Week 12 FanDuel Optimal Plays
If you aren’t a regular reader of AdvancedNFLStats.com, I highly recommend it. If you enjoy the analytical approach to fantasy football here at 4for4, you’ll probably like the same approach to NFL decision-making.
In this week’s ANS Podcast, Brian Burke—the site’s creator—was discussing randomness and had a cool story about a college professor who split his class into two groups, telling one to flip a coin and mark down “heads” or “tails” and the other to recreate a series of “heads” or “tails” just by guessing what the sequence might look like.
After excusing himself from the class for this exercise, the professor came back and instantly recognized the non-random sequence. If you ask someone you know to do this same task (have them start with trying to reproduce a random sequence), you should be able to recognize the random series as well.
Why? Because humans suck at identifying and replicating randomness. We’re built to detect patterns, so we naturally create them. Most people equate “random” to “alternating,” creating a series that might look something like HTHTHHTTHT, regardless of how long the sequence extends. In reality, long stretches of either heads or tails are common—expected, even.
If you flip a coin 100 times, you’ll almost certainly get a run of five straight heads or tails at some point. So imagine if someone who’s never seen a coin (Bill Gates hasn’t) were to watch our hypothetical coin-flipper and the first thing he saw were a stretch of six straight heads. What do you think he’d guess for the next flip?
I bring this up because, at this point in the season, we’ve seen some long stretches of outstanding and awful play. Some of this is due to repeatable factors, such as a change in scheme or personnel. But some of it is just noise, and we can obtain an advantage by recognizing which stretches of poor play are likely to improve in the future. That’s really all we’re doing in the world of daily fantasy sports—predicting regression.
Week 12 FanDuel Value Plays
QB Josh McCown @STL $5,500
McCown is cheeeeappp—less than Geno Smith, Christian Ponder, Kellen Clemens, and Matt McGloin. He’s been decently efficiently in his limited action this year, but now he has an awesome matchup with the Rams. The game is in St. Louis, so we won’t need to worry about weather—something that’s affected McCown in past games. He makes for a better heads-up than tournament play.
RB Eddie Lacy vs. MIN $6,600
Lacy is still just the 15th-priciest running back on FanDuel. He had only 14 carries last week because the Packers were down to the Giants, but they should be able to at least keep the game close against the Vikings. Prior to Week 11, Lacy had at least 22 carries in six consecutive games. You won’t find that sort of guaranteed workload elsewhere at his price.
WR Vincent Jackson @DET $8,000
Jackson was a great example of regression toward the mean last week when he posted a 10/165/1 line after compiling a total of five catches for 39 yards in his previous two contests. This is a dream matchup, indoors, in which the Bucs will likely need to air the ball out often. They’re committed to getting Jackson the ball at all costs, so he should see double-digit targets.
TE Rob Gronkowski vs. DEN $8,200
With Jimmy Graham playing tonight, there are very few viable tight end options this week for Sunday leagues. Gronkowski is the only truly elite guy, with Vernon Davis being a second-tier option. Gronk has only two touchdowns in his four games this year, but he’s always a threat to score two or three times in any game. This one has the makings of a high-scoring affair.