When I started this weekly feature in 2009, I’m not exactly
sure I thought I would ever get to this point. It has taken 6
2/3 years to reach 100 Blitzes and, much like an aging NFL veteran
listening to his body, the fantasy gods have toyed with my emotions
enough over that time to make me think about life after football.
The good thing is the mind is usually much more resilient (and
recovers faster from the weekly wounds that fantasy football delivers)
than the body, so it is not impossible to think another 100 might
be possible. After all, the Fantasy Hall of Fame can’t deny
me entrance if I reach 200 in-season articles, right? I guess
only time will tell.
Let’s get to the more important business at hand. Every
so often, the inspiration for a story idea comes from the world
outside of the annual redraft leagues that we have come to know
Daily fantasy has changed the way I think about fantasy football
and I’m fairly certain that is the case for many owners.
For most of the last month, I’ve taken a little bit of time
at the end of Monday Night Football games to observe what the
top few entries in DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker did to
reach the level of success they did that week. One particular
entry caught my eye this past weekend and made me wonder a bit
about the logic that is involved in this relatively new hobby
of ours (this entry was enough to make me question more than this
owner’s thought process, if you know what I mean). For the
sake of not dragging a poor soul or two through the mud (but now
fairly rich souls, even though they didn’t finish first),
I won’t name them or list their full team, but rather some
of the selections they made.
We start with Jeremy Langford, who was recently priced at $4,800
last week. While I understand his price point was probably what
ultimately led the 4.7 percent of owners who started him to do
so, Darren McFadden and LeGarrette Blount were priced only $100
more and legitimate cases could be made that both had better match
ups (as we will see below), especially when one accounts for expected
game flow, home versus road and a host of other factors. Little
known fact: Ka’Deem Carey got the start ahead of Langford
the week prior on Monday Night Football against the Chargers.
Assuming we know what HC John Fox is thinking has almost always
led to fantasy disappointment, especially when it comes to running
back usage. In other words, one good game on MNF is hardly enough
evidence to say for certain Fox would ride the rookie hard last
week. Nevertheless, 4.7 percent of owners started him. Perhaps
starting Langford was just a gut call for these lucky folks, so
we move on to the next one.
One top-performing entry in particular had both Antonio Brown
($8,800) and Martavis Bryant ($5,500) as two of their three receivers.
Did that entry realize all three of Landry Jones’ touchdown
passes have been to Bryant? Did that entry have some crazy feeling
that Ben Roethlisberger would save his fantasy day coming off
the bench despite an injury that was supposed to sideline him
through the bye? If two receivers from the same team were worth
starting in DFS, it would sure seem logical that owners would
want to stack them with their quarterback. No dice. Next…
Doug Baldwin ($3,400) was started by 0.2 percent of owners. He
made a bit of sense as far as DFS dart-throws go, but I’m
not sure he would have made my list of top five receivers under
$4,000 last week given the matchup (Arizona) or recent production
(no more than 10 PPR fantasy points since Week 4).
Lamar Miller ($5,400) was reasonably priced considering his recent
production last week, but the matchup (Philadelphia) was brutal
as the Eagles had allowed one touchdown rushing and one touchdown
receiving to running backs all season long. Furthermore, the Dolphins
had let it be known during the week that Jay Ajayi would be receiving
The one that probably puzzles me the most is Charcandrick West
($4,800), who was started by 1.2 percent of owners (roughly 3,000
of a quarter-million entries). What part of Denver’s defense
screamed he was a must-start?
Those are only a few of the examples. I understand the good ‘ole
gut leading an owner to go with one or two of these two players,
but some went with three or four of them. Even in a contest that
features over a quarter-million contestants, I find the odds extremely
long for more than a handful of entries - even those trying to
be contrarian – to defy the matchup, expected game flow
and recent production in order to land on that combination of
Meanwhile, a player like DeAngelo Williams ($6,500), who finished
17th, first and first in the three weeks in which he started a
game this season, was only started in 41.8 percent of owners in
the best matchup he will probably see all year? Jordan Reed ($4,600)
was only started by 38.7 percent of owners against a team that
coughed up three touchdowns to a pair of Tennessee Titans tight
ends the previous week? Who was Kirk Cousins – started by
12.2 percent of owners – going to throw all of his touchdowns
Most weeks, I can rationalize what the top-performing owners
were thinking with the majority of their selections. Let’s
just say if I was ever to conduct an investigation into DFS, last
week would be my Exhibit A that something is a bit off. Consider
me skeptical at best.
Having aired my grievances, I’m reasonably certain that
I am wrong, so I decided to expand my focus this week in an effort
to give all of us one more tool to use in our to plight to become
DFS millionaires. Much like the logic behind the Consistency
Rankings Analysis piece I have done each of the last two preseasons,
sometimes it is just easier to process a single number or rank
as opposed to an average that doesn’t have much context
behind it. Unlike Consistency Rankings Analysis, I will not be
charting consistency in the traditional sense or computing a consistency
score (like my Simple Ratings System in said article) that reflects
it. Instead, this week will be all about observing what defenses
are surrendering to each position.
What does that mean?
Below you will see four charts, one for each of the four primary
fantasy positions. (The bolded numbers at the top obviously reflect
the week.) Of the utmost importance are
the numbers directly to the right of each team, which signify
that defense’s rank against that position in that particular
week. As an added bonus, I felt it was pertinent to highlight
which of those performances came against high-caliber competition.
Thus, the ranks that you see in red print
reflect those performances that came against one of the top 10
players at that position (eight for tight ends). I felt
that by attacking this story from that angle, I would not only
help those owners hoping to get an edge in their DFS contests,
but also provide some context in regards to how (and against whom)
those ranks were achieved. Obviously, the ranks achieved in certain
weeks didn’t come as a result of only the primary running
back, but I think this kind of study is very helpful nonetheless.
The primary goal here is to give players a quick and handy reference
tool when it comes to their DFS needs. To help you understand
this better, let me provide an example or two: Andy Dalton squares
off against Arizona this week. The Cardinals have faced exactly
one top-10 quarterback (Drew Brees in Week 1) and allowed one
top-10 fantasy performance to a quarterback (Nick Foles in Week
4). Cleveland has opposed top-10 quarterbacks four times and yielded
a top-10 fantasy effort in that week every time.
As is usually the case, I’m not going to attempt to rationalize
or explain how every rank was achieved, but rather pick and choose
some teams or trends that catch my eye. While I will be approaching
this article from a DFS perspective this week, I think there are
obvious benefits to “regular” owners as well.
- The Bills’ defense has been mostly a disappointment, although
I’m not sure we needed a chart to tell us that. Buffalo
has picked it up since the bye week, however, and I expect this
week’s showdown with a banged-up New England offense to
be more of a true measure of what the defense can do going forward.
- Most expected Chicago to be a punching bag for the better part
of the season, but I think most would agree the Bears’ defense
has been better than the sum of its parts all things considered,
especially since the bye.
- DFS owners should want no part of Cincinnati’s or Minnesota’s
defense when it comes to picking their quarterback.
- Remember how bad Kansas City was in September? It turns out
they faced a reasonably fresh Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and
Andy Dalton. The Chiefs have been remarkably stingy against opposing
- As most of us know already, the Saints have been a dream matchup
for opposing quarterbacks. (The average weekly finish for quarterbacks
going against the Saints’ defense is eighth!!) It’s
unlikely the transition from former DC Rob Ryan to new DC Dennis
Allen will result in huge difference for the rest of the season,
but owners need to be concerned about a short-term boost. New
Orleans faces Houston and then Carolina in the first two weeks
coming out of its Week 11 bye.
- “Elite” quarterbacks are 4-for-4 against the Seahawks.
Don’t avoid this defense just because you have in previous
- Tampa Bay has been extremely hit-or-miss, almost to the point
where owners with elite quarterbacks need to be fearful and those
with average ones (presumably with good rushing attacks to support
them) can start their signal-callers with confidence.
- If the running back going against the Saints is out your price
range in a given week, may I suggest the Dolphins? Over the last
month, feel free to throw Oakland and Washington into that mix.
- Although I doubt the DFS players I spoke of intro knew this
information beforehand and therefore avoided DeAngelo Williams),
it is worth noting Cleveland has held its own against opposing
fantasy running backs over the last three weeks.
- Here we go with the Chiefs again. Outside of the first month,
it appears they have been stout. Ditto for the Vikings.
- Houston has been blasted by Atlanta (Week 4) and Miami (Week
7). Take away those two lousy efforts and the average finish for
running backs against the Texans is 21st.
- The Jets have shown some cracks in the armor lately. I wouldn’t
be rushing to play my running backs against them, but it is a
trend worth keeping an eye on.
- Eight of nine opponents have produced a top-13 fantasy finish
against the Chargers. Giddy up.
- Still think Tennessee is a pushover? The ranks above suggest
even the top backs aren’t worth paying up for against the
Titans. No set of running backs have solved the Steelers’
puzzle either. Baltimore has been nearly as good as Pittsburgh.
- It is interesting to note how much Washington’s defense
has fallen off since the beginning of the season. The Redskins
pretty much shut down three elite running games in September,
but haven’t sniffed that kind of dominance since.
- Arizona’s line is surprising to say the least, giving a fair
amount of credibility to the DFS players who went with Doug
Baldwin last week. However, a deeper analysis reveals that
Baldwin is only the second primary wideout (as in the established
No. 1 receiver on his own team) to score more than 12.5 PPR fantasy
Austin was the other). That’s rather remarkable considering
the Cardinals have faced Cooks, Calvin
Smith and Travis
- Other than Week 4 (in which Houston benefited from more than
a half of garbage time), Atlanta has been an absolute nightmare
for opposing receivers. No wideout has scored more than 16.7 PPR
fantasy points since that game. Carolina and Denver has been every
bit as good, although that should not come as a shock to most.
To the surprise of many, Dallas isn’t too far behind.
- What San Diego is for running backs, Baltimore is for receivers.
DFS owners looking to stack receivers in any given week will want
to target the Ravens, who have allowed seven sets of receiver
duos score at least 13 PPR points.
- Keenan Allen shredded the Packers right before they went on
their bye in Week 7. They’ve been getting chewed up by bigger
receivers ever since.
- The Jets’ line above comes as a surprise to me even though
Antonio Cromartie has been ineffective or nursing an injury for
most of the season. It’s still a good idea to avoid “Revis
Island” when it is clear that a receiver must visit, but
targeting his teammate in DFS isn’t a bad strategy.
- St. Louis hasn’t allowed a wideout to visit the end zone
since Week 5, leading to nothing but single-digit fantasy totals
for every receiver to face the Rams since then.
- Considering the Bucs have faced five of the 10 receivers listed
directly above and haven’t exactly had stability at the
cornerback position, I’ll consider their weekly ranks a
Note: The reason I went with eight tight ends is because Martellus
Bennett or Jason
Witten haven’t really been consistent fantasy forces this
- Picking on Atlanta is a good idea at the tight end position.
Philadelphia (Week 1) is the only team not to get a double-digit
fantasy-point effort from its tight end against the Falcons.
- The Lions appear to be right on Atlanta’s tracks. Eight
tight ends – including two from the Packers last week –
have posted at least 10 fantasy points.
- Indianapolis is yet another defense that appears to be hapless
against the tight end. Gronkowski’s 14-point PPR effort
in Week 6 is the worst performance by a team’s top tight
end over the last four games.
- The Giants and Saints are the two most accommodating defenses
against opposing tight ends over the course and these ranks back
- The loss of LB Alec Ogletree has taken some of the stinginess
out of the Rams’ ability to defend tight ends, but the St.
Louis defense is probably still one to avoid when deciding on
matchups for DFS purposes.
- Sometimes, numbers lie. I think that is the case when it comes
to Washington’s “ability” to defend the tight
end. With the Redskins springing leaks against the run and somewhat
inconsistent against opposing receivers, the need to target tight
ends has been lessened. (It should be noted, however, that Washington
is the only team to hold Gronkowski to single-digit fantasy points
Doug Orth has written for FF
Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy
Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s
hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday
in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national
sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”.
Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.