NFL Daily Fantasy Football Week 1: You have to start somewhere…
DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Is Here!
If you have listened to the Daily Fantasy Sports Advisor podcast or have watched the welcome video on the home page of this blog, you will know that I am just as new to daily fantasy football as you. I would love to provide tons of great analysis that will help you win your daily fantasy football leagues, but unfortunately I haven’t built a winning process that I can be 100% confident in. The process of building a winning strategy takes time. I will most certainly make mistakes along the way and learn countless invaluable lessons. Instead of doing this behind the scenes and rolling out a full fledged daily fantasy football campaign next year, I thought it would be much more valuable for you to see the process first hand. I know what this process looks like. I was not a profitable and successful NBA player at first but I got there. Surely my knowledge of daily fantasy sports will help make this transition quicker, but there will still be several similarities to what you will experience if you stick with whatever daily fantasy sport you are dedicated to.
In this series of blogs I will walk you through, step by step, the decisions I make around bankroll management, contest selection, roster construction, and all other decisions that are made throughout the process. I have deposited $100 on DraftKings to cycle through this daily fantasy football season. I choose DraftKings because of their weekly Quarter Arcade contest. This will allow me to practice putting multiple lineups in one GPP while staying within my budget. I will release the blog every Tuesday(sorry real life delayed the first edition a couple days) after the results of the week are finalized. The learning curve is sure to be large and I don’t expect to be a winning player right away. But in time I know that I will construct a process they we can all benefit from.
DraftKings Daily Fantasy Football Week 1 Starting Point
As I mentioned above I deposited $100 to play with this daily fantasy football season on DraftKings. I will be practicing a conservative bankroll strategy early on to make sure I don’t push my limits too early. I will play 10% of my bankroll the first week. Below is the breakdown of what contest I entered.
- Cash Games: $8 (80%) – I have split this up into 4 H2H, 3 50/50s, and 1 10-Player league
- GPPs: $2 (10%) – I have entered 1 lineup into a $1 Single Entry GPP and 4 lineups into the Quarter Arcade
Each contest requires a different roster construction strategy but I always start by reviewing the slate and narrowing the player pool to Cash plays and GPP plays. Below I list the players at each position I targeted and the thought process behind it.
A major factor in targeting a quarterback is the overall and team total for that game. This makes sense as touchdowns are king in fantasy football and a higher over under means Vegas expects a large amount of offense in the game. The only thing that I was concerned about as far as the spread was to make sure the QB was not too big of a favorite. A QB who is a large favorite might find himself and his team ahead early and running often. Below is a screenshot of the data I pulled together and I will discuss the QBs I wanted to target below.
Above are the 4 QBs that made my target list. Although I didn’t end up using him at all Arron Rodgers also came out as a good play this week, but I just couldn’t fit a lineup around him I liked. My favorite play this week was Carson Palmer. His team total of 24.75 is 5 higher than the Cardinals averaged last year. His opponent the Saints were poor last season against QBs which just further sealed the deal. Because Carson was hurt for most of last year and one of his best WRs was banged up I only wanted to target him in GPPs. The other GPP play I liked the most was Philip Rivers. Also with a high total Rivers had what seemed like a tough matchup against the Lions. I felt as if this would keep his ownership low which is key for GPPs. I also liked that the Chargers most proven RB was Danny Woodhead who is a pass catching back.
As far as cash games go, Palmer rated out the highest but I felt like I should go for a safer play in Bradford. With a high team total, depressed price, and great matchup against the Falcons I felt that it was a no brainer. I knew he would be highly owned but for cash games ownership does not matter as much.
Running back seems to be a very complex position to target. I am still learning about game script, which is essentially how the game unfolds or the “game flow”, which greatly effects a running backs usage. For cash games you almost never want to take a player form a road underdog. This is because the team will most likely be down and forced to throw the ball. In GPPs you could take a running back who is heavily used in the passing game but this is a higher risk play. Targeting running backs was one of the most uncomfortable decision making processes for me this week.
The top play for me this week was Eddie Lacy. He had a great matchup against the Bears and averaged 18.81 Rush/Targets per game. I wanted to target backs that would have a lot of opportunity. Lacy for me was a good cash and GPP play because I felt a lot of people would be off him because they would rather have Devante Adams in their lineup from the Packers. The other 3 backs I decided to target were DeMarco Murray, Doug Martin, and Chris Ivory. Martin and Ivory were at pretty depressed prices and I thought both would get the lion’s share of their backfield’s work. DeMarco was in the juicy fantasy game that was the Falcons versus Eagles and I thought he would be the lead back in an NFL offense that had a team total of over 28.
Cash game WRs for me were all about targets. I wanted guys that would be targeted a lot. DraftKings is a full point per reception so I felt for cash it was the right move to build a solid floor with receptions. For GPPs I felt the WRs you picked revolved more around what QB you were going to stack around.
For cash my top player was Jordan Matthews from the Eagles. It only shows him averaging 6.44 targets per game but I felt this was going to go up considerably due to the matchup and Maclin not being in PHI anymore. I also felt Davante Adams was a good cash game play but this was a consensus across the industry due to his pricing not factoring in his increased role once Jordy Nelson went down. Jarvis Landry was also a great cash game play due to a cheap price and healthy amount of targets.
Greg Olsen graded out to be the best play especially being the only proven pass catcher left in Carolina. However his team total was quite low and I could save a lot of cash by going down to Bennett and Witten. I choose Bennett in cash because of his 8 targets per game and his red zone usage. I choose Witten in GPPs because of the high team total and I could make that 300 dollars in savings go a long way.
For Defense I kept hearing over and over you wanted to take a home favorite. I followed this for cash as I wanted to play it as safe as possible but for GPPs I took a riskier approach and went more with matchup and Vegas lines.
The Jets fit the home favorite mold and were in a game with a very low over under. I also looked at the average plays per game for each team. I thought that if the total was low and there was still a good number of plays in the game, there might be extra opportunities for turnovers. I decided to go with the Dolphins in GPPs as they had a matchup against the very bad Redskins and I thought they would be a solid defense this year.
Final Daily Fantasy Football Rosters for Week 1
As you can see I loaded up on the Eagles hoping to get a piece of that high team total. Landry and Matthews rode high target rates and a lucky return touchdown by Landry to a very solid week for our cash games. Bradford did alright but we would have performed a lot better if we went with our gut and not the crowed by going Palmer here. Bennett did well although we got lucky with a late touchdown. The Jets definitely paid off this week and the home favorite mantra proved valuable. The biggest lesson I learned was to not be afraid to go with your rankings as long as you maintain a solid floor for your cash lineup. Below are the contest results for this lineup.
We did not do well in our H2H matches but salvaged some of the money by fringe cashing the double ups and the 10-player league.
Rivers Lineup (1 x $0.25 Quarter Arcade)
This was the top performing lineup for week 1. Philip Rivers had a great game and we also doubled up on a lot of that production with Keenan Allen and Stevie Johnson. All three had very low ownership which further gave us the edge with this lineup. We got a great score from Witten which was a big part of the Cowboy’s comeback when Dez went down. I will be using him a lot while Bryant remains sidelined. Doug Martin was the biggest disappointment here. Game script really hurt him as the Bucs got down big early. I will talk about Ivory later but if I would have put him in for Martin I would have cashed in big. Maybe the biggest boost we got from this lineup was the double dip touchdown with the Dolphins D and Landry on the punt return. This lineup finished 156th out of 47,000 entries and turned $0.25 into $3.00.
Andy Dalton Lineup (1 x $0.25 Quarter Arcade)
I didn’t have Dalton as a target but I wanted to try to fill out a lineup that would be a bit contrarian. I thought Dalton might be under owned and could have a big game against the Raiders. I also thought I could differentiate myself by pairing him with Gio Bernard. This turned out to be my second highest scoring lineup but not because of the Dalton/Green/Bernard stack. All of my core players hit from all my lineups and the major difference was using Chris Ivory in the flex where I had previously had Doug Martin. Ivory was in a much better spot than Martin and looking back I needed to scrutinize this decision more as it made a big difference. This lineup finished 1,324th out of 47,000 entries and tuned $0.25 into $1.00.
Carson Palmer Lineup (1 x $0.25 Quarter Arcade; 1 x $100K Daily Dollar)
This was my main GPP Lineup due to how highly Palmer rated for me this week. He was the top QB for me this week but unfortunately I didn’t get a huge day from either of the WRs I paired him with. Also, A.J. Green did not come through in this spot as they did not need him much and I am hoping it was just an aberration. Again our core players performed well and Martin continued to disappoint. This lineup cashed in both contests which helped turn a total investment in this roster of $1.25 into $3.00.
I also put my cash game lineup into the Quarter Arcade and it cashed for $0.50. Somehow I lost all of my H2Hs but cashed a GPP with my cash game lineup. Not sure how this works but I think this may show that there is a lot more easy money in the large field GPPs and cash games while H2Hs are reserved for more skilled players.
As you can see we actually made a profit this week but not in a way we might have expected. Despite only playing 20% of our investment in GPPs this week its profits were able to cover our loss in cash games and even gave us a nice profit. This is why good bankroll management is so key in DFS. I have learned a lot from this week and it was nice to start off on the right foot with a profitable showing. I have a lot to improve on before I am comfortable with my process but this was a nice step in the right direction. I look forward to putting what we have learned into practice next week. Below is a breakdown of our investment and returns this week.
Net Profit ($0.50)
Net Profit $5.50
Cash Net Profit ($0.50)
GPP Net Profit $5.50
Total Week 1 Profit $5.00 – ROI 50% ($5.00/$10.00)
Bankroll Starting Week 1: $100.00
Bankroll After Week 1: $105.00
Thank you for reading the blog and I hope this helps prepare you for your dive into daily fantasy football. Have you already taken that step? Let me know how you faired and what players either came up clutch for you or have found themselves in your dog house after week 1. Leave your comments below I can’t wait to see how you all did.