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   Daily Fantasy Football: Week 1

May 28, 2017
Al Lackner
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Last week I posted a brief run-down for the uninitiated: An Introduction to Daily Fantasy Football.

This week I will actually walk you through setting up a lineup and what strategies to use.

In short, I always try to follow a 5-step process/

1. Collect all background info

Before I even log into Fantasy Feud (or whatever Daily Fantasy League site that you prefer), I do my homework first. The good news is that much of that is already done ahead of time for you here at Ask the Commish.Com. I typically like to gather the following pieces of information:

* These great resources are available exclusively to VIP Members.

The Weekly Rankings provide a nice snapshot of a consensus-based ranking structure for each player by position. The Best Bets digs a little deeper. It identifies each player's level of competition and looks at year-to-date and averages and recent trends for each player. Finally, the Sit or Start provides a detailed breakdown of over 100 players and helps to identify some gems as well as players who may be over-valued or at risk.

Note also that injury considerations are already taken care of for you with these tools. Players who are Doubtful or Out will already be gleaned. Players who are Questionable or Probable will be clearly designated.

2. Identify stud candidates and potential sleepers.

Using the tools above, narrow your list down to a list of highly ranked players that you believe are going to be studs this week. Make another list of players who are not ranked nearly as high -- but you have a great feeling will out-perform their ranking.

The first list is pretty easy, as you can gather these players straight from the top of the Weekly Rankings. I try to narrow the list down to 4-5 players per position. At QB, guys like Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning will make the list almost every week.

The second list requires some additional reading -- and some intuition. If you look through the list of players to Start or are flagged as Rewards in our Sit or Start feature, you can usually find some bargains. As a sneak peak to the Sit or Start feature that comes out tomorrow, a borderline RB2 starter like Jonathan Stewart (against Jacksonville) as flagged as a great play, while Chris Ivory and Doug Martin are both identified as great upside plays.

3. Examine player salaries -- pinpoint studs.

In general, you will have a set salary cap for an entire lineup. Fantasy Feud gives you $1,000,000.00 to spend on a lineup that includes 2 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 1 D/ST, and 2 Flex positions, where the Flex can be RB, WR or TE.

When I look at the top-end player salaries I see that the following players lead the way: Aaron Rodgers ($168,900), Peyton Manning ($152,800), Andrew Luck ($151,500), Antonio Brown ($145,500), and Rob Gronkowski ($145,400). If you want any of these players in your lineup, it will cost you 15-17% of you total budget for one player. On one hand that is a large chunk -- but on the other hand you have 9 other positions with which you can make up for the inflated price tag of a single player.

I normally like to spend about half of my budget on 3-4 elite players, and then become budget conscious and look for value for the other 6-7 players to fill out my lineup. That tends to give me a balanced lineup that should be effective in virtually any Daily format (Head-to-Head, 5/50 or even GPP).

When I look at those top QBs, I understand why Aaron Rodgers is so much more expensive this week. Not only is he an elite every-week starter in re-draft leagues, but he has a GREAT match-up this week against the Chicago Bears' wretched defense. So I am willing to pay that high price for him. He has a high floor AND a high ceiling this week.

That Green Bay-Chicago match-up is so enticing that I am tempted to stack my lineup with Packer players. There is certainly a risk in going this route in re-draft leagues. However, in Daily Fantasy I actually like doing this. If you have, say, both Peyton Manning and DeMaryius Thomas on your roster, you are going to start them both every week. If manning has an unexpectedly bad game or the Broncos face a tough defense then you are penalized with both players. In Daily Fantasy you only insert players from the same team when you choose to do so. As noted, I think stacking Packer players makes a great deal of sense. With that in mind, another stud performer I like this week is Eddie Lacy, who costs $137,300.

Given that I went so high with my top-end players this week (Rodgers was the highest-priced QB, and Lacy was the second highest-priced RB), I either need to limit my stud acquisition to 3 players this week -- or look for value among the stud options. Depending upon what I do here, depends on what I can do with flexibility for my remaining lineup. One player that stands out to me is Julio Jones, who has a GREAT match-up against Philly. In fact, I personally have him ranked as the #1 fantasy WR this week. Our consensus ranking have him ranked 3rd amongst WRs as does his price point on Fantasy Feud. Thus, I see pretty good value with Jones at $138,400. That leaves me with $555,400 to complete the rest of my lineup, which exceeds my goal of $500,000.

4. Examine player salaries -- pinpoint 2nd tier options.

Those three stud players were all no brainers. As I said, they were all top 3 at their respective positions, and plenty of contestants are going to have them in their lineup this week. The wing-and-a-prayer players that will complete my lineup in step 5 is where luck comes into play. But most contests are won or lost each week based on properly identifying the 2nd tier players who will make up the bulk of my remaining lineup.

There were a number fo 2nd tier players that I liked, who had very reasonable salaries this week. These players included Sam Bradford (great match-up against Atlanta and a bargain at $128,900), Jonathan Stewart ($105,700), Brandin Cooks ($96,100), Jordan Cameron ($70,700), and Davante Adams ($65,500).

I want to draw special attention to the Adams selection. Not to beat a dead horse, but I love Green Bay Players this week for all the reasons I cited. In my rankings I have Adams identified as a borderline WR2/WR3. However, Fantasy Feud has his salary in line with the 56th ranked WR. That is one more great reasons to love opening weekend in the NFL! You see, the Daily Fantasy sites calculate their player salaries weeks ahead of time -- based on 2014 performance and 2015 projections. Adams' role in the Green Bay offense has changed significantly since Jordy Nelson went down with the season-ending knee injury a few weeks ago. Hence, a little extra knowledge and research allowed me to get Adams into my lineup this week at a substantially reduced price. The converse, of course, is true. Be wary of spending "money" on, say, Le'Veon Bell this week! Moral of the story: re-check your lineup as late in the process as you can.

5. Fill out the rest of your lineup as best you can with upside plays.

Once I chose all my studs and second-tier players, I was left with a budget of $88,500 and two positions to fill. I was excited about that for two reasons: one position was a Flex position giving me plenty of flexibility and the other was the D/ST position, which is a very inexpensive one to fill. Right away I noticed that my 3rd ranked defense (Miami) was priced as the 14th ($48,000). I call that great value.

That leaves $40,500 to spend on the RB/WR/TE of my choice. When you get down to that price point, you are normally grasping for straws. Guys that are not even in the starting lineup. The good news is that I only have one position to fill with a player of this magnitude (or lack thereof). Call me a holdout or someone clinging to a forgotten notion, but I spent $39,100 of my remaining dough on Josh Hill. Obviously it is a long shot, but when he was the talk of Sleeper Nation a few months ago, he was being ranked by some publications as the #5 fantasy tight end. For $39,100 I will take any production I can get from him.

And that leaves me with $1,400 left over.


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