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.
A weekly staple of The Oracle :: In no more than two or three sentences, tell us what makes this slate particularly unique.
To me, it’s the running back position. I touched on this in the Angles Email this week, but the strategy of the position has changed for NFL teams, which means the strategy of the position in DFS should be evaluated/adjusted. Meanwhile, the DraftKings pricing structure has not changed. Before the Le’Veon Bell // David Johnson era, it was rare that we even saw running backs priced in the mid-$7ks, and the idea of multiple $8k running backs would have seemed bizarre. Over the years of workhorse, pass-catching backs, however, the ceiling for running back pricing was raised.
As explored in the Angles Email, running back usage is totally different than it was a few years ago, but not only has pricing NOT changed, but the way our competition views the position has not materially changed, either.
I’ll put it like this: Draftkings pricing is generally set in such a way that a player goes for roughly 4x their salary about once every four weeks. But let’s go through some running back examples:
Aaron Jones costs $7.2k, making 28.8 his 4x target. He has approached or topped that mark in two of his last 23 games. Because he has a couple 40-point scores in that stretch (the only times he’s really approached 28.8), people perceive him differently than his historical production says they should.
Joe Mixon costs $7.1k, making 28.4k his 4x target. He has approached that mark in six of his last 32 games, but he has soared past that mark only once, while frequently falling shy of 20 points.
Ezekiel Elliott costs $7k, making 28.0 his 4x target. He has gotten close to that number in three of his last 22 games, while topping that mark only once (and just barely, at that).
Nick Chubb costs $6.7k, making 26.8 his 4x target. He has finished in that range in six of his last 28 games (nearly one in four), but he has zero games of 30+ in that 28-game stretch.
This is (obviously) not to say that none of these guys can smash, or that all of them should be crossed off our lists. But especially given the running backs missing from this slate, I’ll be looking for high-priced backs who can hit 30+ more often, and I’ll be looking for lower-priced backs who can get to the 20-25 point range in which most of these expensive guys are likeliest to score when “everything comes together” for them.
For me it’s that there isn’t a single game that really stands out for stacking. The closest we have are Vikings @ Ravens (except I don’t love stacking the Ravens, it’s rare for one of their pass-catchers to post a had-to-have-it game) and Chargers @ Eagles (same with the Eagles as it is with the Ravens). The other high-total games have huge spreads. Packers @ Chiefs looked like it was going to be the primary game to target until Rodgers was out, but now Green Bay’s total has dropped precipitously.
What this means is similar to last week, in that I expect ownership to be spread out between games with people looking for a bunch of floating plays instead of building in more correlated ways, because there just aren’t a lot of super attractive correlated options. What makes this week different than last week, though, is that last week there was a clear best game to stack (Titans/Colts), but ownership ended up coming in pretty modest on it. I’m not sure we have a game like that this week.
What that makes me want to do is embrace more variance in my tournament approach by trying to incorporate more correlation in my rosters. There isn’t a lot of GOOD correlation, to be clear….but that means most of the field won’t be taking this approach, and thus it’s +EV over the long run to build this way. We know correlation is a good thing in our NFL lineups, we know (or at least think it’s likely) the field will largely be avoiding correlation this week, so even though the correlations this week are more fragile than normal I believe it’s still the right strategy to target it.
Speaking In terms of MME (per usual for me), this slate is unique because I’m not disgusted by the cheaper options and the low-owned plays. There are multiple games that are affordable to stack while still managing to include one or even two of the studs at running back. I haven’t been this excited about a slate since Week 1. I can hardly contain myself! If you include bring-backs, there are only a couple of games that don’t have a viable stacking piece that is currently projecting for under 8% ownership. You can stack organically without have to search for a “contrarian piece” as a floating play. For small field stuff, it’s probably -EV to double stack but for an MME guy who just wants to capture that ONE ceiling outcome, this is setting up nicely.
Injuries, COVID, idiot off-the-field decision making, and more have created a slate where there are about as many moving parts as I can remember there being in any single week. With that, I think the field will struggle to sort through the news that matters amongst the information overload. I also think the field will struggle to narrow down the best plays, which should lead to some rather spread out ownership and wonky roster constructions.
It’s funny, JM is nailing the adjustments that we need to make in our thinking at the running back position to adapt to how NFL teams are looking at their RBs, but I am sitting here also seeing the same logic applied to the quarterback position. Or at least a similar logic.
The NFL is more QB-friendly than ever before. I don’t have the stats on this handy but as we saw with Josh Johnson last night, almost any QB can come out and throw three touchdowns in an NFL game. As great as Josh Allen, Kyler Murray, and Lamar Jackson are, much of their real benefit to us is with their legs. I understand we’ve all adjusted for that, but if we’re considering pocket passers, I see the range of projected points scored similarly narrow to the RB position. We have more expensive guys like Mahomes, Herbert, Dak, and Burrow who can and have hit ceiling games of 30-35 points this season, but also lower priced guys like Daniel Jones, Tyrod, Tua, Matt Ryan, Derek Carr, and even Baker Mayfield who have had those 24-28 point games this season. We may be able to pay down at QB this week, hoping for the 300/3 game at greater odds than the ownership would indicate.
I actually love this week’s slate for a variety of reasons. I think that there are a lot of things that make it “harder than usual” for people to build in the ways they usually would like to (or at least it requires more creativity this week) for a lot of the reasons that my colleagues have laid out. However, these are the things that have me intrigued/excited for the slate:
This week looks similar to last week where we don’t have more than one or two games worthy of grabbing a ladle full of players out of. It looks like another skinny-stack/1-to-1 correlated-plays slate again. The one game stack environment we had was Green Bay at Kansas City, but with Jordan Love set to start, it loses a lot of luster.
Game Environments, Week 9: Everyone thinks about “high totals” when they think about game environments, but as we’ve talked about in the past: high totals typically come from teams that are already priced up for the high totals they typically produce. With that in mind, do you see any game environments this week that A) have interesting upside in spite of the story told by the total, and/or B) have a nice total and are likely to go overlooked?