The Butterfly Effect

The Butterfly Effect is a theory that believes “small causes can have larger effects”.  To take it one step further though, it is really how a single occurrence can cause several different layers of effects.

The Butterfly Effect: 

One of the more difficult aspects of succeeding in GPP’s is finding low owned players that can return at least a multiple of four on their salary.  This means if a player costs $4,500, in order for that player to hit value, he must score at least 18 points.  With their being so much coverage in the industry, there is little chance of having an obvious sleeper fall through the cracks. In fact, in many cases it becomes a detriment to roster these players, because at best you are keeping pace with 30-50% of the field, and at worst, your team is sunk.  My solution to the problem of finding these players is to embrace the theory of The Butterfly Effect.  

The Butterfly Effect is a theory that believes “small causes can have larger effects”.  To take it one step further though, it is really how a single occurrence can cause several different layers of effects. For DFS purposes, think of an injury to a star running back. Now right off the bat, the backup running back is the most obvious beneficiary, as he will inherit the #1 spot and become an instant source of value. What most people fail to realize though, is that the star running back may have a different skill set that causes the entire offense (and defense) to be affected.  Perhaps the backup running back is of smaller stature which precludes him from being an effective red zone option. That would add value to the wide receivers and tight ends who will now see more targets in the red zone.  This is a very basic example, but one that happens often.

In addition to injuries, The Butterfly Effect can also be applied to coaching changes, scheme changes and trades. Anytime a significant event or change occurs, this article will be your guide to finding how value has shifted, both positively and negatively. This is not exclusively limited to players with low salaries, in fact top players often qualify as great value plays. The key is in identifying those who are being overlooked for one reason or another.


Washington Redskins

Key Losses: Chris Thompson, Terrell Pryor, Rob Kelley, Jordan Reed

Primary Beneficiaries: Samaje Perine, Jamison Crowder, Vernon Davis 

Secondary Beneficiaries:  Byron Marshall, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant

The loss of Chris Thompson really took the air out of this offense, because he has been everything for them. Trusted runner, their most effective pass catcher and most importantly, the only real big play threat this team has. Terrell Pryor has been a complete bust, having been passed by Josh Doctson and Ryan Grant on the depth chart. Rob Kelley was an important part of the offense, but it looks as though he can be adequately replaced by Samaje Perine. In fact, due to the loss of both Thompson and Kelley, Perine is in a great place right now. He has a somewhat limited skillset, but runs with power and can move the chains for the Redskins. Jordan Reed has played so sparingly this season that most people will not even recognize his absence. Vernon Davis continues to produce and is one of my favorite plays on the short slate for Thanksgiving. That goes for Jamison Crowder as well, who after a disappointing start to the season has begun to come on and is now Kirk Cousins most trusted receiver. The guy to watch out for here is Byron Marshall, who has a similar skillset to Chris Thompson, however he doesn’t have the same type of big play ability.  Perine is questionable for Thursday’s game, and if he cannot go, Marshall becomes a must start for me.

Who I’m playing:  Due to the Giants struggles on defense, there is a sneaky opportunity for a Redskins stack consisting of Kirk Cousins, Jamison Crowder and Vernon Davis. If Byron Marshall were to start, he would also become a must play, and someone I would have significant exposure to. If you are looking for low owned options, Josh Doctson certainly makes sense as well. Samaje Perine will be a popular play if he is active, and I cannot advocate fading him because his price is more than reasonable across the industry. I won’t have a ton of exposure to him though, as I think there is better value to be had on the short slate.

Los Angeles Rams

Key Losses:  Robert Woods

Primary Beneficiaries: Sammy Watkins, Cooper Kupp

Secondary Beneficiaries:  Todd Gurley

Of the Rams three starting receivers, who would have thought that an injury to Woods would have the biggest effect on this offense? He had become a trusted possession receiver for Jared Goff, while also flashing big play ability. Watkins and Kupp had both taken a back seat to Woods the last six games, but now it looks as though both receivers are in great spots. The Rams have quite a few reserve receivers, most notably Pharoh Cooper, but I wouldn’t count on him becoming fantasy relevant. The most likely scenario is Todd Gurley’s heavy workload becoming even heavier in the passing game.  He has improved drastically in that area this year and should see even more targets come his way in the coming weeks.

Who I’m playing:  Watkins and Kupp are great GPP darts this week in what should be a high scoring game against the Saints, and while I won’t go crazy with my exposure to them, I think somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% seems about right.  Gurley though, I will have heavy exposure to, as the Rams will target him early and often and I expect him to see 25+ touches. Jared Goff is an interesting play, but his price is still a little too high for me when you factor in the loss of Robert Woods.  It would not surprise me in the least to see the Rams go with a run heavy scheme against the Saints, which would make Goff a borderline cash game play, and the same for GPP’s. With the potential for a high scoring game though, Goff is worthy of throwing on a team here or there.

 Miami Dolphins:

Key Losses:  Jay Cutler

Primary Beneficiaries:  Kenny Stills, Matt Moore

Secondary Beneficiaries:  Jarvis Landry

 I use the term “key” loosely when describing the loss of Cutler for the Dolphins. While Matt Moore led a thrilling comeback after Cutler’s injury, he is not going to set the world on fire and is most likely not a fantasy relevant quarterback unless you are super desperate. Out of the ashes comes Kenny Stills though, once relegated to the #3 wide receiver on the Dolphins, he has managed to become not only the #1 option while Matt Moore is under center, but a legitimate fantasy option. In the two weeks that Matt Moore was in at quarterback (weeks 7 and 11), Stills combined for 13 receptions for 265 yards and three touchdowns.  While that may be a little fluky, it is always important to pay close attention to second string quarterbacks and the receivers they have chemistry with. They often practice together, and come game time, that is who they have the most consistent timing with. With his ability to generate big plays in the passing game, that timing has turned Stills into someone you need to consider on Sunday.

Who I’m playing: Matt Moore is just too inconsistent, even at near minimum salary across the industry. Kenny Stills however, is definitely someone I want to have shares in against a terrible Patriots secondary.  The same goes for Jarvis Landry, who totaled 95 yards and a touchdown with Moore under center last week. That makes Landry’s sixth touchdown in his last seven games, and with such a juicy matchup against New England, he has to be someone you want a minimum of 10% exposure in.


Carolina Panthers

Key Gains:  Greg Olsen

Primary Beneficiaries:  Cam Newton

Key Loss of Value:  Devin Funchess, Ed Dickson

Instead of a key loss, the Panthers are set to regain a big part of their offense this week with the return of tight end Greg Olsen. While Christian McCaffrey’s role seems solidified, it is Devin Funchess who I expect to see a reduction in targets. For a #1 receiver, this wouldn’t normally affect his value too much, but Funchess does not see a high volume of targets. He does fairly well with what he is given, but much of that has to do with his touchdown production. Funchess has two big performances on the year, and in both games he scored two touchdowns.  With Greg Olsen back, it is hard to imagine Funchess seeing that same type of volume in the red zone.  If Funchess doesn’t score, he cannot even come close to hitting minimum value, especially when he’s priced around other receivers with far more upside.

Who I’m playing:  The Panthers travel to play the Jets this weekend, so there is definitely some value to be had in this game and a Cam Newton stack alongside McCaffrey and Olsen could end up being one that is very low owned.  There is enough upside there to warrant the play, especially with Olsen’s depressed salary.  There is certainly risk involved, but the tight end position has been so tough to judge this year, why not take a chance on a proven guy like Olsen when you know his ownership percentage will be very low in his first week back. 

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