It’s being bullish while others are bearish and seeking value where the competition dares not look for it that creates the best daily fantasy lineups, especially for tournaments.
It’s those guys — the ones who have seen their daily fantasy salary drop — that we’ll focus on in this column for the remainder of the 2013 season. I’m going to focus exclusively on DraftDay value plays in part because I think DraftDay most accurately represents players’ up-to-the-minute value, factoring in expected workload, injuries, and matchups.
DraftDay’s weekly prices are most reflective of fantasy football reality.
There’s certainly a reason for these slashed weekly prices. Cam Newton saw one of the most dramatic salary decreases of 2013 last week against the 49ers, probably taunting many daily gamers into plugging him into their Week 10 lineups.
Newton totaled six fantasy points, matching Josh McCown, who played exactly one series as the Bears’ signal caller.
Chris Johnson, on the flip side, was fantasy’s No. 2 running back in Week 9 after his DraftDay salary cratered following a string of lackluster performances and the news of Shonn Greene emerging as a tried-and-true timeshare back who would see every goal line touch.
The trick is finding where opportunity lies, and — more importantly — where it doesn’t. Let’s take a look at which guys have seen the most dramatic week-to-week salary decreases, and explore any opportunity in those market changes.
- Pryor’s salary has fallen for most of the past month as Oakland’s quarterback has struggled mightily to gin up any sort of aerial consistency. Pryor has thrown five picks and not a single touchdown over this past three games. Pryor has struggled through a lingering knee injury that has clearly hindered his scrambling ability — the centerpiece of his fantasy appeal. Houston is top-11 in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. I don’t see much opportunity here.
- Rivers has predictably regressed after an unsustainably efficient start to the season, and now faces a Miami defense giving up the third fewest schedule-adjusted points to signal callers. Rivers potential opportunity stems from Danny Woodhead and Antonio Gates, both of whom have marked advantages over Miami’s linebackers and safeties. If I had to choose a guy from the above list, it’d be Rivers.
- The rotoViz GLSP projection machine is screaming about CJ?K this week, waving red flags and begging you to stand down on the golden-grilled runner. Johnson’s median projection is 10.5, while his fantasy floor sits at a horrifying 5.8. You’re banking on a signature 70-yard burst if you’re rolling with Johnson against a Colts’ defense that has held opposing running backs to the third fewest schedule-adjusted fantasy points this year. The price drop, however, makes CJ?K an intriguing swing-for-the-fences tournament play.
- Gore’s salary drop is on the inexplicable side. I can’t quite figure it out: New Orleans’ defense, while stout against the pass, has been exploitable on the ground. We saw DeMarco Murray run roughshod over the Saints’ front seven in the first quarter of last Sunday night’s blowout. Gore’s GLSP projections put his ceiling at 23.1 points — high enough, I think, to seriously consider the old man as a must-play. Pro Football Focus ranks the Saints’ run defense 19th, just above sieve-like defenses like the Packers and Falcons. Gore, barring a game flow nightmare scenario, is a clear value.
- Almost every Broncos’ skill player has seen a marked salary dip in the team’s run-up to the season’s biggest game to date. Decker’s salary drop is remarkable considering his consistent targets and single coverage he sees in Peyton’s Perfect Machine. Kansas City’s secondary allows the 13th fewest fantasy points to opposing receivers (20.7), though I’m not sure we can exaggerate how matchup-proof Denver’s offense really is. Decker’s projected fantasy ceiling is 19.6 points, making him a clear Week 11 target.
- Nelson was a collective four inches from posting top-3 Week 10 numbers with third-stringer Scott Tolzien under center. After having a touchdown called back, Nelson caught a deep pass down the right sideline and had a toe fall on the white chalk before he sneaked into the end zone. He saw a healthy 10 targets. One word of caution: only three teams have allowed fewer schedule-adjusted points to wide receivers than the Giants.
- Try not to hyperventilate upon seeing Graham’s salary decrease. He’s still otherworldly pricey, in his own salary universe with Rob Gronkowski. Graham played about a third of the Saints’ Week 10 offensive snaps, as the team nurses his various ailments. San Francisco, as always, has shut down tight ends, allowing 6.2 schedule-adjusted points per game to the position. Only six teams are better. Graham’s GLSP projection is unusually suppressed, sitting at 16.7 points. He’s a fine head-to-head play, as per usual.
- The Titans are a tad more generous to enemy tight ends than many think, as I wrote this week. Fleener is still running a bunch of pass routes, and while terribly inefficient (.31 fantasy points per route run in PPR), his Week 11 matchup is better than it seems. Only five defenses allow for fantasy production to tight ends.