When it comes to playing in large tournaments in daily fantasy football, it pays to set a variety of lineups but still maintain some consistency with core guys throughout each one. You often want at least 3-5 lineups (sometimes more) if you plan to have a chance to cash in a tournament. These contests are the hardest to cash in since there can be 100,000 participants in each field. The margin for error is very small, so even if you put together a very strong lineup by playing the matchups, the likelihood of it being the perfect lineup is still not that great.
To combat this, you must build your lineup like a mutli-course meal with a main entree. Consider your dinner guests to be the people of DraftKings who will only reward you if you really floor them with your meal. They're the snobbiest dinner guests of all time. Think about that guy who only drinks craft beer with trappist glassware sniffs his glass like a line of coke before he drinks it. These are the types of people you're dealing with in tournament play.
So, you know your dinner guests love steak as do most people. I mean, even if you cook one over a George Foreman grill it more than likely generates some head nods from those at the table. The steak in this case is made up of your core players, the guys you almost know are going to do well. The only thing is — these guys also love side dishes too — and you have an idea which side dishes they'll like but you don't know what the perfect side dish match will be with the steak. To make matters worse, your guests are only going to pay you $100,000 if your side dishes matchup impeccably with the steak.
Yes, that scenario is entirely plausible and likely happened to you yesterday as it does with all people, it also serves as a simile to describe trying to win big money against slim odds in Daily Fantasy Football tournaments. You must get everything perfect to win in these tournaments. Everything from your centerpiece players to your side players must be near perfect.
So what do you do? You make a variety of side dishes and keep serving them with the steak until you find one that matches perfectly. You should be entering a variety of lineups into these tournaments, even if it costs a bit more. The likelihood of you nailing it perfectly with one lineup is like trying to guess which side dish the snobbiest foodie in the world would like with a steak. You probably have a good thing going with the steak, but you're going to need to throw a lot of different side dishes at him before he gives the seal of approval. In this case, straight cash homey.
You tired of this steak metaphor yet? The lesson is to build a variety of daily fantasy football lineups but center them around one core group of (your steak) and mix and match a variety of other players who might benefit from the matchup and might not (your side dishes) and enter all those lineups into the tournament to please the DraftKings people (your guests) in hopes one of your lineups is more liked than anyone else's so you get paid lotsss of money...playaaa.
The Week 8 Steak running backs
This is the group of players for your fantasy lineup that will be your main course you're almost certain will do well this coming Sunday. You should feature at least two of these players in some shape or form in all of your lineups.
1. Todd Gurley vs. San Francisco
Gurley has rushed for over 100 yards in three-straight games and plays on a team with a bad quarterback which helps him for game script and rushing attempts. Plus, he's going up against a woeful rushing defense that's allowing the seventh-most points to running backs (20.4) The 49ers have also allowed 8 rushing touchdowns which is third-worst in the league. Lastly, the Rams have the benefit of playing at home where they're 2-1.
2. Le'Veon Bell vs. Cincinnati
Bell is the glue that has held the Steelers' offense together through the tough times of not having Big Ben Roethlisberger under center. The Bengals are a middle-of-the-road run defense so the matchup isn't exactly eye-popping, but Bell is featured so heavily in the run game (at least 20 carries in three straight games at one point in the regular season) plus has the passing upside (has at least 4 catches in four-of-five games and 7 grabs in two-of-five) that you have to go with him in a division matchup at home.
3. Justin Forsett vs. San Diego
Notice the theme here. A lot of these running backs are at home and on teams favored to win. Forsett only has two games of 100 or more yards but San Diego's defense has been throttled by running backs all season. They've allowed 100 yard rushing games from Giovani Bernard, Adrian Peterson, Le'Veon Bell and James Starks (insert painful Eddie Lacy flashback memory here). Factor in the countless close losses Baltimore has had plus home-field advantage plus a prideful organization and you have a recipe for a hungry Ravens team that should be thinking victory in this one. Game script could be favorable here as well since Philip Rivers is racking up passing yards which could play into more opportunities to score points for Forsett. You just have to hope the Chargers don't jump out to a big lead and force Flacco to throw the ball too much, which is what happened in Arizona.
Side Dish running backs Week 8
These are the running backs who have favorable matchups but we're not quite as high on. You should sprinkle these guys in throughout your lineups, meaning start one of them but not two. For example, try a combination of Forsett, Bell and one of these players or Bell/Gurley, etc.
1. Marshawn Lynch at Dallas
The Seahawks face a Dallas team ranked third-worst in fantasy points allowed for running backs (22.3) but there are a few things we don't like about this matchup. For one, Lynch only has one 100-yard game this season and even that very game came last week, we'd still like to see more consistency. The Seahawks have also been an inconsistent offense with an inconsistent line. Still, the matchup is nice and game script could favor Matt Cassel and the Cowboys turning the ball over frequently which would favor a lot of running for Seattle, but the team has proven they aren't what they used to be offensively and Lynch's stats could reflect that. Seahawks have been woeful on the road this season at just 1-3 as well.
2. Charcandrick West vs. Detroit (London)
West really made his name known last week after a 100-plus yard, 1-touchdown effort against the Steelers. More importantly, he saw 22 carries. The running back has also been an important factor in Andy Reid's West Coast offense and the Lions are eighth-worst against running backs in fantasy this season, giving up 19.9 points per game. West is a good side dish because of his low cost ($4,700 on DraftKings) and his potential payoff is huge. Use him in a flex spot with the running backs above for a chance to pop.
3. Devonta Freeman vs. Tampa Bay
I know, it's hard to consider Freeman a side dish, but consider this. The Buccaneers have actually been decent against the run this season. They've allowed just four rushing touchdowns this season and just over 14 points per game to running, which ranks among the Top 10 best in the league. As good as they are against the run, they're the complete opposite against the pass. The Buccaneers rank fourth-worst against wide receivers and have allowed two quarterbacks to throw for 4 touchdowns against them.
This isn't to say Freeman can't dominate them since he's dominated every team he's played. This is more of an argument of game script favoring the pass for Atlanta, which could make Freeman less likely to score a touchdown. You need touchdowns in tournaments if you expect to win big. This also isn't to say you shouldn't start Freeman — you should. Just don't use him in every lineup. Use him in 1/3 of them.