What an odd week of football. I don’t know about you, but I felt pretty darn confident in a bunch of my lineups. However, at just like 1:15 I was already down to every user that had Joseph Randle and his three touchdowns. Then I was down even more to users that had Devonta Freeman and his 45.3 fantasy points on DraftKings.
Really, these kind of weeks happen. They just do. However, I think it should be a common practice for DFS players to evaluate the best plays of the weekend and to try to reconstruct why you were on or off that player. It’s the “process over results” strategy – sure, a player may have gone off. But if it was a fluky thing or it was a bad process in selecting them, congrats but good luck in future weeks.
As a result of the crazy scores – the winning DK Milly score is currently over 300 – I’m going to start looking at the best plays of the weekend on Mondays and try to reconstruct whether they were actual good plays and we/I just missed them because of biases or some other reason, or whether it was a product of variance. Let’s touch on a couple per position and see if we can learn from our mistakes.
Top plays: Andy Dalton (35.3 DKFP), Cam Newton (32.9 DKFP), Tom Brady (25.7 DKFP)
Dalton was a great bargain on DraftKings (Bargain Rating of 85%) and in hindsight, he was in a fairly good spot. The Bengals were three-point dogs on the road, going against a Ravens team that is one of the best in the NFL against the run – their Opposing Plus/Minus against running backs is -1.2 in the last year. Combine that with the backfield drama of Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard possibly splitting touches but maybe not, and perhaps a Dalton-A.J. Green stack should’ve been on my mind a little more.
Cam Newton probably should’ve been as well, going against a struggling Saints team at home. He definitely wasn’t a cash play by any means, even in hindsight, but we know of Newton’s running potential and that always means that he could go off for a big game. The difficult part is figuring out when that’ll be during the season – he did have eight Pro Trends this week, so our models liked him a lot – but a lot of us have probably been rightfully scared of the Panthers’ offense. Was he worth a lineup against a division rival at home? Yes, probably, but I’m not losing a ton of sleep over this one.
I won’t say much about Brady because he was the clear chalk play of the weekend. He was almost 3.5 times more owned in the FanDuel Thursday contests and his spot couldn’t have been better, going against a Jaguars team at home with an implied point total of 30.5. He was a clear cash game play and didn’t disappoint; however, his ownership in tournaments really didn’t move anyone up the leaderboard.
Top plays: Devonta Freeman (45.3 DKFP), Chris Johnson (31.0 DKFP), Joseph Randle (30.5 DKFP)
I mean, come on.
Let’s start with Freeman. The issue here isn’t whether Freeman was a good play in hindsight, but whether there were better plays – especially in cash – that were cheaper options. With Dion Lewis at $4,200, David Johnson at $4,000, and Ryan Mathews at $3,300, it’s pretty tough to understand why users would take a more expensive Freeman in cash games.
I really don’t hate the Freeman play — we knew that he would be a three-down back with Tevin Coleman out. However, it was probably correct to question whether he really had a ton of upside, for two main reasons – losing the job to a rookie in Coleman was a red flag and going against a Cowboys defense that hasn’t been that bad and plays at a slow pace. The workload plus the price probably made him fine in cash (I still like the cheaper options in hindsight), but taking him in tournaments was a bit lucky.
On the news section of the site, we had this blurb on Sunday morning:
There’s a lot of upside in the Cardinals offense this year, but I didn’t see it from Chris Johnson. David Johnson looked electric in the first two games and the steady increase in work plus this news blurb courtesy of Arians – this play was fluky to me. Congrats if you rostered Chris Johnson this week, but I’m still taking David Johnson the rest of the season.
And finally, we get to Joseph Randle. In hindsight, I think there was some merit into taking a hard look at the Dallas run game – they have an elite offensive line and there was a good possibility that they’d rely on the run game more with Tony Romo out. The issue was predicting where touches would go among the backs – even with the crazy game, Randle only had 14 carries. If you told me that before the game, I would’ve faded him 10/10 times. Also, this:
Joseph Randle's yards gained on each of his 14 carries from yesterday:
28, 37, 20, 1, -1, 1, 4, 1, 0, 1, -1, -4, 2, -2
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) September 28, 2015
I think a lot of the running back games were pretty fluky this week and as a result, there could be some opportunity to capitalize on recency bias next week.
A.J. Green (47.7 DKFP), Steve Smith (46.6 DKFP), Julio Jones (43.4), Keenan Allen (40.3)
Wow, some really high scores from wide receivers this week. Personally, I’ve targeted Green at his depressed price really heavily the first two weeks, but didn’t this week. I think this was a flawed process on my part – as said above, the Bengals were in a good spot to really depend on Green this week, as they were road dogs, the Ravens are great against the run, and the backfield situation was sketchy. I regret this one for sure.
Smith is little different – again, the Ravens were three-point favorites at home and going against a Bengals team that has a league-worst Opposing Plus/Minus of +2.2 against RBs. This should have been a Justin Forsett game, but with the Bengals going up 14-0 at halftime, the game script made it so the Ravens had to throw more. Smith is really the only receiver on the roster, so this was probably a better tournament play than I initially thought. I relied on Vegas for game script, but in tournaments, perhaps we should try to exploit the variance and this is a good example of that.
Julio is Julio – he’s a monster and has 40-fantasy point upside in every game. I didn’t have enough Julio, but I could end up saying that every week I don’t have him in every lineup.
Keenan is another one I regret not having more of in my lineups – when Ladarius Green was ruled out, we knew that Rivers would heavily target Stevie Johnson and Keenan Allen. I wasn’t sure who it’d be and I liked other players better at Allen’s price range (Marshall, for example), so I went with a lot more Johnson than Allen. No fluke here; in hindsight, Allen was a great play.
Greg Olsen (36.4), Gary Barnidge (25.5), Jimmy Graham (21.3)
It was only a matter of time before Cam Newton relied heavily on Greg Olsen as he did this week to the tune of eight receptions for 134 yards and two touchdowns. However, after pedestrian games in the first two weeks and the $4,800 price tag on DraftKings, it was hard to justify that risk. Travis Kelce was just $200 more in a game with a much higher over/under and guys like Jared Cook were crazy cheap at $2,800. Olsen had a great game and it probably wasn’t fluky, but I’m also not blaming myself for not being on him that much. There were superior options.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say this Gary Barnidge explosion for 105 yards and a touchdown on six receptions was more fluky than not. He was the bare minimum on DraftKings at $2,500 and going against the Raiders, but there was little reason to see this coming. And even if you liked him, guys like Cook and Eric Ebron were just barely more expensive.
Finally, a Jimmy Graham sighting! If there was ever a week for Graham to get into the offense, this was it. The Seahawks were huge favorites at home against the Bears, and while being that big of favorites usually doesn’t bode well for QBs and their pass-catchers, I think this perhaps was a unique situation. Graham has controversially not been a big part of their offense despite the move to get him this summer, and you could argue that this was a good game to experiment with getting him involved more – there really wasn’t much to lose against Jimmy Clausen and the Bears.
Anyway, those are my thoughts on the best plays of the weekend and whether they were fluky or something we should’ve been more on in hindsight. I’ll probably do the same for the rest of the season on Mondays, so be on the lookout for that. I do believe it is a useful part of the learning process to look at the past and figure out where things went wrong or right and how we can use that knowledge to get more on the right side in the future.