Hey gang, just wanted to give some quick tips on how to maximize your utilization of #TheWorkbook, which is a multi-tab Google Sheets document that contains a lot of free data organized in an easy to digest way. The majority of the content comes from my own feeder Google Sheets document, where I keep track of what defenses are allowing in categories like: Fantasy Points Against; Passing and Rushing TDs; how often there are multiple TDs allowed by defenses in either category; how many plays are run by and against each team; and how targets are being distributed against them. The data in that feeder doc comes from PFF Premium Stats but I refine it to the data in that document and reconcile it against data from the NFL’s Game Statistics & Information System (GSIS) website. #TheWorkbook also contains a lot of free data from Football Outsiders, reformatted to highlight things.
The primary piece of content that makes #TheWorkbook unique is that giant Matchup Chart on the third tab. To understand that tab, we must first look at the category headers. It’s a left-to-right chart with five major categories starting with Game Environment. The Game Environment is where I like to start to figure out what games Vegas thinks have the highest scoring opportunities. We can view that info in the Implied Point Total column where it’ll show the Vegas implied points next to the underdog’s name, and the spread next to the favorite’s name. Use this to find games that will be chalk, some games below the chalk, and some games to avoid. Now you’ve whittled down your player pool without even looking at one. The next two columns feature Time of Possession (TOP) and Net Pace of Play. We want to find matchups where both teams are fairly even in these categories without either one massively outweighing the other. These games should be the back and forth games, especially when the Vegas totals agree.
You can further support that by looking at the Offensive Plays For and Opponent Plays Against columns that will show if both teams will be able to produce enough volume for players to thrive, and how many players can thrive within that amount of plays. The play totals in those columns are a season-long average of total passes and total runs plays that counted (no penalties, no special teams, no kneel-downs); this can be found by adding the passing and rushing totals from the NFL GSIS website. We want to know how many usable plays are available. The final piece in this column is called DSR which is a Football Outsiders metric for Drive Success Rate. This is another measure where you want to see a couple of teams that have good DSR going head-to-head. It’s even better when two good DSR teams have a high number of DSR Against showing. This is a signal that we have two good offenses facing each other and neither team’s defense is likely to have any control over the game. At this point, you can start to solidify your opinions on how each game is likely to play out, then move to the next category.
The next category on the sheet will help you identify the positions where each defense is allowing the most points. This will be for the defense listed to the left on that same line. So, if you’re looking for which Tampa players to use, you’ll want to look at the line that shows the Dallas Fantasy Points Allowed line. Look out for the green boxes which will indicate where they are most susceptible. This category is broken out by what each position does for QB and RB. A QB can pass or run, and an RB can run or catch. We want to know when a defense is allowing points to pass-catching RBs because that’s where the floor gets raised. It also breaks down the WR position by Outside Wide Receivers (OWR) and Slot WRs so we can find out where the defense is easier to attack. The Slot WR column only uses data for a WR that lines up in the slot so we’re not mixing in TEs and RBs that also lineup there because I want to see WR matchups specifically when choosing my WRs for the week. Because that column is filtered that way, it will appear lower than the OWR, which it should, because there isn’t a slot WR on every play. However, the column is still color-coded to identify the better matchups and just as usable as the OWR column.
The next thing we want to do after – maybe even before – figuring out where the points are going is to find out where the ball is going against each defense. The Defensive Targets Allowed category gives us just that. We can see the average pass attempts allowed by each defense to determine a volume range, then look to the right to see where that volume is going. Last year, I tracked it by only three groups (RB, WR, and TE), but this year I will separate the Slot WR targets from all WRs targets to give us additional insight into where the ball goes. This will again be based only on WRs lined up in the slot, and will not include data from TEs and RBs that line up there because we cannot start those positions in our WR spots in DFS.
The next category is a combination of Football Outsiders data and raw data from Team Rankings.com. It’s interesting to look at what Football Outsiders analytics say about a team’s pass and run defenses that go beyond the raw data, then compare that to the actual raw yardage data in the same group of columns. We can then compare that data to the next category on the sheet titled Defensive TDs & Multi-TDs Allowed. This is more raw data to see where the TDs are going and if there is a team that habitually allows multiple TDs to one area or the other (Passing or Rushing).
Among the other tabs in #TheWorkbook, you will find a DK Salaries tab that is sorted by position and in alphabetical order by team to help you build your own player pool. What you can do is copy this spreadsheet to your Google sheets work area and modify it however you want. My Player Pool is the second tab. This is where you can build your pool if you create your own copy. My Player Pool will list all the players that I am considering for the week and it will have them tiered out to illustrate how I am viewing each player. I want to figure out who I feel are the very best players on the slate (Elite Plays), the next group of really good ideas (Very Good Plays), and then a group of players that I am considering that may not be in an obvious smash spot but still have enough upside to consider (Pretty Good Plays); and finally, a group of players I am considering for salary relief or just as a random player I like, based on matchup data or a hunch (Riskier Play).
There is a tab for OL vs DL matchups that compares a few categories that Football Outsiders metric tracks for Offensive Lines and Defensive lines. These are color-coded for ease of finding the better matchups in either the run game or passing game (more so for pass protection). The data from both the offense and defense are averaged and listed in the “Net” columns. Three green squares for any column title is a great matchup to try and exploit.
The next tab is Time of Possession. This is something I learned from JM and started tracking because of his ideas surrounding TOP. Basically, if you have two teams that both hoard TOP, you might expect the volume of plays from both sides to come down a little. Likewise, if two teams have low TOP in the same game, there’s probably going to be a boost of plays to one side, the other, or both. When looking at the green columns on this tab, I put less weight into the “Difference” column than I do the “Total” column. The Difference will give you an idea that one team may be so much better than the other, and we may want to temper passing game expectations for the team with a darker green number. The Total column is where we want to see two teams totaling right around the 60-minute mark so that we can expect a full volume of plays from both sides, i.e. we can expect both teams to do what they’re supposed to do.
There is also a tab for Pace, as tracked by Football Outsiders. To be honest, I rarely look at this tab because it’s mostly solved through the TOP tab; but, it’s interesting to look at from time to time, especially when you get a weird TOP matchup that you want to dive into a little deeper.
The Injuries tab is where I do my best to track injured players throughout the week, and keep it as up to date as possible up until lock. I will update the tab for the early game inactives almost every week. Keep in mind, I may not be around to update the afternoon games every week.
By about Week 4, I’ll start to include my #PositionalMatrices. This was a fun exercise I did two years ago that led to some interesting results. What it does is track a few different categories of what the defense allows that I’ll break into tiers, and score based on each tier. Once each player is scored in every category, I’ll average out each player’s result and color code each by the tier those results produce. This has given us some great plays before. I vividly remember a week that the field mostly overlooked both Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins and they were in the top tier of the matrix at QB and smashed!
That’s pretty much it. I may add or subtract from the sheet if I feel there is something more useful to add or something becomes a waste of time to produce, but this is where we’ll start the 2021 season. Good luck, and if you have any questions or suggestions, feel free to hit me up on Discord or Twitter @majesstik1.