Jonathan Bales is a DraftKings Pro and the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.
Disclaimer: I’m a bit hungover so I wouldn’t listen to a thing I say right now. Actually, read through my picks and then just run the other way. It took me 10 minutes to write this intro.
So last week someone took down the Millionaire Maker—and made two million freakin’ dollars—with what I think was a ridiculously low sub-230 score. Now, I think I’ve hit that number only once or twice, but when you consider the size of the field, I’d say there’s something like a 10 percent chance of seeing a winning score that low.
One of the tenants of being a contrarian player, however, is figuring out how to win large GPPs with relatively “low” scores. The idea is to benefit when the crowd is wrong; when those high-owned players tank, scores will be lower and contrarian players can benefit. That’s the basic idea behind forgoing value for low ownership in tournaments.
Keep that in mind as you sift through my Week 2 Millionaire Maker plays. I always want value, but these picks are really more predictions on who I believe I personally like more than the crowd—the guys who will offer the most usable tournament value.
Russell Wilson ($7300) Wilson’s fantasy value can be pretty extreme I think just because of how often Seattle is leading games. When they’re up 10 in the fourth quarter, it’s a whole lot different than when Wilson is dropped back to pass a bunch. With how Green Bay attacks quarterbacks, I think there’s a good chance we see Wilson run wild a bit in this game. His upside is going to come via his legs. You can stack Wilson with Jimmy Graham, or you can just fly him out there solo.
Carson Palmer ($6700) Palmer is far from a sneaky play, but I do think Drew Brees and Sam Bradford are going to be the most popular quarterbacks this week in a lot more lineups. Given how poor the Bears’ pass defense is and how well Palmer and Arizona can get the ball deep, I think this has GPP upside written all over it.
Tony Romo ($7100) Romo is in a way worse sport with Dez Bryant, obviously, but the more I think about this play, the more I like it. No one is going to be on Romo. His value is shot. His weapons suck. Dallas will run the ball. Well, they’ll try, but they could also get down big to Philly, and the ‘Boys are still going to be able to move the ball on the Eagles without Bryant.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Sam Bradford ($6900) Brees is the other value play this week, in my opinion, and I’m fine with him here as well. I think Bradford is going to throw all over a Dallas defense that will focus on stopping DeMarco Murray, however. The only thing I don’t like is, if the game remains close, the Cowboys’ slow tempo will limit the overall plays in this game.
Matt Forte ($7700) The Cards have a decent pass defense, but mostly on the outside. They can struggle over the middle of the field, so I think this is the sort of game in which Forte could have something like eight receptions.
Mark Ingram ($5900) This pick is going to be popular, but I like Ingram so much it doesn’t matter. That’s dependent on C.J. Spiller being out of the game, though; if he plays, my love for Ingram will decrease significantly since a lot of those targets from last week will evaporate.
Ameer Abdullah ($4500) Minnesota has a stout defensive line, but they’re much better against the pass than run. Over the past year, the Vikings have allowed 1.2 DraftKings points per game above expectation to running backs.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Justin Forsett ($6200) I talked about why I like Forsett in this week’s Tao of Bales article. He’s affordably priced in a game the Ravens are favored to win over a team with a horrible run defense. If Baltimore gets down, Forsett still offers value as a pass-catcher.
Pierre Garcon ($5000) Garcon is not the usual type of receiver I’m looking for in tournaments, especially when he’s playing one of the best defenses in the league. However, I think he’s going to see a huge number of targets with DeSean Jackson out, including a lot of quick screens that will allow Washington to neutralize St. Louis’s pass rush a bit.
Larry Fitzgerald ($5400) Call me crazy, but I think Fitz has a few more big games left in him. Everyone is going to be on the big-play ability of John Brown, but Fitzgerald still has much better ball skills than any Chicago defender. Bold prediction: over 100 yards and two scores.
Donte Moncrief($4600) There are some ‘ifs’ with this pick. I only like it if TY Hilton doesn’t play. I also like it only if Darrelle Revis shadows Andre Johnson.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Terrance Williams ($4200) This one is pretty obvious. DraftKings did their Week 2 pricing without knowledge of the Dez Bryant injury. Here’s a look at how Terrance Williams has performed on DraftKings during his career:
And this is Philly’s defense versus opposing wide receivers:
The Cowboys are pretty big underdogs in this game and Williams is their No. 1 wide receiver.
Jared Cook ($3000) Over the past 12 months, the Redskins have given up 1.5 points per game above expectations to tight ends. Pace is a concern in this game, but I do think Foles will continue to try to get the ball to Cook.
Richard Rodgers ($2500) The Seahawks are like the Cards in that their pass defense is best on the outside. They’re actually mediocre when defending tight ends in terms of efficiency. Rodgers is one of the better touchdown-per-dollar options, perhaps.
Heath Miller ($3500) Miller is a value play in my opinion, but I don’t think his tournament ownership will be ridiculous. He’s reached salary-based expectations in 53 percent of games since the start of 2014, which is a trend that has historically led to future value as well.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Jason Witten ($4300) Again, this is just a matter of pricing coming out before Bryant’s injury. I don’t actually love Witten all that much as the Eagles are much better over the middle of the field, but he is a value here at $4,300.
Carolina ($3100) I think there are enough defensive options at or below Carolina’s price that the Panthers won’t have extremely high usage against a team that could turn the ball over a bunch.
Pittsburgh ($2800) The Steelers are nearly a touchdown favorite against the Niners. If they can get up, they’ll be able to tee off on a quarterback who can take a lot of sacks.
Cincinnati($3000) My super contrarian selection is Cincy at home against the Chargers. San Diego can move the ball, but Rivers isn’t immune to turning over the ball. Actually, defenses facing San Diego over the past 12 months have scored 1.4 points per game above salary-based expectations.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Ravens($2900) My guess is that Baltimore will have this week’s highest ownership against the Raiders, although it will be close with New Orleans versus Tampa Bay and St. Louis against the ‘Skins.