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The Oracle 21.23

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.

Championship Round Topics

1. Expected Outcomes

2. Value Plays and Getting Unique

3. Offseason Planning

4. Time for Reflection


1. Expected Outcomes

The Question ::

We are down to the end of the season with a two game slate for the Conference Championship games. Obviously all of these teams will be leaving no stone unturned and have no need or reason to hold back on player usage, play calls, etc. With that in mind, the first question for the slate is very straightforward – how do you see these games playing out?

The Answers ::
Xandamere >>

In BAL/KC, one of the biggest questions is around Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely. What I don’t think is likely (har, har) is them running more 12 personnel – they’ve had Likely for multiple seasons and they’ve never really done that. But what IS possible is that they don’t feel Andrews is ready for an 80%+ snap role. Likely will still be on the field some, and while he was averaging about 20% of the snaps prior to Andrews getting hurt, maybe he goes up to the 30-40% range if Andrews isn’t ready to handle a full workload yet. As for the Chiefs…yeah. Even in the playoffs they’ve continued to run 5 wide receivers and Rashee Rice has played 77% and 64% of the snaps in their 2 games. He’s the WR1, clearly, based on usage when he’s on the field, but the rest of the wide receiver corps will continue to be a merry-go-around.

For DET/SF, Deebo Samuel’s status has an enormous influence. There are tons of articles going over all the stats without Deebo, but the important thing to note is that their offense is significantly worse without him. If he misses, that obviously means more usage for the other main guys and also makes punt plays like Jauan Jennings and even Chris Conley and Ray-Ray McCloud at least somewhat viable, but it also significantly increases the chances of a Lions upset. The Lions run defense is stifling, so we are likely to see a pass-heavier game plan for the 49ers (which shouldn’t really hurt CMC’s prospects – especially if Deebo is out).

Hilow >>

That’s an interesting question because both games carry rather wide ranges of outcomes. The AFC matchup involves two teams with top offenses and top defenses while the NFC matchup revolves heavily around Deebo Samuel and the 49ers’ ability to put up points on the Lions early, which would allow them to effectively overwhelm the Detroit offensive line with their vaunted pass rush.

With that understanding, it sets up an interesting slate as each game could play to both extremes while each game could also play to a tightly contested affair.

Mike >>

Well, “giving picks” isn’t really the motto or approach for us at OWS so it makes sense that my esteemed colleagues wouldn’t give straight answers to this one, LOL. That being said, their takes are pretty spot on as far as the broad range of outcomes (Hilow) and personnel and game planning approaches (X) that were discussed. Since they covered those angles, I’ll give my direct takes on how I think these games play out::

  • KC // BAL – The Chiefs played one of their best games of the season last week and pulled one out in Buffalo. Patrick Mahomes is incredible and is always hard to bet against, but this Ravens team has been so good this season and I think that continues here. The Ravens have won an incredible NINE games by double digits against teams who finished the year with a winning record. Within the last month, they beat the 49ers on the road by 14, the Dolphins by 37, and the Texans by 24. I don’t think they will completely destroy the Chiefs – Mahomes and Reid in the playoffs, I just don’t think they get run out of the building like some of those other teams – but I do think that the Ravens are so solid that they will expose the shortcomings that have plagued the Chiefs this season and the lack of weapons among the WR’s for Mahomes will be too much for them to overcome. 
  • DET // SF – My assumption is that Deebo Samuel will not play in this game, and if he does he will be limited and/or prone to a setback or re-injury to his shoulder due to the nature of the injury and his physical running style. As we saw with the Eagles this season, football is not just about being the best team – it is about being the best team at the right time. The 49ers have had a great season but look vulnerable right now. In their last three games where they played their starters, the 49ers got waxed by the Ravens, won but played underwhelming against the bottom-feeding Commanders, and did everything but lose at home to the Packers. Detroit’s toughness, aggressiveness, and talent along with being a team that appears to be peaking at the right time puts them in great position to pull the upset, in my opinion. Cue the eight months of Brock Purdy debates that will ensue.

2. Value Plays and Getting Unique

The Question ::

While the first question focused on our predictions for these games, the next question for the slate becomes “even if my predictions are correct, how do I find ways to differentiate from the field with my lineups?” Said another way, there are only so many different combinations of ways these games can play out and in any reasonably sized contest there will be a big group of rosters in each “lane” of predictions. You think the 49ers dominate the Lions and the Chiefs pull off an upset? Great, but even if you’re right there will be a number of rosters built with similar outcomes in mind. Because of that reality and because of the small size of the slate, there will be super small margins that separate rosters that “bink” from rosters that simply have a nice cash.

So how do we separate ourselves with those tiny margins? It is likely going to come down to two things::

  1. Finding the “value” plays who pay off and post a good score 
  2. Finding a unique combination of players that may feel uncomfortable or suboptimal 

With that in mind, who are your top “value plays” this week and what are some ways you are going about building unique rosters?

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!