Fantasy football advice Week 15: FanDuel timing
Is it better to jump out to a big lead, or to come back late? I honestly don’t know.
This is a purely aesthetic question, one that doesn’t really enter into FanDuel strategy at all — but aesthetics still matter, right?
Anyway, one thing that I have yet to get the hang of in my FanDuel games is exactly how many late players to utilize. In FanDuel, there are 1 p.m. ET-only and 4 p.m.-only tournaments. In those, every player you use plays at the same time, so you can track your progress fairly easily. But there are other games. There are Thursday-to-Monday games. There are Sunday-Monday games. There are even games that just use Monday and Thursday. Typically, though, I tend to play the Sunday-Monday games — there isn’t the long wait after Thursday, but there are still a lot of games to choose from.
If I load up on 1 p.m. Sunday guys in such tournaments, then I spend the late Sunday and Monday games just watching and waiting. “Did I get enough of a lead? Can I hold off the rest of the players?” I’ve often had myself look at a prize, only to see it disappear by Monday night. Heck, the time I hit a 40x payoff, I had a much bigger prize in mind at the end of Sunday before Monday pulled it back down.
But then, if I sit back and load up on Monday players, then the 1 p.m. Sunday games are just watching other guys jump out to a big lead and hoping I can catch up, and that’s not so fun, either. In a way, this is like cricket — one team scores, then the other one does. (I think? I never really understood cricket.) It’s tough to get any idea of game flow in such a game.
Ultimately, this is a silly worry. If I pick my roster on Sunday morning, then don’t look at FanDuel again until Tuesday, when the players play is meaningless. But part of the fun of FanDuel is tracking your progress, just like part of the fun of buying a lottery ticket is in checking your numbers. (Except for my brother, who buys a ticket and then just goes to the gas station to ask if he won, which is crazy.) And I can’t figure out the best mix of early-and-late guys for maximum enjoyment.
But that’s all my question is for. Enjoyment. I’m playing FanDuel to make money, sure, but if I make money and don’t enjoy it in the process, well that’s silly.
No, I’m here to have fun. And it’s more fun to play the game smart, rather than just picking guys up without much thought. Thinking is fun. I knew my teachers knew what they were doing.
So let’s have fun by thinking. Let’s look at the week’s matchups:
- A couple weeks ago, the Eagles held Tony Romo ($8,400) significantly in check, with only 199 passing yards, no touchdowns and only three fantasy points. Since their Week 7 bye, though, outside of that game, the Eagles have allowed more than 21 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Meanwhile, since his injury, Romo has put up 10 touchdowns against no interceptions and 20-plus points a game outside of that Eagles game. I’m calling fluke.
- On the other side in that same game is Mark Sanchez ($7,500), who, sure, hasn’t done much of late, with 13 or fewer fantasy points in three of his last four games. But this is a home game against a Dallas team that has fallen apart on pass defense of late (14.8 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks before their bye; 22.7 since), in a game that I fully expect to be very high-scoring.
- The Ravens have a great run defense and an awful pass defense. One basically feeds the other. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles ($6,400) lost his top running back, and it’s not like there’s a backup worth much of anything in Jacksonville, so he’ll be throwing it a lot. His biggest virtue is his ridiculously low price, though — dude’s cheaper than Michael Vick.
- For all the failures of the San Francisco team of late, the defense has still been competent, at least until facing Derek Carr in Week 14. To wit, they allowed only nine fantasy points a game to the five quarterbacks they faced in Weeks 9-13. Meanwhile, for every time Russell Wilson ($8,800) has those big games, he also has a game of 14-ish points that gets lost in the shuffle. For what he costs, it’s not worth it.
- If I had to bet, I’d say Johnny Manziel ($6,700) will be a heavily used player in this week’s tournaments – he’s exciting, he’s new, he’s reasonably cheap, he’s bound to get a few points on the ground. Here are the problems, though: First, do you really want to rest real money on the first week Manziel starts, when even the Browns themselves seemed loathe to go to him? Second, as I said, he’s going to be a popular pickup. Which means you aren’t going to be able to set yourself apart from all the other Manziel investors.
- Early in the year, I kept waiting for Justin Forsett ($7,700) to prove he was a bust, the journeyman we all knew he was. Instead, he’s one of only four running backs all year – along with Le’Veon Bell, Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray – with at least six fantasy points in every game this year. Even banged up last week against the Dolphins last week, he managed 13 points; healthier and against the Jaguars? Good times.
- Marcel Reece ($5,600) is in his sixth year. For the last five, the season has started with him as a pure fullback, only for the injury/ineffectiveness of his teammates to force him into action, and every time he’s responded with strong late-season production. I would love for him to get a full-time running back job. For now, I’m sating myself with the feeling that he’ll be a nice sleeper play in these games.
- Andre Williams isn’t a very good running back, and he did whatever he wanted to against the Titans last week. Chris Johnson ($5,300) and Chris Ivory ($5,200) are both better than Williams, and the Titans’ run D hasn’t improved. Grab some bargains.
- Even against the slightly-below-average Chicago run defense, I’m staying far away from Mark Ingram ($7,400). His numbers have fallen off from when he first became the starter, and Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas are both healthy now, but Ingram’s still got the salary of a guy doing better than him.
- Ryan Mathews ($7,600) is expensive and injured-to-some-extent. If he’s so injured he can’t play, the team is likely to go to Donald Brown ($4,700) before Branden Oliver ($4,800), but both will be involved. Against a good Denver run defense, that’s just too confusing and low-ceiling to bother with.
- Have you seen what some wide receivers have done against the Washington pass defense lately? T.Y. Hilton, Mike Evans, heck, even the 49ers guys had big games. Odell Beckham Jr. ($8,500) might perform for days against that awful unit.
- If Julio Jones can’t play Sunday, Roddy White ($7,000) looks really nice. But we’ve grown accustomed to seeing “ability to play” as a binary entity — a guy can play, and he’s fine, or he can’t, and he’s out. But there’s a history of Jones playing at less than 100 percent, and White benefiting as a result. Even if Jones plays, I like White this week.
- Ultimately, I really don’t think Marquess Wilson ($4,500) is likely to do a lot for fantasy; I think the Bears will just lean more on stars Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett in the absence of Brandon Marshall. But at $4,500, I am more than willing to risk being wrong.
- Through nine games, Randall Cobb ($8,400) had 10 touchdowns. Through 13 now, he has … 10 touchdowns. Sunday, against a good Bills defense, his slide seems like it might well continue.
- There’s a good chance Andre Johnson will miss Sunday for the Texans. Either way, DeAndre Hopkins ($7,300), as Houston’s top offensive option, will almost certainly draw Vontae Davis in coverage, and that’s not a recipe for a huge game.
- This one isn’t so much a “good” situation as a “not the worst” situation, but I’m perfectly fine with Greg Olsen ($6,700) this week. In Week 1, with Derek Anderson at the helm, he had 14 fantasy points. I will admit to being a little worried about Kelvin Benjamin with Anderson, but Olsen? No worries.
- It’s not so much that Delanie Walker ($5,300) is great. He’s not; he’s fine at best. But the rest of the Titans are just so bad that he looks spectacular by comparison. Against a subpar Jets‘ pass defense, Walker should be a perfectly fine play.
- I mean, I have no real issue if you want to invest in Rob Gronkowski ($7,600) this weekend. He’s still Rob dang Gronkowski. But the Dolphins held him to only 55 yards last time they played, and Miami has allowed the fewest points to opposing tight ends all season, including giving up zero points to Denver, two to San Diego, four to Chicago …
- People seem crazy-down on the Chiefs ($4,900) this week. Sure, they have struggled a bit of late, and they lost to the Raiders last time out. But it’s still the Raiders. The gave-up-29-to-the-Rams-two-weeks-ago Raiders. The given-up-nine-or-more-five-times-in-seven-games Raiders. I get why you might be gun-shy. But let’s be real here.
- After an awful early season, the Buccaneers ($4,800) have turned it around lately, with just over eight fantasy points a game in their last six, and just over 10 in their last four. Meanwhile, the Panthers have a rough offense, and a replacement quarterback.
- Hey, remember when the Dolphins ($4,700) were elite? Well, they aren’t anymore. And the New England offense still is.