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.
Week 9 was a rough go for the headliners of The Sharp Report. This down week served to prove that the sharpest process does not always yield positive results. Both players identified as the sharp plays were over 50 percent owned in cash, but neither provided the level of production anticipated. The staggering number of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel that shared the same sentiment regarding Cam Newton and Kenny Golladay verifies that both were, in fact, sharp plays. The process was correct, and in the long run, it will pay dividends. As former-Philadelphia 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkie said, “Trust the process (and the results will follow.)”
Cam Newton, at $8,600, was no cheap piece to use in a cash lineup in Week 9 of the NFL season, but the matchup was too juicy for many sharps to resist. The Panthers took on the Buccaneers in the friendly confines of Bank of America Stadium in a game projected to total nearly 56 points. Newton’s combination of red zone rushing upside and passing potential against such an abysmal secondary made Cam Newton the most popular quarterback in the high-dollar cash games.
(Last week’s analysis that made him a projected sharp play) Cam Newton and the Panthers play hosted to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past week. It has been well documented in previous iterations of this article that Tampa Bay's secondary is one that sharps love to target. Last week, instead of doing so with a wide receiver, quarterback Cam Newton was the sharp move. Cam Newton dominated 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 was 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.
Why Cam Newton?
Leader in David Dodds’ H-Value rankings at quarterback (by far.)
Quarterback at home in a game projected to total over 55 points.
Quarterback facing Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Kareem Hunt appears yet again in The Sharp Report, following up his 17.1 FanDuel point and 70 percent rostered performance in Week 8 with a 32.6 FanDuel point 66.7 percent rostered performance in Week 9. Andy Reid seems to have fully figured out how to properly utilize almost all of the weapons in this loaded Kansas City offense, and Hunt has been one of the primary beneficiaries (not named Patrick Mahomes II.)
Kansas City went into Cleveland and posted nearly 40 points on the Browns defense this past Sunday. Leading up to this Week 9 battle, Cleveland found the only way to enhance the turmoil surrounding their team by firing Hue Jackson and appointing Gregg Williams as the interim head coach. Kansas City entered the game as 8.5-point favorites in a game projected to total over 51 points between the teams. The projected game script (that ultimately came to fruition) heavily favored a high-volume day for Kareem Hunt. Given the running back options on the slate, his projected volume and efficiency nearly topped the charts this week, as shown by his second-place ranking in David Dodds’ H-Value rankings (behind only Todd Gurley with an $11,200 price tag.) Within a reasonable price-range, Kareem Hunt was an overwhelmingly popular option at running back amongst the sharps, and for $8,500 he made his way into 66.7 percent of rosters.
Why Kareem Hunt?
Bell cow running back for his team.
Running back for a heavily favored team in a game with a high projected total.
Christian McCaffrey, alongside Cam Newton, was a highly popular option in high-stakes cash games. In the BIG $1,065 50/50 McCaffrey made his way into 70 percent of lineups at $7,900 on FanDuel. Facing off with the 32nd ranked defense according to DVOA, capturing nearly all of the rushing and passing production for Carolina was a popular strategy in cash games amongst the sharps.
Christian McCaffrey has proven to be the bell cow running back that head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Norv Turner hyped him up to be entering the season. The addition of C.J. Anderson to the backfield has had minimal impact on his fantasy value, and McCaffrey has improved his rushing efficiency in the areas many feared he would struggle (specifically between the tackles.) McCaffrey couples this improved rushing efficiency with consistent volume and production through the air on a weekly basis. The Tampa Bay defense ranks 31st in DVOA allowed to running backs in the passing game as well as 31st on short pass attempts. McCaffrey, as a running back, dominates the short passing game and Tampa Bay’s struggles underneath verify that this was truly a fantastic matchup for a player like McCaffrey. Ultimately, McCaffery did not disappoint, producing over 30 FanDuel points for the 70 percent of sharp NFL DFS players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 who rostered him.
Why Christian McCaffrey?
Bell cow running back for his team.
Running back for a heavily favored team in a game with a high projected total.
Especially strong receiving running back in an elite matchup for receiving running backs, specifically.
The majority of the sharpest NFL cash players, as expected, ignored the tough matchup against Minnesota and rostered Kenny Golladay. The expected volume for such a young and talented wide receiver at just $6,200 caught the attention of over 53.3 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 to the point where he was a player to build around.
(Last week’s analysis that made him a projected sharp play) Last 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 stood 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 made up for that.
Why Kenny Golladay?
Primary wide receiver target no longer in the offense.
Underpriced and talented wide receiver with an increased role.
next week's sharp play
Melvin Gordon III has been one of the most consistent fantasy producers at any position this year, but his shockingly high level of production has been overshadowed by the likes of Todd Gurley and Alvin Kamara lighting up the scoreboard with regularity. This weekend, Melvin Gordon III and the Los Angeles Chargers head to Oakland to take on the reeling Raiders. Jon Gruden has seemingly made the dreaded decision to blow up the current roster and attempt to launch a full-scale rebuild. Hopefully for Raiders fans, he tries to do so with players under 28 years old this time around. Last week, the San Francisco 49ers picked apart the Oakland defense with Nick Mullens under center. With all due respect to Mullens, a 3rd string quarterback making his first career NFL start does not put up 31 points on a quality defense. Oakland's season is headed down the drain at this point, and it is seemingly just a matter of how badly they crumble down the stretch. Will the team tank for a top pick in the draft? Or is the combination of Jon Gruden and that group of players simply just not good enough to compete in the NFL? Time will tell, but while that all gets sorted out, guys like Melvin Gordon III, the bell cow running back in LA's offense, will continue to dominate. Gordon contributes both through the air and on the ground, and he has a nose for the end zone. Gordon has found the end zone 7 times this season and averages 5.4 yards per carry. He is an elite fantasy option, and for nearly $2,000 less than Todd Gurley ($10,800 vs. $8,900), he comes at a significant discount from the top-priced running back.
Why Melvin Gordon III?
- Bell cow running back for his respective team.
- Running back on a heavy favorite in a game projected to total 50+ points.
bonus sharp play
Ryan Fitzpatrick has been nothing short of spectacular to start this season. Now is this the real Ryan Fitzpatrick? Probably not. But even in his weaker days, Fitzpatrick has managed to post respectable fantasy outputs. Under Tampa Bay's new play caller, Todd Monken, the Buccaneers' passing game has taken a remarkable step forward. This weekend, the Bucs face off with the Washington Redskins and their weak pass defense. Here in Week 10, Fitzpatrick's sub-$8,000 price tag coupled with the incredible volume and efficiency under offensive coordinator Todd Monken will likely lead to Ryan Fitzpatrick being the most-rostered quarterback in high-stakes cash games.
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
Week 9: Kenny Golladay- 6.9 FanDuel points (1.11x value)/8.4 DraftKings points (1.52x value)
- 53.3 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50
Week 9: Cam Newton- 21.18 FanDuel points (2.46x value)/21.18 DraftKings points (2.31x value)
- 66.7 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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