Sunday, Feb 12th — Late
Bye Week:
49ers
Bears
Bengals
Bills
Broncos
Browns
Buccaneers
Cardinals
Chargers
Colts
Commanders
Cowboys
Dolphins
Falcons
Giants
Jaguars
Jets
Lions
Packers
Panthers
Patriots
Raiders
Rams
Ravens
Saints
Seahawks
Steelers
Texans
Titans
Vikings

The Scroll Reflection Edition. 10.21.

JUMP TO

    One Week Season

    Where Sharp DFS Players Hang Out


    Early Bets

    Why does Vegas set lines? What is their goal? Well, Vegas sets lines in an attempt to get exactly half of the action on each side of every line they post. In this case, they take the rake, guarantee a profit, and move on. So, does that mean Vegas lines are perfectly set? Furthermore, does it mean they are always perfectly set early in the week? No! Every week this season (starting Week 2), we’ll be jumping into early-week betting line inefficiencies to take advantage of before they move. This line movement can be caused by a number of factors, but the primary reasons for movements after initial line release are public sentiment and recency biases (shark money typically doesn’t come in until later in the week, when bettors have more complete information). With that, let’s jump in!

    QUICK HITS PART DEUX:

    Expanding on what we discussed last week with respect to hunting for lines, the same goes for props, which we haven’t explored yet in this space as prop lines don’t get released until later in the week (check out the weekly Edge Bets piece for prop action!). Different books will set player props at different values, odds, and juice, making hunting for the prop lines a highly +EV endeavor. I highly recommend opening as many as five to ten accounts on sportsbooks available in your area to be able to take advantage of this betting practice (more on this soon). Final note: to highlight this practice, I will start adding below which book the line in question is located.

    If you are looking for referral codes to get those juicy sign-up bonuses (and free money that come with them), follow the link here for referral codes to various books partnered with OWS.

    +EV LINES (Week 10)::

    LOS ANGELES RAMS (-4.0) @ SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (BET MGM):

    Recency bias, anyone? The Rams also just acquired some scrub named Von Miller, who missed last week while he recovers from an ankle injury, to pair with Aaron Donald along that defensive line. Public perception is likely to shift drastically if we get news of Miller’s return to health. Consider this one likeliest to move in favor of the Rams as the weekend draws nearer.

    DETROIT LIONS (+9.5) @ PITTSBURGH STEELERS (BET MGM; +9.0 at DraftKings):

    Same story that we’ve seen numerous times this season, with a large spread in a low game total game. We historically see the underdog cover in situations like this, a trend the public hasn’t seemed to catch onto yet. This idea gains increased traction when you consider the fact that the Steelers have generated only nine turnovers this season.

    CLEVELAND BROWNS ML @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS (+105; BET MGM):

    The line on this game sits at Cleveland +1.5, which is all but useless outside of the very specific case of Cleveland losing by a single point. As in, you gain about 16% in additional value (higher payout) with the money line (+105) when compared to the spread (-110). Considering only 3.89% of all NFL games over the previous 20 years were decided by one point, taking the money line over the spread is worth about 12% in expected value to the bettor.

    HONORABLE MENTIONS::

    TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS ML @ WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM (-435 DraftKings; -450 on BET MGM):

    Simply an honorable mention to highlight the added value of shopping for lines. Big bet special or viable parlay inclusion.

    BALTIMORE RAVENS ML @ MIAMI DOLPHINS (-335 DraftKings; -350 BET MGM):

    Same as above, simply an honorable mention to highlight the added value of shopping for lines. Big bet special or viable parlay inclusion.

    ARIZONA CARDINALS ML VS CAROLINA PANTHERS (-425 DraftKings; -550 BET MGM):

    Same as above, simply an honorable mention to highlight the added value of shopping for lines. Big bet special or viable parlay inclusion.

    THREE-TEAM PARLAY ABOVE (-103 DraftKings; -117 BET MGM)

    Check this out, a three-team parlay on large favorites is worth 12% (!!!) more on DraftKings when compared to Bet MGM! You can use this same methodology if hunting for prop totals to place in a parlay, drastically increasing your expected value along the way! Shop for those lines!

    Wired to Waivers

    How do you consistently beat opponents in dynasty and season-long settings when you all start with the same amount of FAAB (Free Agent Auction Bidding) dollars, a rotating waiver priority, or a standings-based waiver system? Are some people just luckier than others in nabbing their guy? How do some managers seem to have triple the FAAB budget? If you’ve played dynasty or season-long fantasy football, you’ve probably found yourself wondering these same questions at one point or the other.

    The reason some managers seem to assemble stacked rosters is twofold: they draft for ceiling and fill in the gaps through waivers, and they are early to the party on “hidden gems” off the wire. That last point is the whole reason we are here. In order to consistently beat dynasty and season-long fantasy football, you have to not only be aggressive on the waiver wire, but you have to know where to look to find the players your opponents will be looking for NEXT WEEK. Successful waivers do not involve simply scooping as many replacement running backs as possible after an injury occurs. It takes knowledge, planning, foresight, and a little bit of gusto. You don’t need another talking head to tell you to grab Devontae Booker after Saquon Barkley was injured, or to grab Chuba Hubbard after Christian McCaffrey went down, or to grab Elijah Mitchell after the 49ers lost three running backs. So, that is exactly what we will be doing in this piece for the remainder of the season. We’ll scour the league to find the players in the best position to be difference-makers should one thing work in their favor, and we’ll do so weeks before our competition. Your opponents can’t blow their waiver priority or FAAB budget on players already on your roster!

    Oh, and since there are enough analysts in the industry telling you who the obvious pickups are, we won’t waste our time with those players here (which isn’t to say they aren’t worth an addition, it simply means those are typically the players you should expect to spend significant FAAB, or waiver priority, in order to acquire them). With that quick introduction into what we will be doing in this space for the rest of the season out of the way, let’s dig in!

    FORWARD-THINKING WAIVERS (Week 10)::

    ENO BENJAMIN:

    The multi-week injury to Cardinals starting running back Chase Edmonds opens up an interesting dynamic with this backfield. James Conner took full advantage in Week 9, amassing three touchdowns and a 77% snap rate. Eno is a speculative add with the uncertainty surrounding how the snaps and touches will shake out in the absence of Edmonds, with room for growth should something happen to Conner.

    BRANDON BOLDEN:

    Likely already scooped in deeper and/or more competitive leagues. Bolden has led the Patriots running backs in snap rate for three of the six weeks since James White was lost for the season. Bolden is a viable bye-week fill-in or injury replacement in those weeks we can project neutral to negative game environment for the Pats. His status is boosted in the immediate future by the head injuries sustained by both Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris in Week 9.

    QUEZ WATKINS:

    After starting the season as a rotational player, Quez has snap rates of 82%, 77%, 72%, 89%, and 96% over the previous five games. Expect an increased 11-personnel for the Eagles moving forward with Zach Ertz no longer in town. Truly only viable in games we expect the Eagles to be playing from behind, considering their newfound devotion to the run game (which hilariously coincides with games played without their RB1 in Miles Sanders).

    KENYAN DRAKE:

    Another player that is likely already rostered in deeper and/or more competitive leagues. It took Henry Ruggs III going to jail and an interim head coach for Drake to be utilized like we all thought he would be after signing a lucrative offseason deal with the Raiders. A pass game specialist, look for Drake’s role to continue to grow as the season progresses. Additional note: Josh Jacobs appears to pick up minor dings that force him from each game the Raiders play; consider Drake a pass game specialist with upside for more.

    KALIF RAYMOND / TRINITY BENSON:

    Both of these guys are largely unowned and have been playing serious snaps at wide receiver for the Lions with Quintez Cephus out. They are currently nothing more than bye week fill-ins with room to grow.

    Process|Review

    In this weekly video, Xandamere reviews his roster-builds & process.


    Maximize Your Builds With OWS + FantasyLabs


    Week 9 Review

    Process Points

    Lesson of the Week: Walk It Off

    What a crazy week. My results were very, very bad. A few years ago, I would be reevaluating everything about my process and approach, distraught at such a terrible performance. I’ve learned, however, to remove emotion from the equation and step back to evaluate the big picture….

    In Week 9, the five highest team totals were as follows: Bills, Cowboys, Chiefs, Ravens, Dolphins. The Bills, Cowboys, and Chiefs offenses all had catastrophic systemic failures, combining for only three offensive touchdowns — one by Travis Kelce and two by a third-string Cowboys WR — and no skill players breaking the 100-yard bonus barrier. None of those three offenses even broke 300 total yards as a TEAM. The Ravens offense had a good showing, but it was the Lamar show with none of their four touchdowns going to relevant players. The Dolphins offense was a shell with Tua Tagovailoa unable to play, scoring only 17 points and 262 total yards against a horrible Texans defense. 

    When weeks like that happen, I’m just not going to win. I’ll often build lineups around some less popular spots and will fade a specific game or two that is projecting well, but a week where you pretty much have to avoid the top FIVE projected offenses just isn’t going to be a week where much good happens for me — and I’m okay with that. The worst thing someone can do after a week like this is to say, “OK, next week, I’m not going to play ANY of the top five projected offenses!” We know that the NFL is random, and a week or two like this every season is likely to happen. However, this was the worst week I’ve ever seen. So many high-end offenses not moving the ball at all is so very rare. Usually, when those “failures” happen, it is the result of ancillary players stealing the touchdowns or a team scoring 17 to 20 points rather than the upper 20’s or higher they are projected for. This week there wasn’t even a “sharp, alternate way of attacking a popular spot” — it was more or less if you had a roster with two or more players from those teams you were almost certainly dust, or at least not in the hunt for a top-end finish. I definitely made some mistakes in some roster constructions and exposures, but that doesn’t mean that a complete teardown of my process is in order.

    If you were like me this week and built for first place by attacking the top teams/game environments but trying to be smart and creative about how you do it, at this point, all you can do is “walk it off.” Like a player who twists an ankle and needs to keep moving to get past it….if you go sit on the bench and take your shoe off (i.e., blow up your process), it’s just going to swell up and make things worse. Be a champ. Walk it off.

    Lineup Reviews 

    As outlined in my +EV Primer course (you can find in the Marketplace – either by itself or in the bundle with my player pool course), one of my approaches that keeps me from getting too high or low week-to-week is playing consistent contests and approaching them from a season-long perspective and using that to evaluate my play and ROI. This season, in this article, I will be tracking my progress on a weekly basis as I play the Single Entry (SE), 3-max, and 5-max tournaments in the $20 to $150 price range on DraftKings main slate for all 18 weeks. Rather than sweating or worrying about my ROI every week and “hoping to cash,” – my goal for the season is to maximize profit relative to that long-term investment total. The results of a given week are irrelevant.  

    Each week I will review the best and worst of my 11 lineups from my “Roster Block” of SE/3-Max/5-Max. Below are this week’s results, and you can find more information about my process/theory for this in my Week 1 Process Points article

    Best Lineup ($200k Three-Point Stance, 5-Max, $33)

    The “story” I was telling: This is a roster that, in hindsight, I probably got too cute on. Building around LAC-PHI was sharp, but the optimal way obviously would have been to use a LAC TE (Cook) with Devonta Smith as the bring back. Either way, given the ownership of that core stack, I went further off the board than I needed to on the rest of the roster. I wanted a piece of Dallas on every roster, and Pollard had actually been averaging 13 opportunities per game over the last three games entering Week 9. With the uncertainty of the RB position lately, I liked the idea of him seeing that usage with a chance for more with a Zeke injury or Cowboys blowout (as the spread suggested). While I still stand by the thought process, he is a play that would make sense with a chalky Lamar stack rather than a low-owned, off-the-board play. I also question the ceiling of my three WRs not involved in the game stack. All were good plays that can help you cash, but none of them are particularly prone to explosive plays/games, and the odds of all of them hitting ceilings (which is what you need at WR to win a GPP) were pretty low — especially as all of them were there as floating plays and not correlated to anything.

    Worst Lineup ($600K Power Sweep, 3-Max, $150):

    The “story” I was telling: I was heavy on the Bills this week and went with the double stack of Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis. I expect Diggs to have a massive game at some point in the near future and wanted to be early to that party. Meanwhile, Davis’ snap count and routes were growing with Dawson Knox out, and his super cheap price tag let me play Allen in a unique way and opened up the rest of my roster to use players I liked. The uniqueness of the Buffalo stack allowed me to play chalky RBs whose roles I was very confident in. I wanted access to Dallas on every roster and liked Schultz in an every-down role, while I also am very high on Jeudy and think he will be a low-$6k range WR by the end of the year. Hardman was access to the Chiefs offense, and the final piece — Ravens D — fit with my remaining salary and was a nice hedge off my heavy Justin Jefferson exposure on my other rosters.

    Week 9 Results: None of my 11 lineups cashed this week. As discussed throughout the article, that’s the nature of the beast, and there will likely be some weeks like this throughout a season. At the midway point in the season, I’m down a little over 50% on my investment (half of my yearly investment). Given the nature of the contests I am playing, and the limited number of lineups played in this type of structure, it’s really not that bad of a return. Remember some of the things talked about in prior lessons — my roster blocks through nine weeks have produced a total of 99 lineups. Statistically, my chances of a top 0.1% finish that will make the season are not that great. I’ll gladly take a lower return on a weekly basis to increase my chances of eventually finding a top-end payout.

    Week 9 Investment: $792

    Week 9 Winnings: $0

    Estimated Yearly Investment:  $14,000 

    Yearly Winnings: $3,180

    Bottom-Up Breakdown

    Dwprix breaks down the top lineups in the OWS Bottom-Up Build challenge.

    Week 9 Review

    Each week, I’ll review the Bottom-Up Build contest. I’ll look at how the winners got to the top of the leaderboard, the game environments used, and how we can use this tournament to become better players. The purpose of the Bottom-Up Build is to roster players that you would feel comfortable rostering in a regular contest (solid price considered floor and high ceiling) so when you’re building for other contests, you don’t find yourself struggling with the last couple spots, and jamming in someone that you’re not comfortable with.  Studying these players may also put you on a game environment that others may be overlooking.

    Overview

    Rules :: Max $44k Salary (exceeding $44k salary will disqualify entry); must use OWS avatar to be eligible for prizes

    Total Entries :: 187 (162 eligible since 25 were disqualified for not using an OWS avatar and/or went over salary and didn’t enter a lineup)

    Prizes (Edge Points) :: 1st = 100 Edge // 2nd = 50 // 3rd = 25

    Highest Owned Player :: Devontae Booker – 49.2% (priced at $5,900)

    Highest Owned Stack :: Tyrod Taylor (24.06%) + Brandin Cooks (19.79%) = 12.83% Combined

    See All The Entries :: Contest Link

    Winners:

    1st Place: Jaymz_10

    2nd Place: Jjmcgowan

    3rd Place: Dibbilydoo

    Analysis

    Jaymz_10’s winning score of 153.44 would have been good enough to cash in both GPPs and cash games in paid DK contests. The average GPP cash line was around 136 points, and in cash games, it was around 120. We had a lower scoring week in general. Jaymz_10 chose to play Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown, running it back with Tyler Conklin from the Ravens/Vikings matchup. This game’s closing total tied for the highest on the slate (51) with the Ravens favored by seven. The Ravens implied point total closed at 29, the fourth highest out of 22 teams. They were projected to score four TDs and have been throwing on 65% of their offensive plays this season, the third-highest. The majority of the target volume on the Ravens has been through Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews (combined team target share of 49%) and Sammy Watkins was once again out. This game also had the benefit of going to OT and allowed Brown to score 10 more DK points on two OT drives. 

    Jaymz_10 and second-place finisher, Jjmcgowan, were able to pay up for Lamar Jackson and Marquise Brown by rostering two TE’s. Jjmcgowan’s double TEs both came from the Ravens/Vikings matchup (Conklin/Andrews), making his lineup a double-stack with run-back in what turned out to be the best game environment on the slate. JM talked about double TE being a viable strategy for the BUB tourney and in small-field contests on the Week 9 Angles Pod and he utilized this strategy in his own BUB this past week. 

    Third-place finisher, Dibbilydoo, played a naked Jordan Love, and although that didn’t pay off, he did have other similarities with the top two lineups. The biggest one for Dibbilydoo that Jjmcgowan also played, was paying up to get Nick Chubb in a spot where the Browns put up 41 points. Chubb rushed for 2 TDs and 137 yards. Because of Chubbs’ high price in a salary-restricted contest, he was only 6.4% owned (compared to 18-25% in paid DK contests).  All of the top three lineups played the Chiefs D. They were the highest owned defense in the BUB (27%), but for good reason with the restricted salary cap and cheap price of $2.3k.

    Putting It Together

    Rostering two TEs can be a viable strategy, especially in the BUB, as long as we get a few things to happen on a given slate. As we get later in the season, DK pricing gets tighter, making it harder to access multiple players with 30+ point ceilings. We had several TEs this week that were cheap and in potentially high-volume roles. Albert O. was just $2.6k with Fant out in a game the Broncos were supposed to be trailing. Dallas Goedert was $4.5k with Ertz traded. Tyler Conklin was just $3k but is now averaging six targets per game over his last six. Cases could be made for several other TEs this week as well, so this strategy made sense, especially when we only had two games with closing totals above 50. Generally, low Vegas totals lead to a lower scoring fantasy week, so being right on the best game environment (BAL/MIN) was especially important this week as it gave you access to Lamar and Brown’s ceiling. The Ravens/Vikings game environment proved to be the winning ticket!

    Tournament of Champions

    We are pumped to announce we will be having a Bottom-Up Build Tournament of Champions! The TOC will take place Week 18 and first place will win an OWS Inner Circle-For-Life ⭕️ membership with additional prizes to other qualifiers! All weekly first-place finishers will be eligible. Congrats to those who have already qualified: Sgmain18, Spastictoaster, Swench1919, Mikeall65, abright8, Andkristopher, Sklarma72, Aothomas42, and Jaymz_10

    Week 10 :: Bottom-Up Tourney

    Every week, you can click here for the newest contest link for the upcoming Bottom-Up Tourney.

    Rules

    1. Must be using an OWS Avatar to be eligible to win. This can be found on your profile page, or at the top of this week’s NFL Edge!
    2. Single Entry // 200 Entries
    3. Max $44k Salary (exceeding $44k will automatically disqualify your entry)
    4. Prizes (Edge Points) :: 1st = 100 / 2nd = 50 // 3rd = 25
    5. Winners please email support@oneweekseason.com with your DK Screenname

    Missed Opportunities

    Larejo123 takes a look at some of the overlooked plays and “missed opportunities” from the week behind us, identifying the thought processes and approaches that could have led us to those plays.

    There’s a delicate balance that exists in DFS articles between recommending something illogical, and not recommending something too illogical. Of course, if you go so extreme in your analysis and recommendations, and then it hits, you’ll be the center of attention. But if you take it too far, and the strategy ends up being clearly wrong, you put yourself in the zone of becoming an unreliable voice. Week 9’s main slate became an exercise of when irrational becomes real. Of the top 15 scorers, five of those players literally averaged less than 1.2% owned (James Conner, Matt Ryan, George Kittle, Jimmy Garroppolo, and Olamide Zaccheaus), with another five averaging under 5% ownership (Justin Herbert, Joe Mixon, DeVonta Smith, Teddy Bridgewater, Kirk Cousins). That’s two-thirds of the top 15 scorers who were wholly underowned in tournaments this weekend. This is why it was a quirky weekend. If we played this slate over 100 times, of the guys above, I’d only give myself a shred of a possibility that I would play Kittle, Herbert, Smith, and Mixon more than 10 or 15 of those 100 times. There’s not a world where I would have leaned on Conner or a Ryan + Zaccheaus stack this weekend.

    In hindsight, if I had written about the Falcons against the Saints, and specifically Ryan and Zaccheaus, or the 49ers with Garoppollo and Kittle, I am not sure how this would have been received. On one hand, those plays would have fit the biased discomfort label we try to preach, but on the other hand, and in my opinion, they were still all too thin. When I write “Willing to Lose,” my goal is to give angles (and plays, sometimes) we can take as paths to why an overlooked strategy could work. My goal isn’t to give you seven reasons why this is the angle that I’m taking, because as we’ve talked about before, if there are seven legitimate statistics that exist supporting why a player will succeed, then that player will be chalk. But rather, if I can find a narrative, a recency bias, or a matchup many are perceiving incorrectly, then boom, there’s our lean-in. And yet, I am not sure I could have found two or three different lenses to look through which could have led me to some of these plays. 

    So this upcoming week, when you read “Willing to Lose” in The Scroll, I’ll be attempting to strike the balance of thin, but not too thin, as we work together to crush Week 10. But for now, I’ll recap some of the plays I actually could have put you on (or been on myself) from a weird Week 9:

    Game stacks without a running back

    Far too frequently this season, I have stacked games up with QB-WR-WR and a bring-back WR. I say, far too frequently, because ignoring running backs in game stacks doesn’t feel like a +EV move. Even this Sunday, on my Giants/Raiders game stack, I deliberated before kickoff on whether I should play Devontae Booker or Darius Slayton. I went with Slayton. Think about that one for a second. Why? I liked Slayton’s aDOT and there was starting to be plenty of love for Booker so I leaned into one of the stacks I wrote about in WTL, as I figured if it hit, I’d be in very good shape. Then Booker proceeded to out-touch Slayton 24-0. If we want to count Slayton’s one target, then it’s 24-1. Egg on face. 

    When we game stack, we need to include running backs, and this is especially true if we’re looking to stack more than just QB-WR and an opposing player. If you did not see Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley’s press conference rant earlier this season on why running the ball is still an effective part of an offensive game plan, it’s worth a minute and a half of your time. Despite what analytics say, running the football will always be a strategy deployed by many offensive coordinators for years to come. And yet, I forget this as I imagined games playing out with a high volume of passes in the shootout styles we all know and love, which happen less than what we’re hoping for.

    Browns at Bengals

    Nick Chubb and Joe Mixon were perfect examples of this theory this week. While we were hoping for the Browns offense to show up for just the second time in four weeks, we know how heavy they are leaning into the run. Chubb was easy to play if you were on the Browns offense. Mixon, on the other hand, became a difficult fit. Before Sunday’s kickoff, many viewed the Bengals offense as being more potent than the Browns offense. And as we talked about last week, they had been leaning into their 2020 pre-Burrow injury pass-heavy ways in recent weeks. Ownership was forming on Tee Higgins and Ja’Marr Chase, and there just wasn’t enough room for Mixon. It’s not that we need to include both running backs in a game stack, but chances are, one or the other will get goal line looks, and more touches than some of the WR2 or WR3 plays on an offense. We have to recognize that, and not gauge our eyeballs out as Devontae Booker gets carry after carry (I wasn’t doing that, you were!).

    George Kittle

    Kittle came back from injury with reports before the game that he would see limited snaps. As one of the highest-salaried tight ends on the week, naturally, he would carry little ownership. But here’s the one question I never asked myself this weekend, “can George Kittle actually go easy on a football field?” Knowing what we do know about Kittle, and how crazy he is about playing football, about blocking guys into the ground, about taking big hits, if he is cleared to be on a football field, did we really think Kittle could turn it off and go 75%? No f’in way. I missed this, you likely did too. We should have thought about what kind of crazy Kittle is, and how that can be channeled on the field. In his “32nd” ranked matchup (in parentheses because why does DraftKings even include matchup numbers and colors anymore?), with all the help the 49ers needed in their passing game, we could have seen Kittle’s 100-yard welcome back explosion coming before it happened. 

    “Vegas range” game stacks

    47-50 points. We had four games last week open with lines between 47-50 points: Raiders/Giants, Vikings/Ravens, Broncos/Cowboys, and Jaguars/Bills. Of those games, the only one which I stacked up was LV/NYG. I should have listened to myself here and leaned into both Vikings/Ravens as well as Broncos/Cowboys. While it took a strange game script to get there (how good is Lamar in major catchup mode, like a young Matt Ryan!), having exposure to this Vikings/Ravens game proved to be a differentiator in Week 9. Lamar and Cousins both significantly outperformed expectations and they brought Marquise Brown and Justin Jefferson with them. We could also add Dalvin Cook to this conversation, though if we had rostered either Cousins/Lamar with Hollywood, Jefferson, and Dalvin, we would have had to get extreme value in our other roster spots. My point here is a recurring one, we should continue to target this 47-50 point zone for the ‘second tier’ game totals, which can lead to underowned game environments and stacks.

    Above The Field

    Be Mindful of Sharp Objects 

    Sometimes when building rosters, we can feel somewhat isolated, alone in our DFS bubble, accompanied only by our optimizer and our demented thoughts. Aside from the “picking players” part of the process, there are myriad questions we may ask ourselves in terms of an overall approach. I often wonder if the sharpest players in the DFS world spend as much time on certain aspects of the game as I do? Should I be fading the chalkiest defenses? How tight should my player pool be, and is that strictly dependent on how many quarterbacks I play? Should I be running 4-stacks exclusively? Or are skinny stacks the better way to go? Should I always utilize a bring-back?

    To help answer some of these questions, I downloaded the data from nine of the most successful DFS tournament players so we can analyze how they attacked the $5 Flea Flicker on DraftKings. Perhaps comparing the “sharps” handling of Week 9’s decision points to our own will help us either move forward with some validation or identify a leak in our MME game. All of these players entered the maximum 150 lineups for a total of $750 with various results.

    Our subjects of the week (along with their respective profits) are: 

    ahitspat: -$539

    BRORANNOSAURUS_FLEX: -$505.75

    ChipotleAddict: -$507.69

    giantsquid: -$512

    GreyPoupon: $665

    karlsbergTO: $19,775

    meaganjoy: -$590

    oxenduck: -$363

    papagates: -$53

    Out of the gate, it’s nice to see I wasn’t the only one who lost 70% of my tournament buy-ins this week. This is actually a somewhat common occurrence, even in weeks that weren’t as upside down as Week 9. Of these professional players, only two of them ended the day with more money than they started with. Losing your ass is the expected outcome for the majority of weeks in MME. The key is maximizing those weeks when you do hit like karlsbergTO managed to do this week. 

    Let’s get the DST question out of the way first. Isn’t it optimal game theory to fade the cheap, chalky defenses? If you judge these sharp players on their actions, the answer comes back a resounding NO. The salary savings far outweighs the ownership disadvantage, according to the sharks. Play the chalky cheap defenses and play the low-owned cheap defenses. Use your money to go up a level at another position. 

    Here’s a sampling of screenshots to illustrate:

    I personally end up more like that first screenshot which belongs to BRORANNOSAURUS_FLEX. I usually cap my defenses at 15% and set the Randomizer/Range of Outcomes to “infinity,” and try to spread the DST exposure as much as possible. Defensive scoring is so random in the NFL, and it’s often the interception returns and kick return TDs that we need. Those can come from anywhere at any time, so I generally subscribe to the philosophy of “just spread it around and hope.”  

    Stack Sizes and Player Pools

    Successful players approach stacking in a variety of ways. Most tend to be QB-specific. Others, like AL_Smizzle and mrgoodseats, have a hard and fast rule of using 4-stacks. QB double stacked with exactly one bring-back. If that configuration does not hit on a given week…we’re on to Cincinnati. Grey Poupon, hishboo, and others have had success using mostly 3-stacks with the quarterback, a sole pass catcher, and a bring-back. This approach is a bit more “optimizer-friendly” as it leaves an extra roster spot available for the projections to fill. I like to remain somewhat fluid between these approaches. On certain weeks where I have an abundance of desirable floating plays, I may lean more towards not forcing two pass catchers and a bring-back into my lineups. On other weeks where I have a strong belief in certain game environments, I may simply set the rule to force two pass catchers and a bring-back, move forward, and sleep like a baby. 

    Wait…where did the term “sleep like a baby” come from, and why the hell does it infer that babies sleep well? Did that asshole ever have kids? 

    Anyway, here’s the breakdown of our sharps’ stack sizes from their 150 lineups. This shit took forever to log, but it’s important, so I do it for the good of our community. I give, and I give. 

    ahitspat

    Player Pool = 90

    Stack Size – number of lineups

    Stack of 5 – 6

    Stack of 4 – 112

    Stack of 3 – 9

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 0

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 23

    Some of the naked QB choices were interesting. Justin Herbert was in two of them. Teddy Bridgewater was in four. These are guys that rarely score an abundance of fantasy points with their legs, and their pass receiver distribution isn’t excessively wide, so I’m not sure of the theory behind this approach. The only obvious answer would be, “I bet these guys throw for multiple touchdowns, and each one goes to a different receiver.” That makes perfect sense. I ran Brady naked a few times in previous years because he was spreading the ball around so much. 

    *INSERT UNCOMFORTABLE “BRADY NAKED” JOKE HERE

    BRORANNASAURUS_FLEX

    Player Pool = 106

    Stack of 5 – 56

    Stack of 4 – 83

    Stack of 3 – 11

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 0

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 0

    The number of 5-stacks certainly jumps out here. There is a specific method behind the madness, however. Each of these involves two bring-backs from the opponent, and in every case, one of those opponents is a running back. The approach makes perfect sense. It tells a story of one side smashing with its passing game while the other also put up heavy points, only they are distributed between the air and the ground. If you were to bring it back with multiple wide receivers, then we’d be getting into the argument of “well, you might as well have played the other QB, especially if he was cheaper.” 

    ChipotleAddict

    Player Pool = 77

    Stack of 6 – 1 (let Devontae Booker sneak into a Daniel Jones double)

    Stack of 5 – 10 (all cases where a RB they liked snuck into a game stack)

    Stack of 4 – 54

    Stack of 3 – 60

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 25

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 0

    Chipotle played 60% Dalvin Cook this week and planted his flag in two tight ends, 41% Albert Okwuegbunam and 40% Darren Waller. 

    Giantsquid

    Player Pool = 85

    Stack of 6 – 10 (He really liked the Giants/Raiders game!)

    Stack of 5 – 41 (almost all cases where a RB he liked snuck into a game stack)

    Stack of 4 – 61

    Stack of 3 – 38

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 0

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 0

    His 3-stacks were all QB double stacks with no opponent. Many of my lineups looked similar this week because there wasn’t a sexy bring-back from the Jaguars in Josh Allen’s stacks, and it was tough to find the salary to bring back Davante Adams or Aaron Jones in Patrick Mahomes stacks, particularly if you wanted both Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce in there. 

    He seemed to allow the projections to do their thing. He had 67% Hunter Renfrow and 43% Albert O. 

    GreyPoupon

    Player Pool = 67

    Stack of 4 – 2

    Stack of 3 – 33

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 115

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 0

    Not a big proponent of “bringing it back,” he only had 26 lineups that featured a quarterback’s opponent. 

    GP managed to find some success in this tournament by virtue of his running back allocations. Nick Chubb at 45% and Joe Mixon at 26% got him substantially above the field. 

    karlsbergTO

    Player Pool = 84

    Stack of 5 – 3

    Stack of 4 – 101

    Stack of 3 – 44

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 2

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 0

    A firm believer in the double-stack/bring-back philosophy. He only ran threes to provide some diversity in his massive shares of Jalen Hurts (65%) and Justin Herbert (28%)  

    KarlsbergTO managed to bag 2nd place in this tournament with this lovely 4-stack with tight ends from each side. 

    Double TE is not an approach we generally advise, but this week it made sense in a few spots, and this was one of them. When both tight ends are part of the game stack, and both have decent TD upside for their price, it’s a green light. Besides, there wasn’t exactly a plethora of viable bring-backs from the Eagles on this occasion. 

    Meaganjoy

    Player Pool = 99

    Stack of 5 – 5

    Stack of 4 – 65

    Stack of 3 – 66

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 14 (mostly Jacoby Brissett with no Texans)

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 0

    Ran 60% Brissett and his next-highest QB was Mac Jones at 10%. Not exactly high-probability decisions here, but hey, meagonjoy won all the money twice in the last year, so what can we say?

    Oxenduck

    Player Pool = 69

    Stack of 7 – 1 (WTF? A Denver/Dallas overdose!)

    Stack of 6 – 5 (More Denver/Dallas with some Giants/Raiders)

    Stack of 5 – 14

    Stack of 4 – 34

    Stack of 3 – 68

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 28 (Brissett, Allen, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen)

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 0

    Quite the portfolio of stacking here. I love it. Every game is different. There is no single approach that always works. Why not try some of everything, especially if the field isn’t?

    oxenduck ran 57% Chiefs DST, by the way. One way to handle chalk is to just go way over the field. 

    Papagates

    Player Pool = 78

    Stack of 5 – 22

    Stack of 4 – 65

    Stack of 3 – 59

    Stack of 2 (skinny stacks) – 4 (Brissett, Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen)

    Stack of 0 (naked QB) – 0

    papagates was heavy on Daniel Jones (37%), Jordan Love (20%), Dalvin Cook (43%), Devontae Booker (42%), Aaron Jones (33%), Rondale Moore (41%), and Kadarius Toney (34.7%). Do you know what all of these players have in common? 

    None of them were on the roster of papa’s only sweat. 

    Another example of the old poker adage. Be aggressive. Even when you miss, you still might have outs and get lucky. 

    This was a well-constructed 5-stack that featured a Justin Herbert triple stack and the perfect bring-back from the Eagles in Devonta Smith, who made some big plays in the 4th quarter of that game to give this lineup a chance for 1st place. 

    I hope the exposure to this data helps provide you with some validation on how you currently build your tournament lineups or at least inspires an expansion of your approach. 

    There’s no one magic formula to tournament success. Be yourself and make sound decisions within your style. 

    Now let’s freaking bink something in Week 10, huh?

    LFG!

    Underowned UD

    Lex Miraglia takes a look under the hood of the Underdog Battle Royale tournament: identifying what works, what doesn’t, and what provides our best path to first place in this top-heavy, but ultra-soft tourney.

    The goal of this article is to present you with information and strategy about a different-style DFS tournament that is currently filled with an inexperienced field of entrants. Due to Underdog’s main customer base of Best Ball players, there are many people approaching this tournament in a suboptimal way. So let’s take advantage!

    What is Battle Royale?

    Battle Royale is Underdog’s main slate tournament offered each week. You and five others participate in a six-round draft, selecting a QB, RB, 2 WR, FLEX, and TE from Sunday’s games (SNF no longer included). Your final roster then competes with every entry in the tournament, not just your fellow drafters, for the highest score of the week.

    Typically a $5 entry fee for the weekly main tournament.

    After a $20K prize the first couple weeks, 1st place has been $12K every week since.

    This is a daily fantasy tournament! Right now the edge is that too many players are still treating drafts like season-long teams instead of one-week teams. This article will explore how to think correctly about drafting in this format.

    Reviewing Underdog’s Battle Royale: Week 9

    Here we take a look at the five highest-scoring lineups from Week 9, how they were constructed, what we can learn from them, and the most important concepts to keep in mind when drafting a team.

    ScoreQBRBFlexWRWRTE
    127.44LamarChubbMixonHollywoodCooksKelce
    127.14HerbertChubbKamaraHollywoodKeenanKelce
    125.94LamarChubbMixonBatemanJeffersonKelce
    125.64LamarChubbMixonHollywoodMike WillKelce
    123.94HerbertChubbKamaraKeenanJeffersonWaller
    Brief Summary of Five Highest Scoring Lineups:
    • 5/5 with Nick Chubb // 4/5 with Travis Kelce
    • 3/5 with Lamar Jackson, Joe Mixon, Marquise Brown (Hollywood)
    • QBs: Lamar (x3), Justin Herbert (x2)
    • RBs: Chubb (x5), Joe Mixon (x3), Alvin Kamara (x2)
    • WRs: Brown (x3), Keenan Allen (x2), Justin Jefferson (x2), Mike Williams, Brandin Cooks, Rashod Bateman
    • TEs: Kelce (x4), Darren Waller
    • RB-RB-WR-WR (x5)
    Information to Note:

    On the lowest scoring week of the season by far, we saw more correlation in the top-five than there has been in a while. Every roster had a QB-WR stack (one including a bring-back), and three utilized opposing RBs from CIN-CLE (the two highest scoring flex players of the week). With so little scoring, it was vital to have strong stacks as Lamar-Hollywood and Herbert-Keenan were the two highest scoring QBs with the two highest-scoring WRs (of those being drafted). The two highest scoring RBs both happened to come from the same game, and with Mixon at least carrying a pass game role in the case that CIN falls behind, they can both succeed in the specific game environment that benefits Chubb (which is what happened).

    Most appearances by one player in top-five each week:

    • QB: 4 // 2 // 4 // 4 // 3 // 2 // 4 // 3 // 3
    • RB: 5 // 5 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 2 // 2 // 2 // 5
    • WR: 4 // 5 // 5 // 5 // 4 // 5 // 5 // 4 // 3
    • TE: 3 // 2 // 4 // 3 // 3 // 3 // 2 // 5 // 4
    • Three times there have been the same two WRs on all five top-5 rosters
    • Of the five times there has been the same WR on all five top-5 rosters, two of them have included another WR on four of the top-5 rosters
    • “RB continues to be the spot with the most differentiation, while there have always been 1-2 WRs you need to win every week”
      • This week was the first time since W1 that WR was more differentiated than RB, as Chubb/Mixon scored so much higher than any WR

    Tracking frequency of stacks:

    • QB-WR: 5 // 0 // 1 // 4 // 4 // 4 // 4 // 1 // 5
    • QB-TE: 1 // 1 // 0 // 0 // 1 // 0 // 1 // 0 // 0
    • QB-RB: 0 // 0 // 0 // 1 // 3 // 0 // 0 // 1 // 0

    Two RBs have been drafted on 32 of 45 top-5 lineups, and 7 of the 13 three WR lineups came in Weeks 6 & 7. WRs carry a higher ceiling and it’s possible three WRs will be drafted on the highest-scoring teams as the field gets sharper, but with the Half-PPR and no bonuses combined with a relatively softer field, the bankable production of the two RB strategy has been more successful overall through nine weeks. The majority of the most successful rosters in the first half of the season have rostered two of the highest projected RBs, one of the highest projected WRs, and one of the WRs outside of the top projected guys.

    Just four of the top 35 teams over the first seven weeks failed to combine for at least 10 TDs (9, 9, 9, 8). Over the last two weeks, only two of the top 10 teams have reached 10 TDs due to lower scoring all around. 23 of 45 teams have scored 11+ TDs. 13 of 45 teams have scored 13+ TDs. In Half-PPR with no bonuses, TD equity is an extremely valuable commodity.

    Thoughts on Week 10

    I am going to keep banging this drum: “Recency bias is going to keep playing a role in ADP of these drafts. So, certain guys that have underperformed against expectations recently are likely to keep slipping to the ends of drafts. Keep this in mind when drafting, because you likely don’t have to go “way off the board” to seek upside, but rather try to find it in guys we still expect big things from, but for whatever reason, they haven’t had their big game yet.”

    Based on UD’s projections, these are the players most likely to be drafted in the first round (meaning majority of the time you will only end up with one of them): Najee Harris, Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook, Christian McCaffrey, Davante Adams, Josh Allen

    TEs: No Kelce, Waller, Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Mike Gesicki. This significantly raises the value of Kyle Pitts & TJ Hockenson at the top, and then Dallas Goedert, Noah Fant, & Dalton Schultz in the next tier. One of the top guys failing opens it up to someone like Dan Arnold, Tyler Conklin, Hunter Henry, etc. making it onto a top roster, but the ceilings of Pitts & Hock stand out far above the rest here.

    RBs that get goal-line work, have high touch expectations, are used in the passing game, and are facing defenses allowing tons of RB production: 

    Najee, Dalvin, Taylor, Ekeler; Kamara + Ezekiel Elliott have health questions

    RBs that lack just one of the above criteria: 

    CMC (matchup), Aaron Jones (touches), Cordarelle Patterson (touches), James Conner (matchup), Leonard Fournette (matchup), Deandre Swift (matchup), Melvin Gordon (touches), De’Ernest Johnson (dependent on Chubb)

    WRs outside the top-12 projected who could conceivably end up on top-scoring rosters: 

    Amari Cooper (DAL implied for 32), Tyler Lockett (Russ Wilson back), Adam Thielen (strong game environment vs LAC, may still be down CBs), Mike Williams (role trending down, but we’ve seen massive upside this year), Jerry Jeudy (best matchup of DEN WRs), Julio Jones

    WRs that stand out above the field: Davante Adams (Rodgers back) & Mike Evans (maybe only main TB WR healthy)

    Notable QBs missing: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Matthew Stafford, Derek Carr

    Notable QBs currently outside top-6 projections: Russell Wilson vs GB, Carson Wentz vs JAC, Matt Ryan vs DAL, Taysom Hill vs TEN (if named starter), Aaron Rodgers (currently still OUT)

    • Wilson can be stacked with DK Metcalf or Lockett, Wentz can be stacked with Michael Pittman, Ryan can be stacked with Pitts and/or Patterson

    Top stacks: Brady-Evans, Dak/Ryan-Pitts, Rodgers-Adams/Jones, Herbert-Ekeler/Dalvin/JJ

    Stay on the lookout for guys with high ceilings that are being overlooked by the field, but don’t go so far off the board you roster players without top-5 ceilings at their positions.

    Deconstructing The Slant

    In this weekly video, TodFromPA breaks down his ownership in The Slant against top players in DFS.