Daily Fantasy: Week 1 DraftDay Optimal Plays

Daily Fantasy: Week 1 DraftDay Optimal Plays

By Jonathan Bales (Daily Fantasy Expert), last update Sep 5, 2013

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Jonathan Bales is a DraftKings Pro and the author of the Fantasy Football for Smart People book series. His latest book, How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports, is a data-driven guide to winning on DraftKings. He is also (unofficially) sponsored by GrubHub.

Follow Jonathan Bales on Twitter: @BalesFootball.

Guess what guys? It’s football season. That means we can put the fate of our hard-earned cash into the hands of the fantasy football gods, risking the kids’ college tuition to hit it big.

I’m kidding, of course. Oh, we’re still going to be playing fantasy. Lots of it. But we’re just going to appease the gods to make sure they’re on our side. And you know what the fantasy football gods love more than anything? When you pretend they don’t exist and just use math to kick the crap out of your opponents. Yeah, that’s what the fantasy football gods like.

So that’s what we’ll do. Each week, I’m going to use the 4for4 DraftDay value reports and some other stats to give you optimal lineups for two daily sites, one of which is DraftDay. Note that the full lineups are listed at the bottom of this article for subscribers only. Let’s get into it before my girlfriend wakes up and asks me if I’m “seriously writing about fantasy football all day again. This isn’t a real job, Jonathan.”


DraftDay Optimal Heads-Up Lineup

(optimal lineups located at the bottom of this article for subscribers only)

If you check out the value reports, you’ll notice that the majority of the best values are low-priced players. That’s natural, but we can’t just fill our team with the best values and call it a day. Value is just a tool we use to maximize what we really want: points.

So when you’re creating your lineups, get as many elite values in there as you can, but realize that you’ll typically have to move down the list to maximize projected points. That’s what I did with my optimal heads-up lineup, paying for Calvin Johnson and Jamaal Charles, both of whom are decent values but not nearly as high as players like Isaac Redman.

I also have Eddie Lacy in my optimal heads-up lineup; he has a difficult matchup against the Niners, but that’s factored into his low cost. So is the uncertainty of him being a rookie. I’m bullish on Lacy in season-long leagues, so I can use that to acquire value on him and similar players in daily fantasy early in the year.


DraftDay Optimal Tournament Lineup

(optimal lineups located at the bottom of this article for subscribers only)

I wrote an entire article on stacking—pairing a quarterback with one or ore of his receivers—because I think it’s so important in tournaments. Actually, my entire tournament strategy is based around finding a top QB-WR pair and building around them.

Tony Romo is one of the best values on DraftDay this week, listed at fifth in the value reports. The Giants and Cowboys are evenly matched and these games often turn into a shootout. If Romo goes off, Dez Bryant is likely to do the same. That dependent relationship creates a higher ceiling for your team, which you need in big leagues.

I paired the duo with David Wilson, another of our best values. That’s a trick I call “reverse stacking.”

While stacking typically refers to pairing players on the same team, there’s another form of stacking—what I call “reverse stacking”—that can also increase the ceiling projection for your lineup. Reverse stacking involves pairing players who are participating in the same game, but on different teams.

Imagine that the Giants are playing the Eagles. You see that the Giants are a seven-point favorite and make a pretty conservative prediction that they’ll be winning late in the contest. Thus, you jump on running back David Wilson. Good idea.

But what if you’re in a tournament and you’re seeking upside, yet you don’t particularly like any quarterback and wide receiver pairs? Another way to increase variance would be to use a wide receiver on the Eagles. Let’s say that you’ve already decided to use Wilson and you’re choosing between Jeremy Maclin, who you have projected at 10.0 points, and another receiver in a different game, who you have projected at 10.5 points. Despite the lower projection, Maclin would probably be the best choice in a tournament because his play is linked to that of Wilson; if the Giants are winning in the fourth quarter and Wilson is getting carries, the Eagles will be passing in order to catch up. Thus, you’ve just created a dependent relationship without stacking in the traditional sense.

Reverse stacking. Tell your friends.

Did you tell your friends? Well that blurb—written before Maclin went down for the year and ruined my example—applies here. If the Cowboys are down and forced to throw late, increasing the ceilings for both Romo and Bryant, then there’s a good chance that Wilson will be getting late carries. Another dependent relationship, and more upside.

I don’t typically like rookie wide receivers, but Kenbrell Thompkins is priced so low that he’s an amazing value. It creates a situation in which we can own a bunch of studs, including Adrian Peterson, who I have projected so far ahead of every other running back that you basically need him in your tournament lineups against the Lions.

So there you have it. What do you say we make some cash this weekend? And don’t forget to sign up for our $5.50, 50-man overlay tournament.


Optimal Lineups

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