Week 16 DFS Lessons Learned


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Week 16 DFS Lessons Learned

It’s probably not a coincidence that my season-long duties have been reduced the last 2-3 weeks and since then I’ve filed my best two DFS columns of the year. In the FanBall SuperFlex Drive weekly DFS contest, I’m averaging 202 points the last two weeks, which is a lot, and I cashed both weeks. In Week 16, I submitted one DFS lineup (other than the SuperFlex Drive) and scored a strong 177 points on DK for early-only games Sunday. I even started Mitchell Trubisky and got 24.6 points.

So my first lesson in this week’s article on DFS, and this isn’t particularly profound, is that DFS players ideally focus on DFS only or at least mainly (or listen to people who do). I love making good recommendations for fantasy football, but DFS is merely a hobby for me. I now know I could do better in DFS if I focused a lot more on it. I really can’t, since I focus on season-long and also props, but I don’t have to, of course, because I’m merely a nbit player when it comes to our DFS content. But doing this column all year has helped, and since 2020 was actually the first time I consistently made DFS picks, I’m sure I will improve in 2021.

But the point remains: you really want to lean the most on analysts who focus almost entirely on DFS.

That said, all things considered, it’s been a solid year, and the results are getting better and better down the stretch. Let’s take a look back at last week.

To start, maybe it’s easy to say now, but I messed up backing Matthew Stafford. I saw some incredible passes from him in Week 14, and knowing he’s a warrior who always plays hurt, I ignored his shaky overall health. Maybe his Week 16 injury was a coincidence, but I’ve learned not to mess with injuries in DFS, and Stafford’s injury killed at least three of my DFS recommendations this week, and I probably lost FOUR prop bets from the injury alone. I’ve noticed something happening a lot this year in that I make some picks based on expected game flow, etc. and I’m usually right on the game flow. That was the case with this recommendation. I thought Brady and the Bucs were going to absolutely crush them, and they did. This case was injury-related, so it’s not the best example, but it’s annoying when you get the game flow or game script 100% right, but it doesn’t help your actual picks. Not much I can do about that, but again, a banged-up Stafford was probably too risky. I was trying to steal some easy “wins” with the Lions' recommendations because I was sure they'd been in throw-ball mode playing from way behind, which was accurate.

Otherwise, when I look at the leaders for Week 16, I have no major regrets in terms of not listing some players. It would have been nice to back Deshaun Watson, but his matchup was tricky enough for me to pass on him. No big deal. I actually did use Andy Dalton in our SuperFlex Drive contest, but he was not listed in the article. Nothing egregious about that. I couldn’t back Ben Roethlisberger, Derek Carr, or Brandon Allen, obviously, but those guys plus Dalton were all top-12 QBs in Week 16. I actually did have Allen in my SuperFlex Drive contest lineup, but I replaced him with Dalton.

The biggest buzzkill was clearly Kyler Murray, who would have been decent had he gotten at least 1 TD, and he came close several times. Murray has some issues he needs to clean up and he’s still a work in progress. The Cards really need to devote more resources to its OL than most teams, in my opinion, because Murray's lack of height and propensity to bail from the pocket too quickly is a real problem.

Otherwise, I did love Kirk Cousins in Week 16 (he played before the column came out but I gave him love elsewhere), and he was good. Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Jalen Hurts, and even Mitchell Trubisky were in the column, so it was a solid week at QB. The only non-injury guy to disappoint was Murray.

At RB, it was a pretty good week. Looking at the weekly leaders, the only regret I have is not listing my guy Jonathan Taylor. Honestly, I moved away from anything contrarian because I found myself simply focusing on picking players who produced and not caring about ownership, etc. That’s one example of why I’m just a bit player in our DFS coverage; my brain isn’t really trained to make “contrarian” picks, since I focus on straight-up logic on my picks. I did have Taylor in our top-10 for the week, but logic told me to avoid him in a tougher matchup. In my defense, he didn’t have a catch for the first time all season and had his lowest YPC average in a month in Week 16. It was all about his 2 TDs.

Alvin Kamara played before the column was published, but for the most part, if there was a good recommendation that could have legitimately been made, I made it. I backed David Montgomery, David Johnson, Miles Sanders, Leonard Fournette, Jeff Wilson, Gio Bernard, and Myles Gaskin, and they were all in the top-17 for the week. Excluding Fournette, they were all in the top-12, actually.

Fournette was another example of correctly predicting game flow but it still not working out. He did score 15.6 FP, so technically he was a win or less than 1 point from a win on DK at $5500. But the expected game flow call was too good, since they didn’t need him. I will say, had Stafford played the whole game, Fournette may have scored another 10 FP, or at least another 3-4 points.

The misses were Aaron Jones, Darrell Henderson, and Devin Singletary. Jones did get nicked up, which hurt, and I was on the right track because they ran for 31/218/2 with just their RBs, so not much I can do about that. Henderson was cheap at only $4500, and I liked the price + his large role. Unfortunately, he got hurt early in the third quarter and played only 41% of the snaps. He did run for 62 yards on 12 carries, so 4-5 more carries and 1-2 catches or just a TD and he likely would have hit. For Singletary I wrote I was “taking a shot with him” even though I also liked Zack Moss. That alone is the lesson: If you take a shot on an RB in a committee, even if he’s the more versatile one, you’re probably setting yourself up to fail. Granted, all I was asking for with Singletary was 12-13 points, but he got only 7.2. I thought the Bills would smoke them, and they did, but even with a huge lead, the RBs didn’t do much. The reason why is pretty simple: this is a passing team, even when they’re way up in games, because throwing the ball is what they do best.

At WR, I opened by getting burned by Marvin Jones, who was rendered useless without Stafford. Again, that may have been too risky given his overall health concerns. But had Stafford played the whole game, Jones probably would have had 12+ targets, since the Lions were getting their asses kicked no matter what.

I did hit three home runs with Mike Evans, Davante Adams, and, believe it or not, Jamison Crowder, who I did really like. CeeDee Lamb was a nice win and Cam Sims was an okay call, since he was a few yards away from posting a 3X return on DK. The low-end loss was Jalen Reagor, who should have done better because he had 7 of 18 WR targets and he led the team with 7 looks. I took a shot that it would be a breakout game, and I did think it would be high-scoring. It was, at least for Dallas. Reagor wasn’t ready to break out with fellow rookie Jalen Hurts, and now may need to wait until next year. Then again, I may still be on the right track and was just a week too early. In fact, I may roll with that narrative this week and back Reagor again, but we’ll see.

My biggest WR regret was not giving love to Stefon Diggs, but I didn’t know for sure if John Brown would play, and I thought they’d smoke them and not need to throw much, They did smoke them, but since the strength of this offense is it’s passing game and pass protection, they kept throwing it until the game was way out of hand, and Diggs destroyed them. I didn’t list them for a variety of reasons, but I did love and I did give love to Adam Thielen, Sterling Shepard, and Tee Higgins, whose prop bets I all won. I should have added Higgins and Shepard, but I gave them love on Sunday. I don’t think I knew Golden Tate and Tyler Boyd were definitely out when I filed the column, but I gave them love on Sunday and they were top-10 producers. I should have listed Allen Robinson, Calvin Ridley, and Diontae Johnson, all of whom I listed as players I liked more than usual in Week 16.

At TE, once the Browns Covid news came out Saturday, I did go in and delete Baker Mayfield and Rashard Higgins, and I added Austin Hooper at the top of the TE section. That was an easy call and it worked. Noah Fant and Logan Thomas were not slam-dunk wins, but they were very solid. TJ Hockenson was crushed by the Stafford injury, so that’s not my bad there. Dallas Goedert got hurt, so also not my fault. The Eagles TEs combined for 6/71, so Goedert may have come through. Jordan Akins underwhelmed yet again, but he got at least close to delivering 3x return at only $3300.

It would have been nice to include Rob Gronkowski, but I did love the WRs in the game, and Gronk actually had only 2 targets. I’m usually afraid to go in on Darren Waller, which is foolish. I don’t trust the Raiders offense, and that’s fair. But one of the reasons Waller is so good is because he’s the only reliable option there. I’ve had a blind spot with him all year because I don’t trust the pair of fantasy two-faces they have in Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs, so therefore I haven’t trusted their offense.

Excluding guys affected by injury, there were 20+ solid-to-great picks and really only two bad ones (Murray and Reagor), so it was a good week.

It will be interesting to see how well I do in Week 17 and in the playoffs with my season-long duties almost non-existent. Last year, I did really well with my DFS lineups in the playoffs. Was it because I wasn't distracted and preoccupied by my other duties? We shall see.

Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer John Hansen has been an industry leader and pioneer since 1995, when he launched Fantasy Guru. His content has been found over the years on ESPN.com, NFL.com, SiriusXM, DirecTV, Yahoo!, among others outlets. In 2015 he sold Fantasy Guru and in 2020 founded FantasyPoints.com.