Daily Fantasy Football Basic Strategy: Part 5
NFL Building Blocks has conquered quarterbacks and running backs, and now it’s time to focus on pass catchers. Wide receiver is arguably the highest variance position in the NFL. There are multiple ways their results can be affected and as such, they can easily have awful days, great days and everything in between. A drop here or a pass deflection there can cause some big differences in scores. They’re also likely the most exciting position in NFL DFS, often leading to some big swings in scores on game day.
There are quite a few things to consider when looking at the available wide receivers for the week. This article, which is part 1 of 2 for wide receivers, will go over the similarities between cash games and GPPs, as well as the specifics for cash games. In part 2 for wide receivers, we will look at specific criteria for GPPs as well as weather considerations.
All Types of Games
Targets and Touchdowns
As usual, we should start with Vegas since it’s going to be hard for a wide receiver to score touchdowns if their team is projected for a low score. So we’ll be leaning towards teams projected to score a high number of points.
Next we should look at targets, the times a wide receiver is targeted by the quarterback for a pass. To get value from our receivers, they need to have plenty of opportunities to catch the ball and as such we will be searching for the highest number of targets possible. As a general guideline, 6 is probably the lowest number of targets we can accept from a “reliable” wide receiver, with 8 or more ideal for highest potential.
Whether a wide receiver’s team is run heavy or pass heavy is important. If a team prefers to run the ball as opposed to throwing it, it might be better to choose our receivers from a different team. The caliber of quarterback is also important. A wide receiver is going to have a much higher upside if their quarterback is a stud as opposed to one that has never been to the playoffs before.
Even if a wide receiver is extremely talented, if a team has a run heavy strategy or has a poor quarterback, it will inevitably cut into the target and touchdown upside of that wide receiver.
There are a few physical attributes in a wide receiver that can predict touchdown potential. Other than looking up whether or not they get a high percentage of targets in the red zone, finding out the height, weight and hand size of a wide receiver can go a long way towards predicting touchdowns. Being over 6 feet tall and 200 pounds can go a long way for a player. A site like Mock Draftable will allow you to look at what is called a spider chart, which shows a player’s measurable physical attributes. This is not an end all be all way to predict touchdowns, but it is definitely an helpful piece of the puzzle.
Lastly, it can be useful to take a closer look at Vegas lines to predict the course of the game. If a wide receiver’s team is slated to lose by around 5 or more points but is expected to score around 20 or more points in total, it can create a positive game script for that wide receiver. The logic is that since that wide receiver’s team is predicted to be behind, they will inevitably be forced to rely on the pass to make up the deficit and prevent the clock from running down. Note that there can be some risk with this strategy due to the fact that the opposing team will probably try to run the ball a lot to burn through the remaining clock in the game.
Cash games (50/50s and head-to-head)
Targets, Targets, Targets
We mentioned targets as important in our section for both cash games and GPPs, but they are worth mentioning again here because they are especially important in cash games. Targets are what we should focus on. We need our cash game receivers to be targeted as much as possible. A high number of targets means a high floor, and a high floor is the most important criterion when picking players for cash games. It’s a simple thing to have to focus on, but it is very easy to forget how important it is sometimes.
Our top choices for cash game wide receivers are sometimes unexciting. We’re not too concerned with the touchdown potential of a wide receiver and, instead, are more interested in whether or not they are targeted often and, as a result, catch a lot of balls. Sometimes the receivers we want for cash games rarely, if ever, score touchdowns. If they are targeted frequently and catch a lot of balls, however, we want them in our cash game lineups.
It’s extremely important to realize that we won’t often be able to afford stud wide receivers in cash games. We will rarely be going cheap at running back, which means we have less money to spend on wide receivers. As such, proper research is a necessity. We need to find the middling priced wide receivers that offer consistency from game-to-game.
Defense of the Opposition
It is important to consider the defense that our wide receiver is playing against. There are, of course, certain defenses that will provide more problems than others for wide receivers. And while the strength of the opposition’s defense will always matter to a degree, the importance is even greater in cash games because of the need for reliable and consistent points.
We should also consider individual match-ups between wide receivers and cornerbacks, as discussed in our NFL Research article. Using the match-up tables that Pro Football Focus posts for each NFL week, we are able to see whether or not a cornerback plays on the same side of the field as a wide receiver, and what percentage of their plays are spent on that side of the field. It’s rarely correct to roster a wide receiver up against a top tier cornerback in cash games.
Part 2 covering wide receivers in Building Blocks will discuss choosing wide receivers in GPPs and the effects weather can have on the position. For questions or comments specific to wide receivers in cash games, please post in the Building Blocks: Wide Receivers in Cash Games discussion topic. For questions or comments regarding the series as a whole, please post in the daily fantasy footfall forum.
In This Series: NFL Building Blocks