Throughout the years I've heard things like "always start your studs" and "don't get cute". These phrases usually come about when a person is trying to determine who to start and who to sit. The purpose of this article is to explain the criteria most likely to produce a winning fantasy football lineup. I will use historical data to back my theories. You will learn how to use data to build a criteria for each position. This will help you identify the best possible starters. You'll be able to reference this criteria for both DFS and full season leagues. When you're done reading you'll know my criteria for creating winning fantasy football lineups for NFL DFS and my full season fantasy football leagues.
But First, The Misconceived Criteria
Before we go into specific criterion for each position we will hash out some basic misconceptions when creating fantasy football lineups. Common misconceptions that pollute our minds when creating lineups and rankings. The reason I want to talk about the misconceptions first is because the misconceptions are used as the baseline criteria for most fantasy team managers. We are going to change that today.
Misconception #1: Always Start Your Studs
Nothing could be further from the truth, sometimes. Not starting your studs is going to be hard. But you have to buy-in to this before moving forward with this article. You'll soon see that predicting upside is fairly easy to do and on any given Sunday rolling the dice with your RB3 over your RB1 isn't such a roll of the dice. So I submit to you today that you indeed do not need to always start your studs. When following the position by position criteria I outline later in this article this will start to become a much more palatable idea.
Misconception #2: Ride The Hot Hand
Some people firmly believe in riding the hot hand. But more often than not NFL football players rarely out perform the previous weeks strong performance. DFS players in-particular fall victim to recency bias. Just look at the ownership percentages on FanDuel and DraftKings. The table below shows us the percentage of players that outperformed their previous weeks performance when the previous weeks performance was 5 points over projection. 5 points over projection means: if the player was projected for 20 fantasy points but scored 25 fantasy points.
As you can see, less than 50% of the time a player out performed the previous weeks "hot hand" performance. The only time I ride the hot hand is when I'd start the guy anyway. We will go into this more in-depth position by position next, but here's the basics for those of you without access to the member only content.
- The player is consistently the focal point of the offense.
- The player is not impacted by game flow. Meaning they produce regardless of the score, down and distance.
- The weather is "good football weather", read more on this topic here.
- The defense isn't known to take away a player. Researching how the defense attacks teams with similar weapons pays huge dividends. As an aside, FPA (fantasy points allowed) usually doesn't paint a clear picture when you drill down into how teams game plan. Past performance of not only the player in question but players of similar talent really can help you make the right call. As the season begins to unfold, say by week 5, you can really start to narrow things down. This plays a large role in our criteria so let's jump into that now.
The Baseline Criteria
Since we can't predict the future, we have to lean on historical data and forward looking information to create our criteria. Basic information such as weather, home/road, Vegas over/under and implied team totals help get the party started. Then we look at defensive performance, particularly the weakness of a defense and if they tend to funnel production toward a particular area of offense. This has nothing to do with hot hands or who you drafted with your 1st, 2nd or 10th round. It's all about identifying opportunity and capitalizing on it. Injuries, particularly to the offensive line, play a major role in everyone's production. Therefore, how offensive line injuries impact each position needs to be reviewed. Let's break down the criteria for each position so you can create winning fantasy football lineups going forward.
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