Week 7 Daily Fantasy Football: Picking the Optimal Lineup

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Sometimes daily fantasy football is all about perspective. For instance, the team we put together for our optimal lineup in week six was pretty good. Andy Dalton, Matt Forte, Arian Foster, Julian Edelman, Larry Fitzgerald and Tyler Eifert were all good to great.

The problem? C.J. Anderson and Dwayne Harris weren’t the sleepers we hoped they’d be and the usually safe New York Jets defense didn’t get it done against the Redskins.

That worked out just fine in regular cash games. Enter that team into 50/50 games or head to head battles and there’s a good chance you make out pretty well. But part of daily fantasy football is the excitement of those massive GPPs. And as close as we were, we failed on three calls.

But the logic was there, and as long as that’s the case, you can continue to feel good about where you stand in daily fantasy football. Harris could have benefited immensely with Victor Cruz out and both Rueben Randle and Odell Beckham Jr. banged up. He was also just $3.1k at DraftKings, so it was a fun upside play. The same went for Anderson, who was a solid $4.5k and was going up against the atrocious Cleveland Browns run defense (dead last in the NFL).

In hindsight, Harris should have been switched out for someone like Josh Huff once we learned ODB and Randle would be active (although Huff was also a failure), Ronnie Hillman should have been used over Anderson and the Jets going all weak sauce against Kirk Cousins, well, nothing can explain that away.

This is why we suggest every week to enter both types of games. In fact, work hard to form the best possible roster and step away, look at it, and love it. Once you’re done, use it in a GPP and then test it in the H2H and 50/50 waters. If you nail most of your calls like we did last week, you’ll win in cash games. If you nail’em all, you just might win big.

That’s the aim yet again in week seven, as we try to combine all the key DFS strategies (upside/safety/balance/contrarian) to piece together the perfect team. More importantly, a winning team. Use the team below in daily fantasy football this week or just take bits and pieces. We’ll do the very same in a GPP and some cash games and report back next week on how we did.

With that, it’s to the building of the week seven optimal DFS lineup:

QB: Philip Rivers – Chargers ($6.5k)

I’m not going to try to get cute at quarterback. Some weeks you can roll with a cheap guy and it’ll work out. Maybe it does this week with someone like Ryan Fitzpatrick, but I like Palmer and Philip Rivers far too much to not use. Rivers gets the slightest of nods due to his splits at home this year (26 fantasy points per game), plus he’s coming off of a killer 503-yard outing last week. He also gives me a nice stack with Antonio Gates.

RB: Todd Gurley – Rams ($5k)

Gurley is a straight up elite masher. There, I said it. He’s put up back to back 150+ yardage games, is at home and gets the awful, awful Browns run defense. The only thing he’s missing is a touchdown explosion game, and I bet he gets it this week. Yes, everyone will be on Gurley this week, but I can’t not use him for all reasons already said, and also this insanely low price.

RB: Christine Michael – Cowboys ($3k)

Update: Put Doug Martin in RB slot and Brandin Cooks in Flex.

I’m not sure if Michael is going to be insanely high owned or a solid contrarian play. Two things we know for sure, though, are that he’s finally getting a chance to show what he can do and he comes with some risk. We don’t know for sure what his role will be or if he’ll destroy or not, but his matchup with a shaky Giants run defense definitely allows the opportunity for him to go completely nuts. If Dallas isn’t lying and he’s suddenly going to get a huge workload, he’s way too cheap to not use.

WR: Calvin Johnson – Lions ($7.7k)

Megatron lives, my friends. Calvin Johnson and the rest of the Lions survived some pretty brutal matchups earlier in the year and finally came to life last week against the Bears. It’s very possible that awesomeness continues on this week. Johnson’s second best game of 2015 came against these very Vikings and Detroit in general are at their best on their home field. He’s also a solid value compared to other elite receiver’s pricing.

WR: Antonio Brown – Steelers ($7.9k)

Update: Drop Brown and put Donte Moncrief in WR slot.

Brown has been a total turd the past three weeks, as he’s been held under 10 fantasy points each time. He’s too good for this. Either Ben Roethlisberger or Landry Jones will be under center this week, though, and that’s infinitely better than Michael Vick. Brown is also a ridiculous value at this price and he’s facing a horrendous Chiefs pass defense. It all adds up to Brown being a must play, and thanks to three down weeks in a row, he might even be a mild contrarian play.

WR: Larry Fitzgerald – Cardinals ($7.4k)

Fitz has been a total machine this year, as he has two monster outings and has also been safe (hasn’t dipped below 14 fantasy points in any contest). This week he closes the week out on Monday Night Football against a terrible Ravens secondary. Tough to hate on that.

TE: Antonio Gates – Chargers ($5k)

There are only two reasons not to use Gates this week: you’re afraid his awesome two-week run will come to a crashing halt or you want Rob Gronkowski. I’ll figure that out for you – it ain’t happening and you needn’t pay up for The Gronk this week.

For one, Gates has been absolutely amazing. In the two weeks since coming back from a four-game suspension, he has hauled in 18 catches, nearly 200 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He’s been a total machine and every week he gives you PPR value with red-zone capability. There’s more. He gets the Oakland Raiders, who rank dead last against tight ends in terms of points allowed. Also, he’s a ridiculous price. Gronkowski is over $3k more expensive!

You could argue that everyone will be on Gates, and I’d agree. But it doesn’t matter. The value, safety and upside are all too good to pass up. I’ll be using Gates exclusively at tight end this week.

Flex: Doug Martin – Buccaneers ($4.9k)

The Muscle Hamster used last week to rest up on Tampa’s bye and now he gets to pick up where he left off in week five, when he dominated the Jaguars with three touchdowns. Normally I’d refrain from using a running back against a seemingly stingy Redskins run defense, but that unit has been absolutely destroyed in back-to-back contests (Devonta Freeman and Chris Ivory). It’s worth a shot to bet Martin is lucky number three.

DEF: St. Louis Rams ($2.4k)

A few weeks ago I was all about the Rams when they were on the road against the Packers at Lambeau Field. Crazy, right? Not really, since St. Louis gets after the quarterback and posts pretty stingy numbers against the pass. They ended up panning out beautifully, getting me a solid 9 fantasy points.

The reason I was into the Rams then and again this week is simple: they’re an insane value and team defenses are incredibly tough to predict. Unless they’re the Denver Broncos, you really can’t trust them. At this price, though, I don’t have to trust the Rams. I just know they can sack Josh McCown and I know Cleveland doesn’t have enough weapons to light them on. At least logic suggests that. They’re also at home and have dipped below 9 fantasy points one time all season. I’ve seen Millionaire Maker winners with defenses sporting a cool 4 points, too. I think I’ll take my chances.

This team is a tad less contrarian than I’d prefer for a GPP, but I oddly feel like that could work in my favor this week. Take last week for example. In a GPP where first place won $100,000, the only “crazy” play on the winning team at all was the Philadelphia Eagles. Going the balanced route can and will work. You just need the right combination. This week that’s how our optimal lineup is rocking out. I’m very confident this team will win some money in regular cash games and it will be very interesting to see how things play out in a big GPP contest.

Again, feel free to use this team or just use some of the player breakdowns to help build your own. Either way, good luck in daily fantasy football this week!

Update: I made an alteration with whispers that the Cowboys won’t be switching up their running game quite as some may think. That has me taking out Michael and dropping from Antonio Brown to Donte Moncrief and Brandin Cooks instead. That Colts/Saints game has the highest total of the week, anyways, so we will want some exposure to it.

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