Week 1 Charch Chase Primer
It’s a marathon, not a chase.
OK, yeah, it’s a chase since that’s what it’s called. But you’re not playing the Charch Chase at Fanball for the one-week payout. (OK, yeah, that’s nice too, to win $150 without paying anything, but stick with me here.)
You’re playing the Charch Chase for the shot to be like I was after the Wild Card round of the playoffs last season—$5,000 richer.
Yes, for those of you who played in the Charch Chase last season, I’m @magsh112 on Fanball: the guy who edged out @walleye_jon by 2.04 points to get the cash I needed to do some siding work on my house this summer. #baller
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I’ll be here every Friday (I’m ahead of the curve this week) this season as I try to make it two years in a row, while inexplicably helping you try to Chase Charch and dethrone me. So allow myself to introduce…myself. I’m not just some random DFS player who found the needle in a haystack and Fanball subsequently asked to write a weekly article.
I wrote for Fanball back in the magazine publishing days, and am now in my eighth year hosting The Fantasy Football Party podcast with Bo Mitchell and John Tuvey. Well, technically it’s my sixth year with the podcast—it was a radio show on Sunday mornings for two years with 1500 ESPN. And we’re now at ZoneCoverage.com, and you can subscribe to our show on iTunes and Android. Anyway, I spend a lot of time doing this stuff.
But let’s cut to the Chase: You’re not here for my bio. You want to improve your odds of the big DFS payday. And I’m glad you said odds—because that’s what I was getting at when I said this is a marathon. Know why I was able to with the Charch Chase last season? Because I had previously beaten Charch on 14 separate occasions, giving me 14 lineups to fire at the 5 grand. Know how many finished in the money? Two.
My $5k lineup scored 172.8 points. My second best lineup scored 147.96 for a cool $10. The other 12 were just ripped pull-tabs sitting on the bar floor. Does it take some luck, too? Hell yes it does—Marcus Mariota threw a GD TD to himself, and I had him on exactly one of my 14 teams. Just so happened to be this one. But I digress. We’re not replaying last year’s Wild Card round. We’re getting ready for Week 1 of the 2018 season, so let’s do this.
Every week Charch will give out four of his picks in advance. He did this last year, though I have to be honest and note that I had no idea. It worked out for me regardless, but that’s a huge weekly edge I left on the table. I won’t be doing that this year, and neither should you.
Why do his picks matter?
From a one-week game standpoint, they don’t. You’re competing with other people for the money on a week-to-week basis, so Charch’s picks are irrelevant. Ownership trends ARE important, though, so I’ll be looking back on them every week in this space. But for the big bucks, you just want to do one thing—beat Charch. And that’s where his picks come in.
Theoretically speaking, knowing these players ahead of time takes some of the luck factor out of the game. Every lineup has 9 players, and you know 4 of Charch’s. So you could just set those four in your lineup and you’ve created a 5-on-5 game. Less variables = more control. You can also take a hybrid approach—which is what I’ll often do—where you select the players he did that you independently have confidence in, while fading those you don’t. If you get one wrong there, well, you’ve got additional roster spots to make up the difference. But if you’re right, you’ve given yourself a huge advantage in finishing ahead of Charch.
CP has already kindly laid out these picks for us in Week 1 so I won’t get into it as much as I normally will. I like the Burkhead pick, don’t mind the Bortles and Gronk selections, and do mind the Lewis pick. Burkhead’s extremely underpriced for a work-horse back with goal-line duties for New England—though I’m obviously assuming Jeremy Hill doesn’t get that inside-the-5 job and Sony Michel doesn’t have a large role. (Queue Bill Belichick making me look like an idiot.) And since the Patriots have the league’s second highest implied Vegas team total for the week, and he’s not dealing with any nagging injuries that we know of, now’s a pretty good time to pay up for Gronk as well.
I like Tyrod Taylor ($5,800) a lot this week against Pittsburgh’s secondary, but since Bortles has a juicy matchup as well and costs just $100 more, there’s no need to get cute here. I’ll take the draw at three slots and make it a 6-on-6 matchup with Charch. I’m fading Lewis because he’s part of a backfield committee and there are work-horse types priced below him I’d rather play (Jamaal Williams and Carlos Hyde immediately jump out in that regard).
So, who else am I looking at?
Well I already told you my QB and gave you another similarly priced option in Tyrod. In a vacuum I prefer Taylor because he’s at home and cheaper, but as I noted above, I’m not going to get fancy on this one (OK, I’ll at least think about getting fancy. But no promises.). Andy Dalton at $6,400 behind an improved offensive line with healthy John Ross and Tyler Eifert indoors against Indy’s dreadful secondary is a pretty nice play, too—and Dalton’s likely to be lower owned because he’s not in the bargain bin like the aforementioned guys and he’s coming off a bad year.
I previously noted Williams ($5,900) and Hyde ($5,500) —a pair of running backs who project for nice workloads at home in games that should be competitive. Hyde’s a little riskier since Duke Johnson could steal more of the passing game work than Ty Montgomery likely will from Williams, but don’t let that hold you back. There’s a lot to like on the high end of the market too, but I’m probably fading Le’Veon Bell ($9,700) for rust/workload concerns, Ezekiel Elliott ($8,500) because I want to take a wait-and-see approach with that offensive line since they’re on the road against a tough defense, and Saquon Barkley ($8,000) due to matchup and hamstring worries. Melvin Gordon ($7,900) and Christian McCaffrey ($7,400) both stand out as stellar values among the redraft RB1 crowd.
The high end of the scale at wide receiver has lots to like for various reasons, with guys fairly priced down to probably Mike Evans ($7,700), who is too rich for my blood. Larry Fitzgerald ($7,600) is next, though, and I’m loving his price tag and opportunity against Washington slot corner Fabian Moreau. Fanball is a PPR site, which might mean Fitz hits double digits before even taking yardage and touchdowns into account. But I think the biggest must for me will be Emmanuel Sanders ($6,200), who saw his slot usage increase 36.4% this preseason compared to a year ago per Scott Barrett at Pro Football Focus. Case Keenum made Adam Theilen a borderline superstar from the slot last season, and a healthy Sanders is about to see the same thing happen. Roster him now, before his price soars for week 2.
Keelan Cole is another low-risk/high-upside receiver due to his price, but new Jaguar Austin Seferian-Jenkins ($5,200) gets the Giants sieve of a defense that allowed a league-leading 13 touchdowns to the position last season. With Marqise Lee gone, there’s red zone work to be had in Jacksonville, and I expect Seferian-Jenkins to get it. He’s the 12th highest priced tight end, though, so I understand if you’d rather go with a deeper cut if you’re fading Gronk. David Njoku is $600 less and gets the Pittsburgh secondary I noted above, but at $4,300 I like Ricky Seals-Jones ask a low-risk/high-reward option. Per Graham Barfield at Fantasyguru.com, RSJ played on 27 of 31 snaps this preseason with Sam Bradford, and the Cardinals have the fifth-most targets available in the league versus last year. Meanwhile, Washington has allowed the 4th-, 3rd-, and 8th-most yards per game to tight ends the last three years. In the mid-price range I like a healthy Jordan Reed at $5,700 and Jack Doyle, who’s just $100 more than ASJ, at $5,300. Doyle’s certainly got a higher floor so is safer for sure, I just don’t think he’s got the same touchdown upside.
It’s really tough to fade the Ravens against the Nathan Peterman-led Buffalo Bills. I generally hate paying up for defense because basically any team can tip a pass and return it for a pick-six at any time, but man is this a juicy matchup. If I come to my senses I’ll likely try Denver or Carolina at home for $3,900. Green Bay at home against Chicago is just $3,700 and its defense has been much better at home in recent seasons, but I’ll be at Lambeau cheering for my new-look Bears—so want nothing to feel good about if the Packers defense plays well against the fighting Nagys.
Alright, I promise I won’t be so long-winded in my intros in future weeks. Good luck to you all in the Week 1 Charch Chase. If I don’t win, I hope you do.
Anthony Maggio (@MplsMaggio) once threw a chair at a bar and is co-host of The Fantasy Football Party at ZoneCoverage.com. Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher or anywhere Android podcasts are given away for free. He is a freelance contributor for the SportsHub Games Network, Inc., Fanball’s parent company. Any advice or strategies provided by SportsHub contributors represent their personal opinions; they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of SportsHub Games Network and are not necessarily reflective of the strategies they may employ in their own lineups.