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The Scroll Conference Championship

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    Content Schedule

    OWS Fam,

    Here is the breakdown of content for the Conference Championship.

    Conference Championship Content
    NFL Edge
    The Oracle
    Ownership
    End Around
    Sunday Crunch
    Showdown Notes
    DFS+ Interpretations
    “The Slate” (Live Saturday 6pm ET on Discord)
    (Available Saturday night on Inner Circle podcast stream)

    See you at the top of the leaderboards!

    -RotoMaven

    End Around

    Hilow is a game theory expert (courses at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Northwestern) and tournament champion who focuses on mid/high-stakes single-entry/three-entry max

    MACRO SLATE VIEW::

    First off, this is the last End Around of the season. As we look forward to the Super Bowl and the offseason, I wanted to take a moment and express a bit of gratitude to everyone in the OWS fam for the support, engagement, and for just being the most badass group of fantasy degenerates (like myself) that I have ever come across. I will be pushing hard this offseason to continue my journey into Game Theory and putting what I learn into the beautiful game of daily fantasy football (including building a Best Ball offering from the ground up with my guy Mikey). With that, let’s talk some damn football, you softies! 

    The macro state of this slate can be summarized by simply taking a look at the expected ownership at the D/ST position. The field expects the Eagles and Chiefs to win their respective games (the line in the Bengals/Chiefs game has been absolutely wild to follow this week, opening with KC -1, jumping to CIN -2.5 after more reports surfaced on Patrick Mahomes’ ankle injury early in the week, and then reversing course back to KC -1.5 after Mahomes got in “full practices” all week – more on that later). The field also expects the AFC game to be the higher-scoring and more dynamic environment.

    The truth of the matter is that Patrick Mahomes is either not a human or he is going to largely lose his ability to escape the pocket on a high ankle sprain, and the Bengals will be without two starting offensive linemen for their game this weekend. That leaves their game environment with a much wider range of outcomes when compared to the NFC game, yet the field isn’t treating it as such. Well-timed sacks can disrupt entire drives, which is a viable outcome for these teams in this spot.

    The relative problem is that the clear spots for fantasy production to flow from the other game are being accounted for by the field (Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, and DeVonta Smith), which introduces an interesting aspect to this slate. From a small field perspective, the optimal theory would dictate to then take the more certain points from the aforementioned four players from the SF-PHI game and look to the game with a wider range of outcomes to fill in the gaps, which would look like the secondary players from the Chiefs and Bengals offenses.

    In large field – we need close to optimal, if not optimal, in order to win this week.

    RESTRICTIVE CHALK VS EXPANSIVE CHALK::

    Quick explanation: restrictive chalk is an expected highly owned piece that restricts the maneuverability of the remainder of your roster while expansive chalk is an expected highly owned piece that allows for higher amounts of maneuverability on the remainder of your roster. Classifying various forms of chalk as either restrictive or expansive allows us to visualize what it means for roster construction on a given slate and how restrictive a certain player might be – meaning more of the field will look similar from a roster construction standpoint with that piece.

    Just like last week, we’re not going to spend time identifying chalky plays – the good plays are going to be owned on a small two-game slate.

    CHALK BUILD::

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    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.

    Conference Championship Topics

    1. Bounce Backs

    2. Mahomes Alone

    3. Spare Change

    4. Best Ball SZN


    1. Bounce Backs

    The Question ::

    The NFL playoffs are a special animal. The atmospheres are so intense, while game flow and how teams match up against each other has such an impact on the way things shake out each week. As such, there can be wild swings in usage and/or effectiveness of players during these playoff runs and players who disappoint or whose team forgets about them one week can become critical pieces the next week.

    Are there any players you are specifically expecting “bounce back” performances from in this week’s Conference Championship games?

    The Answers ::
    Xandamere >>

    Jerick McKinnon stands out to me here – last week he played 65% of the snaps against just 35% for Isiah Pacheco, he just didn’t manage to get anything going (and zero targets didn’t help). Same with Juju Smith-Schuster, who played 85% of the snaps last week, most among all Kansas City pass catchers (more than Kelce!), but it resulted in just one target. Juju was already quite low owned last week, so after a disappointing performance it’s likely his ownership continues to be low (at least for a 2-game slate). 

    Hilow >>

    My “where the hell did that come from” play of the week is Marquez Valdes-Scantling against the shaky coverage of Eli Apple on the perimeter for the Bengals (which, yea, would be more like a “bounce front” week instead of a “bounce back,” because he was never really there…).

    As far as true bounce back, I don’t think there is any greater prospect than A.J. Brown this week, The matchup lines up well and we have a bit of squeaky wheel narrative working in his favor after both DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert ruled the gridiron for the Eagles in their Divisional Round win.

    Mike >>

    In the KC // CIN game, Jerick McKinnon stands out to me as a player that is playing a ton of snaps and I think the Chiefs will get him more touches this week as a safety valve to relieve Mahomes from pressure as much as they can. I also think that Tyler Boyd will be heavily used as Hayden Hurst battles a calf injury and Joe Burrow is likely to see more pressure this week from Kansas City’s defensive front than he did last week when the sloppy field didn’t let Buffalo generate much of a pass rush.

    In the SF // PHI game, AJ Brown has some “squeaky wheel” narrative going for him and I am especially high on him because of how he matches up with this 49ers defense. In the Wild Card round, we saw DK Metcalf’s size and physicality allow him to have a big game and I think AJ Brown can do the same.


    2. Mahomes Alone

    The Question ::

    The talk of the week has (rightfully) centered around the health of Patrick Mahomes after he suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s Divisional Round victory over the Jaguars. Obviously, a player like Mahomes is so crucial to his team that how he is able to play has a huge impact on how the game will play out. Considering that there are only two games this weekend, and how we know the way offenses interact with each other and call plays can have huge impacts on game flow (and subsequently player usage, scoring, etc.), this means that the status of his ankle will effectively have a monumental effect on half the slate. 

    Obviously, we aren’t doctors here, but what are your expectations for Mahomes, and, in turn, are there any angles you are seeing for how this game plays out as a consequence of what you expect from him?

    The Answers ::

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    Sunday Crunch

    Sunday Crunch is an Inner Circle feature that can be found late on Saturday nights and non-IC members can receive a chunk of the content each week. Mike also posts updated thoughts to Discord on Sunday mornings for Inner Circle members.

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    Replacing The Magic::

    The news surrounding the Chiefs this week has focused on the health of the right ankle of Patrick Mahomes. Obviously, his availability and effectiveness will have a huge effect on the Chiefs offense and the game as a whole. After a week of practicing, it appears clear that Mahomes will play but it is reasonable to expect he won’t have the same play-extending magic we usually see due to lower mobility. The Chiefs are obviously aware of those limitations and will have to plan ahead for ways to replace his improvisational genius and playmaking ability. If there is one player on the Chiefs with the skill set to “create” things for the Chiefs, it is midseason acquisition Kadarius Toney. The Chiefs have given Toney a lot of usage when healthy and on the field, and his snap rate could spike this week with the season on the line and the Chiefs needing a spark.

    Curious George::

    Through two playoff games, George Kittle has only seven total targets and has not yet scored a touchdown. This weekend, he is projected to be 4th in ownership among the four starting tight ends on the slate, but he is playing in a matchup against an Eagles defense that is extremely strong on the perimeter and has historically built their defense around pass rush and secondary, with a low emphasis on talent in the middle of the field. This game presents the biggest chance the 49ers fall behind and Kittle has been a safety blanket for Brock Purdy over his time as a starter, something that we could see to an even greater degree this week with the season on the line. Matchup + potentially funneled volume + low ownership relative to position….those are some good ingredients and I am curious to see the recipe they create.

    Getting Defensive::

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    Showdown Notes

    SF @ PHI
    • Elijah Mitchell’s status looms large here. If he plays and gets his normal role, that dings CMC somewhat (though CMC is still a great play!), and Mitchell is a viable value option. If Mitchell sits (or plays but is limited and doesn’t see his normal role), CMC’s role would be enormous, and we would be left guessing between Jordan Mason and Tyrion Davis-Price as the backup (I think Mason is the more likely option). Mason and/or TDP would be viable tourney punt plays.
    • I wouldn’t be fooled by Boston Scott’s touchdown last week. His role is minuscule except in blowouts (and, apparently, whenever the Eagles play the Giants). 
    • We have four high-end pass catchers priced pretty closely together in AJ Brown, Devonta Smith, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle. Kittle’s role as a pass catcher when the 49ers are fully healthy has been pretty modest this year, so while he’s in play, he’s my least favorite of these options. AJB is my clear favorite as he matches up well against the weakest part of the 49ers defense, with Deebo second, then Smith. 
    • Brandon Aiyuk all the way down at $5,800 sticks out like a sore thumb. He’s clearly mispriced and is a fantastic value option. He’s also likely to be very, very highly owned as a result, so consider how you build rosters around him, or, consider if you’re willing to avoid him and take the risk that he flops and drags down a large percentage of the field with him.
    • As is common in the playoffs, we don’t have great sub-kicker value options (which is part of what will drive ownership to Aiyuk). We get guys like Jauan Jennings (2 targets last week, one game of double-digit DK points all year), Quez Watkins (0 targets last week, but 4 games of double-digit DK points on the year), and then super thin options like Zach Pascal, Kyle Juszczyk, and Ray-Ray McCloud. Watkins is my favorite, then Yuus, then Jennings, but these guys are all super thin.
    • Some group options (outside the normal stuff):
      • I would actually NOT group out 2 kickers because of the lack of value on this one. I would do max 2 of all kickers/DSTs.
      • Max 1 of Watkins and Pascal (they compete for WR3 snaps)
      • Max 1 of McCloud and Jennings (same)
      • Max 1 of Davis-Price and Mason (if Mitchell misses)
      • Max 2 of Aiyuk, Kittle, and Deebo
    CIN @ KC
    • McKinnon is in a lead back role (65% of the snaps last week, should see something similar this week) but is just $6,600.
    • It’s tough to pick between two absolute studs but I have a slight lean toward Ja’Marr Chase over Travis Kelce here. 
    • JuJu Smith-Schuster at $5,400 is a nice value option, and similarly to Aiyuk in the other game, he sticks out a bit in the pricing. But unlike Aiyuk, he has other good options priced around him, so his ownership isn’t as likely to get out of control.
    • Kadarius Toney isn’t playing a lot of snaps, but as we talked about last week, the Chiefs are aggressively scheming him the ball when he’s on the field. 
    • I am personally not chasing Samaje Perine’s big game from last week. Perine only has 1 other game of double-digit DK points all year in games in which Joe Mixon also played. He’s fine – RB2s in Showdown are always fine – but if main slate ownership projections are any indication, he’s likely to be quite popular here and I will aim to come in under the field (generally speaking, I want about 10% to 20% or so of any RB2 in Showdown, depending on the offense’s splits of workload between their RB1 and RB2).
    • We actually get some value options in this one! Marquez Valdes-Scantling is $3,600, Mecole Hardman (if he plays) is $3,200, Justin Watson is $2,200, Noah Gray is $1,400. There are also thinner options available in Trenton Irwin, Skyy Moore, and Mitchell Wilcox. MVS and Watson should be on the field a ton, though their roles could clearly be impacted if Hardman returns. Hardman would be a solid option if active, Gray is a reasonable punt with a questionable ceiling. 
    • Hardman is worth some discussion because his return could impact a wide range of things. Early in the season, the Chiefs were using Hardman a lot close to the red zone, which resulted in 4 receiving touchdowns on just 34 targets and an additional 2 touchdowns on 4 carries (lol). Jerick McKinnon’s role while Hardman was active was also very small. McKinnon took over that “schemed red zone touches” role when Hardman got hurt, and then to a lesser extent, Kadarius Toney has also seen similar schemed usage. So, if Hardman returns, that throws some question marks on not just MVS and Watson, but on McKinnon and Toney as well. Given that it’s his first game back, my instinct is that McKinnon and Toney are largely safe but just don’t be surprised if things play out a different way.
    • Some group options (outside of the normal stuff):
      • Max 2 of Hardman, Toney, McKinnon, MVS, Watson, and Gray
      • Max 1 of Irwin and Wilcox
      • Given their prices, I am seriously considering a max 1 rule of Mixon and Perine – but be aware this is a risk of grouping yourself out of the nuts (it would have been last week)