The Reid Option: Week 2
Each week, Sammy Reid will break down each position in detail, pinpointing his favorite plays at various salary ranges. Who should we be focusing our core on this week? Read below to find out!
After a long offseason filled with the leisurely pace of baseball watching, I had forgotten the feeling of watching football. You know, that butt-clenching, teeth-grinding six hours on Sunday that feels like a car ride out to Las Vegas through bat country with Raoul Duke and Dr Gonzo.
And Week 1 certainly didn’t disappoint. We had the Bucs/Saints barnburner in the morning, accompanied by a text barrage from Nate Nohling (who played Fitzpatrick in cash) calling me a fish in glee, and Davis Mattek (who swapped out of Fitzpatrick in cash) calling himself a fish in a fit of unbridled tilt. We had the James Conner smash game, the Tyreek Hill flash game, and the Aaron Rodgers burn-Chicago-to-ash game.
For six hours I didn’t eat, I couldn’t go to the bathroom, and I only got up from the couch once (to grab a phone charger). I may or may not have yelled at my wife when she made the unforgivable mistake of kindly asking me to order lunch right after the Steelers tied the Browns. It was amazing.
I can only hope that Week 2 provides the same methamphetamine buzz that last week did. But even if it does, it’ll be different. As the old saying goes, “If you’ve seen one week of football, you’ve seen one week of football.” Ok, there’s no saying. But there should be one.
No, this week is sure to be different. Last week, the chalk crushed – the cash lines were over 190 points on DraftKings – while those contrarian GPP plays fell flat. But make no mistake, variance shall inevitably come raging down like Hurricane Florence and blow into oblivion any poor soul who isn’t prepared for it. But fear not, my friends, we shall be.
One way you can always be prepared is to take advantage of late-swap. Like I said in last week’s intro, DFS is about so much more than picking the right players – it’s about playing the game better than your opponents, and in both cash games and GPPs late-swap is an under-used feature which provides free equity to those sharp enough to take advantage.
You should build your lineups with late-swap in mind whenever possible to give yourself free outs against your adversaries. To give you an example of this in practice, allow me to relate how I used this lineup hack to my advantage in Week 1:
As you know, Christian McCaffrey was one of my core plays last week. Since he played in the afternoon (Best Coast time) while my other two cash RBs (Kamara and Conner) played in the morning, I put CMC in the Flex as one should always do. I also was sure to leave myself $400 in salary so that I had the option to pivot to Melvin Gordon, who was also an excellent play.
As the morning games were nearing to a close, I went through my head-to-heads and found spots where I was behind. I used the RotoGrinders Chrome Extension (plug: available for free on this very site) to look at my opponents’ remaining salaries and determine if they also had McCaffrey in their lineups. For example, in one $50 HU where I trailed by 8.5 points, my opponent had exactly $13,900 remaining. Keenan Allen – a very chalky WR who I was also playing- was $7500, which left my opponent $6400 – exactly the price of McCaffrey. If I kept my lineup the same, I’d have no outs against him, since we were playing the same two guys.
Instead, because I constructed my lineup with this swap in mind, I was prepared and had room to swap and knew exactly who to swap to. MG3 ended up out-scoring CMC by 16.1 DK points, and I earned a free win just by playing the game right.
Some of you might be thinking it’s not worth leaving money on the table just for late swap. And you would be wrong, because A) you don’t always have to leave money on the table, although I did in this case, and B) that salary is inherently more valuable when you have more information at your disposal, as you do after the first set of games.
You also might be thinking, man, that sounds like a lot of work that I don’t want to do while I’m watching football. Look – you spend hours and hours every week researching, reading, and carefully constructing your lineups, trying to eek out an EV edge. And with a few minutes in the afternoon, you can give yourself a significant positive EV swing just by taking advantage of late swap. Your opponents will be lazy cuck nuggets who don’t play the game as well as they should – don’t be like them!
On a typical NFL week I put together multiple cash game lineups across multiple sites which will have significant player overlap. I diversify to hedge on the players I don’t feel as strongly about to reduce variance in a game where it’s inherent. The players I feel strongest about will be in the majority of my lineups – these are my “high exposure” picks. The “moderate exposure” players will be in roughly half of my lineups, and the “GPP” picks are higher-risk, high-reward plays that I believe will be under-owned by the masses. I can’t write up every single player I’ll be using in time to put this column out on Thursday, but I’ll do my best to give you the most pivotal plays I can. The rest is up to you.
Without further adieu, let’s get onto this week’s picks.
QUARTERBACK – MODERATE EXPOSURE
PATRICK MAHOMES @ PIT – Blessed with a thunderbolt-hurling arm handed down from Zeus himself, a slew of weapons that Batman would be jealous of, and a head coach who qualifies as the Gary Kasparov of offensive game-planning, Mahomes is set to become the game’s next great fantasy quarterback. Mahomes incinerated the Chargers’ vaunted defense last week to the tune of 12.4 adjusted yards per attempt – the second-highest mark in the league – and four touchdowns, two of which were manufactured shovel jobs that are a staple of the Chiefs’ innovative offensive arsenal. Mahomes is still cheap on DraftKings at just $6100 and is part of the game I want the most shares of this week. Ram and jam.
BEN ROETHLISBERGER vs KC – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Chiefs are the best team to pick on in fantasy this year. Their defense is more bombed out and depleted than Afghanistan and they have the offense to spark back-and-forth shootouts. Everybody knows to play Ben at home, but I don’t know if people realize just how prolific he is. Since 2014:
Ben: 333.2 passing YPG, 2.8 TD/pg at home
Brees: 328.1 passing YPG, 2.2 TD/pg at home
Yes, you’re reading that right. And if you extrapolated Ben’s passing YPG over that stretch to a 16-game season, you’d have a 5,331 passing yards, which would rank as the third-highest season total in NFL history. Ben is my #1 QB on the board this week, and I’ll be playing him in cash on FanDuel (where he’s at the same price point as Mahomes) and in GPPs everywhere.
RUNNING BACK – HIGH EXPOSURE
Wake up Monday morning and I raise my weary head
I lost all my family’s money, so the couch was last night’s bed
I don’t know how I’ll do it, but God knows I’ll buy back in
I’m a fishy having fun, a bankroll shover, a gamblin’ degen
I bought into the Milly
I max-entered drunk on gin
With one hundred percent Gurley
I’m usin’ my “one time”, I’m gonna win
Well they tell me that I’m fishy
Yeah I’m a fishy man
But I’m gonna run the table
Slay like Cain did to Abel
Mr Milly Champion
I’m going down in a blaze of Gurley
Against the Cards, it’s fool-proof
I’m going down in a blaze of Gurley
Lord I’ve never binked first but I’ll bink first Sun
I’m the chosen one, here’s my home run
JAMES CONNER vs KC – The Steelers are a five-point home favorite, carry a 28.8-point implied team total, and face a defense more defunct than Venezuela’s economy. And oh yeah, Conner was the only running back in the NFL to receive 100% of his team’s backfield touches in Week 1. His price has been jacked up by $2200 on DraftKings and he’s still a screaming value. Don’t listen to the amateur meteorologists – lighting does indeed strike twice.
RUNNING BACK – MODERATE EXPOSURE
ADRIAN PETERSON vs IND – Quick – name two players on Indy’s defense. I’m waiting. Ugh. You suck at this. Ok, moving on. AP functioned as the Skins’ lead back last week, racking up 28 touches in a positive game script. That was good for a 66.7% backfield touch share – the same rate as Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook received. Obviously AP doesn’t get the air work that those guys do, but then again he’s not priced like does either. And this week Washington again projects to provide an AP-friendly game script, opening as 5.5-point home favorites against a Colts team that allowed 120.4 rushing YPG last season and allowed Joe Mixon to rack up 149 total yards in Week 1 on just 22 touches.
James White @ JAX, Tevin Coleman vs CAR, and T.J. Yeldon vs NE – Keep these dudes on your radar, as Rex Burkhead, Devonta Freeman, and Leonard Fournette didn’t practice on Wednesday. White in particular has standalone value on full PPR sites regardless of Burkhead’s status, but would almost assuredly see additional snaps if Sexy Rexy missed Sunday’s game. Coleman would instantly slide into must-start territory if D-Free can’t go, as he’d project for 18+ touches as a solid home favorite at a mid-tier price. Yeldon would see plenty of work on the ground if he started and is a proven pass-catcher should Jacksonville need to take to the air vs the Pats. If all three of these guys started, I’d rank them Coleman, Yeldon, White.
WIDE RECEIVER – HIGH EXPOSURE
ANTONIO BROWN vs KC – If you didn’t figure it out already, I’m all-in on KC/Pittsburgh. And when I say all-in, I mean ALL F***ING IN. As in, 100% of lineups. Cash, GPP, all of them. Every last one. Even if he’s 50% owned, I’m looking forward to being double-weighted on the field. In case you didn’t get the memo, Phil Rivers threw for 424 yards and three tuddies against KC, and that’s not counting multiple deep passes that were wide open and dropped by the inept Chargers. When scrubs like Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are blowing the top off your defense, what do you think Antonio Brown is going to do? He’s gonna smash like Leonardo DiCaprio at a model party. A piece of advice: If your cash lineup doesn’t have AB in it, close your laptop right now and beat yourself unconscious with it.
WIDE RECEIVER – MODERATE EXPOSURE
DEVIN FUNCHESS @ ATL – With Greg Olsen in, Funchess has averaged 5.9 targets, 50 rec YPG, and .25 touchdowns per game in his career. With Olsen out, Funchess has averaged 7.8 targets, 73 YPG, and .67 touchdowns per game. And oh by the way, the Falcons just lost their two best players on defense, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones. There are several good WR plays at this price point, but Funchess is my favorite.
KENNY GOLLADAY @ SF – Like Quincy Enunwa, Golladay’s big game on Monday Night Football wasn’t factored into this week’s pricing, giving us excess value on a player who surely would have been priced higher had his game been played on Sunday. Babytron broke through in a big way on Monday night, garnering a 23% team target share and a 30% air yards share, and while I still prefer him in GPP formats, I think he’s got more upside than Enunwa in a game that could easily shoot out.
TIGHT END – HIGH EXPOSURE
GEORGE KITTLE vs DET – Kittle had an uber-impressive Week 1, commanding a 26% target share (good for 3rd among all TEs) and a 29% air yards share (which was tied for 2nd). He posted 90 receiving yards and would have had 150+ if he hadn’t spectacularly gakked a deep ball where he was all alone like Mike Tyson when the money ran out. He’ll be chalky and for good reason; his price tag across the industry is far too cheap for a legit TE1.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS – MODERATE EXPOSURE
REDSKINS vs IND – I’d love to get up to the Rams too, but my initial builds don’t have room for it and prioritizing DSTs is for donkeys. In general, you should find the cheapest home favorite you can and roll out. All the better if the team that DST is facing is the Colts, who are making a cameo in Pitch Perfect 3 as the German acapella group Das Sack Machine. They led the NFL in sacks allowed last season and the fifth-most in 2016, the last time Luck was on the field. Meanwhile, the Skins quietly ranked 6th in pass defensive DVOA last season and their weakness – rush defense – shouldn’t be a problem against a Colts backfield bereft of any semblance of talent.
QUARTERBACK – Get you some JIMMY GAROPPOLO. This Lions-Niners game could easily shoot out with both teams displaying little defensive talent and strong offensive units. Lions HC Matt Patricia may be the NFL version of Cobra Commander, a tactical blunderer with an unfounded ego who found his way into a leadership role through a series of events that isn’t quite clear to the casual observer. JARED GOFF is a shrewd leverage play off of TODD GURLEY or even stacked with him, banking on LA’s elite screen game breaking out. The Cardinals are an abomination and you definitely want to take advantage of it. CASE KEENUM was good last year, was good in Week 1, and now gets a Khalil Mack-less Raiders defense at home. The great thing about stacking the Broncos is that they have a very narrow usage tree, so you can lock Keenum in with one or both of their primary WRs and move on.
RUNNING BACK – CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY was popular last week, was a relative fantasy disappointment and saw his price go up in Week 2. Because of this it’s likely we see lowered ownership, and the reality is that CMC still saw fantastic usage, garnering 66.7% of the team’s backfield touches and a whopping 35% of his team’s targets. That’ll play so hard against a Falcons defense that allowed 110 RB receptions last season (no other team allowed even 100) and just lost their two primary RB defenders for the season. Pale Sayers is gonna eat this week and is a money play in both cash games and GPPs. MELVIN GORDON continues to be under-priced and gets a shot at a Bills defense that just gave up 47 points to Joe Flaccos. There’s a lot of touchdown upside here and since the Chargers are a strong 8.5-point favorite, game script should be in MG3’s favor as well. Also, don’t forget about ALFRED MORRIS, who is San Francisco’s goal-line back and is just $3600 on DraftKings. Playing him allows you to do whatever you want with the rest of your lineup and should he fall into the zone twice, you’ll be happier than a dog with two wangs.
WIDE RECEIVER – JOSH GORDON was in on 78% of his team’s snaps last week and although he only caught one pass, it was an ill touchdown down the sideline to get Cleveland back in the game. You saw what the Bucs did to the Saints defense last week, and while JARVIS LANDRY will get plenty of fantasy attention (and he should), it’s Flash Gordon who’s the superhero GPP play. Editors Note: Josh Gordon has been ruled out for Week 2 ROBERT WOODS posted a meager 3-37 stat line in Week 1 but saw nine targets and a whopping 161 air yards (h/t Ben Gretch), and he and Jared Goff barely missed on several downfield shots that were open on play-action. I’m going back to this well in Week 2. And hey, you guys remember that game when JULIO JONES went for 12 catches and 300 yards? That was at home against Carolina. If you believe in a shootout at Mercedes-Benz (and I do), you’ll want some Julio in your life.
TIGHT END – Ten more targets for JACK DOYLE in Week 1 after tying for the lead in team target share among tight ends last season (24%) … I don’t get why he’s still so cheap. TRAVIS KELCE was TE non-grata in Week 1, but draws a shoot-out matchup against a Pittsburgh team with no Ryan Shazier manning the middle and a group of incendiary safties who will try (and fail) to cover him. Don’t over-react to his ghost performance in Week 1.
DEFENSE/SPECIAL TEAMS – It’s sharp to go back to the well with defenses in great spots that disappointed in Week 1. That means using the Saints at home as 10-point favorites against the lowly Browns, who allowed seven sacks in the opening week. It also means using the Chargers as 8.5-point road faves against an easily bewildered JOSH ALLEN in his first NFL start, where things have serious potential to go bad quicker than Clay Travis’s Nike tweet. Finally, if you really want to get contrarian, look at the Jags at home against the Pats. We’ve been conditioned over the years to never pick on New England, but the reality is that its RB and WR skill groups are an injured mess and the Jags are a beast at home, averaging better than four sacks and two turnovers per game last season. They even sacked Brady three times and forced a fumble (that should have been a touchdown) on the road against the Pats in last season’s AFC Championship Game. If you want to bink a GPP, you need to get a little weird.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Let’s go make some money in Week 2.