Mad Max’s NFL GPP Rundown

Welcome to Mad Max’s NFL GPP Rundown!

This usually is the spot for my Friday MLB article, but I decided to change things up today for a couple of reasons. One reason is that I think almost all of you are likely entering the the big NFL contests and would much rather have an NFL article this Friday than an MLB one. The other reason is that I’ll still be posting a lot of good info on the MLB forum throughout the day, so you won’t be missing much anyway.

I was talking to a friend who’s in his 2nd year playing Daily Fantasy Football and he said to me last night, “Isn’t player ownership everything in these big tournaments?” My answer, which I half knew and half realized once he asked that question, was an emphatic yes. Especially for week 1, with so many new players who are only focused on playing their favorite plays, thinking about player ownership in both FanDuel’s Sunday Million and DraftKings Millionaire Maker will be essential to have any chance of winning this Sunday.

The question is, how do we predict ownership levels? Unlike MLB and NBA, where it’s simply a guessing game before the lock, NFL contests have very easily predicted ownership percentages. This is because of Thursday contests on FanDuel. While you aren’t going to see everyone else’s lineup, FanDuel does tell you what percent a player in your lineup is owned by the field. Since I entered the Thursday Bomb several times yesterday, I have a pretty good idea of ownership levels of some of my favorite players. I listed them on the forum here.

Many of these numbers surprised me, especially how low owned some players I think are quality, high upside plays this week. I think some week 1 naivety is going to cost a lot of guys a chance at winning this weekend.

To maximize our chances of winning Sunday, lineup construction is incredibly important. We must make each of our lineups unique enough to separate ourselves from the field. And in a multiple 100,000s of person tournament, that means making a pretty damn contrarian lineup. That’s not to say don’t use highly owned players (I still recommend Eddie Lacy in GPPs even though it looks like he’ll be 30%+ owned on FanDuel), it’s just that you can’t use several in the same lineup. If you start your lineup with Eddie Lacy at RB, Sam Bradford at QB, and Jordan Matthews at WR, I recommend starting over. This lineup almost certainly will not be winning tomorrow, unless the rest of the lineup is pretty wild.


So what should we do? Here are some tips.


Don’t: Focus too much on going contrarian at QB. QB is a position without a lot of standard deviation, most of the top guys are going to fall within about the same point range at the end of the day. So if the staple of your lineup is going contrarian at QB, it’s not going to help you much in a big field GPP. Look to go wild elsewhere.

Don’t: Use the Dolphins D. The Dolphins are the 2nd highest owned D (the Jets being #1), and I don’t think they’re really worthy on the road against the Redskins. They’re on the road, and road teams rarely have exceptional games. Plus, I think the Redskins are actually not that great of a match-up for them. RG3 was a lot of the cause for the Redskins sack woes and Kirk Cousins did make a lot of mistakes throwing interceptions last year, but he is a young QB who is still learning. I think he improves in that department this year.

Do: Use a contrarian D. Even though the Jets are a strong option at defense, they still are very unlikely to be the top defense at the end of Sunday and while they’ll probably keep the Browns in check, the upside for sacks or D/ST TDs isn’t huge here. My totally under-the-radar option is the Jaguars, who play at home, actually get some sacks, and are playing an offense with almost no talent aside from a QB who definitely can make big mistakes.

Don’t: Use Brandon McManus. This was the easiest decision for me as McManus isn’t even close to the top kicker this Sunday and had ridiculously high ownership. We should look for a kicker elsewhere.

Do: Use a Kicker in an inefficient offense. Kickers who are going to have the best games from week to week are those in bad offenses that have some luck getting into the opponents territory. A couple kickers I really like are Phil Dawson and Blair Walsh, who are both on mediocre offenses and are good kickers who should be in a close game. Greg Zuerlein comes to mind as well. But my favorite option? Kyle Brindza of the Buccaneers. This guy has a massive leg, beat out two quality kickers for the starting job, and is on a favorite going against a bad D. The Bucs offense should have trouble keeping the ball moving, leading to quite a few opportunities for Brindza.

Don’t: Use Greg Olsen. He was only 20% owned in Thursday contests, but without Gronk taking up the ownership at TE, his ownership should skyrocket to 30% plus. Don’t get me wrong, Olsen is a solid play and is great for cash games, but his upside isn’t as big as some other options and the fact is we’re using him on an offense we don’t expect to do well. If Carolina struggles, and I expect them to unless they can run the ball, Olsen may not get any TD opportunities.

Do: Use Travis Kelce. I was shocked to see Kelce’s ownership levels under 5%, but I guess the match-up just doesn’t have anyone that excited. But, especially on FanDuel where it’s half PPR, Kelce may have the biggest upside out of any TE. He’s an absolute beast but just lacked targets in his 1st season. He could be in for a breakout year and it’s not like Houston has a shutdown defense.

Do: Use talented RB who doesn’t stand out. The main guy who I have in mind is C.J. Anderson, who obviously does not have the greatest match-up but who became a huge part of the Broncos offense running and catching in the latter part of the 2014 season. His ownership was quite low but he possibly has the most upside of any RB on DraftKings this weekend. Another is Darren McFadden, who is stuck in a timeshare with Joseph Randle but also running behind the best O-line in football and one of the worst defenses in the league. If McFadden gets hot, his production may snowball into a huge game. And lastly, how about Mark Ingram? Everyone is down on him this year with the Saints addition of C.J. Spiller, but Spiller is out and after acquiring Max Unger the Saints will likely be better in the run game and become more of a running team.

Do: Use under-owned QB/WR Combos. I’m also surprised to say this, but Peyton Manning/Demaryius Thomas/Emmanuel Sanders is one of those under-owned combos. All were pretty low-owned on Thursday (and again, the match-up is not good) but this is the exact combo that actually won DraftKings’ first Millionaire Maker, and the upside for any Peyton Manning run offense is enormous. Drew Brees and Brandin Cooks fall into the category as well, people seem to forget Brees threw for almost 5,000 yards last season and Cooks was on pace for a pretty ridiculous 1st year before he went down with an injury. And my big sleeper? Blake Bortles and Allen Robinson. Both were very low owned but Bortles is a QB that can get chunk yards running (and TDs) and Robinson is the best WR option on that team by far. I don’t think Carolina is going to have much success moving the ball, so Bortles should get some great opportunities here.

Do: Use low priced WRs not named Davante Adams. Adams is going to be around 30% owned, and those who won’t own him are probably just spending more at WR. I think Adams is a fantastic play here, but there are a couple guys down in that ranger who could blow up. One of them is Nelson Agholor, who my co-writer Nick is absolutely obsessed with and who seems like an underrated rookie. He has a lot of talent, just not a ton of size (he’s only about 6’ tall) but should have a ton of upside in that Chip Kelly offense.

Do: Use high upside receivers. Especially on DraftKings where PPR and bonuses make WRs the highest upside players on the site, you want to have a lineup that can get massive production from receivers. Guys like Demaryius, OBJ, Calvin Johnson, and other elite receivers are players you want to try and fit in your lineups.

Good luck making lineups this week! And join us on the forums for even more NFL discussion.

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.

One thought on “Mad Max’s NFL GPP Rundown

  1. Sumit010

    Max you highlighted CJ Anderson and the Broncos pass game. I can see doing multiple lineups using CJ in some and Peyton/DT/Sanders in others, but which end to you prefer?

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