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?
I’ve hit on a lot of things this week that make the slate unique, including the large spreads attached to high-implied-team-total offenses, the lower likelihood of “had to have it” game environments, and the “WTF?” pricing on the Bucs passing attack and the Cowboys defense (I mean…come on, DraftKings); but maybe the most interesting thing about this week is the way that A) the lack of obviously-strong value and B) the absence of many of the players the field is typically paying up for is likely to influence salary allocation. I ran through this in the Angles Pod this week, but it’s looking like we are going to see a heavy concentration on the players in the $5k to $7k range, with the field generally leaning toward the same “pay up” options across the board (Allen, Hurts, and Kupp, in particular). Boiling all that down: it looks like this is shaping up as a somewhat confusing slate for the field, which gives us a huge opportunity for positive expected value.
Two big things stand out to me. First, we don’t have a single game on the slate with a total above 50, but we have SEVEN games with totals ranging from 45 to 48.5. Because of the nature of how chalk forms, though, we’ll still likely see the field expressing tremendous confidence in some of these guys (and players in those games) while largely ignoring other games and teams with similar expected offensive production. I love slates like this because I can attack game environments that are very, very similar to the “best” games that the field is largely targeting without having to give up much at all in terms of expected team points. Second, tight end is missing the two studs (Kelce and Andrews). Last week on the show with Hilow we talked about how slates with just one elite tight end can be frustrating because there’s one guy who, if he hits, just puts the slate out of reach (which turned out to be the case except it was Hockenson, not Andrews). On this slate we’re all going to be fishing in murky, crappy tight end waters. Fun!
There’s very little certainty on this slate but there are also a lot of games with middling game totals and expected game environments. I think JM put it best when we were texting about the slate yesterday in our group chat – this slate is fun. It’s a fun slate to try and figure out. It’s a fun slate because you can do so many different things. It’s fun because it appears people are struggling with what to do with the running back position. It’s fun because we don’t have either of the top two tight ends on the slate with the Chiefs playing on MNF and the Ravens playing on SNF. It’s fun because we have two teams with Vegas implied team totals over 28.0 points and each team is greater than a 10-point favorite (Bucs -10.0 and Bills -14.0). I’m going to be having some fun this week!
The unique thing about this week to me is the way things shape up at the “onesie” positions. At quarterback, Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts are the clear cream of the crop and with so many other elite QB options not on the slate, they separate in such a huge way from everyone else in terms of both salary and ceiling. At tight end, with Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Darren Waller not on the main slate we are left without any pay up options, which puts a bigger emphasis on hitting the “right” mid tier tight end if one of them has a big game and also limits options from a roster construction standpoint, as “paying up at TE” is taken off the table.
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.
Last week, we talked about how much scoring was down and how rare those 4+ or 5+ touchdown games had been. Then, in Week 4, those numbers rose dramatically as three teams had five or more offensive touchdowns (while we had only seen four such instances through the first three weeks) and two of those three teams were on the main slate in the same game. We also had another three teams who scored four offensive touchdowns, two of which were on the main slate. The two teams who scored four or five offensive touchdowns that were not on the main slate – the Bucs and Chiefs – were also playing against each other.
So putting that all together, what did we see last week?
Considering what we saw last week and how we know those big touchdown games are often the key to unlocking a slate, are there any takeaways that you have from the results and are there any teams or games on this slate that you feel very strongly that they could provide those tournament winning scoring environments?