The Reid Option: Week 5
One of the best things about daily fantasy sports is that if you love a slate, you can increase your action and if you hate it, you can choose an option that most players tend not to consider: You can play less than usual. It’s a lot different than seasonal fantasy where you have to set lineups, enter your waivers, and play your matchup no matter if you think you have a big edge that week or not.
However, a lot of DFS players don’t take advantage of this dynamic. Often times, they have a set amount of money they want to play, and beyond that a set split of cash vs GPP action. Sure, by season’s end you should have a total investment and cash vs GPP split goal, but if you’re not varying your weekly exposure you’re missing out on equity, in my humble opinion.
Even the players that do take advantage of this get it wrong sometimes. They see a slate that’s very straightforward – there are a number of obvious plays and making a cash lineup is easy – and they think, “well golly gosh, I’m gonna play more cash this week. I love my lineup!”. By and large, this kind of thinking is backwards. Certainly on weeks like this you’ll want to find games against fish who might not take advantage of the obvious value plays, but in general the market as a whole will have more homogenous cash game lineups and the overall edges will be significantly smaller. In fact, those are actually the weeks where a higher GPP split is warranted; you want to take advantage of the concentrated ownership and chalky lineup construction by fading it in tournaments, reaping the rewards of groupthink gone wrong if and when some of those plays bust.
Conversely, the tougher weeks (like this one, it appears) are the ones where you’ll want more cash game exposure. At first, this seems counterintuitive; why play more cash games when choices aren’t as clear and lineups are harder to make? Well my good chums, it’s because the decisions are harder for everyone, and (assuming you’re a good decision-maker) you want to increase your decision trials against people who aren’t as good as you are. Even though your raw fantasy point score expectation might be lower and your variance will be greater, your edge against those who don’t make decisions as well as you should be higher overall.
Winning at DFS isn’t just about making good lineups, it’s about maneuvering each slate as well as possible. And surely, as I write this on Wednesday the slate looks tougher and less clear than usual, but by Sunday things could look a lot different (is Saquon really going to play at min-price on FanDuel??). But we work with the information we have in the moment, and we adjust as it changes. Best of luck to all this week, especially me – this is all good in theory, but it also increases my risk of getting roasted on the Gillcast on Sunday for my terribad cash game lineup.
(As always, all odds are accurate at the time of posting. The Reid Option focuses exclusively on the Main Slate.)
I’ll be perfectly honest with you – as I write this column on Wednesday night, I don’t have a great feel for this slate. Last week, there were only 2 QBs I was considering in cash games (Wilson and Dimes); this week, you can make a case for a ton of similar options. The first guy that stands out to me is Carson Wentz, who’s one of just three QBs to finish Top-12 in every week so far this season (along with Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson, per Ryan McDowell). In fairness, Wentz’s fantasy production has been heavily reliant on the touchdown – he has multiple TDs in every game but has eclipsed 260 passing yards just once. That said, a home game against the Jets is undeniably a smash situation; the Jets anemic pass rush has yielded a mere 5.5% adjusted sack rate and the Eagles have the 2nd-highest implied team total on the slate at 28.5 points. With his biggest red zone target Alshon Jeffery back in action, Wentz is in a great spot to put up multiple zone jobs yet again at a fair price on DraftKings.
Tom Brady is the 3rd-most expensive QB on DK, but on FanDuel he checks in at QB9 for just $7600 – a real sweet price for the QB behind the slate’s highest implied team total (29.3 points) who has a matchup against a Redskins D that’s so poor, Bernie Sanders has promised to make the Pats give them 3 defensive players if he’s elected president. I’ll have fairly high exposure to Big Game Tom in GPPs (stacked with Josh Gordon, who’s gonna eat one of these days) and he’s on my shortlist for FD cash.
Of course, the #2 and #3 QBs in passing yards this season – Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers – are under $6k on DraftKings. Ryan has hit the 300-yard bonus in every game so far this season and at 48.5 points, the Falcons-Texans tilt has the highest over/under on the main slate. You can game stack this bad boy every which way, and there’s no doubt that Ryan represents some ill value as part of that. Rivers is that guy who’s always solid but I rarely play – that might change this week. The Broncos were sackless until last week, and despite dropping Goater Minshew 5 times, they still have the 2nd-lowest adjusted sack rate among all NFL defenses. With Mike Williams looking likely to suit up, I like Rivers’ chances of impregnating the Denver D this week.
Just like at QB, last week it was very clear to me that CMC+Ekeler+Gallman was the optimal pairing. This week I have no such clarity, but it’s not for a lack of good options. Obviously Christian McCaffrey is the best cash game player in fantasy football right now – he impossibly leads all NFL RBs in both rush attempts and targets, and he just never comes off the field.
Beyond him, pretty much every other high-priced RB is in a #goodspot on paper: Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, and Alvin Kamara are playing as solid favorites with implied team totals of 25+. If I had to choose one of them, it would be Zeke; if you take out Week 1 (when he was still being eased in after his holdout) and Week 3 (where the Cowboys blew out the Dolphins and he was rested in the 2nd half), he’s seen 89% of the team’s RB opportunities and 86% of the team’s snaps.
Beyond that, there are still more enticing options here than there are at the Spearmint Rhino. David Johnson has been a low-key stud; excluding Week 2 (when he missed part of the game with an injury), he’s played 86% of his team’s snaps and seen 7+ targets in every game. Last week we saw the Bengals get spayed by the Steelers backs (James Conner and Jaylen Samuels combined for 206 total yards, 14 receptions, and 2 TDs), a common theme for the Cinci D; in Week 1 Chris Carson put up 80 total yards/6 rec/2 TD, in Week 2 the 3-headed 49ers backfield racked up an astounding 322 total yds/5 rec/2 TDs, and in Week 3 the Bills backs (led by the elderly Frank Gore) racked up 157 total yds/5 rec/1 TD. Somehow, DJ is still just $6800 on FanDuel.
Here’s a fun one: There are just three running backs in football who have played over 90% of their team’s snaps – One of them is the highest-priced RB on the slate: Christian McCaffrey. The other two are averaging 25 and 22 touches per game respectively … and are priced under $7K on DraftKings. Those two guys would be Le’Veon Bell and Leonard Fournette, and I’m guessing one or both of them will make my cash game lineup on DK this week.
At this point I feel like I’ve mentioned every running back on the slate, and yet, there’s more.
Of course, I haven’t even mentioned a back that got 18 carries, 6 receptions, and 2 TDs last week and is still super cheap this week: Wayne Gallman. Are the Vikings an easy matchup? No. Do I care? Also no. I’m a volume whore and I don’t care who knows it. Lastly, if there’s news that Melvin Gordon won’t play much or James Conner won’t play at all, Austin Ekeler and Jaylen Samuels become insane values and should be rostered accordingly.
Man, hopefully this is going to be easier to pare down to 5-6 core options than the RB position. I do feel fairly confident that Auden Tate is going to make my DK cash game lineup – he’s received 16 targets over the past 2 weeks and now John Ross is dust, leaving a starting role to Tate. Obviously we can’t just auto-assign Ross’s volume to Tate, but the fact that he was seeing solid usage already, combined with the Cards giving out fantasy points like Oprah gives out new microwaves, makes Tate the prime punt of the slate. Of course he has a low floor and will be popular, and that means the actual #1 guy on this team – Tyler Boyd – makes for a fantastic GPP play.
In a similar vein, Marquez Valdes-Scantling could become the mid-priced WR du jour if Davante Adams misses Sunday’s game. Even though Aaron Rodgers is getting dusty, his #1 option still has a ton of value and it’s likely that MVS would be that man.
In GPPs, I’ll have a lot of Julio Jones and DeAndre Hopkins – they need no statistical justifications. But y’all wanna know who the Sammy-Super-Secret GPP play is this week? It’s a man who leads the NFL in team air yards share at 46% and a man playing a pass defense that has allowed the 2nd-most receptions, 2nd-most receiving yards, and the 4th-most air yards in the league. I’m talking of course, about Robby Anderson. And if Sam Darnold comes back this week, it’s decidedly lit. Do with that information what you will.
I continue to play Marquise Brown (507 air yards – 3rd) and Will Fuller (399 air yards – 12th) in GPPs every week, and that’s just going to continue until I go broke. Is this a good idea? I think so, but I can’t be sure. Related: If anyone has a free bedroom or even a couch starting around Week 13, DM me. Thanks.
I’ve buried the lede thus far, because the first guy I’m locking into my DK cash lineups is Michael Thomas. Since Teddy Bridgewater took over, MT ranks 5th in the NFL in targets, 4rd in receptions, 3rd in team target share, and 2nd in weighted opportunity rating. And yet, he’s priced at just $6600, which makes about as much sense as wiping your butt with a cactus. So while my GPP lineups continue to kill me, MT in cash will keep me Stayin’ Alive in cash.
Looka looka looka looka looka looka looka looka here
Draftkings pricing got whack
Should I jam him in perchance, oh man
He too steady for that price tag
And besides, the dusty ass Buccaneers
Gonna get burned, he takin’ em to the cleaners
Quietly reflect back versus the Rams
They got the spankin’s and got mauled ‘til the end
Superior curls winning in an interior world
But it’s all right cuz the Buccaneers shite
So mister clutch master, punk on TB
And all you sharper students play him with me
Check the spelling: P-E-R-F-E-C-T
Get the TD from Michael T … hee hee
You ain’t even close if you try to revoke
Don’t be mad when you’re broke
Let me scoop you dopes uh huh, uh huh
On DK, jam in Mike and don’t fade this play
Tight end is a position of unfathomable sadness this week, and it’s with a heavy heart that I tell you that I think that the best thing to do is to pay up. Yeah, Tyler Eifert is playing against the Cardinals, and he’s fairly enticing at $4600 on FanDuel. But the dude is playing 41% of the snaps and has 16 targets in 4 games, so let’s be honest – he’s no Will Dissly.
On DK, Darren Waller continues to make it move – he leads the TE world in team target share and weighted opportunity rating, and he’s a Top-5 tight end despite having scored zero touchdowns. On FanDuel, Zach Ertz is relatively affordable even as the TE2, and since team total correlates well to TE touchdowns, he has a lot of value in .5 PPR formats.
I mean, that’s pretty much it for the tight end taeks. Well, ok, I’ll probably play some Greg Olsen for leverage off of CMC and Austin Hooper as leverage off of Julio. There you go, a bonus taek. K we’re done here.
The Eagles are the biggest favorite of the week (-13.5) and the Philly defensive line vs the Jets offensive line is the biggest mismatch of the week. I’m dead serious, it’s gonna look like piranhas going to town on a wounded duck, like anything less than five sacks is gonna be a Superbowl Halftime Show-level disappointment for me.
If Josh Allen sits, that means that the Bills starting quarterback is … uh … * checks notes * … um, Matt Barkley? Is that right? Mother of all creatures, great and small. Please God, let this happen so I can play the Titans at $3k on Draftkings.
If this glorious event does not come to pass, there are still several money DST options for cheap. The Panthers lead the world in adjusted sack rate (10.5%) and Gardner Minshew’s been sacked 9 times with 4 fumbles in his 3 starts. And the Bengals D might suck (ok, they definitely suck), but Kyler Murray has taken 20 sacks in 4 games, and the Cards scoring has gone 27 points > 23 points > 20 points > 10 points. So this week they’re destined for single-digits – it’s just #math.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Let’s go make some money in Week 5.