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 sharpest players in NFL DFS once again fell in love with Saquon Barkley in Week 12. The Giants went into Philadelphia to take on a decimated Eagles defense in a game forecasted to total 50 points between the two teams. Even as the most expensive running back on the slate ($9,000,) Barkley was still rostered by 56.7 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel.
Saquon Barkley, after being drafted second overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, has one of the most stable workloads in the NFL. He is arguably the most talented running back in the NFL, and the Giants try to use that to their full advantage. In Week 12, against the Eagles, Saquon Barkley’s reliable volume and matchup against a struggling defense caught the eye of more than half of the sharpest NFL DFS cash-game players. The Philadelphia Eagles entered this game on the heels of two brutal beatdowns in their most recent games. In Week 11, Philly allowed New Orleans to do practically whatever they wanted on offense to the tune of 48 points allowed. In Week 10, the Eagles allowed the Dallas Cowboys to post 27 points. These recent struggles for Philadelphia have been alarming, and there was no reason to expect them to stop this week against Saquon Barkley. At $9,000, Saquon Barkley’s reliable involvement in New York’s offense against the downward-trending 20th ranked run defense (according to DVOA) was a building block for sharp cash-game lineups.
Why Saquon Barkley?
- Reliable volume for an extremely talented running back
- Facing a crumbling Philadelphia defense ranked 20th against the run and dropping by the week
As the starter in a prime matchup, $5,300 was simply too cheap for a running back ready to see the level of volume Edwards was forecasted to receive. Gus Edwards, in his first career start, made his way into 63.3 percent of lineups in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel this past week.
Headed into Sunday there was some injury news to monitor involving Melvin Gordon III of the Los Angeles Chargers. Had he been inactive for their game against the Cardinals, the sharps would have likely shifted to his backup, Austin Ekeler. However, Gordon did end up starting for the Chargers, and a pivot away from Ekeler was necessary. The sharps found their man in Gus Edwards, the newly promoted starting running back for the Baltimore Ravens. Edwards received 17 carried for 115 yards in his first showcase as a real NFL running back just a week prior against the Bengals. This performance landed Edwards atop Baltimore’s depth chart and likely played a factor in the incumbent starter, Alex Collins, not being on the active roster for Sunday’s game. It was clear where the running back volume was headed and against a defense as poor as Oakland’s (30th in DVOA allowed), Gus Edwards was an elite cash-game play in Week 12.
Why Gus Edwards?
- Newly promoted starting running back priced as a backup
- Elite matchup against Oakland's 30th ranked rush defense
Odell Beckham Jr, Jr.
Another New York Giant, Odell Beckham Jr, Jr., made his way into the majority of the sharpest cash lineups on FanDuel. For $8,500, Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. was rostered by 70 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel as he was set to square off against one of the weakest groups of cornerbacks fielded by an NFL team.
The Philadelphia Eagles entered this week with their top five cornerbacks unable to give it a go. For reference, NFL teams typically only carry five or six cornerbacks on their active roster each week. Philadelphia was forced to field a starting lineup of entirely new cornerbacks this week compared to who started in Week 1 of this season. These replacement-level players being matched up with Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. was a match made in fantasy football heaven. Odell Beckham Jr, Jr.’s talent is unquestioned, but the primary hindrance to his fantasy value has primarily been quarterback Eli Manning’s inability to get the ball to him. Last week against Tampa Bay, Eli Manning and the Giants shredded the Buccaneers through the air, which many hoped would be a sign of things to come. Odell Beckham Jr, Jr.’s steep price tag was not enough to steer the sharpest NFL cash-game players away from his steady target numbers. In Week 12, the matchup and steady volume trumped all else, which led to 70 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 zeroing in on Odell Beckham Jr, Jr. as the top wide receiver on the slate.
Why Odell Beckham Jr, Jr.?
- Glimmer of hope for the New York Giants' passing game following the shootout against Tampa Bay
- Facing a decimated Philadelphia secondary comprised of five replacement-level cornerbacks
NEXT WEEK'S SHARP PLAY
Back to the well once again. For the third time this season Jameis Winston is the projected sharp play for the upcoming week of action. In each of the previous two situations Winston has posted at least 3x value on FanDuel, and this looks like a great situation for him to clear that benchmark yet again. Winston and the Buccaneers will host the struggling Carolina Panthers in Week 13 of the NFL season, and Winston is still far too cheap on FanDuel. Given the consistent numbers posted by Tampa Bay quarterbacks this season, whether it be Winston or Ryan Fitzpatrick, it is mind-boggling to see Winston priced at just $7,500 on FanDuel. Winston would be a great play in a neutral matchup, but against a Carolina Panthers defense that has allowed 3 out of their last 4 opponents to score at least 28 points (including a 52 point outburst allowed to Pittsburgh,) Winston's matchup is one of the best on the slate. This game is forecasted to total nearly 56 points at the moment, good for the highest total on the slate. There should be no shortage of offense in this clash of NFC South teams and Winston will likely play a hefty role in this shootout.
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
Week 10: Melvin Gordon III III III- 25 FanDuel points (2.8x value)/27.50 DraftKings points (3.1x value)
- 84.6 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50
Week 10: Ryan Fitzpatrick- 15.74 FanDuel points (2.1x value)/19.74 DraftKings points (3.3x value)
- 76.9 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50
Week 11: Dion Lewis- 3.7 FanDuel points (0.6x value)/4.2 DraftKings points (0.9x value)
- 29.2 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50
Week 11: Saquon Barkley- 34.2 FanDuel points (3.9x value)/38.2 DraftKings points (4.4x value)
- 66.7 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50
Week 12: Jameis Winston- 22.88 FanDuel points (3.1x value)/25.88 DraftKings points (4.3x value)
- 23.3 percent rostered in BIG $1,065 50/50
Week 12: Gus Edwards- 11.8 FanDuel points (2.2x value)/14.8 DraftKings points (3.4x value)
- 63.3 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!