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FanDuel Diary- Week 5 Plays and Strategy
By Mike Jasko

This year I have found myself without a truly engaging traditional Fantasy Football league. I’m in a couple of random online leagues, but with no money on the line and no one else I know in the league, my level of interest isn’t particularly high. Intrigued by the idea of being able to win money every week, I decided I would look into the world of Daily Fantasy Sports. I decided I would check out FanDuel, mainly because it was the last commercial for any such site I saw before I decided to give this a shot.

The following are my thoughts and experiences as I navigate the world of Daily Fantasy Sports for the first time. Check back for weekly updates, insights, and strategy as I learn the ins and outs of this burgeoning style of fantasy sports.

Alright, Sunday is almost here, which means it’s almost time for my third weekend of diving into Daily Fantasy Sports through FanDuel. In case you missed my summation of my Week 4 results (which you can read here), I’ve done pretty well, doubling my initial deposit that I made three weeks ago. So now that I have a little more money to put into my weekly contests, I can now begin to further develop my strategy for one of the key aspects to playing daily fantasy.

Diversification

Just as in investing, it is important to diversify your entries in the world of daily fantasy sports. Doing so minimizes your risk of losing, particularly in 50/50 games, and increases your chances of winning big in tournaments. Without getting into too many specifics, 50/50 contests, having by far the best odds, should make up the majority of money paid toward entries in any given day. Right now I’m playing what should be considered the minimum amount of tournaments, 1 entry for each of my 50/50 line-ups.

Why do I consider that the minimum amount? Since there is no difference between finishing 1st out of 100 or 50th out of 100 in a 50/50 contest, your entries in these contests run the risk of hitting a huge score, but paying a relatively small payout for that feat. By being sure to enter each of your 50/50 line-ups into at least $1 worth of GPP tournaments, you ensure that you won’t miss out on a nice reward for picking a monster line-up.

Up until this week, I had basically put most of my money into one, heavily vetted and researched line-up. Through my first two weekends of action, this strategy paid off well, earning a small profit in my first weekend, and then winning enough to have double of my initial deposit going into this week’s contest.

But now, I can afford to diversify a bit, so my strategy for the next few weeks will be to build two optimal line-ups for entry into 50/50s. With the exception of my defense and kicker, there is no crossover between the two line-ups. While theoretically there is no shortage to the variety of line-ups you could enter, it is not a great idea to over-diversify and have line-ups with half of the league’s players. Casting too wide a net like that, specifically in 50/50 contests will probably end up losing you more contests than you win. Now GPPs are another story, it’s ok to go wild in those contests because you are essentially going for 1st place or last. Remember though, those entries should account for a tiny part of your overall budget since the odds are much longer.

But for 50/50s, you probably want to work with between 2-3 line-ups worth of players for all of your cash game line-ups. One possible strategy (that I plan on implementing in later weeks) is to pick two optimal line-ups like I’ve done this week, but then shuffle those two line-ups to give you a variety of combinations. Again, this is really only worthwhile if you enter each line-up into at least 1 GPP since what you are doing is increasing your chances of hitting the perfect line-up among your chosen players. Doing this also further diversifies your entries without over-diluting your player-pool.

My Week 5 Plays

The strategy that has worked very well for me so far has been to pick on the worst defenses, aka Jacksonville, and pick the best players going against them. For this reason, I initially wanted to play Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown against the Jags. While I still think those two are solid plays this week, one scenario scared me off them. Jacksonville has been so terrible so far, I became worried that Pittsburgh will jump out to a huge lead, stop throwing the ball, thereby depressing the fantasy numbers of that duo.

That led me to instead pick the much discounted Eli Manning ($7300) instead. He absolutely shredded the Redskins last week on Thursday night and is facing the 30th ranked pass defense of Atlanta at home this weekend. I decided to pair him with his receiver Victory Cruz, who leads the team in targets and has 100 yards receiving in each of his last two games.

Another QB I’m looking at this week was my main guy last week. San Diego’s Phillip Rivers did exactly what I expected him to do against Jacksonville’s woeful defense. He threw 3 TDs for 377 yards, 2 of his TDs were to Eddie Royal, who I also had picked my team. This weekend I’m opting for his other main receiving option, Keenan Allen. They’re facing the Jets, who have the #1 rushing defense. The Chargers have utterly no rushing attack to speak of, so Rivers could approach 40 attempts again. While the Jets defense is competent in terms of yardage (10th in the league) they’ve given up 9 TDs through the air, tied for 3rd most so far.

So while Big Ben and Antonio Brown are by no means bad plays this weekend, the two above combos offer major discounts to the Steelers’ duo, and with the blowout alert in effect for Pittsburgh, I can’t foresee their scores being all that much better than the two cheaper options.

At Running Back this week, I ended up with four guys I really like, at various prices. My fantasy fave so far this year, Bengals’ Giovani Bernard ($8800) is back in action this week after a bye, and the Bengals take on the Patriots, who gave up 200 yards rushing to the Chiefs last Monday. I like Gio better than any other premium priced backs this weekend. A lot of people are touting DeMarco Murray at home against the Texans, and the guy was huge for me last week. The Texans have a pretty poor run defense so far, but call me crazy; I just can’t stomach paying top dollar for a guy going up against JJ Watt.

In the mid-price range this week, I’m a big fan of Rashad Jennings ($7200). I’ve got him in a different line-up than the one that has Eli and Vic Cruz, in case you’re wondering.  The Falcons D is terrible against the run and the pass and has given up by far the most Rushing TDs so far this season.

On the value side of things, I’m rolling with Titans’ rookie Bishop Sankey ($5900) against the Browns’ 29th ranked rushing defense. The Titans’ coaching staff confirmed this week that Sankey would be more involved and receive more carries against the Browns. Another cheap option at running back is Saints’ Khiry Robinson ($4900). He was the focal point of the Saints backfield last week and with the Saints at home against a below-average Tampa Bay defense, I expect him to contribute nicely.

Also at wide receiver this week, I like both of the top Denver receivers, Demarius Thomas ($8600) and Emmanuel Sanders ($8000). The Broncos are coming off a bye and looking to rebound from that tough overtime loss to Seattle in week 3. They are facing the Cardinals at home, who are just 18th in the league against the pass so far this year. I’m playing one of these two in each of my line-ups.

I’m also targeting both offenses in the Chicago-Carolina match-up. I selected Brandon Marshall ($8100) because this is an opportunity for his first break-out game after struggling with injuries early this year. All indications are that he is nearing full fitness levels after practicing in full this week. The Panthers’ passing defense in ranked 13th in yards allowed and has allowed 8 passing TDs, tied for 6th most so far.

On the other team (and for strategic reasons, on my opposite line-up), I’m picking up the modestly priced rookie, Kelvin Benjamin ($7100). It’s a solid match-up for him; the Bears’ passing defense is ranked 20th in the league so far. He’s gotten in the endzone in 3 out 4 games so far and has been targeted at least 8 times in each game. After last weekend, he overtook TE Greg Olsen as the team’s most targeted pass-catcher.

Since I splurged on receivers this week I had to pick some affordable tight ends. Firstly, I went with Heath Miller ($5900) of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has the aforementioned match-up with Jacksonville, so he’s as likely as any tight end in his price range to find the endzone. I also went with Larry Donnell ($6200) of the Giants in my line-up that doesn’t have Eli and Victor Cruz. He’s got that porous Atlanta D so again, as likely as anyone else to find to the endzone. Another alternate play here is Titans’ tight end Delanie Walker ($6400). He had a TD last weekend and goes up against a soft-against-tight-ends defense in the Browns this week.

At kicker I went cheap as possible, Shane Graham ($4500). I only did so because he’s playing at home indoors, which is an obvious boost for kickers. He’s not in great form, but it’s an incredibly difficult position to project for. There’s little guarantee that the top priced kicker in any given week will deliver top points.

The same goes for defenses generally, and this week I went with the bargain that is the Detroit Lions ($4800). The Lions have allowed the lowest points-per-game of any team thus far, making them a relatively safe pick. Their opponent, Buffalo is 23rd in the league in points so far this season.

So there are my plays and strategy for Week 5 on FanDuel, check back on Tuesday to see how I did.

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