One of the cool little hidden edges you can exploit on some of the major DFS sites is the ability to double up on special teams touchdowns. Both DraftKings and FanDuel award 6 points for an offensive player who returned a kick for a TD, and if you stack that player with the corresponding DEF S/T, then that defense will also get credit for the touchdown, doubling up on the points.
This has recently been a topic of discussion in relation to Emmanuel Sanders, but it will come up again over the course of the season every now and again. The touchdown double-down is sort of like the white whale of daily fantasy. Think about what has to go right in order for you to capitalize:
• The skill position player and defense both need to have favorable matchups and price points. You don’t want to play someone who might struggle in their “primary stats” in order to chase a special teams TD.
• You need to be lucky – very lucky. How lucky? Well…
In 2014, there were 19 total special team TDs. That’s not so bad; it’s more than one every week, right? Yeah, but how many of those fit the “favorable matchup” criteria above? How many of those were returned by defensive back returners? Of the 19 total returns, four were by the Eagles, leaving just 15 by the other 31 teams.
There’s also the fact that “Return TDs allowed” is one of the most unpredictable stats I’ve come across. Two of the top three teams in terms of “Kickoff return yardage allowed” did not allow a return touchdown all year. In 2014, no team allowed multiple kickoff or punt return touchdowns.
It’s sort of like “What teams have allowed the most grand slams in MLB?” Well, we have teams that allow more home runs than others, but so much has to go just right for a grand slam to happen that would you really feel confident targeting a specific team for a grand slam? If I had a gun to my head, I would target special teams tied to offenses that score a lot of points and have kickers who don’t force a lot of touchbacks. Even that is very iffy at best.
Here are what I would call the usable double-down touchdown games from 2014. The lower scoring stacks did decent, but not good enough to carry your team into “no doubt cashing” status. But four times, that did happen – that’s four times out of 256 total games in the NFL regular season that one of the teams involved had a return TD stack combo that would have put you in a very good spot.
|10-20||Steelers||A. Brown||+2.54||Steelers D/ST||-0.22||+2.32|
Doubling up on a special teams TD is a lot like having every player involved in a grand slam in MLB DFS – it can shoot your team up the standings in a hurry. Actually, a grand slam in MLB DFS is probably a little easier to capitalize on because all of your bats are (probably) hitting against the same pitcher and in the same ballpark.
With the returner-special teams stack, both face the same opposing special teams, but the skill player is going against the opposing defense for their “regular production” and the DEF/ST is obviously facing the opposing offense. This makes the path to a huge score a lot more complicated. I think the best comparison for a returner-defense stack is an eclipse – everything has to line up just right with favorable matchups and price points for both positions. It that’s the case, by all means make the play. Just be sure you aren’t using the stack because “OMG 12 points”.