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.
We have gotten used to the so-called “Konami Cheat Code” quarterbacks — QBs who can scorch the box score both on the ground and through the air. With so many dual-threat QBs missing from this slate, however, there are only four quarterbacks(!!!) on this slate who have averaged even 25 rushing yards per game on the year. In order from highest yards per game to lowest, those QBs are Jalen Hurts (56.5), Daniel Jones (47.0), and tied for third: Ryan Tannehill and Kyler Murray (27.25). How (if at all) does this change your approach to QB in Week 5?
There are two ways I’ll be looking at this:
1) Which quarterback (if any) has the best shot at a huge game on the ground — thus creating a potential “separator” from the other QBs on the slate. Hurts is the quarterback (same as last week) likeliest to lead all QBs in rushing yards this week — but Jones and Kyler both have a better shot at a multi-touchdown game on the ground. All three of these guys will be in the mix for me as potential “separators” from the rest of the QB pack.
2) Just because one of these guys could be a separator does not mean one of them necessarily WILL be a separator. This opens opportunity for a pocket passer (or a sneakier, less-likely rushing bet) to be the top scorer or the best value of all the QBs on the slate. I’ll likely build three rosters this week (with the core of one roster already spoken for — see my answer to Question 3), and I’ll almost certainly have one of Hurts // Jones // Kyler on one. But I’ll also be leaving things open this week to scoop a QB I might not typically scoop, in the hopes of finding a separator in a lower-profile spot.
Overall the way I approach QB is that I want exposure to guys who have slate-breaking ceilings (just like every position, really). On this slate, the only QBs who can put up scores that nobody else can match are Kyler, Hurts, and Daniel Jones (I cannot believe I just wrote that), and I’ll be playing all of them.
With the exception of the slatebreaker crew, what I look for in a quarterback is stackability. Hilow and I talked about this on the Saturday pod last week when we were discussing Zach Wilson. Neither of us thought Wilson was a strong in-a-vacuum QB play, but the Jets looked like they were going to have a very narrow distribution of volume last week with multiple receivers out, and so using Wilson plus one or two receivers was a good way to potentially get multiple things right with one decision. If I’m not trying to maximize ceiling with my QB, then I’m trying to maximize floor and predictability (Trevor Lawrence makes a LOT of sense from this perspective).
As an MME player who prefers to build 4-stacks with pocket passers, I welcome the versatility that using a rushing QB provides. Fairly often, these guys bring just one pass catcher with them en route to their ceiling games. This allows for an additional roster spot to bring in a preferred player from my core as opposed to betting so much on a full game environment. You’ll notice that when you set an optimizer to pair “at least one” pass catcher with each QB, it will rarely give you more than one. Double stacking your QB and adding a bring-back is essentially banking on that game going ham AND doing so via the four players you’ve chosen to stack. Playing skinny stacks (just one WR) allows you to play nice with your optimizer and give it a chance to pick the best dollar-for-dollar play based on the parameters you’ve assigned. A blend of both in my portfolio feels just right.
For me, it comes down to the overall state of each slate. This slate feels extremely thin at quarterback so there’s two +EV ways for it to play out:
Also for this week, we’re being gifted a rushing quarterback at only $5,700 with the news that Jimmy Garoppolo will miss Week 5. I will likely have a spread ownership approach this week to take advantage of both of those unique outcomes individually.
This notion makes me want to play a pocket-passer more, is that wrong? Have to love Jalen Hurts this week, but many others will as well. Tannehill is probably in the easiest spot to project for yardage, not touchdowns. But this makes me like guys like Joe Burrow and Kirk Cousins even more, as the rushing yards from a QB narrative gains steam.
I will be focusing on two types of QBs:
I’m not so sure we can rule out Taylor Heinicke, Trey Lance, and even Trevor Lawrence here when talking about dual-threat QBs. All three of them are on the cheaper end of the salary spectrum and all three can run in a touchdown and/or pick up 25+ yards on the ground. So, my approach to QB this week is mostly going back to the well of looking for cheaper QBs that have the rushing boost like the three I mentioned, as well as considering Daniel Jones and Ryan Tannehill who are in matchups that could see them move the ball on foot and by air.
One of the clearest ways to create a path to a first-place finish is by finding a spot where you can “bet on ONE thing in order to get several roster spots right” — with the most obvious example of this being “building around a game environment that has a shot at soaring past all others on the slate” (explosive game environments, of course, lead to both teams remaining aggressive deep into the contest — elevating the potential for “had to have it” scores, especially through the air). Against that background :: this is a very unique week, as we have only six teams with Vegas-implied totals over 25 points, and three of those teams (the Vikings, Buccaneers, and Cowboys) are favored by seven or more — with the Vikings and Cowboys also showing that they would prefer to build their offense around the run when in control of a game. Even the other “teams projected for more than 25 points” come with their own issues :: The Packers are slow-paced with low overall volume, and with a large chunk of their volume flowing through a pair of alphas (thus lowering viable opportunities for branching beyond the alphas into purer “game environment” bets) // the Titans have a solid shot at posting the most team points on the slate vs the Jags, but the driving force behind such a game would seem likelier to be Derrick Henry than any pieces of the passing attack // and the Cardinals — as explored in this week’s NFL Edge writeup — lead the NFL in scoring, but they have been such a spread-it-out offense that big tourney performances (outside of Kyler) require a lot of guesswork, and have yet to reach “had to have it” status. Put it all together, and this is a VERY unique week. Of course, a “very unique week” is beneficial for us, as most of our competition will either follow their typical approaches, or will be flustered by the strangeness of the slate in which they find themselves; but in order to fully take advantage of that edge, we need a sharp approach ourselves. With all of that in mind, how would you sum up the macro state of this slate, and how might you find yourself attacking things this week?
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