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 20-Man 50/50 on FanDuel.
Jameis Winston did not disappoint in Week 13 once again. The consistently-underpriced Buccaneers’ quarterback was rostered by 70 percent of players in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel, and for good reason.
(LAST WEEK’S ANALYSIS USED TO PROJECT HIM AS THE 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.
It is also worth noting that Tampa Bay entered this game as slight 3.5-point underdogs, which typically leads to a pass-heavy game script. This matchup also forecasted to total approximately 52 points, one of the highest totals on the entire slate.
Why Jameis Winston?
- STILL underpriced for his consistent level of production
- Game projected to total over 50 points.
- Opposing defense has struggled mightily in recent weeks.
Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers’ undoubted bell-cow running back, made his way into a whopping 95 percent of lineups in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel this weekend. McCaffrey, at $8,800, was the second-most expensive running back on the entire slate, but that was not enough to deter the sharpest NFL DFS players from locking him into their lineups.
This season’s second meeting between Carolina and Tampa Bay was projected to total about 52 points between the teams. The Carolina Panthers also checked in as 3.5-point favorites over the Buccaneers, which typically leads to an increased workload for the team’s running back(s). In the first game between the teams, Christian McCaffrey totaled over 75 yards both rushing and receiving. Unsurprisingly, Tampa Bay ranks 30th in the NFL in DVOA allowed on rushing plays as well as in the bottom-third of the NFL in DVOA allowed to running backs through the air. The value at other positions this week made it feasible to fit Christian McCaffrey into lineups comfortably, and he did not disappoint.
Why Christian McCaffrey?
- Elite pass-catching running back in a favorable matchup.
- Running back on a team favored by more than three points.
- Game projected to total over 50 points.
- Already produced a fantastic fantasy-day in the same matchup earlier this season.
Entering Week 13, Aaron Jones finally seemed to have secured a bell-cow role on the ground in Green Bay's offense. This timed up perfectly with a matchup with the Arizona Cardinals, a team that the Packers were projected to beat by 13.5 points at home. For $7,600, Aaron Jones' production in recent weeks led sharps to believe that his price still was not high enough, especially given the expected game script. Once lineups locked, Aaron Jones was in 80 percent of lineups in the BIG $1,065 50/50 on FanDuel.
In Green Bay's 5 games following their bye week Aaron Jones carried the ball at least 11 teams in each of them. Across those 5 weeks, Aaron Jones found the end zone 5 times, and his snap counts were trending upward as well. As 13.5-point favorites, the Green Bay Packers were expected to rely heavily upon their rushing attack and Aaron Jones projected to be the prime beneficiary. Green Bay's (now-former) Head Coach and play caller, Mike McCarthy, finally seemed to realize that Aaron Jones is likely the most-talented running back in the Green Bay offense. Jones posted at least 15 FanDuel points in 4 out of 5 games leading up to this game against a struggling Cardinals team, and if the game played out as expected, his workload would likely rival that of his most productive games this season.
Why Aaron Jones?
- Running back on a heavily favored team.
- Very talented player with a recently increased role in the offense.
- Consistent producer in far less-favorable matchups.
Spencer Ware stepped into the top-spot on Kansas City’s depth chart and was immediately poised to play the lion’s share of snaps against a struggling Oakland Raiders defense. Ware’s matchup coupled with his backup-level-price led to an incredible 95 percent of players rostering him in the BIG $1,065 50/50 in Week 13.
At just $5,200, Spencer Ware was by far the most enticing salary-saver on the slate at any position. Following Kareem Hunt’s release from the team, Spencer Ware immediately became the Kansas City Chief's number-one option in the backfield. It truly was the perfect storm for Ware to be the most-popular player on the slate: he was priced as though he was going to play second-fiddle to Hunt once again this week, the Chiefs entered the game as 14-point favorites, and their opponent, the Oakland Raiders, ranks 31st in the NFL in DVOA allowed on the ground. One final data point to reassure Ware's status as one of, if not the, top running back(s) on the slate is Andy Reid's historic dependence upon one lone running back. Tracing all the way back to his days in Philadelphia, Andy Reid has always favored a true bell-cow running back approach instead of a running-back-by-committee. The stars truly aligned for Spencer Ware to be the chalkiest player in the high-stakes cash games this week.
Why Spencer Ware?
- Priced as a backup, but poised to see the workload of a starter.
- Running back going up against one of the league's worst run defenses.
- Running back on the heaviest favorite on the slate.
Tyreek Hill, at $8,100, checks in as Week 13's most-rostered wide receiver in the BIG $1,065 50/50. 80 percent of the sharpest NFL DFS players inserted him into their high-stakes cash lineups this week in one of the most favorable matchups of the season for the Chiefs. As two-touchdown favorites over the Oakland Raiders, points were expected to flow in bunches for the Chiefs, and Tyreek Hill projected to be one of the team's key offensive pieces in the game, as always.
As mentioned above, the Kansas City Chiefs entered Week 13 as the heaviest favorites on the slate. Kansas City's implied team total (derived from the game's betting line) was an astonishing 33.75 points when the market closed at kickoff. A total this high is incredibly rare, and it serves as a testament to just how prolific the team's offense is. Oakland's pass-defense has been atrocious this season, ranking dead-last in DVOA allowed on passes this week was likely to be another rough-go against the NFL's number-one passing offense. In this prolific pass offense, Tyreek Hill has accounted for nearly 25 percent of the total targets over the past 5 games along with nearly 40 percent of the total air yards. This level of involvement and clear big-play ability makes Tyreek Hill an elite fantasy option every week, but especially this week in a matchup with the worst secondary in the NFL.
Why Tyreek Hill?
- Number-one wide receiver on the team expected to score the most points on the entire slate.
- Unmatched big-play ability in the top passing offense in the league.
- Going up against the league's worst pass-defense.
next week's sharp play
Jaylen Samuels will essentially be this week's Spencer Ware, minus the sky-high implied team total. In Week 13, Pittsburgh's starting running back, James Conner, went down with an ankle injury and he will be unavailable for the team's Week 14 matchup with the Oakland Raiders (the same opponent Spencer Ware faced last week, coincidentally.) Jaylen Samuels was the primary running back used by Pittsburgh following Conner's injury and he is expected to be the team's starter in Week 14 as well. Mike Tomlin's offense, much like Andy Reid's, has historically relied upon one running back to shoulder the load, rather than a committee of running backs. In the past it has been Le'Veon Bell, DeAngelo Williams, or James Conner, but now it is rookie Jaylen Samuels' turn. Samuels was one of college football's best playmakers at NC State last season, and he will likely be called upon to do the same this week by the Pittsburgh Steelers. As 10.5-point favorites over the Oakland Raiders, expect the Steelers to rely upon the ground-game heavily to secure a victory over the struggling Oakland Raiders and stay on track for another AFC North division title.
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 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
Week 13: Jameis Winston- 22.76 FanDuel points (3x value)/22.76 DraftKings points (3.8x value)
- 70 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!