Sunday, Feb 11th — Late
Bye Week:

The Oracle 2.23

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.

Week 2 Topics

1. Week 2: It’s All Clear Now

2. Touchdowns?? Are you there??

3. Buyer Beware // Buying Low

4. Value Plays

5. “That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”

1. Week 2: It’s All Clear Now

The Question ::

In Week 1, we talked about the uncertainty around things and how there are so many situations that we just don’t know about yet. After one week of real football, the natural tendency for many is to think we have it all figured out and what we saw on the field is a crystalized view of teams, players, and coaches. Obviously there is a lot of football left and, despite the name of this website, we know that the season is a marathon and one week is a small snapshot of the big picture. With that in mind, what are some things that stood out to you in terms of team approaches or player usage that you found interesting, surprising, or useful going forward?

The Answers ::
Hilow >>

The Las Vegas Raiders remained extremely concentrated in Week 1, with two wide receivers accounting for 73 percent of the team’s targets (Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers) and Josh Jacobs accounting for 88 percent of the team’s available running back opportunities. And now Meyers appears to be trending towards a missed contest with the concussion he suffered at the end of the game.

The Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders were largely unable to generate pressure in the backfield in Week 1, both finishing in the bottom three in pressure rate (against each other and less than stellar opponents). Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills and Sam Howell and the Washington Commanders should have much more time in the pocket after being relentlessly pursued in Week 1.

The Arizona Cardinals defense looked… good. I attribute most (all?) of that to new head coach Jonathan Gannon, who utilizes a shallow 2-high shell with his defense. That basically means that his shell incorporates safeties that are 10-12 yards in depth instead of the natural 18-22 yards that we see around the league from 2-high looks. That was able to generate mass confusion for Sam Howell in Week 1 and could continue to mask the relative lack of top-end talent on the roster moving forward. This week, the Cardinals take on a Giants team that had some significant offensive struggles in Week 1.

The field might misinterpret the trends and data from Kellen Moore’s first time out in Los Angeles calling plays for the Chargers. Was his game plan a product of a newfound love to run the football or was it simply a plan and reaction to their opponent in the Dolphins? My money is on the latter, meaning we should expect them to alter their course against the most extreme pass-funnel defense in the league.

Xandamere >>

What I say every year is that we know very little in Week 1, but we know even less in Week 2. That’s because it’s super easy to overreact to what happened in Week 1 and assume that’s going to be the case going forward, when in many cases player usage in Week 1 was about individual matchup, trying to ease a new player in gradually, reacting to injury situations (including players who didn’t get a lot of camp time even if they’re now healthy), or other factors we just don’t know about. For example, does anyone really think Tyler Algeier is going to play roughly split snaps with Bijan Robinson and handle more touches? Will the Lions continue to use Jahmyr Gibbs as they did D’Andre Swift, or will his role grow over the season? Is Christian Kirk really the WR3 in Jacksonville now behind Zay Jones? The answer is that we don’t really know…and for me, I will look to ownership to help me make decisions about how I will approach those situations week to week. 

One thing I found extremely interesting is that Christian McCaffrey was used like a bellcow, playing 85% of the snaps vs. Eli Mitchell’s 15% and handling 27 opportunities (!) to Mitchell’s 6. Last year after CMC joined the team, the 49ers used him lightly in games in which Mitchell was active, and he only got the kind of workload we saw when he was on the Panthers in games Mitchell missed. If we continue to see bellcow CMC on the 49ers (a MUCH better offense than the Panthers!), he could have an absolutely monstrous season.

Otherwise I’m less interested in individual player usage and more interested in looking at offenses as a whole. Hilow already mentioned the Raiders elite concentration. The Vikings have also been incredibly concentrated – through two games, only three wide receivers have played any snaps. That’s wild. On the other hand, the Dolphins were a bit less concentrated than last year – out of 45 Tua dropbacks, Hill and Waddle “only” accounted for 20 targets, whereas last year it was generally over 50% of the targets going to the two primary wideouts. A lot of this was driven by Waddle only seeing five looks, so I don’t want to read too much into this yet….could just be that Waddle was struggling to get open in this matchup but I expect that won’t continue all season.

JM >>

We learned that Jordan Love looks young, but honestly impressive (albeit in a soft matchup, on a team that doesn’t like to throw the ball a ton). We learned that the Cardinals have a well-schemed offense and defense and are going to play hard and give opponents a tougher time than expected, in spite of the talent deficit they have. We learned that the Texans and Colts are similar to the Cardinals: lower in talent than most teams they’ll face, but high in discipline and effort. We learned that Puka Nacua can get open. And that’s about it. The Bengals looked awful in Week 1. Who cares. The Seahawks and Giants didn’t look great. Who cares. The Bears look like they haven’t taken a step forward, and the Titans’ offense looked all out of sorts. Who cares, who cares, who cares. I’ll borrow Xandamere’s quote: “We know very little in Week 1, but we know even less in Week 2.” I would venture to say that OWS members know more than most of our competition, simply because A) we are nuanced thinkers in this community (therefore, we know that there is a lot we don’t know), and because B) we have so many content providers who are actually watching the games, paying attention to what’s being said by the coaching staff and the team, etc. But the main thing we “know” is that there is a lot we don’t yet know. Early in the season, it’s important that we identify the spots where quick adjustments in thinking/expectations should be made, but it’s equally important that we let the rest of the spots (the majority of the spots) develop, and our thinking around them to develop gradually along the way.

Mike >>
  • The Colts are going to play fast and Shane Steichen is treating Anthony Richardson like his new version of Jalen Hurts.
  • The 49ers offense is going to finish top-3 in the league in scoring with four players accounting for almost all of it.
  • Calvin Ridley brings the Jaguars offense to a completely new level.
  • Detroit’s offense has major upside and untapped potential.
  • The Green Bay offense is going to be much better than last year when fully healthy.

2. Touchdowns?? Are you there??

The Question ::

The excitement heading into Week 1 of the NFL season is something special. It has been seven months since we had real, meaningful NFL games and eight months since we had a full slate of games on a Sunday – there really is nothing like it. Then the games start and what we see is often disappointing. Scoring was very low in Week 1 as offenses didn’t interact well and only three of the 16 games had more than 45 points of total scoring. According to Rich Hribar of Sharp Football, in Week 1 the NFL had 61 total offensive touchdowns – 12 less than Week 1 of 2022 and 27 LESS than Week 1 of 2021. As a matter of fact, only one other time since 2015 has the league had fewer than 70 offensive touchdowns in Week 1. Talk about raining on our parade.

Scoring should bounce back to a certain extent – regression is real. But still, last week was a perfect example of how one game can quickly become the key to a slate – as the Dolphins // Chargers game combined for 70 points and was absolutely a “had to have” game if you wanted to make money last week. Which game or two stand out to you of having the best chance of stealing the show in Week 2? And are the touchdowns going to come out to play?

The Answers ::


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Thanks for hanging out with us in The Oracle this week

We’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend!