When you’re around the daily games enough, and you start reading all the great many RotoExperts articles, you’re bound to come across the term variance. Variance is the drug for DFS that provides the rush and thrill of the game. Without any variance, it would be like Christian Okoye in a 1991 Tecmo Super Bowl video game (if you’re under 35, Google it). Basically, the Nigerian Nightmare would run over, through and bounce off every player imaginable. It was pretty funny……for the first 12 seconds you owned the game. After that, you realized the fun of the game was not the mastery of the Nightmare but the randomness of the unknown; the rush; the thrill of your shot at winning or chance to lose. How much control do you have to win?
In daily fantasy football, which arguably offers more variance that any other sport, there is the king of variance: Defense/Special Teams (D/ST). I’ve been hearing Nando DiFino on SiriusXM Sports Radio for months complaining how he just can’t pick defenses, so the last two weeks I’ve helped him out: Week 14 Broncos and Week 15 Patriots. Neither of these ended up being the top defense, but this past week the Patriots earned the most points per dollar spent, so an argument can be made they were in fact number one out of 32. The Pats at $2800 scored 20 while the Ravens scored 22, but the Ravens cost an additional $600. Last night’s Draft Kings Millionaire winner, Drew Dinkmeyer, used the Patriots in his lineup, and the $600 savings over runner-up, hhhammer1, allowed Drew to squeeze together Le’Veon Bell, Odell Beckham, Jr., and Dez Bryant. This is something that hhhammer1 could not effectively do with the expensive $3400 Ravens as his defense.
The common mindsets in picking a defense might be some of these:
- I never pick a good one so I may as well just go cheap
- I want to face Jacksonville
- I want to face the QB who just took over due to injury to the starter
- I want a low scoring ground-and-pound game
Some of these are flat out wrong and some might be right under the right circumstances. The one that’s flat out wrong is the last one: I want a low scoring ground-and-pound game. WRONG! Run the other way, fast (see last Thursday’s Arizona @ St. Louis game). The bonuses attained by keeping your DSTs opponent under a scoring threshold are minimal in comparison to what they can score through sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries, and touchdowns. So what you need is a defense that is facing a team that needs to drop back to pass a ton. It also helps if that team has a weak QB and is on the road.
In short summary, we are looking for a bad road QB who is going to be dropping back for a lot of passes, and I’ve found just about the easiest method possible to identify this. Start by looking at the Vegas lines on the game. Find all the home favorites of a touchdown or more. Take the amount they are favored by and subtract it from the total. Do this for all teams that qualify and you will get a list of four teams or so. These are your top four teams to target. Later, when you go to enter lineups, start with your defense and find where those teams are listed. For example, last weekend the top four teams were the Ravens, Chiefs, Seahawks, and Patriots. The first three on Draftkings were all 3,300 to 3,500, but the Patriots were $2,800 – an easy pick. On Fanduel, the Chiefs were inexcusably $200 away from minimum salary, and they were a no-brainer.
Looking ahead to Week 16 it’s a little tough for two reasons. 1) Most of the favorites are road favorites, and I prefer home teams. 2) Most of the favored home teams are only small favorites. However, there is one team that stands out nicely in Week 16 and that’s Miami. They are currently -6.5 favorites at home and the over/under is a modest 42.5. This gives it a “score” of 36, and that’s low enough to be a winner. Plus, Miami is in the middle of the pack on Draft Kings and towards the bottom on Fanduel. If Las Vegas isn’t alarmed that this defense got scorched at home two weeks ago by the Ravens and throttled by the Patriots on Sunday, then you shouldn’t care either.