Sunday, Feb 11th — Late
Bye Week:

Afternoon-Only 11.22

Mike Johnson (MJohnson86) has racked up nearly $500,000 in DFS profit as an NFL tournament player with success in all styles of contests

Finding an Edge

The whole idea behind this piece of content is that it is unique. Specific content and strategies for the “non-main slate” contests are very rare in the DFS industry and most players who enter them are casual players or doing so on a whim after their main slate entries had things go wrong, and they want something to root for or to chase their losses during the late games. Edges are getting harder and harder to find in DFS as information gets better, projections get sharper, and the field gets more experienced. These smaller slates present a clear opportunity and advantage for those that focus on them, as most players will just take their thoughts from the main slate and approach these lineups the same way without considering how much having seven to nine fewer games (depending on the week) changes the strategy. 

Ownership Strategy

Ownership will be higher for pretty much every player on “short slates,” just because there are fewer players to choose from. This will be especially true for “chalky” players from the main slate. This means getting these players right is even more vital than on the main slate. There are fewer alternatives to choose from so if they have a big game and you aren’t on them it is much harder to find other ways to make up those points. This also means it is easier for lower-owned players to pay off, as there are fewer players at their position that they need to have “fail” for them to be worth the risk.

Correlation is even more important than on the main slate because the useful fantasy games that pay off for the slate are likely to be clumped up from the same games. I always make lineups with a game stack (QB + at least one pass catcher + at least one opponent) and then one or two “mini-correlations” from other games. 


Based on the state of this slate, QB ownership is likely to fall into three buckets:

  • The first bucket would be Dak Prescott and Kirk Cousins playing in the clear top-game environment with explosive weapons and stacking partners. I would expect those two QBs to combine for around 60% of ownership.
  • The next bucket would be the two QBs from the “favorites” on the slate – Russell Wilson and Joe Burrow. I would expect both of them to have ownership in the 10-15% range and vary based on the contest. Burrow has some clear stacking partners and a ceiling that will draw some people in. Wilson has a great matchup and a somewhat condensed target pool, particularly price considered.
  • Finally, Derek Carr and Kenny Pickett round out the pool of starting QBs for the afternoon slate. Carr has a very tough matchup and Pickett has not shown much this year. I would expect the two of them to combine for around 10% ownership.
Defense Strategy
  • The Steelers will be the most popular defense on the slate. They are the cheapest and had a huge game against the Bengals the first time they played. I wouldn’t be surprised if they get up near 40% ownership. The thing is, based on this slate and the explosive players on the expensive end of things, the Steelers likely don’t need that great of a game to be viable on winning rosters, regardless of where that ownership ends up. Obviously, if we can avoid the super chalk defense that is generally a good play, but I wouldn’t be changing rosters elsewhere just to get away from them. Said another way, if having PIT D makes everything else work – it’s okay.
  • The Broncos and Bengals will likely be the next highest owned defenses on the slate, which makes sense and fits in with what we often see on these short slates where most of the highest owned defenses are those playing against the lowest owned QBs. I really like the Broncos on the main slate so it’s hard not to think favorably about them here. 
  • Minnesota and Dallas defenses could have a lot of opportunities for sacks and turnovers in a potential high scoring, back-and-forth game. The Dallas defense has five games with double-digit fantasy points and is facing Kirk Cousins, who often struggles under pressure. Minnesota’s defense is cheap and just scored 15 fantasy points against the Bills in a game where they gave up 30 points.
  • The Raiders defense is hard to trust because of how bad they are, but they are playing Russell Wilson who has been oblivious in the pocket, and due to the state of the Broncos running game, he will likely drop back to pass a lot.

Going through the whole list, there really aren’t any defenses that I think you “can’t” play, and there also aren’t any clearly superior smash defenses. The Broncos are my favorite of the bunch but picking the one that fits your roster the best is viable any way you slice it this week.


Be sure to check the NFL Edge game breakdowns for deeper dives into these games, but here are some afternoon specific thoughts.

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