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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.
Two things stand out to me ::
Firstly, we have 14 games. Outside of the final week of the season (when the NFL scraps TNF and MNF in order to level the playing field for playoff preparation), this is the largest slate we can possibly have — and as it’s coming on the heels of bye weeks followed by Saturday games, it is quite a bit larger than any slate we have seen in a while. This can make it harder for the field to narrow down their focus and find the games/players that stand out to them the most. This can also lead to some of the better game environments and/or players seeing less-concentrated ownership than they might see on a smaller slate.
Secondly, we have only two games with an Over/Under north of 46.5. This is an incredibly small number of games clearing that low threshold.
Put it all together, and this is a week for which OWS members are uniquely well-equipped.
Step 1 :: narrow things down to a focused, sharp pool.
Step 2 :: pay attention not only to Vegas-implied team totals, but also to game environments and coaching tendencies (as explored in the NFL Edge) to understand which team totals have a better shot at going FAR over than others.
This is a huge slate, which means a couple of things:
My advice, for what it’s worth, is try your best to avoid that (I am bad at this personally but working to be better!). Avoid the “but what if so-and-so has a big game?” reasoning, as that is fear-based decision-making and rarely leads to good DFS results. Be disciplined and stick to a narrow core
Don’t listen to Xandamere…play everyone! Ok, OK…he’s right. As much as I hate to admit it, we need to be disciplined this week. My core will be relatively tight but as many of you know I like to play at least one stack of every game so my pool will at least appear pretty expansive. At this moment, I’m still waiting patiently for some WR value (with upside) to open up, because the unique thing about this slate appears to be the abundance of studs that will be available at low ownership. Like we always say, chalk forms regardless of the nature of the slate. In this case, chalk is forming in the mid ranges, leaving plenty of high-price, high-ceiling players as awesome low-owned tournament plays. The potential trap being our choices for salary relief in order to get to them. I can’t wait to read what my colleagues name as values!
More information overload! COVID issues abound, low game totals across the board, teams with playoff aspirations, teams with nothing to play for, head coaches out with COVID, head coaches coaching for their jobs, varying levels of how players coming off the COVID list respond to having the virus (more on this in the End Around and on the Saturday Inner Circle podcast), only two clear pay-up options available (Cooper Kupp and Jonathan Taylor), very few “value” options available at the wide receiver position, etc etc etc. The field is going to have an extremely hard time with this slate.
I think this slate comes down to the two players at the top (Taylor/Kupp). They are the clear top RB/WR raw points plays and are priced accordingly. Playing both is difficult, which is likely to make the less popular of the two under owned. The under owned guy looks like it’ll be Taylor as of now, which makes me interested in him if current ownership projections are correct in predicting he’ll be under 20% played. I’m starting my builds this week by making the decision for each roster of if I want to play Taylor, Kupp, both, or fade them.
Be comfortable with blind spots this week. We talk about focusing on who you are playing vs. who you aren’t playing. Essentially, being comfortable with blind spots is saying the same thing. With 14 games on this main slate, it’s huge. Add in the COVID news and adjustments along with the ever-present massive point spreads, and we have another unique slate on tap. In a slate like this, it’s overkill to say it but it’s important to just cross out certain games. For me it’s Giants/Bears, Titans/Dolphins, and Raiders/Colts. With the exception of JT, I’m not interested in any players in any of these games.
The second unique aspect of this slate for me is my comfortability this week in not playing much of the projected Friday chalk. Here are some surely popular players whom I will have zero exposure to (with one brief reason): Antonio Brown (is he healthy?), David Montgomery (not in that game environment), Sony Michel (not against that top five rush defense), Devin Singletary (Buffalo’s backup RB (Josh Allen)? No, thanks), and Braxton Berrios (a Jet near 20% ownership?). I guess this either sets up for me to succeed or fail this week.
The size of the slate is obviously the most unique thing about this slate and I’d like to combine some things that my peers have discussed in their responses. Papy brings up a good point about Kupp and Taylor being the clear top players on the slate. However, the raw size of the slate makes it much more feasible that rosters with neither of these players will end up the optimal way to build. Additionally, we don’t have nearly the same amount of quality value options available this week as we had last week, making a “stars and scrubs” build much more difficult to move to the top of the leaderboards.
Basically what I am saying is that JT and Kupp have by far the best chances of any players on the slate to score 35 points….but with 28 teams playing and no clear values available with high ceilings, there are likely to be enough mid-tier players who score 22-30 points for you to survive without playing either of them.
I also want to discuss something I mentioned in Discord this week. On a slate this large you should consider playing “Early Only” and/or “Afternoon Only” contests as they naturally limit the size of your player pool. Going a step further, I would encourage you to use lineups you build for those short slates and play them in the Main Slate. Doing so would be both unique and help you narrow your player pool on just a few games. On a week like this it can be very easy to try to play too many different angles, so finding unique ways to combat this problem can be +EV. My big hit last year on DraftKings was for $200k during Week 17 and was on the “Afternoon Only” slate. Ironically, the lineup I made also would have won most of the contests I played in the Main Slate but all of my lineups on that slate had players from both early and late games.
We’re back to a full slate with 14 games and 9 of those games have a spread of a TD or less (as of Friday morning). That’s exciting from an options perspective. Only two games have totals over 50 with KC/CIN and ARI/DAL both at 51.0 and 51.5, respectively. We’re still dealing with a lot of Covid list deactivations that will make the slate interesting up until game time for some players. The Covid stuff is what is most interesting to me. It seems like we want to pick on teams that have been heavily hit by it, as those players have conditioning issues, some have lost weight, and some teams will be missing several starters. This is a week to use injury/Covid lists as a guide towards where we want to go and pay less attention to data or prior trends in some cases.
Game Environments, Week 17: While we can talk all we want about players getting their production “on the way up” (and while we can point to some isolated examples where this happens :: Chiefs against the Jets last year, anyone?), a simple journey through game logs of high-priced players reminds us that a player’s ceiling is likeliest to be reached in a competitive game. While there are individual exceptions to this rule (for example: last week, we explored — in several places on the site — the increased likelihood of the Bengals electing for a pass-heavy approach against the Ravens), we should generally expect that a player’s ceiling is likeliest to materialize in a back-and-forth game.
With that said, however, we have only two high-total games on this week’s slate (Chiefs at Bengals // Cardinals at Cowboys), and not only can both of those games pretty clearly go sideways (with each team maxing out at three or four touchdowns — or in the case of the Chiefs and Bengals, a case could even be made that with the way these two defenses have played and the way these offenses have adapted to defensive alignments throughout the year, the game could downright disappoint), but also, there are some clear “low-resistance” spots for good offenses this week.
With all of this as a background, we’ll explore this question like this ::
Do any teams from that list (all carrying Vegas-implied team totals of 28.0 to 29.5) stand out to you over the other potential “build-around” options, AND are there any teams missing from that list that you could see yourself building around more heavily than the field this week?
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