In this space, we will look each week at players who have strong potential to outperform their price on FanDuel so we can invite them to come on down into our lineups. This is not a play all these picks column, but rather a place to uncover value to allow us to unlock massive upside in our lineups.
I can’t say that I have ever taken down a massive tournament. I have won some small, $100-$200 first place prizes, but never anything that’s significant or life-changing money. I am primarily a cash-game player, usually allocating about 90% of my weekly spend on 50/50 contests or double-ups.
That doesn’t stop me from wondering what winning a huge contest would be like. The way it is romanticized, publicized, and scrutinized across various platforms in this industry, it seems almost surreal and something where your life instantly becomes more glamorous and your DFS fortunes change forever. For example, at the FanDuel Football Fantasy Championship this weekend – some lucky guy or gal is going to take home a large cardboard check for $500,000 and get the football experience of a lifetime.
I mean don’t you want to be that guy? The reality, I imagine, is strikingly different.
Earlier this week I was captivated by this article, which interviews a contestant who won big money and prizes on The Price is Right (have to stay on brand) and what the days and months were like for her after this big win. As you can probably guess, you aren’t driving off that lot with your new car piled up with cash and a bunch of prizes. There are all sorts of legal hurdles to jump over and you have to pay taxes on your prizes as determined by the IRS before they will even release them to you.
It turns out a lot of Price is Right winners end up selling their prizes just so they can recoup what they had to pay out of pocket for what they won. I guess if you win a trip, you are stuck with it, even though not everything in that prize is paid for either.
I bet winning a six-figure prize is a bit like this for the every-man grinding through DFS each week. You could theoretically withdraw all your winnings the next day, wire it to your bank, and live like a king, but sometime in the next year the tax man will come calling and you will owe a cool 30% on that prize. Then there is the expectation to play larger amounts that inherently come with sharper players and professionals that are more skilled. I wonder how many people reinvest a significant portion back into DFS and try to grow their bankroll exponentially? So many questions and I’m sure there are so many headaches.
Ah, who am I kidding…I am going to keep trying to win it all.
Derek Carr ($6,800) – Alright, hear me out on this one. Carr is actually playing some of the best football of his career with arguably the worst collection of offensive weapons we have seen in quite some time. When the Raiders lost Marshawn Lynch and shipped Amari Cooper out of town, it was assumed that the Raiders offense – with Carr leading the way – would be a dumpster fire. Carr, however, has not thrown an interception since October 7 and has eight passing touchdowns in the last four games, for an average of 17.1 FD points – which includes a 9.8 game against the Ravens.
So far this season, the Bengals have given up the second-most FD points to opposing QBs, just a fraction of a point behind the Falcons. Cincinnati has given up nine passing touchdowns in their last five games and has just one interception since week 8. This game has the fourth-highest total on the main slate, despite the eye-gouging matchup between two teams that have given up on the season (and FYI you can get into this game for $15 a ticket if you are into torturing yourself). This might be one of those check the box score, not the game tape situations, but Carr couldn’t be in a better position to continue his recent successful run.
Dalvin Cook ($6,200) – Marlon Mack, Doug Martin, Gus Edwards, and James White are all priced ahead of Dalvin Cook this week, and I would not take any of them ahead of Cook and his premier match-up at home against the Dolphins. He was able to salvage his putrid fantasy day last week with a late touchdown against the Seahawks, but that just sets up the Vikings for a get-right spot against the Dolphins with a new offensive coordinator and a playoff-motivated game script.
Over the past two weeks, there have been some extremely encouraging signs from Cook’s opportunity. In weeks 8-12, Cook saw between 10-15 rush attempts + targets per game. In the past two weeks, he has seen 19 and 20 rushes + targets as the team looks to feature the fully-healthy Cook more. He couldn’t ask more a much better spot than Miami, who have given up the 7th most FD points to running backs this year, and who rank 17th in rushing DVOA and 24th against pass-catching running backs.
As seven-point home favorites on Sunday, the Vikings are set up to grab a lead and then feature Cook throughout the second half. If you are looking to be contrarian in the mid-range of RBs this week, Dalvin looks like he is about to cook.
I will show myself out.
Sterling Shepard ($5,200) – With news that Odell Beckham will officially sit out, it’s time to fire up Sterling Shepard this week. He has seen at least six targets in 10 of 13 games this season including six targets with a touchdown in just three quarters of work with OBJ out last week against the Redskins.
Back at home and facing a fading Titans defense, Shepard is set up to have all the volume that doesn’t go to Saquon Barkley. The Titans are the 22nd ranked pass defense DVOA, but drop all the way to 30th when considering just #1 wide receivers – according to Football Outsiders, Tennessee gives up 9 pass attempts and 81.3 yards per game to their opponent’s top wideout. With Beckham out, the potential is there for this to also be a game where Evan Engram is featured, but the Titans are extremely tough against the tight end position, ranking fifth in DVOA on the season.
Have confidence in Shepard this week, likely matched up with Malcolm Butler, who has allowed seven touchdowns this year as well as 13.4 fantasy points per game to his assignments.