Winning FanDuel's Sunday Million - Footballguys

A look back at my winning lineup for Fanduel's Sunday Million

I have had a lot of folks reach out to congratulate me on the $1,000,000 first prize win in Fanduel’s Sunday Million GPP. The first thing I want to do is thank each of you for the kind words. Secondly, I want to thank so many of you for the help and support over the years. But the biggest question I have been getting is “What was your thought process on the lineup?” so I thought I would do a quick article highlighting how I ended up getting to this lineup.

The First Key: Percent Rostered Numbers

First and foremost, all of my lineup construction processes start and end with how much each player is going to be rostered by my opponents. This is why I decided to write the weekly projected roster article here at Footballguys. You will hear arguments from both sides questioning how important it is to know who your opponents have on their rosters. Some will say it only matters how many points your team scores. I am on the complete opposite side. For me, knowing how my opponents are playing is more important than the point projections themselves. The biggest thing you will notice from my roster is I didn’t have most of the really chalky players like Patrick Mahomes II II, Latavius Murray, Corey Clement, Tyreek Hill, Eric Ebron, or the Vikings defense in this lineup. I didn’t really like much of the chalk this week, so it was easy for me to fade them. Luckily, they didn’t make me pay for that. Trust me it doesn’t always work out that way.

Building Your Lineup

When I build my lineups I try to think of them as a portfolio of players where I want more exposure than the public on the guys I like and less on those that I don’t. I rarely completely fade or go all in on a player. Taking this approach I really liked stacking Matt Ryan with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Ryan and Ridley, in particular, were the two players I was most overweight on compared to my opponents. Ryan tends to play well against the Saints, and their defense has played very poorly to date. I also thought some folks have been unfairly down on Ryan since the Super Bowl loss. He is still an elite quarterback and should be treated as such. Since Ridley is such a cheap player, I thought, if Ryan was really going to have a GPP-winning output, it was going to be on the backs of Ridley and Jones as well, which is why I included him. Unfortunately, Jones didn’t particularly work out as my worst performer but he could have easily scored along the way and made this lineup even better.

Another key pick was Travis Kelce. Going with Kelce gave me a lot of different ways to differentiate from my opponents. Everyone was on Eric Ebron, who was at a completely different price point as Kelce. The benefit of this is that it forces me into different lineup builds than all my opponents since it gave me less money to spend than most of my competitors had on the remaining players. Additionally, most players were also rostering Mahomes and Hill while Kelce seemed to be the forgotten man. If Kelce does well, it gives me leverage against Hill while somewhat protecting against Mahomes blowing up.

Lower-Rostered Players

Because I spent more on Kelce it made me choose some lower-rostered cheap guys at other positions. The first was Alex Collins who has had a disappointing start to the season but is one who I really liked coming into the season. He was priced at about the same price point as Clement, and while I didn’t project him for quite as many points, I thought Collins had a higher upside and was going to be on fewer of my opponents' teams so I went with him more. It isn’t often you get a workhorse back who can get 20 touches for $6,300 and only be on 1 percent of the teams in the contest.

The other low-rostered“player” I went with was the Bills defense. This seems to be the one that I have been getting the most questions about. Just like Collins, it was driven by having less money to spend from Kelce. Also, just like how Kelce was in direct competition with the highly-rostered Hill for points, the Bills were in direct competition with the most rostered defense - the Vikings. I rarely rostered the Vikings defense because I thought the public was acting like Nathan Peterman was still quarterbacking for the Bills when in fact they had moved on from him and Josh Allen had already produced a decent game against the Chargers defense.

Additionally, the Vikings were an out-of-conference team that doesn’t get to see the Bills too often. So much so the Bills weren’t even sure how to get to Minneapolis. I felt like this gave them a chance to pull a big upset. If the Bills built a lead it would force the Vikings to start pressing, and you never know what could happen as a fumble or pick-6 can occur at any point when things start going poorly. Additionally, just last season, the Bills were a playoff team carried in large part by their defense. To think after just two games that they were atrocious at defense seemed to be an overreaction that I wanted to take advantage of.

The thing you need to ask yourself when selecting a player is, "Do they have a chance to score enough to be on the winning roster more or less than how many of your opponents are rostering them?" For the Bills, I thought their chances were higher than the 1 percent they were being rostered. For the Vikings, I thought it was less, so I ended up with more of the Bills defense than the Vikings defense. It doesn’t always work out as perfectly as it did in this situation, but when it does, you give yourself a chance to be competing with a much smaller field than when you are trying to beat everyone with all the chalky players.

High-Rostered Players

You will also notice that there were several players on my team that were still highly rostered. Alvin Kamara, Giovani Bernard, Matt Ryan, Travis Kelce, and of course Julio Jones were all 10%+ owned and were guys that a lot of people liked. I was actually shocked to see that Robert Woods was rostered as infrequently as he was. I loved him and Cooper Kupp, and I thought they would be rostered about double where they ended up at. If I had that projection more accurately forecasted, I would have ended up with even more of Woods. The Rams offense has been really focused on Woods and Kupp so I thought together they would have a high probability of scoring a touchdown, and I figured other people would have noticed that as well. I was certainly glad more people didn’t.

Playing contrarian isn’t playing recklessly. You don’t just pile your whole team full of guys like Collins and the Bills Defense and hope things go your way. You put together your roster with a plan and ask yourself if that plan comes to fruition can you see it winning you the tournament. If the answer is yes then it is a good lineup. If not then it probably doesn’t have the upside or uniqueness that you need to win a GPP. If you work towards this goal you will continue to make better and better lineups.

The Roster

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