The inevitable brick at my Bankroll Lock of the Week pick was bound to happen. I’m just happy the data held up through 6 weeks this season. In the 3 years prior of projecting kicker opportunities, my top pick of the week missed 6, 4, and 5 times respectively. My first brick of the year for my top pick happened in Week 2 last year, then again in Week 4. I managed to go 7 weeks in a row after that until my next miss. Even the 100-1 shots hit from time to time. That’s what makes this whole DFS game fun and exciting.
The important lesson to take from weeks like these is this: Don’t abandon your system. Nobody, not even the top 0.01% of DFS pros win every week. If you’re into sports betting, you know that even the best cappers hope to go 55% for the season. If you put in the time and research week after week, the information and results you come up with should be applied to that week’s slate of games. For the most part, the results of the previous week are not important. Rinse and repeat last week’s amount of effort in research and apply that to the new slate of games. Barring injuries and coaching changes, whatever a player scored last week is largely irrelevant.
The recency bias that the public employs is a great example of this. Lazy researchers will look at Fantasy Points Against numbers, take the top 3 or 4 scores and make their picks accordingly. Some may even click on the last 3 games tab and take those numbers. Very few will actually click on that team and look at their schedule to see what teams they played against. Example; the Steelers are listed as giving up the 3rd most points to Tight Ends. Looking at their schedule, they gave up huge games to Gronk Week 1, and Gates in his return from suspension Week 5. Two elite tight ends combine for 59 of the 78 fantasy points they’ve allowed through 7 weeks.
The Broncos are giving up the fewest amount of points to QB’s. Let’s look at the QB’s they’ve faced so far this season. Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, Matt Stafford, Teddy Bridgewater, Derek Carr, Josh McCown. Not exactly a who’s who of NFL World Beaters. There is no Brady, Rodgers, Palmer, or Rivers caliber QB’s on that list. I’m not saying the Broncos don’t have a great defense, I believe they do. However, I’m seeing a bevy of analysts saying Rodgers is a pure fade this weekend against the Broncos and they all point to this fact. I’m thinking Rodgers is a great play this weekend, because off a bye and having low ownership, he could easily be the top scoring QB on the Sunday-Monday slate.
Hoping to bounce back strong this week, there are more kickers that project favorably with our model in Week 8.
Bankroll Lock of the Week – Nick Folk – NYJ – $4,600
Variation Audible – Mason Crosby – GB – $5,000
Punt of the Week – Josh Lambo – SD – $4,500
Hide Your Kicker, Hide Your Points (Don’t roster) – Steven Hauschka – SEA – $5100
Our picks last week were awful, there is no way to sugar coat it. The only pick that I feel was worthwhile was the fade, Matt Bryant. He only scored 4 points at a $4,900 price tag. Unfortunately, the theory behind why I felt you should fade him was game script I ‘thought’ was going to happen. What I anticipated as being a 28-3 snoozer ended up being a 10-7 snoozer.
Our Bankroll Lock of the Week was Vinatieri, who managed to muster up 3 points, going 3 for 3 on XP’s. Frustrating, to say the least. The Colts were down 20-0 in the first 17 minutes of the game, and down 27-0 two minutes into the 2nd half. The Colts had 3 turnovers, all in the first half. The first 2 led to touchdown drives for the Saints, the 3rd ended the first half, then the Saints proceeded to score another touchdown on their first drive of the 2nd half. These are the types of things that nobody can predict, nor project, but is still disappointing.
Our Variation Audible was Josh Lambo, who scored 9 points going 2 for 2 on 40+ yard FG’s and 1 for 1 on XP’s. The Raiders first 7 drives all resulted in scores, while the Chargers first 4 drives featured 2 picks, a 3 and out, and a field goal. While happy he managed to score 9, the game script and stats pointed to a potential gigantic day for Lambo, and I’m disappointed the Chargers couldn’t respond to the Raider’s scoring drives.
Our Punt of the Week was Greg Zuerlein, who got us 6 points on 1 for 3 FG’s and 3 for 3 on XP’s. While “The Leg” was charged with 2 misses, one of those was a 63 yarder at the end of the first half. The other was an inexcusable 35 yarder. The opportunities were there, the execution was not.
Week 7 Sunday Monday Scoring (No TNF or London Game)
This was a rare week where the model didn’t hold up against the trends. 5 of the top 6 scorers were away dogs. One interesting note is that 7 weeks into the season, 1.7% of the field are still rostering a kicker that isn’t playing, former Saints kicker Zach Hocker. There will always be anomalies in the data, so don’t expect weeks like this to be consistent. The majority of $4,600 and under kickers still scored less than the $4,700 and above bracket. Hopefully, game scripts will return to normal this week!
Bankroll Lock of the Week – Nick Folk – NYJ – $4,600 – The first week offering up a kicker less than $4,800 this season! Loyal followers, rejoice, you can play the Cardinals Defense this week without making painful adjustments! The Jets are road favorites (-3) against the Raiders with a total set at 44. Despite travelling east to west this week, their away game last week was a stone’s throw from home to Foxboro, MA, and are playing a 4 o’clock game. Normally, 12 o’clock games for away teams travelling coast to coast are rougher. The Jets offense surprisingly ranks 6th in DVOA according to Football Outsiders with the defense ranking 2nd. The Jets are 3rd in the league in total yards per game over their last 3, averaging 173 yards rushing and over 250 yards passing. The Raiders are 17th in total defense over the last 3, 28th against the pass but 5th against the run (keep in mind, 2 of the their last 3 were against the Chargers and Broncos, 2 teams that haven’t run the ball well this year).
The Jets are averaging 4 RZ Scoring opportunities a game over their last 3, converting to touchdowns at 66.6%. The Raiders defense is allowing a little under 3 RZ Scoring chances, allowing offenses to convert 50%. The Jets are converting a near league best 48%, while the Raiders are allowing offenses to convert at 44%. Favorable, check, and check. Something that I feel plays into our favor is that the Jets are dealing with some offensive line injuries. Center Nick Mangold is doubtful, and tackle Willie Colon is questionable. How is this good for us you might ask? Well, due to the Jets defense being so elite, I expect them to have good field position on many of their possessions either through punts or turnovers. Not being at full strength, maybe some of the drives will stall out sooner than usual. I anticipate minimum 3 FG opportunities, 2 XP chances.
Aggressive Floor – 10 Ceiling – 21
Variation Audible – Mason Crosby – GB – $5,000 – Normally, I prefer higher priced kickers to be my Locks, but Folk’s setup is just too good to pass up. The Packers are road favorites (-3) playing in Denver with a total at 45.5. With both teams coming off byes, and the road team being a favorite in the plus altitude in Denver with no adverse weather, this is a dream setup for a kicker on an efficient offense. Green Bay’s offense ranks 4th in DVOA, and their defense ranks 7th. While Denver’s defense ranks 1st, their offense is dead last. As was mentioned earlier, the Broncos schedule has been pretty soft to date. I do think their defense is good, but I don’t think it will be an immovable force against Rodgers and Co. Despite Lacy’s struggles lately, Green Bay is still averaging 127 yards per rush over their last 3. Rodgers has been dealing with a receiving corps that has been gashed with injuries, Jordy’s ACL of course, Cobb’s shoulder, Adams and Montgomery’s ankles, plus Lacy and Starks both are dealing with injuries. Lacy is finally off the injury report, but Starks now is dealing with a hip. Cobb is also off the injury report, but at 6-0, it seems to be next man up for the Packers.
Green Bay are averaging 3.7 RZ Scoring attempts per game over their last 3, converting to touchdowns at 44%. The Broncos are only allowing 2.3 attempts, allowing opponents to convert those at 57%. Green Bay are converting on 3rd down at 32.5% over their last 3 games, not exactly great for us, but remember that’s with a dinged up staff. Denver are actually allowing offenses to convert at a sweet spot 40.3%. If Denver were favored to win this game, or the line was closer to a pick ‘em, I would try to find another kicker, but the potential for the Green Bay defense to generate turnovers or simply force Manning into some 3 and outs seems like plus potential for our cause. Denver is averaging 2.3 giveaways per game over the last 3, while Green Bay is only giving away 1 per game. Crosby is a consistent cash game play, but I believe is a GREAT GPP play. The public I think will be completely off the Packers offense because of the ‘scary’ Broncos defense, and Crosby has potential to be a top 3 kicker this week.
Aggressive Floor – 10 Ceiling – 20
Punt of the Week – Josh Lambo – SD – $4,500 – Here we are, back to square one. In what realm of football does it make sense that a kicker averaging close to 9 points a game is in the same bracket as 5 point average scum? What a travesty.
The Chargers are road dogs (+3.5) against the Ravens with a total currently set at 50.5. Over the last 3 games, Baltimore is last in the league in passing yards allowed, at 337. The Chargers are first in the league in passing yards over their last 3, at 390. Baltimore is only allowing 99 yards rushing a game over the last 3, but the Chargers essentially don’t run the ball so consider it a wash. The Chargers are slowly getting healthier on the offensive line, while the Ravens are quickly getting thinner in depth, especially in the secondary. I think this game will go over by a large margin, and it will be an exciting game where both teams score on the majority of their possessions. The Chargers are averaging 3 RZ Scoring opportunities over their last 3, converting to TD at 60%. The Ravens are allowing 4 RZ Scoring opportunities, while holding opponents to TD at 33%. Baltimore has had a tough schedule as of late, but they have also lost to the 49ers and the Browns. In order to remain with a longshot chance of staying in playoff contention, the Ravens must play with maximum effort, but on a short week it may be difficult for them to be prepared to get stops on the opponent’s side of the field.
San Diego are converting at a sweet spot 42.5% on 3rd down, while the Ravens are allowing conversions at a 50% rate. With a game sporting a very high total and a defense that seems incapable of stopping the pass, this game script is setup for the Chargers to constantly be in Ravens territory. Even if he only gets a shot at one or two field goals, he could end up with 5 or 6 XP conversions, setting up for a potential 10-15 point game. That’s all we can really ask from a minimum priced quarterback. Consider Lambo a lock to not brick, but with a low ceiling.
Aggressive Floor – 7 Ceiling – 15