5 Daily Fantasy Football Matchups to Exploit in Week 1
First day of school, 1999. I was all ready to show off my brand new Old Navy tee shirt that my mom had bought two weeks ago. My kicks were fly, my jorts were styling, and this young buck was ready to dazzle.
I walked into Mrs. Hanson's class, thinking that this would be the year I busted out and showed the rest of the school how cool I really was. I was swimming in confidence.
Until I opened my backpack, that is.
To my immense horror, I couldn't find my pack of 31 pencils (one for each NFL team at the time), the prized possession from that year's round of shopping. I dug, clawed, and searched frantically, but they were nowhere to be seen. These were supposed to be the heirlooms I'd pass down to future generations.
Even after sharpening them the night before, in the rush that was my maiden voyage into the second-grade hallway, I had forgotten one of the most essential components of what was bound to vault me to popularity. Now, I was stuck with the plain, yellow pencils, doomed to dwell with the plebeians for all of eternity.
Entering Week 1, we've got plenty of shiny objects waiting to suck away our attention. There are big-time value plays in robust roles, veterans with new teams, and rookies waiting to make their impact at the next level. These are the back-to-school jorts of the NFL. We can't let them distract us from our processes.
In every other week of the season, we're going to evaluate matchups we want to exploit, whether it's because of personnel changes, injuries, or just a lack of talent in an opposing defense. Yes, other factors such as volume will come into play, and it means some of those shiny objects are going to still wind up on our rosters this week. But Week 1 of NFL DFS is fundamentally still the same beast we'll attempt to tame in Week 16.
That said, these waters are a bit trickier to navigate earlier in the year. Teams change drastically throughout each season, and that's even more true over the offseason. As such, we need to be sure to sprinkle in context whenever trying to identify these plus matchups so that we are assessing a team in its current state rather than how they looked almost a year ago.
We can gain some of that context by looking at numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP), the metric we use to track the efficiency of teams and players with team metrics being adjusted for strength of opponent. NEP shows us the expected points gained (or lost) on each play throughout the season, allowing us to see just how efficient an offense was. This gives us the additional context of knowing that a two-yard rush on 3rd and 1 is infinitely more valuable than that same two-yard rush on 3rd and 3.
Even with the wonkiness that is Week 1, we have to keep our bearings. We can't forget the processes that have led us to success in the past, and we need to make sure all of the tools for victory are sharpened and packed into our rosters for the opening kickoff. Which matchups should we exploit when the 2017 season gets underway? Let's check it out.