Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!
In DFS, we talk about pivots. When a player is expected to be very popular, it’s often a good idea to find another player who has a reasonable chance of performing just as well, but is far less popular. This gives us leverage on our competition – if our player does well at low ownership, and the other player is a bust, we leapfrog all the people who selected the more popular player.
Sometimes we’ll talk about pivots not simply from an ownership perspective but from a position and expected game flow situation. If everyone thinks a team is going to pass the entire game, instead of picking a WR, we might pivot and pick the team’s RB. All it takes is a couple TDs punched in from the 1-yard line and the RB becomes a stud and the WRs become busts, making our pivot pay off.
How can we apply this pivot concept to season-long drafts? Every year, there are players that are overhyped and players that are popular just for their name value. We’ve already looked at some overhyped and underhyped players in our Hype Hub but what else can we look at to find some season-long pivots.
If we look at the top weapons on a team and consider where each is being drafted – whether they have a positive or negative delta – we can see who is being drafted higher than where we rank them and who is being drafted lower than where we rank them. If a given team has multiple starters who are being over drafted, it’s likely that the team will have a starter that is being overlooked.
Let’s start with one of the top storylines of the offseason – the Raiders and Davante Adams.
Derek Carr is being drafted pretty close to where we rank him. Josh Jacobs is being drafted 15 spots higher than where we rank him. Davante Adams is being drafted 5 spots higher than where we rank him. Hunter Renfrow is being drafted 16 spots higher than where we rank him. What does that leave us with? Darren Waller, traditionally the top weapon on the Raiders, being under drafted by 13 spots. Sure, the Carr to Adams connection could be just as good as the Rodgers to Adams connection, but you’ve got to pay up for that. You can get a nice value by pivoting to Waller, who may benefit from the extra attention provided to Adams.
We can look at the Chargers for another pivot example.
Austin Ekeler is being overdrafted slightly and comes with a lot of question marks. If you’ve got an early pick, maybe you pivot away from Ekeler, take a different top RB or a top WR instead, and later take Justin Herbert. While Herbert and Ekeler do offer some correlation in the passing game, if Herbert outperforms, as Mike Hubbard Jr. laid out in his QB Hub, then it’s likely that Ekeler will under perform his current draft spot. If you want to double-up on your pivot, we can borrow another DFS concept – stacking. As outlined in our 2nd year WR article, Josh Palmer could be primed for a breakout, especially if Herbert outperforms. If he does break out, particularly in the red zone, that’s another knock against Ekeler. Mike Williams also fits the bill as a great, under valued pivot.
The Rams give us another opportunity to pivot.
In this situation, we have Kupp being drafted as the top WR, right around where we have him ranked. But we also see Stafford being over drafted and both RBs being over drafted. If Stafford is over drafted and Kupp is expected to be the top WR in fantasy football, but the other WRs on the team are being under drafted, we have a pivot opportunity. The ADP is telling the story that Stafford will dominate and he’ll do it by focusing most of his attention on Kupp. But, it’s not hard to imagine Kupp being unable to repeat his performance from last year and, if Stafford does outperform, then it’s likely one of the other WRs outperforms as well. Allen Robinson is still a little under drafted, but he’s popular, so we could pivot to either Higbee to breakout at TE or Van Jefferson as a deeper value pivot.
The Ravens and Lamar Jackson are an interesting case this year.
After losing Marquise Brown to the Cardinals, we’d probably expect Lamar Jackson’s ADP to drop some, but you can see he’s still being way overvalued compared to our rankings. Does the public think Lamar is going to do everything by himself? If so, we’d expect to see the RBs being under drafted significantly. This is an example of name value and one great season carrying too much weight. But, let’s assume Lamar Jackson does outperform. He can’t outperform that much solely with his legs. He’ll need to increase his passing numbers as well. We know Mark Andrews is popular but Rashod Bateman, another player we highlighted in our 2nd year WR article, is still being under drafted. He’s a great pivot away from Lamar Jackson and some of the more popular Ravens players.
We have other examples of pivots still to come, but let’s recap where we are so far. If we drafted with this pivot strategy, we could be looking at this team.
We have an early pick and we pass on Kupp and Ekeler, taking McCaffrey instead. We pass on Mark Andrews, selecting Darren Waller instead, and later add Rashod Bateman. We take Herbert at QB with our pivot away from Ekeler, and we later add Palmer (or Mike Williams if you prefer). We add Van Jefferson in later rounds. We’ve made some smart pivots, while also managing to get some exposure to the Rams, Chargers, and Raiders, three offenses expected to score in bunches.
If we want to keep targeting high-powered offenses, and we miss out on Waller, we could look to Hayden Hurst.
He could be an attractive TE sleeper after seeing what CJ Uzomah started to do last season. Of course, there are a ton of other options on the Bengals, but there is tremendous value for where you’d have to draft him.
James Conner could continue to be undervalued and outperform. Great pivot given all the attention on the passing game.
The Patriots get no WR respect, but Mac Jones is in his second year and has a new target. With the running game being over drafted, it’s not hard to imagine DeVante Parker outperforming as a nice pivot.
Tyler Locket is scary given the QB situation, but is a nice pivot away from all the Penny and Walker hype.
Austin Hooper could be a late TE value as well. Robert Woods coming off an injury, durability and volume concerns with Henry, and AJ Brown gone could all mean Hooper continues to be overlooked.
We’ve looked at a number of situations where public sentiment for one player is giving us an opportunity to pivot to another player at greater value. That’s the name of the game for us – maximizing value in our draft. We can do it by using the ADP and Delta data on our matrix cheat sheet to fill our team with smart pivots.