Welcome to The Oracle! :: 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.
A weekly staple of The Oracle :: In no more than two or three sentences, tell us what makes this slate particularly unique.
It’s pretty obvious/straightforward this week: fewer games than normal; only one team projected to score over 26 points (and that team projected, by Vegas, for only 28); lots of games with close spreads, but relatively low chances of shooting out. This could lead to one of two ways for things to play out: 1) No single game ends up standing out from the pack, and the winning rosters come from a random conglomeration of pieces from here, pieces from there, or 2) One game, or one offense, ends up producing in such a way that rosters that build around that game/offense are far ahead of the field. What’s more…there are some interesting games/teams to consider in that second possible scenario (see Oracle Question 2), making this the way I expect to hunt for my edge on this very unique slate.
Well to start with, we only have 10 games because of Thanksgiving. And then of those games, only one has a total over 50 (Bucs at Colts), which will likely spread out ownership. Chalk always forms, but as I write this, there are only six players projected for over 20% ownership. When the chalk isn’t as chalky, we can pay less attention to ownership and just worry about playing the best plays. I’d also caution people to be wary of getting overly invested in bad game environments, which can be tempting on a slate like this (for example, James Robinson is currently projected as the highest owned running back…and it’s not that he’s a bad play, but the highest owned running back being on an objectively awful offense is a pretty shaky situation!).
Everything is compacted.Game totals, point spreads, ownership. There’s also very little certainty offered here. With this lack of certainty, the field will tend to try and add as many “household names” as possible, resulting in a dearth of “stars and scrubs”- style builds with some super-cheap and thus super-fragile plays strewn amidst the expensive players. If a 3k wide receiver manages a 20 point outing, all hell may break loose.
One game with a game total over 50.0 points. One. Six games with a game total of 46.5 points or below. Only three games with a game total in the 47.0-49.5 range. We are game environment hungry on this slate. We’ve also got a few spots where DraftKings is basically daring us to play a player (Saquon Barkley at $6,300, Ty Johnson at $4,300, Mike Williams at $5,700, and Rob Gronkowski at $4,400), leading to interesting possible bottlenecks as far as roster construction goes. With so few “guaranteed” spots (remember, nothing is ever guaranteed, it’s simply a measure of a player having a greater than perception chance at a solid game, based on our understanding of ranges of outcomes and probability of success), we’re likely to see a rather spread out slate as far as ownership goes.
It has to be the low game totals but at the risk of sounding redundant, I’ll add another thought. With the Thanksgiving Thursday slate this week, it’s rare if anybody was looking at this slate before late Thursday. I’m not certain what to make of this or how to leverage it (as I too fell into this category, diving in Friday morning), but maybe it’s too much emphasis on Friday news, or the lack of building those initial thought rosters, nobody doing the bubble-build a la JM, but I’m strangely confident if we have time or patience on Saturday and Sunday this week, including tuning into X & Hilow Saturday pod, we’ll be ahead of the field. Rosters will be entered into tournaments on Sunday’s main slate with little preparation.
This week is very unique in its setup for a couple of reasons. The first, which others have already discussed, is the fact that it is only a 10 game slate. Along with that, many of the premium quarterbacks and their associated offenses are not on the slate. What results is a situation where there aren’t as many clear places to target certainty and, along with that, not as many clear places to find leverage. One way to look at this is to say “ownership is so spread out, you can basically play any lineup and be unique”, but I think that is far too simplistic. Without associated leverage, playing players with low ownership doesn’t always provide you with as much of an advantage as you may think. This is a week where correlations and roster construction will be even more critical than a normal week, and where the only thing we should be looking at for ownership is making sure we don’t have a few “chalk” players on our roster because much of the chalk is likely to not be great chalk, rather just forming because it always forms.
As of now, there is only one game with a spread higher than 3.5 which should give us plenty of competitive game environments. We haven’t seen a slate like this so far this year. Add in that four of the ten games project for 47 or greater totals and that points us in the direction of where to find the “good” games. Before looking at the lines, I had already singled out the Bucs/Colts, Rams/Packers, Chargers/Broncos, Viking/49ers, and Steelers/Bengals as the games I’ll want to build around. Only the Steelers/Benglas didn’t make it to 47 points but I still like the plays within that game. The other games were nice to see Vegas confirm my bias toward them.
53.0 // 49.0 // 48.0 // 47.0 // 46.0. Those numbers represent the Over/Unders of the top five games on this 10-game slate…and also represent a much lower group of “top-end totals” than we are used to seeing. What’s more, most of the games on this slate are operating with relatively narrow spreads, such that the Bucs at 28.0 is the highest Vegas-implied team total, followed by the 49ers (26.0), Patriots/Chargers (25.25), and Colts (25.0). With only a handful of games on the slate and such a unique setup, it’s safe to say that this slate offers a broader range of potential slate-winning approaches than some of the slates we’ve seen recently. As we saw on the Thanksgiving slate, this opens opportunities for unexpected players to be the players who top the slate; but as we also saw on the Thanksgiving slate, we should still begin our understanding of the slate by first understanding what is likeliest to happen, through a macro lens. With this in mind, is there: