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’ve lost money each week this NFL season. I’ve cashed on exactly two of 17 lineups over three weeks, so needless to say I have lost a good portion of my bankroll so far this season. If there’s an icing on the cake somewhere though, it’s that I’ve had some very poor, near-last place finishes which make me feel my process is not broken. My variance may actually be in a decent place but I absolutely need to try to clear up any blind spots.
NFL DFS is a small sample season. We have an expanded 18 week season, and if you count Showdown slates, which I typically don’t, you can land somewhere in the 20-50 slate total. If you’re primarily a GPP player who does not mass multi-enter, it’s quite possible you lose every week. I’m prepared for that, it would stink but it could happen. I’m more optimistic than ever though. In researching more this season for the content I have the chance to write on One Week Season and I’m getting into a more simplified process and making some great decisions, along with two or three decisions in setting lineups each week that just seem to go completely the other way (ugh, Matt Ryan).
You didn’t come here to read about my DFS results, but I want to reiterate if you’re an MLB or NBA DFS player you’re probably going to go cold for at least a week somewhere (five to seven slates), if not more. I had two major MLB DFS wins in July and August this season. That’s a long way from April, but all of this is to say, just stick with your process. Don’t change everything. It’s likely you’re seeing things clearer than ever. And it’s likely your bink is coming soon . . .
This was my biggest missed opportunity from last week. I had Manny in one of my five lineups, along with the Browns defense. At the time, I had three lineups with the Browns D and only one with the Dolphins, and I wanted to get more Miami in there to balance out the highly variant position. By taking out Sanders and Browns and swapping in Dolphins D, I got rid of Manny for K.J. Hamler, and you all know how that ended (I did go up in RB from Jonathan Taylor to Najee Harris, but still).
66 points from two players (88 including Cole Beasley), with Allen and Sanders. Why did Sanders explode? Why did I have him in a lineup? He was simply mispriced for his role. He was signed in the offseason to become a primary piece of this high-powered, pass-first Buffalo offense. Through two games, he had target counts of eight and six, but only a $4,200 price tag on DK. He hadn’t had a signature game with Buffalo and we know when the Bills start throwing, there are plenty of points to go around. Sometimes it really can be as simple as scanning those price tags and seeing a mispriced player.
Josh Allen was the other play here, who should have been higher owned. We saw Justin Herbert and Daniel Jones both have solid, not spectacular, but better than expected games against this Washington Football Team defense. The narrative is now gone, but prior to last week there was still respect around for this defense. This was why late in the week we started hearing about the sneaky Stefon Diggs and Allen stack incoming. Allen still checked in at only 5% in the DK Milly Maker, with Diggs at 8%. It was the right thinking, just the wrong pass catchers this week.
My notes from this one moving forward are to A) always find those mispriced guys and B) go where we haven’t seen the big game yet early in the season.
Week 4 candidates for the Sanders breakout: Kyle Pitts, Jonathan Taylor, Chase Claypool, Robert Woods.
And now from the sneaky plays to the obvious one. It’s frustrating when chalk hits. On one hand, Derrick Henry did not break the slate. On the other hand, Kupp did. I don’t need to go into detail about how unbelievable Kupp has been so far this season, but I do feel compelled to go back and think through why we all could have played him. Tampa’s defense was without their primary slot corner in Sean Murphy-Bunting (Kupp lines up there almost half the time). He was coming off a game where he dominated the Indianapolis Colts to the tune of 9/163/2, which proved as validation for his new role with his new quarterback, Matthew Stafford. He was also playing in a game environment which would call for a pass-heavy game script, against the #1 DVOA defense against the run.
We’ve seen Cooper and Robert Woods alternate big games just like D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson over the past few years. The difference now seems to be getting rid of noodle-armed Jared Goff and bringing in Stafford whom Kupp has a clear connection. I do expect Woods to have his share of big games when the matchups skew toward better perimeter coverage, but Kupp is already on his way to an extra-large season.
“Good chalk” candidates next week: Najee Harris, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp (he has Arizona)
Okay, okay if I consider the Sanders play my biggest missed chance this Sunday, then Hunt was our biggest missed opportunity this week. In last week’s Willing to Lose, I highlighted Austin Hooper as a possible beneficiary of the Jarvis Landry injury. I was unsure at the time of writing whether Odell Beckham Jr. would play. He did end up playing but the basic premise was that it’s very evident to see just how integral a piece of the Browns offense Landry is. So my angle was really as simple as trying to identify where and how the Browns would fill the Landry void. I noted Hooper’s low aDOT, high snap rate, and preseason coach-speak for reasons why he could finally see an increased role. Hooper ended up doing just fine, but Hunt became the real gem of the Browns offense this weekend at 1% ownership.
The positive game script for Hunt was a huge factor here as well, with Justin Fields looking like Zach Wilson in his first NFL start. If you did play for the large Browns onslaught, it’s likely you went with Nick Chubb to pair with the Browns defense. But we’ve also seen Hunt smash in similar environments. He only played 33 (41%) offensive snaps but exceeded expectations with his 27.5 DK points. Playing Hunt would have been biased discomfort in so many ways. But the Landry injury opened the door for someone. If you had pegged Hunt as the dynamic playmaker who could fill the void, that’s an uncomfortable angle but a great one to play.
Possible Week 4 “Hunts”: Kenny Golladay, Chase Claypool, Derrick Henry
One of my early Sunday thoughts was no matter the Harris ownership, it wasn’t going to be high enough. When “important” players are injured, playbooks are changed. We had two cases of those types of players this past week with Landry and Diontae Johnson, and a third if you count Dalvin Cook, but RB’s are more interchangeable.
Missing their leading receiver, the question became how would the Steelers fill the void? There was plenty of chatter around JuJu Smith-Schuster during the week, but he came in at only 3% in the DK Milly. Chase Claypool and Harris were the two other every-down Steelers who could step in and fill the Johnson hole in a plus matchup vs. the Bengals. JuJu stepping out with an injury inflated both Najee and Claypool’s targets but they were both heading for 10+ regardless of whether JuJu was there or not. When teams miss target hogs like Landry and Diontae, expanded roles land somewhere. The volume Najee was going to see this past week, playing over 90% of the snaps without Ben Roethlisberger’s primary WR weapon, should not have left him lower owned than Falcons teammates, Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson.