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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.
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A weekly staple of The Oracle :: In no more than two or three sentences, tell us what makes this slate particularly unique.
Do I like the Colts? The Bucs? The Raiders? The Rams? The Eagles? The Bengals? The Cardinals? The Vikings? What about the sneakier spots? (Teams opposite those units, in particular the WFT and Chargers? Or the Ravens/Steelers game? Etc.)
Do I like Jonathan Taylor against the Texans? Or Joe Mixon against the Chargers? Or Alexander Mattison with a clear path to 25 touches? Or James Conner with a clear path to 25 touches? Or Antonio Gibson with a clear path to 25 touches? Or Eli Mitchell, or David Montgomery, or Jamaal Williams, with a clear path to 20 touches and clear potential for 25+ touches?
Do I like Foster Moreau with a likely five to seven targets flowing his way at under $3k on DraftKings, or do I like Gronk with AB out again, or Kittle with Deebo out?
Everywhere you look, there are options this week.
This makes this slate particularly unique.
We’re back to an 11-game slate, but I feel like this slate is going to play smaller than it looks. We have a lot of teams in very large spreads, and while we know from historical data that a team winning in a blowout does not actually reduce that team’s fantasy point production, it does mean that the standard approach of “game stack with a bringback” is not necessarily an automatic plug-and-play option here. In fact, there are only a couple of games that really stand out to me as extremely stackable (LAC/CIN, WFT/LV, and then maaaaybe SF/SEA if you believe Russ Wilson isn’t broken).
I think that most DFS players have the “always have a bringback for your stack” so ingrained in them that they will either force suboptimal bringbacks (i.e. a Texan, or a Lion, or a Falcon, or a Jaguar), or, they’ll just avoiding stacking some of the highest-total teams on the slate because they don’t feel good about any bringbacks. That gives us an advantage, where we can set aside the “always use a bringback” rule and target the top offenses on the slate.
There will be no shortage of affordable running back options this week. There will be no shortage of viable punt plays at tight end this week. There will be the usual spread of options at quarterback this week. DST is actually priced in a relatively efficient manner this week.
The cheap options at wide receiver this week are…not abundant. We can hold our noses and roster Josh Reynolds for $3400 but I haven’t had a dream about him bursting into a million Skittles this week so I don’t feel great about him (inside joke if you weren’t in Discord on Thanksgiving morning). There are other options, all on the thin side, that we’ll surely explore as you “scroll” down.
The depth of viable running back options available this week stands out to me the most, but it’s also a slate with a ton of high-spread games. So when we have a slate where there seems to be a high degree of certainty exhibited by the field, but most game environments could be extremely lopsided, AND the top perceived spots (the teams with the highest Vegas implied team totals) are mostly non-concentrated offenses (injury news could change this a good bit leading up to the weekend, particularly with the Rams who could be without both Darrell Henderson and Odell Beckham, Jr.), we’re presented with a slate where a good deal of leverage can be gained simply by picking through the multitude of “perceived smash spots” and narrowing the core of our builds to only the best spots (more on this both below and later in the week through the End Around and Saturday Inner Circle podcast).
We’re getting to the point in the season where chalk and leverage plays are becoming more obvious. There are less overall players who are viable in our player pools, because we have longer sample sizes on usage, injuries abound, and some teams are starting to not care about winning. The cause and effect of these variables is leading us back to having a slate with some sizable Vegas spreads. Synthesizing this information to determine the game environment(s) we want to target is harder with these large spreads and leaves really only Chargers and Bengals, and Washington and LV as the two spots we can expect people will look for a ‘shootout’. Further from here, my move is to lean away from these spots as a game stack, and lean into finding the right players on A) high projected total teams or B) teams with a high level of condensity in their usage.
This slate is going to be filled with a lot of strategy decisions based on how things are shaping up. The most glaring to me is the game theory decisions at the running back position. There are so many great mid-range RBs with great workloads and/or matchups. There are also a couple of premium RBs in great spots. Usually when the “chalk build” is one specific way, the easy way to change things up is in roster construction — so something like playing Mixon + JT would give you a very different build than most lineups. However, this week is unique because there are SO MANY running backs in that mid-range who are set-up very well that it is much more likely than usual that two of those mid-range running backs will match Mixon + JT. JM did a great dive into this issue in the IND/HOU Edge writeup as he expanded on the things to consider if using JT. If Mixon and JT have good games but are matched by any two of the mid-range options, you are pretty much drawing dead if you played both of them because the rest of your roster will be working with so much less salary.
There is also an interesting dynamic at the running back position in regards to “price point pivots”. Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders are a couple of players who, in a normal week, I would be very interested in. Saquon looks healthy, is still very cheap for his talent and workload, and is great leverage off Miami defense. Sanders is in a similar spot to last week, except a better matchup and the other Philly RBs are battling injury/illness — last week he was chalk, this week he’s projecting for very low ownership. The issue is that there is a lot of risk with both players and, as alluded to above, there are SO MANY running backs in that range who they will have to outperform for taking the risk to be rewarded. It doesn’t take them off the board, but it does increase the risk of the plays and raises the bar for what they need to do to separate your lineups.
There are also a limited range of wide receiver options that are in clearly appealing spots, especially at the high end. The combination of the depth of RB options and limited smash WR spots or values will make a three running back build something that a higher proportion of the field will be using than in most weeks.
The two things that stood out to me that make this slate unique is that we don’t have a lot of the high flyers at receiver to rely on. With Tyreek, Adams, Diggs, Deebo, and the Cowboys guys off the slate, we’re left with just Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson in the “elite tier” for WR. That elite tier is skinny across the other positions as well. The other thing that stood out was the amount of lopsided games. Do we put primary focus on the more competitive games and pluck one-offs out of the lopsided games or do we stack those favorites because someone has to score those points they are implied for?
Last week, we had only two teams on the Main Slate carrying a Vegas-implied team total of 26+. This week, we have eight such teams (with other teams close, and with OTHER teams that could certainly get to four or more touchdowns if things break the right way). This could provide more flexibility than we typically have, in terms of “games/teams” we want to target, or it could allow us to gain an edge if we’re able to correctly identify the “clear best games/teams” of the bunch.
Are there any particular angles that are standing out to you this week, in terms of either A) finding strategy angles around the games/teams you want to bet on, or B) finding games/teams that you feel are clearly superior to the other options available?
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