If you played fantasy football in 2013, you probably know at least one person that played in daily fantasy games. From tournaments to head to head matchups, daily fantasy football allows you to try and outmatch your opponents for real money. There are some subtle(and not so subtle) differences between a season long league and a daily league, however, and many newer players will struggle when they first start playing. Fantasypros.com offers accuracy rankings for analysts in the fantasy football industry, and I was lucky enough to talk to Kevin English from Draft Sharks. Last season, Kevin ranked fourth in accuracy for salary cap leagues on FantasyPros, so if you want advice from one of the best in the biz, look no further.
How did you get involved with fantasy football? How long have you been playing, and how long have you been writing?
Kevin: I’ve played FF for about 12 years, but I’ve been with Draft Sharks for 6. DS is based in Rochester, NY, and I went to school at a local college. As a freshman, I was able to connect with my current boss through a professor. That kick-started one awesome internship, and fortunately, I soon landed a permanent role.
What is the biggest difference between drafting a team for the year compared to drafting a team that just plays on Sunday?
Kevin: For season-long drafts, you can generally ignore players’ schedules. But in daily leagues, it’s all about the matchups. If a run-stuffing DT is inactive, maybe you’ll target the running game against him. Is a CB dealing with a nagging hamstring injury? Attack him by grabbing the WR(s) he might cover. The weekly injury reports are key And of course, you need to monitor inactive lists every Sunday.
What is your strategy when you pick players with a salary cap?
Kevin: As with season-long leagues, strategy questions start with understanding your site’s scoring system. Understand the players who get a bump in full PPR vs. .5 PPR, and six points per passing TD vs. 4.
Then, you need to consider the type of game you’re playing. For 50/50 or Head to Head games, you look for relatively safe players. That might include spending the money on a Drew Brees or Aaron Rodgers and taking the consensus value picks for that week.
For tournaments, though, you might want to consider taking a couple players who you believe most people will ignore. Many refer to this as being “contrarian”. It can be a smart strategy, but there’s no need to go overboard here. You don’t want to differentiate your lineup just so you’ll have low-owned players. Obviously, you want the best collection of players.
I can be a sucker for a super cheap value, as it allows you to stack your roster elsewhere. But I’ll generally try to construct a balanced lineup regardless of game-type. I’m unlikely to spend big money on two high dollar RBs, only to see my WRs suffer. Likewise, I won’t load up with premium WRs/TE(s). It all depends on the value that’s out there, though. Ultimately, you’re at the mercy of a site’s player pricing.
How do you find players who are priced low but who can score you a high-point total? How do you avoid players that are priced high but will under-perform?
Kevin: This comes back to the matchups. High priced studs eat up a good chunk of your salary cap, so if someone like Aaron Rodgers, Jamaal Charles or Dez Bryant enters a tough matchup, why risk it? I’ll take Matt Ryan or Jay Cutler in a neutral matchup over Rodgers vs. someone like Seattle. Then, I’ll take the money I saved and apply it to other positions.
Sure, the studs are talented enough to overcome any situation, but they’re not always the wisest plays when the entire player pool is available to you. On the other side, I look for guys stepping into an increased role due to injury/suspension. For example, if a site has an injury-fill-in RB at minimum price- and all indications are that he’ll see workhorse touches, you almost have to roster him.
As an aside: It’s easy to fall into the trap of picking the higher priced players as a tiebreak- especially if it allows you to spend your max budget. Just remember that the algorithm of the site you play on is far from perfect.
Is there a certain position you normally will spend more on compared to others?
Kevin: Not really, although I might lean towards RBs because of the safety they can provide. Generally, I’ll spend where the matchups dictate my money should go, unless I’m going the “contrarian” route(taking Rodgers vs. Seattle, a game he’ll likely be low-owned for).
What statistics(yards per carry, targets, etc.) do you feel are important to focus on to determine the success of a player, and what statistics should players not pay attention to?
Kevin: There’s a lot of advance stats to look at, such as average depth of target- that can provide insight into future performance. Targets in general are a big one for me, though. Fantasy’s all about matching talent with opportunity. High volume #1s like Keenan Allen and Antonio Brown carry extra upside because their role allows them to catch a ton of balls.
Red zone stats are worth examining. Guys like Brand Marshall and A.J. Green, or a projected goal line back like Stevan Ridley, are TD candidates on size alone. Stay in touch with player’s roles and how they change throughout the season. For example. Ridley could be removed from goal line situations if his fumbling issues persist.
As of right now, do you have any predictions on players who will be a disappointment to daily players in the first few weeks of the season?
Kevin: I immediately think of rookies like Mike Evans, Sammy Watkins and Bishop Sankey. NFL newcomers often take time to adjust to the pro level, so it’s not a bad idea to take a wait-and-see approach. I’m also a bit leery of guys who switched teams this offseason- particularly WRs.
Often times, it takes them some time to get comfortable with a new QB/offensive system. Guys like DeSean Jackson and Eric Decker could disappoint early on. There’s no denying their upside, however(especially with Jackson).
So there you have it. Some great insight from a top-five analyst from FantasyPros. I would like to thank Kevin for taking the time to answer these questions and I think this is a great starting point for new daily fantasy players to develop strategies when selection their teams.
Categories: Fantasy Football
Great advice, might I add checking weather conditions later in season and fill your lineup with your “value players” first, then fill in your “stud players”. nothing is worse than coming up $200 short of your optimum lineup.
Great interview. Puts a lot of context into the different fantasy league types and areas to loot at (specifically, scoring and the length you’ll own your players). Good advice!
Thanks guys — I really appreciate it.