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Daily Fantasy Sports NFL Positional Strategies

How To Determine Which Players Are Positioned For A Good Performance

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“He is (or isn’t) in a really good spot,” is a very common phrase among daily fantasy sports (DFS) players when discussing possibilities for their NFL lineups. What does that mean? Well that’s what we’re going to dive into today. What exactly are we looking for when forming our lineups for NFL DFS? What are some of the telltale stats and situations that are to be capitalized on? And what types of players or situations are best avoided? I’ll be going position by position and discussing what you should be looking for when putting together your NFL DFS lineup.

Quarterback

The first piece of research I do when considering quarterbacks is find out their projected team total. To figure that out, you would look at the total (over/under) of the game and the spread. If you’re looking at a game with a total of 49 and a spread of 7, then the favored team is projected to score 28, while the underdog is projected to score 21. Now of course that isn’t the only thing you need to think about.

Other factors that need to be considered include whether the quarterback in question is largely responsible for his team’s offensive production, like Peyton Manning, or if you’re dealing with a team that wants to run the ball a lot, like the Seahawks. Another consideration that is always a major factor is the salary of the quarterback. A few weeks back the Eagles were favored with a solid team total and Mark Sanchez was taking over as the starter for the first time of the season. His salary was near the minimum, so he made for a strong play even if it made you feel a little queasy to put your money on the line and choose Mark Sanchez.

In the end, what I’m looking for when selecting a quarterback for my DFS teams is someone who ideally is leading a team that has a high projected team total and has shown the ability to be a big contributor to the team’s offense. Looking for these things should get you off on the right foot at a position where you can’t really afford a clunker.

Running Back

Gameflow is a term that is commonly used in DFS as well. It means what it sounds like. Trying to predict the flow of the game — which team will be ahead on the scoreboard and running the ball to preserve their lead and which team will likely be behind and throwing — is very critical to selecting running backs in NFL DFS.

Your main goal when selecting running backs is finding completely secure workloads. Running backs on teams that are heavily favored is one way of going about this. If a team is extremely likely to be playing from ahead, they’re also very likely to be running the ball to salt the game away. Another way of securing workload with running backs is to find every down backs on high scoring teams.

C.J. Anderson has recently taken over the Denver running back job and has been playing over 90 percent of the snaps for one of the best offenses in all of football. It’s a very rare occurrence that Denver’s offense is going to get shut down, so Anderson playing 90 percent of the snaps is about as good a bet as you can get. I’ve been playing him each of the last couple weeks and he’s been a goldmine.

Wide Receiver

Targets, targets, targets. Paying for targets and finding receivers who figure to be targeted heavily but have seen a price dip is the best way to go about choosing receivers. Now not all targets are created equal and that’s where the nuance comes in to play. A 5’7” receiver named Andrew Hawkins plays for the Cleveland Browns and sees plenty of targets. But at the end of the day he’s 5’7” and his quarterback is Brian Hoyer so his targets don’t have the same value individually as the 6’4” Demaryius Thomas who has Peyton Manning throwing to him.

I bring up size because it is another important factor when choosing receivers. Studies have proven that there is a strong correlation between wide receiver size and redzone touchdown rate. Essentially, when it comes to predicting which receivers are more likely to score, the bigger the better. So your ideal receiver targets are big guys on good offenses who are seeing lots of targets. Sometimes guys like Keenan Allen and Vincent Jackson will experience touchdown droughts and will thus see their daily fantasy prices plummet in turn. These are players to keep an eye out for and can provide serious value since touchdown rates will be flukier than targets.

Tight End

Just play Rob Gronkowski every week. Just kidding. Well, sort of. If I can cobble together a lineup I feel comfortable with, my goal is to get Gronkowski in there. When it becomes apparent that’s not going to happen, I’ll then use a similar process that I use when evaluating receivers. I’m looking for tight ends that are getting a steady diet of targets first and foremost. The better the offense, the more comfortable I am using the tight end in question because a lot of tight end value is derived from scoring touchdowns since they tend to be targeted less often than receivers.

Kicker

Save your money. Kicker is the most random position in fantasy football. So random in fact that DraftKings did away with it completely this year for NFL DFS. When selecting kickers on FanDuel or FantasyDraft, however, I prioritize a few things. First, I’m looking to spend as little money as possible. Second, I want to make sure my kicker is in good weather or a dome. And lastly, I prefer to have a kicker on an offense that is projected to score a fair amount of points. Simple as that.

Defense/Special Teams

Here, I’m looking for decent sized favorites in low scoring games that are facing bad quarterbacks. Once I identify some options I dig a little deeper and look at the quality of the pass rush and the quality of the opposing offensive line. Defense is also a somewhat random position so being flexible here is acceptable if you must to keep the team you would like to field intact.

Final Roster Construction

My overriding goal when putting together a NFL DFS lineup is to have a specific reason to play each player. You never want to have to play someone simply because their salary fit. Sometimes using a minimum priced quarterback who provides value can unlock the door to the rest of your roster. Or sometimes it’s a running back. The key is to find out where the value is, capitalize on it, and then fill out the rest of your team with players who are in strong positions to succeed. By digging deep to find the best plays at each position, you’ll end up with a lineup that’s ready to compete come Sunday.

Find me on Twitter @IanJ300 with any questions.

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