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How to build a FanDuel weekly lineup

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There are a few places to look for savings, and it's always nice to have some targets when you enter a game.

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is running a $1,000,000 fantasy football league for Week 1. It's $5 to enter and first place wins $100,000. Click here to join!

We're still in early-season mode. Let's talk about how to build FanDuel rosters as we get going in the early parts of the NFL season, playing daily fantasy.

As I mentioned Wednesday, FanDuel as a weekly game has several game options. For Sunday, I'm playing in the $1 million Sunday NFL Rush, a $5 entry that pays out a hundred grand to first place, with 46,000 of a possible 229,885 spots paying out. In a 50/50 game, you're just seeking to finish in the top half. Maybe you aren't swinging for the fences, instead just looking for reasonable success. But in a tournament, it's top-heavy. Sure, I'll take the $10 prize for 46,000th place, but to even get that is only the top 20 percent of leagues; to get significant money, we're taking about finishing in the top 200, and that's less than a tenth of a percent of entrants.

So you swing for it in these games. A hit-or-miss guy -- the stereotypical answer, even if it doesn't really apply as much these days as it used to, is Vincent Jackson, who used to be the ultimate boom-or-bust wide receiver -- is appetizing in these games. If he strikes out, whatever, you probably weren't going to go crazy anyway. But if he lands, well heck, that's a long way toward a lot of money.

Another thing to monitor is injuries or status changes that come after prices are set. Once FanDuel opens a game, a guy's salary won't change -- it's unfair to players who get in early. So this is especially doable in Week 1. For example, the salaries were set before Jordy Nelson got hurt. That means Randall Cobb is less expensive than he might have been, and Davante Adams is far less expensive. The same is true in Carolina with Kelvin Benjamin, or it would be if the rest of Carolina's receiving options weren't garbage on a stick. (Sorry, Philly Brown and Ted Ginn.)

Later in the season, with less time between games, these opportunities aren't always as plentiful, but they do arise. Guy is a surprise entrant on the injury report on Friday? Immediately check out the price on his backup. You might get good news.

Okay, that out of the way, I'm going to go through my process of forming my Friday lineup:

  • First step was to save money in exactly the way I just described: Get Davante Adams. He was priced at $5,500 (on a $60,000 cap). Nelson was $8,600; Cobb is $8,400. A Packers receiver who promises heavy usage is always appealing, especially at a discount.
  • The next step was to look for the obvious fill-the-roster-with-whoever spot, the kicker. Sure, Justin Tucker or Mason Crosby might be appealing, but even the extra $400 or $500 can hurt you. I always scroll down on kickers, which is where I found Brandon McManus. Just like the Adams example, when prices were set, McManus wasn't supposed to have his gig; Connor Barth was the Denver kicker. A cut later, and the kicker for a Peyton Manning offense is available for $4,500.
  • Those were two spots for savings. From there, I looked at the price of a few guys I might want to splurge on, just to know what I'm shooting for. Aaron Rodgers is $9,700. The Miami Dolphins' defense (licking its lips at the prospect of Kirk Cousins) is $4,700. Jimmy Graham, with Rob Gronkowski having played Thursday, is the top tight end, at $6,900. I didn't add any of the three, but I noted those salaries to know what to search for.
  • The next step was another Adams-esque example. Victor Cruz is crazy unlikely to play Sunday. That means Rueben Randle, who I frankly don't think is very good, will nonetheless be the team's No. 2 receiver. He's always a candidate for a goose egg, but he has big games in his back pocket as well, and he was priced even less than Adams, at $5,300.
  • Now, the other place I always look for savings: second running back. I will almost always invest in one big-timer, but the second running back can sometimes be a lower-tier guy. Still a starter, but not necessarily a super-premium guy. I opted for Isaiah Crowell, available for $6,100.
  • I was saving money even more successfully than I expected at this point. With five spots to fill (QB, RB, WR, TE, DEF), I had more than $7,600 per player left to spend. That meant, right away, that I could afford to get that Miami defense ($4,700) and its tasty matchup, and Jimmy Graham ($6,900) and actually see my per-player remaining rise.
  • Savings are always nice, and at this point, I could afford almost every player in the game. Julio Jones, who I rank as my No. 1 receiver this week against a Philadelphia defense that was no great shakes against No. 1 receivers last year, is priced at $9,000, and he became mine. Still with some savings to play with, I made the dive on Rodgers, my No. 1 quarterback, at $9,700.
  • That left me $8,300 to fill out my last running back. Unfortunately, no running back is in the range between $8,400 and $7,900, which means I locked myself into a tier jump, which I never like to do. I'd have to make some changes to get up to my first choice, Eddie Lacy, at $8,500. I needed to clear $200 somewhere. I've already detailed why Adams, Randle and McManus were savings opportunities, and I wouldn't find anyone down from them. Crowell, then. I could go from Crowell down to Alfred Blue ($5,800) — also a late-change beneficiary — and afford Lacy, or I could stick with Crowell and get Justin Forsett. Lacy+Blue is superior to Forsett+Crowell in my book, so I went with it.
  • End savings: $100! They don't let you have that in cash, in case you were wondering.

That was long-winded, and there was a bit of trial-and-error (A.J. Green, Jeremy Hill and Chris Ivory were briefly clicked-then-unclicked), but in the end I have a roster with the players I rank, entering Week 1, at the top of every position (kicker excluded, and Thursday-night-Gronk out). As I look at it, there's as much upside here as really is possible.

In case you weren't taking notes, here's my lineup:


This isn't final. I did it Thursday night, and the games are Sunday. I'll be revisiting it Saturday, and probably again sometime Sunday morning. Opinions change. Situations change. But at its base, I'm happy with my Sunday lineup.

How's yours?