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.
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A (new!) weekly staple of The Oracle :: In no more than two or three sentences, tell us what makes this slate particularly unique.
There are two teams on this slate with a Vegas-implied team total above 27.5 (Rams, at 29.0 // Chiefs, at 31.25), followed by 11 teams(!) with Vegas-implied team totals in a four-point range (23.5 points to 27.5 points; interesting to note, as well: the Cardinals (fourth in the NFL in points per game) are not one of those 11 teams). While this obviously puts a highlight on the Chiefs and Rams (with the Washington Football Team being carried upward by their matchup vs Kansas City’s struggling defense), this otherwise provides an opportunity to try to identify the teams from that bunched-up group that can provide separation from the field (optimally: lower-owned plays or games that can pop for “separator” scores). Outside of focuses on KC/WAS and LAR, I’ll be looking for volume bets or upside bets from these bunched-up teams/games that might produce at a higher level than the field will be expecting, while attempting to avoid any “chalky, but not significantly better” plays that develop throughout the week.
Something is fishy in Oracle land, with JM writing up his response first and, as per usual, it’s a really sharp way to attack the slate. The rest of us are scrambling for crumbs of analysis!
I kid, I kid. We’ll see a lot of focus on KC/WAS and LAC/BAL, I think. That means this is one of those “there are 1 or 2 clear best games” weeks in which ownership is likely to heavily focus on just a game or two. On this type of week, I try to focus my tournament play in two different approaches:
I also just want to note that almost every running back has a questionable tag right now. Obviously, a lot of that will shake out over the next couple of days, but there’s a decent chance we go into Sunday morning with some important game-time decisions that could completely change the nature of the slate.
What’s jumping out to me is the abundance of perceived value due to injuries at the RB position. A slew of players have been thrust into larger roles but their actual ceilings remain cloudy. Will Khalil Herbert ($4600) get a full workload? Is Darrel Williams ($4900) going to get the passing game work? Or will Jerick McKinnon ($4400) suddenly become a thing if KC happens to fall behind? It should be Kareem Hunt week provided he can play through his own injury. The Bengals backfield is cloudy but the stars could align for Chris Evans. If Damien Harris can’t go will we get decent volume from any other Patriots RB? Or will Brandon Bolden and Rhamondre Stevenson split evenly and render this backfield useless?
There are multiple things that make this slate unique from a micro perspective: first week this year with byes, innumerable injuries, one glaring top game environment and not much else in the way of certainty, etc, but what a lot of it boils down to is we’re liable to see chalk be a little extra chalky this week. I’m spinning through the leverage angles and Game Theory thoughts as we speak, but this week presents such a unique opportunity to stray from the field in a +EV way without making suboptimal plays.
The first obvious piece of this week’s slate is the number of games. There just aren’t many teams. 20 teams is less than 26 and that just really limits the amount of “spots” we like. This also reminds me of a week or two ago when JM had put together the Angles email by poking holes in every team. This feels similar, even the high total games have plenty of ways they can fail. The other unique angle I am seeing this week is that I am not nearly as high on KC/WAS as others are.
This week is really where we start the fun stuff in NFL DFS, in my opinion. We are starting the bye weeks, injuries are piling up, and we now have a decent amount of information about every team but that information is skewed in many examples. This is where there is a huge opportunity to separate “signal” from “noise” in a lot of situations and if you can do this more effectively than the field it is, in my experience, the best chance to gain significant edges you will see year. There are several players whose price has dropped dramatically from the start of the year, but whose role on their team remains the same as what we expected entering the year. We are also in that sweet spot where every team still feels like they are “alive” and we can expect them to be solely focused on winning games; something that later in the year we lose as teams start looking toward the future, considering coaching changes, etc. I expect that most others will answer this question from a “micro” perspective about specific things on this slate that make it unique, but I find that this time of year there is a lot of edge to be gained by zooming out and considering some things in the big picture. There is a very small window of opportunity where we have enough data to start making some conclusions and can have confidence that most of the things behind those conclusions (tendencies, roles, etc.) will stay constant – make the most of it!
The number one thing that stands out to me is that Travis Kelce is priced lower than any other week this year and on a 10 game slate, that seems absurd. That game will garner high ownership and if Hill is gimpy, a lot of that ownership will fall onto Discount-Kelce. This observation and that there are only 3 explosive game environments to build around while having to pluck one-offs and correlated plays out of some shakier spots this week.
Game Environments :: You could slice and dice this slate a hundred different ways and likely come to the same conclusion every time: if we played out this slate over and over again, the KC/WAS game would top the slate in “total points scored” more often than any other game. While “Question 5” of The Oracle (“That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”) obviously provides a great opportunity to explore an overlooked game that could become this week’s Chargers/Browns (shoutout to Larejo for identifying that game in The Oracle last week!), let’s use this question to assume that you are interested in building around KC/WAS. Maintaining the assumption that this game will be relatively popular, what are some of the ways you might build around this game in order to create separation from the field?
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A weekly staple of The Oracle :: highlight one or two of the games, teams, or players you feel could leave people saying at the end of Week 6, “That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”
“Of course Dalvin Cook was going to go for his standard 30 DraftKings points.”
“Of course Joe Mixon was going to smash when no one was on him. This always happens. How did I not play him vs the Lions?” (Note: Mixon’s role this year has made him more yardage-and-touchdown back than all-around gem, making him more boom/bust. But he nevertheless has plenty of upside in this spot.)
“Of course Wentz was going to throw for 300 yards and three touchdowns vs the Texans.” (Maybe? Fingers crossed. I’m thinking it’s more and more likely I’ll have at least one roster (out of nine) built around this spot.)
“Of course rosters with pieces from KC, Washington, and the Rams were going to top the slate.”
“Of course I shouldn’t have underestimated the potential for the Giants to put up fantasy production vs the Rams.”
“Of course we got some great scores out of MIN/CAR, those are two good offenses that are also highly concentrated!”
To borrow from last week: “Of course Christian McCaffrey had a huge performance in his first game back and at his cheapest price of the season! He’s still CMC!”
“Oh, duh, of course the Chiefs double-stack was the play, they’re the best offense in the NFL and had the highest team total on the slate”
“Of course ARI/CLE went off, it was the second highest total game on the slate, but I didn’t know what receivers to play!”
Current aggregate ownership in Panthers/Vikings game includes
Darnold (4%), Cousins (3%), Dalvin Cook (7%), Justin Jefferson (7%) Adam Thielen (5%), K.J. Osborn (3%), Tyler Conklin (3%), Robby Anderson (5%), D.J. Moore (12%), Terrace Marshall (1%).
If playing massive field MME, why the hell wouldn’t I stack the hell out of this game? I could complete these rosters with any of the chalk I wanted!
Xandamere seems to have already netted all the best spots, so I’ll go back to Joe Mixon (if healthy) here. Of course we should have seen that workload and matchup producing a top RB score for the week at a sweet price.
“Man, it was so obvious that Texans/Colts and Rams/Giants were going to be the number two and number three highest scoring games this weekend.”
“I figured the Ravens would struggle after an emotional (and record-breaking) come from behind victory.”
“Was Cooper Kupp really going overlooked?”
“Of course the Ravens were going to struggle on a short week against a Brandon Staley defense! Lamar didn’t start slicing up the Colts until they lost most of their secondary to injuries, why did I chase the points?!?”
“Of course the Rams smashed the Giants!! How did I not have at least 1 Rams player in every lineup?!?”
“Of course Kyler Murray was bound to have one of his huge games against a defense that is riddled with injuries and gave up 80 total points in the two games they’ve played against good offenses (KC & LAC) this year!”
“Aaron Rodgers is still a top QB in this league, and he still owns the Bears”. I can see Rodgers having a Brady-esque (from Week 5) performance this week.
“The Lions and Bengals defenses are not good” and even bad offense really does beat bad defense. If I asked you at the beginning of the season where you’d rank the Lions and Bengals defenses, you probably would have had them both in the bottom third of the league. To date, only Detroit is holding up their end at 29th in defensive DVOA. Cincinnati is 7th currently. That will regress. This could be the week where it begins.