Using Psychology to Identify Leverage Points

This article will focus on using psychological biases and fallacies to identify leverage points in GPPs. Public opinion can be swayed in a number of ways that, once identified, can be used to the advantage of a sharp player. Today’s article will focus exploiting recency bias. We will be looking at assumptions made based on a small sample size that may be unwarranted. I want to key in on a few particular leverage points for Week 14, so let’s dive right on in.

Last week, we saw Antonio Gibson go down early in the game and not return. This week, J.D. McKissic is looking like the chalk spend down at RB with everyone assuming that he will take on an expanded role, but let’s dig a little deeper. After Gibson went down, McKissic piled up 10 targets and found his way to a nice fantasy day to the tune of 17.8 DK points. The casual observer might assume that this was a direct result of Gibson’s absence, while in fact McKissic’s role did not really change from previous weeks. It was actually Peyton Barber who found himself taking Gibson’s touches on first and second downs and around the goal line. Looking closer at that game as a whole, it’s much more likely that McKissic saw so many targets because Terry McLaurin was shut down and his massive target share funneled to McKissic (and also to Logan Thomas). Recency bias will lead people to believe that McKissic’s massive target share will continue, but aren’t they overlooking the previous two weeks of 2 and 4 targets? A lower end outcome such as that is certainly possible.

I think two important points can be taken from this scenario: 1) If you’re rostering McKissic hoping for an expanded role this week, you should expect it to be at McLaurin’s expense. If Scary Terry continues to see his normal massive target share, there may not be enough extra targets to go McKissic’s way, so McLaurin is one way to pivot and gain leverage off McKissic. 2) Peyton Barber is going overlooked as a 4.4k RB who could easily slide right into Antonio Gibson early down and goal line role. We can exploit the public’s perception about these two running backs by fading McKissic in favor of Peyton Barber, gaining some nice leverage and a little savings in the process.

Another interesting situation from last week to dissect is with the Houston pass catchers. The absence of Will Fuller opened up targets that the public assumed would funnel to Brandin Cooks, and to a lesser extent, Keke Coutee and Jordan Akins. In the end, Cooks failed as massive chalk, Coutee exploded for 25.1 DK points, and Jordan Akins dropped a dud. Recency bias will have the public off Cooks and Akins the week after they got burned, but again, let’s dig a little deeper. The volume was there for Cooks last week with 8 targets, especially when you consider that he sat out a quarter while being evaluated for a concussion. The volume was also there for Akins, who ran 36 routes and played on 75% of the snaps. But since neither guy put together a solid score, the public seems to be off them this week.

I don’t see this week and last as drastically different- certainly not different enough to warrant such a drop in ownership. Yes, the match up is a little harder but the Texans have the same implied team total as last week and Cooks’ and Akins’ prices did not change much, while they have similar median projections to last week. If we were willing to play Cooks and Akins at high ownership last week, we should be eager to play them this week at a fraction of the ownership for the exact same reasons. Cooks also happens to provide nice leverage off of the chalky Robby Anderson, who is near the same price and is in essentially the same situation of the team being down a pass catcher and having extra targets open up.

One final player to look at is Kyler Murray. Over the past three weeks, we’ve seen him average only 5 rushing attempts per game, which has led to some mediocre fantasy numbers. Recency bias will have most people off Kyler this week for that reason, despite that fact that his price has plummeted to a reasonable 7.2K. Remember when we were jamming him in at 8.5K against the Seahawks? This is the same player who is capable of putting up 40 DK points on any given week. I personally think that 3 weeks of mediocre production is far too small a sample size to write off the QB who arguably has the highest upside of any on the slate, and he is currently projected at less than 2% ownership. I don’t pretend to know what the coaches have been thinking or why his rushing attempts have decreased, but there is no reason to think this trend has to continue. Against a beatable Giant’s defense, I would rather look at the bigger picture and hope for a ceiling game at silly low ownership.

Sample size in NFL is not very big to begin with, but if we take a look at the larger picture rather than what’s freshest in our minds, I think there’s an edge to be had. Good luck!

About the Author


  • MattyK1981

    Great write up overall, keep it up!

    My only comment would be that the Robbie Anderson ownership has as much to do with DEN secondary situation has as it does with DJ Moore sitting out. But recency bias will certainly play an outsized role in Cooks ownership.

  • FitFantasyGod

    Awesome article man, I liked the reasoning behind playing Kyler! Check out my NFL article I just published on tonight’s Showdown Slate if you’re interested and playing tonight!

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