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Fading the Chalk: Was TheSeige Right About Le'Veon Bell?

I have been playing DFS just about every single day for about three years now. I’m not good enough to be considered a grinder, but I’m also not losing money all that much either. I want to get better. I have read in a few different books that one of the best ways to get better is to take the time to go back and analyze how your choices stack up against the people who are winning the contests you are playing. Taking the time to do that research is the motivation behind these Fading the Chalk articles. If you’d like to talk more about your research process or any other aspect of DFS, hit me up on Twitter: @AndyBowsersDFS.

I’ve never had any success at NFL DFS. I constantly mix up cash game plays and GPP darts, and I always end up risking more of my bankroll than I should. It’s not uncommon for me to make a foolish effort to chase my losses on the primetime slate either. From the minute the games start on Sunday, I will spend the entire afternoon second guessing myself. And yesterday was no different.

I was actually scheduled to run a marathon in Erie yesterday. But as I was supposed to be heading up I-79 around 4 am yesterday morning, I missed an exit and spent about an hour cruising east on I-80 instead. And since I had my phone open to my podcast player instead of Google Maps, I didn’t realize that I was going the wrong way until it got to the point where I couldn’t make it to the race on time. Excellent work, Andrew.

Missing out on a race that I spent $85 on was super disappointing, but I’m a silver lining kind of guy. I just took it as a sign that I was supposed to spend 3+ hours in the car to get through all of the NFL podcasts (I listen at 2x speed!). I also figured it was a good excuse to head back home and spend the day watching the Red Zone channel…which is exactly what I did.

My Lineup: The Stud RB All-Stars

Since I didn’t spend close to six hours running around Lake Erie like I had planned yesterday morning, I actually had plenty of time to review and rework my cash game lineup. At that point, I had consumed the NFL Grind Down, JMtoWin’s NFL Edge, and pretty much all of the podcasts that came through the new RG Football Podcast feed.

Based on all of that research, I was fairly certain that the proper cash game roster construction was going to be locking in Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson. I was also sold on Marcus Mariota at QB, and everyone seemed to agree that Terrelle Pryor and Larry Fitzgerald were dramatically underpriced for their skill sets and matchups.

My original plan was to lock in Delanie Walker at tight end and go cheap with someone like Mohamed Sanu at wide receiver. But I also really wanted to fit Michael Crabtree as my third receiver, so after hearing Austin Hooper name pop up on multiple podcasts, I decided to pull the trigger on going that direction.

I liked the idea of playing the Rams Defense against Blake Bortles, but they were a little too pricey for me compared to the Bills Defense, who had an equally appealing matchup against the Jets. That left me just short of affording Matt Bryant, so I went down to Phil Dawson, who was kicking in a dome for a team with a high total.

Immediately after the 1 pm games kicked off, I started thinking about how TheSeige stressed that cramming in Bell and Johnson was a bad move that cost you too much in getting up to better players at your other positions. I regretted not finding a reason to move down to DeMarco Murray, Christian McCaffrey, or Jordan Howard. I regretted not finding a way up to Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, or A.J. Green.

Those feelings of regret got stronger throughout the day as Le’Veon Bell and David Johnson disappointed. But was I really wrong to play them? Lucky for me, that is exactly what we look at here.

Where Did the Pros Go?

If you’ve never read one of my NBA or MLB articles, the goal here is not to look at what we could have done differently to reach the cash lines. Rather than being results based, we focus on fine tuning the process by looking at the lineups that some of the most consistent DFS pros put together. This was especially easy yesterday since most of the guys we regularly track were showing up in my $5 50/50s.

Hoop was pretty much on the same page as me yesterday with Marcus Mariota, Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Terrelle Pryor, and the Buffalo Bills Defense. The only tweak he made was swapping to Blair Walsh at kicker and going down to Kelvin Benjamin in order to get up to Delanie Walker.

I had considered this exact lineup, but I worried that Kelvin Benjamin was a bit too inconsistent. Considering that Hoop felt comfortable with him, I was probably wrong about that.

CSURAM88 ran out a very similar lineup that included all of the same core plays. The only difference was that he went down to Charles Clay at tight end in order to move up to Aaron Rodgers at QB. He also moved up $100 to Ryan Succop at kicker.

As the early games came to an end and the afternoon games kicked off, I was frustrated with myself for not going with my gut and finding a way up to Aaron Rodgers. I was sure that he was going to outperform the game we got from Mariota. But at the end of the day, they were both within a point of each other.

One of the big sticking points for me this week was that I didn’t really love any of the quarterback options. Apparently, Birdwings felt the same, because he went all the way down to DeShone Kizer as his cash game QB. The savings there allowed him to move all the way up to Doug Baldwin as his third receiver and still fit Zach Ertz at tight end. This makes a ton of sense in theory, but it also seemed like a big tiem risk for one of the most conservative DFS pros out there.

The Big Takeaway

I spent most of the day yesterday beating myself up for being too chalky, even for cash games. I told myself that TheSeige was right about Le’Veon Bell, and that I could have gotten much better at all of my other positions if I didn’t pay up for him. I also told myself that I put too much of my bankroll at risk and that I clearly didn’t know what I was doing in building a quality NFL roster. Does that sound familiar? We all do it when we’re losing.

But after taking some time to review the lineups that the best cash game players in the industry put out there yesterday, it looks like I was actually right on the money with my approach this week. So my big takeaway from this weekend is to keep doing what I’m doing, except to play a little less volume so I don’t have to freak out when variance strikes again next weekend.

Looking Ahead: Back to Baseball

I didn’t play any of the Thursday-to-Monday slates this week, so outside of wagering a few units on the Vikings tonight, I am pretty much done with Week 1 football. That means that we are back to baseball tonight with an eight-game slate featuring Carlos Carrasco, Zack Greinke, and Kenta Maeda.

As of right now, six of the sixteen teams have Vegas totals higher than 5 runs, so we should have no problem finding some decent bats. Stacking up right-handed Diamondbacks is going to be tempting, but I’ll likely be focused on the value offered by some of the Indians, Blue Jays, and Royals.

Now that you’ve seen my lineup and a few of the pros’ lineups, what did yours look like? Would you have beat me in a head-to-head? Did you do something differently from the pros last night? Where did your lineup differ and what was your logic behind making that decision? How did those decisions work out for you? And where are you planning on going for today’s slates?

About the Author

  • Andrew Selby (AndyBowsers)

  • Andy is a restaurant manager that fell head-over-heels in love with the DFS world from the minute he opened his FanDuel account back in early 2015. Since he is also an accomplished freelance writer, it was only a matter of time before those two worlds collided. He currently writes a daily blog called Fading the Chalk where he breaks down his own lineup decisions along with the lineups of some the best in the business.

Comments

  • laser1000000

    I love your work and appreciate your sharing your process, and analyzing the approach of the pros. I have one minor quibble, though: you always seem to assume that if a pro did something you didn’t do that you are the one who is wrong. I have tremendous respect for the pros, but they make mistakes in process too. Not offering an opinion as to whether selecting Kelvin Benjamin was a mistake, but having read your work, I think you should be confident that at least some of the time your process is better than theirs.

  • AndyBowsers

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    @laser1000000 said...

    I love your work and appreciate your sharing your process, and analyzing the approach of the pros. I have one minor quibble, though: you always seem to assume that if a pro did something you didn’t do that you are the one who is wrong. I have tremendous respect for the pros, but they make mistakes in process too. Not offering an opinion as to whether selecting Kelvin Benjamin was a mistake, but having read your work, I think you should be confident that at least some of the time your process is better than theirs.

    I appreciate that. But I also think that defaulting to the judgment of the guys who spend hours and hours optimizing this stuff is a better approach than assuming I out thought them in under an hour while I was hungover on a Sunday morning. :-)

  • Marked4Awin

    Austin Hooper 2 catches for 124 yards? Huh?

  • Krushinator3000

    Great read as always! I’m guessing your comment on your Defense was supposed to be the Texans D since you mentioned the price being too high and vs Bortles. I unfortunately had extra $ at the ed of my build and took the Texans….after not considering them once all week. I try very hard not to randomly spend up just because I can. I broke my rule and paid the price 😕.

  • Porterhouse1975

    It’s easy to say Fade the Chalk when it doesn’t hit. Last season, it hit about the first four weeks. I agree with your article. Really not many offensive players produced at a 2x level, let alone 3x or above.I played Kelvin Benjamin in about 35% of lineups but that was too heavy based on Cam’s limited work in camp. That was an error on my part. I also know that affected L.Bell and I played him in about 40% of lineups. Again, error or my part. Time to get ready for Week 2

  • JSNyburg1

    Great article! Appreciate the transparency. Sounds like my week as well. Best of luck in week 2!

  • plew1776

    I did ok on FD 137 pts

  • CJtheGrump

    I was bound and determined to fit one of the two, Bell or Johnson, into my lineups. But as I listened to some of the podcasts, I began to realize how much value was available at RB and that perhaps David Johnson was the better play of the two. I also picked up on the idea that perhaps paying down for Wentz at QB was a smart move. Wentz did fine but DJ disappointed as the Lions seemed to exceed expectations.

    I’ve ranted in the past about how trying to fit in the highest priced players just causes me to make bad lineups and I think the takeaway from those experiences is for me to understand what it is I expect from the play. Paying 8.5K for a running back on DK means you are expecting at least 20 fpts from that player as a floor and it’s tilting when they don’t even come close. On the other hand, if they do manage to go off with 100 yards rushing, 100 yards receiving and 4 TDs and you don’t have them on your roster, you’ll probably be on the outside looking in.

  • robbry

    I had a similar lineup but a couple pivots won me all the cash games. QB Mariotta RB Bell, Mccoy, Fitzgerald, Cooper, Kendall Wright, Walker Zuerlein ad Rams D. I think I was a bit lucky, I’m from Buffalo and I knew Mccoy was going to be fed all day because Jordan Matthews and Zay Jones have not had the time to get chemistry with Tyrod. Also going in I knew the Jets players and figured they weren’t going t be throwing downfield..Kearse is the only deep threat with again, no chemistry with MCcown. No downfield throws = less sack opportunites, I saw this a lot last year. The Rams D is always a favorite of mine when they are playing a below average offense. They can get to the QB and they have been know for special teams returns. I faded Johnson for Bell because of Roethlsberger Home Road splits and figured he’d be a horse.

  • cardsharks

    I don’t compliment very often being a pessimistic person but great article. Seige also pounded in chat to take Demarco Murray and I complained he had hammy issue in preseason and the coaches were praising Derrick Henry. What we didn’t expect was clevelands front line to dominate pitts oline. I also think Aaron Rodgers was a mistake play. I played him fell in love with him being a star player and all the fantasy sites rating him number 1. But reality is seattle brought in sheldon richardson and packers left tackle Bryan Bulaga was out. My friend told me he would get rag dolled with no Bulaga. I ignored it and watched Rodgers struggle until seattle defense wore down. He barely got 300 yards at end of the game when they could of ran the time out and his only td was on mis communication on seattle d. I felt i got very lucky with rodgers. I really thought it was poor fantasy play and I should of went with the safe option with Carr. but we live and learn on to next week.

  • Maddad2020

    I did ok. Entered 3 $25 double ups and won in all 3. Had Wentz, Gurley, McCoy, Bell & Hyde as my RB’s. Baldwin, Benjamin, Marshall, Pryor as WR’s. Ertz and Rams in all 3, Flexed Montgomery, Stewart & Gurley. All totaled I spent $100 and won $191. I’ll take a 48% return any day. I felt really good about Wentz in all line ups. Divisional game, rivals, knew it would be close and both teams throw the ball. Never saw Stafford having 4 TD’s on Arizona. I felt like Bell could be a bust not having played or practiced the entire pre season. Week one of the season is really hard to predict game flow because the starters play very little in the preseason. There was a lot of ugly football yesterday. Probably why I won in one of my cash line ups with only 129pts.

  • Stridemoney25

    Love the article and appreciate all of your hard work! Does the same thing exist for DK?

  • seriouspks

    Seige was right! I faded Bell and chalky Wright and won this week. Bell didn’t play any football all off season and you can throw on Cleveland he wasn’t worth his price tag and didn’t roster him in any of my 40 teams. There was a reason why Wright was so cheap and you seen it Sunday, So glad i didn’t get stuck with him and faded some experts. How about those Ravens !!

  • leafsno4

    Love the articles. Maybe I’m biased because I live in Buffalo, but Sean McDermott said earlier in the week that Shady McCoy will “get all the touches he needs so we can win the game.” He had a great game without any TDs! (McDermott seems to love Tolbert in short yardage TD situations…something to keep in mind) I was locked on him in cash given similar upside and slightly cheaper price. I ultimately faded both of the big 2 and went up to AB (was less sure of this decision, but it worked out) Went Wentz/Ertz in cash with a high O/U and good price. Allowed me to go up to Baldwin. This was also probably a mistake, but I loved Corey Coleman’s projected workload, so I put him in also.

    Not sure if I got lucky, but it worked out for me this week taking down pretty much all my cash games. Thanks for your work!

  • theseige

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    FWIW I never said to fade Bell or Wright in cash, in fact said exactly opposite (played both in cash), they were just pure tournament fades

  • Inujv87

    Nice article! Was hit by Hurricane Irma but will get my recap of Week 1 in soon. Didn’t do well but it happens. On to next week!

    Keep Grinding!

  • dsnoland1

    Great article. I put a great deal of value in “postmortem” examinations of my lineups especially in NFL. I like to also read how others do it. The takeaway for me is two-fold. First, we should only worry about the process. You cannot control what happens on the field, only how you create lineups. Second, week 1 was an anomaly. Week 2 will be a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the masses that will overreact to week 1. I cannot wait for a chalky Austin Hooper, Alex Smith, and Nelson Agholor. Yes, please.

  • darkknight007

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    @dsnoland1 said...

    Great article. I put a great deal of value in “postmortem” examinations of my lineups especially in NFL. I like to also read how others do it. The takeaway for me is two-fold. First, we should only worry about the process. You cannot control what happens on the field, only how you create lineups. Second, week 1 was an anomaly. Week 2 will be a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of the masses that will overreact to week 1. I cannot wait for a chalky Austin Hooper, Alex Smith, and Nelson Agholor. Yes, please.

    Agreed, people are going to be chasing points hard in Week 2 but at least I know who to fade. Alex Smith is a fraud and I think he had a bionic arm last Thursday. Agholor was great because Alshon Jeffery was locked down by Josh Norman for 85% of the game. He will disappear very quickly once Jeffrey establishes some chemistry with Carson Wentz. Hooper won’t see another catch for the rest of the year LOL!!!

  • BigDYo

    Sounds all too familiar to me as well..even the part about missing the exit because your were listening to the podcasts. I told myself this year I would do less analyzing because I think over-analyzing is making things muddy and can easily get off my instincts. My gut reaction was to play Stafford but then talked my self out of it because everyone said he would have a hard time against the cards (also Tate as well). Next week I am promising myself to not do any research until Sun morning – read less articles – play less lineups – spend more time thinking about “traps” and more time on “non-elites” – maybe that will work – i dunno – but I feel better that no one won the perfect lineup oin DK and no one even came close.

  • mike42

    You got a 91% return.

  • Maddad2020

    Agree/disagree with some of what you said. A. Smith isn’t exactly a fraud. He’s a QB that employs the system his coach gives him, Agholor will most likely regress when the Eagles play teams without a lockdown corner like Norman and Hooper is the real deal. I’ll put money on that. Oh, I did. and won…

  • maaron83

    Austin Hooper 2 catches for 124 yards? Huh?

    The Bears were bound to give up a big play. I just thought it would be against Julio Jones :(

  • Sakelele

    Nice article, I have gone through many of the same feelings and emotions that you have and for me its a bit more feel than science. Regardless of what formula makes sense, in regards to bankroll, as a non pro (“grinder”), I know that if I cant walk away from the tv or internet after the games have started (except for the time when you are looking for potential swaps for strategy or otherwise), then chances are that I have wagered too much.

    This has helped me alot in that the decision making process is much more pure and I can look at my team as a build where I am trying to play to win the style of tournament I am entering without the fear of losing.

    In regards to cash vs tourneys, it also helps for me to play to the format of game I am entering. A top heavy format is obviously very different than a 50-50, but for me the decision making process is the same with one small twist. The twist for me is variance.

    Sorry if this post is too long, but I figure I would share because in my case it solved the fade or play discourse that used to constantly trouble me and cause alot of inconsistency in my play.

    So basically I look at a tourney, like the milly maker, and RG projected ownership numbers. I will make tweaks in them as I read through all of the other material out there. Now before I move on the next part, I need to explain what I call unique scores.

    So as I looked at winning milly maker scores over the past years, I noticed a huge variance in week to week scoring from high 190’s up to high 200’s. However, when looking at unique scores, I noticed that the range was much more narrow and that a targeted unique score of 200, if achieved, had a good chance at winning the milly maker. Now that doesnt mean it is an easy feat, but it put alot into perspective for me in regards to my process. So what is a unique score?

    Lets say you have a QB who scores 30 points on the day and he is 10% owned. That means that 90% of the people do not have that QB and so the unique score that the QB contributed to my team, and all those that played him, was 90% of 30 or 27 points. Obviously the higher the player is owned, the lower his unique score is, and so a higher owned player needs a higher point justification to include him on my list for a tourney. This is done through reverse engineering the process.

    As an example, if I am targeting a unique score total of 200, that means (3x/1000 + 50/9) / (1-ownership ) for each players salary. Now if you have a player that costs 7000, the 3x + 50/9 formula will lead you to 21.55 pts if he is virtually unowned. If however you project that player to be 20 owned, then you would divide 21.55 by 80% and have a required target unique score of 27 points. At this point, I ask myself what % of the time do I think that, under the same exact circumstances that this player faces at this time, will he achieve or surpass this score of 27. I do this for every single player on the slate. The players that I believe are more likely to achieve these scores are the ones that I put on my tourney list.

    Now caution must be made (for me that is). Leveon Bell this week based on projected ownership would need to score 50 pts in regards to my formula for me to include him in my tourney list. I still thought there was a chance for him to get there, but not so much as to include him, especially as compared to the other options that I felt much more confident about.

    Regardless, I attack cash games in much the same way, using these same tourney exposures, albeit with a different mindset. At this point, I already know the chalky plays and my decision now comes behind, do I feel that my tourney plays can hit my unique score projections at a higher clip (less variance) than these chalky plays can hit theirs, with the exception of much higher priced plays, in which case I compare their 3.5x non unique requirements with other less chalk plays tourney based requirements.

    A good example this week was Zach Ertz. Although I felt just as good about other tight ends ability to hit their unique points required target projections, I had no preference or comfort in them hitting their numbers with less variance than Zach ertz. For this reason, I played a ton of zach ertz in tourneys and cash, although I did vary the exposure greatly in tournaments as I felt pretty confident about a few other tight ends hitting their requirements, even if under greater variance. I couldn’t say the same about Bell or David Johnson price considered week one.

    Now that isn’t to say that it couldn’t backfire, but I felt I lost nothing in fading these guys week one as I felt there were good opportunities to take advantage of pricing based on previous years production when we weren’t exactly sure of how the offenses would distribute the production this year. At the end of the day, I felt that 15 points out of some lower priced guys was just as likely as 30 pts from these guys, and in comparing to the 40-50 pts that it would take to completely kill my team – at 4-5x, it still was conceivable (and in my mind more likely) that some of these lower priced guys could hit 20-25 points. This also allowed me to differentiate at WR whereas I felt very high on some guys hitting their unique score target requirements For these reasons i was very much below the field on Bell and Johnson in tourneys, and felt no need to squeeze them into cash lineups.

    At the end of the day it all comes down to variance for me. You can draft many teams based on your projections that can reach any certain magic number. Projections though are just that. Projections! Knowing this, if you were to draft these teams and play them 100 times under the same circumstances, your projections, by definition, mean that in 100 times played, you would expect that the average mean score for this team would be X. But mean score is only part of it. In regards to Cash games, I will choose the team that I believe will have a tighter band around this mean, and with tourneys, I will choose many teams with looser bands around the same mean and hope that one hits on the variance.

    Sorry again for the long post, just wanted to share my process that helps me enjoy the games with a certain calm that doesn’t interfere with my personal life.

  • tonymichels22

    I enjoyed your post mortem. But the fact that you missed Siege’s main point makes me think that maybe you should slow those podcasts down to normal speed…not to mention pay more attention to the road!

    Siege’s advice to fade Bell and Wright in tournaments was very similar to CSURam88. I heard him on a podcast with two other well-known fantasy sports pundits, and the consensus was to jam in Bell, DJ, Ertz, and possibly Wright in cash but to fade them in tournaments.

    From Monday through Thursday I was firm in my belief that LeSean McCoy was in the best spot of any upper-tier running back on the slate. Given the opponent, the likelihood of Buffalo playing with a lead, and the generally sorry state of the Jets’ D compounded by the loss of their best run defender, I thought Shady might be the ONLY RB1 with a DK salary over $7000 who had a legitimate chance to 4X.

    As for Bell, I had other reservations as well. Most analysts were just taking for granted that after his long layoff, he would effortlessly pick up where he left off last year. I thought there was a good chance he might be rusty.

    Finally, I live in NE Ohio and follow the Browns closely. It is obvious to anyone who watched them for the past few years and followed them through this preseason that their run defense is much-improved. They’re so much faster to the ball that it is stunning.

    So I should have been all over McCoy and avoided Bell like the plague. Instead, Shady was just one of about a dozen RBs (including Bell and DJ) that I plugged in. In fact, out of perhaps 50 GPPs with entry fees ranging from $1 to $3, I still wound up with one or the other of the dynamic duds in roughly 50% of my lineups.

    So I really relate to your tendency to “beat yourself up” for one strategic blunder or another. I still wrestle with that every…single…week…Hopefully THIS is the week we will all have the courage of our convictions and the results prove us right.

    Again, nice article. Lots of food for thought.

  • dj39466

    Pleased with my Sunday million result.Cashed both entries with highest score 135. Main tweak needed to be on RB. Wanted to play McCoy and Johnson, but couldn’t add parts around them that I was comfortable with. Winner had McCoy Gurley which would have pushed me into a good cash instead of Johnson and Coleman that I went with. Late switch from Bills to Rams helped.

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