DFS Amateur Hour – Wednesday Lineup

I set only one – of the $10 “Happy Hour” overlay variety, thanks to Kevin Payne messaging me that it was up. I was actually driving, had to pull over, quickly set a dummy lineup to get it in, then take five minutes to set a credible one. But before I get that, it’s worth noting I netting $100 last night ($150 in gross, $50 buy-in), thanks in large part to a $75 cash in yesterday’s Happy Hour. That extra $100 brings my bankroll back up to $1450.61.

Here’s the Happy Hour lineup for tonight:

Pos $10 Happy Hour $
P Taijuan Walker 6700
C Matt Wieters 2200
1B Chris Davis 3800
2B Jonathan Schoop 2300
3B Manny Machado 3600
SS Jung Ho Kang 3700
OF Andrew McCutchen 5100
OF Ryan Braun 4300
OF Jason Werth 3300
Total 35000

It’s just an Orioles stack (they hit better at home) with a couple other big bats I was able to afford by going cheap on pitching. The Astros can put up runs, but they also strike out a lot. As I post this, I’m seeing they’ve already scored three on Walker, and he has only one strikeout, so this lineup is probably toast.

ADP Trends: Quarterbacks

The signal callers are up in our fourth and final installment of position by position ADP trends. Running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and all the previous ADP posts can be found here.

Much of the movement with quarterbacks is from the few open camp battles that have been settled. As is the case with all positions, injuries are also to blame for long falls, and in turn, new opportunities for former backups.

Training Camp Notes: Rough Start In Green Bay

Randall Cobb is expected to play against the Bears in Week 1 after suffering a sprained AC joint in his shoulder during Saturday’s preseason game against the Eagles. The fifth-year wide receiver initially thought that he broke his collarbone, but X-rays came back negative and showed no signs of any real structural damage. This was great news for a Packers team that lost Jordy Nelson for the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL, just a week earlier. Cobb will likely become Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target now that Nelson went down which is great news for fantasy owners. The 25-year old speedster caught 91 passes for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2014, and a repeat performance could certainly be on the horizon.

Speaking of Jordy Nelson, the Packers placed him on injured reserve on Tuesday, and he’s officially done for the season. The 30-year old pass-catcher has been spectacular for the Packers over the last few years and will certainly be hard to replace. Randall Cobb, Davante Adams, Jeff Janis, and Ty Montgomery will collectively soak up the targets left behind by Nelson.

Julius Thomas fractured his finger back in early August during a preseason game and was only expected to miss a couple of weeks if it required minor surgery. However, it was reported on Tuesday that Thomas will actually miss up to a month which will certainly cut into the first few weeks of the season. The 27-year old tight end signed a five year, $46 million deal with the Jaguars back in March after playing the last two full seasons in Denver. In those two years combined, Thomas hauled in 108 passes for 1,277 yards and 24 touchdowns which is exceptional production at a position where it can be very scarce. The Jaguars are excited about the offseason acquisition but they likely won’t see him on the field again until Week 3 at the earliest. In the meantime, Marcedes Lewis will see the majority of the action at the tight end position.

DFS Amateur Hour – Tuesday Lineups

My slump has reached Chris Carter-esque proportions. On a night I intended to take off, but was roped into because of a Happy Hour overlay, I lost another $10, bringing my bankroll to $1350.61. It’s annoying to see all those zeroes next to your entries, especially when I had previously done a good job of getting small cashes and maintaining my bankroll for a long time, even while playing mostly large-field tournaments, but my confidence isn’t shaken. I’d like to spend more time doing research, but I’m getting full lineups of mostly opposite-handed hitters against weaker pitchers, so at worst I’m playing blackjack according to the book, albeit without a reliable card count. It’s easier to stomach the downturn when I’m still up $350 on the year too, but I’d like to hit it moderately big one more time before the end of the month. To that end, here are tonight’s lineups below:

Training Camp Notes: Cobb Expects To Be Ready For Week 1

Randall Cobb sent fantasy owners into cardiac arrest when he left the Packers’ third preseason game early with a shoulder injury. Those early drafters can exhale as they prepare their Week 1 lineups, as Cobb said Tuesday he expects to be ready to go against the Bears. Cobb said the shoulder, while still a little swollen, is much better than he and the team feared it could be. With fellow wide receiver Jordy Nelson out for the year with an ACL injury, Cobb will be the singular focal point of the Packers’ passing game, and could be primed for an absurdly productive season catching passes from Aaron Rodgers. With all 16 games now at his disposal, Cobb should be primed to validate those who selected him near the top of their drafts.

Opportunity-Neutral Fantasy Football Rankings

I’m reprising this exercise from last year because I think it’s useful to identify potential breakouts and upside plays.

There are essentially four variables that determine a player’s value: (1) Health; (2) Skills; (3) Team Context; and (4) Role. Of the four, (1) and (4) are most subject to dramatic change, but health is usually both unpredictable and obvious, so let’s set that aside for the moment and focus on role.

A player’s role determines the quantity of his opportunities (team context determines quality), and quantity of opportunity is a huge factor in value. Once you get beyond the league’s elite players, projecting roles becomes difficult, and this is even before we take into account frequent role changes due to other players’ injuries. For that reason, it’s good to have an idea of who the players are and where they are independent of their immediate roles. To that end, I’ve ranked the top-30 QB, RB, WR and TE irrespective of roles, i.e., assuming everyone had an equal number of basic opportunities. For QBs, that’s 550 passing attempts, for RBs, that’s 250 carries, for WRs and TEs, that’s 130 targets:

Here’s how I’d rank them:

Rank QB Team RB Team WR Team TE Team
1 Aaron Rodgers GB Le’Veon Bell PIT Dez Bryant DAL Rob Gronkowski NE
2 Russell Wilson SEA Jamaal Charles KC Odell Beckham NYG Jimmy Graham NO
3 Andrew Luck IND Adrian Peterson MIN Julio Jones ATL Travis Kelce KC
4 Cam Newton CAR DeMarco Murray PHI Demaryius Thomas DEN Dwayne Allen IND
5 Tony Romo DAL Arian Foster HOU T.Y. Hilton IND Owen Daniels DEN
6 Colin Kaepernick SF Eddie Lacy GB Calvin Johnson DET Vernon Davis SF
7 Peyton Manning DEN Joseph Randle DAL DeSean Jackson WAS Zach Ertz PHI
8 Tom Brady NE C.J. Anderson DEN A.J. Green CIN Greg Olsen CAR
9 Ben Roethlisberger PIT C.J. Spiller NO Randall Cobb GB Coby Fleener IND
10 Eli Manning NYG Lamar Miller MIA Antonio Brown PIT Jordan Cameron MIA
11 Matt Ryan ATL Todd Gurley STL Jordan Matthews PHI Antonio Gates SD
12 Ryan Tannehill MIA Justin Forsett BAL Martavus Bryant PIT Martellus Bennett CHI
13 Sam Bradford PHI Matt Forte CHI Davante Adams GB Jordan Reed WAS
14 Teddy Bridgewater MIN Marshawn Lynch SEA Michael Floyd AZ LaDarius Green SD
15 Philip Rivers SD Giovani Bernard CIN Mike Evans TB Julius Thomas JAC
16 Drew Brees NO Ryan Mathews PHI Brandin Cooks NO Tyler Eifert CIN
17 Michael Vick PIT Ronnie Hillman DEN Emmanuel Sanders DEN Josh Hill NO
18 Marcus Mariota TEN Jeremy Hill CIN Golden Tate DET Richard Rodgers GB
19 Blake Bortles JAC Rashad Jennings NYG Keenan Allen SD Jason Witten DAL
20 Tyrod Taylor BUF Latavius Murray OAK John Brown AZ Eric Ebron DET
21 Andy Dalton CIN Dan Herron IND Cody Latimer DEN A.Sefarian-Jenkins TB
22 Mark Sanchez PHI Frank Gore IND Alshon Jeffery CHI Delanie Walker TEN
23 Geno Smith NYJ Darren McFadden DAL Donte Moncrief IND Jared Cook STL
24 Terrelle Pryor CLE Ameer Abdullah DET Philip Dorsett IND Kyle Rudolph MIN
25 Carson Palmer ARZ Mark Ingram NO DeVante Parker MIA J.J. Watt HOU
26 Matthew Stafford DET Lance Dunbar DAL Eric Decker NYJ Heath Miller PIT
27 Jay Cutler CHI Andre Ellington ARZ Sammy Watkins BUF Mychal Rivera OAK
28 Alex Smith KC Melvin Gordon SD DeAndre Hopkins HOU Brett Celek PHI
29 Joe Flacco BAL Jonathan Stewart CAR Nelson Agholor PHI Charles Clay BUF
30 Kirk Cousins WAS Tevin Coleman ATL Allen Robinson JAC Larry Donnell NYG

There are some issues with this framework (Would Lance Dunbar really get 250 carries even if every other RB on the Cowboys dropped dead? And why then did I leave off Shane Vereen?), but for the most part it’s a list of players with the most upside, opportunity being equal. That favors running QBs, efficient-passing QBs and QBs with good weapons. RBs who catch passes, are suited to goal-line work and play in good offenses get boosted, as do WRs with good size/speed profiles and good quarterbacks.

It also shows which top players are simply a product of their roles and who are in danger of losing significant value should their opportunities shrink even moderately. Matthew Stafford is a volume guy, as are Larry Fitzgerald, LeSean McCoy and, I presume, Amari Cooper . Consequently, they’re absent from these lists.


Training Camp Notes: New Look Bills Say Goodbye To Fred Jackson

In a shocking turn of events, the Bills released (face of the franchise?) Fred Jackson. The nine-year veteran has spent his entire career in Buffalo, where he’s provided remarkably consistent production both as a runner and as a receiver out of the backfield. This move came as a surprise to many, considering Jackson’s long tenure with the Bills, not to mention the team’s dearth of running back depth due to a rash of injuries to their RB core during the preseason. I guess Jackson’s whole “being a pro and gutting it out for nine years for the same crappy team” thing doesn’t play as well in Rex Ryan’s world as, for instance, a guy who attempt to throw an Eyes Wide Shut party or a physical freaks who’s best known for breaking the jaw of his own team’s starting quarterback. I kid, I kid. From a fantasy perspective, this move could be a boon for one of Bryce Brown, Anthony Dixon and Karlos Williams, as those three are jockeying for the second position on the depth chart now. It’s also a good sign for Shady’s owners, as his biggest threat for touches was jettisoned out of town. Jackson’s fantasy value obviously takes a hit, but if he signs with a new team soon, he may be able to contribute again this season. We can only hope the 34-year-old ends up somewhere like New England, where he has a chance to play for something meaningful after toiling away for losing Buffalo teams for the better part of a decade.