Thursday, Sep 8th
Monday, Sep 12th

Above The Field :: Week 10

Each week this NFL season, top MME player // Milly Maker winner SonicLibrarian will help you orient your GPP mind in Above The Field.

Week 10 :: Sick Flex, Bro

Big congrats to MangioneMotorsports for his Millionaire Maker score. He clearly had some sort of out-of-body experience while creating his lone lineup. It was a single-entry, barely-correlated type of lineup however, so we’ll take our usual approach of focusing on a multi-entry player that managed to place bunch of lineups towards the top. In Week 9, that dude was BrynEllis89, who landed a whopping 25 of his 81 lineups in the top 2000, including finishes of 6th, 24th and 47th

How did he do it? He near-locked the two best running backs fantasy football has to offer and built some Drew Lock stacks around it. Easy game. Dalvin Cook was clearly going to be the chalk after his ridiculous Week 8 performance at low ownership. Rather than use Christian McCaffrey as a pivot, he just played both and paid down at quarterback. Since so many were paying up for the likes of Russell Wilson, Josh Allen, and Deshaun Watson, this approach turned out to be quite unique. A few of us here at OWS explored the idea of jamming in CMC and Dalvin but none of us committed to the level that BrynEllis89 did. He pounded this pairing a grand total of 35 times and featured Lock in 31 of them…and Jerry Jeudy in 20 of those. Regardless of the outcome, this was a clever way to be unique and capture the potential ceiling simultaneously. 

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It wasn’t looking good thru 3 quarters of the Broncos/Falcons game, however, as Lock and his mates were held out of the end zone and trailed 27-6. Imagine how exciting it must have been for BrynEllis89 as he watched Lock and Jeudy rack up garbage time points and actually made the game a bit interesting by the end. Drew Lock is going to be a viable QB option for as long as they allow him to Favre-sling his way out of deficits created by their banged-up defense which is yielding 27.1 points per game thus far. It could be adventurous though, as Denver’s offense is 30th in the league in 1st Half Points and while jumping up to 6th in the 2nd halves.  

I love the CMC/Dalvin move from a “what opportunities does this slate present” standpoint. Be careful not to try and replicate what worked one slate and apply to the next. Each slate is a puzzle in and of itself. In large field GPP, value and floor have a level of importance, but finding access to a ceiling with unique construction and/or lower ownership is where it’s at. 

If we examined Week 7’s Millionaire Maker winner, it featured a build that involved spending 10k total at RB and punting the tight end position in order to fit the 3 most expensive players at QB and WR in a Russell Wilson/Tyler Lockett/DeAndre Hopkins game stack.  

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Apply that philosophy to Week 9, we miss out on the CMC’s massive ceiling at low ownership (thanks for that sharp reporting, @RapSheet) and we end up with a lineup like this: 

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Oof. 116.2 points isn’t gonna get it done. Thank goodness, we have 150 entries in MME so we can diversify our portfolio and utilize multiple different strategies!

The 2020 Wide Receiver Explosion

As we’re learning in our winning lineup study this year, there are many ways to skin the proverbial cat. 

Wait. Why the hell is that a saying? What kind of disturbed individual wants to actually skin a cat? I mean, WTF? In the olden days, did people really talk about skinning cats enough to make it a cliché? 

Just seeing those hairless ones freaks me out a little.

Anyway, the point is that the game of football is ever-evolving and each week presents us with an opportunity to gain an edge by adapting a bit better than the field. In case you haven’t noticed, 2020 is a different year than any other in recent human history. Offensive production in the NFL is showing more than a fair share of abnormalities as well. 

One noticeable difference stems from how the game is being officiated. In 2019, referees called offensive holding a total of 732 times. This season, lineman are being flagged about 36.4% less often. This staggering difference seems to be affecting the passing and running games quite differently. Quarterbacks are being given a clean pocket more than a third more often, resulting in an extra second to survey the field and allow for their speedy wide receivers to separate. One Week Season’s resident Fantasy Archaeologist, Lex Miraglia, excavated these numbers to illustrate the point. 

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The above table shows how wide receivers and running backs are performing in 2020 compared to 2016-2019. The receivers are definitely jumping off the page this season while the “new emphasis on letting lineman play” actually appears to be affecting the average, lower-volume running backs negatively. Like the cockroach that has survived 280 million years despite extreme temperatures and various acts of God, the 7-8K stud RB seems to prevail despite his surroundings. Since the days of playing fantasy football by snail mail, one thing has remained constant – The “Bell Cow” running back is the anchor, the star around which all planets revolve. Therefore, the lesson remains; chalky or not, get these high-volume RBs into your lineups. 

In light of this new data, we should probably adjust our approach to the Flex position, huh? I mean, they’re giving us an option to use a RB or a WR in there (don’t use more than 5% TE, you donkey!) – and since WR numbers are rising and the cheaper RB numbers are falling, it seems obvious that the ratio of usage in our optional slot should follow suit. Adding an additional layer of value to the “WR in the flex” strategy is the increased emphasis on secondary stacks. Grabbing a player from each side of a potential shootout game and mixing those in with our existing QB stacks is an effective way to shave the total of 9 crucial lineup decisions down to 5 or even less. Running backs and tight ends can obviously be used in secondary stacks as well… but with the increased time quarterbacks have to find their wide receivers running deeper routes, these WR-WR secondary stacks are feeling juicier every week. 

Every slate is different, but where I used to split my flex position evenly between RB and WR (with a sprinkling of TE), I’ll now be looking at more of an 80/20 split, in favor of the high-ceiling, high aDOT wide receivers. 

The interesting thing about the flex spot this week is that most lineups will come pre-loaded with uber-chalk Mike Davis. This will increase the percentage of lineups that use RB in the flex, making the 4 WR play lower owned. Hmm…

Let the slate dictate where the puzzle pieces fit in terms of your overall strategy, including your usage of the flex. 

There are always multiple ways to attack. 

Just don’t talk about skinning cats, you freaking psycho.

Get Inside Of Sonic’s DFS Mind

An excellent, highly-recommended read!

Sonic’s DFS Q&A. This is awesome stuff if you’re looking to keep improving your DFS game!