Week One NFL DFS AutoMattek Absolutes
Times have changed in DFS. When I first started writing the AutoMattek Absolutes six years ago, cash games were all anyone wanted to talk about. A majority of players considered themselves cash game grinders and that tournaments were secondary to the 50/50’s, head to heads and double-ups.
That is no longer the case. Tournaments are the primary source of discussion and interest for both the casual and serious DFS players. As such, the content has to evolve with the times. Throughout the 2019 NFL season, the AutoMattek Absolutes will be a hybrid GPP strategy/individual plays highlight column to help you get prepared for the Sunday main slate of tournaments.
Week One AutoMattek Absolutes
KEY: Kyler Murray
My favorite player to key into lineups this week as a stackable quarterback is Kyler Murray. There was a point in the preseason where it looked like he was maybe going to be chalk against the Detriot Lions but those fears are gone. After poor performances against the Raiders and Vikings, it seems that most DFS owners are going to take a “wait and see” approach with Kyler and the Kliff Kingsbury Cardinals offense.
There is more money to be made in getting there early than getting in late, so I will not be taking that approach. Kingsbury’s teams at Texas Tech were never good but there inside the top 10 in plays ran every year of his NCAA coaching career; even if Arizona loses this game, I believe it is more likely than not that they run a surplus of plays.
Using the KEY tool on the Daily Roto Optimizer, I will be creating a rule with Kyler that mandates at least one of: David Johnson, Christian Kirk, KeeSean Johnson, and Damiere Byrd. Johnson and Kirk are positions I feel comfortable taking, whereas Byrd and KeeSean are max 5% exposure plays (though both really impressed in camp and might be considered starters).
In order to make this a true stack that would take advantage of how many plays we would expect to be run in this game (remember, if the Cardinals get ahead, Matthew Stafford holds the NFL record for pass attempts in a season and even last year had games with 53, 46, 42 and 40 passing attempts in losses) would be to either create a second Kyler key with at least one of Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones or T.J Hockenson or use the Opponent Stacking tab under “settings” and put a “1” in the WR/TE box. Considering how bad we expect the Arizona secondary to be with Patrick Peterson suspended, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay could be legitimately sneaky plays in a game that many people are now opting to avoid.
Julio Jones And/Or Calvin Ridley With Exactly Zero Dalvin Cook
The 48 total for the Minnesota Vikings/Atlanta Falcons has fantasy owners paying attention to all of the playable options in this game but from an intuitive level, it seems unlikely that Dalvin Cook would correlate well the Atlanta passing game.
In Dalvin Cook’s short career, when he has had more than 15 carries, the Vikings opposition has scored: 17, 19, 17, 16, and 9 points. That is an average of 15.6 points per contest. Obviously, there is an insane amount of noise in a five-game sample but is shows something pretty instructive: in games where Dalvin Cook is likely to maximize his touches, the Vikings are going to be suffocating a game.
So it is true that we would prefer the Falcons to be trailing as opposed to leading in lineups where one or both of Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones are present but we would prefer them to be in a game where there is going to be an excess of points scored. The Vikings, by their #EstablishIt mentality, specifically do not want to be in shootout games.
After firing John DeFilippo last year and promoting Kevin Stefanski from inside the organization, they passed the ball only 82 times in three games. This is an edict from on high inside the franchise: run the ball, play good defense.
It is not possible to corral Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley entirely of course, but for Dalvin Cook to hit his GPP winning upside, he would likely need enough to touches to negate an insane ceiling game from one or both of them so I will be creating a rule that with Dalvin Cook in a lineup, there will be zero Falcons pass catchers. This is a high variance strategy, as Julio is one of the most popular wide receivers and best-projected players of the entire week and I expect Vikings/Falcons game stacks to be relatively popular.
Jimmy Garoppolo With At Least One Of Matt Brieda/Marquise Goodwin/George Kittle/Dante Pettis
In somewhat of a surprising twist, the Tampa Bay/San Francisco game does not seem to be leaping off the page for DFS players despite a total of 51. Jimmy G was riding a wave of hype into the 2018 season that is definitely not present in 2019 so that accounts for some of it. However, when analyzing games that have the potential to go way over in terms of points scored and plays run, this one seems obvious. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will be fairly chalky, but what about the other side?
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have no ground game to speak of. Peyton Barber is one of the least efficient RB’s in modern NFL history (first player in a decade to have more than 250 touches and less than 1,000 yards), Ronald Jones is rapidly falling out of favor and a UDFA with zero career NFL touches through seasons is somehow going to steal passing down work from both of them. Bruce Arians offense have been in the top half of the league in pass attempts in all of his seasons in Arizona (the most recent seasons).
One thing we know for certain is that more passing plays leads to more total plays in a given game, more yards and as a result of more plays and yards, more potential fantasy points. In Kyle Shanahan’s career, his offenses have ranked 2nd (2017 with SF), 4th, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 20th (last season with Mullins and Beathard), 26th, 26th, and 30th (the RG3 miracle year) in pass attempts relative to the league. It is a safe assumption that he wants to throw the ball often.
All of this, to me, suggests that there is some hidden value in stacking Jimmy with his pass-catchers. You could easily create a key with Jimmy and at least one of Brieda, Goodwin, Kittle, and Pettis while also combining a game stack rule to get one or two of Godwin, Evans or O.J Howard.
Brieda, I think, is especially sneaky as he seems more likely to be used down the field in the passing game and could be a part of a GPP winning team without 20+ touches. Marquise Goodwin is also likely to see sub-5% ownership as a starting WR with a career yards per reception of 16.7 in a very high total game. He is a player I am particularly interested in rostering this week, especially in game stacks.
The starting running back for the Kansas City Chiefs is not going to be chalk. In fact, the starting running back on the Chiefs might not even get to 5% owned despite his last times on the field being a three-touchdown game in the AFC Championship and a 62-yard receiving touchdown in the preseason. The arrival of LeSean McCoy in Kansas City has thrown everything askew for Damien Williams but I actually think it is more likely that he is a good DFS play now than he was before because his own percentage will be so diminished.
Kansas City has the highest team total of the slate and the third-highest team total of the week. In games that Damien Williams played for the Chiefs last year, he had over five targets in all but one. It is possible that McCoy comes in week one and is the primary first and second down back (though I think it is unlikely). Even in that scenario, it is relatively possible that he cedes passing down work to the younger and more explosive Williams.
Of course, projecting this backfield is difficult. In the season-long RotoExperts projections, I essentially made the backfield a 50-40-10 split for Williams/McCoy/Thompson but short term, it would make the most sense for Darwin and Damien to play the roles they practiced all offseason for. If Williams gets 8-12 carries but 5-8 targets in the passing game, I would be kicking myself for not rostering the lead running back on the best offense in football for a reduced salary.
Williams is sandwiched in between the far more popular Nick Chubb and Dalvin Cook in Week One price, so it should come as no surprise that he is not going to be owned relative to the players he is priced next to. It will be hard to get Damien in runs so I think a way to do it without artificially boosting him is using the KEY tool to attach him to one of Mahomes or Nick Foles (perhaps even DeDe Westbrook)
Interesting, But Cheap, Ideas
You can’t laugh just at seeing the name, because admit it, you already have Tyler Boyd lineups! Ross is only $3,900 on DraftKings and projects to likely see the second-most targets of an offense that is going to be trailing against a projected-to-be-bad Seattle Seahawks defense. Ross was one of the least efficient wide receivers in fantasy football last year and I make no promises that he will be efficient this season but getting some leverage off Boyd in the same offensive context makes sense to me. If you’re playing a wide receiver with a 17.5 team total, it is better for that wide receiver to be cheaper.
I am looking for any way possible to get off Hunter Henry in tournaments on DraftKings as he is likely to be the hardcore chalk at the position, especially in a single entry tournament. The Jaguars have a 24.5 team total and Swaim is likely to be on the field more than any other tight end particularly because rookie Josh Oliver is suffering a multiple week injury. The former Dallas Cowboys tight end averages 7.8 yards per target on 43 targets for his career (and was really a full-time player for the first time last year) and is tied to an offense that we expect to be much heavier in pass attempts than the last few seasons after hiring John DeFilippo. Getting variety in tight end ownership outside of the big group is one of my favorite ways to get different lineups in tournaments.
It is not really needed this week the way it will be when the bye weeks hit and the attractive options are fewer and farther between but the $3,400 slot wide receiver who is going lead his (terrible) team in (terrible) targets is always a favorite lineup filler of mine. To win the million dollars, Quinn probably doesn’t fit in your lineup but he would make it possible to get three of the elite players over $8,000 all together in the same lineup in a single entry or three max team. The former SMU wide receiver has been a favorite of the coaches all offseason and is the odds on favorite to lead them in targets in a game where they project to be trailing almost the entire game.
Rashaad Penny/Justin Jackson
Both of the running backs playing ahead of Penny and Jackson are going to be big-time chalk in all of the major GPP’s on DraftKings and Fanduel. However, the workload projections we have set for them indicate that Penny and Jackson are going to have a role, regardless of what the scoreboard says. I would create a rule that has MAX one of Penny and Chris Carson and the same for Austin Ekeler and Jackson. However, I would make it a point to get at least 3-5% exposure of these running backs as they are leverage on the chalk and have independent value outside of the starters ahead of them.