FANTASY PLAYS: Beckham front-runner for fantasy MVP on 20 percent of teams seeking title



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Andrew Luck, DeMarco Murray and Antonio Brown all have more fantasy points, but Odell Beckham Jr. is the real fantasy MVP heading into the fantasy championship in Week 16.

He's on more teams seeking a fantasy title than any other player — 20.5 percent, according to data across thousands of leagues hosted on CBSSports.com.

It's an astounding figure considering that the upper limit for that rate is 50 percent since only one team in each standard fantasy league can have each player on its roster.

Put another way, Beckham is a factor in 41 percent of fantasy title games — with half the teams in those games rooting against him.

Good luck. Beckham has already helped millions of fantasy players reach the finals and two players in top daily league sites ship titles for millions of dollars.

"He's getting ridiculous usage and he's amazing, basically," said Scott Hanson, a 33-year-old personal trainer from Pasadena, California who won $2 million at the Fanduel Fantasy Football Championship on Sunday, with some help from Beckham's points. "I couldn't take him out."

Beckham's an easy play this week as most leagues determine a champion. Much tougher decisions should keep you awake this week. Here are some things to consider as your fantasy final looms:

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PLAY LIKE A DAILY

Many top fantasy players preach that winning a season-long fantasy league is really about going week by week, making the right decisions to score the most possible points that week. That's the goal every week in daily fantasy sports, where sites such as Fanduel and DraftKings have surged in popularity over the past two seasons with salary cap formats.

And it's more true in Week 16 than any other week. Unless you're in a keeper league or a league that determines its title in Week 17, you're done on Tuesday.

Hanson said his previous successes in season-long leagues helped his approach to the daily game. Before winning $2 million on Sunday, Hanson won $15,000 in Week 3 on a $5 wager against 57,000 people, then three weeks later earned entry into the $2 million championship tournament through a qualifier against 59,000 opponents. This is his first year playing daily fantasy sports.

"How I would prepare for the draft — that's how I prepare for each week," Hanson said. "I would do full-on spreadsheets for my season-long leagues. ... It's basically taking advantage of doing a draft each week."

His approach: Mapping out each game starting with the Las Vegas spreads and totals to try to make an educated guess about how many fantasy points he can expect each player to produce.

In similar fashion, there are probably players available in your league — defense and kickers included — in for a better Week 16 than folks you might mindlessly play. When playing for a title, there are few no-brainer plays.


CUTTING TIES

If you don't think a big-name player will do well, get ready to say goodbye. The roster spot may be better used elsewhere. Even if it's just to make room for someone you can prevent an opponent from playing.

"People might be a little more apt to add players that don't have the big name," Hanson said. "If you can look at some trends and predict when someone is going to break out. That's where you can really get an advantage."

Fantasy analysts are full of bold breakout predictions for this week. Greg Smith of The Fake Football (http://bit.ly/1GtKmBb ) ranks Dallas running back Joseph Randle as the No. 5 running back (obviously dependent on Murray's injury status). Fantasy Football Toolbox (http://foxs.pt/1v14PpU ) thinks Pierre Garcon of Washington could be a decent second wide receiver at No. 16. And Dylan Lerch, a celebrity to thousands of fantasy footballers on Reddit for using Vegas sports book numbers to predict defenses, thinks the Jacksonville Jaguars could turn in a solid effort against the Titans (http://bit.ly/1wN73w4 ).


DANCING WITH THOSE WHO BRUNG YA:

Beyond Beckham, who also helped Drew "Dinkpiece" Dinkmeyer win $1 million in the DraftKings Millionaire Maker Championship this week, here are other players who are on more teams competing for the title than others:

— RB: Le'Veon Bell, 19 percent; DeMarco Murray, 16.5 percent; Marshawn Lynch, 12.5 percent.

— WR: Dez Bryant and Antonio Brown, 14 percent; Jeremy Maclin, 12 percent.

—QB: Andrew Luck, 15 percent; Drew Brees and Tom Brady, 10.5 percent.

— TE: Rob Gronkowski, 14 percent; Greg Olsen, 12.5 percent.

— DEF: Baltimore, 16 percent; New England, 12.5 percent; St. Louis, 10.5 percent.

— K: Stephen Gostkowski, 10.5 percent.


Follow Oskar Garcia on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/oskargarcia . You can also chat with him live on Twitter about all things fantasy football from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. EST on Thursday using the hashtag #APfantasy. The chat will be moderated by @AP_NFL, with Sigmund Bloom of FootballGuys.com (@SigmundBloom) and Jamey Eisenberg of CBS Sports (@JameyEisenberg) also participating.

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