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.
I have a feeling I’m going to refer back to this article in the OWS archives for weeks, months, and years to come. Last week, OakZoo had the great idea of wrapping up all the threads covered in this space over the course of the season and I immediately agreed. With an 18-week, 17-game season upon us and almost finished, looking back at content in Weeks 3, 4, or even 15 seems like ages ago. But a key part of reflection is to maintain discipline and not to forget. So for Week 17’s edition, I’ll hit on some of the key tenets covered across these articles over the course of these past four months. Hopefully, this is more helpful than my telling you that if you have not had Bengals stacks these past two weeks, you likely did not win anything 🙂
Way back in Week 6, I introduced the concept of DFS Precepts as foundational principles to take forward in your lineup building process. The foundations emerged from A) my playstyle (three to seven lineups each week, GPP only, typically large-field, usually between $100 and $200), and B) from writing six weeks of DFS reflection articles across the OWS NFL season. I felt like by Week 6, we had enough consistency (and the ability to look back over how many NFL seasons you wished) to be able to instill these principles in every-week GPP lineups.
I’d call Week 6 the peak of this article, but let’s dive into some key themes (from the DFS Precepts and beyond) that emerged, and then we’ll wrap it all up for Week 18 and beyond:
● The importance of concentrated offenses: Time and time again we see tournament winners emerge multiple times from the same team. Take the Bengals this season, for instance, or the Vikings the last few seasons. Condensity is a theme of this season and it’s going to remain that way. The sooner we accept which teams distribute the wealth and which don’t in 2022, the sooner we’ll hit profit.
● Fading the public is not just a point-spread term: In many games and on many DFS sites, you’ll see the “obvious” great matchup and the industry will talk up a certain player to be the beneficiary. Back in Week 4, this happened with Travis Kelce. He had a matchup with the Eagles, who were terrible to that point at covering tight ends, and with his high ownership came a lower-owned Tyreek Hill who exploded. We’ve seen WR2’s frequently crush when the WR1 is going to be high-owned due to a matchup with a porous secondary (think Claypool vs. Diontae, Higgins vs. Chase, etc.) as well. Frequently, this fading scenario appears with pass-catchers.
● Game stacking the Vegas zone of 46-ish to 49-ish point totals: This is our sweet spot. There were countless times when games in this range exceeded expectations (with Week 5’s Browns / Chargers being the stand-out). Scenario one each week should be to stack up the highest total on the board (if it seems combinatorial ownership will be low), but if the masses are going there, the second tier is where we want to be.
● The Runners and The Slingers (+ game stacking with running backs): We’ve had too many instances of QB’s in one of these two categories winning a million dollars this season for this not to be a thing. Label the QB pool each week. Who is a runner (high expected rushing yardage floor)? Who is a slinger (high pass attempts + high aDOT)? If the QB fits in neither category, don’t play them. This won’t work every week, but it will be profitable long-term. The exception to this rule is when a QB is priced as a backup but is starting and is clear and obvious value. The second tenet here is to game stack with at least one running back. It’s not frequent we see all the touchdowns coming via the air, and even if they did, the RBs will almost always be involved. Don’t overrate the tendency of NFL “shootouts” to mean all passing will go to WRs and TEs.
● Try not to sleep on the late/afternoon slate games: There’s a reason why the NFL lines up higher-total games in the late window. They usually have the better offenses involved, the premier QBs, and the competent coaches. This leads to points scored. I’ve used the analogy before of hunting vs. being hunted, but I almost always have some exposure to this cluster of games in game stacks. An honorable move to diminish this effect as well is to go heavy on actually playing the afternoon-only slate (hit up Mike Johnson or Xandamere if you do, they are ahead of the curve!).
● Trust your initial thoughts: When you’ve been at this long enough, it’s likely your first thoughts of the week (could even be on Sunday night looking ahead to the next week) will be your sharpest thoughts. Write them down somewhere and refer back to them on Saturday. Your DFS sharpness is developed over time, and if you’ve been putting the time in, don’t underestimate your own abilities to synthesize DFS content and work it into actionable information.
● Being contrarian for contrarian’s sake: Ignoring all of the chalk is a futile exercise. Recognize when it’s good or bad chalk (Hilow’s End Around is a great assist here), and take your stance. When chalk is overwhelming, lean into it and consider taking it one step further (i.e. value RBs everywhere, play another who is not getting steam).
● Good offense beats good defense and the inverse is true: Always have a keen eye looking out for these games, especially late in the season. Injuries can decimate a team on either side of the ball, and with the NFL rules geared toward benefitting offenses and points, shootouts can happen at any time with competent quarterbacks.
● Pay up at defense: Urges are a wild thing in DFS, and $1,000 extra in salary creates quite the urge. Anyone who overthinks a DFS lineup will likely come off a high-priced defense for a lower-priced defense in order to move up to a more comfortable play at another position. We don’t want to play a defense if the price is egregiously high, but if in range, take advantage of these overthinkers and play the better matchup!
● React to Sunday news: Don’t set it and forget it. You have to react to Sunday news and be ready for late swap. It sounds obvious but people actually have plans on Sundays in their personal lives sometimes, and simply reacting to a piece of news can be a +EV move over much of the field.
● Don’t seek five reasons to play a low-owned player, it’s two or three max! Back in Week 3 or 4, JM introduced the concept of biased discomfort. This has stuck with me all season, and one of my realizations in that week was that we want to play uncomfortable, low-owned plays to out-leverage the field, but we read DFS content and seek out logical reasons to play these guys. That’s irony at its finest. So, as any DFS content provider should do, we need to simplify. If I am going to recommend a certain player, I should not be able to give you more than three logical reasons, because if I can give you more than that, then that player will likely be higher-owned than you think.
● When you haven’t been profitable over a stretch, don’t scrap everything! Tweak, re-calibrate, repeat and execute. Think of the Moneyball analogy from Week 12, just because we haven’t binked doesn’t mean we’re broken in our process. The Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays haven’t won World Series titles, that doesn’t mean their process isn’t worthy of emulating as we’ve seen in MLB.
● And finally…build lineups like nobody’s watching!
That’s all for this week, and it’s been a wild ride this season. Finish strong in Week 18!