Week 17 Charch Chase DFS Primer
Alright y’all, we’re here. Week 17. The grand finale. The culmination of a season spent beating down on Charch for the opportunity to now beat down on each other for the chance to cash a $5,000 check (or have it transferred to your PayPal account).
Before we get into the positions, let’s spend a moment getting into strategy. If the Charch Chase is the only DFS you’ve played this season, this is especially important for you—because this will be your first foray into a multi-entry tournament. Why is this important? Because it dictates how you should be building your rosters—particularly at the high end of the price range.
Teams with a lot of entries are going to be building various lineups around the chalk (aka popular) plays. As an example, I’ve got 14 entries in the tournament. So I’ll have various combinations of my favorite plays, and naturally some of my favorites will be popular among the masses. I hope to differentiate and win the $5K by having a few lower owned guys and/or team/game stacks that make my lineup unique. Others who have accumulated entries are likely to have a similar strategy, which means a high level of ownership among a concentrated group of players.
As someone with a lot of entries, I know that I only need to get one lineup right to win, so I can take a bunch of shots with a handful of expensive chalk players. But if you’re on the other side of the coin, you’re better off fading the popular plays.
I’ll explain with another example: Let’s say Todd Gurley is 50% owned. If he has a big game and you own him, you still have to get your other eight positions correct in relation to that group of half of the entrants. You haven’t gained any leverage on the top end of the field. That’s OK if you have a bunch of lineups and have built around Gurley. But if you’ve only got one or two shots at it, you’re still behind the 8 ball. So getting Gurley “right” still hasn’t helped you that much in your attempt to win the tournament (versus just finishing relatively high). Instead, if you think Gurley is going to be 50% owned and you only have a few bites at the apple, you’re better off not using him and hoping Gurley has a bad game—because if that comes to fruition, you’ve effectively left half of the field in the dust.
This isn’t me advocating being stupid and reckless if you only have a couple of entries. You just need to be more conscious of your decisions in relation to the field—especially at the higher price points.
The one other consideration to keep in mind here is that yes, you wanted to win every week you’ve played this season. But subconsciously you knew that beating Charch still provided you a benefit. Now, though, you are trying desperately to finish in that very top spot. So pay even more attention to positive correlations (quarterbacks with one of their receivers and/or their running back—plus a player from the opposing team because if you nail the shootout game, you’re maximizing your ceiling).
OK, enough of the foreplay. If you have more questions just about roster construction or game theory, you can find me on Twitter. Let’s talk players.
I’ve got no quarrel with Patrick Mahomes or Ben Roethlisberger this week, as both have easy match-ups and incentive to win. In both cases I could see the games getting out of hand, but because there’s a benefit (especially for Pittsburgh) to winning, I wouldn’t think Andy Reid or Mike Tomlin will be taking their feet off the gas prematurely. I’d definitely lean Mahomes over Roethlisberger, though, if I can spare the extra $200. The only potential hang-up here is both clubs could win with the run game, which as we’ve seen with Seattle and Baltimore this season, keeps the clock running and generally lowers scores. Speaking of the Seahawks, there’s not a ton of incentive here. They’ll be on the road for the Wild Card round regardless. So I’ll pass on Russell Wilson. Deshaun Watson’s interesting here because I think he’ll be low owned, he’s got huge upside, and Houston needs a win or they could wind up as low as the sixth seed. Only issue here is the Jaguars defense. I’d definitely pass on Drew Brees because I don’t expect Sean Payton to risk his skill guys in this game. A series or two at most would be my guess—which means Teddy Bridgewater at $5,500 is definitely in play. The $6,500 to $7K range is where I expect a lot of the ownership to be this week. I like everyone in that group, but Jameis Winston is probably my favorite. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan and Jared Goff are close behind.
Christian McCaffrey’s been good anywhere against anyone, but without Cam Newton again and on the road against a tough run defense and with nothing to play for and with a $9,400 price tag, I just don’t see myself owning a lot of him this week. I won’t be playing Gurley (injury) Alvin Kamara (rest) or Phillip Lindsay (declining production), either. Damien Williams is probably going to be my most-owned runner because of his huge workload at $7,400 price tag, but I’ll have plenty of Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon and Saquon Barkley, too. Chris Carson is super tempting because of the matchup, but as noted above with the Seahawks playoff situation, this could easily become a Mike Davis and/or Rashaad Penny game (if Penny returns from injury). James Conner’s just as tempting, but again feels like a trap since he’s coming off an injury. I’m a little less concerned about Conner, though since this game’s more important to Pittsburgh and Conner’s back to practicing in full. Derrick Henry is probably going to be too high owned for my liking after his recent success, and for $7,600 I’d rather spend elsewhere. And as much as I like Nick Chubb and Dalvin Cook as players, their matchups will have me spending elsewhere. David Johnson at $6,600 is probably going to go overlooked but at that price against a defense that’s more reputation than skill could be a difference-maker. Elijah McGuire’s $100 less, though, and has a decent ceiling. I’m definitely into Jamaal Williams at $6,100, and CJ Anderson at $6K if Gurley is ruled out early. In that same game I also like Jeff Wilson for $5,000 now that Matt Breida’s finally succumbed to his myriad injuries. My favorite sub-$5K plays are Darren Sproles ($4,800), Doug Martin ($4,700), Penny ($3,400), Davis ($3,300) and Dwayne Washington ($3,000)—and this being Week 17, I can guarantee you there will be a handful of guys in this price range who have huge days.
At the top end I’m going to have a ton of DeAndre Hopkins ($8,400) and Davante Adams ($8,800) this week. The former because he’s the only thing going in a Houston passing offense that needs to have a big day, and Adams because he’s got some team records in range and that’s about all the Packers have left to play for. I’ll have a sprinkling of the rest of the top seven, with the exception of Michael Thomas. I just don’t think he’ll play much, if at all. I like Tyreek Hill, but at $8,500 it’ll be tough to have much of him because of the temptation to go down to Hopkins. I’ll have some TY Hilton at $8,300, but also really dig Robert Woods at $7,500. No thanks on Odell Beckham, and I’ll be fading the Vikings and Seahawks receivers, too. Mike Evans at $7,900 is in play on teams where I roster Winston, but generally speaking I’d prefer to roster Kenny Golladay for $600 less. Robby Anderson’s price is starting to get prohibitive at $6,800, and with the Jets offering little else in the passing game and New England needing a win to clinch a bye, I might roll the dice on fading here despite him being on a huge roll. Robert Foster at $6,300 is probably the better bet, as he’s getting tons of deep opportunities and faces a Dolphins team susceptible to them—likely without Xavien Howard. Desean Jackson’s dealing with an Achilles injury that could sideline him this week—and if it does, Chris Godwin at $5,500 and Adam Humphries at $5,200 are both very intriguing. In the under $5k range I like Tre’Quan Smith ($4,600), Michael Gallup ($4,500), Courtland Sutton ($4,300), Keith Kirkwood ($4,200), Marquise Goodwin ($4,000), Marquez Valdes-Scantling ($3,200) and Kendrick Bourne ($3,000).
The position is pretty fairly ordered at the top end, with Evan Engram at $6,300 probably the best value of the group—though I’d still rather play one of the top three if I can afford to. Cameron Brate is my favorite value play at $4,900, followed closely by Chris Herndon at $4,700 and a little further behind by C.J. Uzomah at $4,600. Austin Hooper could be in a bounce-back spot now at $4,200, but there’s plenty of risk there, too. I’d be more inclined to play Ian Thomas at $4,300. The only issue here is he faces the Saints for the second time in three weeks, and New Orleans is the one team he’s struggled against in the last three weeks. If you want to punt the position, there are a few options at $3K you can try. Lee Smith has scored in three straight games, but he’s also caught just one pass in each of those games. Josh Hill might get more run (or Dan Arnold might) over Ben Watson with New Orleans’ second-stringers. And Antonio Gates has five targets in each of the last two weeks.
If you want to pay up to be contrarian, the Rams and Seahawks are both fine plays. Heck, so are the Steelers and Texans. But if you’ve been reading this story all season you know my angst at paying up for defense. I’d probably only do it as part of a stack with a running back (so Mike Davis and the Seahawks defense, for instance). My two favorite plays, though, are both available for just $2,800—the Packers and the Saints. Kansas City for $100 more isn’t a bad move, and you could double dip with the Chiefs and Tyreek Hill—that way, if Hill scores a return touchdown, you get 12 points. I actually made a lineup last year that had Saints return man TommyLee Lewis (a reasonable punt play this week considering New Orleans will play its backups) and the New Orleans defense for that very reason. But I wound up late-swapping those two and a few others out of that particular lineup—and that’s the lineup that wound up winning me $5,000.
I’m really hoping to pull off a miracle and do it in back-to-back seasons, but the odds aren’t great. If I’m not able to get it done, here’s hoping it’s you. Good luck, and thanks for reading all season!
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.