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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.
This slate is seemingly getting more unique by the day.
Let’s start here:
“Here’s what we know FOR CERTAIN about this week’s slate…”
More than maybe any other week in recent memory, this week’s slate is entirely in flux. Covid and coaching changes (and potentially a few covid-related coaching changes) are the story of the week, which has made this a week in which nimble minds will almost certainly win the day.
Here’s how I’ll be approaching things this week, with regards to the hefty dose of uncertainty this slate is providing:
I’ve spent very little time messing around with rosters this week so far (Friday afternoon). I’ve messed around with player pricing, and with thoughts on different games, but I don’t want to get anywhere close to anything that might feel like a “final decision” just yet. One of the toughest things for a DFS player to do is to wait until Sunday morning to make all of the most important decisions. Because of the time considerations // schedule constraints of a “wait until Sunday morning to make my decisions” setup, DFS players tend to avoid this. Instead — in an effort to remain fluid — they make “soft decisions” that they believe they will be willing to change later…but when it comes time to change these decisions, fear kicks in that they’ll end up “moving off the winning play,” which can either prevent them from making changes, or can put them into the wrong state of mind when it comes to crunch time. I say some of this, of course, from experience — and from experience, I know I’ll want to avoid this in Week 15, when so much of the news we are waiting on might not fully shake out until Sunday morning. I may not even save a single practice roster this week until Sunday morning, as I don’t want to feel like I have a basic set of decisions “already made.” The slate itself is fluid, so fluidity as a player will be key.
There isn’t a single that really jumps out as a great game to target for DFS purposes! Normally there is at least one really clear “good game,” but I’m just not seeing it this week. There are a few that look interesting as potential back-and-forth affairs (SEA/LAR, TEN/PIT, GB/BAL) and then some high-total games that could be very one-sided but might still result in fantasy goodness (Cowboys, Cards, Bills, Eagles, Dolphins, 49ers), but no one clear spot.
To me, that says the best tournament approach is to embrace the uncertainty. There is a LOT of uncertainty this week – both in game environments and within teams around player roles with how many guys are on the Covid list this week – but chalk will still form, as it always does. When chalk is robust, we can play it as long as we play it smartly, but when chalk is fragile, that’s when I usually try to look elsewhere and hope the chalk misses.
Oh, and be ready for everything to change on Sunday morning!
This is a be-on-your-toes news-reaction week. Those of you that have experience playing NBA slates will have an advantage. It’s extremely uncommon for an NFL slate to have this much uncertainty in terms of player availability. In the NBA, however, this type of stress DFS players have to endure is somewhat commonplace. There are multiple levels of efficiency when reacting to late news. The first is a matter of receiving the news and managing your if/then statements in the optimizer or manual swaps by hand. This part isn’t tough to master but the 2nd part often gets overlooked. Are you still able to step back and take a holistic approach to this slate? Are you able to see the big picture and develop an angle of strategy as you navigate this mess? Or are you simply plugging holes in the Titanic, in hopes of simply having lineups with healthy players?
If you’re like my wife and like to be in control of things (I say that with all the love in the world, that’s just who my wife is), this is not the slate for you.
On top of the 100+ new COVID cases this week, there is now talk of moving three games to either Monday or Tuesday this week (Raiders at Browns – Saturday slate, Seahawks at Rams – Sunday slate, and Washington at Eagles – Sunday Slate). Now add late season injuries, injury management (which influences expected volume), and even coach firings and this slate takes “information overload” to a whole new level.
And all of that doesn’t even factor in the multitude of large-spread spots and low game totals. Giddy up, baby!
Embrace the variance smartly (as in, don’t reach for low ceiling plays)!
We’ve had pending news on a few high profile players in past weeks which trickle into Sunday mornings, but this week especially it’s going to be critical to keep up with news on Sunday morning. I’m anticipating at least a few players on the COVID list as of this writing (Friday afternoon) may test back in and play Sunday. Also expecting the opposite to happen where we get new additions. This week is the most unique week yet of late Saturday and early Sunday morning news. For you west coasters out there, make sure to set your alarm clocks!
Obviously the COVID situations are a big deal and with multiple games now being moved off the main slate there are fewer games to evaluate and things will condense. This should alter how we look to attack this slate as a smaller slate means less outcomes to consider.
Another unique issue for this slate to me is the fragility of what we “know” about these team’s non-fantasy attributes, by that I mean the defenses and offensive lines. Many teams that we have specific views of may perform very differently than expected due to losses in their personnel in those areas. Everyone will be on top of the offensive skill players who are missing games and the different usage and projections that are caused by those, but most will overlook these other areas of the game that will have a huge impact on how things actually play out.
The main thing making this slate unique is the amount of players getting put on the Covid list, alongside the natural attrition from injuries making this a week we’re going to need to watch player news all the way up until kickoff in most games. Also, there are a lot of low game totals again this week and six of the 11 spreads are over a TD. There isn’t a single game on the slate that commands a game stack. The closest one is probably the Packers at Ravens game.
It must be 2021…
While there are 22 teams on the Main Slate this week, there are only eight teams that boast a Vegas-implied team total higher than 22.5 ::
Which type of tourney play will be taking up most of your focus this week..and in that type of tourney play, are there any strategies or thoughts around these teams that you find particularly interesting this week?
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