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!
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers ML @ Seattle Seahawks (-140; BET MGM):
The Seahawks have yet to play their Week 12 game as the team plays on Monday Night Football, leaving Seattle with a short week with travel across the country. The spread is currently set at 49ers -2.5, which is also a +EV bet but the presence of the hook makes the number so it’s a better bet to simply take the money line. In addition to the previously mentioned criteria, the entire country is about to watch Seattle play on national television, which is sure to have an influence on this line (one way or the other), meaning the line could move within hours of MNF. Two possibilities here:
(1) We see Russ appear healthier following an additional week of rest and Seattle’s offense looks the part, or
(2) Russ continues to be hampered by his injuries and Seattle’s offense flounders.
With those two possible outcomes in mind, I lean towards the early-week money line on San Francisco for Week 13 as the highest expected value currently (as opposed to the spread with the hook).
BALTIMORE RAVENS ML @ Pittsburgh Steelers (-165; DK):
The Ravens money line is a full 10 points lower-juiced on DraftKings compared to other spots around the industry. Similarly, the spread lacks the dreaded hook on DK, currently set at BAL -3.0. Either of these bets represents great early-week expected value so take advantage of them before the hook is added or the money line is juiced (which it already has been around the industry).
CINCINNATI BENGALS -2.5 vs Los Angeles Chargers (-120; BET MGM):
The Bengals are up to three-point favorites around the industry but remain at 2.5 on Bet MGM against the visiting Chargers. I’d be willing to take the Bengals up to 3.5-points so two schools of thought here:
(1) Bet it now with the full point in hand, or
(2) Bet it up to 3.5-points to lower the juice before the public moves the line and you lose the juice.
Whichever way you choose to tackle this one, it currently stands as a +EV scenario.
LOS ANGELES RAMS ML vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (-675; DK):
Simply a value-hunt exploitative line as the Rams are juiced up to -800 around the industry. That’s a massive 15.6% boost to expected value!
DALLAS COWBOYS ML at New Orleans Saints (-220; DK):
Simply a value-hunt exploitative line as the Cowboys are juiced up to -250 around the industry. That’s a 12% boost to expected value!
ARIZONA CARDINALS ML at Chicago Bears (-300; BET MGM):
Simply a value-hunt exploitative line as the Cardinals are juiced up to -335 around the industry. That’s a 10.5% boost to expected value!
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 13)::
First off, the clear best waiver adds this week involve high-profile running back injuries. If someone dropped Chuba Hubbard or Alexander Mattison after Christian McCaffrey and Dalvin Cook came back, add them with as much FAAB as you’re comfortable spending this late (it should be most of it!), or burn that high waiver priority. Likewise, if Tony Pollard is somehow out there, grab him now. Now for the under-the-radar adds that could prove vital down the stretch for your championship runs!
AUSTIN HOOPER / DAVID NJOKU (Cleveland Browns):
We kind of have a whirl of things coming together to make both of these tight ends extremely solid adds late in the season. Odell Beckham, Jr. is no longer in town, fellow tight end Harrison Bryant left Week 12’s contest with a high ankle sprain, and probably most notable for this team’s outlook overall, right tackle Jack Conklin is done for the season after tearing his patellar tendon. That last bit is most interesting to me as Cleveland running backs have averaged over a yard less per carry with Conklin out of the lineup over the last two seasons. That is absolutely massive for a team that would like to run the football. The Browns play one of the highest rates of multiple-tight end snaps and are hurting for viable pass-catchers. When you then consider the likely dip in rushing efficiency, we’re left with a situation where these two tight ends are likely to see a spike in utilization over the coming four weeks (championship weeks). The best part is that nobody will be looking to add either of these two and they should come extremely cheap at a difficult position to fill.
MARQUEZ VALDES-SCANTLING (Green Bay Packers):
We didn’t do a waiver piece last week but MVS would have headlined it. He proceeded to see 10 and nine targets in the next two weeks and Randall Cobb left Week 12’s contest with a groin injury. The Packers head to their bye this week and I’d expect MVS to see heightened snap rates coming out of the bye as the team continues its quest for the sole playoff bye out of the NFC (currently 0.5 games back from the Cardinals for that honor).
KENNY GOLLADAY (New York Giants):
Kenny G has been dropped in a lot of leagues after flopping for most of the season. The good news is that we saw a bit of the squeaky wheel treatment in Week 12, and the Giants lost two corners last week, which is likely to affect their game scripts moving forward. On deck, is a matchup with the Dolphins, and we should expect the Giants to be airing it out.
CAM NEWTON / TAYSOM HILL (Carolina Panthers / New Orleans Saints):
If anyone dropped either of these two (Cam after a disappointing performance and Taysom after his injuries), grab them post-haste. We’ve always talked about the “cheat code” nature of rushing quarterbacks in today’s NFL game, and these two are super cheap exposure to just that. Taysom should return to the starting lineup this week and Alvin Kamara is still questionable to return on a short week. Cam lost Christian McCaffrey, which does dampen the outlook of this offense overall, but his red zone rushing prowess gives him one of the league’s higher weekly floors. Both are particularly necessary for teams who just lost Jalen Hurts for one to two weeks (terrible timing).
FOSTER MOREAU (LAS VEGAS RADIERS):
Darren Waller left Week 12’s contest with a knee injury and it’s currently unknown how much time he’ll miss if any. Foster Moreau filled in well for Waller when the latter missed time earlier this season and fills a difficult position on playoff rosters. Considering the state of the Raiders, we should expect solid volume and production for as long as Waller is out.
In this weekly video, Xandamere reviews his roster-builds & process.
We all know how crazy the NFL can be, but this year has been, by far, the craziest that I can remember in the lens of fantasy and DFS. Particularly the last four or five weeks have been really wild. JM and I were texting on Sunday evening about how wild the last few weeks have been and how we’ve never really seen anything like it. During a stretch like this, it can be easy to get frustrated and start questioning all the things we know and have learned over years of playing DFS. The temptation is to throw your hands up and completely alter your approach or method of play. Rather than doing that, however, let’s take a breath and look at the big picture of what has been happening and what we can learn: Here are what I think are some of the things leading to this stretch:
Offensive Inconsistency—In my process of writing the Mid-Season Recaps for all 32 NFL teams, one of my macro takeaways was that there weren’t many, if any, bankable offenses on a weekly basis — pretty much every team has some issues and has laid some huge duds. Along with that, there have been many games that are close in the 4th quarter and are set up for fireworks back and forth with a possibility of a bunch of extra overtime production. Recently, it feels like those games keep ending up with a good offensive team having a poor drive, then the team who is ahead being able to bleed the clock, and the game just kind of closing out quietly. In the past, the thing that has made DFS, and the NFL in general, so exciting was the way we had a few games every week with exciting finishes involving offenses exchanging blows. Watching Red Zone every Sunday in November has felt disappointing and boring the last few weeks compared to the “usual.” The Vikings-49ers game this week had 60 points through three quarters and was a one-score game!! Somehow the teams then combined to put up zero points in the 4th quarter.
Lack of defenses to “attack” — Similar to the offenses, defenses have been kind of all over the map in their performance. There aren’t as many defenses to pick on as we’ve seen in the past, as even the “worst” on paper defenses have had a couple of games where they played surprisingly well.
Injuries — Injuries are always going to be a big part of the NFL, but how and when they happen and to who are all important factors. There has been a rash of injuries to skill players and, with less publicity, offensive linemen this season. Also, mid-game injuries have felt more common than ever, even with non-severe injuries that maybe don’t knock a player out for weeks at a time but mess up the usage and offensive efficiency of a team in a given week.
Game scripts delivering….then failing — There have been several games that played out in a predictable way yet then didn’t hit. Think about the huge Jonathan Taylor game against the Bills in Week 11. How much better could that have played out if you had a Josh Allen double stack with JT as the bring-back?? A pass-happy (and usually very efficient passing) team, playing a pass funnel defense at home, and they fall behind multiple scores early. That’s the game script we dream of when making lineups. Then….nothing. They barely even put up a fight. Pretty much the same thing happened with the Cowboys against the Broncos in Week 9. There have been several other times during the last few weeks where situations like that unfolded, and the football just hasn’t been good enough. If you knew before those games how the first 20 minutes of the game were going to play out, would you really not play those passing offenses again?? Because I’ll sign up every time.
Expected outcomes getting there unpredictably — There have been many games that played out as we would expect and or hit, but the production is coming in off-the-board ways that are hard to predict and difficult to profit from. This last week, TB//IND, LAR//GB, and MIN//SF all put up over 60 points. These were three of the highest projected games on the slate. However, only Leonard Fournette and Elijah Mitchell put up 25+ fantasy points on DK. For a game to score 60 points and only have one or zero 25 point weeks is rare, but for it to happen to three games all in one week (and for offenses that are usually very good and, thus, have high priced players) is even more of an anomaly.
Recently we have seen completely uncorrelated lineups winning tournaments, spots with the most “certainty” failing more often than usual, an uptick of injuries, and, frankly, just bad football in a lot of spots. This combination of factors and the fact that it has happened in so many weeks in a short period of time makes it really difficult to stay the course. I have had a rough five-week stretch (lost every week in November), and I know a lot of very, very good DFS players who also have had a rough run. I’m not saying that anyone who has had success over these weeks has been lucky or isn’t good, but rather just pointing out the recent NFL trends have made “threading the needle” for having a high scoring roster has been even more difficult than usual as there have been so many landmines that can torpedo well-built lineups.
This stretch of head-scratching outcomes reminds me of a stretch in early 2019 when the opposite was happening — chalk and expected outcomes were not just hitting. They were SMASHING. That stretch came to a head in Week 5 when the optimal projections for cash teams in many optimizers were actually winning large field GPPs!! Many people in the industry and casual players were convinced the game had been solved, the projection systems had figured it out, and the “edge was gone.” Of course, that was not the case. Over the course of the rest of the season, things came back to reality, and those who continued to play with good strategy and game theory concepts were rewarded. Those who completely changed course and started chasing the recent macro trends (overvaluing chalk and assuming certainty in projections) continued to chase their tails and take it on the chin. The lesson we can learn from the past is not to overvalue the recent trends and to continue making lineups in the smartest ways that we know are going to make us money over time. If anything, building lineups through great roster construction, sound player selection, and game theory is going to have more value now than ever!! The natural human reaction to recent results for much of our competition is going to be to alter their approach even further from the things that we know give the best chance to get to first place, which will make well-built lineups even more +EV down the stretch of the season.
Obviously, you need to be evaluating your process on a weekly basis, but reflection requires discipline and being able to separate signals from noise. If a process is sound after one bad week, it does not become poor after three or four bad weeks. Just because things happened a certain way for a few weeks in a row does not necessarily mean that’s the new norm. Randomness means that sometimes these strange outlier weeks will clump up and happen together. I will be “staying the course” with my process and approach, and I encourage you to do the same. I understand that I have a lot of big scores to lean back on in these times and remind myself to stay the course and focus on the week ahead and building for first place, and not everyone has that luxury of those past monster scores to keep your confidence up, but you must consider the alternatives; stop playing or actively make poorly structured lineups, both of which I will pass on. I expect there to be some of our more “traditional” weeks of DFS ahead, and I will be there with well-built lineups if/when that happens.
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 ($600k Power Sweep, 3-Max, $150)
The “story” I was telling: This lineup is a great example of the things discussed above. I played a min-correlation of OBJ and Dillon from a game I was high on. Both had single-digit ownership, and both had very good games. I also had a Chargers passing game stack of Herbert-Williams-Cook, and the game script played out perfectly!!! The Broncos got out to an early lead and the Chargers were incentivized to throw a lot, play even faster than usual, and be aggressive for the entire game — all while at moderate individual ownerships and very low ownership as a group. Yet, this high-powered offense couldn’t get anything going and never really got there. I’d take the spot they were in again in a heartbeat. Brandin Cooks was off to a great start with 2/40/1 in the first half, and then the Texans played much of the 2nd half from behind. Somehow Cooks, who had seen roughly a 30% target share entering the week, only had one more catch for five yards. CMC and Saquon were my points of “certainty” in this lineup as the other parts of the lineup were pretty unique with clear paths to first. I loved both of their prices entering the week and was fine with where ownership ended up for both of them. CMC completely failing and getting hurt was really shocking. Of everything on the roster, he was the thing I felt best about “in a vacuum.” Saquon’s concern entering the week was usage and health, but he played 52 out of 60 snaps and appeared at or near full health. If, before the games started, you told me the Giants would win the game and Saquon plays 87% of the snaps for $6,300 and 18% ownership, I would have had him in every single lineup.
The “story” I was telling: The process for this lineup started with the running backs. I decided to play CMC, Ty Johnson, and James Robinson as I felt all were in good spots with good workloads for their price points. Obviously, those three all carried decent ownership, so I had to figure out how to give the lineup a path to first from there. The first thing I did was correlate two of the running backs, tying Cam to CMC for their theoretical floor-ceiling combo and then running it back with Pitts opposite Robinson. From there, I filled out the rest of the roster with my favorite defense of the week and three wide receivers from high game totals with explosive big-play abilities to generate upside for the lineup. It didn’t work out, but it was a process that I actually like when you consider it from a macro view.
Week 12 Results: Four of my 11 lineups cashed this week. While all of them were just min-cashes, that was a decent ratio, and I felt like they were built well and told a good story as a group — it just didn’t happen to be the right story on another quirky week of NFL.
Week 12 Investment: $792
Week 12 Winnings: $400
Estimated Yearly Investment: $14,000
Yearly Winnings: $4,625
Dwprix breaks down the top lineups in the OWS Bottom-Up Build challenge.
Week 12 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.
Rules :: Max $44k Salary (exceeding $44k salary will disqualify entry); must use OWS avatar to be eligible for prizes
Total Entries :: 193 (167 eligible since 26 were disqualified for not using an OWS avatar and/or went over salary and didn’t enter a lineup)
First off, we had the most entries in several weeks so thank you to everyone who participated. It’s awesome to see so many entrants this late in the season! And, thanks to everyone who played in the Thanksgiving Bottom-Up! I want to give a huge shout-out to Ottoball who placed second in the Thanksgiving contest and second in the Week 12 contest! I’m giving you a TOC entry! Congrats and excellent work!
First-place finisher, Sobe1, played a Texans double stack with a Jets double run-back (Tyrod Taylor, Brandin Cooks, Ty Johnson, and Elijah Moore). The game was only the seventh-highest total but had plenty of value in it. Although the stack didn’t go off, Sobe1 made up for it in other spots. Possibly the sharpest play was rostering the Miami D (6.2%) which was hard leverage against a high-owned Cam Newton (and Christian McCaffrey in paid contests). Both Sobe1 and third-place finisher, SloHath, were on this. If the Miami defense plays well, chances are that Cam has a so-so to bad game, sinking the lineups who rostered him. He was 12% owned in the Bottom-Up, the second-highest of all QBs (Tyrod Taylor was the highest at 23.71%). To top it off, Sobe1 found Jalen Waddle’s ceiling in the same game at only 3.6% owned. Waddle and the Dolphins defense were the difference makers for Sobe1.
Second place finisher, Ottoball, (who finished 2nd in the Thanksgiving BUB as well) built around the 49ers/Vikings matchup. They built a game stack consisting of Kirk Cousins ($6.3k, 6.2%), Adam Thielen ($6.7k, 10.8%), and Eli Mitchell ($5.4k, 19.6%). I thought Kirk was a good play. He was expensive, just $300 less than Herbert, but could have been an excellent price-considered pivot off Herbert if you thought Herbert would struggle in Denver, or if you were behind and needed to late swap to a lower owned Cousins. There was a little buzz around Garoppolo, but almost none around Kirk, even though both offenses had all of their playmakers healthy heading into the game. Adam Thielen had been scoring TDs on a consistent basis, eight heading into last week, but it hadn’t been since Week 1 where he had two in the same game. He’s quietly hit 30+ DK points twice compared to Jefferson, who has one (40.2), and Thielen now leads Jefferson in TDs 10-6. Ottoball played the stack the way Vegas was telling us, Vikings passing and 49ers rushing.
Putting It Together
The top four finishers all rostered Eli Mitchell. He’s proven to be Shanahan’s guy without Mostert. With Garoppolo starting, Mitchell has touch counts of 27, 27, 8 (trailed AZ 17-0 in the second quarter causing the 49ers to only rush 11 times), 18, 18, 17, and 19. This was the second-highest total on the week and the 49ers were favored by 3.5. I was a little scared of Mitchell’s health coming back from surgery on his finger just two weeks ago, while also knowing that Jeff Wilson was healthy, but obviously Mitchell was good to go and Shanahan loves feeding him. Without these concerns, I knew he was a good play, and I wish I would have played him more. He only made one of my lineups and wasn’t on my Bottom-Up build.
The top two rosters were on Rob Gronkowski but avoided Michael Pittman (20.1%) who was the chalk bring back. Pittman saw ten targets and was a solid play but he only caught four of those targets. Ottoball brought it back instead with T.Y. Hilton at only 1% owned. Gronkowski at $4.4k was just too cheap considering the Bucs are the highest-scoring team in football, this was the highest-scoring game on the slate, and Gronkowksi is probably Tom Brady’s most trusted receiver of his entire career.
Overall, I thought this was a really weird week, especially in cash. The main play I was questioning was Cam Newton. Going into the slate, I couldn’t decide if he was a good play or not considering he had played just one full game this season, was in the lowest total game of the slate, and was playing a Dolphins defense that had been playing much better as of late (10, 17, 10, & 9 points allowed their last 4). The Panthers first drive led to a Cam rushing TD but the Dolphins adjusted, leading to the Panthers only getting a field goal off a fumble and Cam throwing two INTs and getting benched later on. Despite my doubts going into the slate, I played Cam in cash. I thought most rosters were going to have Cam, Cam + CMC, or CMC and I didn’t want to get burned by the field by not taking any of these. I chose Cam alone because I didn’t want to roster two players from the same team in the lowest-scoring game total, he was cheaper than CMC, and I knew I could get a little exposure to CMC through Cam. That decision was probably the one that helped me cash because I avoided CMC but who knows if it was a good decision or not with him getting injured.
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, Jaymz_10, Ericdc20, Ottoball, and Sobe1.
Winners please email email@example.com with your DK Screenname
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.
If you’re like me, you may have wondered about why the baseball book, Moneyball, profiled a baseball team that did not win the World Series in any of the seasons that took place in the book. Originally written by Michael Lewis, Moneyball chronicles the Oakland Athletics during the time period from roughly 2000-2003, when the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Angels, and Florida Marlins all took home World Series victories. I’m as big a proponent as any about the pioneering ways of the small-market A’s in those seasons, and the use of advanced analytics in baseball, but I’ve always found it interesting the book and movie were such wild successes when the teams never actually won it all. The Diamondbacks, Angels, and Marlins all could have fit a similar profile as the A’s during those seasons – smaller payroll organizations, built around pitching and defense who got hot at the right time and won baseball’s playoff tournament. But the A’s were chosen for the book because of the unique ways they were evaluating players and doing so on this shoestring budget, to make the playoffs all four seasons and outduel the larger market teams.
So, why should you care about Moneyball and DFS? Because just like it’s really hard to win a World Series, it’s really hard to win a DFS tournament with thousands and thousands of entries. You need a process, you need to be different, and you also need a heck of a lot of luck. And yet, even without winning a World Series title, it’s not as if other MLB teams could not recognize the innovative ways the A’s were approaching baseball management, and adapt them to sustain success in the future. In the immediate years that followed, almost every team boosted their analytics department with headcount after headcount to follow suit on an A’s team that had sustained winning during the regular season even without any trophies coming home.
I hope you can see the parallels here. Just because you may not be seeing the results you want to see in one-game or one-week sample sizes, it does not mean your approach needs to be overhauled. Assessing your process is a critical factor in DFS success. But be careful not to overthink it. Luck is a real element of success in this world. Name your field and we’ll cite how and where luck plays a part. NFL DFS success is not all about luck. No way. But on any given slate, there’s a variance (luck) factor present, and we have to accept it and determine whether we had faults in our process or sometimes just not enough luck.
The Tampa Bay Rays eventually caught on to the Oakland Athletics outside-the-box thinking. They adopted the high on-base percentage hitters, and the high spin-rate pitchers, and saw much more success than the A’s in the years that followed: losing in two World Series finals in 2008 and 2020. They’ve also pioneered new strategies such as using an opening pitcher, one of their best relievers, in the first inning after much of the data showed the first inning as one of the highest-scoring innings in a given MLB game. As we head into Week 13 of the NFL season, try to be the Tampa Bay Rays. Don’t ditch the “hasn’t worked” and “never will” processes you’ve already established. Instead, build upon these foundations and try slight new changes in your DFS approach.
For me, while I’ve constantly been honing in on game overstacks, I’m going to approach Week 13 with less correlation in my lineups, to build for higher upside. It’s going to require me to get a lot more mini-stacks and floating plays right (more guessing, which I hate), but with how common stacking is across the field, it may be crazy enough to work. So what happened in Week 12 and how did we miss it?
Leonard “Four-tuddys” Fournette
What a world we live in, when a running back who was cut from the Jacksonville Jaguars goes up against the #2 DVOA defense against the run and puts up 47 DK points. The first learning here is one size does not fit all. Sometimes, we can take DVOA metrics and throw them out the window. Sometimes, we can play according to these metrics. There isn’t one correct approach, but on Sunday there was just one Leonard Fourtuddys. There was really only one way you could have gotten onto Fournette. Your story would have been the Bucs scoring points, and it coming on the ground, leveraging the higher-owned Bucs pass-catchers (Godwin, Gronk, Evans) along with QB Tom Brady. The probability of this scenario playing out this way was absolutely higher than Lenny’s sub-5% ownership in most tournaments, so there’s your justification for playing Fournette (similar to Jonathan Taylor, two weeks ago) in large-field GPPs.
The real lesson here, however, is to continue to avoid analysis paralysis. We don’t need to go four, five, six layers deep to ‘uncover’ why a player is a great play. There literally was not an advanced statistic around last week dictating why Lenny Fournette should be on your rosters in this game. We didn’t have to look into elusive rating, and gash rate, and yards after contact for us to get comfortable landing on Uncle Lenny. Instead, we could have said it’s possible the Bucs score on the ground, he provides leverage off Gronk and Godwin, and the current narrative around him is Brady isn’t trusting him (see video circulating last week of Brady telling Fournette the coverage as he fakes a handoff) and Ronald Jones may get work (hah). That’s all we need to land here. Keep this in mind for Week 13.
Do it all Running Backs – Joe Mixon, Cordarrelle Patterson, Elijah Mitchell
All three of these guys went nuclear on Sunday. Mixon benefitted from a reeling defense in the Pittsburgh Steelers, who just came off allowing a career game to Austin Ekeler, and a dominant performance from D’Andre Swift. Mixon scored early, then the game script just fell into his lap and he was able to take the Bengals on his back and carry them to a W.
Patterson’s low ownership was likely due to his questionable playing status heading into Sunday. It seems every week on Sunday morning, I fail to react to late-breaking news on a player who I should more seriously consider (I made up for this later Sunday with AJ Dillon, alas it was not enough). The Falcons are devoid of any real offensive threats, so if/when he was ruled in with a matchup versus the lowly Jaguars, at his $6500 price tag, he should have been more in play.
Finally, Elijah Mitchell. We’ve seen his tremendous yards per carry, and how he has shown he’s clearly the 49ers best running back this season. The knock on him was A) he doesn’t catch passes so he’s game script dependent (he did, however, have a five target game just two weeks prior), and B) he had two injuries nagging him into Sunday (finger and ribs). We heard all weekend about the Vikings being down all four defensive starters from the first game of the season for this game so Mitchell being in there, plus the lack of talent on the defensive line for MIN, and adding in Kittle and Juszczyk leading the way as blockers, made Mitchell’s setup logically sound. Side note: I’m kicking myself for the Kittle call this past weekend. He was in a perfect leverage spot with the ownership surrounding others around him, but I should have recognized the run-heavy game script with the injuries to the Vikings defensive line, and the propensity the 49ers have shown to ignore Kittle in the passing game when he can be just as impactful as a blocking TE.
Don’t let the people label you, Jaylen Waddle!
“Waddle is a low aDOT WR.”
“His upside is limited based on the role Miami uses him in.”
“His QB stinks, Miami is going nowhere.”
These were all statements made in the DFS industry regarding Jaylen Waddle this week. And then he had the last laugh with his 9/137/1 performance on Sunday. Nine targets, 65 yards. Ten targets, 63 yards. 13 targets, 70 yards. These are real Waddle box scores from earlier this season. So, while Carolina coach Matt Rhule deserves credit here for allowing Stephon Gilmore to also spend time on Mike Gesicki this week, Waddle took the narratives around him and changed them in an instant with this performance. He was buoyed by a long 57-yard catch, of course, but his recent target counts of 9, 6, 10, 11, and 13 showed his floor was there at only $5,900 on DK, and his role as the featured WR, albeit in one of the slower games on the slate, should have been recognized.
Above The Field
Always Be Learning
How do we think about DFS tournaments in a way that will give us a chance at 1st place? We’ve heard this phrase and similar sentiments coming from JM and our band of specialists at full volume all season. We’re sharpening minds here and developing an army of players that don’t just click on the best plays. Much like the novelist from which this site was founded, we are beginning to think through every scenario to completion. We’re examining the cause and effect of every action in our lineup building process. I’ve been involved with OWS for over two years now, and I’m watching it unfold before my very eyes.
Spending time, money, and brainpower on such an endeavor can lead to some frustration on certain weeks when the top of the Millionaire Maker is littered with lineups that we probably wouldn’t have landed on since our play has improved. It’s also tough when you do all the right things but didn’t end up with enough shares of the DST that posted 22 points or the uber-chalk tight end that “got there.” Variance is a thing. It’s easy to lose a bit of faith and slip back into a mode of mindless button-clicking, but we must stay the course and continue building lineups from the “if we played this slate out 100 times” mindset.
At first glance, the top four lineups in the Milly looked a bit on the fishy side. Some odd correlations (or lack of correlations at all) and some eye-rolling moments of “run better, bro.”
But there is a reason the lineups made it to the top, and perhaps with a bit of unraveling, we can see the sharp side of these rosters and perhaps even extrapolate something from them to improve future rosters of our own.
Or maybe not.
First on the docket is this gem from our 1st place finisher, tommymac84. When I first saw his screen name, I was expecting some sort of Patriots/Tom Brady/Kendrick Bourne hybrid, so I was somewhat disappointed.
OK, those of you that read The Oracle every week know that we address (sometimes only for the sake of humor) the Robby Anderson situation every week. We’ve mostly stuck with him far longer than we should have because we know this is a somewhat narrowly distributed offense, and the man has shown big-play ability in the past. So, seeing him in the winning Millionaire Maker lineup is pretty fucking funny if you glance to the right a little and see that he posted a grand total of 2.5 fantasy points. Unreal. I’m sure tommymac84 thought this lineup was dead as the late games kicked off. I was in the same spot last week, sitting at 7th in this tournament with a whopping ZERO from Marcus Johnson and his torn hammy. I fell only to 20th, which seemed miraculous to me.
The Matt Stafford double stack with Darrell Henderson and a WR has popped previously this year. A perfectly reasonable play if you consider that Henderson does catch some passes, and even if he doesn’t, you’re covering the Rams touchdowns by adding him to Stafford rosters, a significant benefit when the Rams put up an above-implied total score.
NotACat and I discussed the Leonard Fournette play a bit in Discord. I was tilting the fact that I got to 25% and 28% on Yahoo and FD, respectively, but barely got above the field on DK. The reason I played so much Lenny on the other sites was to leverage my lack of Brady/Chis Godwin stacks. Godwin was the chalk, and I was running tons of Vikings/49ers stuff so I wasn’t getting too much Brady or Godwin. I figured I may as well employ the teachings of OWS and not simply “fade Godwin” but also try and punish my opponents that played him in case he failed. There’s nothing wrong with making a play on one site and not the other. Diversifying your moves and hedging outcomes across them is fine, in my opinion…but I sure wish I took a minute to think it through and sacrificed a bit of my Saquon Barkley exposure to try and get more “Slate Breaking Lenny” on DK. We knew he’d be low-owned and my mention on Sonic’s Player Pool was simply, “Lead back in highest implied total of the week.”
2nd place finisher, Blake2150, has a screen name that sounds like the latest in advanced leaf-blowing technology, but he managed to make $125,000 on DK this week with this lineup that definitely falls into the “I wouldn’t have gotten there” category. In fact, I was ready to tear this one apart until I listened to JM’s Tuesday Reflection Pod and heard how he picked leaves off the branches of this game until landing on Randall Cobb for his roster.
Who’s the fish now, Sonic?
Always be learning.
Always be learning.
Always be learning.
An Aaron Rodgers/Cobb stack with no bring-back from the Rams. In fact, there is no other correlation at all unless you want to include Fournette and Ron Gronkowski as correlation, which I don’t. They are great leverage, as together, they successfully accounted for damn near all of the Bucs fantasy production. The involvement of Fournette was also a great way to counteract the ridiculousness of Gronk’s ownership. I can close my eyes and hear JM’s voice saying, “everyone is going to play Gronk…but no one is going to play Gronk and Fournette together…and no one is going to play Gronk and Fournette together on non-Brady rosters”.
You can hear that, right? Now the trick is to hear moves like that while making your Week 13 lineups. We are evolving with intention and full consciousness.
Sometimes DraftKings simply misprices players, and you have to decide whether to take advantage by rostering that player or by exploiting the inflated ownership. This week, hindsight tells us that locking Gronk and fading the Houston Texans defense was the way to go. Seems pretty obvious after the fact, doesn’t it?
Adding additional humor to this roster is the presence of Quez Watkins. He falls into that same category as Robby Anderson. I marveled at his explosiveness as he blew past the defense a couple of times, and I’ve had shares of him every week since…only to see him on a successful roster whilst scoring only 4.6 points. DFS is weird.
This 3rd place lineup from johnnyb1346 is fascinating to me. I really want to hear how he got to this lineup, his only submission into the Milly.
This features a Los Angeles stack with Marquez Valdes-Scantling coming back. The interesting thing about this LA stack is that they used the receivers from the LA Rams and the quarterback from…the LA Chargers. *eye roll
Someone, please tell me that this was a glorious mistake by johnny. Please tell me he clicked on Justin Herbert and ran him naked by accident because he was drunk with his in-laws on Thanksgiving, saw “LA” and thought he was game-stacking. I want to believe this. I need to believe this.
Is it weird that I can’t hear someone say “running him naked” without thinking of Frank the Tank in Old School?
Throw in some interesting correlation for good measure. Lenny and Gronk on one side and the high upside powerhouse, Jack Doyle on the other. A double tight end salary-saver that makes DFS purists close their laptops and mutter, “I don’t know why I do this.”
Our 4th place lineup belongs to GOAT9218,so we know this one will include the greatest QB of all time.
And we were right. This beautiful lineup does feature Mac Jones! And he’s completely naked!
WE’RE GOING STREAKING!
Seriously though, this looks like GOAT9218 was started out building a TB/INDY game stack but ran out of salary and replaced Tom Brady with his real-life replacement. A pure stroke of DFS genius.
Let’s put it all together this week, OWS Fam.
Hopefully, our improvement and preparation will coincide with variance, and we’ll run like Frank the Tank.
By Lex Miraglia
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.
NO Underowned underdog THIS WEEK
lex is fighting a cold.
Deconstructing The Slant
In this weekly video, TodFromPA breaks down his ownership in The Slant against top players in DFS.