Daily fantasy sports (DFS) are a new spectrum in the fantasy industry that has truly blown up over the past few years. It's an exciting week for our sponsor DraftKings in that they have purchased the rights to the one of their biggest competitors, DraftStreet. All of the DraftStreet users are in the process of transferring over their funds to DraftKings and the prize pools and tournaments will become subsequently larger. What a great time to become a DraftKings member. Daily fantasy sports are only growing and there's no better time then to dip your feet into the water once football season begins. Nothing is worse in your standard leagues than when your first or second round pick goes down with a season ending injury; daily fantasy essentially takes that out of the equation. Playing daily also opens up the door to finding weekly values. The key to winning in daily is to find these mistakes and insert those undervalued players into your lineup. Now lets get to the reason you guys are here.
As fantasy sports have expanded, so have the ways they’re played. DFS football contests are a weekly format that allows you to do some new things and use some players who you may not have drafted in your standard fantasy leagues. Week-by-week, I will give some simple advice to just keep in the back of your mind as the daily fantasy football season approaches. For my first piece this week, I will try to help identify some running backs that have fantastic opportunities in new cities. These are players who I believe will be undervalued come Week 1 and some fantastic plays the first few weeks of daily fantasy, while they're currently unknown values will be at their lowest. The reason I want to focus on this aspect is that the greatest fear in fantasy sports is often the great unknown. People sometimes overvalue these players because of the opportunity of the unknown, but more times than not, these players will come at a discount in Week 1.
Sproles is going to be a PPR (point per reception) monster, which is implemented in DraftKings’ scoring. Philadelphia surprised some when making their big offensive signing a 5-6 running back, but in this offense, Sproles could do some special things. One of the most dynamic and fastest offenses in the league added one of the most dynamic and quickest players in the league. The Eagles were top-3 in the amount of plays per game they ran, as well as being the fastest offense in the league, leading the league in time off per play, with a minuscule 24 seconds flat. Lesean McCoy had a fantastic season last year, but Eagles head coach Chip Kelly likely wants to lighten the load on the most-used running back from last season. McCoy obliterated the competition last year in touches recording 314 carries and 52 catches, totaling a monstrous 366 touches. The only other player in the league with over 350 touches was Chicago’s running back Matt Forte. Kelly will be looking to keep McCoy’s touches closer to 300 to keep the star back healthy, which is where Sproles comes in. I expect Sproles to approach 100 catches this season, as he becomes a key factor in that fast-paced Eagles offense. The best part about Sproles is that he will contribute across the board and will even be on the field with McCoy. I truly believe Sproles is guaranteed five carries and five catches every week, at minimum. With his career averages of 5.1 yards per carry and 9 yards per catch, that's a guaranteed 70 yards and tons of receptions, plus a solid chance of a touchdown every other week given his game-breaking ability. Kelly's screen game is a notorious part of his offense and it wouldn't be surprising to see Sproles targeted 10 times per week, just in the passing game. Being listed behind McCoy on the depth chart is the ultimate reason Sproles will be undervalued come Week 1 in the daily format. It's unknown just how much time he will see, but once Kelly sees this new toy he acquired, he'll find a way to use Sproles effectively. In DraftKings PPR format, I believe Sproles is a must use until his price reaches a top-10 back potential.
Ben Tate has been a popular handcuff option to Arian Foster in fantasy leagues the past few seasons, but he finally has a chance to shine as a starter in Cleveland. This is a hell of a player with a hell of an opportunity. Cleveland actually ran the ball the third least in the NFL last season with a meager 348 carries, but the Browns held a decent average of 4.1 yards per carry. This was with names the likes of Willis Mcgahee, Chris Ogbonnaya, Edwin Baker and their fourth leading rusher, quarterback Jason Campbell (yeah, that guy). Tate is an absolute godsend for a franchise who needs a lead horse. His arrival will lead to the Browns running the rock more this upcoming season. In most current rankings, Tate barely approaches the top 15 for running backs, which just baffles me. If you have a chance to use this guy in daily formats and he’s priced outside of the top-10 running backs, you've found yourself an incredible value. Tate has been fantastic backing up Foster the past few seasons, averaging 4.7 yards per carry and becoming a threat catching the ball with a career-high 34 catches last season. With an opportunity to play every down, Tate is primed to have his first 1,000-yard season and surely eclipse the 200-carry mark for the first time in his short career. Tate will surely be the focal point of the offense and a crutch to help lighten the load for rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel. My favorite part about Tate is there will be no vultures taking his carries or touchdowns. He will see nearly every goal-line carry as well as being the bell-cow for the offense of an improving team.
Honestly, when you hear the name Rashad Jennings it doesn't get you excited. But his first stint with the Giants just may be his breakout season. With David Wilson in injury limbo, Jennings has a fantastic opportunity in New York. The Giants really didn't have a steady guy last year, as it seemed all of their running backs were injured at one point or another or just unproductive. Wilson, Peyton Hillis, Brandon Jacobs and Andre Brown all competed for touches last year and none of them really prevailed as the go-to guy. Jacobs and Brown departed, while Hillis and Wilson are always nicked up, so the opportunity is in Jennings’ lap. If Jennings starts the season off strong, he could seize the starting job. Removing an injury riddled 2012 from the equation, Jennings has been fantastic in limited time, gaining 1,394 yards in 286 carries while averaging an elite 4.9 yards per carry. Another asset Jennings brings to the table is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. In the 10 games Jennings reached double-digit carries last season, he averaged three catches in those games as well. He even had two games in which he hauled in seven receptions or more, which can be an absolute godsend with his low projected salary. I Expect to see Jennings at far too low of a price in the early season, making him a bargain for the first few weeks, until his true value is ultimately determined.