The Greatest “Cheat Sheet” In DFS
Each week in The Oracle, OWS team members will take on the key strategy questions from that week’s slate :: sharing their thoughts on how they plan to approach these critical elements from a roster-construction, game theory, and leverage perspective.
We have had an interesting run of weeks recently where many of the “premium” quarterbacks were off the slate, leaving only one or two of the high end signal callers in the player pool and making it easier to go different places and dodge the high end outcomes of those pricey dual threat quarterbacks while we also had a run of some lower priced QB’s going off – particularly Tua and Justin Fields.
This week, the pricing for Justin Fields has finally caught up with the player we’ve seen on the field the last four weeks and there are three other premium QBs on the slate (Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and Jalen Hurts). Fields is in a projected high scoring game environment and the other three QBs I mentioned play for the three highest implied team totals of the slate. Likewise, there are several “ugly” games this week and there doesn’t appear to be a cheap QB with the monster ceiling we’ve been spoiled by Fields with the last two weeks.
This presents a unique situation and a critical decision point for the slate. While in some recent weeks it was a bit easier to fade just one or two high end QBs and we had clear lower priced options that stood out (Week 8 – Tua @ DET, Week 9 – Fields vs. MIA, Week 10 – Fields vs. DET), this week with four high end QBs in great spots on the slate it becomes much more difficult to go a different way and not lose a lot of ground from a raw points perspective. Put another way, it seems relatively unlikely that at least one of these four QBs doesn’t put up something in the 32-35 point range, with all of them having paths to 40+. With all of that in mind, is there one of those high end QBs that stands out to you above the rest? Also, are there any QBs in the middle to lower tier who you think has a realistic shot to keep pace with the “premium” guys?
As I’ve covered in a few spots on the site, I’m not particularly concerned about Lamar Jackson (game environment // play-calling tendencies) scoring 32 to 40, and I’m not particularly concerned about Jalen Hurts (matchup // game flow) scoring 32 to 40. If I’m wrong on these guys, I’ll be okay with that, but this leaves me considering this a “two QB” slate — i.e., two QBs who have a solid shot at 32+, and therefore “only two QBs who would have to miss” if I were to go to a cheaper guy.
Among those two…I like both. But I lean Josh Allen, as Fields can only bail you out in one way (massive rushing production), whereas Allen can bail you out in two ways (legs // arms). Here’s what I mean :: if Josh Allen doesn’t have a big day on the ground, and/or doesn’t score any rushing TDs, he’s still capable of 350-400 yards and three or more touchdowns through the air. Allen can get you 30+ as a passer, and his rushing upside can be bonus on top of that. Fields is probably not getting too far north of 200 passing yards and two passing touchdowns even when everything comes together, which is still only 16 points, and requires him to have a big day on the ground at his price tag from there. A big real-life day (80 yards; no touchdowns) still has him posting a disappointing score…and it’s not particularly easy to keep rushing for 100+ yards, or to keep scoring at least one rushing touchdown every game. I’ll have BOTH of these guys on a large chunk of my rosters, but my lean is toward Allen on my Main Build. I could still end up with Fields, but Allen’s multi-scoring role and attachment to a wide receiver in Diggs who is probably hitting if Allen hits (allowing me to get two spots right with this decision, rather than just one) definitely tilts things in his favor for me.
Among guys outside the top, Burrow is my QB likeliest to ascend to the top of the slate. Among cheapies, I’ll have some Mariota with Montgomery (we still need that game environment to hit for Mariota rosters, but don’t want Fields going nuclear; Montgomery is the best way for that to happen; I will pair Diggs on some Mariota rosters, as Allen is priced far enough above Mariota that 25ish from Mariota and 30ish from Diggs could still be “the best way to build” when it’s all said and done), some Daniel Jones, and (in large-field MME) a mix and match of a few other guys (Davis Mills, Jacoby Brissett, Jared Goff, etc.) on a small number of my builds to account for how weird and wonky an NFL weekend can sometimes be. By far, however, the majority of my exposure will be on Allen, Fields, Burrow, and Mariota (with Montgomery).
Xandamere will return in Week 12
The answer, for me, is Justin Fields. There is a high level of psychological implications at play when you talk about a quarterback who has seen his price jump over $2,000 in such a short span (two weeks), but the fact of the matter is Fields is the best on-paper play at the quarterback position this week. All other top-end quarterbacks have legitimate question marks associated with their viability this week – Josh Allen has the UCL injury, has the worst interception rate over the previous three weeks, and has all the hoopla associated with the weather and travel with the game moved to Detroit, Lamar Jackson is apparently dealing with a sickness, has lost his primary deep threat in Rashod Bateman, and has his primary pass game option listed as questionable in Mark Andrews, and Jalen Hurts lost tight end Dallas Goedert and his wide receivers have one of the most difficult matchups with an Indianapolis secondary holding wide receivers to the fewest fantasy points per game this season (25.0). When you combine those two thoughts, it is highly likely that Fields’ ownership is held in check, which makes it easy to plug him in as the best on-paper play at the position.
Joe Burrow, Daniel Jones, and Kenny Pickett are my calls (of the non-elite quarterbacks) to match the top-tier QBs.
Josh Allen is speaking my love language this week. While he hasn’t looked great in recent weeks and the Bills have had a crazy week, this is the best combination of matchup, game environment, and health that Allen has had in quite a few weeks. His weaponry all makes for great stacking options as well, with Diggs and Knox having very nice price tags for their roles and Gabe Davis likely to be very low owned with a monster ceiling. (This, of course, assumes the Bills are able to fly out and actually play a game this week – if they can’t, my preference among the top QBs would be Hurts on Fanduel and Fields on Draftkings.)
Joe Burrow on Draftkings and Dak Prescott on Fanduel are the other QBs that have drawn my interest as capable of keeping pace or matching the top dogs on a raw points perspective but doing so for a lower price and at low ownership.
It feels like we have been talking all year about the lower scoring in the NFL this season, and at this point in the year it feels like it’s not going away. Maybe when the bye weeks pass we will be able to wipe more teams/games from our consideration on a weekly basis, but for right now it seems like tight pricing and smaller player pools are forcing us to at least consider some plays that normally would feel very thin. This week, SIX of the 11 games on the slate have totals of 41 or lower – most weeks in past years there would be two or three of those at most in a given week. If any of those games even produces 50 points between the two teams it could become very important to have exposure to. Given the context of the slate and pricing, are there any of those game environments that you have more hope for to become fruitful fantasy environments? If so, which ones and what is it that you like about their potential?