Week Two 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 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 time. 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.
KEY: Lamar Jackson
My favorite player to key into lineups this week as a stackable quarterback is…not Kyler Murray as it was last week but Lamar Jackson (Kyler is, in my opinion, still clearly playable however). Jackson is probably a favorite to be the most owned quarterback in all the slates that he plays in so using him and getting him in contrarian builds is going to be tricky. In general, if you are eating the chalk at a “onesie” position where projections tend to bunch together, you need to be clever in how you approach it.
The right way to do that is going to be through using Lamar in tournaments either only naked (this is not what I am going to personally do) or in full game stacks.
Using the KEY tool on the Daily Roto Optimizer, I will be creating a rule with Lamar that mandates at least two of: Marquise Brown, Willie Snead, Mark Andrews and Miles Boykin.
However, I do think that is likely going to be a pretty common rule. Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews are going to be really owned relative to their projections. There is basically a zero chance that you would be wanting to use those guys as one-offs (especially Andrews) so my favorite way to construct Lamar lineups with an edge is to use Arizona players.
The Cardinals ran 82 plays and were the fastest offenses last week with under 23 seconds elapsing between each play their offense ran. They played 10 personnel (four wide receivers, one running back) on over 65% of their snaps. Even as massive underdogs, the Arizona pass catchers are good volume players. The “bring back” Lamar Jackson rule could look something like this:
Using those two rules, you are ensuring that in your lineups you will be taking advantage of a game that has a potential to have the most total plays run if Arizona is able to hang with Baltimore at all. Furthermore, all available evidence suggests that your lineups have the most amount of leverage if you are double-stacking on both sides of a game. Given that I expect the Cardinals to be extremely low owned relative to their volume projections, I really love these Key rules.
Minimum One: Sammy Watkins, Amari Cooper, Juju Smith-Schuster
An issue that is fairly common when using optimizers is “clumping”. That very unscientific word essentially means that you will find when you are building 150 or more lineups, that the very best plays show up frequently in the top 50 lineups and then descend in use as you filter towards the bottom.
The 150th lineup often ends up looking bizarre and not including premium plays. Other than using our volatility and shuffle features (which I consider to be extremely useful to combatting this problem) one of the ways that I keep at least a few of my preferred plays in every lineup is to create AT LEAST ONE rules.
The grouping of players that I am considering running in at least a subset of my GPP lineups this week is at least one of these three stud wide receivers: Sammy Watkins, Amari Cooper, and Juju Smith-Schuster.
Watkins moved his way into my top 10 rest of season rankings, Smith-Schuster is still my #1 wide receiver for the entire season and Cooper is also now a top 10 wide receiver. All of these players are available for $7,500 and under on Draftkings.
Cooper will be playing in a matchup that just gave up 11 targets and 35 DraftKings points to DeSean Jackson, Smith-Schuster matches up against the secondary that made John Ross worthy of 12 targets and two touchdowns and Sammy Watkins is now the lead wide receiver in the best offense in football while playing in a game with a 52.5 over/under. These three guys are my favorite wide receiver plays of the week and additionally, make great stacks.
Mahomes is going to be owned at his usual clip in a game with a lot of attention on it but even after a studly showing, we do not expect the same from Dak Prescott. Home Ben Roethlisberger is much different than Road Roethlisberger. Since 2011, Ben averages 26.82 fantasy points per game at home and 21.03 fantasy points per game on the road; I am very willing to stack Ben with Smith-Schuster in tournaments this week.
There is nothing original about writing up Austin Ekeler but he needs to be included in this space because he is going to be a core part of my ownership this week and might even earn himself something close to the lock button.
Ekeler played 75% of San Diego’s snaps last week against the Colts while Justin Jackson played only 25%. Ekeler also saw seven targets to his 12 rushes, which indidates that at least a plurality of his touches are going to be high value touches. To make his projection improve even more, Hunter Henry is likely to miss at least 4 weeks due to a fracture of his tibia and the coaching staff is now worried about Mike Williams’ knee.
We have a situation where the offensive volume for the Chargers is going to start to be extremely concentrated against Detroit. Ekeler is projected for the third most raw fantasy points of any running back in the initial runs of our DraftKings model here at Daily Roto and he costs only $6,100.
A key part of winning at DFS is not looking a gift horse in the mouth. There is bad chalk and there is good chalk. Trying to get underweight on Ekeler this week is not something that I am interested in. With a 75% snap share, a target share above 15%, a seeming monopoly of goalline work and a good matchup, Ekeler is the best running back play of the week for the money he costs.
Leverage Plays Off Concentrated Ownership
Perhaps the most important skill that any DFS can try learn is identifying at what ownership percentage a good play becomes a thin play. There are two really good examples this week in Josh Jacobs and Tyrell Williams.
Both of them are under $5,000 on DraftKings, coming off weeks where they performed great against a good defense and are now playing a much weaker defense in a game with more expected fantasy points scoring. It sounds like they should be fantastic plays (and they are).
However, if they see their ownership rise above 30% (and Jacobs is much more likely than Williams to get anywhere close to this), I am not certain that they are as strong of plays. I am NOT going to be outright fading either of this players in my GPP lineups but will mostly be trying to include them in game stacks and keying in Chiefs players with them.
It is, at the very least, a worthwhile thought exercise to compare the two Raiders plays to a few guys who are in similar price ranges and see how your lineup might change if you subbed the Raiders players out.
Matt Breida and Devin Singletary vs. Josh Jacobs
Josh Jacobs was a workhorse in Week One. Our projections expected that, as he was one of the highest projected running backs for the entire week and he played over 70% of the teams snaps while handling every single running back touch that the team gave out. You can’t really put a price on that kind of workload and that price definitely is not $4,700.
However, that game against Denver was very clearly one sort of game script. This week against Kansas City, there will be a very different script. We expect that the market is going to behave as if they are CERTAIN that Jacobs is not going to leave the field for Jalen Richard when the team is down 14 points. I do not have that same certainty. Jacobs was a good pass catcher in college and there is no reason that he would HAVE to leave the field but it is in the range of outcomes that he does. If Jacobs loses passing down work to Richard in this game, his projection looks much worse.
On the converse, Matt Breida is going to be the lead back for the San Francisco 49ers with Tevin Coleman out for at least a month with a high ankle sprain and Devin Singletary ran a route on 82% of Josh Allen’s dropbacks last week. We can heavily suspect that both Brieda and Singletary are going to receive a majority of the high value touches in their respective backfields this week and both will likely combine for something like 8% cumulative ownership.
Jacobs has earned his projection with his week one performance but I think the range of outcomes suggest that he is not a LOCK button play the same way that someone like Austin Ekeler is.
Courtland Sutton and Will Fuller vs Tyrell Williams
Tyrell looked like he was ready to fill in admirably as a WR1 last week against Denver as he played 95% of the teams snaps and Williams had the third-highest weighted opportunity ranking of any wide receiver in Week One. The issue that we find when projecting wide receiver is that even the very best wide receivers sort of max out at 15 interactions per week. That is RB3-level workload. In football, the fewer plays that a player is involved in, the wider the range of outcomes gets. Williams might again lead the Raiders in targets but if he just runs on the bad side of variance, he might be closer to 10 PPR points instead of 20. Williams is a good play but the way in which he accumulates fantasy points just allows for a wider spectrum of results.
It is stretching it a little bit to say that Fuller is in the same salary range as Tyrell as he is $900 more but instructive of a point I want to make. Fuller had only three receptions and 8.5 PPR points last week in a game where his team scored 28 points and were actively passing. That is a perfect example of the wide range of outcomes that good fantasy players at the wide receiver position can have. This week, the Texans team total is comparable but they are playing in a lower overall total game against a “tough” defense (that just gave up 40 to the Chiefs).
Sutton actually saw way more volume than Fuller did and a similar amount of targets to Williams. Sutton played 89% of the Broncos snaps and totaled seven catches and 120 yards on eight targets at an aDOT of 11.9. Those are really solid actual numbers and peripheral metrics. He gets a tougher matchup against the Bears than the Broncos last week and Denver may not be trailing this entire game so I wouldn’t jump to say that he will FOR SURE see eight targets again this week but Sutton was a breakout candidate anyway and riding guys like that early in the season before the pattern becomes obvious to everyone with a DK account is a nice way to get leverage on the field.
Again, Tyrell projects better than both Fuller and Sutton on a 50th percentile. He is a really good play! However, I expect that both Fuller and Sutton will be around 2-4% owned in large field GPP’s and probably even less in Single Entry/3-Max fields. Williams might approach 20% in large field tournaments and be greater than that in SE/3-Max. I don’t think it is instructive to just say FADE THE CHALK because that is rarely actually the right path.
Instead, I would say think about the probability that Tyrell has of achieving of GPP winning score (25+ DK points) versus a few of the other high-volume (Sutton or Christian Kirk) or high-efficiency players (Will Fuller or Mecole Hardman) who are also in the same relative pricing tier as him when you are constructing your lineups this week.