The Reid Option: Week 16 - NFL DFS Strategy
Week 16 – commonly known as Fantasy Championship Weekend – is upon us. Besides maybe Thanksgiving, this is my favorite week of the football season. We get the Saturday games, which makes for a dank DFS mini-slate. We get to rail our seasonal fantasy championships, where the returns from all the hard work we’ve put in for the past five-plus months come to roost. And of course, we get the spirit of Christmas, which in my opinion is the nuts when it comes to holidays.
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I’ll be real honest with you guys too, I’m far more invested in seasonal fantasy than DFS this week. I’m playing in two very personally important championship games, including going for the first 3-peat in the 18-year history of my home keeper league with all of my best friends. I have no problem admitting that it’s taken the majority of my focus this week, and I’ll surely be railing seasonal all day Sunday while checking my DFS results for the first time 10 minutes before recording the Gillcast on Sunday night. However, I don’t expect that to negatively impact my DFS prep this week, since DFS and seasonal fantasy are basically the same thing.
“Wait, what are you talking about?”, you might be asking right now. “How high are you?”, you might also be wondering. Well, the answer to the second question is irrelevant, but to answer the first question that I posed to myself for you (oh man, so high): It’s true – seasonal fantasy football is basically 16 consecutive weekly slates of DFS, only you have a more limited pool of players (those on your roster plus those freely available on the FA wire), and everyone is the same price ($0). But the basic things that go into finding good DFS plays – target share and air yards share, snap rates, backfield opportunity percentage, Vegas lines/team totals/projected gamescripts – are the same things that guide your seasonal decisions. And because of their essentially identical scoring structures (events-based point scoring calculated on a weekly basis) and game dynamics, there is no DFS sport that as closely mirrors its seasonal counterpart.
Last week, I tweeted this: “The idea of ‘playing your studs’ or ‘playing who got you here’ or ‘playing who you’ll have the least regrets about losing with’ is losing sh*t. There’s only one rule: Play the players who you believe will be you the best chance to win. Do not play in fear.” As DFS players, this is obvious and frankly just second nature to us; every week is a new slate, and we’re trying to make the best team within the framework of the rules structure.
Meanwhile, most seasonal fantasy players don’t view things this way; they’re squares who still look at it as a seasonal game, as opposed to a weekly game which is played over the course of a season. Whereas being a good DFS baseball player won’t translate much to the vastly different seasonal game, getting deep into the weeds of DFS football will absolutely make you a better seasonal player. I know it has for me.
This week, we put it all on the line. But while the stakes are the highest of the season, nothing actually changes for us. Whether you’re grinding seasonal or DFS, don’t treat it any differently than any other week: Analyze the slate, decide who’s going to give you the best chance to win, set your lineup … and then hope and pray as the games play out.
I wish you all the best of luck in all of your fantasy ventures in Week 16. Let’s get to it.
(As always, all odds are accurate at the time of publishing and may shift throughout the week. The Reid Option focuses exclusively on the daily fantasy football main slate.)
With five legitimate fantasy QBs and Tom Brady banished to the Saturday slate, we’re left with a plethora of 2nd-rate posers from which to choose from on the main slate. Of course, we also get the GOAT of all GOATS – Lamar Jackson – and the big question will be whether we should pay up for him or not. In cash games, I rarely pay up at QB and certainly never spend $8K on DK or $9.3K on FanDuel. And yet … with value abound at RB and no absolute musts at the top end of WR, I may just end up making an exception this week. The Ravens have the 2nd-highest implied team total of the week at 29.3 points, and the Cleveland clown show has completely given up on life. I fully expect Baltimore to knock the swoosh off of the Browns’ Nikes and for Lamar to put an exclamation point on his MVP campaign, and I wouldn’t at all mind having some real American dollars behind that inevitable outcome.
In the middle tier, I expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to be popular and considering his matchup against the Bengals’ junior varsity defense, I totally get it and he will be a part of my GPP pool. However, in this price tier I trust the ceiling/floor combo of Matt Ryan more with the Falcons playing indoors and finding themselves backed by a 26.5-point implied team total. Ryan is always a strong floor play based on his high-end yardage totals (his 289.9 YPG is 5th in the NFL), and combined with higher-than-usual touchdown equity in this game, I consider him a solid option in all formats.
I’m sure there will be some people who will play Will Grier for $4300 on DK, and I have no doubt that he’ll show up as a strong point-per-dollar play in the projection models. But for me, the floor is so low that I’m hesitant to use him in cash games, and am likely to reserve any exposure for low-priced vomit stacks (™ Jordan Cooper) in GPPs. If I’m going to scrape the bottom of the outhouse pit for a QB, it’ll probably be Andy Dalton: He’s halfway competent, he’s got the mother of all matchups (@MIA), and he’s leverage off of the sure-to-be-chalky Joe Mixon.
Since I’m feeling magnanimous, I’m going to give you one super-stealth galaxy brain GPP play that I’ll be surprised if anyone is on. This man is 3rd in the NFL in passing yards and he’s got a home game against a defense that is allowing the 2nd-most net yards per attempt and the 3rd-most air yards on completions. Oh yeah, this defense is also bottom-5 in pressure rate and total points allowed. Now this man has hit the 300-yard bonus in 8 of his 14 games, his team is backed by a robust 25.5-point implied team total, and he costs just $5700 on DraftKings. Of course, nobody will play him because he’s a living meme, he’s coming off the mother of all screw-up games, and he’s got more kids than a cat has lives. This man is, of course, Philip Rivers.
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As of this writing, the cash game RB core looks pretty clear. Christian McCaffrey is always in play – he’s the best cash game player in DFS, and it’s not particularly close. DeAndre Washington is the free square; Josh Jacobs has already been ruled out, and D-Wash played 63% of Oakland’s snaps and garnered 66% of the team’s backfield opportunities when Jacobs missed Week 14. D-Wash doesn’t profile as a total smash, but fading 14-18 touches for $4K on DraftKings and $5.6K on FanDuel is something that the bottom 20% of low-IQ havin’ fish will do. So all you have to do is ask yourself, are you a bottom 20%, low-IQ havin’ fish?
Then there’s my personal smash of the week, Joe Mixon. He’s getting fed like a retiree on an all-inclusive cruise and he’s facing the Dolphins’ eunuch-laden defense. In honor of the holidays, Mixon gets a little Christmas jingle this week!
Santa had a cup of coffee and he made a little stack
Threw my DFS team right on to his back
Open the gallows of the Bengals attack
And touted no Carson or Conner – Mixon conviction, have no fear
Were gonna get a-smashin’ and spread some cheer
So limber your legs and sharpen your moves
‘Cause tonight is the night we’re gonna bink on FanDuel
Well the haters they were so broke and bland
They took another loss heads up versus Sam
They got put into their proper place
And got slapped up in that heads up race
Ole Santa he shook off the ice and snow
Loaded his lineups and then yelled, “let’s go!”
All the RG boys were a happy crew
Because they played Joe Mixon too
A little key ammo in making this play
Ole Santa began to swing and sway
Thought he heard a toy drum starting to beat
But he found it was just the Mixon touting from Sammy
The Bengals boogied in Dolphins endzone
Joe Mixon carried a mighty big load
Now boogie to the left, now boogie to the right
Do the Mixon boogie this Christmas Eve night
I’m also big on Devonta Freeman this week, especially on FanDuel where he’s priced down at just $6200. The Jacksonville defense is more embarrassing than a fart in church and are basically a performance-enhancing drug to any running back that faces them. There was that time they served up 160 rushing yards to Carlos Hyde and there was also that time they allowed 100+ yards to BOTH Marlon Mack and Jonathan Williams in the same game. And hey, let us not forget the time they allowed Austin Ekeler to hit BOTH the rushing and receiving 100-yard bonus (that was just two weeks ago). Overall, they’ve allowed the 2nd-highest YPC (5.1) and the 2nd-most rushing touchdowns (19) to opposing RBs and the Falcons have a 26.5-point implied team total and are 7.5-point home favorites on the NFL odds board. D-Free is gonna run free come Sunday.
I hate this position this week; we have three spots to fill and there’s only two players I like – and one of them is something called Greg Ward. Ward’s main redeeming quality is that he’s cheap, and yeah, I could cite his 80% snap share and 20% target share over the last two weeks, and if I were so inclined I could even mention that over that timespan he’s 2nd on the team in air yards (130) and that the Cowboys are bottom-5 in yards allowed to slot WRs over the past eight weeks. But, you know, it’s mostly just because he’s cheap.
I’m also big into Courtland Sutton, but more so because he’s actually good: Since Emmanuel Sanders was traded after Week 7 Sutton is 2nd in the NFL in air yards share (41%) while rocking a strong 25% team target share, and against a Lions D that gives up the most air yards on completions (2,629), I’m way into him. He doesn’t rate to see so many targets that he’s a sure-fire cash game lock, but I’ll consider him in those formats while making him one of my highest exposure GPP options.
I’ll also be very into both Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup if we get good news on Dak Prescott ‘s shoulder injury as the week goes on. Philly has allowed the 2nd-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts and their specific weakness is on the outside, where both of these receivers roam. This is a money matchup stylistically for Dallas since Dak Prescott is 2nd among all QBs in air yards thrown, and I’ll probably be using both guys as GPP one-offs as long as we don’t get word of a mid-week right arm amputation for Dak.
We must also acknowledge that Tyler Lockett has a higher ceiling than the Sistine Chapel this week against the Cardinals, a team that plays like they it is contractually obligated to not guard the middle of the field. While Patrick Peterson mans up on D.K. Metcalf on the outside, Lockett should run free like Willie Mays Hayes doing wind sprints during Spring Training. Only one team has allowed more passing yards and touchdowns than Arizonahahaha … juuuuuust kidding, no one has. They suck. Play Lockett, and get you some Russell Wilson while you’re at it.
Remember when we all thought Zach Ertz was dust and his reign as an elite tight end was over? So yeah, he only leads all NFL tight ends in targets, is 2nd in weighted opportunity, and is 3rd in receiving touchdowns. Philly’s entire receiver corps is dust (except for my boy Greg Ward), and in a must-win game, you can bet they’re going to rain targets down on him like he was Mia Khalifa in a bukakke scene.
It’s also true that Austin Hooper is far too cheap, especially on DraftKings dot com. Although he hasn’t had big fantasy production since he came back from injury, he’s seen 6 targets in back-to-back games and he’s 2nd on the club in target share and air yards, behind only Julio Jones. My other preferred cheap option is Mike Gesicki, who actually ranks 3rd among all TEs in air yards over the last four weeks. He’s both cheap enough for cash and strong enough leverage off of Devante Parker for GPPs in your Dolphins stacks.
Do we like the Colts? Yes we do: The Panthers have allowed the league’s 5th-highest adjusted sack rate and their third-string QB is about to take his first snaps of the season while on the road.
Do we like the Broncos? Yes we do: David Blough has thrown 5 picks and been sacked 9 times in 3 starts, and at 15.8 points, the Lions have the lowest implied team total of the week.
Do we like the Seahawks? Yes we do: Kyler Murray has taken the most sacks in the NFL and Seattle is a 9.5-point home favorite, so Arizona should have to drop back a whole lot.
Do we like the Falcons? Yes we do: Jacksonville has given up on their season and the 70s pornstar magic that Gardner Minshew first brought to town is long gone.
Do we like the Browns as a super-stealthy contrarian GPP play in a home game against the Ravens at less than 1% ownership? Hahaha no we don’t, you silly fish you.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Let’s go make some money in Week 16.