DFS NFL Strategy for How to Pick Tight Ends, Kickers, and Defenses for GPPs

Posted on September 22, 2016

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The NFL season is finally here, and that means Daily Fantasy Football is back. Saahil Sud, formerly Maxdalury, has created a strategy on how to approach selecting each position for your lineups, in both cash games and tournaments. Over the next few weeks, we will be going over these strategies in detail. Next up we will discuss Saahil’s strategy for how to pick tight ends, kickers, and defenses for GPPs.

Tight End Selection

The salary for a tight end is obviously going to be the lower than the salary for a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver, as tight ends average fewer fantasy points per week than the other positions. Tight ends have a pretty steady variance, as compared to the other positions, although it is a bit higher for tight ends. The $ per fantasy point for tight ends fall between that of running backs and wide receivers.

As we have discussed with some of the other positions, stacking players from the same team is very important when it comes to tournament strategy. As we can see in the Top-10 lineups in DraftKings’ Millionaire Maker tournament from last season, only 8.75% of the top lineups stacked the tight end with a wide receiver. This percentage is not that high because wide receivers and tight ends take targets away from each other. When a quarterback drops back to throw a pass, he can only throw the ball to one player. There is no way for both the wide receiver and the tight end to gain points on the same play (unless the wide receiver is throwing the ball, which is very rare). However, the quarterback – tight end stack is more common, as 16.9% of the top-10 lineups had this stack. The most common stack in daily fantasy football is the quarterback-wide receiver stack. Stacking a quarterback with his tight end is a way to slightly differentiate yourself from the rest of the contestants, while still gaining double the points from the quarterback throwing a touchdown to that tight end. It has the same benefits of stacking your QB and WR, but less people play the QB-TE stack, which could potentially give you an edge over the competition in GPPs.

In the Top-10 lineups in FanDuel’s Millionaire Maker tournament from last year, we see similar ownership percentages for the same stacks as DraftKings’ tournament. The QB-TE stack has the highest ownership of any stack involving the tight end at 10.6%. The next most popular stack with the TE is the QB-WR-TE stack, which 5.3% of Top-10 lineups had. This stack option could be a smart strategy. In order to win a GPP, your QB must throw for multiple touchdowns. If one of those touchdowns goes to the tight end, who is also in your lineup, that would give you an advantage over the competition, as not many people have the quarterback and tight end stack.

Tight end ownership is generally more clustered compared to wide receivers and running backs. The reason for this is simple; there are not that many good tight ends in the NFL. As you can see in the chart in Saahil’s NFL GPP and tournament TE and defense strategy video, there are three players that make up about half of the ownership. What this shows us is that there is some value in going with a less owned player at the tight end position, especially in tournaments. Tight ends score a lot of touchdowns, as they are normally targeted a lot in the red zone.

Kicker Selection

There are two stack options involving kickers that are found somewhat often. These two stacks are a running back and kicker, and a defense and kicker. There is little correlation between kickers and either of these positions, so it is likely that these are random rather than intentional stacks. In fact, if you stack your running back and kicker, and your running back scores a touchdown, that is going to lower your kicker’s field goal opportunities, as he will only get the chance to kick an extra point. Kicker ownership is generally clustered around the lower-priced players. This is a good strategy to use, as it is wise to use more money at other positions that have bigger differences between the players. You can also get a possible edge over the competition by selecting one of the least owned kickers for your lineup. It is very difficult to predict kickers’ fantasy outcomes, and so by choosing a kicker that is not in many lineups, you are setting yourself up to be in great shape for GPPs if that kicker ends up having a huge game.

Defense Selection

Defenses have the lowest salary, average fantasy points, and $ per fantasy point of any position in fantasy football, while also having the highest variance. This is because defenses rely more on touchdowns than any other position, as that is where they get a big bulk of their points. Stacking a running back with a defense is a pretty popular stack, which makes sense. If your defense is performing well, they aren’t going to give up a lot of points and will probably have the lead in the game. When a team is winning, they tend to run the ball a lot more, leading to more rushing yards and touchdowns. There is a definite correlation between running backs and defenses, so that is something you should definitely take advantage of in your tournament lineup.

With defenses, there are going to be a few chalky options every week. Those are generally going to be the teams that are the biggest favorites. As you can see in the chart in the video, the Detroit Lions were owned by over 23% of lineups in this random week during the 2014 season, which is very high considering there are at least 28 different defenses to choose from (depending on how many teams have a bye). Since this percentage is so high, it would be smart to look for another defense that is a lot less owned and go with them. You can generally take advantage of the high variance of the defense position and pick a lower-owned defense with a good matchup that could maybe score a touchdown.

What we’ll see from FanDuel’s salaries is that they are definitely pricing their salaries based on Vegas totals for both the kicker and the defense. There is a definite correlation between FanDuel kicker salaries and FanDuel defense salaries. The kickers are generally going to be all priced a little higher than the defenses. This is something we can take a look at in terms of figuring out opportunities where the defense is projected to do better than their Vegas total implies.

NFL Tournament Lineup Example

Let’s take a look at the tournament lineup found in Saahil’s NFL GPP and tournament TE and defense strategy video. This lineup had the Washington Redskins as its defense, who were 15% owned and thus more on the chalky side but had a very low salary. The reason it was priced so low was because starting quarterback Tony Romo was hurt and not playing. While Dallas still had a great offense, the backup quarterback starting the game affected the price of the Redskins defense. They didn’t record that many sacks (only one), but they were able to keep Dallas in a modest point range. You would like more than eight points from your defense if you want to win your GPP, but it was not a horrible performance by the Redskins defense.

At tight end, Scott Chandler of the New England Patriots was targeted for this lineup. His ownership was also pretty high at 26.7%, but was in a very good spot with starting tight end Rob Gronkowski out with an injury. Chandler ended the game with four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown, which is more than you could ask for for a player in his price range. While his ownership was a bit high, Chandler was a top play as the starting tight end in a New England offense that loves giving the ball to its tight ends.

More Daily Fantasy Research from RotoQL

RotoQL offers numerous different resources to help increase your chances at winning in Daily Fantasy Sports. You can check out our video tutorials on how to use RotoQL at the Zen Desk (rotoql.zendesk.com). If you have any specific questions, feel free to email us at support@rotoql.com. Finally if you are new to DFS or just need a refresher on some of the fundamentals, visit RotoU (/university). We hope you learned from Saahil’s strategy for how to pick tight ends and defenses for GPPs!

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