The Usage Based ‘Lesean Mccoy’ RB plays in Week 4

On Sunday night, after the completion of week 3, A DFW user posted on our chat, “How the fuck can someone predict that Lesean Mccoy has a good game here?”

He had a point. Mccoy, and Buffalo’s entire offense really, had been struggling in the first 2 weeks and had a tough, tough match up in week 3 against the Arizona Cardinals. Did anyone really expect Mccoy to do well?

The answer is, sort of. This users statement had me thinking of what goes into picking players in DFS Football. I think most DFSers, especially new ones, make most of their picks based on match up. RBs vs the Chargers D? Oh hell yes. WRs vs the Saints secondary? Easy game. But this is actually just one of three fundamental questions good players ask themselves when making picks in DFS. These are the questions:

1) What is this players match up?

2) What is this players usage? (i.e., what % of snaps, RZ usage, and Targets)

3) What is this players price?

In the case of Mccoy last week, the answer to question 1 was basically terrible (although don’t underestimate the benefits of playing at home for RBs). But in terms of question 2, Mccoy was one of the best. His snap count in Weeks 1 and 2 averaged 89%, possibly the highest percent of snaps for any starting running back in the NFL this year. Compare this to a player like Frank Gore, a RB at a similar price point who was used quite a bit in a great match up against the Chargers, but who only enjoyed about 58% of snaps in the first 2 weeks. In terms of Red Zone opportunities, Mccoy was getting all the Red Zone RB rushes (which is actually quite rare in today’s NFL). And on top of all this, with Sammy Watkins out, it was reasonable to expect Mccoy to be used even more in the passing game.

And in terms of price? Mccoy was only $6,700 on FanDuel, just an absurd price for a player of his talent.

So while Mccoy didn’t appear to be a good play when evaluating from a match up standpoint, he actually was a pretty good play when considering everything else. And I promise I’m not just saying this in hindsight, Mccoy was in many of my Sunday Million lineups on FanDuel in week 3.

I think the best part about plays mostly based on usage and price is that they are usually overlooked by the general public. Plays like Mccoy in week 3 will have way lower ownership in big tournaments than someone who has a really great match up, like Melvin Gordon against the Colts. Making ‘Mccoy’ like plays can make us contrarian enough to win big.

So who are the Lesean Mccoy’s of week 4?


Jordan Howard ($5,600 on FanDuel, $3,700 on DraftKings)

Jeremy Langford got injured in the 1st half of the Bears Sunday night game vs the Cowboys, and rookie Jordan Howard stepped in to play every single RB snap after that. I usually don’t expect any RB to get 80%+ snaps, but with Howard this actually seems like a reasonable expectation. The Bears literally have no one behind Howard except Joique Bell, who was signed just this week, and the Bears have not shied away from playing their starting RBs every down, Langford actually played 96% of snaps in week 1. Howard also was used quite a bit in the passing game, being targeted 6 times in week 3. This situation looks eerily similar to Mccoy’s in week 3, except the match up is better and Howard is even cheaper. I love him in week 4.

Carlos Hyde ($6,800 on FanDuel, $4,200 on DraftKings)

Hyde snap counts are a bit deceiving. He’s averaged 67% of snaps through 3 weeks, but every game the 49ers have played this season has been some sort of a blow out in one form or another. My guess is in a close game, Hyde’s snap count is closer to 75-80%, and he basically gets all the Red Zone carries on his team. But my favorite aspect of this play is the 49ers offense as a whole. Adjusted for scoring margin, the 49ers are actually the most run heavy offense in the NFL. The Cowboys actually are bottom 10 in the league in salary-adjusted points given up to RBs this season.

David Johnson ($8,700 on FanDuel, $7,800 on DraftKings)

In terms of snap counts, targets, RZ use, and talent, David Johnson is off the charts. If we exclude week 2, where Johnson was benched for running a bad route and causing an interception, Johnson has averaged 95% of snaps this season. His target share, 14%, is that of a #3 WR, and they actually target Johnson quite a bit in the Red Zone. Johnson also has one of the best YACs (Yards After Contact) of starting RBs this season and plays in a ridiculously high powered offense. He’s basically 2014 Le’Veon Bell. A mediocre match up against the Rams is not a reason to fade this player.


View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

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