DFS prep begins now: Teddy Bridgewater,
Coby Fleener and Jared Cook could be early-season gold.
Say what you want about Mr. Goodell, there is no denying the fact
that the NFL’s general embracement of fantasy football under his
tenure and his goal of lengthening the league’s schedule to make
it a near year round event has increased fans’ excitement in the
Those two factors and the growth of dynasty league formats mean
that millions of fantasy football fans are actively researching
fantasy football despite the fact that we are a few months away
from the Thursday night kickoff between the Broncos and Panthers.
For redraft leagues, I personally begin my draft prep when my
kids finish school and the calendar turns to June first. At that
point most websites have preliminary rankings that can be compiled,
analyzed, and scrutinized for potential sleepers, busts, and overrated
players that the collective industry is predicting.
It is also an excellent time to review schedules for teams who
have favorable matchups at the start of the season and during
the fantasy playoffs, free agent changes or trades, and rookie
signings for possible late round targets.
But many DFS players make the mistake of not utilizing this time
to start building their early season strategy, primarily because
as of the date of publication, the major DFS houses like DraftKings
and Fanduel have yet to set their week one prices.
An off-season DFS strategy for football needs to be focused on
the first two to three weeks of the season, due to the weekly
nature of the game and the fact that prices for the third week
on will fluctuate based on real game performances that we simply
cannot predict at this point in the year.
However, some of those same offseason variables that I mentioned
above for season-long redraft and dynasty league preparation can
be used right now for DFS players looking to get a leg up on the
competition in the first few weeks.
The venerable Doug Orth provided an
excellent article for fantasy players to refresh their memory
of 20 off-season moves that could have significant impact in early
season games. Some of these won’t necessarily provide value
for DFS, as DeMarco Murray going to the Titans and Lamar Miller
going to the Texans will each likely garner high salaries Week
But Coby Fleener going to the Saints and Jared Cook going to
the Packers will most certainly come with an attractive salary
for the opening week, and the fact that they are playing against
teams that ranked third and sixth worst respectively against the
tight end make them even more enticing. Although I personally
think both players are fool’s gold for season-long leagues,
as I question both of their talent and think owners will draft
them too high, I am planning on buying both options in week one
Mini-camp and early training camp injuries also present future
early season DFS value as otherwise fringe players will develop
into viable options when their depth chart predecessor succumbs
to injury. For example, the knee injury to Breshad Perriman has
opened the door for Mike Wallace to likely receive more action
in the revamped Ravens offense Week 1 against a Bills team that
gave up the tenth-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.
Do I like Wallace’s talent for the long term and will he
be a target of mine in redrafts? Not a chance. But I will consider
using him in the first few weeks as a fill-in, low salary option
on some of my DFS teams.
A third often overlooked variable the DFS owners may not prep
for in the offseason is improvements or regression of support
positions like offensive line and coaching staff, and how those
changes can present first week opportunities.
As an example, the Vikings invested heavily in their line with
the additions of Andre Smith and Alex Boone, giving Minnesota
the most expensive o-line in the league. The improved offensive
line will no doubt help Adrian Peterson’s production for
season-long owners, but for DFS, I am more interested on how that
improved line will make Teddy Bridgewater a value play week one
against a young and suspect Titans defense.
These are just a few examples of many scenarios that owners can
start to identify well in advance of training camps opening and
DFS player values getting established by DraftKings and Fanduel.
I personally keep a fluid list on my computer of free agent players
in new situations and upside players thrust into prominent roles
due to injury. The list is broken down into two columns of advantageous
opening week matchups and those with not so friendly ones. Those
players in the first column will get a much higher ranking, as
I am only really worried about the first few weeks when it pertains
The list will then be used to help me keep fresh in my mind the
players that I want to target as low-cost options for flex/third
WR positions come September.
While this may be too much for some DFS owners, at bare minimum
I recommend keeping a close eye on the many transactions that
have already occurred and the many injuries and roster battles
yet to come.
Don’t miss out on a chance to get a leg up on your competition