Sunday, Jan 29th — Early
Sunday, Jan 29th — Late
Bye Week:

The Oracle Thanksgiving

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.

Thanksgiving Topics

1.  Contest Selection and Bankroll

2. Late Swap and Adjustments

3. Getting Unique

4. Value Plays

1. Contest Selection and Bankroll

The Question ::

NFL DFS on Thanksgiving can be a wild ride and extremely fun. Especially since the NFL moved a few years ago to having three games on the day, it’s pretty much a full day of football and fun. The tricky thing about this is that it is such a unique slate and many of us have a lot of other commitments on this day. It is easy to be tempted by an extra day of football at this point in the season, especially with the monster contests that the sites offer, but the nature of the slate is so unique that there is a tight line to balance of playing too much and overextending the bankroll.

Considering the nature of the day, size of the contests, and small number of games – do you have a preferred approach from a contest selection (size, price, and format) and/or bankroll approach?

The Answers ::
Xandamere >>

I personally always set aside time on Thanksgiving for DFS (sometimes to my wife’s dismay) – to Mike’s point, a lot of people are playing very casually on this slate, they might set a lineup but they won’t check in throughout the day and late swap, and so to me this is one of the largest edge slates of the season. That doesn’t mean you’ll always be profitable on it, of course, as sharp rosters flop all the time…but the +EV is there. 

Normally on a short slate, I don’t enter as much volume as I would on a main slate, but Thanksgiving is the exception to me here. Personally, I treat it like a regular main slate and try to get around my normal full slate buy-ins, because I feel like the edge is great and I want to hammer it. That approach may not work for you, though! If you go this route, make sure you have the appropriate amount of time to dedicate to DFS, both in prep before the slate and then being able to watch the slate as it progresses – one of the biggest advantages of Thanksgiving DFS is how the games are spread out, which allows you to assess where you are and react by swapping, and if you aren’t able to utilize this edge, I would recommend either not playing or just playing a modest amount for fun.

TL;DR – only enter as many rosters as you feel you can effectively watch and swap if needed.

JM >>

I LOVE this question; it’s one I would not have thought to ask, but it’s one I have consciously been making decisions around this week.

Because my family is always traveling at Thanksgiving AND we have two “main slates” this week from a content perspective, I typically head into Wednesday evening thinking I won’t be playing this slate…and then, by Wednesday night, I find myself thinking, “Well, I’ve put in all this work on this slate; let’s see if I can find some rosters that give me an edge.”

Of course, at this point, I’ve followed this pattern enough times (and had enough big days on the Thanksgiving slate), that I’m now aware of the fact that I am definitely playing this slate. With that said, I will allow “my feel for the slate” to dictate the volume I play.

In the past, I have focused on the $1500 single-entry Game Changer on the Thanksgiving slate, but as of Wednesday morning (like…1.30 AM to 5 AM, when I had been awoken by a sick child and could not fall back asleep, and therefore spent that time messing around with rosters), I was not finding a single-entry roster I really liked (primarily because I think that one of these cheap wideouts will end up being key this week, and there’s really no way for us to know which one will hit). On the flip side, my overall pool for this slate is relatively thin, so I don’t want to attack MME (especially as I’m fairly new to true mass-multi-entry, and while I’ve had years of conversations and understanding of how to profitably attack MME on the Main Slate, I’m not as confident I would be building in the most +EV manner on a three-game slate if putting 50 to 150 rosters in play). This will probably tilt me toward playing the 740-entry Power Sweep (the same Power Sweep I grabbed second place in on Sunday), which is a 3-max tourney with a $150 buy-in. In other words: three rosters instead of one; $450 in play instead of $1500; but still a sub-1k entry tourney, where I have plenty of practice building on these three-game Thanksgiving slates.

What’s interesting to me here is that Xandamere’s answer is sort of the opposite: ‘I see a bigger edge here than normal, so I typically attack with my normal Main Slate allocation.’ Notice that Xandamere has TONS of experience on smaller slates, whereas I have very little experience on smaller slates (my only “nights with no work” during football season are Sunday night and Monday night, so I use those spaces to recharge, and rarely play Showdowns on those days, and don’t play the Monday-to-Thursday; then on Thursdays, I’m working on the NFL Edge from wakeup to bedtime, all of which leaves me thin on short-slate experience). In other words: Identify your strengths and play to them. I may end up finding an edge that leads to me pulling the trigger on the Game Changer, but for now I feel I’m likeliest to end up in three-max, with roughly 30% of my typical Thanksgiving allocation (and roughly 10% to 15% of my typical Main Slate allocation), because my experience and edges don’t show up as fully on a slate like this. Xandamere, on the other hand, might have his typical Main Slate allocation in play, because his edges line up perfectly with a slate like this. Get some action in play on your end (it’s a great slate to play!), but don’t feel like you “have to” attack it heavily. Remember: every bit of bankroll you put in play should be put in play intentionally, and you should never be giving up edges. If you aren’t seeing YOUR edge on this slate, pull back a bit. If you ARE seeing your edge on this slate, attack a bit more fully.

Hilow >>

First off, consider this – Thanksgiving weekend is the most viewed weekend of football outside of the Super Bowl. Now relate that to DFS – size of contests, skill of the average entry in contests, familial obligations, shortened week, time to prepare, etc. The edge is tangible this holiday weekend. That said, we should really be viewing this slate as another data point to amplify out expected value. As in, if you are a losing player, more volume simply means your money will bleed faster with an additional data point. But we here at OWS can use the additional data point to realize our equity sooner. All of that to say – nothing really changes for me outside of a few additional Milly Maker entries. Play your game and realize your equity faster!

For me, one of my greatest edges is my ability to see beyond the projections (ownership and otherwise) to be able to identify what the field is likeliest to see out of a slate. That edge is amplified on a short slate (although I haven’t quite perfected how to harness it for showdown slates just yet), meaning I’ll be looking to attack this weekend with little remorse.

Mike >>

There is a ton of edge on this slate, but it can also be super hard to realize that edge in a huge way because of the likelihood of duplicate lineups and soft pricing. I like to play a few higher $ entries in smaller fields as those present more realistic paths to a big score, but also like to build a lot of different lineups in MME-style contests as there are a lot of fun, creative ways to give yourself a sweat going into the last game and the uniqueness of the ability to late swap and exploit variable change (explored in the next question) makes this slate one of a kind in a lot of ways. For this week, I’ll be playing less lineups but in a bit higher priced tournaments with smaller fields on Draftkings – while playing the $5 tournament on Fanduel from an MME approach.

2. Late Swap and Adjustments

The Question ::

One of the most +EV things that is available to us on any DFS slate is the ability to late swap. The fact of the matter is that extra information is available to us after each game completes and we can use the information from the game’s results as well as ownership to help us make the best decisions going forward. As a bonus, a very small percentage of our competition actually uses this option. While we don’t always have to make the swap, at least looking at it and considering it can help us in all types of contests. The extra unique thing about this slate is that there is usually 30 minutes to an hour between each game ending and the next one starting, giving us actual time to have the complete information and a bit of time to dissect how we want to use that information – this is very different from a usual Sunday NFL DFS slate where most games are still going on when the second wave of game kickoff.

With all of that in mind, do you have any specific strategies you use prior to or during the Thanksgiving slate in regard to late swap?


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 on Thanksgiving!