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.
Well, it’s about time. It feels like all season long the storyline has been about the lack of scoring and low game totals around the league. Then, in the first week of the playoffs we had SEVEN of the twelve teams score 30+ points. Crazy. Also, the Vegas lines on this weekend’s games predict another fun weekend of games, with all four games currently having totals of 46 or higher – and the game with the lowest total actually features two of the hottest offenses in football in the 49ers and Cowboys!!
We are seeing scoring and offensive production increasing right now at the same time that the sites are making player pricing softer to cater to the greater number of casual players who participate in DFS during the playoffs. Said another way, the “salary multipliers”, especially relative to floor and ceiling, that we often discuss in making a player appealing or not appealing are going to be much easier for everyone to reach and therefore the bar that they need to reach to be a good or great play is that much higher. Does this have any effect on how you approach contests and/or roster construction?
So the toughest things about slates like this, to me, is being willing to NOT click the “best” plays, because salaries are so loose that you can do (almost) whatever you want. It’s super easy to build rosters with only studs, and while it’s possible that only studs will put up good scores this weekend, it’s highly likely that something unexpected will happen (one team will fail to show up, some dude who isn’t exactly a “stud” will score a touchdown or two). Recognize that on a super small slate, the clear “best” rosters on paper are likely to be duplicated, and while it’s hard to click on guys who aren’t the “best” plays when you have the salary to afford them, it’s also a really, really easy way to differentiate your roster (I’m not talking about playing a random WR4 here – I’m talking about playing guys who regularly see the field like Elijah Mitchell, Tony Pollard, Devonta Smith, Marvin Jones, and Michael Gallup – all of whom are projected for around 10% or less ownership currently). The smaller the slate, the more willing we need to be to make uncomfortable plays and rosters (as “full slates” get narrower in scope, they become almost more like Showdown than a regular “main slate”).
The short answer is “yes,” but the long answer requires a lot more nuanced discussion. I don’t mean to cut this question short, but I want to save most of my answer to this one for the End Around and The Slate podcast on Friday.
The biggest thing I see for this week in regards to the scoring and pricing elements is the need to resist the urge to “cover every base” when building a lineup. In building lineups early in the week it became clear just how hard it will be to build full game stacks rather than just a QB-WR-opp WR then one offs from all of the games because of how easy it is to fit in top players from other games and the FOMO associated with “fading” any of the games on the slate due to their relatively high totals. Said another way, we’ve had so many weeks where there are only one or two games out of 12 or 13 with totals over 45 that it feels very uncomfortable to fade any spot like that. This just once again highlights the edge we can find in roster construction as, regardless of individual player and team ownerships, rosters that only use players from two or three games will be extremely rare and therefore can provide us with a lot of value.
The CIN // BUF and DAL // SF games have relatively low spreads and the “underdogs” have played at a very high level for the second half of the season (Cincinnati on a nine game winning streak and Dallas winning seven of their last nine games). In both of those games, any outcome would not really be a huge shock to the football world. However, the other two games featuring the #1 seeds, the Chiefs and Eagles, have pretty big spreads and are fully rested.
Which one of the Jaguars or Giants do you think has the most legitimate chance to pull off a big upset this week and why?