.Another season is approaching and with it the promise of a new beginning. The hope of improved results and countless declarations of being “in the best shape of my life.” No, I’m not talking about your favorite football team, player, or even a coach. I’m talking about fantasy analysts on the internet (just imagine that they are talking about their custom analytics). Twitter has come alive with hot takes. Someone new is telling you every day why you are absolutely wrong to love the player you have targeted as a deep sleeper. While another writer is explaining how your favorite rookie’s college day/night splits will doom him to failure. It’s DFS season folks. Time to try and remember your Draft Kings or FanDuel login and password.
Every year, the one true thing we learn is that there is still more to learn. The uncertainty is one of the best parts of fantasy football, regardless of format. By assuring nothing, fantasy sports allow for the possibility of anything. It makes the few things that are hard facts more valuable than gold. One thing that is known is that by staggering the release of pricing for players and having their own unique rating and projection systems, there is a built-in opportunity to search for values that you can use to your advantage.
Value on Draft Kings for Week 1
DraftKings is a great place to search for DFS value in week 1 because they set their pricing so early in the preseason. In this article, I’ll take a look at the differences in DraftKings and FanDuel positional rankings and highlight a couple of interesting plays based on that heading into Week 1.
Rex Burkhead, RB New England Patriots: DK RB42, FD RB19
James White, RB New England Patriots:DK RB47, FD RB35
Coaching and the New England Offense
Bill Belichick has proven to be mercurial at best when it comes to his usage of RBs in fantasy. With an offense that favors attacking weaknesses of opposing defenses over asserting skills of rostered individuals. Projecting usage of some positions has been tough, but the overall trends are favorable for both of these players. Since Josh McDaniels’ return to NE as the OC, his RB1 has averaged a finish of RB22 and RB2 averaged RB37. With Dion Lewis now in TEN and rookie Sony Michel still dealing with a knee injury, Rex Burkhead seems primed to take over the RB1 spot for NE.
In six games Burkhead had double-digit touches last year, he averaged a line of 66 total yards, four receptions, eight carries and a TD. Which was good for a total of 16.6 points in DraftKings. Obviously, the TD production cannot be relied upon to repeat. However, he was productive with just over 12 touches on average, which he should easily surpass. With Lewis out of the picture, Burkhead is the RB1 and the opportunity is there for him to far exceed his slot in DraftKings.
Another key part of the NE offense, James White returns with his existing role intact with the potential for much more. The current RB depth chart for the Patriots has Burkhead, Michel, Jeremy Hill, and Mike Gillislee in addition to White. Michel is hurt and questionable for week 1, and only one of the Gillislee/Hill combo is likely to stick around on the final roster. White has always been an excellent receiving back, which will be especially important for Tom Brady and the Pats offense early on this year.
In 2017 Amendola, Cooks, and Lewis accounted for 235 targets. With Julian Edelman suspended, Brady will want to have a security blanket around to throw to. This is especially true with Houston’s excellent pass rush adding a healthy JJ Watt back to their defense. Last year Houston was vulnerable in the short left side of the field on passing plays; an area where White just happen to accumulate his most targets and yards receiving last year.
With the Patriots’ injury issues, reliable pass catchers will be key. This might be as low as White is ranked while Edelman is on the sidelines. With Gronkowski and Hogan likely to draw the best coverage defenders, the RB should have room in the passing game. Brady is at his best when he has a reliable possession receiver. For the first few weeks at least, the guy most likely to be that for him is James White.
John Brown, WR Baltimore Ravens: DK WR59, FD WR43
The John Brown redemption tour is in full effect. After a breakout season in 2015, he has been a disappointment the last two years. He has struggled with health issues and wasn’t the same guy when he was on the field. He’s been healthy this preseason and there has been nothing but positive reports on him throughout the summer. Joe Flacco might be more of a punchline in fantasy than a viable QB at this point, but he’s shown the ability to provide good production from his WR2.
Assuming Brown is healthy, he has a decent chance to hit for chunk yardage plays. Brown will look to be the deep threat for Flacco opposite Michael Crabtree. Facing Buffalo at home, the deep zone should be open for Brown to exploit.
Tre’Davious White and Vontae Davis currently slated to be the starting CBs. I pulled passer ratings allowed from 2017 for White and 2016 for Davis (played 5 games last year) and filtered out route types with an average depth of target (aDot) less than 15 yards.
In Brown’s best season (2015), he accumulated most yards off targets in the deep right zone. This is an area of the field that White normally would be protected by the Buffalo starting LCB. For as good as White was during his rookie season last year, he can still be beaten deep. Even if Brown goes down the opposite side, both White/Davis gave up generous passer ratings on go routes (with a deep aDot). Other than fades, all of the routes typically run by a WR (this excludes the wheel route) had a rating of 81.9 or higher. Brown is set up to be a very viable play in fantasy as long as he’s healthy. If so, he looks like a good bet to break a deep play or two, setting him up to be a very good high-variance play in DraftKings.
I’ll stop for now, but please keep an eye out for more DFS recommendations as the season gets closer. I hope to have a weekly article out with more players that should return good value. Until then, good luck, and start your tinkering.