By Joe Ostrowski–
(CBS) Good luck avoiding daily fantasy sports. And good luck finding information on this booming industry.
Everyone has a list of rankings for season long leagues. Shhhh, they’re all pretty similar. But it’s difficult finding the right daily fantasy plays or the correct process to get you there, unless you want to be charged $40 a month. The information is out there, but Uncle Jim here to become a millionaire has no clue where it exists.
An estimated 56.8 million people in the United States and Canada play fantasy sports. Millions and millions of new players will be trying to figure out how to set a lineup for the first time come Sunday morning. It can be intimidating. It was for me.
Aaron Rodgers may have a terrific game with a great matchup against the Bears, but it doesn’t mean he’s the right play at his price. The goal of this column every Friday is to help you figure that out.
So for you newbies, this basic information will give you a leg up on the other newbies in daily fantasy.
The most popular cash games are head-to-head matchups and 50/50s. In the beginning, pick up games instead of posting contests. On FanDuel, you can see how many wins a potential opponent has. If you have a low number of wins, all of your games may be picked up by the same person.
The best way to go is a larger number of head-to-heads at a low buy-in. If you prefer 50/50s, choose contests that allow a lot of entries but only single entries, so that the top players can’t take up much of the player pool. In this format, the top 50 percent of finishers win.
When building your lineup, think safe. Focus on touches and/or targets in a quality matchup, players with have a high floor who aren’t touchdown dependent. If they score, it’s the cherry on top. Don’t worry about what the competition is doing.
Enter these if the dream is holding a big check with the champagne flowing. Because who doesn’t want to win a million dollars?
Building a lineup for a tournament is a different process than a cash lineup. Most people start with a stack or core group of players they love that week. Stacks are usually a QB-WR, QB-WR-TE or RB-DEF combo from the same team. High-floor players are for cash games, but you’ll want to own high-ceiling players in tournaments. To finish near the top, you’re going to need a couple players to explode that are low-owned.
Many completely fade the high-owned cash plays because it’s so difficult to pass up the competition when you have similar lineups. Low ownership matters here, but be smart about your plays. To get a unique lineup, consider leaving some money on the table.
This is the boring -but-necessary evil, unless you’re a fan of depositing every few weeks. The rule of thumb is 80-20-10. Put 80 percent of your money in cash games, 20 percent in tournaments and don’t play more than 10 percent of your bankroll. I’d be lying if I said I follow this to a T, but I try not to stray too far. This is the best way to build up that bankroll. If you treat this like the lottery, you’ll have fun but will be re-depositing. Most tournaments are top-heavy and only pay out about the top 20 percent of field.
They know all. This is the best place to start your research. It’s good enough for the best players in the world. Pay close attention to the games with the highest totals and if those lines move.
Now, on to some Week 1 advice.
Week 1 top daily fantasy plays
QB in cash games: Eagles’ Sam Bradford at Falcons
Bradford’s priced like he’s an average-to-below-average signal-caller of a mediocre offense. Vegas projects Philadelphia to be the highest-scoring team of Week 1. Chip Kelly’s team calls plays four seconds quicker than any team in the league. It’s understandable to ignore the preseason, but Bradford went 13-of-15 with three touchdowns in four drives.
Another option: Cowboys’ Tony Romo vs. Giants
QB in tournaments: Cardinals’ Carson Palmer vs. Saints
Palmer’s the old guy in the Bradford price range and will go ignored. Palmer was under center last year when John Brown posted his best performance of 119 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets. This is a potential shootout in a close game.
Another option: Bills’ Tyrod Taylor vs. Colts
RB in cash games: Packers’ Eddie Lacy at Bears
This is the easiest call of the week. Lacy’s a top-five running back and a touchdown favorite facing a horrible defense with 4-3 personnel making the switch to a 3-4 base. This should be Lacy’s game to grind away in the second half. Jordy Nelson being out for the year and an hobbled Randall Cobb sets up Lacy even more.
Another option: C.J. Anderson vs. Ravens
RB in tournaments: Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch at Rams
Sometimes a tournament play means taking a stud player in a difficult matchup. Lynch is one of those players in which the opponent doesn’t matter. Whether it’s been the 49ers or Cardinals stuffing the run, Lynch doesn’t care. He’ll put up 100 yards and score twice on anyone.
Another option: Ravens’ Justin Forsett at Broncos
WR in cash games: Packers’ Davante Adams at Bears
I wouldn’t normally recommend a RB-WR from the same team in cash games, but a few words of wisdom: the Bears defense. Take advantage of the daily fantasy sites releasing prices a month before the start of the season. Green Bay’s No. 2 receiver won’t be this cheap next week. Adams won’t be facing the Bears secondary next week either. Adams will be the highest-owned player of the week.
Another option: Bears’ Eddie Royal vs. Packers
WR in tournaments: Redskins’ DeSean Jackson vs Dolphins
Jackson is the example I always use when explaining the profile of a tournament play. He’s your typical boom-or-bust guy. If Kirk Cousins gets any time to throw against a Dolphins defense with Ndamukong Suh, it could be one of Jackson’s good days. Last year, quarterbacks had a 142 rating when throwing in the direction of Miami cornerback Brent Grimes, according to Pro Football Focus.
Another option: Cowboys’ Cole Beasley vs. Giants
TE in cash games: Panthers’ Greg Olsen at Jaguars
Carolina’s starting wide receivers are Ted Ginn and Corey Brown. Do you need to know more? Really? Olsen had his first 1,000-yard season in 2014, on 122 targets. The volume will increase. Olsen is all Cam Newton has.
Another option: Martellus Bennett vs Packers
TE in tournaments: Seahawks’ Jimmy Graham at Rams
Graham’s ownership should take a dip. It would be even lower if Rob Gronkowski was in play. This is a touch matchup, Graham’s role in Seattle is a question, it’s a run-heavy offense and cheaper/safer plays make him a tournament option. His name value might sell him to average NFL fans.
Another option: Saint’s Ben Watson at Cardinals
Joe Ostrowski is an executive producer at 670 The Score and co-hosts “Chicago’s Fantasy Football Today” on Sundays from 8-9 a.m. CT. He also discusses fantasy football on The Laurence Holmes Show on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. CT on WSCR-670 and 670thescore.com/listen. Follow him on Twitter @JoeO670 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.