Want to read some fantasy football articles?
Cause I got ’em.
First, check out this story I did on the growth of daily fantasy sports over at Business Insider:
“I’ve had a couple back-to-back five-figure weeks. I’ve been a contrarian lately and I was pretty bullish on some underperforming guys, so I had a lot of exposure to a few values that ended up working out in my favor.”
Those are the words of Peter Jennings, a Colorado native who used to make his living as a stock trader. He still practices the trader lingo, but these days, Peter is buying and selling stocks of a different sort—professional athletes.
Peter is one of a handful of individuals making a living in the daily fantasy sports industry. The concept is simple: working within the confines of a salary cap, users build a team of players, all of whom have “salaries” set by particular fantasy sites, and accumulate points as they play in real games.
Unlike traditional season-long fantasy sports leagues, though, most daily fantasy sports leagues end in less than 24 hours. Competing against others in real cash games—a legal endeavor since the United States government astutely considers fantasy sports a game of skill—one can put as much or as little time into the games as they’d like. Most newcomers to the daily fantasy sites fill out lineups in a matter of minutes and hope for the best.
Others spend countless hours creating projections, tweaking models, watching film, and constructing lineups. And for Peter and others like him—the industry’s elite players known as “sharks”—the end result is quite lucrative.
In the daily fantasy sports world, Peter is the prototype. Affectionately known by his fantasy sports username “CSURAM88” within the fantasy sports community, Peter once made a living playing poker professionally. When the poker industry collapsed, he worked his way into trading before setting his sights on what he considers the best investment opportunity available right now.
“I pretty much knew I wanted to get out of stock trading and into daily fantasy sports right away. I was set to make that move as a player when StarStreet.com (a daily fantasy sports site) asked me to come work for them. And when I won the FFFC in late-2012, it was a nice little incentive to make me feel like I made the right decision.”
The “FFFC” is the championship tournament hosted by FanDuel—the industry’s largest site—and their “nice little incentive” was a $150,000 grand prize. Competing against 23 others in Las Vegas, Peter won daily fantasy sports’ largest single payout in a matter of hours on a single Sunday. He qualified at a buy-in level of just $10.
When you’re competing against thousands of other players in a single tournament, part of the outcome—perhaps even most of it—is controlled by luck. But by shifting the odds in their favor, Peter and the other sharks can continually dominate a game that, like poker, is heavily influenced by randomness.
“There’s lots of variance, obviously,” Peter told me, “but I’m usually profitable around 75 percent of weeks in NFL. And football is the most difficult sport just because the typical user knows so much, so it’s a lot easier to profit in NBA or MLB.”
And how does this poker player turned stock trader turned daily fantasy sports guru shift the percentages in his favor?
“It’s like any investment, really. You’re basically just looking to find value where players’ salaries are too low relative to their expected production. So obviously there’s a lot of math involved with that. I use the Vegas lines a lot in my projections, so that’s a really big part of my models.”
All of the work—think two full-time jobs worth of it—is paying off. RotoGrinders.com—a site dedicated solely to daily fantasy sports analysis—currently has Peter ranked as the 10th-best player in the world, including No. 7 in NFL and No. 4 in NBA.
At 4for4, I did another Google Hangout with Josh Moore.
I also gave a bunch of Week 10 advice. Here are seven tips for the week:
I accidentally got them in some tournaments yesterday before the game started, so I’m off to a good start there.
Tip No. 2: Consider Eli Manning on every site, especially FanDuel.
At $6400 on FanDuel, I’ll be all over Manning again this week. You’d think I’d just be right about him one week out of luck, but let’s see how long he can keep his I’m-going-to-bankrupt-you streak alive.
Tip No. 3: Become a Bush supporter.
I didn’t vote for George W. Bush because (insert any reason at all that you prefer) and I didn’t vote for his dad because they don’t let three-year old kids vote, so this week will be my chance to make up for that.
Reggie Bush has a matchup against the Bears that suddenly looks enticing. Because of his workload, he’s become a very high-ceiling/high-floor player who offers something that most backs in his price range can’t match.
Tip No. 4: Save on wide receivers.
I’m in the midst of working on a new daily fantasy sports book, and I’m doing more work on week-to-week consistency.
Quarterbacks and running backs have been overwhelmingly more consistent than the other positions the past few years, i.e you get what you pay for.
“The Top Six” wide receivers from earlier this season were in a class of their own, but that’s sort of changed. Calvin Johnson costs an arm and a leg, Dez Bryant is banged up, and Julio Jones is out. That leaves Brandon Marshall, A.J. Green, and Demaryius Thomas.
It’s difficult to justify paying top dollar for Thomas when his teammates are so much cheaper. Why would I pay $8300 for Thomas when I can have Eric Decker, who probably has just a slightly lower chance of posting huge numbers, costs only $6200?
If you want to spend big on a receiver this week, I think Marshall should be your man. Otherwise, save the cash.
Also check out my DraftKings optimal plays:
QB Robert Griffin III @MIN $8100
RGIII is the 10th-best value at quarterback in the DraftKings Value Report, but no one ahead of him costs more than $6600. The question is whether or not Griffin is a legitimate threat to post huge numbers, and I think he is. He was actually extremely efficient last week with 9.1 YPA, but he was just unlucky to not score when the Redskins got close to the goal line.
RGIII had only 24 combined rushing yards in the past two games, but he also had 161 in the two before that. For the price, you’re getting value on a player who has a really good chance to improve in one of two really important categories—quarterback rushing yards and passing touchdowns.
RB Reggie Bush @CHI $7100
Quietly, Bush has at least 20 carries in each of the past two games and 13 or more in every game except one this year. He’s also been targeted at least six times in all but one contest.
With his play-making ability and versatility, Bush is an excellent choice in both tournaments and heads-up leagues. The Bears’ defense doesn’t intimidate offenses anymore, and I could have more exposure to Bush than any other running back this week.
WR Antonio Brown vs. BUF $6900
I’ve talked about why I like Brown in heads-up leagues; he sees a lot of targets, many of which are screens and other short, safe passes, so he has a really high floor each game.
You’d like to see more scores from Brown, but how about this for consistency: he has at least five catches and 50 yards in every single game this year. He’s also seen at least 11 targets in four contests. Brown should be a staple of pretty much all of your heads-up lineups because he’s so safe.
TE Jimmy Graham vs. DAL $8700
You might want to fade Graham in heads-up just because of his price, but it will be tough to say no in tournaments. There’s a good chance that Graham just destroys Dallas this week, giving him the potential to be a must-start for all winning tournament lineups.
Right now, Graham is on pace for 98 catches, 1,492 yards, and 20 touchdowns. That’s an okay season for a tight end, right?
Last, check out this article on predicting running back breakouts at RotoWire.
Let’s take a look at carries versus final rank:
Here, you can see a much stronger relationship. Outside of a handful of outliers (I’m looking at you Darren Sproles), all of the running backs fall within a pretty narrow range. The strength of this correlation is .71. That’s more than twice as strong as the relationship between YPC and running back success.