Donald Brown’s Dud and Why Having a Week to Game Plan Makes All the Difference
Did you whiff on Donald Brown in daily fantasy football this week? He seemed like the most obvious play considering that he got 31 carries against Buffalo, and the Chargers were facing the Jaguars at home, right? Wrong.
There is a huge difference when a team must deal with injuries during a game versus when they have a week to prepare for a contest. Brown and Danny Woodhead were the two backs involved in the game plan for Buffalo, but when Woodhead suffered his injury early in the game, Brown got nearly the entire workload. San Diego played with a lead in most of this game, so they naturally ran it more often since their defense was very strong against a weak Buffalo offense. This is why they continued to run despite Brown averaging two yards per carry.
Knowing ahead of time that Woodhead and Ryan Mathews were going to be out, the Chargers gave rookie Brandon Oliver nine carries. Brown had 10. When you saw Oliver getting touches, you’re probably thinking, “who?” How does something like this happen?
A team always goes into a contest prepared. They will always have at minimum two and usually three RBs that dress for the contest. The Chargers can always bring up someone from their practice squad, or they can sign a free agent when injuries come up too. In this situation specifically, San Diego also knew they would be without Woodhead for the year and Mathews for another few weeks. Furthermore, Brown has never been a great running back, which is somewhat stating the obvious by looking at his stats and that he isn’t a normal starter. This isn’t a Matt Asiata situation, who has had a previous history of being able to carry an entire workload for a contest and be effective (Jerick McKinnon still gets some action too). Therefore, from the Chargers perspective, why would you overwork an average back for a month (or more), especially when running the ball isn’t the strength of your offense? Even if it’s a blowout in the end and San Diego is running it more, there’s a good chance they will use the second-string RB.
I get that Brown was only $6,300 on FanDuel, it’s against the Jaguars and there is some possible PPR value since Woodhead specifically was out. To be fair, Brown wasn’t a terrible play by any means. But he was 40% used in many GPPs, which is just insane.
This is why I used Khiry Robinson more last night, even though he didn’t exactly work out (not to mention $4,700 on FanDuel is much different than $6,300). The Saints played the Vikings last week knowing that Mark Ingram was out. Robinson had already received more touches than Pierre Thomas through two weeks, and Robinson got 18 touches to Thomas’ eight in Week 3. Against the Cowboys, even though Robinson only carried it eight times, Thomas touched it twice and Travaris Cadet (again, who?) once. Robinson also got 87 yards on the ground for a 10.9 YPC (also had two catches for 18 yards). Had the Saints been more in this contest, Robinson would have likely a had a huge day and perhaps a TD. The point is, along with an exceptionally great price and a great matchup, there was evidence that he got a clear majority of the carries with the same injury report. There’s the difference between the Saints and the Chargers.
It’s the same reason why I used Lamar Miller frequently. With Knowshon Moreno out going into Week 3, Miller got 15 carries for 108 yards against Kansas City. No other back had more than two touches. Playing the Raiders in Week 4, Miller had 12 carries for 64 yards and two TDs. He got this by the 8:40 mark in the 3rd quarter, and he was done for the day with the score being 31-7 at this point. Therefore, Miller owners were a bit lucky since the domination had happened in a game that was a -4 spread. But still, Miller was getting a vast majority of the work until the blowout occurred, Miller (or Miami RBs) is heavily used in the red zone in Miami’s scheme, no other RB had more than six carries and you can’t expect a blowout that early in a -4 game. In the Chargers game, Oliver was getting mixed in occasionally throughout the game, and the Chargers throw a lot more in the red zone.
Again, every situation with every team is different. It’s never black and white. But when you have some evidence that a player gets a high percentage of the work with the same injury report and use that along with other beneficial factors, you’re probably making a good decision. But if your logic starts with the sentence, “I could see the coaching staff…” then you’re already assuming too much.
This is more related to sports betting or predicting how a game will go – but one very common mistake people make as it relates to a week of preparation is with backup QBs. If you see a backup QB come in during the middle of the game and he stinks the rest of the way, the common assumption is that he will do poorly the next game. That’s a terrible assumption to have, and Vegas uses that against the public a lot. Examples? See Mike Glennon vs. Pittsburgh in Week 4, Teddy Bridgewater in Week 4 vs. Atlanta, Drew Stanton in Week 3 vs. San Francisco (even though Arizona won Week 2) and Austin Davis vs Tampa Bay in Week 2.
This is why you can’t look at a simple box score or highlights from the previous week to determine how good someone will do the next week. The opportunity to game plan is crucial. Being reactionary sometimes works, but it’s more often painful, especially in daily fantasy. Because when you see a trendy popular pick that you think has great reason to not work out as well as people think, such as Donald Brown, that’s one of the most beneficial assets you can have in becoming a winner at daily fantasy sports.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz