Jonathan Bales is 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.
There’s a lot of strategy that goes into the Millionaire Maker. How much should you emphasize value? How much does ownership matter? Should you always stack?
I think one thing that is perhaps a little bit overrated in a tournament of this size is being completely contrarian. I’m as big of a proponent of using game theory as anyone, but daily fantasy football isn’t like baseball in which there’s massive lineup overlap due to stacking. There are so many different lineup combinations that it’s not like you can gain a huge edge by fading every high ownership player. You can create a unique lineup with just a handful of contrarian selections.
For that reason, I think it’s imperative to look for those two or three players you love who you think will be in relatively few lineups, then fill in lineups with high-value players around that core. To win something like the Millionaire Maker, you still need to score a buttload of points; being completely contrarian just for the sake of it limits your ability to do that.
Drew Brees, New Orleans ($7000)
I’m loving Brees as an underdog in Indianapolis. The Saints are projected decently at 23.8 implied points, but Brees should be in a nice spot with the game script to rack up a lot of attempts. The question is with whom you should pair him, and for me the answer is still Brandin Cooks. I like Willie Snead as a cash-game value, but less in GPPs.
Carson Palmer, Arizona ($6700)
Palmer is going to be popular because, in my opinion, he’s underpriced against the Ravens. Baltimore has the worst defense against opposing passers on DraftKings in the past year (after adjusting for cost). After recent line movement, the Cards are now the top-projected offense in Week 7.
Philip Rivers, San Diego ($6500)
There’s a lot to like about Rivers, primarily that he accounts for such a high percentage of San Diego’s fantasy scoring. If they score a lot of points, you can be pretty certain Rivers had a big day. Oakland has allowed 1.5 points per game more than expected to opposing quarterbacks over their last 16 games.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Derek Carr, Oakland ($5300)
Matthew Stafford is still underpriced at just $400 more than Carr, but I like the Oakland quarterback as an under-the-radar play who should be forced to air it out against San Diego. We’ve already seen that Carr has some upside, including two games this year with at least 300 yards and two touchdowns.
Le’Veon Bell, Pittsburgh ($8400)
Bell is $500 more than every other running back and $800 more than Adrian Peterson. That might drag down his ownership a tad, although I wouldn’t expect it to be low. Whether Landry Jones or Big Ben is at quarterback, I like the Steelers’ ability to move the ball a whole lot more than when Michael Vick was under center.
Devonta Freeman, Atlanta ($7900)
This might seem like a fade candidate, but Freeman hasn’t scored fewer than 35 points in a month. He’s a clearly talented back in a potent offense and in a good matchup. I personally think you should either choose to fade and take on the risk, or go all-in on a player like this and have more exposure to him than the field. Despite the recent hike in price, I don’t think Freeman costs too much.
Todd Gurley, St. Louis ($5000)
To me, Gurley is the most obviously value of the week. He has 49 carries over the past two games. The one thing that might worry me is that he’s not being utilized as a receiver, but Jeff Fisher is so stubborn that even if the Rams were to get down to the Browns, he’d still “establish the run” late in the game. Dude might legitimately be the worst coach in the NFL, which is saying something.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Lamar Miller, Miami ($4600)
With 21 touches last week, the new-coach-will-feed-him narrative actually played out. I think that will continue in Week 7 against a Houston defense that probably isn’t as good against the run as people believe.
DeAndre Hopkins, Houston ($8600)
How do you not?
Brandin Cooks, New Orleans ($5500)
Like I said, I like New Orleans to air the ball out, and Cooks is still the No. 1 on an offense that I think is going to start to really put up some points as Brees gets healthy. The main issue without anyone in this offense is that the Saints spread the ball around too much. I do think that’s a concern—and actually a reason you could play Brees alone in GPPs—but I still think the game script here sets up nicely for a big day for one of these New Orleans pass-catchers.
Eric Decker, NY Jets ($5300)
The Pats take away an opposing offense’s best player. That guy is Brandon Marshall for the Jets. Decker isn’t an elite receiver, but I do think he’s in that second tier as a really underrated player—particularly a scorer. The Jets are projected like crap, but I think Decker is going to see a bunch of second-half targets this week.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Michael Floyd, Arizona ($3200)
If you like Palmer—which you should—the obvious choice to pair him with is Larry Fitzgerald. You should probably do that. Next up for most people will be John Brown, but I like Michael Floyd as a not-that-under-the-radar-but-still-somewhat-contrarian play on Monday night. You could even go Brown/Floyd together and just hope the Ravens do what they can to limit Fitz. Floyd is starting to regain his status as the No. 2, and let’s not forget he’s a potentially dominant player.
Rob Gronkowski, New England ($8100)
My biggest concern here is that the Pats are nine-point favorites and might not throw the ball as much as we’d like in the second half. Still, there’s no scarcer player in the NFL at his position than Gronk. You pretty much need some level of GPP exposure to him each and every week.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City ($4900)
“Baby Gronk” is priced under $5000 against a defense that struggles versus pretty much everyone in the passing game. Kelce hasn’t scored since Week 1, but I do expect that to change soon, especially with Jamaal Charles not eating up red zone touches.
Larry Donnell, NY Giants ($3300)
I’m pretty sure most will be off Donnell after watching him drop a bunch of passes and otherwise just play like garbage on Monday night. There’s risk that the Giants will also move away from Donnell, too. Nonetheless, I think he’s in a good spot to take advantage of a Dallas defense that showed in Week 1 they are going to do what they can to take Odell Beckham out of the game.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Jordan Cameron, Miami ($3300)
Cameron has only 15 catches all year, but he also has 36 targets. That’s a catch rate of 42%, which is horrific—but also highly unlikely to continue. Due to natural regression and the fact that he’s still an elite athlete, Cameron offers value and probably low ownership at this price tag.
I think the Cards are probably overpriced here, but that should make them semi-unpopular. Joe Flacco isn’t a great quarterback to face when the Ravens can run the ball, but they should be forced to throw as nine-point underdogs.
New England ($3200)
I don’t think the Pats have an elite defense, but they’re frequently put in quality spots for fantasy purposes. As nine-point favorites again in Week 7, New England should be able to do some damage against the Jets.
Behind the Jets and Ravens, only the Bucs are projected to score fewer points this week. I don’t think the Redskins’ defense is as bad as it might first appear, and of course facing Jameis Winston gives them some upside in this matchup.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
St. Louis ($2400)
To me, it’s obvious the Rams are the best value at defense this week. This is a really talented unit that currently costs as much as the Raiders facing the Chargers. I expect ownership to be high.