Monday, Nov 28th

Missed Opportunities. 17.21.

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.

OWS Fam! What a season this has been, it’s mind-boggling to me that we’re already making our way into Week 17, but man, this has been a fun ride. This is now the 16th installment of Missed Opportunities, and in an effort to keep things fresh, I’m dropping some new thoughts here of ways to attack GPPs, which at least from my perspective, I have rarely considered as starting points for my rosters.

Tournament lineups always start with a team or game stack. It’s the first question you should ask yourself in building these lineups: which game environment will I target and which offense (QB) will I start my builds with? A typical approach may look something like this: identify the high Vegas projected game over/unders, pick one offense in that game, and then check prices on the site you play on to see how a QB-WR fits in pricing-wise. Then we can add another pass-catcher (if the QB is more of a traditional pocket-passer), or we can pull in the RB from the same team, or we can leave as-is. And just like that, two, three, four roster spots are filled, and you’re on your way. The next typical questions that arise are on bring-backs in the same game, or we could start digging into floating plays (one-offs from other games), mini-stacks (two opposing players from a different game), and so on. 

For purposes of this Week 16 reflection, I want to hone in on the Cincinnati Bengals, and how and why we should have ended up on their stacks. A couple of high-level concepts first, then diving into some additional points before wrapping up. As anyone who played the Week 16 Main Slate knows, a Joe Burrow stack was the only way to take down a tournament this week. And fortunately for you and your OWS subscription, landing on this stack was covered all over OWS this past weekend (Papy’s NFL Edge, JM’s DFS Interpretation + Player Grid, all over The Oracle with JM, Xandamere, Hilow, Sonic, Majesstik, and Mike – literally everybody but me!), and the question in hindsight is, why?

Stacking offenses vs. top rush (pass-funnel) DVOA teams

The term pass-funnel has gained a ton of popularity over the last five seasons or so, with teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Philadelphia Eagles, and Baltimore Ravens all seemingly ranking near the top of the league in opponent pass play rates, which makes their opponents a bit more one-dimensional and simplifies game plans. It also, however, increases the number of plays run by their opponents (and themselves), so when you have a stud QB in these games, we get some impressive box scores. I have not yet trained my mind to start looking here for game stacks to emerge, but there are really a few factors that directly influence pass play rate, particularly, a good run defense and playing with a lead.

Here’s a brief table, sorted by top rushing defense DVOA alongside opponent pass-play rate ranking:

TeamRushing Defense DVOAOpponent Pass-Play Rate
Saints1st12th
Colts2nd9th
Ravens3rd4th
Niners4th19th
Patriots5th23rd
Rams6th7th
Cardinals7th13th
Bucs8th1st
Bills9th22nd
Bengals10th3rd

From this list, five of the top ten teams with the best rushing defenses, also face the highest percentage of pass plays. I could go deeper by looking at actual offensive plays per game counts, but you get the point. While we know about the Ravens decimated secondary at this point, and while that likely factored into the Bengals utilizing a heavy pass-play rate this week, we also knew the Ravens were facing a top-five pass-play rate already in 2021, and they ranked 3rd in opponent rushing DVOA. Two checks for their defense in the category of forget the Vegas totals, and target the Bengals because they will be forced to pass.

The last point to think about in digesting this table is the success rate of these teams’ running games. The Colts, Saints, Patriots, and 49ers all rank in the top six of team rushing rates in 2021. So, when it all boils down, it makes perfect sense why we haven’t seen too many shootouts involving these teams. They have great rushing defenses, and they like to run the ball themselves, slowing the game down and limiting total plays. When we start looking at games to attack in Week 17, start with these top rushing defenses and dig into the top opponent pass play rates, and off we go (or, just read the NFL Edge and save time, as the OWS team always covers these metrics!).

The Runners and The Slingers (QB’s who win a Milly)

This could be the name of a new Rock group (heck, I mean you can literally name yourself or your band anything these days if you’re in music), but more importantly, the runners and the slingers are the types of QBs who win one million dollars. Let me explain . . . (honorable third mention to straight value QBs)

List of QBs who have won the DK Million the last eight weeks (in reverse order from most recent): Joe Burrow, Tyler Huntley, Josh Allen, Gardner Minshew, Matt Stafford, Cam Newton, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert. Can we fit these QBs into any categories? Why yes, yes we can. Let me introduce:

The Runners: Cam Newton, Tyler Huntley, and Josh Allen.

The Slingers: Joe Burrow, Matt Stafford, Justin Herbert (and also Josh Allen).

Hi, Gardner Minshew, you were our best value QB over this time span. To further explain, we have QBs we know will run the ball and scramble, giving us a healthy floor in addition to the upside they can achieve throwing the football. On the slinging side, we want QBs who throw, throw, throw, but also throw the ball downfield. We have Herbert averaging 38 attempts per game (3rd), with Josh Allen at 37 (4th) and Stafford at 35 (11th). And while Joe Burrow is not on this list, as he’s had too many games below 30 pass attempts this season, he leads the league in yards per attempt at 8.7 this season. 

It’s Week 17, and we need to simplify. And in order to do this, when we pick our QBs, we can look for labels or categories to place them in. Who are your runners? Who are your slingers? Who are the obvious values? The most difficult category to identify here is the slingers, but we want high pass attempts and high average depths of target. The Bengals stack wasn’t the only play you needed to win a tournament on Sunday but they provided an excellent starting point. So, after we sort through the COVID news for this upcoming Week 17, consider these two points as a great place to start. Stack against good rush defenses and find your QB runners or slingers.

Good luck the rest of the season, fam!