Welcome to The Oracle! :: 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.
There are four games this week that feature A) a game total of 50+, and B) a spread of 4.5 or fewer points: Panthers at Cowboys // Browns at Vikings // Seahawks at 49ers // Cardinals at Rams. Do any of these games appear significantly more likely than the others to produce elevated scoring? And if not, what types of strategy angles might you look to employ around these spots?
Every one of these games has some kind of mark against it. The Rams defense is really good. The 49ers offense is pretty “meh” with Jimmy G at the helm. Browns D is good and they’re a slow, run-heavy team that spreads the ball around a ton. Panthers and Cowboys defenses have both outperformed so far this year. None of these looks like a “can’t miss” spot. I’ll put Cards/Rams at the top for “likeliest to produce significant fantasy goodness,” as both of these are strong all-around offenses, both are likely to lean pass-heavy, and the odds of their opponent failing to keep up seem fairly modest. At least as I write this right now, ownership on the Rams looks robust, but on the Arizona side looks low. Seattle and Minnesota also appear extremely attractive from an ownership perspective, so if that holds, I’ll look in that direction. My overall thought process here is “there are several good games, no one game looks like a must-have, so I’ll just embrace the variance of targeting the best games with the least ownership.”
I’ll have pieces of each of these in MME because I stack every game at least once. When weighting these particular games, however, my focus will be on ownership as it relates to ceiling. Ownership will further evolve until lock but right now a Kyler Murray/Christian Kirk/Tyler Higbee stack has a cumulative ownership projection of 9%. The Panthers/Cowboys game will be coming in hot in terms of ownership so I’ll be paying close attention to which pieces I pick from that game and how they fit into a roster. If that game shoots out and NFL randomness occurs per usual, a Cedric Wilson/Terrace Marshall secondary stack at $8k and 6% could be juicy for large field stuff. No Dan Arnold, and Amari Cooper may still be somewhat hobbled and playing a “filler” or “decoy” role at high ownership.
Cardinals at Rams is the clear answer to me from the perspective of the game environment as a whole. That said, I like pieces from each of these games, and, if attacked smartly, each one should provide fantasy relevant scores.
None of these games are as likely to shoot out as the public will generally perceive. All four games have paths to points, but also have paths to failing that happen around 30% of the time if we played this slate 100 times. Since I don’t see a clear standout game among the four, I’ll follow ownership projections and look to be underweight the chalk. After smashing all three weeks to start the year, Cooper Kupp is priced up to $7,800 on DK and projected for 28% ownership. Without checking, I’ll guess that is the most Kupp has ever cost in his career. I’ll almost always be underweight on a turbo chalk WR at an elevated price tag.
I’m not expecting to have heavy exposure to Panthers at Cowboys, or Browns at Vikings. I will instead focus on the Cardinals at Rams and Seahawks at 49ers. I really like the Russell Wilson angle in the SEA/SF game, as he has underperformed overall so far this season, because his darn coaching staff doesn’t let him cook. His underlying metrics are still phenomenal. I’ll plan to have one mini Wilson/Metcalf stack this week and bring it back with Aiyuk, Deebo, or Kittle.
Cardinals and Rams will be my focus. I want to be overweight everywhere. I talked at greater length in this week’s Willing to Lose, but Kupp + Woods and Hopkins + Edmonds/Rondale will get on my rosters somewhere with Kyler Murray.
All of these spots are worthy of looks and have very intriguing possibilities to me. Of the bunch, Carolina vs Dallas seems like a spot that could really pop off. Dallas dropped 40 in their home opener and Dak and the passing game have had most of their monster games at home over the last couple of seasons. The Cowboys are averaging over 30 points per game after playing three very good defenses. The Panthers have been getting a lot of attention for their defensive improvements this season, but let’s keep in mind that they have played the Jets, Saints, and Texans — not exactly a murderer’s row of offenses — and will see a huge uptick in their level of competition this week. Let’s not forget that the Eagles’ defense also looked very good the first two weeks of the season before letting Dallas do anything they wanted on Monday night in Week 3. It would not surprise me in the least to see another 40+ point game from the Cowboys with the Panthers scoring in the 21-31 range like the Eagles did. I am also high on Cardinals at Rams, but I touch more on that in another answer later in this article.
When comparing the games mentioned to some of the other games, I think these are in the better group to work with. There are 5 more games with a point total of 45 or less on Vegas Insider’s consensus column. There are still plays within those games that could work out but some of them can be crossed off the list. The games mentioned above have some of the prime game environments to work with. We covered the Carolina/Dallas and Cleveland/Minnesota games on the First Peak podcast (One Week Season podcast feed), and those provide great opportunities for condensed offenses to build quality stacks/correlated plays out of. As far as significantly more likely to outscore the others, I’d go with Cardinals at Rams. Kyler Murray has put up two really solid games against the Rams in the past and is too good to be bottled up. This game will find a way to provide the most fireworks on the slate.
From both a “player” standpoint and a “game environment” standpoint, this is a very “bunched-up” week. Here’s what I mean:
In the Angles Pod this week, I explored the fact that nine of the 10 highest-priced DraftKings wide receivers makes an appearance in the Player Grid as a guy close to my condensed, late-week pool. While this tells us that there are plenty of solid plays at the top, it also tells us that no single play is really separating from the others.
The same could be said about these game environments, as each game — as Xandamere noted — has marks against it. I’ve mentioned a number of times this week that Kyler Murray has averaged only 11.5 rushing yards per game in four starts against the Rams — which doesn’t mean he can’t hit for a big game on the ground, but it does tell us that his likeliest scenario is a game in which he has to win entirely through the air (thus capping the potential ceiling for this game environment as a whole). The Panthers and Cowboys have both been ahead of expectations on defense — and oh yeah, the Panthers are missing Christian McCaffrey and still have Sam Darnold at QB (he’s still making plenty of turnover-worthy plays, in spite of his healthy overall production). Seahawks at 49ers and Browns at Vikings, meanwhile, both feature teams that need to put up points through efficiency — which all four teams are capable of, but which also opens the door for disappointing scoring.
With all that said: it’s likely that most (if not all) of these games produce tourney-worthy outputs from individual pieces. Cardinals at Rams is the game I like the most, but I’ll be getting some level of exposure to all four of these games across my seven or eight rosters this week.
The Titans are implied to score 25.5 points against the hapless Jets — though they are also, very notably, expected to be missing both A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. While it’s important to note that the Jets’ defense has not been a total doormat this year (18th in DVOA against the pass; 13th against the run; credit to Robert Saleh for setting up his defense to maximize “strengths” and minimize weaknesses), it’s also likely that the Titans push into this “three to four” (or more) touchdown range being projected. Derrick Henry is sure to be popular, with his non-empty role in the pass game and his utter dominance on the ground; but assuming AJB and Julio miss (note: both are now Out this week), it’s also likely that the cheap pass catchers on the Titans will be popular…and it’s at least “more likely than not” that at least one of the touchdowns goes to someone other than Henry. What are some of the ways you might be looking to account for this spot this week?
<< Unlock The Oracle! >>