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.
A throwback to a 2021 staple of The Oracle, what are you seeing that makes this slate particularly unique?
More than any other week this season, this looks like a “Wait until Saturday night (or even Sunday morning!) to commit to anything permanent on our roster(s).” With no “obvious chalk spots” outside the top game environments — and with…well, A) everyone flocking to Stefon Diggs, and B) everyone apparently willing to leave the Philly pass catchers alone, as value is thin and people feel they have limited ability to pay up (and Diggs is apparently everyone’s “happy place” this week) — we are ending up with chalk congregating elsewhere on places that could just as easily have been low-owned this week without the right spin or steam built up throughout the week. Said differently: “Chalk always forms, even on weeks when there is no clear top option” — and that’s what we’re seeing this week in the mid-tier of pricing at the wide receiver position. Finally, we have backup running backs taking over the lead roles for their respective offenses, but priced around other guys who are likely to see similar workloads…and still, somehow, becoming the most popular options on the week. Add it all together, and having that late flexibility on our rosters to play off weather and ownership projections will allow us to build incredibly +EV rosters this week. As always, “+EV” doesn’t guarantee that things work out on the small sample size of a single week; but if we could play out this week’s slate a hundred times, it would be highly profitable for the OWS Fam.
This is one of those slates where we have one or two clear “best games” around which we can expect ownership to congregate. BUF/BAL is the only game with a total over 50, and then SEA/DET is getting steam as a popular game with a total of 48. CLE/ATL is right behind with 47.5, but as of right now does seem to be attracting a ton of ownership outside of Marcus Mariota.
On weeks like this, one of the biggest decision points is this: should you attack the “best” games and try to differentiate your roster outside of your core game stack? Or is it better to look elsewhere for your core game stacks and hope that the 1 or 2 “best” games disappoint? There isn’t a right answer here, but I will note that when there are 1 or 2 “best” games, it’s a lot more likely to find the winning game environment somewhere further down than when we’re on a slate with half a dozen games over 50.
There’s a lot going on with this slate. From a macro perspective, there is one game that appears to stand out above the rest – the same as last week. Only one “pivot” game environment appears to be getting any attention as a secondary option, yet we have 3-4 other options with game totals within striking distance of the BUF/BAL game. Even then, and as was covered in the write-up for that game, the Bills and Ravens represents a lower chance of pure failure than the Bills and Dolphins game did last week. Will people try and outsmart themselves utilizing Game Theory Level I thinking (“well the top game environment last week involved these same Bills and it failed, so why can’t this game fail?”). As in, will the field be searching for ways to justify moving away from the top game environment and looking elsewhere – looking for ways to explain how the top game environment can fail instead of how it can succeed?
There are also two very clear backup running back values that are likely to be heavily owned (Jamaal Williams and Khalil Herbert). There are bound to be tons of theoretical moving pieces for this week and it might get to the point of theory overload for some as they battle internally over how to handle the slate. Those are my favorite slates because mistakes are usually made!
There are two very unique things I see about this slate::
First, there are two marquee games on the slate that are clearly set-up to be favorites of the field, which combine to account for the three top QB options in the league at this point. However, those games are also beginning to have severe weather concerns as Sunday approaches. It will be an interesting situation to see how far the field moves off early week thoughts in reaction to late week weather reports, especially after we saw how drastically the 49ers // Bears game was affected by weather in Week 1.
Second, as Hilow mentioned, we have two backup running backs stepping into potential bell cow roles who are simultaneously coming off huge games in Week 3. However, the sites have those RBs priced relatively appropriately rather than how in the past we would often see drastically underpriced RBs in these spots.
As we talk about often at OWS, good DFS players focus on creating great rosters rather than just thinking about individual plays. Due to that thinking, we are always looking for team stacks and game stacks to build the core of our rosters around and expand on building the rest of the roster from there. When doing that, ideally, we are always looking to target game environments and favorable matchups that have a realistic chance of breaking the slate open. Something that JM has talked about often over the years is the threshold of “five or more offensive touchdowns” being where you really start to see these outlier offensive performances that end up littering the top of the leaderboards. However, this year has started with extremely low scoring. As Graham Barfield noted on Twitter, league wide scoring for weeks 1-3 is down 8.8 points per game – or said another way, over a touchdown less per game is being scored. With that in mind, some things to consider as we head into Week 4 ::