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4th and Long: Let’s Punt

Last week, we talked a bit about “fading” and what that entailed. Today, our main topic of conversation will be “punting,” which is a daily fantasy sports strategy that is very similar to fading, but used for a slightly different purpose. If you have yet to read the “To Fade, or Not To Fade” article, please do so now, as I will be comparing a lot of the concepts in that article to punting in this article.  Our other NFL DFS Strategy articles can be found here.

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What Is Punting?

So, what exactly does it mean to “punt” a player? Obviously, this does not mean picking up Aaron Rodgers and seeing how far you can kick him. Punting is a strategy used by many of the top daily fantasy sports players in the world. While it is not as popular as fading, it is definitely still relevant to the DFS realm. Unlike fading, punting is more concerned with a specific position rather than specific players. For example, one would punt the TE position; they would not punt Jimmy Graham. This strategy, put simply, means to neglect a specific position and roster a player with a very low (minimum or close to it) salary in order to spend that money at another position, which would hopefully provide more value than the punted position.

Let’s use an example to fully understand some of this mumbo-jumbo. As we all know, week one of the NFL season is quickly approaching. Let’s assume that you have your entire lineup ready to go except for two players. Your remaining salary is $8,000, and you need to fill one WR spot and the TE spot. Punting the TE position in this situation makes a lot of sense. Now this does not mean to scroll to the bottom of the TE list and select John Peters of the Cincinnati Bengals. Instead, strategically select a minimum, or close to minimum, TE with at least a little bit of upside. In this case, one that pops out is Benjamin Watson of the New Orleans Saints. He is going to see the field, unlike John Peters, and has the ability to at least score a few fantasy points. Selecting Benjamin Watson, who is $2,600, opens up $5,400 dollars for a WR. Watson is much cheaper than the middle-of-the-road TEs on the board, such as Jordan Cameron at $3,800. This allows you to roster Allen Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars rather than rostering Cameron and Brian Quick of the St. Louis Rams. If the value of Watson and Robinson ends up successfully outweighing the value of Cameron and Quick, you’ve successfully punted the TE position.

 

When To Punt

Now that we know what exactly punting is, when is it that we want to punt a position? Well, this ultimately boils down to the nature of the position. Punting is extremely popular in college football at the TE position, and for good reason. The predictability of that specific position is very unreliable. That last sentence is the key to punting. Let’s repeat: the predictability of that specific position is very unreliable.

In football (NFL or NCAA), this unpredictability usually occurs in the WR and TE position, as well as the DST slot. The WR and TE positions, more so in the TE position, are highly based on targets and touchdowns. Here is a made up scenario to help you understand. The second quarter of the New Orleans Saints’ game just started. Drew Brees is driving his team down the field with his highly effective passing game. Brandin Cooks catches a ball, turns up field, and gets tackled at the two-yard line. Brees drops back and, in typical Brees fashion, throws a touchdown. Seems normal up to this point, right? Well, the touchdown happened to come on a TE leak route, and Watson caught the ball. At his super low price tag, he has already crushed value. Aren’t you glad you punted the TE position? Even if Jordan Cameron had his typical 4 catches and 40 yards, Robinson only needs to outscore Quick by 2 fantasy points, which seems highly likely.

Touchdowns to the TE position are highly unpredictable, which is exactly why punting is so popular at that position. Also, touchdowns scored by a defense are also highly unpredictable. If the Philadelphia Eagles run a punt back for a touchdown week one, the Seattle Seahawks are going to struggle to score as many fantasy points as them, even though they are the far superior defense. All in all, punting at the TE and DST positions make a lot of sense for daily fantasy football, but remember to not randomly select cheap players. Instead, strategically select low-priced players with at least a little bit of upside.

 

Did They Punt?

Before we part ways, let’s do a little practice test to see if you understand what exactly punting is. Here are three scenarios. Your job is to say whether or not Mr. DFS punted or not.

  1. With two remaining spots remaining on his roster, Mr. DFS decided to play Davante Adams based on his low price tag and high upside, which gives him enough money to get Greg Olsen at the TE position.
  2. Realizing that everyone is going to be playing Aaron Rodgers week one, Mr. DFS decided to go with Andrew Luck instead to utilize his low own-percentage.
  3. DFS realizes that the Bears have a very dynamic punt and kick returner, and he should see plenty of returns. For that reason, he decides to neglect the higher-priced defenses in favor of the Bears. This allows him to get Eddie Lacy over Joseph Randle at the RB position.

 

Answers

  1. This is not punting. Instead, it is just a smart move on Mr. DFS’ part. He realizes the value of Davante Adams due to Jordy Nelson’s injury and decides to use his low price tag to play Greg Olsen at the TE position.
  2. This is a classic example of fading. I warned you to read that article.
  3. Using the tools presented in this article, Mr. DFS punted at the DST position to get better value at the RB position.

 

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