Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

End Around :: Week 10

Hilow’s End Around: Game Theory Training for DFS Play

Mark “Hilow” Garcia



Week 10 is a vastly different week than Week 9, in that we don’t have many “can’t miss” spots. The field is going to have a much more difficult time finding the ceiling to go with a large amount of floor, and it’s our job to capture the floor while not sacrificing ceiling. Remember, as JM has said throughout the season, someone is still going to score 200, or 210, or 220 points and take down GPPs!



Davante Adams is firmly entrenched in “2019 Michael Thomas” territory. Top three offense in the league. Check. Highly concentrated offense. Check. Low to moderate aDOT with high catch rate. Check (9.7 aDOT, 76.8% catch rate). Only this year with Adams we’re seeing a massive red zone role to boot. So, let’s ask ourselves how much we were willing to pay for Michael Thomas in 2019. His price approached $10,000 at its peak, and we were still seeing 20%+ ownership each week. Pricing psychology on Davante Adams is going to be extremely polarizing this week, as we have our first real look at a wide receiver priced above $9,000 in 2020. In my mind, the price is going to continue to rise over the coming two to three weeks, so we’re still able to get Adams at a discount (crazy thought, right?). In a week void of certainty, Adams brings a high floor and arguably the top overall ceiling on the slate, in what should prove to be the softest matchup of the year for the Packers.

(GOOD CHALK, with clear leverage available to be covered shortly)


Expected to play 85% plus of the offensive snaps against the team forcing the most targets in the league to opposing backfields. I have Mike Davis as the top overall value on the slate, quite possibly the year.



David Johnson is expected to miss this week with a concussion sustained in the Texans’ Week 9 win. We know the Texans will lean pass-heavy (they are pass-heavy to begin with, and the same thoughts on Week 8 Gio Bernard apply here, in that a primarily pass-catching running back will now be the “lead back,” making it even more likely we see a pass-heavy plan of attack from the Texans here), and we know the Browns are best attacked through the air. The touchdown equity for Duke is lower than it was a couple weeks back with Gio, in that we have an expected high amount of wind as well as the green zone tendencies of this Texans offense tilt towards the air or through Watson. Overall, it’s not likely Duke pops for a ceiling game here, and at $5,000, 2.5-3x is the likeliest scenario.



Again, from my Game Theory course (First 5 Lessons Free):

“Another massive mistake I see players make is with roster construction (this is also an area of theorem that JM has mastered and has done an amazing job at explaining to OWS members, so this next bit should sound rather familiar). Most fantasy footballers start their roster construction from a top-down approach, in that they look for the “must-have” expensive players and force-fill the rest of their rosters. What we should be doing is looking for acceptable-in-a-vacuum cheap plays that have the best point per dollar (ppd) expected on the slate, and seeing what room on the remainder of the roster that creates for the expensive plays. If there simply are none for a respective slate, we shouldn’t be forcing the expensive plays into our rosters, and instead be looking to adopt a more balanced approach (which is the case almost 30% of the time!).”

This week should be the first real test of this idea in 2020, with Davante Adams so clearly the top overall play on the slate, coming with a large $9,000 price tag. Although there are clear areas for chalk to develop this week, many rosters will leave those plays uncorrelated, without leverage, or without attention paid to how to fit them into a roster in the most optimal way.



Yes, Mike Davis is going to be highly owned. Yes, he will be paired with Davante Adams a good chunk of the time. But other than that, the in-game correlations for the Bucs/Panthers and Jags/Packers games are going to be lacking. I highlighted the naked Brady play in the Edge write-up, and the point still stands. We expect the Bucs to score points, but in what two scenarios would we expect Davis to smash value? The answers are in a Buccaneer blowout, where Davis is relied on heavily through the air, or a game the Panthers keep close, where Davis’ touchdown equity is raised. In a Buccaneer blowout, the optimal bring back is Fournette, and in a close game, the optimal bring back is naked Brady. This is something I absolutely guarantee only a small portion of the field will be doing this week, but is the optimal way to handle the chalk with Mike Davis. The only other option is to bet on this game environment underwhelming overall, in which case Mike Davis is likely to see a floor game (which quite honestly is almost 4x his price to begin with here), but leverage can be gained by “betting on a different low-priced player outscoring Davis at high ownership” in this scenario (one such possibility covered below).


Without diving too far into DFS theory, this play is of the same thought pool as the CMC/Kelce play from Week 9, in that we are putting ourselves in position for less to have to go right in order to break the slate. What I mean by that is this:

What is the clearest path for Davante Adams to put up the top overall raw score on the slate? The answer is for the Packers to be forced to remain aggressive in a cake matchup. So what is the clearest way for the Packers to be forced to remain aggressive? On the ground, through a running back that has seen 28 and 27 running back opportunities the last two weeks (22/6, 25/2). The Jaguars hold the week’s second highest net-adjusted line yards metric at 4.62, behind only the Browns. The perception is that the Packers run away with the game throughout, but what if they only run away with the game late? What if the Jaguars continue to force-feed Robinson in an attempt to both hide their rookie quarterback as well as keep the ball away from Aaron Rodgers as long as possible? By pairing Adams and Robinson, we are putting ourselves in the most optimal position, lowering the number of things that have to go right on our rosters, and gaining leverage on the field and the high expected ownership of Davante Adams. For that reason, I will play James Robinson on every roster that plays Davante Adams this week!

Bonus thought: both Davante Adams and James Robinson remain the likeliest points of attack for their respective teams should the wind end up being as bad as currently forecast in Green Bay.


Grant is the salary-saving piece (not named Mike Davis) most likely to pop for 20+ points this week, in my opinion. The Dolphins placed wide receiver Preston Williams on IR following their Week 9 game against the Cardinals, signaling the beginning of Jakeem Grant in an every down role. The Dolphins also placed LB Kyle Van Noy (an every down linebacker, and one of the top coverage linebackers in the NFL) and DT Christian Wilkins (60%+ snap rate in every game this season) on the COVID list on Friday, which is a large dent to the first and second levels of this Dolphins defense, making it more likely the Chargers are able to sustain drives and score points, which in turn will put pressure on the Dolphins to return suit. Remember, without the salary saving player, it becomes poor DFS theory and Game Theory to shove Davante Adams into lineups!


In a vacuum, ask yourself what game has the top overall game environment on this slate. My answer: HOU/CLE. Now ask yourself, in a vacuum, who the top play from the Texans is this week, paying absolutely zero attention to price, Game Theory, ownership, etc. My answer: Brandin Cooks. Now look at him through the lens of DFS theory and Game Theory. What changes? My answer: there is absolutely nothing that changes other than we now get Cooks at lower expected ownership because people are going to play Duke Johnson. Okay, we solved half the equation. Since we have arrived at the top overall game environment (and if you’ve highlighted a different game as your top overall game environment, do this exact same exercise with that game!), we should be looking to attack both sides of it, no? Now we ask ourselves, in a vacuum, what the top situation is for Cleveland. My answer: unequivocally the run game. Now to lay some Game Theory on you! 

I cautioned against chalky Kareem Hunt three weeks in a row. It wasn’t because I thought he couldn’t succeed without Nick Chubb, it was the macro state of each slate, paired with the absence of Wyatt Teller, PFF’s top-graded run-blocking guard on the season! Not only are the Browns getting Teller back from injury, not only do the Browns have the top net-adjusted line yards metric on the slate (4.92, a full 0.3 higher than the second largest mismatch on the slate, the Jaguars at 4.62!), not only is this game the best game environment on the slate, but running back Nick Chubb has a high likelihood of negative recency bias associated with the thought of playing the Cleveland backfield (after Hunt disappointed three weeks in a row), which should lead to minimum ownership coming off injury.

By pairing Brandin Cooks and Nick Chubb, we get exposure to both sides of the top game environment on the slate, with pieces that match how each team is likeliest to attack in this situation, at low individual ownership and even lower combined ownership. Add DeShaun Watson to further reduce the number of things that have to go right on a lineup!

(UPDATE: with the high expected winds in Cleveland once again, it makes me less likely to play Watson in a game stack here, but the game itself is less likely to completely fail as hard as the LV/CLE game did a couple weeks back. Brandin Cooks remains the player most likely to succeed for the Texans, with his moderate aDOT role in this offense (10.6 aDOT, with designed work near the line of scrimmage). Similarly, Nick Chubb remains the player most likely to succeed on the Browns.)

Want More Hilow?

BONUS THIS WEEK :: Hilow will be live on OWS Twitter today at 3pm pst to answer all your Week 10 and Game Theory Questions

You can catch Hilow (and Sonic, and Xandamere, and JM) on the OWS Discord server…

You can get inside Hilow’s DFS mind here.

You can also grab the first five lessons of Hilow’s Game Theory course for FREE.

You can listen to Hilow (and Lex, and JM) on Run To Daylight (hosted by TodFromPA || presented by OWS!), live at 8 PM Eastern this Saturday. (Note: the podcast runs live, but it will be archived shortly after it finishes.)

Collective Contest!

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