Thursday, Sep 8th
Monday, Sep 12th

Process Points. 17.21.

Lesson of the Week: Focus On Who You Are Playing

I had a solid week this week as far as my predictions and plays that I was on top of. While I didn’t “bink” anything, I was pleased with my process and how I went about things. The results, while not life-changing, were fine as I was slightly profitable and any week where you are playing a lot of lineups, and it is GPP focused, is a good week if you break even or make money due to the nature of the payouts. This week I put 50 entries in the “Special” on DraftKings, which is their $20 entry fee tournament that is basically the overflow they open up once the Milly Maker is going to fill. I go over my thought process on why I like this tournament in my +EV Primer course in the Marketplace, but the basic idea is it is more winnable and has a better structure while being at a good price point. I was able to cash on 30 of my entries (and finish with seven entries in the top 200 out of a field of 11,764 people) and make a little bit of money, but none of them had those top 0.1% outcomes that really get you paid. Here are three of my top lineups:

The reason I am sharing these lineups is to do a little exercise that will lead me to our lesson of the week. From the players in these lineups (who were all staples of my player pool), you could easily make the following lineup:

  • Josh Allen
  • Justin Jackson
  • Joe Mixon
  • Isaiah McKenzie
  • Josh Palmer
  • Justin Jefferson
  • Mark Andrews
  • Damien Harris
  • TB D (this was my favorite defense besides PHI/KC, and I liked paying up this week with all of the value available)

That lineup used $49.7k in salary and would have finished with 247.76 points, which would have taken 5th place in the Special for $4,000 and would have won many other tournaments that I was in, including the $555k Power Sweep and the $100 Spy (both $100k to first). 

The reason I am laying all of this out and making a point of it is not to say “whoa is me” or to play the “what if” game, but rather to make a bigger point about player selection. Over the course of this season, JM and I have often discussed the importance of focusing on “who you are playing” rather than “who you are fading” or trying to cover every base. The crazy thing about that hypothetical lineup (that would have been pretty easy to get to from my player pool) is that it includes NO MEMBERS of the Bengals passing attack. The root of fear in getting too spread in your exposures or wanting to “cover all your bases” is usually the worry of not being on something that you “had to have” in order to win. Given the week that Burrow and company had passing against the Ravens, most would assume you HAD to be playing them to have a chance at first place. While we can get into the specifics about if it was good process to have none of the Bengals passing attack, the greater point is that I didn’t play them, they hit their 99th percentile outcome, and I STILL had a chance to win from my player pool being sharp and condensed.

The lesson of the week is “Focus On Who You Are Playing.” This is especially important heading into the final two weeks of the season as we have such large slates to end the year and a lot of teams in very good spots for Week 17. It will be critical to focus on building sharp lineups with high upside and not to get distracted by fear and wanting to cover every base. You will have to build lineups that don’t have anyone from some spots that look really good. It is important to remember that even if those spots hit, you can still win without them!! In the NFL, they have a saying that goes, “if you have two quarterbacks, you have none.” For DFS, the comparison would be “if you are playing everyone, you are playing no one.” 

Lineup Reviews

As outlined in my +EV Primer course (you can find in the Marketplace – either by itself or in the bundle with my player pool course), one of my approaches that keeps me from getting too high or low week-to-week is playing consistent contests and approaching them from a season-long perspective and using that to evaluate my play and ROI. This season, in this article, I will be tracking my progress on a weekly basis as I play the Single Entry (SE), 3-max, and 5-max tournaments in the $20 to $150 price range on DraftKings main slate for all 18 weeks. Rather than sweating or worrying about my ROI every week and “hoping to cash,” – my goal for the season is to maximize profit relative to that long-term investment total. The results of a given week are irrelevant.  

Each week I will review the best and worst of my 11 lineups from my “Roster Block” of SE/3-Max/5-Max. Below are this week’s results, and you can find more information about my process/theory for this in my Week 1 Process Points article

Best Lineup ($300k Red Zone, Single Entry, $50):

The “story” I was telling: Josh Johnson at min-price and single-digit ownership was very interesting to me. The basic idea of this lineup was “flipping the build” of what would be popular with all of the running back value on the slate – most lineups would have at least one and sometimes two of those cheap running backs, so by making a lineup paying up for two running backs I was instantly pretty unique. Mixon and Mattison were two guys that I thought had a good chance to top the slate due to their guaranteed workloads and good game environments. I also thought both were somewhat underpriced, as Mattison was at a $1,500 discount to what Dalvin Cook would have been priced at in the same spot, and Mixon had seen a price in the $8k range recently as well. The cherry on top was being able to correlate both of them with Josh Johnson and Cooper Kupp (the best play on the slate). I included Isaiah McKenzie, who I had a ton of and I went in-depth on during the Saturday night IC pod, which left me with money to spend up on defense and tight end (both plays I really liked) and then use another top play on the slate (Antonio Brown) and a high upside wide receiver who correlated with my QB and had seen a recent price drop.

Worst Lineup ($200k Three-Point Stance, 5-Max, $33):

The “story” I was telling: This lineup was basically just trying to attack the “Tom Brady double stack” at a huge discount. There was a lot of uncertainty around that passing offense, so if Brown and Johnson became primary targets and the Bucs scores came through the passing game, it would differentiate and separate while also leveraging off of a popular Ronald Jones. From there, I used DJ Moore as a talented, low-owned player with a high ceiling as my correlation, and the rest of the lineup was players I was very high on for the week.

Week 16 Results: Six of my ten lineups cashed this week. Nothing came together just right, but it was a profitable week. Looking ahead, a couple of things to be aware of heading into the last two weeks of the season:

  • Past Results In Division Games – We saw this twice this week with the Cowboys and Bengals. Both teams dominated their games and stayed extremely aggressive deep into the game after it had been decided. It was uncharacteristic for each team, but after the game, it became clear what happened. Joe Burrow referenced how last year the Ravens had stayed aggressive late into games they were winning handily and that he didn’t feel bad about it. Someone made a comment on Twitter about the Cowboys staying so aggressive late and wondering why to which a Cowboys player posted a picture of Antonio Gibson scoring one of his three TD’s last Thanksgiving and waving at the defender, taunting him as he crossed the goal line. 
  • Dead Teams – Detroit was extra cautious holding out D’Andre Swift this week. Washington looked completely uninspired as, by the time they played, they were pretty much eliminated from contention. Pittsburgh was clearly overmatched and looked uninspired quickly when it was clear they weren’t going to be able to compete with the Chiefs. Teams that have been bad all year will likely be extra cautious with top players, perhaps sitting/pulling them quicker than they would earlier in the season. Teams that had high expectations for the season and are realizing it is pretty much over have a lot more risk of complete failure than you would expect, especially in road games where they don’t have home fans to play for.
  • Super Bowl Contenders – The Chiefs side of that game has something to teach us as well. The top teams in the league, once they have control of games against dead teams, will likely try to just get out alive, especially in games where there isn’t an ax to grind (see Bengals/Cowboys comments earlier). Once Pittsburgh was clearly not going to mount much of a fight, the Chiefs had no reason to put much on the plate of CEH or Tyreek. A lot more risk involved in players like that than we would think of in potential “smash spots” earlier in the season. 

Week 16 Investment: $765

Week 16 Winnings: $900

Estimated Yearly Investment:  $13,500 

Yearly Winnings: $6,265