The Reid Option: Week 15

As is often the case throughout the football season, Twitter is abuzz with dissenting opinions on fantasy football – both seasonal and DFS. The good news is, my taeks are infallible and I’m here to be the final arbiter of such matters. Yes, I may suffer from delusions of grandeur, but at least I’m self-aware!

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We’ll start off with a seasonal taek, since I know that’s why everyone reads this column. The fantasy playoffs are upon us, and the age-old debate of whether teams that have been eliminated from the playoffs should continue to pick up players or not is raging.

The correct answer to this issue seems so simple, yet the amount of discourse suggests that the population doesn’t agree that it is. Which is fine – because as the final arbiter of such matters who suffers from delusions of grandeur but is self-aware about it, I’m here to make a final and correct ruling.

The ruling is this: If you are eliminated from the playoffs in a re-draft league and you either don’t have any more games or you’re in a consolation bracket where the outcome is irrelevant, you’re done. Hang ‘em up, it’s time to sit out. There’s no shame in it. You had your chance, it didn’t work out this year, and now your season is over. Let the teams which are still alive duke it out mano a mano – it’s not your fight anymore. Go focus on DFS, your other seasonal teams that are still alive, and maybe your family too (if there’s enough time left over).

However – and here’s the caveat – if there is any benefit to winning your remaining consolation game(s), you still play as normal. If there is money on the line, play on. If it’s a keeper or dynasty league and there is even a sliver of a chance that you could pick up a player that has future value, play on. If in any way, next year’s draft order can still be determined by how you finish, play on. But if you’re eliminated from the real playoffs (the “winner’s bracket”) and there are no rewards left, sit it out.

The reasoning behind this should be obvious, but in case it’s not: If you continue to make moves, you are disproportionately affecting the championship race in some way. If you win a waiver bid over a contender you are hurting that specific contender, and thus by association, helping the other contenders. This is more than ok when you have something to play for, because you are acting in your team’s best interests – that is the heart of competitive balance. But when your team has no interests, the moves you make are arbitrarily hurting some teams and helping others, without any benefit to you. That’s the fantasy version of playing God, whether it’s done purposefully or not – and that’s the opposite of competitive balance.

To give you a real-life example, I’m currently alive in the playoffs of two different seasonal leagues. One is a keeper league, and one is a re-draft with no remaining benefits to eliminated teams. In both leagues, I have a FAAB advantage over the remaining playoff teams. This week I put in a waiver claim for Darius Slayton in the keeper league, and a claim for Tyler Higbee in the re-draft league.

In both leagues, I was out-bid by an eliminated team for those players. In the keeper league there’s zero issue; while Slayton is quite unlikely to be a keeper, you never know – the chances are higher than 0%. That club had a FAAB advantage over me and out-bid me, and that’s fair game because he was genuinely acting in his franchise’s best interests. In the re-draft league, there is no benefit to this owner winning his consolation game, and so he is upsetting the balance of competition because he is denying equity to one team (me, in this case) and thus adding equity to other teams (the remaining playoff teams) without any benefit to his own team – and no, your Yahoo profile saying that you finished 7th instead of 9th does not count; your ego is not a sufficient reason to affect a playoff race. The league setup dictates tangible rewards for winning, and if there are none, you’re done.

As an aside, I actually prefer leagues that keep every team active through Week 16. I believe that incentives for competition through the very end are good for a league, and I like it when the full-season dynamic of every team competing remains through the playoffs, instead of getting warped as fewer teams are left alive. But if there is no such dynamic at play, owners should recognize that and do the right thing.

Now, any league worth a salt will have a league constitution which clearly spells out the rules in these cases. But the reality is that only a small fraction of leagues have a constitution, but luckily for everyone I have laid out an iron-clad blueprint for leagues to follow as a default, free of charge. That’s what a nice guy I am!

The second debate raging on Twitter is that of duplicated lineups in DFS. My rant for this will be much shorter, don’t worry. The reality is that while there is some lineup sharing going on, the majority of duped lineups are the result of projection systems and optimizers. There are a handful of major projection systems/lineup optimizers on the market, and many serious DFS players subscribe to at least one. If a lot of people are working with the same outputs, you’re just going to find a lot of similar – or exact – lineups, that’s just the way it is.

Would it be better for the DFS ecosystem if that weren’t the case? I think it probably would. But the reality is that in most industries, things become more efficient over time. And the cold truth is that efficiency isn’t always for the best: Baseball is undoubtedly more efficient than it was 20 years ago, but gobs of strikeouts and walks generally makes the sport less watchable to the average fan. Same goes for basketball and the rise of the layup or 3-pointer offense (and don’t get me started on instant replay). As businesses get more efficient, they automate more jobs and outsource many more to foreign countries, often using lower-quality materials while they’re at it.

In the poker world, solvers have come to the forefront of high-level play, while an abundance of information on training sites and even free Youtube videos has made the average player much better. No doubt, the edges have become thinner as time has gone on, and we’re seeing the same thing happen in DFS. And whether you like it or not, you’d better adapt or get out of the game, because it’s happening with or without you – for better or for worse.

With all that out of the way, let’s get to this week’s NFL DFS main slate.

(As always, all odds are accurate at the time of publishing and may shift throughout the week. The Reid Option focuses exclusively on the main slate.)

QUARTERBACK

With no Lamar Jackson on the slate, we’re actually going to have to put a modicum of thought into who we play at quarterback this week. In cash, the options do feel somewhat straightforward – I’ll likely play either Dak Prescott or Jimmy Garoppolo. The case for Dak is clear: He leads the NFL in passing yards and also adds an average of 17.2 rushing YPG for good measure. The game is indoors (always a plus this time of year) and while the matchup against the Rams defense doesn’t make your testes tingle, this game’s 48.5 point over/under is the 2nd-highest on the main slate.

Jimmy G is far more touchdown-dependent than Dak, but considering the 49ers have a home game against the rancid Falcons defense (which has allowed an opponent score on 44.9% of their drives – 3rd-highest in the NFL) and are backed by the slate’s highest implied team total at 29 points, I’d say his touchdown equity is in better shape than Frank Thomas on a double-dose of Nugenix. He’s the highest-priced QB on FanDuel (so I’d heavy-lean to Dak there in cash), but there’s a ton of value on him on DK, where he’s priced as just the QB11.

In GPPs, I’m going back to Jameis since he ranks #1 in the NFL in DGAF factor, aka air yards. Couple that with a matchup against a Lions defense that has allowed the 3rd-most passing yards and has produced the 6th-lowest pressure rate (plus has a natural alpha bring-back in Kenny Golladay with Marvin Jones now on the IR), and I consider this game delectably stack-erific.

I should be remiss if I did not inform you that by royal decree, there shall be no defense played in the Meadowlands this weekend. The Dolphins and Giants are both bottom-10 in points allowed, plays allowed, passing yards allowed, sacks forced, and lowest turnover rate. Ryan Fitzpatrick is Jameis-light in terms of not giving a squirt, and while I prefer Daniel Jones to Eli Manning, either will do at their price point as well.

RUNNING BACK

Christian McCaffrey is priced “down” this week, so the big decision will be to pay up for him and down for your 2nd RB, or to go with two moderately priced backs. And I’ll tell you, that mid-to-upper end tier is pretty enticing, with players like Saquon Barkley, Chris Carson, and (slaps self in face) Leonard Fournette.

I realize that Saquon is tough to play at this point, but the reality is that the Dolphins play defense worse than Nate Nohling takes Ls and the Giants are 3.5-point home favorites with a 25-point implied team total. It has all the makings of a Saquon smash if you’re objective about the spot instead of letting the game logs scare you off.

Carson is easier to play, and honestly I’m more likely to swallow a live tarantula than I am to make a cash game lineup without him. Fantasy scavenger Rashaad Penny is confirmed dust (RIP), leaving Carson as a true 80%+ snap guy who is a virtual lock for 20+ touches, including increased work in the passing game. That’ll play against a Panthers D that has allowed the highest YPC and the most rushing TDs in the NFL, whilst the Hawks are 6-point favorites with a 27-point implied team total.

The middle tier is where things get really interesting. DeAndre Washington is a stone lock if Josh Jacobs misses, so let’s get that out of the way up front. I wouldn’t fade him in cash, I wouldn’t fade him in GPP, I wouldn’t fade him in a house, I wouldn’t fade him with a mouse. Around this time of the season, you’ll see teams who have given up like Artax in the Swamp of Sadness – and the Jacksonville Jaguars are one of those teams.

If we don’t get no D-Wash, I have a very important question for you: If there were an RB who has played 74.8% of his team’s snaps while handling 78.3% of his teams backfield opportunities over the past four games, and he was playing at home against a defense that has allowed the 5th-highest YPC and the 7th-most rushing yards, and he was priced at just $5,000 on DraftKings and $6200 on FanDuel … would you be interested? If so, then you’re interested in Kenyan Drake, and so am I.

Raheem Mostert also has the makings of a mid-priced smash; on Thursday morning, coach Mike Shanahan said that Mostert has earned more opportunities in a lead-back role. He’s obviously crushed over the past two weeks (averaging 25.7 DK points on 16.5 touches), and as an 11-point home favorite backed by a 29-point implied team total, he is exceedingly likely to shred Atlanta’s single-ply defense on the 15-20 touches that now seem quite likely.

WIDE RECEIVER

DeAndre Hopkins projects for a 30%+ target share when Will Fuller doesn’t play; if that’s the case this week, he’s the cash game guy you pay up for. If Fuller plays Nuk is still great, but maybe not a close-your-eyes-and-click play. Your low-key #1 WR play on DraftKings? It’s the guy who has the highest weighted opportunity rating in the NFL over the past four weeks and plays the Cardinals this week – the defense which has allowed the most total plays and the most passing yards in the league. That’s right, I’m talking about … Jarvis Landry.

Both Chris Godwin and Kenny Golladay have been relieved of significant target competition, and while it’s folly to just assume they’ll instantly become elite volume mosters because of it, I’m expecting this game to go nuclear and as such, these two will be staples of my GPP lineups. The other high-priced WR I’ll be overweight on is Tyreek Hill; his 41% air yards share is 2nd in the NFL, he’s got a “tough matchup”, and he’s been quiet over the past few weeks. The truth is that Reek can crush anytime, anywhere, and against anyone – so I want to roster him when his ownership rates to be lower than usual.

At this point, it would be hard not to consider Darius Slayton a cash game lock at $4700 on DraftKings. Since Week 10, Slayton is 3rd in the NFL in weighted opportunity rating and has seen no fewer than 7 targets in any of his four games. He also draws a primo matchup, considering the Dolphins DBs couldn’t cover a tranquilized tortoise.

Deciding who to play in Mike Evans’ absence is going to be key to this slate in both cash games and GPPs; Breshad Perriman is the safest bet since he’s been Tampa Bay’s #3 receiver all season, but draftnik favorite Justin Watson – who went for 5-59-1 on 8 targets while playing 55% of the snaps – is cheaper and has the distinct advantage of not being Breshad Perriman. Another cheap GPP one-off that will go under the radar is Chris Conley, who rates to step in as Jacksonville’s primary outside option with D.J. Chark on hurt. The Raiders defense sucks hairy beanbag and have allowed the 2nd-most air yards on completions in the NFL, making Conley the kind of penny stock you want to invest in now.

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TIGHT END

In GPPs, I generally pay up for TE and try to smash big games from the likes of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz at relatively low ownership. But in cash games and single-entry tournaments, I usually just pay down, and this week’s punt candidate is fairly obvious. Over the past two weeks (when Gerald Everett has been snapped), Tyler Higbee has seen 19 targets and 188 air yards, both the most among NFL tight ends over that timespan. Assuming Everett is out again, I’m going back to Higbee, just like I’m going to back Sublime in his honor :

I won’t fade on Tyler Higbee, I ain’t got no crystal ball
If I had a million dollars in my cap, I’d spend it all
If I could afford Kelce, or George Kittle I’d be down
Well I’d pay up for tight end and I’d take the millyyyyy down

But I really want to go, with Higbee
Yeah my Higbee tight end play is by design
I love salary relief
My trolls will have to wait til I get swept
Find a tight end who’s high owned
Sammy’s gonna punt after all

I feel the rake, feel the rake, feel the rake
And I’ve got to win it all
Oh yeah
Well I’ll bink the Spy

But I really want to go, with Higbee
Yeah my Higbee tight end play is by design
I love salary relief
My trolls will have to …

DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS

This week’s spread of DST options are a vomit buffet, so it’s basically going to be a matter of closing your eyes and scooping up the least nasty option that you can find. If you’re paying up, the 49ers are the jam: They lead the world in adjusted sack rate (10.4%) and they’re such a big favorite (-11, the highest spread of the week) that Atlanta should have to throw a ton, giving the 49ers a boatload of opportunities to get after a Calvin Ridley-less Matt Ryan.

My favorite cheap defense this week is the Lions, and not because they have a sliver of talent, but because they’re facing the Santa Claus of DST fantasy points, Jameis Winston. Sure, the Bucs will likely put up plenty of points, but Jameis leads the NFL in interceptions (by 7 over the next-closest QB!) and has been sacked multiple times in 11 of 13 games. Ho ho ho.

In GPPs, my cheap contrarian DST is … the Washington Redskins. Surprisingly, the ‘Skins rank 3rd in pressure rate and 4th in adjusted sack rate, while injuries have decimated Philly’s offensive attack. I’ve wasted enough money on the Eagles this season, and I aim to make it back here!

Thanks for reading, everyone! Let’s go make some money in Week 15.

About the Author

  • Sammy Reid (SammyReid)

  • Sammy is a former online poker professional and Hearts champion who has been playing competitive fantasy sports for more than 15 years. A student of both sports and game theory, Sammy has been grinding DFS cash games since 2013. You can find more of his work in the 2017 edition of Joe Pisapia’s Fantasy Black Book, at FantasyInsiders.com, RosterCoach.com, and the Baseballholics Anonymous podcast.

Comments

  • boogereatingmoron

    • 2017 FanDuel WFBC Finalist

    • 2019 FanDuel WFBC Finalist

    good article Sammy, thanks

  • Crusader81

    Great Stuff Sammy! The best read on the site!

  • 307backspin

    Great Read! Lets get that green this week!

  • ullmy511

    GL sammy

  • ryanstantonwyman

    Those GPP picks were on point! Drake, Perriman, Conley, Higbee, and Winston ftw! Had my best week ever thanks this article.

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