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DFS Football 101: RotoWire Staff Contest Strategy

Michael Rathburn

Known as ďRathĒ in the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) community, he has helped run operations for two prominent daily fantasy sports startups. Michael has taken his insider knowledge and expertise in daily fantasy sports to the content side. Rath won the 2016 FSWA "Baseball Article of the Year, Online" award and was a finalist for the FSWA Best Baseball Series in 2011.

Each week about 50 of us from RotoWire play in a contest on FanDuel and I look forward to it every week because of the competitive juices that always flow with your peers. Unfortunately, I was not in the first two weeks, but started in Week 3 and ever since I've scored the highest average points per week. I usually run what I deem by top tournament lineup in this contest, which has worked out very well.

Weeks 3-10, I averaged 128.21 points, putting me ahead of the actual total points leader who has averaged 116.84. After a couple of down weeks in 3 and 4, I posted 137.84 on average for Weeks 5-10.

My weekly scores:

345678910
92.50106.18144.86129.2167.98128.28137.62119.10

Here is my Week 10 lineup that came in seventh place:

POSPLAYERSALARY%OWNEDPOINTS
QBJared Goff$8,2009.126.5
RBLe'Veon Bell$9,40045.513.7
RBLeSean McCoy$8,30014.57.5
WRAntonio Brown$9,30036.46.2
WRRobert Woods$6,2003.633.1
WRMohamed Sanu$5,9003.64.4
TEGarrett Celek$4,5005.514.7
KRobbie Gould$4,5009.18
DBrowns$3,5003.65

Total salary -
$59,800

My strategy entering Week 10 was there were three teams with the highest totals that I thought would hit Ė Steelers, Lions, and Rams. While the Steelers were on the road, it still felt like Bell and Brown would get theirs, as they have most weeks. The Lions, on the other hand, had very high projected ownership, so I decided to fade them. That left the Rams, who were still under-owned in the industry talk throughout the week in spite of putting up massive point total and being huge home favorites with an incredible matchup.

Knowing that I was targeting the Rams, I looked whether it made sense to pair Goff with a receiver, and it certainly did with Robert Woods, who has been the most consistent receiver for the Rams. Now that I had my QB/WR pair, I looked at the landscape of RBs, and there were a lot that I liked. I knew most were going to be on the mid-tier and value RBs like Jordan Howard and Bilal Powell. I went with McCoy and Bell, figuring that combo might be the only one in the field even with Bellís high projected ownership.

When it comes to ownership in tournaments, you donít want all of the popular highly owned players, but you also donít want to shy away from all of them. The Steelers were projected to score 28 points and Bell was in line to get heavy volume in the second half if the Steelers got a lead. McCoy has been much better at home along with the rest of the Bills, and I thought the Saints would just shut down any passing attack. I felt the Saints/Bills would be extremely run heavy and McCoy would get action in the passing game due to lack of options.

I already mentioned Woods and how pairing him with Goff was a must play for me. The only WR I felt the strongest about was Antonio Brown because you have been able to bank on at least 20 points in half of his games. Of course, the entire Steelers team outside of JuJu laid an egg.

I thought Sanu was going to be a sneaky value play because of Julio Jones not being 100 percent healthy and they would lean on him more. All I wanted was his floor and average over the last three games, which was 11.9 PPG. He got a whopping 4.4.

Because I was so top heavy with Goff/McCoy/Bell/Brown I knew I was scraping at TE/K/D, but I also knew there were options. Mainly in the 49ers game, which I thought could be a lot higher scoring vs. the Vegas total. Garrett Celek was minimum salary at $4,500 and had the great matchup against the Giants. He came through with a monster TD reception.

At kicker, I always look at the $4,500 options first and see if there is anyone viable. Robbie Gould was in a good environment weather wise, and the Giants defense has pretty much given up at this point.

The last play was very interesting in that the Browns D/ST was posted at $3,500. This is the first time I can remember where FanDuel has done this and priced a team significantly lower vs. the field. I was going to take advantage of this because the Lions have allowed 3.25 sacks per game and three games of at least five. The Browns donít get a lot of sacks, but they did have three games of three sacks. My hope was that even though they would give up 28 points that the sacks would give me some points, and I just did not want to go in the negative. They got four sacks and one INT for five points.

Getting back to ownership, outside of Bell/Brown everyone I had was less than 15 percent owned and most were in the 3-9 percent range. In a contest of 50 people, you can still load up on some chalk where it makes sense and diversify enough on the other positions to where you can stand out from the field.
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Michael Rathburn plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: FanDuel: burnnotice, DraftKings: burnnotice, Yahoo: burnnotice, Fantasy Aces: burnnotice, FantasyDraft: burnnotice.