Thursday, Dec 1st
Monday, Dec 5th
Bye Week:
Cardinals
Panthers

Late Swap Education

BY STATAtl
Introduction

At its core, late swap is the ability to make changes to your initial roster after lock (the start of the contest) as more information becomes available. Once a contest locks, no more rosters can be submitted, but players whose game hasn’t started yet can be changed. While simplistic in definition, properly taking advantage of late swap is one of the largest and most underutilized edges in all of DFS, but perfecting the concept is really more of an art than a science. In this article we will discuss late swap strategies and theory for larger tournaments, and when to consider utilizing them. Before we dive in, here are a few basics to be conscious of:

  • From the roster construction side, always ensure the latest playing WR/RB (or TE if rostering two) is in the flex spot as this will allow you the most flexibility when considering changes. 
  • Make sure you are up to date on the latest injury news and inactives. In the NFL, teams are required to publish this information 90 minutes prior to kickoff. 

So, when do we consider if we want to utilize late swap? For me personally, I will begin looking around 3:05-3:10 pm EST, which generally corresponds with around the start of the 4th quarter for the early (1 pm) games. By this time, the inactives for the late games are out. I generally play 10-20 rosters on the main slate and will go through each roster individually, taking into account considering the following:

The first thing to look at is how the field is doing and to get a feel for how the early games are playing out as a whole. My preparation for this usually takes place within the first 30 minutes of lock (1:30 pm). I open any large field GPP and note who are ~5 highest owned at each position are. This exercise allows me to get a feel for the game environments and players, and I’ll ask myself these questions:

  • How did the highest-owned plays fare?
  • Did the chalk stack from the early games hit?
  • How owned are the 2-3 highest-scoring players? Did I roster any?
  • Did I play a game stack from the early games?
  • Are the guys I rostered on pace for 4x?
  • How did any lower-owned guys, mini correlations, and one-offs I played do? 
Late Swap Example One

With all that in mind, let’s look at some examples from Week 5 2022:

Note – In week 5, I played 14 rosters with initial QB/stack allocations of 38.4% Josh Allen/Bills, 38.4% Jalen Hurts/Eagles, 11.6% Trevor Lawrence and 11.6% Zack Wilson. 

After review and evaluation, the main question is, did you likely perform better than most of the field?

If yes, you may want to consider pivoting off a lower-owned play in the late games to a chalky one to block a majority of people from catching you who will be playing a player or environment that is “likely to hit”. Let’s look at example #1 :

On this roster, let’s evaluate based on the questions listed previously:

How did the highest-owned plays fare?

Highest-owned guys on the early slate were as follows:

**Note – Players highlighted in Green maintained a ~4x pace. 

Did the chalk stack from the early games HIT?

The highest-owned stack ended up being a Bucs stack and outside of Fournette (35.9 points at 15% ownership), all of Brady, Godwin, Evans, and Otton produced middling point totals. The second highest-owned stack was from the Bills, where both Josh Allen and Diggs combined for exactly 4x (66.4 points at $16,600 in salary)

How owned are the 2-3 highest-scoring players? Did I roster any?

This roster has the highest-scoring QB and WR at 20% combined ownership with over a 5x pace. Shakir and Breece Hall both also combined for a 5x pace. The 6 roster spots used in the early games scored 170.46 points and are on 238 point pace (~4.8x). 

Did I play a game stack from the early games?

Yes, and it smashed as noted above.

Are the guys I rostered on pace for 4x+?

I generally determine this by taking the total salary of the players already in action and multiply it by 3, as there is still the 4th quarter or 25% of their respective games remaining.
As mentioned above, the 6 roster spots used in the early games scored 170.46 points and are on 238-point pace. When you get in a spot like this with some low-owned plays, this is generally a roster that is “live for first”, especially with 180 PMR remaining. $14,200 in remaining salary does give good flexibility, especially when one remaining position is DST.  

How did any lower-owned guys, mini correlations, and one-offs I played do?

Stevenson and Hall both are one-offs that were relatively inexpensive and in spots I liked. In total, they put up 53.2 points at a combined salary of $10,900, or good for a 4.9x pace. Pretty, pretty good.

what do we do from here?

As mentioned above this roster is in great shape. In terms of the open DST position, Dallas was projecting as the far and away highest-owned defense (in a good spot). This is a situation where plugging them in (or keeping them in) is the correct play, as the roster is likely ahead of ~95% of the field, and you don’t want a chalk play to hit hard, and you not be on it. Conversely, as we will cover below, if this was behind, I should pivot to a lower-owned DST to try to make up ground. If we plug in DAL DST, that leaves us with $11,700 for TE and Flex. The most popular game (based on projections) was likely to be the Cards and Eagles, so we probably want at least one pass catcher from that spot. From that game at TE, we could consider Ertz or Goedert. Higbee or Kittle were also viable options. Projections had Goedert as the highest owned and was in what I thought was the best game environment of the afternoon, so I was leaning there. I also strongly considered Higbee, who was projected as the second highest owned, because he would allow me to get up to Hollywood Brown. I thought Goedert offered the right combo of floor and ceiling, while likely carrying the most ownership; hence blocking the highest-owned TE option. This left me with $7,000 to fill the flex. Not enough to get up to Brown, Kupp, CMC, AJ Brown, or Deebo Samuel, but enough for Ceedee Lamb, Jeff Wilson Jr, or Zeke. As you may recall, Tony Pollard was questionable, so if he had been ruled out, I probably would have played Zeke (despite the fact that I never play him), but I opted for Lamb as I felt he also offered the upside needed to get me up to first place. Both the Cowboys DST and Goedert did well, putting up a combined 5.5x salary multiplier, and while Lamb ended with 8 targets, he only managed 5 catches for 53 yards. The roster ended with 221.2 points and was good for 21st place in the 10,000 entry $12 single entry – 11 points out of first. Had we gone with the higher-owned Jeff Wilson(who put up 23 DK points) instead of Lamb, the roster would have binked. Upon review, I don’t mind the play of Lamb as I personally felt I needed his upside in order to win.

Late Swap Example Two

Now let’s look at a second example:


If after evaluation you determine your roster is likely behind, this is also a time to consider a late swap. An example of this is when a highly owned game environment does become a high scoring affair or when a very popular one-off hits and you faded the spot/player on this particular roster. In a situation like this, one of the best ways to try to catch up is the pivot to a lower-owned stack in the late games or to a direct leverage/pivot off what will likely be a highly-owned play. Let’s look at example #2 to illustrate this point:


How did the highest-owned plays fare?

See the breakdown above in example #1

Did the chalk stack from the early games hit?

See the breakdown above in example #1

How owned are the 2-3 highest-scoring players? Did you roster any?

This roster faded the 2nd highest-owned QB and stack (Bills) who exploded, as well as both a highly owned Leonard Fournette and Tyler Lockett who each put up a 5x salary considered scores. 

Did I play a game stack from the early games?

This roster did not, but because the popular Bills stack did succeed, a stack with similar upside in the afternoon game must be played. Keeping that in mind, only an Eagles/Hurts or Kyler/Cards stack provided the potential ceiling to catch up to what Allen/Diggs/Davis produced in my opinion.

Are the guys I rostered on pace for 4x+?


The 6 roster spots used in the early games scored 112.1 points while using $32.2k in salary and are on 174 point pace (~3.48x pace). A pace around 3.25 usually is about where the min cash line is (although it varies week to week) so this roster does have a chance to cash.

How did any lower-owned guys, mini correlations, and one-offs I played do?

I played Josh Reynolds as a mini correlation to Stevenson at 1.7% ownership. The combo put up 37.7 points at a combined salary of $10,400, or roughly a 3.6x salary considered score.

What do we do from here?

We have 3 roster spots to fill; QB, TE, and Flex, and we know we need a stack with a high ceiling in order to keep pace with Josh Allen rosters. As mentioned above, this is likeliest with either a Murray or Hurts stack. I considered both Hurts and AJ Brown/Smith and Kyler and Hollywood Brown stacks, but their combined salaries didn’t leave enough salary for anything except a complete punt at TE in the late games. In choosing between a Kyler and Ertz stack or Hurts and Goedert stack, I felt the upside was higher with the Eagles and went that route. This left me with $5,000 left and I opted for Gallup, hoping for his upside. As you see, the roster ended with 165.66 and snuck above the cash line for a min cash in the 4,300 entry $27 single entry.

Wrapping It Up

We always want to build rosters with first place in mind, but when the slate doesn’t break our way early on, utilizing the concepts above can increase our likelihood of cash and live to play another week.

Like most things in life, your late swap execution will improve with practice but having a plan in place and a basic understanding will help you perfect the art. I hope these examples and concepts help with your overall DFS game and I hope to see you at the top of a leaderboard soon with your OWS avatar waving proudly.