to the production level.)

Jordy Nelson

Jordy Nelson, priced at just $5,300 on FanDuel, found his way into exactly half of the lineups in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel in Week 8. It is truly incredible how things can change in about a week’s time. Jordy Nelson, previously an afterthought in NFL DFS this season, became the most popular wide receiver in high-stakes cash lineups in the blink of an eye.

Following the Amari Cooper trade to Dallas, Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders were left devoid of a true number-one wide receiver. That is not to say the team exactly used Amari Cooper as the number-one wide receiver many think he is capable of being, however. But, the departure of Cooper still freed up 14 percent of the team’s total targets. Jordy Nelson, the team’s second most targeted wide receiver thru Week 7, was the most likely beneficiary of the newly available targets. Facing off against an improved, but still weak, Colts secondary, the Oakland passing game was primed for success. The absence of Marshawn Lynch may also have contributed to a more pass-heavy approach from the Raiders, further increasing Jordy Nelson’s value. When all was said and done, Nelson may not have produced as expected in this matchup projected to total about 51 points between the 2 teams, but the process behind the play was sound.

Why Jordy Nelson?

  • Team’s former number-one receiver no long on the team.

    • Large target share now available for the number-two wide receiver to command.

  • Facing a weak pass defense in a game with a high projected game total.

  • Cheap number-one option in his team’s passing attack.

Tyler Boyd

While Boyd did not overlap between the two teams, it is worth reiterating the reasons for his inclusion in the article last week that led to him being dubbed the “Sharp Play” of the week.

Tyler Boyd steps into the same spot filled by Jarvis Landry last week: the primary slot receiver against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Boyd has finally begun to live up to the high expectations held by many following his selection in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft. The Cincinnati Bengals enter as 4.5-point favorites over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a game projected to total 54 points between the 2 teams, one of the highest totals on the entire slate. Facing off against the 32nd-ranked secondary in DVOA allowed to passing plays, Tyler Boyd and the Cincinnati Bengals will surely look to attack the Bucs through the air. A.J. Green would make for a great option, if his price wasn't so high (nearly $9,000), but Tyler Boyd is far more reasonably priced at $6,800 on FanDuel, which should lead him into many sharp NFL cash lineups in Week 8.

Why Tyler Boyd?

  • Matchup against the weakest secondary in the NFL

  • Plays primarily in the slot, an especially strong matchup against Tampa Bay's weak secondary

  • Team is favored in a game with one of the highest projected totals on the slate

NEXT WEEK’S SHARP PLAY

Kenny Golladay

On Tuesday afternoon the Detroit Lions shipped Golden Tate to Philadelphia in exchange for a third-round pick. Tate led the Detroit Lions in targets by a wide margin-- his 27 percent target share was nearly 10 percent higher than Detroit’s second most-targeted wide receiver. Second-year wide receiver Kenny Golladay stands to benefit the most following Tate’s departure as the receiver on the roster who typically dominates on intermediate routes. Golladay’s 12.3 average depth of target is significantly higher than Golden Tate’s mark at 6.5, but even so, he checks in over 3 yards shorter than Marvin Jones Jr, Jr., the other wide receiver competing to fill this void in the aerial attack. The matchup for Golladay is nothing to envy, but the volume of targets he projects for at just $6,200 makes up for that.

Bonus sharp play

Cam Newton

Cam Newton and the Panthers play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week. It has been well documented in previous iterations of this article that Tampa Bay's secondary is one that sharps love to target. This week, instead of doing so with a wide receiver, quarterback Cam Newton is the sharp move. Cam Newton dominates David Dodds' H-Value rankings (which can be found within the FanDuel Lineup Optimizer here under the "H-Value" tab) this week with a score nearly 15 points higher than the 2nd ranked quarterback. Cam Newton will be an expensive piece to build a lineup around at quarterback, but he will likely be one of, if not the, most popular play(s) on the day amongst sharp cash-game players.

PREVIOUSLY PROJECTED SHARP PLAYS

Week 2: Christian McCaffrey- 20.9 FanDuel points (2.8x value)/30.9 DraftKings points (4.4x value)

  • 0.0 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50

Week 3: Corey Clement- 9.0 FanDuel points (1.6x value)/10.5 DraftKings points (2.4x value)

  • 16.7 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50

Week 4: Giovani Bernard- 23.6 FanDuel points (3.7x value)/25.6 DraftKings points (4.1x value)

  • 86.1 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50

Week 5: T.J. Yeldon- 22.2 FanDuel points (3.42x value)/26.2 DraftKings points (4.7x value)

  • 33.3 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50

Week 6: Jameis Winston- 32.9 FanDuel 0oints (4.45x value)/35.9 DraftKings points (6.19x value)

  • 86.7 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50

Week 7: Todd Gurley- 28.6 FanDuel points (2.80x value)/30.6 DraftKings points (3.12x value)

  • 85.3 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50

Week 8: Tyler Boyd- 24.1 FanDuel points (3.54x value)/31.6 DraftKings points (4.72x value)

  • 20 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50

Thanks all, and if you have any feedback or recommendations for future versions of The Sharp Report feel free to send me your thoughts and follow me on twitter @ThaGreatZambino!


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