The NFL DFS landscape is full of analysis about targeting matchups, finding value and picking the best players. While all of those things are important components of winning at daily fantasy football, other topics like game theory, lineup building strategies and contest selection are also important. That’s what you’ll find here, as we take a look at some of those more nuanced strategic elements to prepare you for each week of the 2021 NFL season.
Injury Insanity of Week 4
NFL DFS for the upcoming Week 4 main slate is the most injury-intensive of 2021 by a wide margin. A lot of the uncertain scenarios got sorted out on Friday afternoon, as Lamar Jackson ($7,500) and Dalvin Cook ($8,100) appear on track to play, while A.J. Brown and Julio Jones were ruled out. There are still several players that are still questionable, however, with varying degrees of certainty in their chances to play on Sunday. The afternoon game between the Seattle Seahawks and the San Francisco 49ers is especially ambiguous with the statuses of some key players still up in the air, and it’s going to add an extra wrinkle of decision-making to the weekly DFS considerations.
Perhaps the most significant takeaway to have on weeks like this one is that ownership becomes inherently less predictable when there’s added uncertainty around who will or won’t play, especially when some of those players are in the afternoon block of games. This also generally results in large divides across contest type, where the capacity to react to news seems to be much higher in higher-stakes and smaller-field contests. There’s no single thing that can be done to prepare for this, but the best course of action is to be ready to think a level or two higher than you normally do, adjusting to the news while simultaneously adjusting your perception of what the field might do. For instance, a late swap opportunity may not actually be as appealing as it seems if a large enough portion of your GPP competitors are making the same move.
This Week’s Chalk - Panthers and Cowboys
Christian McCaffrey remains out for Week 4, and the likely result for the Panthers is a continued reliance on Sam Darnold ($6,000) and the passing game, headlined by DJ Moore ($6,600). They’re facing a Cowboys team that does plenty of passing themselves, and Dak Prescott ($6,700) and Co. are likely to get a ton of attention across the board. The passing games on both sides are probably a lot more affordable than they should be, and to make it even more appealing, Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz ($3,400) is coming off a 26-point performance in Week 3. There’s a lot to like here, but this is also almost certainly going to be the most popular game to stack in Week 4 GPPs.
The simplest way to find some leverage off this game is to just not play it, but are there are pieces within that may fly under the radar. Moore has clearly established himself as the Panthers' top receiving option, but Robby Anderson ($5,100) and Terrace Marshall Jr. ($4,000) would benefit if the Cowboys decide to devote extra efforts to taking Moore out of the game. There’s also probably not going to be an overwhelming amount of running back attention in this game either, and we saw on Monday night how Ezekiel Elliot ($6,500) can aggressively detract from the fantasy production for CeeDee Lamb ($6,700) and Amari Cooper ($6,000). Chuba Hubbard ($5,900) is also an intriguing option as McCaffrey’s replacement, and a couple of scores on his part would help to lead to a lighter fantasy point total from Moore. Overall, there are plenty of ways to go about playing this game that are relatively contrarian, but the aggregate pieces seem to be too popular to warrant full stacks since that does appear to be too common of a GPP strategy this week.
Week 4 Millionaire Contests
There are two large millionaire contests to potentially apply these strategies to in Week 4 — the typical $20 millionaire, and then the $4,444 millionaire with a much smaller field. Both contests will pay $1 million to the winner, as well as a ticket to the DraftKings Championship Series Tournament of Champions.
How Does this Help Me Win?
If the concepts outlined here are confusing, you’re not alone. Many DFS players put the majority of their attention into picking the best “values” without considering these more in-depth strategic elements. Nonetheless, the goal of what we’re talking about here is simple: If you’re trying to win a GPP, it’s important to know where those value plays are, but it’s perhaps more important to know how good and bad outcomes by teams and players will impact your lineup and the lineups of your opponents. Winning a DFS tournament isn’t actually just about scoring as many fantasy points as you can, it’s about scoring as many points as you can — relative to the other people in your contest.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.
Gambling problem? Call 1-800-GAMBLER (MI/NJ/PA/WV/WY), 1-800-9-WITH-IT (IN), 1-800-522-4700 (CO/NH), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), 1-888-532-3500 (VA), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ) or call/text TN REDLINE 1-800-889-9789 (TN).
21+ (18+ NH/WY). AZ/CO/IL/IN/IA/MI/NH/NJ/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Eligibility restrictions apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for full terms and conditions.