“The hard part about playing chicken is knowin’ when to flinch.” – Commander Bart Mancuso in The Hunt for Red October
It may be Week 11, but for those who play daily fantasy (DFS), it’s just the halfway point of a season that began in Week 1 and that will end after the NFL’s Conference Championship weekend. By now, a lot has been learned about each team’s make-up and chemistry. At this point, some may begin to bail for having won next to nothing to-date, but now is the time to pounce on the volume of knowledge gained thus far this season. And despite the popular notion of making contrarian plays to win in DFS, this is the week to deviate from that strategy – to step to one side in this popular game of chicken – and play it straight with some proven winners.
Let’s first look at the quarterback position. There some some decent cheap options out there that could play out well in Week 11. Blake Bortles, Colin Kaepernick (in a garbage time scenario), Alex Smith, Joe Flacco all possess the potential to air out some good numbers this week. But each is a risk not worth taking, not when the lot of cheap but solid options at other positions allows you to play someone more guaranteed, like Andrew Luck. He has a great matchup at home against the Titans this weekend. Luck has been running on all cylinders lately, and the flaws in both teams’ defenses, not to mention their intimate divisional knowledge of one another, have all the makings of a shootout in this one. Rodgers, Brady, and Mariota are also solid options. Just watch out for Roethlisberger, given the high winds expected in this game. Brady also carries risk – a quick lead could lead to a short game for him.
In the running game, Le’Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray, LeSean McCoy, and Spencer Ware all offer great options this week. Ezekiel Elliott still does as well, based on talent alone, though the Ravens’ run defense might offset his numbers just a bit (don’t expect a 40-point outburst). And then there are C.J. Prosise and James Starks. Both are low-priced. Both are leaders of their teams’ running attacks. The Seahawks, however, face a tougher go against the Eagles’ defense, and Prosise will be a more popular pick than Starks. Starks is the way to go this week to balance costs.
Bona fide wide receiver options are plentiful this week across the entire spectrum of price. A.J. Green, T.Y. Hilton, and Dez Bryant are among some of the better options at the pricey end of things. Antonio Brown also qualifies, but again, beware of the wind factor. There are many mid-level and cheaper options available here too. That’s where you can find your cost balance without having to go contrarian. Steve Smith, Marquis Lee, Golden Tate, and even Quinton Patton offer possibilities that give your DFS lineup the flexibility it needs to handle higher cost stable options at other positions.
Finally, don’t forget about Ladarius Green at tight end for Pittsburgh. Yes, Delanie Walker, Martellus Bennett, and Julius Thomas present nice options this weekend. But Green is still selling at a very low price, and the Steelers may rely on him more than expected in the short passing game given the wind conditions that are forecast there. Again, the options here are plentiful without having to go all-out contrarian on anything.
In short, the best play this week in DFS is to go with a smart mix of solid choices. That means your focus should not be on bucking the system with a risky contrarian move or two. Instead, get the most out of your DFS lineups with the right collection of expensive and cheap chalk players. Oddly enough, by opting out of the game of chicken most DFS participants have come accustomed to, you may find yourself in a better position to win some big money. This week, dare to be different and go conventional.