Course No. NFL 102
This course will focus on each daily fantasy football position and the various factors you should be evaluating when constructing your roster. We'll look at what you should do and help you avoid the things you shouldn't be doing.
Week in and week out, QB will generally be the most consistent scorer on your team and also have a higher ceiling than any other position. In cash games, QB is king. In GPP's, it's the prince in line to take the king's spot. Here are things you should be looking at when determining who your QB(s) will be:
- Using the Vegas lines to project how many points the QB's team will score. The people in Vegas know what they are doing and we should be using this free information they are giving us. To determine how many points Vegas is projecting a QB's team to score simply take the total (for example, 45) and divide it in half (22.5 in this instance) and then take the line (for example, 3) and divide that in half as well (1.5 in this instance). If the team is the favorite, add the line to the total to get their projected points (22.5+1.5=24 for the favorite in my example). If the team is the underdog, subtract the line from the total to get their projected points (22.5-1.5=21 for the underdog in my example). You want to target QB's who has a high team projected total in a game that will be relatively close. The reason you want the game to be close is because if it's a blowout, the winning team will generally stop passing the ball which is bad for your QB. While there are times you can go after a QB that is projected to be on the losing side in a blowout (since they will have to pass to catch up), that's generally a risky proposition that should only be used in a few GPP lineups when you have multiple entries.
- Looking at the opposing defense is another key factor. You want to look for QB's that are playing teams that are weak against the pass. You can do this by looking at DvP (defense vs. position) rankings that tell you how many fantasy points the opposing team gives up on average to QB's.
- Some secondary considerations to DvP are the opposing team's pass rush and pass coverage statistics. The less pressure a team puts on a QB, the more likely the QB will be able to pick that team apart. How defenders cover the pass also play a factor as it tells you how likely a QB will be able to get the ball to his receivers. If your QB is going up against Revis, then you know his favorite target is going to probably not have a big day and that could adversely affect his potential for that day.
- You also want to look at being able to stack your QB with at least one of his receivers. The reason for this is simple – if your QB has a big day, then it makes sense that one of his receivers will as well. Double your pleasure, double your fun, and double the amount of points your lineup gets!
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RB's are the second most consistent position in terms of DFS production after QB. You generally know who is going to be carrying the ball for a team but it's a matter of identifying who is going to do well with those carries and more importantly who is going to get into the end zone, as it is the TD's that will determine whether you have a profitable week or not. Let's look at some of your RB factors:
- We'll again want to look at Vegas lines and in this instance we're actually looking for games where your RB's team is likely to be running the ball at the end of the game. This usually means the team is a prohibitive favorite (a TD or more).
- We'll also want to evaluate the DvP for opposing defenses against RB's. If a RB is facing the #1 ranked rushing defense in the NFL, then it's probably a good idea to not target him unless it's as a ultra-contrarian play in a GPP lineup. We want to target RB's who are facing those defenses in the bottom half (or worse) of the DvP rankings.
- Another consideration is snap counts and usage. We want to target RB's who are in the game and who are getting the ball when they are in the game. Most importantly, we want to target RB's who are in the game in the red zone and in goal line situations. Nothing can be more frustrating than watching your RB get 5 carries for 30 yards in a drive and then get taking out for the team's goal line back at the 2 yard line. While there is obviously value in guys who will get 20 carries for 100 yards, there is more value in guys that will get 15 carries for 60 yards and a TD.
- One last factor to consider is the site's scoring rules, especially when it comes to points-per-reception (“PPR"). If it's a full PPR league where a RB gets 1 point per reception then players like Matt Forte, who catches the ball a ton out of the backfield, gets more value than say a player like Jeremy Hill who is primarily used as a runner.
Of all the positions, WR is probably the most volatile and most frustrating. It can be painful to roster a stud like Calvin Johnson at an exorbitant price tag to see him get 2 catches for 25 yards and 0 TD's. Let's take a look at how you can help avoid situations like that in your WR selection process:
- As with QB and RB, we'll want to evaluate the Vegas lines and the DvP. We're typically looking for the favorable situations that we wanted in the QB evaluation process – a high scoring, close game, against a team that doesn't defend the pass well.
- The most important thing to look for in your WR, and it's not even close, is how many targets your WR gets. If the ball isn't being thrown to a player it's hard for them to get a reception, yards, and TD's. We generally want to be looking for WR's who get a minimum of 8 targets per game.
- Usage is another important factor, especially inside the red zone. The 50 yard TD pass is hard to come by. The 10 yard TD pass is easier and happens much more often so we want players who the QB looks for in these clutch situations.
There aren't many TE's that are going to do much for you on a consistent basis. Outside of Gronkowski and pre-2014 Jimmy Graham finding a TE that provides value is much like finding a needle in a haystack. There are some things you can do, however, to help you find that hidden gem:
- As with every position, looking at Vegas lines and how opposing teams defend the pass and TE's is important. Some teams just have a hard time covering TE's even if they are strong in defending the pass and it can be an area that teams might try and take advantage of. Finding those weak spots and keying in on them can help you find that TE that might go off that week.
-As with WR, the most important things to look for with your TE is targets and usage. Since a large number of TE's don't receive many targets, red zone usage becomes even more important, especially since many teams will use the TE a lot in these situations.
I'm not going to waste much of your time with kickers. Not all sites offer them but for those that do you'll want to find the cheapest kicker you possibly can, without picking someone who will provide no value. There are a few things you can look for though:
-A projected high-scoring game. More points = more opportunities for a kicker to kick PAT's and FG's
- The weather impact of the game. More so than any other position, wind and sloppy conditions will impact the kicking game.
- Also take a look at the site scoring rules. If a team gives bonuses for longer FG's then evaluate kickers and teams who have a propensity for kicking those 50+ yard FG's.
- One other thing you can look at is red zone success rate. If a team struggles in the red zone then it usually means a lot of FG's. Couple that with defenses that buckle up in the red zone and you can find that kicker that might kick 3-4 FG's in a game.
Defense can make the difference between finishing 100 th in a GPP and winning a GPP. You can have the same exact roster as the player who finishes in 1st but if his defense scores 10 points and yours scores 5, he'll win the big money while you'll be left wondering “what if?" - here are some factors to help you pick your DFS defense.
- A projected low-scoring game. This is the one time you don't want to see a high over/under. You're typically looking for a defense where Vegas is projecting <17 points allowed by that team.
- Who the opposing QB is. You want to pick defenses that will be facing weak QB's that are likely to throw INT's, and more importantly pick 6's.
- How often the opposing team turns the ball over. Turn overs = fantasy points (and potential for return TD's).
- How often the opposing team gives up sacks. Sacks = fantasy points and potential for fumbles or hurried passes that lead to interceptions. Fumbles and interceptions lead to potential for return TD's. Look for teams that give up a lot of sacks and target the defenses facing them (especially if the QB is suspect for that team).
- Return game impact. If a site allows points for special teams TD's then there can be some value in selecting teams that have great return units. That should be a secondary bonus consideration though.