Week 2 NFL DFS Analysis is Always Tricky

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By Gerry Love - SPM Fantasy Staff

Week 2 for NFL DFS is a tricky one to say the least – especially in the Year of the Coronavirus.

On the one hand, you’ve got some current data to help you shape your decision-making and provide you with at least an idea of how teams are going to perform under new coaches and coordinators, how players are going to be used and which new players and rookies are likely to have an impact and might be counted on going forward.

On the other hand, there are unexpected strong performances every week of every NFL season, so with such a small sample size you don’t want to jump to conclusions about every player who surprised us with a bigger-than-expected Week 1 showing (see John Ross, DeSean Jackson and Sammy Watkins, 2019). And it’s still too early to completely discount the numbers from 2019.

People always say that the defenses are ahead of the offenses this time of year and that it usually takes about a month for a team to show its true colors Those generalizations will probably prove themselves to be even more accurate than usual after a COVID-impacted offseason of no OTAs, a lot of Zoom position meetings, practices with no pads and zero preseason games,

So, in doing a DFS value analysis after Week 1 it is important to refrain from rushing to conclusions about the opening-week outliers – good and bad – and the performance of defenses against specific positions. Sometimes a sound defensive unit can get ripped apart because it doesn’t match up well with a certain team, or a team’s ability to defend the passing game may seem better than it is because it couldn’t stop the run against its opening-week opponent.

Therefore, while the raw data we put together to determine our top value selections for Week 2 is extremely valuable, overall knowledge of how players and teams performed in 2019, how they were projected to perform in 2020 and some subjectivity enter into the equation more than they might going forward.

We’ve added some more elements to our analysis this week in hopes of giving you an advantage that others who are more shortsighted may not provide. One of the new elements we’ve added to provide more context to our numbers is an analysis of past winning DFS scoring averages as well as highs and lows across all types of GPP formats along with the average amounts spent by winners on players at each position as a raw dollar amount and a percentage of the overall salary cap.

This allows us to compare numbers and draw conclusions across multiple platforms. In addition, we are able to create target point totals for each position and then use a combination of weekly fantasy projections and player prop bets in conjunction with the player’s salary on both Draft Kings and FanDuel to determine which players are most likely to achieve the numbers required by each position and give you the best chance to cash.

We also analyzed the percentage of weekly winning players who own a specific player at each position to determine which positions allow for more “chalky” selections and which ones require finding the highest-value players that won’t be owned by as many people.

For example, the bigger DFS winners in 2019 selected quarterbacks who, on average, were only owned by 8.2 percent of all players, while winning RB1 and WR1 player selections often eclipsed 20-percent ownership. That means your make-or-break selections tend to be at the RB2, WR2, WR3 and Flex positions. And while winning TE picks tended to be priced lower than the other positions, surprisingly more often than not they were still priced higher relative to the salary cap than players at the WR2 and WR3 slots. This means that finding the bargain-basement TE that allows you to pay more for other players doesn’t pay off as often as finding a great second or third-tier TE value.

There are some basic DFS concepts to keep in mind as we present our weekly value analysis:

1. Our numbers are based on “classic” GPP formats, but because we deal in relative value (the percentage of the salary cap that each player’s value represents for both Draft Kings and FanDuel), you can safely assume that the values are roughly the same for a single-game or “showdown” format in which there are fewer slots to fill and thus higher player salaries.

2. Contests with more entries tend to have a lower average cash payout and require a higher score to win money. Single-entry games tend to provide better odds of winning.

3. Our analysis is based on GPP formats for all games Thursday through Monday. If you play in contests in which the top 50-percent of contestants win, such as a double-your-money multipliers or 50/50 games, by using our approach it should give you an even better chance of cashing.

4. The larger the contest, the more important potential point variation is in terms of the projected performance of the players you select, so finding the high-value players that won’t be as popular becomes even more important. In general, we are looking for high upside and lower potential ownership with our value picks.

Raw Data Explained

When looking at our raw data, the DK and FD columns indicate the percentage of the salary cap each player’s salary takes up on each platform. DIFF is the differential between DK and FD. A positive differential means the player has higher value (lower relative salary) in FanDuel contests, while a lower or negative differential leans toward Draft Kings. The areas highlighted in yellow indicate players that are valued equally by each platform. Please note that Draft Kings tends to attach higher values to wide receivers and running backs, so we take the average differential between the two platforms at those positions to determine which players who are valued equally.

Players highlighted in orange are value plays for both DK and FD, while players highlighted in green are value plays only for FD and those highlighted in blue are value plays only for DK. The top value plays for each position are ranked in order after the positional analysis. All raw data can be found after the analysis at the end of the article.

We will continue to add prop bets to the raw data throughout the weekend.

Quarterback Analysis

While top-tier QBs such as Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are consistent performers who routinely get teams to the 28.1-point target we seek at this position, they tend to be owned by a high-percentage of contestants, which means that if they don’t hit that number you are in trouble and you don’t gain an advantage if they do. Every week there are multiple quarterbacks who produce or surpass this target number, cost much less and are owned by fewer players.

Matt Ryan is a player surrounded by offensive weapons who plays for a team that often seems to be playing from behind. At between 12.2 and 13.3 percent of the salary cap, a favorable matchup and a yardage projection exceeding 300 yards, he is our top selection. Phillip Rivers chucked it all over the field last week and also has a great matchup to go along with a low price. Kyler Murray’s legs and low Draft Kings price make him a strong pick, there while Tom Brady’s weapons and projections make him a solid FanDuel selection.

Matthew Stafford seems to be a consistent value play with upside on a weekly basis along with Jared Goff, and while Aaron Rodgers may be slightly overpriced coming off a shocking Week 1 showing, he still has a low enough salary to take a chance on in hopes that he equals last week’s performance. Josh Allen’s legs make his salary more palpable, and Dak Prescott is fairly priced but figures to be more of a “chalky” play. Ben Roethlisberger is iffy, but we like his price, matchup and upside.

Best QB Value

1. Matt Ryan - DK & FD

2. Phillip Rivers - DK & FD

3. Kyler Murray - DK

4. Tom Brady - FD

5. Matthew Staffrod - FD

6. Jared Goff - FD & DK

7. Aaron Rodgers - FD

8. Josh Allen - FD & DK

9. Dak Prescott - FD & DK

10. Ben Roethlisberger - FD& DK

Running Backs Analysis

Remember that for the RB1 slot it’s okay to go with a player who is likely to be more popular, but finding players who will get a high-volume of touches with good matchups at a salary below what the highest-rated running backs get still is important. Derrick Henry seems to be a lock for a lot of touches and multiple goal-line opportunities, while Ezekiel Elliiott is a similar situation despite being priced a tad higher than we might normally like. Aaron Jones is a great value for FanDuel and priced slightly higher than we might prefer in Draft Kings, but he should get all of the Packer’s key red-zone touches. Alvin Kamara appears to be the focal point of the Saints’ offense. He has a favorable matchup and will get the bulk of the workload on the ground while also catching passes.

Looking at the RB 2 and Flex options, Duke Johnson’s absence in Houston should allow David Johnson to surpass his value even more than he did in Week 1. Right on his heels in terms of value is Indianapolis rookie Jonathan Taylor who is value priced with Marlon Mack out against a weak Vikings defensive front. Ronald Jones and Melvin Gordon should get all the key touches for their teams, and Miles Sanders was a top-10 projected RB coming into the season who is undervalued after missing the opener with an injury. Todd Gurley is dependable and will continue getting a lot of touches, while Devin Singletary continues to be an under-the-radar bargain for a solid team. Antonio Gibson is the high-upside player in this group as he should see an even workload of handoffs and passes in a potentially favorable matchup. Austin Ekeler also runs and catches, and Kenyan Drake is clearly the man in Arizona as the Cardinals take on a surprising Washington defense that may be overvalued after a strong performance against a depleted Eagles team. He’s an upside selection at a great price.

RB 1 Best Value

1. Derrick Henry - FD

2. Ezekiel Elliott - FD

3. Aaron Jones - DK & FD

4. Alvn Kamara - FD

5. CE Helaire - FD

6. Josh Jacobs - FD & DK

7. Dalvin Cook - DK & FD

RB 2 & Flex Best Value

1. David Johnson - DK & FD

2. Jonathan Taylor - DK & FD

3. Ronald Jones - DK & FD

4. Melvin Gordon - DK & FD

5. Miles Sanders - DK & FD

6. Devin Singletary DK FD

7. Todd Gurley - FD

8. Antonio Gibson - DK & FD

9. Raheem Mostert - DK

10. Austin Ekeler - DK

11. Kenyan Drake - DK & FD

Wide Receivers Analysis

Similar to the RB1 slot, it’s fine to go with players likely to be owned by more of your opponents at the WR1 position as long as they are fairly priced, have a favorable matchup and pretty certain to receive the bulk of the targets for their teams. This week Allen Robinson is the consensus WR 1 best-value pick as he is undervalued thanks to a QB who the public doesn’t trust and has a good matchup with a lower-tier price. Ju Ju Smith-Schuester also has a lower-tier price, possibly because people aren’t sold on Ben Roethlisberger yet, and a top-10 consensus fantasy ranking. We love Amari Cooper’s matchup, price and raking, and Calvin Ridley appear to be taking over as the WR1 in Atlanta and would make a great stack with top-value QB Matt Ryan and value TE Hayden Hurst. Adam Thielen’s FanDuel salary is 22 points below his DK number, which makes him a DK steal with a “B” matchup and a top-seven weekly ranking.

For the lower-end WR spots, TY Hilton just seems underpriced as a legitimate WR1 for the Colts when healthy. Michael Gallup and CeeDee Lamb both have good matchups for the Cowboys and are value priced playing with a QB who spreads the ball around. Parris Campbell was a Week 1 surprise and has a great price if the Colts continue to let Phillip Rivers sling it around the yard. Tyler Lockett, Marquise Brown, Marvin Jones and Julian Edelman all are WR1s for their teams (assuming Kenny Golladay is still out or limited) and bargain priced on FanDuel.

WR 1 Best Value

1. Allen Robinson - DK & FD

2. JJ Smith-Schuster - DK & FD

3. Amari Cooper - DK & FD

4. Calvin Ridley - DK & FD

5. Adam Thielen - FD

6. Robert Woods - DK & FD

7. Cooper Kupp - FD

8. Mike Evans - FD

9. Tyreek Hill - FD

WR 2 & 3 Best Value

1. TY Hilton - DK & FD

2. Michael Gallup - DK & FD

3. Parris Campbell - DK & FD

4. CeeDee Lamb - DK & FD

5. Tyler Lockett - FD

6. Anthony Miller - DK & FD

7. DK Metcalf - DK & FD

8. Marquise Brown - FD

9. Marvin Jones - FD

10. Julan Edelman - FD

11. John Brown - FD

Tight End Analysis

The winning strategy for tight ends is to find the players priced at the Tier 2 or 3 level who have upside and can produce like top-tier guys for a week. Often this means finding a player who will be targeted in the red zone while putting up four or five catches and 60 to 70 yards. They might not do that every week, but all we need to figure out is when they will. The most likely guys to put up those kinds of numbers who are priced right this week are led by Tyler Higbee, who has a bargain salary and a No. 7 overall ranking. Evan Ingram figures to be more a part of the Giants’ offense and has a good matchup after facing a tough Steelers’ D last week. We like Hayden Hurst playing with a QB expected to top the 300-yard mark, and Zach Ertz’s price has dropped thanks to the emergence of Dallas Goedert in Philadelphia. With so many injuries at WR for the Eagles, Ertz is still a major part of their offense. Noah Fant doesn’t have amazing projections or a top matchup, but after seeing how QB Drew Lock looked to him last week we think he is tremendously undervalued and a future star. Get him while you can!

Overall TE Value

1. Tyler Higbee - DK & FD

2. Evan Engram - DK & FD

3. Hayden Hurst - DK & FD

4. Zach Ertz - DK & FD

6. Noah Fant - DK & FD

7. TJ Hockenson - DK & FD

8. Jared Cook - DK & FD

Raw Data for Week 2 DFS Analysis

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