The Reid Option: Week 2
Week 1 was more fun than a clown on fire and provided quite the profitable venture in cash games if you jammed in Austin Ekeler everywhere, which I happened to do. Of course I also wrote a whole song about playing Jimmy Garoppolo over Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray in GPPs, so I stayed true to my #brand of RIP’ing my tournament buy-ins – which, believe it or not, wasn’t part of the plan.
In fact, my plan is to actually bink something this year – it’s my only DFS goal for this season besides maintaining a double-digit ROI in cash games. There’s a specific reason for that: My wife and I will be welcoming our first child into this world come January. And while I’m scared out of my skull that my astonishing lack of maturity will make me a sub-par parent, I can already feel myself taking things more seriously in life knowing that my successes and failures will affect someone other than me.
I believe that one of the biggest paths to success in any sort of gaming realm is deep preparation and consistent process. I’m sure to you, my sharp readers, this is obvious. But you have no idea how many people don’t think about poker unless they’re at the table, or make the majority of their DFS lineups on their phone while waiting in an Arby’s drive-thru.
Last week, loyal reader BoogerEatingMoron asked in the comments how poker was going for me, and I’m happy to report that I’m exceeding my goals on that front so far. To no surprise, the secret to that success has been deep preparation and a consistent process. In practical terms, that means studying and constructing ranges off the table, so when I’m faced with a tough situation on the table, I’ve already worked out which parts of my range I’m folding, calling, and raising with. I also have a consistent process, and operating within the framework of that defined process makes me feel confident and secure no matter what’s going on around me. For me that means always using the same motion while betting, exhibiting the same body posture and eye focus when I make a big bet, and always taking a few minutes to do deep breathing exercises in my car before every session, among other things.
In last week’s column, I wrote a bit about my career-long propensity to smash in cash and do doo-doo in GPPs. And the more I examine why that is, it becomes clear to me that my process for building GPP lineups hasn’t been good enough. For cash games, my process is strong; When prices are released, I build a spreadsheet with my initial must-plays, want-plays, and marginal-plays based on projected volume, game environments, and price value. As the week goes on and new information comes out, I tinker with the list, and by Saturday night I’ve constructed a lineup I feel good about. On Sunday morning, I double-check it but generally don’t make changes unless new relevant information has become available.
But for GPPs, I hadn’t been doing that. Instead, throughout the week I’d haphazardly build lineups, starting with stacks I like and then filling it in with other players that I think could smash with low ownership.
This season, I’ve decided to try a different process. The way I now go about building GPP lineups is to start them on Saturday mornings with my top value running backs, and if they’re chalky, I don’t care – what we’ve seen consistently at the top of GPP leaderboards are lineups that differentiate specifically at WR, which makes sense considering the inherent volatility at the position (in Week 1 we saw guys like Sammy Watkins and Marquise Brown – players I wasn’t really considering at all – blaze the path to glory, while RB options like CMC and Dalvin Cook were building blocks to success despite being chalk). I’ll then fill in that lineup with a stack or game-stack that I like, and then fill the remaining positions with my top plays at the relevant price points.
This certainly isn’t perfect, but it’s a start – and I’ll be continuing to try to refine that process as the season goes along. The reason I’m writing about it here is to hopefully encourage you to examine your own process, and work to improve it. What works for me may not work for you, and vise-versa. But the important thing is that you have a process that does work for you, and you constantly self-examine and reassess how well it’s working and how you can make it better.
If you’re not where you want to be in that regard, choose this week to work on it. I can promise you I’ll do the same, and together we’ll get where we want to be. Let’s go smash this week, my friends.
There are several quarterbacks worth considering this week, but the discussion starts with the man that that I’m trying to get up to in my cash game lineups, Lamar Jackson. We already know this kid is faster than a cheetah on a meth binge, but the passing game clinic he put down on Miami last week confirmed the offseason analytics chatter that L-Jax could break fantasy football . Working in his favor this week is the break-neck pace that the Arizona Cardinals operate at, which Derek Carty noted was the fastest in football by a landslide. Also working in his favor is his matchup against Cardinals defense that cloaked itself in shame by giving up 385/3 to Matthew Stafford and his merry band of geeks in Week 1. L-Jax is likely gonna smash again in Week 2 and I want my bankroll to benefit from it.
If you think Lamar’s big day was also partially a function of the Dolphins’ disfunction (and I do) then you’re going to want heavy exposure to Tom Brady this week (and I do). It’ll presumably be Big Game Tom’s first game with the troubled trio of Antonio Brown, Josh Gordon, and Julian Edelman. What’s that you say? Is not Edelman troubled? No? Well then we can go with the “Dysfunctional Duo”, whichever you prefer. In any case, I want shares of New England’s sick offense against Miami’s sickly defense.
Also, I have a very important question for you guys:
Me: When’s the best time to play Ben Roethlisberger?
You: The week after he plays like crap on the road!
Damn y’all are way too sharp, that’s absolutely right! You must know that over the past 5 seasons, Ben averages 324.6 passing yards and 2.7 passing TD per game at home compared to just 282.2 and 1.3 on the road. You probably also realize that people will be hesitant to play Ben this week, afraid that the Steelers ineptitude was due to the loss of Antonio Clown, when in fact it was most likely due to … I don’t know … the Patriots just owning the Steelers like they always do and Bill Belichick taking away the opponent’s top receiving option like he always does?
Oh and hey,
Me: Take a guess who doesn’t take away the other team’s top receiving option
You: The Seattle Seahawks?
Shnikey, you guys are good at this. That’s right: The Seahawks just gave up 418 yards to Andy Dalton and 158 yards to John Ross – a guy who came into the game with just 210 career receiving yards in 16 games. For real though, if you don’t wanna play Ben, that’s cool. More money for me.
Other QBs I’ll have GPP shares of include Jared Goff, since I definitely want exposure to this Saints-Rams game that has an over/under of 53 points, in a matchup of two teams that combined for 129 points in their two meetings last season. I’m also gonna get up to Patrick Mahomes and stack him up with combos of Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and Travis Kelce, and bringing them back with Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams.
Josh Jacobs is sure to be chalky, and for fair reasons: He got 24 touches and scored twice in Week 1, and prices were set before his game, keeping his tag at a strong value across the industry. These are all good reasons to like Jacobs, and I’m not saying that I don’t. However, I’m gonna be honest and tell you that I’m afraid he might be a bit of a trap here; last week was a super-positive gamescript for the Raiders, as they led the entire game. And even then, Jacobs was mostly subbed out for Jalen Richard on 3rd downs, and he finished with just 1 target on the day. If the Chiefs get out to a big lead in this game (which is fairly likely), we need to understand that it could make for a vastly different story for Jacobs. As of this writing, I’m still considering him in cash (because of his low tag and how he opens up lineup construction), and I’m probably a full fade in GPPs. And in my experience, when you feel that way about a player, you just shouldn’t play him in any format. Ok, you guys talked me into it: I’m out on Jacobs this week.
If I’m paying up for one guy at the position, it’s Alvin Kamara. The dude just continues to be an absolute smash every time out, and his obscene passing down work makes him a strong play no matter how the game shakes out. And for the second consecutive week, I’m likely to have a good amount of Austin Ekeler on full PPR sites, even though his situation isn’t quite as prime as it was in Week 1. He’s a little more expensive than last week and this LAC/DET game doesn’t look great from a pace perspective. But he’s still getting the majority of carries, goal-line work, and prime usage in the passing game, making him a solid value (particularly on DraftKings).
For reasons similar to Big Ben’s, I’m going to have a lot of James Conner this week. Twitter will tell you that he didn’t play a big percentage of snaps and blah blah blah blah. The truth is that said tweets are less in tune with context than politicians are with climate change; the Steelers played plenty of 5-wide once they were down heaps, which naturally took Conner off the field. In a home game where Pittsburgh is a 3.5-point home favorite, I’m going to be jamming Conner in a lot of GPP lineups and perhaps cash as well.
Other RB considerations for me are Mark Ingram (esp on .5 PPR sites) as a 13-point home favorite, Matt Breida as the lead dog with Tevin Coleman dust, and LeSean McCoy at a low price and the possibility of an increased role in a likely KC smash spot. And obviously, Gio Bernard would be a stone lock in all formats if Joe Mixon can’t hang.
UH! UH! UH! C’mon …
Hah – sicker than league average
Watkins with Patrick got this synched
Raiders gon’ shrink, D stink
Thank faders of KC players
Bombs on those hooligans in Oakland
Damn right with Tyreek wiped, Sammy there, e’rry site
Homie been smooth since days of Clemson crew
Never lose, forever choose to abuse fools who
Do something foolish, fade like a doofus
Sammy chalk to us, wanna spew bucks, too much, who us?
Yeah pricetag is rough
Ghost strike Worley and crush, Abram’s dust
Dare he score three on that Raiders weak D
Burn every DB easily
Recently Sammy shovin’, ain’t failin’ nothin’
So I just sneak a piece, bink GPPs
Sammy with the KC feast, play for keeps
Laughin’, stackin’ Chiefs offense, you score a TD taunt it
That Oakland bulls***, we on it
Sammy Sammy Sammy can’t you see
Sunday’s your turn to victimize D
And I just love your flashy plays
Guess that’s why Reek broke and you’re so made
Sammy Sammy Sammy can’t you see
Sunday’s your turn to victimize D
And I just love your flashy plays
Guess that’s why Reek broke and you’re so made
So who else? Well, if you’re sensing a Steelers theme throughout this column, then give yourself a cookie and correctly assume that I’m on #TeamJuJu. Last week, the kid still managed 6-78 on 8 targets despite that evil warlock Belichick casting a coverage curse on him in what amounts to the worst possible spot for an alpha wide receiver.
In my Ben-JuJu stacks, I’ll be looking to bring it back with Tyler Lockett. After last Sunday’s game, Lockett (who finished with 1-44 on 2 tgts) expressed surprise at being double-covered. You know who doesn’t double-cover good slot receivers? Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler! In fact, this is a man who instead likes to cover good slot receivers with fat inside linebackers like Vince Williams and pass rushers like Bud Dupree, and in related news, has an IQ so low that he’s eligible for special Government tax rebates at the end of the year. This is definitely a situation I’ll be looking to capitalize on in GPPs.
The Raider I consider the biggest lock of the week is Tyrell Williams. The dude played the part of a legitimate #1 receiver on Monday night, garnering a 58% air yards share – the second-highest of any receiver in Week 1. He’s super cheap across the industry (again, Week 2 prices were set before he nuked the Broncos) and I consider the Gazelle a cash game lockopotamus.
I think the biggest edge in Week 2 is rostering good players who were stank in Week 1. It sounds obvious, I know, but the reality is that a lot of people have trouble getting past that recency bias. For that reason (and several others), I’ll be targeting Brandin Cooks heavily on Sunday and hoping that Jared Goff does the same. This game should provide a great scoring environment, we have the #RevengeGame narrative going, and Cooks roasted the Saints for 6/114/1 and 7/107/0 in their two meetings last year. All of the Rams receivers are good plays, but I’m focusing on their 2018 air yards leader who provides the highest upside.
One thing we don’t want to do in Week 2 is overreact to outlier performances from the opening game, but it’s going to be hard to ignore John Ross at his price. Ross had 172 air yards in Week 1 (the second-highest figure in the NFL) and he checks in at just $4600 on DK and $6400 on FanDuel. For those prices, I’m more than willing to risk some GPP bullets to find out if he’s friend or faux. Let’s not forget that Ross was a Top-10 draft pick in 2017 after running a 3.5 40-yard dash (all figures approximate) at the combine.
As long as we’re on Week 1 air yard studs, can I interest you in a gent who was 3rd in the NFL last week in air yards with 169? A man who’s priced at just $3600 on Draftkings despite playing a home game against a defense that just surrendered 158 receiving yards to the aforementioned John Ross? That’s right my friends, I’m calling James Washington for all the Benjamins.
Lastly … ok, how do I put this? This is stupid, but whatever. There’s this Twitter account, @lizgarcia901111. It correctly predicted when Zeke would sign, that Antonio Brown would be released by the Raiders, and THEN that Antonio Brown would be sued for sexual assault – BEFORE IT HAPPENED. So anyway, the other day she tweeted that Dede Westbrook is a Week 2 lock, without offering any supporting evidence whatsoever. I figure I’m drawing dead in the Milly Maker anyway, so why not go overweight on Dede? I told you this was stupid.
Kelce, Kittle, and Engram are all fine plays, but I’m unlikely to pay up for any of them in cash. Instead, I’m going scrounging like Nate Nohling when he runs out of Sugar Free Red Bull. T.J. Hockensen has already been dubbed “Gronkensen” after pimp-slapping the Cardinals secondary all over the field in Week 1. Facing a Chargers defense bereft of their TE coverage savant Derwin James, I’m excited to see what Hockensen (who, per Scott Barrett, just had the most air yards by a TE in a single game since 2017) can do for an encore.
I’m also intrigued by Darren Waller, who led the club with a 31% team target share in the opening week. I’m not so sure about him in cash since I’m locking in Tyrell and having too many Raiders in cash feels a bit like having too many Four Lokos before your wedding, but he will be a key part of my KC/OAK game stacks. I feel similarly about Mark Andrews – great as part of a GPP stack, but probably not a cash game lock.
Delanie Walker is another key cog in his team’s passing game, and he led the Titans in targets (6) in Week 1. Marcus Mariota only had to throw 24 times against the paper champion Browns last week, but I have the feeling he’ll need to put it up more than that against the Colts this weekend.
Finally I’ll be doing something this week I should have done last week, and I’m not talking about sacrificing a live chicken to the Fantasy Gods in tribute for Jimmy Garoppolo. No, what I’m going to do is keep a close eye on the health status of Jordan Reed, because if he’s out we have a strong value proposition with Vernon Davis against the ‘Boys. On DraftKings he’s just another good low-priced option, but on FanDuel he’s a screamin’ deal at just $5100. As usual, I ain’t scared to get a little VD in my life.
Why is the team that led the NFL in sacks in 2018 and playing as a 3.5-point home favorite this week priced at just $2400 on DraftKings? I don’t know, but I’m going to take advantage. You know I’m all in on the Steelers this week by now.
The defense that stands out the most upon first look is the Texans, who are 9-point home favorites against a Jaguars team which is starting something named Gardner Minshew II at QB. The mustached stoner seems like a lot of fun, but I’m all about attacking him Mercilusly in this spot.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Patriots are 18.5-point favorites over the Dolphins, which seems like way too much and way too little all at the same time. Ryan Fitzpatrick throws picks like anti-vaxxers kill their own children, which is to say all too often.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Let’s make some money in Week 2.