Players to Keep Your Eye On: Early 2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

With the 2017 Major League Baseball season quickly approaching, it is time to start talking fantasy. In 2016, we witnessed the most strike outs, as well as the second most home runs ever in a season. After an electric 2016 campaign, it is time to start preparing for a wild 2017. It is too early to release positional rankings, as it is only January. So I intend to inform you about early 2017 fantasy baseball sleepers.

What qualifies a player as a “sleeper”? 

First, a player must be undervalued.

To be undervalued, a player’s average draft position, or ADP, must be below the ADP of other players with similar statistics. In 2016, according to ESPN.com, Rick Porcello was selected as the 230th player off the board. He finished as the 6th best starting pitcher in 5X5 ESPN standard leagues. His teammate, David Price, was selected as the 27th player off the board, yet he finished as the 21st overall pitcher. Porcello was tremendously undervalued in 2016, and I intend to help find undervalued players that can help contribute to 2017 fantasy championship.

Second, a player must be overlooked.

Some people argue that players can be considered “sleepers” if they are drafted in the third round, but have first round value. I argue that this makes a player undervalued. To be a sleeper, a player must be overlooked and passed on until later rounds in the draft. In 2016, Jose Ramirez went undrafted in majority of leagues, and managed to finish as a top 50 overall player. Ramirez went overlooked in 2016, and I aim to inform you about players that cannot be overlooked heading into 2017.

David Peralta – OF Arizona Diamondbacks

In 2017, David Peralta will continue his ascension from mediocre minor league pitcher to impact middle of the order bat. Peralta, who was originally signed in 2006 by the St. Louis Cardinals as a relief pitcher, was transformed into a corner outfielder in 2011. He subsequently slashed .392/.429/.661 with 17 home runs, 81 runs batted in and 30 doubles in 85 games in the independent North American League.

Peralta’s first minor league experience came in 2014 with the Arizona Diamondbacks Double-A affiliate, where he batted .297 with 17 doubles and 6 home runs in 53 games. He was then called up to the bigs, where Peralta impressed, batting .286 with 12 doubles, 9 triples, 8 home runs, 40 runs, and 36 runs batted in.

In 2015, Peralta’s first full season in the majors, he slashed .312/.371/.522. He also lead the league in triples with 10, along with 26 doubles, 18 home runs, and 78 runs batted in. Peralta dealt with a lingering wrist injury in 2016, which limited him to only 183 plate appearances in 48 games played. When healthy, he has massive upside.

It is only January, but Peralta is currently being severely under-valued. His ADP on couchmanagers.com is currently 221, which means he is being selected as the 63rd outfielder. I believe that Peralta is easily capable of being a top 30 outfielder, as he is expected to rejoin a star-studded Arizona Diamondbacks lineup. He will bat clean up behind four-time all-star and two-time runner-up MVP, Paul Goldschmidt, and 2015 all-star and top 15 MVP candidate, A.J. Pollock. Peralta has shown his ability to hit for power and average and will help contribute to many fantasy championships.

Josh Bell – 1B/OF Pittsburgh Pirates

A former 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates’ second round pick, Bell was called up in early July to see his first major league action in 2016. He batted .273 with 19 runs batted in and 11 extra base hits in a mere 128 at bats. He will be eligible at first base and outfield in fantasy leagues next season.

Bell projects as a first basemen with limited power, although he has an uncanny ability to get on base. He spent two seasons at the Triple-A level, amassing 629 plate appearances, while slashing .306/.396/.476, hitting 16 home runs, 53 extra base hits, and 78 runs batted in.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Josh Bell looks to help the Pirates get back on track in 2017. (Courtesy of rumbunter.com)

He is projected to bat second in a star-studded lineup, ahead of former MVP Andrew McCutcheon, all-star Starling Marte, and budding star Gregory Polanco. For Bell, this is an ideal spot in the lineup, as he has excelled at getting on base at all minor-league levels.

According to couchmanagers.com, Bell is currently being selected as the 22nd first basemen off the board, with an average draft position of 202. This places him thirty spots behind unsigned first basemen, Mike Napoli, as well as eighty spots behind aging superstars Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols.

Bell has already dropped his weight from 248 to 225 to start training camp, which shows he is ready to tackle a spot at the top half of the order. Also, Bell could possibly steal a few more bases, as he only stole five bases through two seasons at the AAA level. His power can and will improve as he gains experience at the plate. I believe Bell can contribute across all hitting categories, and is being moderately overlooked and undervalued.

Greg Bird – 1B New York Yankees

Another 2011 draft pick, New York Yankees first baseman Greg Bird, was called up in August of 2015. He batted .261 with 11 home runs and 31 runs batted in, in only 178 plate appearances.

If this pace were to have continued over 500 plate appearance sample size, Bird would project 30 home runs and 87 runs batted in.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Greg Brid expects full recovery from torn labrum heading into 2017. (Courtesy of   thesportquotient.com)

He has impressed in his minor league career, hitting a total of 48 home runs, 192 runs batted in, while slashing .282/.395/.483 over 347 games. Yankees General Manager, Brian Cashman, exclaimed that Bird is “A patient, power hitter. Best young hitter in organization”.

Bird is recovering from undergoing season ending surgery for a torn labrum in 2016. The twenty-four-year-old will compete with veteran Matt Holiday and youngster Tyler Austin for the starting first base job.

When Bird is awarded the starting job, he will slot in to the middle of the order. This will give him a great opportunity to produce in a Yankees lineup behind the likes of Gary Sanchez, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brett Gardner.

Bird’s current ADP is 260, which means he is currently going undrafted. This means you could take Bird as a flyer, which is a pick at the end of the draft for a player with lower value but possibly high upside. If Bird’s ADP stays stagnant, he will be unforgivingly undervalued and overlooked.

Keon Broxton – OF Milwaukee Brewers

Another player going undrafted in leagues is Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Keon Broxton. Broxton, a 26-year-old former 3rd round pick, will hold down the Brewers center field to start 2017.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers

Keon Broxton has high hopes for 2017. (Courtesy of fantasybaseballcrackerjacks.com)

He spent two seasons at the AAA level, batting .267 with 15 home runs, 68 runs batted in, and 42 steals over 566 plate appearances. Broxton projects as a five-tool player with plus speed and above average power.

During the 2016 season, Broxton had 244 plate appearances, slashed .242/.354/.426 with 9 home runs, 19 runs batted in, and 24 steals. In a 500 plate appearance sample size, Broxton would have been on pace for 18 home runs and 47 steals.

Broxton’s speed alone gives him value, as he stole 203 bases in 273 attempts during his short career so far. Now with the Milwaukee Brewers, who stole 42 more bases than the next best team, Broxton has an even higher floor, as he will be aggressive on the base paths.

He will be limited by batting at the bottom half of the order, although his above average power upside mixed with his elite speed will make him a reliable fantasy producer and top 50 outfielder.

 

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The Best of Both Worlds – Play On DRAFT

No, this is not a promotional post. I wish I were getting paid to talk about DRAFT fantasy. I am taking the time out of my week to talk about one of the lesser-known Daily Fantasy sites because they deserve it. What makes them different or worthy of praise? Their specific focus on one DFS contest and seamless mobile app interface are just a few reasons why you should consider switching to DRAFT for your DFS fix.

The Snake Draft

The number one factor that differentiates DRAFT from its competitors is that they only offer one type of game. That’s right, DRAFT only offers a snake format for their DFS players. How is this different? For one, this format completely eliminates the salary cap concept. You no longer have to worry about sacrificing value at a given position because of a player’s price.

Another benefit of the snake format is low ownership. Since you are literally drafting players, no one else can roster a player you’ve chosen. Unlike salary cap leagues, players don’t have to worry about suffering from high ownership percentages.

In my opinion, the most appealing factor of a snake format is the fact that it’s a small, single entry contests. Players no longer have to worry about competing against people who can afford to create hundreds of rosters in large contests. Sure, there aren’t as many contests with upside like with FanDuel and DraftKings. However, there are still contests that yield as much as $540 or even $1,000.

A New Niche In DFS

DRAFT fantasy

DRAFT’s seamless app interface is one of the many reasons for this new DFS sites success. (Courtesy: upfront.com)

When I used to playing in season long leagues, the number one problem I faced was agreeing on a time to draft that worked for everyone. Then, if by some miracle we decided on a time, we would spend two to three hours selecting players.

What DRAFT has done is eliminate the multi-hour process usually needed to create a roster in season long leagues. Why? Because you don’t have to worry about rostering players on your bench. All you have to do is pick enough players for a starting lineup and that’s it. With DRAFT, you can now feel the exhilaration associated with season long league drafts each and every week. You can develop and hone your strategy until you have mastered the art of drafting.

With the emergence of this new DFS site, I wouldn’t be shocked if season long leagues on sites like ESPN or Yahoo turn into playing on DRAFT every week against your friends for 17 weeks. It’s truly the best of both worlds. You get to experience all the ups and downs of a season long draft every single week. You don’t have to worry about large player pools, or salary cap restrictions. Just be present at your leagues scheduled time and pick the best team you can.

Join me this weekend by signing up to play on DRAFT or by downloading their mobile app in the app store!

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

Applying Vegas Statistics – Line Movement

As avid DFS players, we will take almost any statistic into account when building our lineups. Of course, some have more weight than others. We’ve already discussed how to use the Implied Team Total and Point Spread statistics in your lineup construction process. The final Vegas statistic we’ll examine is line movement and how it relates to building DFS lineups.

 What is Line Movement?

Line movement occurs when the spread and/or the value of an over/under changes as a result of people betting on or against the favorite. Thus, the line will adjust to make the other teams’ odds more attractive as money pours in for one team. Predictably, this kind of movement indicates that the public is definitively on a certain team.

There are two groups that people refer to when talking about the amount of money being wagered- public money and smart, or, sharp money. Public money is straightforward; it’s the amount, usually a percent, of money wagered by normal players. So, when there is significant line movement, is it due to public money? The answer depends.

Expect Mat Stafford and Drew Brees to be heavily owned this weekend as they have one of the largest over/unders of the season.

Matt Stafford and Drew Brees will score early and often on Sunday in New Orleans.

On high profile games, the public is likely to drive line movement. An example of a week 13 high profile game is Detroit vs. New Orleans. Vegas Insider as of Wednesday evening had New Orleans (-6) with 77% of money being bet on Detroit. Thus, the line movement from (-5) to (-6) makes sense. With this in mind, you can logically assume that players on both teams, Detroit specifically, will be highly owned this Sunday.

For example, in week 12, 62% of public money was on the Seattle Seahawks. It should not come as a surprise that Russell Wilson and Doug Baldwin were the highest owned players at their position across all FanDuel lineups according to NumberFire. By understanding where the majority of public money is bet, you can get an indication of ownership. There were other teams that accounted for a higher percentage of public money, but this was a high profile game. Most anticipated a strong performance by the Seahawks, but most were wrong.

The “Smart” Money

If you’ve never heard this term before, smart money is used to refer to the money being bet by the expert, or, professional gamblers. It’s not always a straightforward process identifying where the smart money is. Usually, the faster a line changes, the more likely that the smart money is causing the change. So, if a team opens as a two point favorite, then becomes a three point favorite after an hour, and then becomes a 4.5 point favorite by day’s end, the smart money would be with the favorite.

Another example of identifying smart money is when the public is betting big on an underdog. For this example let’s say a team is a seven point dog. The public continually wagers their money on the underdog, but, the line doesn’t move more than half a point. This would mean that the smart money is on the favorite. The same would apply if the scenario was flipped.

Line Movement and Your Lineup

In my opinion, this is the trickiest Vegas statistic to apply to a DFS strategy, especially football. I often don’t include it in my lineup construction. However, there were a few instances in which I did and the result proved to be beneficial.

For example, in week 11, the Pittsburgh Steelers opened as 8.5 point favorites over the Cleveland Browns and closed at 9 point favorites. In this situation, the public and smart money were on the Steelers. Given this information, I decided not to roster any Steelers players in my lineups. Sure, I missed out on a great Le’Veon Bell performance. But, Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown scored 8.7 and 11.6 points respectively. That week, Roethlisberger was the sixth highest owned quarterback and Brown the highest owned wide receiver across all FanDuel contests.

I’m not claiming to be a genius. I just saw that the Pittsburgh triplets were going to be highly owned and decided to pivot and not roster any of them. I missed on Bell, but I avoided a catastrophic performance by Roethlisberger and a below average performance from Brown.

Line Movement in Week 13

It’s only Thursday, so the lines are still open. As of Thursday morning, here are the most interesting line movements and money percentages that should impact your DFS lineup.

Kansas City (+3.5) vs. Atlanta

  • The line originally opened at Kansas City (+4) and has only moved .5 points when 98% of the money is on Kansas City.
  • The smart money is on Atlanta, so don’t doubt the Falcons’ trio of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Devonta Freeman this week at home.

Houston (+6.5) vs. Green Bay

  • No doubt the result of Monday night’s game, the Packers are now a 6.5 point favorite after only opening as a 3.5 point favorite.
  • With 73% of public money on the Packers, expect high ownership on Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Davante Adams, as the smart money is also on Green Bay.

Washington (+2.5) vs. Arizona

  • In a matchup that features a great Washington offense against a great Arizona defense, the line has not moved from Washington (+2.5) despite 95% of public money on the Redskins.
  • The smart money is on Arizona. Look to avoid the obvious plays like Kirk Cousins, Jordan Reed, and Jamison Crowder, as the public is high on them.

 

 

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“From Our Haus to Yours”

A Happy Game Haus Thankgiving

We decided a couple of weeks ago that we wanted to do a Thanksgiving piece and give our readers a chance to get to know us a little better! Below are some of the staff members of TGH telling you all what they are thankful for this holiday season. From Our Haus to Yours, have a very happy Game Haus Thanksgiving!

Jared MacAdam- Head of Esports: Well, I’ll go first, being the only Canadian and my Thanksgiving has passed quite some time ago. I’m thankful for the way this site has grown since its inception, how many great writers we’ve had and all the awesome content we’ve produced. I’m also immensely thankful for the way esports has matured in the past year; we’re seeing leaps and strides in key areas like players well being and stability. It’s an exciting thing to experience and to have a little part in. I’m also thankful for all the weirdos in the Front Office who lovingly mock my Canadianisms.

Josh Burris – Editor: I am thankful for sports. I am a proud Cleveland fan and with the exception of the Browns, good things are happening with our teams. I’m thankful I got to see a Cleveland team win a title. I am also thankful for my family and friendships I have at home, school, and from this site.

Ryan Moran – CFO: I am thankful for family, friends, and football. I am also thankful to be working for TGH and to belong to such an exciting community of sports and esports. I am also thankful of the unifying power of sports and their ability to bring anybody together win or lose.

Tim Miller – Vice President: Of course, when talking about being thankful, I have to be thankful for the opportunity to help lead The Game Haus. I’m also thankful to root for the mighty Ohio State Buckeye football team, and that Marvin Lewis should get fired after this year. I’m also thankful for a loving family and loving girlfriend. Finally, I’m thankful to live in a great country with freedoms like no other (no matter how you feel currently), and to go to a solid, christian university in Cedarville University.

Robert Hanes- President: While these last 365 days have been some of the most challenging times in my life, I can say that I have so many things to be grateful for. To start, everyone here at The Game Haus. These people are incredible, as you can read in their paragraphs of what they are thankful for. They have all gone through many things and have worked their butts off while working here. So thank you to all of the Front Office Members, Writers, Podcasters, and League Team Members! I am also very thankful for my friends. They have helped me through some tough times throughout the last year and I do not know where I would be without them. The same can be said for my Father, Mother and Sister. They have been my rocks as I have struggled many times this year. Lastly I am thankful to God and his son, while it sounds cheesy I know they have been with me every step of the way. From Our Haus to Yours, thank you and have a wonderful holiday season!

Terrance Singleton- Social Media Director: I am thankful for the life God has given me. Every time the holiday season comes around I think about how easily I couldn’t be here. My grandfather died on November 19, 2010 right before Thanksgiving. And I was in a pretty bad car accident on December 27, 2012 that broke my neck and cut my scalp open. So every time the holiday season rolls around I always think about how precious life, family, friends, and faith are important in my life and everyone’s life. So on this Thanksgiving when you are watching NFL football games and eating food until you can’t move, tell your loved ones how much you love them because tomorrow is not promised.

Dylan Streibig- NFL Writer: Whether we realize it or not, we all have a lot to be thankful for.  I am no exception this Thanksgiving or any other year. I am thankful to have a roof over my head and a family that loves me. I am grateful for the fantastic sporting events that go on all around the world. They provide me a momentary escape from my life with a physical disability. I am also thankful for my dog and the fact that I am now a published sports writer thanks to The Game Haus. Most of all, I am thankful for the loyalty of my close friends who do not give up on me, even when I give up on myself.

Matthew Hagan- Columnist: I’m thankful for the opportunity The Game Haus has presented me with. Writing about my favorite sport, football, and offering me a column has been one of the best things in my life. I am thankful to have parents, family and friends support while trying to get a degree in college. My mom has been the biggest reason I have made it this far and I am so thankful that I get to fly back to Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with her. I am also thankful I got to see the Cubs win a World Series and attend the victory parade in Chicago. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. I am thankful for all the opportunities I have had in this amazing country. I am proud to be an American and this Thanksgiving is going to be one of the best ever. Thank you to everyone who reads my articles, weather you agree or disagree with them. I want to wish anyone who reads this, and anyone who may not, a safe, fun and amazing Thanksgiving.

Alex Keller- Recruitment and Retention: What am I thankful for? Where can I even begin… I guess it would have to be with my family and friends. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today if not for their love and support. But it’s so much more than that… the opportunity to even attend an institution like Georgia Tech, let alone graduate from it is an experience I’m incredibly thankful for. And of course, I have to thank everyone who’s been a part of making my experience with TGH so awesome. So, from our haus to yours, have a Happy Game Haus Thanksgiving everybody.

FanDuel and DraftKings Merger

It’s official. FanDuel and DraftKings have reached a merger agreement. I can honestly say that there are some noteworthy positives and some troubling negatives to such a transaction. The DFS community has every right to be apprehensive. Why? Because, given that this agreement passes anti-trust regulations, one entity will control almost 100% of the DFS marketplace.

Conversely, this is not the sole reason for the colossal merger. The reality is that the DFS industry has come under fire by multiple state governments: New York, Illinois, and Texas chief among them. By combining efforts, FanDuel and DraftKings will significantly cut costs as it relates to legal fees. According to Forbes, FanDuel spent $8 million in legal fees in just Q4 of 2015. To be clear, they spent $8 million on legal fees in three months. For a company that only recorded $100 million in revenue for 2015, $8 million in one quarter alone is significant. The only question is, do the pros outweigh the cons?

The Good

If you’re like me, then you love playing Daily Fantasy Sports. Without a doubt they have made my Sunday’s infinitely more exciting, emotional, and sometimes agonizing. DFS companies like FanDuel and DraftKings have done the impossible, they make the average fan care about out of market, non-nationally televised games. They have no doubt played a pivotal role in the NFL’s ratings growth in the last five years, not including this year’s “slump”.

What these companies do is help these professional sports leagues attract the younger viewer that everyone seems to be fighting over. FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles told USA TODAY Sports, “This is the way to bring the younger consumer into watching sports.” He went on to note that their player profile information indicates that the average DFS player is in their early 20’s.

In order for us to engage in DFS, these companies must operate legally in our respective home states. While FanDuel and DraftKings are profitable, they could not continue to afford to fight these legal battles alone. It’s the old adage, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. FanDuel and DraftKings understood that the greatest threat to their survival is not each other, rather, a different entity entirely.

This joint venture allows for these companies to cut down on legal costs, become more profitable, and as a result, survive as a business. What the merger allows for is a united effort to fight for the DFS industry as a whole, not just in the interest of these two companies. Newer DFS companies like Roster.com and FanPicks.com do not have the resources to fight for the industry, so, FanDuel and DraftKings will have to, whether they like it or not.

The Bad

It’s quite clear, we have a potential monopoly in the DFS industry. If this agreement were to pass anti-trust laws, the combination of FanDuel and DraftKings would account for almost 100% of the DFS marketplace. The marketplace as a whole, according to the Wall Street Journal, is about 5 million people. Monopolies are never beneficial to the consumer, we lose our most important power, the power to choose.

What’s truly scary is that there is serious potential for this to become a legal, authorized monopoly. This joint venture does much more than cut costs for the respective companies. This agreement allows them to allocate more money to spend on lobbyists in problematic states. Empowering the right people to try and alter existing gambling laws to allow DFS entities operate free of legal fees is imperative to their survival. That sounds like a positive though right? If they can affect change then every DFS company benefits right? Not necessarily.

While in theory that logic is correct, the outcome is totally dependent on the language of the amended law. If somehow FanDuel and DraftKings could exclude other, smaller players from operating in a given state, then we as the consumer are going to suffer. This potential, keyword potential, exclusion would give the FanDuel and DraftKings complete control. Of course laws exist to prohibit this situation, but lawyers and lobbyists are paid to find loopholes and enact change for their clients.

The Uncertain

It is unclear what long-term effects this transaction will have on the industry for a few reasons. One, this merger does not become official for another calendar year. Two, we don’t know if this merger will change the mechanics of DFS themselves. Meaning, we have no way of knowing if player pricing or the money withdrawal system will change as a result.Third, we don’t have to keep playing. If the merger produces results we are unhappy with, then we can still choose to stop playing, even if we don’t want to.

As this story develops, we can get a good sense of how the result will turn out based some key players and what side of the line they stand on. First, pay attention to the commissioners of each major professional sports team. Listen to what they say, but more importantly, where they receive and spend money. FanDuel and DraftKings already have partnerships with the major sports leagues. It’s in each leagues best interest to do so because DFS has a positive impact on each league’s viewership. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is already on record endorsing DFS entities and even went as far as becoming an equity investor in FanDuel.

Second, look out for any media outlet that pays for the right to televise any of the major sports. Why? Because they benefit tremendously from all the advertising dollars FanDuel and DraftKings spend. It was reported by the Wall Street Journal that since FanDuel and DraftKings cut back on advertising, ESPN experienced a 13% decline in ad revenue. Outlets like CBS Sports, TNT, and ESPN will all want to continue to benefit from DFS advertising. In order to do that, these entities must survive.

Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about this impacting our ability to play DFS this week or this year. But, we could see drastic changes in the coming year to the DFS industry.

 

You can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and eSports articles from other great TGH writers along with Braxton!

“From Our House to Yours”

Applying Vegas Statistics – Implied Team Total

There are almost infinite factors that can influence your DFS lineups. Some you should pay attention to, others you should not. For example, when ESPN says that “X” player has scored a touchdown when playing on the road, after a bye, with a wind speed less than 11 mph, you shouldn’t care. However, when a point spread or implied team total changes in Vegas, you should take notice.

Interpreting Implied Team Total

Implied Team Total is the amount of points each team is expected to score. For example, according to Rotogrinders, Arizona has the highest Implied Team Total with 30.75. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as they host San Francisco this Sunday. But how does this impact your DFS lineup?

Take a team’s Implied Team Total into account when selecting Wide Receivers, especially when choosing your second and third pass catcher. Last Thursday, the Falcons had an Implied Team Total of 27 points and Julio Jones did not disappoint. Jones recorded eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown; however, three other Falcons managed to haul in a receiving touchdown. The higher the Implied Team Total, the more likely that second and third Wide Receivers will have a productive fantasy day.

Maybe using Julio Jones isn’t the best way to verify this theory, as the only person who can stop him from producing is Matt Ryan. However, this Vegas category is still a viable determinant for Wide Receivers. In week nine, the teams with the five highest Implied Team Totals were Green Bay (29.75), New Orleans (28.75), Dallas (28.25), San Diego (25.75), and Kansas City (25). The top four teams had at least one pass catcher score at least 16 points. Of those four teams, three of them had two pass catchers record double digit points.

Using Implied team total for Week 10

Here are the top five teams with the highest Implied Team Total on Sunday according to Vegas.

  • Arizona Cardinals – 30.75
  • New England Patriots – 28.5
  • San Diego Chargers – 26
  • Pittsburgh Steelers – 26
  • Green Bay Packers – 25.75

Given these numbers, here are the pass catchers to roster on each of these teams.

  • Larry Fitzgerald ($7,200)
    • At this price, Fitzgerald is going to be a popular play, but for good reason. Fitzgerald has seen at least seven targets in every game this year and has scored at least 7.9 points in every game. Expect him to deliver against the woeful San Francisco 49ers.
  • Julian Edelman ($6,000)
    • Edelman has not had a great showing since Brady’s return, but look for that to change. The last time New England played Seattle was in Super Bowl 49, a game in which Edelman had nine catches on 12 targets for 109 yards and one touchdown. Stay away from Chris Hogan. His production is dependent on long-yardage receptions, which he will not get against Seattle.
Julian Edelman will try to duplicate his performance in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks this Sunday.

Julian Edelman will try to duplicate his performance in the Super Bowl against the Seahawks this Sunday.

  • Tyrell Williams ($5,900)
    • Williams had a solid outing against Tennessee, in which he turned seven targets into six catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Game logs show that Williams has been feast or famine from week to week, but, his worst games were both against Denver. Against defenses ranked 16th or worse, Williams has scored a minimum of 6.5 points and seen at least five targets. Williams is prime to replace Michael Thomas as the best value at the Wide Receiver position.
  • Antonio Brown ($8,600)
    • I don’t have to make much of an argument for Antonio Brown this week. Brown has an ability to produce when Ben Roethlisberger isn’t playing at a high level, or isn’t playing at all. Brown scored 15.4 points versus New England without Ben, and 18 points versus Baltimore with a less than stellar Quarterback performance. What makes Brown a good play this week is that ownership for Julio Jones and Mike Evans will be high. Brown will be a smart pivot from those plays in DFS tournaments.
  • Jordy Nelson ($7,700)
    • As Aaron Rodgers’ number one Wide Receiver, Nelson should look to be rostered in every lineup. His price tag makes him the best option for the 1pm EST main slate in the second tier of Wide Receivers. Nelson was targeted at least nine times for the fifth time this year. Wide Receives in his price range like Demaryius Thomas and DeAndre Hopkins only have four games in which they saw at least nine targets. Nelson has been targeted at least 13 times twice compared to zero games and one game respectively for Thomas and Hopkins.

I am in no way saying that you should only roster players on these teams. I have plenty of lineups including Wide Receivers on teams with lower Implied Team Totals. This Vegas statistic is great to use as s starting point for your DFS research. Like most statistics, Implied Team Total is not the end all be all, but it does play an important role in determining what players to stay away from on Sunday.

 

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The 5 Best Underpriced Players for Week 9

What we know

As we approach the back nine of the NFL regular season, there are a few things we know for sure. The London series is awful, Tom Brady is worth every penny, and you can’t trust Blake Bortles. We have also identified players who are routinely underpriced and roster them without hesitation. Here are the best underpriced players for week 9.

5. Dak Prescott – $7,600

The Cowboys Quarterback has taken the NFL by storm and deserves all the credit in the world for his on field success.  On the other hand, his fantasy production is often overlooked. Since his second game against the Redskins, Prescott has scored at least 17.5 points in every game he’s played, including two games in which he scored over 23 points. This level of consistent play is usually exclusive to the most expensive Quarterbacks. But not even Brees, Rodgers, or Newton can say they have scored at least 17.5 points in every game since week one.

Dak Prescott looks to extend his great play against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.

Dak Prescott looks to extend his great play against the Cleveland Browns this Sunday.

This week’s matchup against the Cleveland Browns could be another monster day for Prescott. The Cowboys will have no trouble moving the football against a bottom eight rush and pass defense. Inside the Red Zone, expect the Browns to do everything they can to stop Ezekiel Elliot and Jason Witten. Their focus on stopping Elliot and Witten will create huge running lanes that Dak will take advantage of inside the 10 yard line. Also, Prescott’s underpriced value allows for great player stacks like Dez Bryant or Ezekiel Elliot.

 

4. Kyle Rudolph – $5,000

The Vikings, specifically their offense, were exposed these past two weeks versus Philadelphia and Chicago. The element that both of these defenses share is the ability to rush the passer. Both the Eagles and Bears rank among the top 10 teams in sacks. Luckily, the Lions are not a top 10 team in terms of sacks. This means that Sam Bradford will have slightly more time to deliver the ball to the largest target on the field, Kyle Rudolph.

While he hasn’t scored a touchdown in three games, expect that to change this Sunday. The Detroit Lions have been incredibly inept when it comes to covering Tight Ends this season.

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How is this possible? Well, the Detroit Lions continually used Outside Linebacker Kyle Van Noy to cover the opposition’s Tight End. Van Noy was so brutal in coverage that the Lions traded him to the Patriots, so clearly he’ll find a way to excel in New England’s system, because that’s what they do. Even though he wasn’t covering CJ Fiedorowicz Sunday, the defense proved to still be vulnerable to the Tight End position.

Rudolph’s $5,000 price tag gives great flexibility to any DFS lineup. But this week, it’s more about the Lions inability to cover Tight Ends than the underpriced Kyle Rudolph.

3. Emmanuel Sanders – $6,800

Emmanuel Sanders will play a pivotal role in the Bronco’s game plan Sunday night. Sanders has one of the most fantasy friendly matchups of the week as he faces off versus the 27th ranked pass defense, but the matchup is even more favorable than expected. Non-number one receivers have had great success against Oakland. This includes Russell Shepard of Tampa Bay (9.4 points),  Marqise Lee of Jacsksonville (14.2 points), and Travis Benjamin of San Diego (15.2 points). Sanders is no doubt more talented than all of those receivers and has seen a minimum of six targets in every game this season, including two games with 13 targets.

On the other hand, Sanders hasn’t scored a touchdown in four games. But, the Raiders have allowed other pass catchers to break out of their End Zone slump including Steve Smith (3 games), Julius Thomas (3 games), and Cameron Brate (3 games). While this isn’t the greatest stat ever, it does breed more confidence in starting the underpriced Sanders, who is due for a touchdown given the volume of targets he is getting on a weekly basis.

2. Frank Gore – $6,300

Even at 33 years old, Frank Gore still finds a way to be a productive DFS player. This is the lowest price tag for a starting Running Back that does not operate in a committee situation. Gore has scored a touchdown in five of his eight games and has accumulated over 63 all-purpose yards in each of his games.

Other Running Backs in this price range include Terrence West, Jonathan Stewart, and Jerick McKinnon. All of these Running Backs combined only have eight all-purpose touchdowns compared to Gore’s five. Gore has also produced against top defenses. He scored at least 11 points against Denver, Houston, and Tennessee, all of which are in the top 10 FanDuel defenses. Meaning, Green Bay’s seventh ranked defense shouldn’t scare people away from using Frank Gore this weekend.

At this point, Gore hasn’t shown a propensity to record a performance with more than 20 points, but that is a result of the Colts always playing catch up. While I don’t see Gore getting his first 20 point performance this Sunday, I absolutely see him getting his usual 13-17 points which is a bargain for his underpriced value.

1. Michael Thomas – $5,800

I’m not sure how Michael Thomas is still valued under $6,000 at this point in the season. Thomas has established himself as the number two Wide Receiver on the highest scoring offense in the NFL with a hall of fame Quarterback at the helm. In four of his seven games Thomas has scored at least 12 points and has been targeted at least five times in each of those four games.

The only other Wide Receivers with comparable numbers in this price range are Anquan Boldin and Tavon Austin. Boldin has only scored at least 12 points in two of his eight games and Austin has done the same three times in seven games. What makes Thomas underpriced is that his floor is much higher than Boldin and Austin.

Thomas’ least productive day was against the Giants, in which he scored 7.6 points. Boldin and Austin’s least productive games were 0.9 points against the Texans and 3.5 points against the Niners respectively. Thomas should be rostered whenever possible and is a must play if you are considering a New Orleans stack.

Michael Thomas has emerged as the Saints' go to Wide Receiver and is poised to to have a great day versus the 49ers.

Michael Thomas has emerged as the Saints’ go to Wide Receiver and is poised to have a great day versus the 49ers.

Why You Didn’t Win Your DFS League

You just woke up after the best night’s sleep you had all week and let out a magnificent yawn as your body adjusts to the light. After going downstairs, open up FanDuel, turn to your favorite NFL pregame show, and look to adjust your DFS lineup. But this morning is different. You wake up to find that the Giants and Rams are tied at 10 during the third quarter.

Depending on your dedication you either woke up early to check your lineup, or, did not play in a league that included the 9:30 AM EST game. Whether you overslept or not isn’t the point. The point is, the London series is a back breaker to the average DFS player. As players, we already have to deal with Monday and Thursday night games detracting from the 1 PM EST main event pool.

This past Sunday, we lost access to players like Todd Gurley, Odell Beckham Jr., and Eli Manning. While they may not be playing well at the moment, these players have posted gaudy numbers in the past and have been critical to many people’s success in DFS.

Discovering Diamonds in the Rough 

With the number of options decreasing further from the 1 PM EST main event, finding an optimal lineup becomes even more challenging. Moreover, this makes finding key sleepers borderline impossible, for example, Jacquizz Rodgers. Rodgers was owned by 42.23% of all FanDuel players this weekend (NumberFire). This means without the ability to pay up for backs like Lamar Miller or CJ Anderson, you’re sleeper play becomes chalk. Thus, you lose your competitive edge in large tournaments.

Jacquizz Rodgers runs through a putrid Niners rush defense

Jacquizz Rodgers ran through the 32nd ranked Niners rush defense to accumulate 16.8 points

If you did play Rodgers, you’re ecstatic about the 16.8 points he produced. Given his low price tag, you no doubt were able to pay up for players like Julio Jones and AJ Green, right? Well, so was everyone else.

Jones and Green were the two highest owned players in all of FanDuel this past weekend. The two elite receivers were owned at 47.84% and 45.81% respectively (NumberFire). Once again, even though the decision to play them both was correct, you lost your tournament edge.

The first reason why you didn’t win your DFS League is that your lineups weren’t unique enough, and it wasn’t your fault. Blame our friends across the pond for the inability to roster Odell Beckham Jr. and dilute the ownership of Jones and Green.

 

Chalk vs. ChAnce

Since you, and many others, will have to keep dealing with these ridiculous London games, let’s look at ways to sift through the chalk plays and regain our competitive advantage. The best place to start is by examining player matchups. Jacquizz Rodgers was so widely owned not because he was a starter, but because the 49ers had the worst ranked run defense in the NFL. So, given his price tag, his volume, and his opponent, Rodgers became a no brainer.

On the other hand, Melvin Gordon was facing a top 10 rush defense in Atlanta, and a bottom third pass defense. Gordon’s price tag was also high at $8,000 given his unfavorable matchup. These factors contributed to a crazy low ownership of Gordon, 5.01% in fact (NumberFire). While both Rodgers and Gordon has successful outings, Gordon had a monster game and accumulated 33.1 points, more than doubling the production of Rodgers.

What’s the point? Understand the way other players are picking lineups, and counter their way of thinking. Now, let’s look at one player at each core position this week to be considered chalk and one to be considered chance.

Quarterback:

Chalk: This week’s chalk play at quarterback is none other than the golden boy, Tom Brady. Not only is he projected to be the highest scoring Quarterback, but also his DFS floor is outstanding. This past week versus the Steelers was his lowest scoring game to date with 18.18 points. Look for the Patriots to establish the run and come over the top with play action. If Ryan Tannehill can score 16.26 points and find receivers running free throughout the secondary, then no doubt Brady can as well.

Chance: While he may never seem like a chance play, Drew Brees will have an ownership under 5% this week. Why? Because the Saints play the Seahawks, who have a top-10 rush and pass defense. But here’s the key: The Saints are playing at home, which means, play Drew Brees. In each of his three home games, Brees has scored at least 25 points and topped 30 points twice. If you think I’m crazy about Brees’ ownership, he was only owned by 2.58% of players this past Sunday against the Chiefs, where he scored 25.68 points (NumberFire).

Running Back:

Chalk: Jacquizz Rodges will no doubt be another popular play this week. His price of $6,600 and his matchup vs. the 28th ranked Raiders rush defense makes him prime for another successful fantasy outing. Once again, you can play Rodgers again this week, just understand that you’ll need to differentiate your lineup at other positions. Also, be careful about the emergence of Peyton Barber. Barber had 12 carries for 84 yards and stole a touchdown from Rodgers against the 49ers.

Chance: Ty Montgomery will prove to have a big day against the Falcons. While he’s nowhere near the runner that Melvin Gordon is, Montgomery is going to be extremely effective out of the backfield. With 20 catches on 25 targets over the past two weeks, his role in the passing game will remain large. He also doesn’t have to be an efficient runner to score points, as Gordon only accumulated 68 yards on 22 carries last week versus Atlanta.

Wide Receiver:

Chalk: For the second week in a row, Mike Evans will have an ownership percentage over 25% across all FanDuel contests. With players Like Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, and Odell Beckham Jr. unavailable, Evans is the second most expensive receiver at $7,900 and has a great matchup against the Oakland Raiders, who has the worst ranked pass defense. In five of Evans’ last six outings he only scored less than 16 points once and scored more than 20 points twice.

Chance: Justin Hunter is starting to gain a lot of traction. While his outing against Miami was not impressive, he got the start in place of Robert Woods and played 53 of the 57 offensive snaps. This past Sunday was the first time since Hunter joined the Bills that he didn’t have a touchdown. Expect Hunter to have a high volume of touches as the Bills will likely be playing from behind and with a price of $5,200, he gives any lineup great flexibility.

Tight End:

Chalk: Do I really need a whole paragraph to talk about why Rob Gronkowski is chalk this week? Since Brady’s return, Gronkowski hasn’t had a game in which he scored less than 13.4 points. Expect Gronkowski to do major damage on play action deep down the middle of the field.

Chance: If you are looking to take advantage of the Raiders defense this weekend, look to Cameron Brate. The emergence of Russell Shepard against the 49ers cut into Brate’s production, but the only player to score a touchdown against the Raiders last week was Julius Thomas. Since the Buccaneers are not playing the 49ers, expect the game to be much closer and force them to throw the ball more often, leading to a higher volume for Brate.

I just want to be clear, I am not suggesting that rostering any of these chalk players is foolish. Tom Brady and Mike Evans are going to produce. Just know that if you decide to roster one of these players, you’ll need to find another area of your roster to regain your competitive edge when it comes to ownership.

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