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   Daily Fantasy Football Week 4

July 22, 2017
Al Lackner
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Recap from Week 3

My story from week 3 probably sounds like many others, who were either crushed or victorious thanks to a handful of key contributors on Monday night: Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb and Jammal Charles in particular. Thanks to some last-minute maneuvering, I had Charles in my lineup, and he helped me eke out a victory in multiple contests.

If you read my Week 3 edition of DFS, you may recall that my lineup looked like this as of Wednesday:

QB Andrew Luck
QB Cam Newton
RB Marshawn Lynch
RB Jonathan Stewart
WR Antonio Brown
WR Brandon Marshall
TE Jared Cook
D/ST Atlanta Falcons
Flex Frank Gore
Flex C.J. Spiller

I was actually very happy with this lineup as of Wednesday afternoon, but word of nagging injuries to Stewart and Lynch had me concerned, so I tweaked the lineup a bit before Thursday's deadline as usual.

You can read about all my tinkering on my blog, which I try to update as I make updates.

Since I wanted another elite RB in place of the "Questionable" Lynch, I swapped him for Jamaal Charles. Likewise, I also swapped out "Questionable" Stewart for a guy that I really liked last week, Latavius Murray. However, those two moves meant that I needed to downgrade another position to stay under the cap. I just couldn't shake this conviction that LeGarrette Blount was going to have a monster game against the Jags, so I made the final decision to free up the cap space by swapping Gore for Blount. Here was the resulting lineup:

QB Andrew Luck
QB Cam Newton
RB Jamaal Charles
RB Latavius Murray
WR Antonio Brown
WR Brandon Marshall
TE Jared Cook
D/ST Atlanta Falcons
Flex LeGarrette Blount
Flex C.J. Spiller

Welcome to the bye weeks

Yikes! It just seems so much harder finding top drawer talent when a number of teams with key players are on a bye. I know it is only two teams this week, but with the Pats and Titans off that means no studs like Brady, Gronk or Edelman -- and bargain bin players like Mariota and Dion Lewis are unavailable too.

In a way, the Gronk hiatus is a good thing for DFS players like me who choose to spend their money loading up at other positions rather than spending top 5-10 overall money on Gronk. Every week, I realize that I am going to have to make up a significant gap between the points collected by other owners who have inserted Gronk into their lineup and the points scored by whatever TE I elected to take a flier on that week. I won't have to worry about that this week -- at least not in terms of expectation management. The flip-side, of course, is that the usual Gronk owners now have more cash to shore up their other positions as I usually do.

Load up on those "studs"!

Most weeks I advocate starting with 3-4 fantasy studs and then completing your lineup with good bargains in the lower tiers. However, as the 2015 season takes shape, it is becoming more clear that there are plenty of guys that we thought would be studs and so far are not. Conversely, there are plenty of guys that somehow slipped under our radar a bit. The challenge is to identify some of those guys who may STILL be under-the-radar.

Matt Ryan is one such guy. Our perception of him in fantasy is that he is a ho-hum fantasy QB whom you probably start most weeks, but beware of him in certain match-ups. That may be an accurate assessment, but Ryan is 2nd behind Tom Brady in passing yards and deserves to be in seasonal lineups every week. In DFS, he is worth plugging in when the price is right. He is also fantastic at home, where he takes on the Houston Texans this week. I have Ryan as a top 3 QB play this week, yet he is priced as more of a fringe starting fantasy QB at $139,200.

I have Matt Forte ranked as my #2 fantasy RB this week. I know that Chicago is a mess and that he is likely to face plenty of 8-9 man fronts with Clausen in at QB, but Oakland can be run on. Last week Forte toted the rock 20 times for 74 yards against the mighty Seattle D; I expect him to have more room to run against Oakland. Forte is a huge factor in the passing game as well -- even though Clausen failed to connect with him last week. At any rate, there are 6 running backs with a higher price point than Forte's $125,000 this week. I think that is great value. My biggest fear, I suppose, is that he gets traded before Sunday as part of Chicago's fire sale!

One could make the argument that the Bengals are the best team in the NFL after 3 weeks. Andy Dalton has been a fantasy stud. Depending on your format, he's been top 3 or 4. I am very tempted to plug him into my lineup this week, as he is priced as the #9 fantasy QB. However, every time I start trusting Dalton, he fails to come through. Instead, I love his top receiver, A.J. Green against Kansas City's banged up secondary. In fact, I have him ranked as my #1 fantasy WR this, yet he is priced as the #5 at $134,800. He is almost $20,000 cheaper than Julio Jones, for example.

These top-end bargains allow me to continue to spend for more players than I would normally be able to acquire in that tier 1 range. Coming off his huge Monday night performance, I see Randall Cobb as a legitimate top 5 option at WR this week. However, like Matt Ryan, he is priced more as a fringe starter, so I am happy to snap him up for $129,800.

I am so giddy about those deals, that I have decided to fill my other QB spot with what I feel is a strong play this week, rather than dumpster diving. I had already toyed with the thought of acquiring Dalton this week as my #2 QB. For about $2,000 less, I will go with Derek Carr instead. Carr's arrow is pointing north -- and unlike Dalton -- there isn't a past pattern of collapse associated with him. Carr gets a great match-up against Chicago this week, so I expect another great day from him.

So I have spent over $125,000 on five different players this week.

Mid-Range Bargains

Not a bad start. I have invested in 5 studs and in the process managed to collect my #1 and #4 ranked WRs, my #2 ranked RB and two QBs ranked in my top 10 this week. There are still a few guys I see that I have ranked as top 10 performers at their respective positions that I feel are very affordable. Joseph Randle jumps out at me. He is coming off a monster performance and has a great match-up against the Saints. I like his $113,500 price.

With money starting to get thin, I want to find one more mid-priced bargain. A potentially great bargain could be Karlos Williams at $86,100. That price, no doubt, assumes that he continues in his current role as a change-of-pace back for LeSean McCoy. In that role he has scored in all three games so far this season. However, it looks like McCoy will be out this week, which means that Williams could be the Bills' feature back when they take on the Giants this week. If that is the case, provided that Williams is up to the challenge of being "the guy", he could be a top 10 fantasy RB this week. I expect him to be in many, many DFS lineups this week.

Dumpster Diving

So, I have my QBs, RBs, WRs, and one flex position all accounted for. I need one more flex, a tight end, and a team defense to fill out my lineup. The bad news is that I don't have a great deal of money to fill those spots. The good news is that I never spend much on a team defense anyway -- and (unless you decide to go all in on Gronk) it rarely makes sense to spend heavily on a tight end either.

A potential low risk/high reward option I see at tight end is rookie Maxx Williams. I normally don't like going with rookie tight ends in DFS -- especially on Thursday nights. However, it looks like Crockett will be out, and Flacco has already started to look Maxx's way; Williams recorded 7 targets in Sunday's loss to the Bengals. The Steelers have been soft on opposing tight ends, so I like Maxx as a sleeper play this week at just $48,700. Even if he just catches 4 passes for, say, 40 yards that is 6 points in a 1/2 point PPR format, which is good bang for the buck. Not too shabby.

Keeping pace with the Steelers and Ravens... those Thursday night games tend to be ugly, low scoring affairs. The Steelers haven't had a great deal of time to get Mike Vick acclimated with Big Ben down for the foreseeable future. Even when he was playing at the top of his game, Vick has always had the tendency to take too many sacks. Despite the fact that the Ravens D has struggled without Suggs so far this season, I like them this week at the bargain basement price of just $42,100.

That leaves $53,000, and I note that Roddy White, who hasn't caught a pass in the last 2 weeks, is $52,000. The risk is obviously there give the non-production these last couple weeks. But I honestly do believe that White can still be productive. At home this week, I think Ryan and the Falcons will try their best to get the veteran the ball, while the Texans zero in on trying to stop Julio Jones. I am not necessarily expecting great things -- but not a bad investment at just $52K.

And that leaves me with $1000 left over. Right now I feel pretty good about this lineup. What will cause me to obsess and change it now?



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