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The Oracle 9.23

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.

Week 9 Topics

1. Lonely At The Top

2. Chasing Waterfalls

3. Mid-Season Review

4. Floating Plays

5. “That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”


1. Lonely At The Top

The Question ::

There are only 10 games on this week’s slate, a stark contrast from last week when there were 13 games and most of the league’s elite teams were playing. This week, the 49ers, Jaguars, and Lions are all on bye while the Chiefs, Dolphins, Bengals, Bills, and Chargers are all playing in “island” games and therefore are not on the main slate. DFS sites have not really adjusted prices to reflect this, which results in an extremely unique and interesting setup from a salary perspective. Take into account the following comparisons between the Week 8 and Week 9 Draftkings pools of available players and their associated salaries::

WEEK 8:

  • 17 flex (RB/WR/TE) players with salaries of $7,000 or higher
  • 7 flex players with salaries of $8,000 or higher
  • 3 flex players with salaries of $9,000 or higher

WEEK 9:

  • 12 flex (RB/WR/TE) players with salaries of $7,000 or higher
  • 5 flex players with salaries of $8,000 or higher
  • 0 flex players with salaries of $9,000 or higher

WEEK 8:

  • 6 QB’s with salaries over $6,500
  • 11 QB’s with salaries over $5,800

WEEK 9:

  • 2 QB’s with salaries over $6,500 (Hurts at $8,000 and Lamar at $8,200)
  • 5 QB’s with salaries over $5,800

With far less options available at the top of the salary structure, do you think that more lineups are built with a “balanced” construction? 

Also, how does this affect your approach in regards to a “raw points” perspective – with there being fewer expensive players available on the slate and therefore the top individual raw scores become more valuable regardless of their “salary multiplier”?

The Answers ::
JM >>

This is a great question. In my opinion, most people don’t zoom out and look at stuff like this enough, which leads to most people building for this slate as if it’s the same as any other slate. If roughly the same number of DFS players were to attack this slate with a “carve out salary to pay up in a couple spots” approach, we would end up seeing the same TOTAL ownership of high-priced players, concentrated on far fewer options. This would lead to artificially high ownership on high-priced players — “artificial” in that these high-priced players might not be drawing such high ownership if they were in this same matchup/setup on a different slate. This becomes especially interesting when we recognize that high-priced players are high-priced for a reason. They tend to have the highest levels of usage on their teams, and tend to have enough talent to break out for big games even in difficult matchups. With this, there would still be potential for one or more of these “artificially” high-owned players to nevertheless end up being “the player you had to have” this weekend, which means we can’t necessarily assume that “simply building a different way” is guaranteed to be the most profitable way to attack this slate.

Which brings me to the second (equally great) question.

I’ve noted a few times this week that it makes sense to be less salary-conscious than normal this week, but this pair of questions really illuminates why this is the case. If we’re being too salary-conscious, we could end up flocking to popular cheap guys who are popular NOT for their raw ceiling, but for their ability to produce a solid price-considered score…only for these savings to allow us to pay up for guys we might not be paying up for if they were in the same matchup/setup on a different slate. On the other hand, if we become a little less salary-conscious this week, we can put together rosters that are automatically unique (with some guys who are low-owned not because they are bad plays, but because they are “priced higher than the field would like”), while also giving ourselves clearer paths to a high raw score.

Xandamere >>

For me, it makes me shy away from cheap value options (specifically, standalone value pieces outside of game stacks). Generally speaking, the reason we play cheap value plays is in the hope they put up a good score for their salary (say, 12-15 points) while allowing us to afford to shove more studs into our lineups. But, on a slate where there just aren’t as many high-priced stud options (and many of them are in difficult matchups), it’s less likely we’ll see the stars-and-scrubs construction being optimal. 

Weeks with a bunch of lower-total games also make me want to lean more into game stacks. As Hilow and I have talked about, when overall scoring is down, the value of having one game environment right is even larger because it’s less likely that other games will match it. While it is of course possible that more than 1 game could go nuts this week and result in 55+ points being scored, it’s less likely than on a slate with multiple higher-total games to choose from, so the overstack principle is very firmly in play.

Hilow >>

This is a super interesting question in the context of this slate, with a couple competing trends pulling the field in both directions. On one hand, we don’t have many options to pay up for this week. On the other hand, we have “projectable value,” or value with solid median projections, for the first time in a month. I see that as likely to lead to additional ownership on the top two quarterbacks and the handful of players that are priced above $7,000, which we’re seeing through early ownership expectations so far. More on this unique aspect of the slate in the End Around!

Mike >>

The most interesting part of this to me is how we’ve heard all week people talking about how “ugly” this slate is and the low team/game totals, but the reality of it is that the player pricing outlined above shows us why – that doesn’t really matter. What I mean by that is all the players and teams are priced appropriately for their expectations. It would be a different story if Draftkings had jacked up the prices of players to reflect how they compare to the slate, rather than their own performance. For instance, Dak Prescott is the QB3 in Draftkings pricing this week and his salary is $6,500 – which is $1,500 less than Jalen Hurts, who is the QB2. If Draftkings had adjusted things and made Dak $7,400 to cut into that gap, then it would be a bigger deal. This is just one example but can be made at basically every position….it’s not really “ugly” if you’re not being asked to pay more for something than you usually would. You’re just getting a smaller menu of the top options. The biggest thing I take away from this is not anything about how to approach this week, but rather a lesson we should keep in mind for future weeks…..this week AJ Brown and Ceedee Lamb will be very popular options despite price increases. Sure, they are coming off big games, but the “field” is mostly past that “recency bias” mindset and their high ownership is more about their solid setups and the lack of other options around them. If you take a step back, though, their situations really weren’t that different last week. Both had team totals near the top of the slate and both were playing relatively weak pass defenses. Brown was somewhat popular, but Lamb was like 5% owned in almost every contest. Both will be at or above 20% this week. It’s just an interesting thought study in not getting lost in the entirety of a slate and thinking about the fact that “if this slate was setup slightly different, this guy would be 20% owned – so why am I not playing him when everyone is off him for reasons that have nothing to do with his ceiling?”


2. Chasing Waterfalls

The Question ::

This is once again a very barren main slate with only one game having an over/under of at least 45 and seven of the 10 games having an over/under of 41 or below. Those seven games that range in totals from 37 to 41 are::

  • MIN // ATL
  • ARI // CLE
  • LAR // GB
  • TB // HOU
  • WAS // NE
  • CHI // NO
  • NYG // LVR

From that list, which game do you think has the greatest chance of popping off for a surprising shootout and why?

The Answers ::

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Thanks for hanging out with us in The Oracle this week

We’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend!