Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

Missed Opportunities. 10.21.

Larejo123 takes a look at some of the overlooked plays and “missed opportunities” from the week behind us, identifying the thought processes and approaches that could have led us to those plays.

There’s a delicate balance that exists in DFS articles between recommending something illogical, and not recommending something too illogical. Of course, if you go so extreme in your analysis and recommendations, and then it hits, you’ll be the center of attention. But if you take it too far, and the strategy ends up being clearly wrong, you put yourself in the zone of becoming an unreliable voice. Week 9’s main slate became an exercise of when irrational becomes real. Of the top 15 scorers, five of those players literally averaged less than 1.2% owned (James Conner, Matt Ryan, George Kittle, Jimmy Garroppolo, and Olamide Zaccheaus), with another five averaging under 5% ownership (Justin Herbert, Joe Mixon, DeVonta Smith, Teddy Bridgewater, Kirk Cousins). That’s two-thirds of the top 15 scorers who were wholly underowned in tournaments this weekend. This is why it was a quirky weekend. If we played this slate over 100 times, of the guys above, I’d only give myself a shred of a possibility that I would play Kittle, Herbert, Smith, and Mixon more than 10 or 15 of those 100 times. There’s not a world where I would have leaned on Conner or a Ryan + Zaccheaus stack this weekend.

In hindsight, if I had written about the Falcons against the Saints, and specifically Ryan and Zaccheaus, or the 49ers with Garoppollo and Kittle, I am not sure how this would have been received. On one hand, those plays would have fit the biased discomfort label we try to preach, but on the other hand, and in my opinion, they were still all too thin. When I write “Willing to Lose,” my goal is to give angles (and plays, sometimes) we can take as paths to why an overlooked strategy could work. My goal isn’t to give you seven reasons why this is the angle that I’m taking, because as we’ve talked about before, if there are seven legitimate statistics that exist supporting why a player will succeed, then that player will be chalk. But rather, if I can find a narrative, a recency bias, or a matchup many are perceiving incorrectly, then boom, there’s our lean-in. And yet, I am not sure I could have found two or three different lenses to look through which could have led me to some of these plays. 

So this upcoming week, when you read “Willing to Lose” in The Scroll, I’ll be attempting to strike the balance of thin, but not too thin, as we work together to crush Week 10. But for now, I’ll recap some of the plays I actually could have put you on (or been on myself) from a weird Week 9:

Game stacks without a running back

Far too frequently this season, I have stacked games up with QB-WR-WR and a bring-back WR. I say, far too frequently, because ignoring running backs in game stacks doesn’t feel like a +EV move. Even this Sunday, on my Giants/Raiders game stack, I deliberated before kickoff on whether I should play Devontae Booker or Darius Slayton. I went with Slayton. Think about that one for a second. Why? I liked Slayton’s aDOT and there was starting to be plenty of love for Booker so I leaned into one of the stacks I wrote about in WTL, as I figured if it hit, I’d be in very good shape. Then Booker proceeded to out-touch Slayton 24-0. If we want to count Slayton’s one target, then it’s 24-1. Egg on face. 

When we game stack, we need to include running backs, and this is especially true if we’re looking to stack more than just QB-WR and an opposing player. If you did not see Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley’s press conference rant earlier this season on why running the ball is still an effective part of an offensive game plan, it’s worth a minute and a half of your time. Despite what analytics say, running the football will always be a strategy deployed by many offensive coordinators for years to come. And yet, I forget this as I imagined games playing out with a high volume of passes in the shootout styles we all know and love, which happen less than what we’re hoping for.

Browns at Bengals

Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon were perfect examples of this theory this week. While we were hoping for the Browns offense to show up for just the second time in four weeks, we know how heavy they are leaning into the run. Chubb was easy to play if you were on the Browns offense. Mixon, on the other hand, became a difficult fit. Before Sunday’s kickoff, many viewed the Bengals offense as being more potent than the Browns offense. And as we talked about last week, they had been leaning into their 2020 pre-Burrow injury pass-heavy ways in recent weeks. Ownership was forming on Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, and there just wasn’t enough room for Mixon. It’s not that we need to include both running backs in a game stack, but chances are, one or the other will get goal line looks, and more touches than some of the WR2 or WR3 plays on an offense. We have to recognize that, and not gauge our eyeballs out as Devontae Booker gets carry after carry (I wasn’t doing that, you were!).

George Kittle

Kittle came back from injury with reports before the game that he would see limited snaps. As one of the highest-salaried tight ends on the week, naturally, he would carry little ownership. But here’s the one question I never asked myself this weekend, “can George Kittle actually go easy on a football field?” Knowing what we do know about Kittle, and how crazy he is about playing football, about blocking guys into the ground, about taking big hits, if he is cleared to be on a football field, did we really think Kittle could turn it off and go 75%? No f’in way. I missed this, you likely did too. We should have thought about what kind of crazy Kittle is, and how that can be channeled on the field. In his “32nd” ranked matchup (in parentheses because why does DraftKings even include matchup numbers and colors anymore?), with all the help the 49ers needed in their passing game, we could have seen Kittle’s 100-yard welcome back explosion coming before it happened. 

“Vegas range” game stacks

47-50 points. We had four games last week open with lines between 47-50 points: Raiders/Giants, Vikings/Ravens, Broncos/Cowboys, and Jaguars/Bills. Of those games, the only one which I stacked up was LV/NYG. I should have listened to myself here and leaned into both Vikings/Ravens as well as Broncos/Cowboys. While it took a strange game script to get there (how good is Lamar in major catchup mode, like a young Matt Ryan!), having exposure to this Vikings/Ravens game proved to be a differentiator in Week 9. Lamar and Cousins both significantly outperformed expectations and they brought Marquise Brown and Justin Jefferson with them. We could also add Dalvin Cook to this conversation, though if we had rostered either Cousins/Lamar with Hollywood, Jefferson, and Dalvin, we would have had to get extreme value in our other roster spots. My point here is a recurring one, we should continue to target this 47-50 point zone for the ‘second tier’ game totals, which can lead to underowned game environments and stacks.