Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

The Scroll Reflection Edition. 15.21.


    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!

    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 15)::

    LOS ANGELES RAMS (-4.5) vs seattle seahawks (bet mgm, -110):

    I have this line currently two full points too low and I expect the masses to follow suit and push it that way as the week progresses. The Rams picked up a big win in their hunt for the NFC West division lead, closing the gap to within one game of the Cardinals. With only four weeks remaining in the regular season, the Rams should be juiced up for another divisional matchup against the Seahawks, who are simply overmatched along both lines to the point where Los Angeles should have their way in the trenches.


    The beauty here is the additional half-point when compared to other books, and I’d expect this line to be closer to a pick ‘em were it to be played at a neutral site, giving us a couple of points cushion. Furthermore, there is no telling what is likeliest to transpire when you pit dysfunction against dysfunction, so there is positive expected value in the road dog with the points here.

    CLEVELAND BROWNS (-3.0) vs las vegas raiders (BET MGM, -110):

    The Browns are getting healthier, particularly through their vaunted run game, just in time for a matchup with a Raiders team that struggles to contain both the power run game and rushing off tackle. The Browns rank second in adjusted line yards (4.84), second in open field yards (1.13), and first in second-level yards (1.61) this season. The absence of the hook for a home favorite with a spread within the “magic range” is a solid boost to our expected value in a setup like this one.


    The juice is just too nice for the AFC-leading Patriots against the Colts. The Patriots will need to force the Colts into one-dimensionality, but they should find defensive success if they can clamp down on the run here. On offense, expect a game plan built around the short passing game as the Pats continue to mold their offense to best attack their weekly opponents. For comparison’s sake, the Steelers are listed as two-point dogs at home against the Titans but their money line juice is only set at +105. The positive expected value lies with the Pats!


    No honorable mentions this week, the expected value of the four games above should be enough to carry the week!

    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!

    Roster Blocking

    Before we jump into the waivers this week, let’s have a quick discussion on roster blocking, which is the act of adding players in order to block them from being added by your opponents. This practice gains increased importance late in the season and into the fantasy playoffs, as any player on your roster can’t be used against you. Knowing your league settings is of the utmost importance here, as oftentimes players that are dropped during the week can’t be added in the same week. If this is the case, you can double your roster blocking efforts by adding two to three players on Tuesday or Wednesday, dropping them, and adding more players on this list, effectively blocking four to six players from your opponents. This practice also gains increased credence this season, where we’ve seen countless players miss weeks with late-week positive COVID tests, for which teams could be left without options should you utilize these roster blocking methodologies. It sounds silly, but this could be the difference between a championship and a narrow defeat!


    GABRIEL DAVIS (WR, Buffalo Bills):

    Emmanuel Sanders suffered a knee injury in Week 14 that is reportedly likely to keep him out for Week 15. Enter Gabriel Davis, whom I’ve hyped all season as one of the league’s top WR4. Gabe Davis played a solid 83% snap rate after Sanders left last week, turning eight targets into five catches for 43 yards and a score.

    DEANDRE CARTER (WR, Washington Football Team):

    Terry McLaurin suffered a concussion in the second half of Washington’s Week 14 game, and now enters the league’s five-step concussion protocol. With so much of the league impacted by both injuries and COVID, any player with the chance to see 85%+ of their offensive snaps in a matchup with the Eagles warrants consideration. If nothing else, grab him early (before any Terry McLaurin news pops this week) as a roster block from your opponents.


    Man, waivers sure don’t always have to be pretty, particularly this late in the season. Rex Burkhead is expected to miss time with a groin injury sustained in Week 14, leaving the Texans backfield to David Johnson and Royce Freeman in a matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars. I’d tentatively expect both to operate in a strict timeshare with Johnson recently activated from the COVID list, but my money is on David Johnson to be of greater utility this week.

    D’ONTA FOREMAN (RB, Tennessee Titans):

    If Foreman is still out there on the wire, I would grab him as a roster block for the stretch run. Foreman saw the first nine running back touches for the Titans this past week and ceded backfield work to the remaining members once the game was largely in-hand. Although we can’t necessarily start him with confidence moving forward, we can block our opponents from his services as we march to the fantasy championships!

    KEELAN COLE (WR, New York Jets):

    Both Corey Davis and Elijah Moore are on the IR, likely holding them out through the fantasy playoffs. Cole returned after a one-game absence last week and immediately entered the starting lineup, playing 83% of the team’s offensive snaps. Consider Cole a roster-blocker.

    CODY HOLLISTER (WR, Tennessee Titans):

    Greater than 60% of the offensive snaps for the Titans two weeks in a row. With AJ Brown still on IR, consider Hollister a viable roster-blocker for the immediate future.


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

    Maximize Your Builds With OWS + FantasyLabs

    Week 14 Review

    Process|Review Can Be Found In The Reflection Scroll Tuesday Nights

    Process Points

    Lesson of the Week: Late Swap Mindset

    This week was fun and profitable…..and it really, really hurt. Robbie Gould is the 6th most accurate kicker in NFL history. If Robbie Gould had made a 47-yard field goal at the end of regulation, I would have won the $55 Sunday NFL Bomb on FanDuel for $100k. Instead, he missed, and I took 5th place, 3.2 points behind the winner. George Kittle had 5.3 points in OT, and all four people who finished ahead of me had Kittle (I did not). Usually, after the fact, it is hard to know for sure exactly how things would have played out if things broke slightly differently because it is hard to know what any given play in a game may do to alter all the subsequent actions. However, when it is a direct, binary outcome like this where if he makes it, the game ends, then it becomes very clear what would have been. (I also would have won if Zac Taylor had kept his foot on the gas in their opening drive of overtime and Cincinnati had scored a touchdown). Unfortunately, Gould missed, and the rest isn’t really relevant anymore. Now, onto the lineup and the strategy behind how it was made and ultimately how the final lineup came to be:

    • The really interesting thing about this lineup is that this isn’t what it looked like when the games kicked off on Sunday. I had 20 entries in the tournament, and six of them were built around Allen and the Bills/Bucs game (I actually swapped off of Allen and the Bills on two of the rosters where early players failed in the lineup). 
    • This lineup only had Kamara and Chiefs D playing in the early window, and both were at or near the top of their positions, so as the early games were getting into the 4th quarter and I scrolled through my lineups, this one stood out for how many quarters were remaining and how many points it currently had. 
    • This lineup originally had Jeff Wilson, Mike Williams, and Leonard Fournette instead of Javonte Williams, Jalen Guyton, and Mike Evans. 
    • When I went to look at my lineups and consider swaps for the afternoon, I couldn’t help but acknowledge how uneasy I was with the Jeff Wilson play. With Deebo Samuel back, George Kittle playing great last week, Brandon Aiyuk being out of the doghouse, and the lack of trust I have in Kyle Shanahan being predictable, I just felt really skeptical about Wilson’s role and upside. I decided with where I was sitting I wanted to get up to a running back with higher TD equity and upside. From the later games, Javonte Williams was my favorite option to make a change. Another thing I really liked about Javonte was Ezekiel Elliott and Antonio Gibson were RBs priced in the same general range as him who were popular and had already finished with poor games. This meant that if Javonte had a good game, I would be gaining on similarly built rosters.
    • In order to get to Javonte, I was going to have to free up some salary. I didn’t want to touch my Bills pieces, and Beasley/Knox were on the cheap end and were going to be unique, so those weren’t going to change. I also did not want to take out Ja’Marr Chase, as his price had been falling, and I felt like he had such a huge ceiling that he could be a piece that takes me to the top. 
    • The two spots left to find the $1,800 were Fournette and Mike Williams. While I loved both players on paper, Williams was a high volatility play (uncertain role after not practicing all week, chance of being game scripted out) for the ownership he would carry. The Chargers were likely to have success offensively, so a scenario where Williams failed, and I could win without Ekeler would almost certainly entail another Chargers WR having a good game. My options were to play Guyton and swap down from Fournette to Evans or to play Josh Palmer and stick with Fournette. I preferred Palmer to Guyton this week on DK because it sounded like he would get more short targets and volume. On FanDuel, however, I decided to go with Guyton as he has made some big plays recently, and I really liked his upside, especially since I was betting on someone taking those types of plays away from Mike Williams. Also, Evans and Fournette were pretty even plays to me, but Evans was carrying half the ownership.
    • If I had done nothing, I would have taken 41st for $300. I also would have had a very difficult path to the top as many people ahead of me had Wilson and Williams. 
    • If I had played Palmer-Fournette instead of Guyton-Evans, I would have scored two more points and taken 3rd for $20k.
    • If Robbie Gould made a kick, the Gabriel Davis TD went to Knox or Beasley, or the Bills had found a little more production at the end of regulation or in OT with Knox or Beasley….I would have won $100k.

    The thing to understand from those last few bullet points is that I had no control of how things played out on the field, only the position I put myself in. Only one other person in the top 10 had Cole Beasley, only two had Guyton, and only one had Knox — and no one else had two of them together. I used late swap and the information at hand to make an informed decision and give myself paths to first. A glaring lesson from this for me was how my roster construction and approach changed from where it was before the games started to where it was once I was staring a high-potential roster in the face. The “comfortable” plays of Wilson and Williams suddenly had a lot of holes, and I (rightfully) felt like I didn’t have a shot at making it to the top if I kept them in. The week was shaping up to be relatively lower scoring, with the leading teams only around 160 points after the early games, and I knew that if I kept two players in my lineup who were 30%+ owned and they hit for ceiling games, it was likely going to drive winning scores to a level that I wasn’t going to be able to reach — that forced my mindset to shift from “what is likeliest to happen” to “what has a realistic chance to happen that would give me a path to first.” In last week’s Tuesday pod, JM talked about trying to go in the future and look back at what may seem obvious in hindsight for the week. Taking that a level further and combining it with my experience from Sunday, I think when building lineups, we need to find a way to fast forward and put ourselves in the “late swap” mindset when initially building our lineups. What are the scenarios where your lineup has a high score? Does the lineup give you multiple paths to the top? If your lineup goes off and gets you near the top, will you have enough unique players that you have a few different things that could break your way to take it down at the end? (You need to understand that at the end of any tournament, most of the rosters near the top have a lot of players in common — what will you have to “root” for at the end, knowing if it happens you are the one who benefits?) Are there popular players you think have a high chance of failure and, if so, are there players you are high on in the same price range who could differentiate you from similarly built rosters? 

    These are all the questions that should be in our thought process when initially building rosters. Find a way to get into a “Late Swap” mindset because that mindset finds ways to be unique without being dumb (when you are already in the hunt, you aren’t going to chase low ceiling or truly low likelihood plays). A “Late Swap” mindset is naturally fearless.

    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 ($300k Red Zone, Single Entry, $50)

    The “story” I was telling: This lineup ended up cashing despite failing miserably at the running back spots. I had Josh Allen in four of my ten lineups for my “roster block,” and in this one, it was a skinny stack with Cole Beasley and Mike Evans. Beasley was my favorite of the Buffalo WRs as he was so much cheaper than Diggs and his role fit much better than Sanders against Tampa. I preferred Evans as the bring-back due to his high variance role and the fact he was projecting for the lowest ownership and had the lowest price tag among the top Bucs skill players. I really liked Mike Williams and Antonio Gibson this week, so I jammed them in a good amount of lineups regardless of their ownership. If you feel strongly about plays, that is fine to do. You just need to find leverage and lower ownership elsewhere. Ty Johnson felt like for such a low price, the game could set up well for him to get 15+ points and offered leverage off Taysom and Kamara ownership, as well as a direct price pivot off of Jeff Wilson. Meanwhile, Everett and Chase worked together to offer various points of leverage as a good Everett game would take away from Lockett and Metcalf, who were fairly popular, and also Chase was priced so close to those receivers and lower owned which meant he was a nearly direct pivot off of them. Being able to cash in a lineup that only got four touchdowns from non-QBs and had no 100-yard rushing or receiving bonuses is a pretty rare thing.

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

    The “story” I was telling: I was high on Dallas this week as it felt like they may end up under-owned and were in a potential smash spot for the passing game with Pollard out and Washington short-handed on defense. The worst thing I did here was underestimating my competition, as the Power Sweep is a very sharp field, and Dak’s ownership ended up far higher than projections were showing as many other people saw those same possibilities that I was seeing. Dak ended up having higher ownership than Josh Allen, which should have made Allen almost an automatic. I ate the chalk at RB with Kamara and Wilson, again working on the assumption that my core stack would be far more unique than it was. I also played Julio based on some ownership projections that, based on the talk around the industry, should have been clear that he was going to be higher owned. Williams/Engram mini-correlation was fine in theory. The best thing I did in this lineup was playing the Bucs defense since this was my only lineup that had no Bucs or Bills players. As a talented defense at home, the Bucs D smashing was the likeliest scenario of those two offenses, both failing to meet expectations.

    Week 14 Results: Three of ten lineups cashed this week. Within the roster block, I made some poor decisions and mistakes with my structures and didn’t do a good enough job of giving myself realistic paths to ceiling games. I voluntarily played Jets and Giants players, sometimes even without correlation, and the results showed for it.

    Week 14 Investment: $765

    Week 14 Winnings: $200

    Estimated Yearly Investment:  $14,000 

    Yearly Winnings: $5,300

    Bottom-Up Breakdown

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

    Week 14 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 :: 146 (130 eligible since 16 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 :: Taysom Hill – 49.32% ($5,600)

    See All The Entries :: Contest Link


    1st Place: Black-eyed_god

    2nd Place: tucci724

    3rd Place: Jwarty24



    Congrats to first place finisher, Black-eyed_god! He’s been playing in the Bottom-Up contest consistently since it started last year! Great to see you take it down and welcome to the TOC. Black-eyed_god played Taysom Hill, who was perhaps the best value play on the board this week. He paid off with two rushing TDs scoring 23.6 DK points total against the Jets who are allowing the most rushing TDs per game (1.8). Black-eyed_god also got exposure to the Bucs/Bills game which had the highest total on the slate and was the only game above 50 points (53), playing Mike Evans and Gabriel Davis who both scored.

    Second place finisher, Tucci724, built around the second-highest total on the slate, 49ers/Bengals. They stacked Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, running it back with George Kittle and Jeff Wilson on the other side. The 49ers built a 14 point lead but the Bengals came back in the 4th quarter pushing the game to overtime. Burrow, Chase, and Kittle went for 87.6 combined points and paid off 4.4x salary. Wilson didn’t find much success on the ground with Deebo taking away carries but he was so cheap with Eli Mitchell out that it was still a great play, especially for the Bottom-Up.

    The third place finisher, Jwarty24, paid up for Josh Allen ($7.8k), stacking him with Gabriel Davis and Emmanuel Sanders with no Bucs player. This was by far the best game environment on the slate as the only total above 50, which was 4.5 points higher than the next closest total. Allen was expensive which led him to be just 1.4% owned in the Bottom-Up. Jwarty24 also rostered two 49ers running backs, Jeff Wilson and JaMycal Hasty, trying to capture 100% of the 49ers RB opportunities. With Mitchell out and the 49ers typically being more run-heavy, it was a good strategy but the 49ers didn’t find much success on the ground as Hasty saw no carries with only three targets. Deebo Samuel also continued to steal rush attempts (which is unlikely to go away) and turned his 8 carries into 37 yards and the 49ers only rushing TD.

    Putting It Together

    Most GPPs were taken down with Josh Allen at QB who had the most DK points of any other player on the slate. The Bucs/Bills game was the best environment with a total of 53, the highest on the slate by 4.5 points. A lot of ownership was taken away from Tom Brady and Josh Allen by Taysom Hill. I only built three lineups this week (usually I’m at around 7-10 + a cash lineup) and two were built around this game, one with Brady and one with Allen. My other lineup had Jimmy Garoppolo at QB, building heavy around the second-highest total. I thought Taysom was a rock-solid cash game play but was concerned about his ceiling with Alvin Kamara back. All three lineups cashed and I’m disappointed I didn’t have more time to build lineups. For me, some slates just seem clearer and more obvious. This was one of those, but unfortunately, I had a busy weekend and only played about 25% of my normal weekly bankroll and zero cash.

    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, Sobe1, Bigdogkyle, and Black-eyed_god.

    Week 15 :: Bottom-Up Tourney

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


    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 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.

    “Would you rather hunt, or be hunted?”

    I tweeted this out sometime earlier this season in describing a style of DFS play. We all know the feeling. You lean into a lineup that has mostly early game players, and you’re sitting somewhat comfortably above the cash line after the first round of games concludes. And then, you only have a few players left to play in your lineups as you watch the 4 pm Eastern games keep going and going and going. Slowly, your lineups take on water. With every completion (seemingly always by Tom Brady), you keep dropping and dropping until you finally kick outside the money and take home nothing. It’s a helpless feeling, and one we don’t always keep in mind as we set our rosters. I’m sure there is data out there that can prove there may not be any skew in how often the early games hit the over vs. the later games on main slates. But I will tell you one thing, doesn’t it feel a lot better to be moving up the scoreboards in the later afternoon/early evening than the opposite?

    Late Game Sweats

    This Sunday validated all those feels as we had the latest two games on the slate not only go into overtime but also both end in ‘walk-off’ touchdowns. And even though I had minimal money in play this weekend (in the Play-Action on DK, I had a few CIN/SF game stacks), it’s a wonderful feeling to keep climbing with all the late scoring, especially when there are so many lineups with no players left in play. We typically see the later games carry higher over/unders because they draw the number one team national broadcasts and because they draw higher ratings. It’s why the Brady-led Patriots and now the Bucs, and the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers, and any other high profile QB almost always draw those slots (if they aren’t already playing in Primetime on SNF or MNF). This is a common practice for the networks to drive ratings, and while DFS players will always follow Vegas totals, it’s not necessarily a common adoption to always stack those late games, which should have some more skilled offensive players. In many forums before, we’ve talked about how there are psychological connections between having players kickoff in the early games, as we build up adrenaline watching NFL RedZone or tailgating at our favorite stadiums, and once those games start, we want some action. But is it generally plus expected value to wait and stack late? The numbers may not be overwhelming but I can tell you, I mostly play this style because it’s way more fun to be out there hunting, rather than clinging onto the leaderboards while others hunt you down.

    RB’s as keys to unlocking slates

    The running back position has been a new challenge each week, and we’ve seen this especially come to life the last three weeks. In Week 12, we had the Ingram/D’Ernest chalk week, where a third RB value, Rhamondre Stevenson broke the slate. Last week, we had an overwhelming amount of excellent point-per-dollar RB plays, and picking two or three of those guys while loading up on top-tier WR was the move. We also had the Sony Michel news (with his lead back dressed and active) which broke over that weekend, and he too proved to be an immense value that having 100% of would have done wonders for your bankroll.

    This past week, we had some guy named Rashaad Penny (he’s not some guy, he was drafted ahead of Nick Chubb and Seattle expected great things out of him), posting a career line, proving to be the RB value pivot that you needed in order to take down a GPP. The SF running backs, namely Jeff Wilson Jr., were looking like the value plays of the slate. It did not seem like ownership would get outlandish on Wilson, but if we coupled him with Javonte Williams (the more expensive, clearly underpriced RB of the slate), DFS players trips to value-town in RB’ville were likely going to end with one of these guys. Enter Penny, who is on a run-first football team, in a crowded but injured backfield (as is often the case when these breakouts happen, see Carter, Michael) against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL (Texans 28th DVOA, 32nd in yards per carry allowed). We also had a small tidbit coming out of Seahawks camp with HC Pete Carroll saying he wanted to get him going, but we’ve heard this before and coaches also lie all the time, so suffice it say with his cheap price and role, it made some sense to play Penny. And if you leaned into him this weekend, congrats. That was a very nice move on your part. As I say all the time, don’t look for the perfect setup, look for the one that’s just good enough (bad defense, good opportunity, excellent price, coachspeak).

    A lesson in overconfidence and doubling down

    I always chuckle when we argue floor versus ceiling on DFS rosters. Part of this is due to my tendency to over-stack DFS games (four+ players from one game), and part of this is due to my general skepticism of labeling past performances to future ranges of outcomes. We don’t know how many fantasy points Player X is going to put up in his next game, so while we do have box score history to fall back on for some grounding, we have to be careful not to anchor too much on those numbers. George Kittle put up one catch for thirteen yards three weeks ago, then he went for 42 and 37 DK points in his last two games. Similarly, as we cannot predict player performance, we cannot predict where touchdowns will come from and who will score them. So playing a QB, RB, and WR on the same team may have some negative correlation over time, but if the touchdowns are concentrated enough, that could be a team that scores 35 points and exposes you to seven TDs (i.e. three passing, two rushing, two receiving).

    When you see a clear and obvious strength vs. weakness emerging, how can we effectively profit and even double down on this opportunity? I’ll tell you one spot where there was some conviction to be had on Sunday. How about the Saints? Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara against the horrid rushing defense of the New York Jets (30th DVOA). There was much discussion throughout the week and over the weekend of being careful about the lack of correlation between these two. If Taysom scored a rushing TD, which we knew he had a chance of doing, that would negatively affect Kamara. But so what? What if Kamara got one and Taysom got two, or vice versa? These two combined for 54 DK points (which is exactly the total that Hilow highlighted in his End Around column on Saturday). 

    Another place we saw this Sunday was in the Denver backfield. Coming off their Super Bowl, it was obvious to see the Detroit Lions not put up much of a fight in the altitude in Denver. And with their sieve of a defense (the theme this week must really have been picking on terrible rush defenses) which ranked 28th in yards per carry allowed, and the Broncos propensity to win (or try to) by rushing first, and letting their QB work off that, this was a focus for many DFS players. And the focus came in the form of Javonte Williams. But what about those who went in and played Melvin Gordon alongside Javonte (I can’t recall who said it, but pretty sure this came up in the OWS Discord last week, kudos!)? Well, they took home 48 DK points with just two roster spots. When it gets late in the NFL season and when some teams literally stop trying to win, we can take our confidence, turn it into overconfidence, and double down on clear and obvious spots. It differentiates us from the field, plays to a very specific game script, and counterintuitively keeps our roster ceilings intact.

    Above The Field

    Episodes of Variance

    We can study all we want. Log countless hours in front of the screen, crunching numbers, and mining for edges. We can improve our roster construction game and pay for the best projections. But once that weirdly shaped ball of polyurethane and leather is put in play, all hell breaks loose, and we are hopeless to control it. 

    Variance is a fickle mistress, and at one time or another, we’ve all felt her wrath. dmalk is the most recent victim. An unpredictable event at approximately 1:40 EST altered the course of their quest for a million dollars that culminated some six hours later. 

    You see, dmalk rostered Kareem Hunt in his 64th lineup out of 150. A seemingly innocuous decision by his/her/their hand or the optimizer’s settings. But after a decent first quarter in Cleveland, Hunt was struck in the leg by a Ravens defender and knocked out of the game. This likely didn’t make any impression on dmalk at the time, having rostered Hunt in just 6% of their lineups, but the sting from that event will linger forever after in the form of a $997,052.63 difference in the ol’ bank account. 

    It’s a brutal feeling to get this close and not finish the deal. Put yourself in dmalk’s shoes. I mean, just 4.5 more points from Hunt, and you get there. Two catches for 26 yards, and your life is completely different. 

    Then, just as you are beginning to cope, you scroll through Twitter and come upon this:

    Oh, man. 

    But hey, 30k is a nice little consolation prize, and bankroll won’t be an issue for the near future. Could be worse!

    Here’s how dmalk’s allocations looked this week. 

    Nothing too crazy at QB. Mostly the high-ceiling, optimizer-friendly guys along with Teddy Bridgewater, whom I also took some stabs at this week. Variance could have played in our favor at least 1.49% of the time, resulting in multiple passing TDs to his best-stacking partners…but the first three TDs came on the ground, and the two 2nd-half passing scores were not enough to matter.  

    On a week where RB was so thin in terms of certainty, I like the decision to overweight guys that should have three-down roles and goal-line touches. Don’t love the 26% Jeff Wilson once Deebo Samuel was cleared to play. Deebo is the 49ers best RB and caps the ceiling of backup talents like Wilson. Eli Mitchell may be an exception, though. The 49ers staff adores him. 

    Like me, dmalk didn’t find a path to Rashad Penny this week. I wonder if they feel a similar sense of shame that I’m currently experiencing. 

    A relatively conservative approach at WR that mostly reflects the QB stacks. Brandon Aiyuk, Brandin Cooks, and Tee Higgins were all sharp plays at low ownership. Despite the fact that dmalk didn’t stick his neck out and lock any players, some astute and calculated overweight moves were made.

    dmalk was not particularly interested in paying up at tight end this week. This is mostly a product of spending at the QB position. Those stud QB stacks do not come cheap. TE is such a shit show most weeks anyway, so I see no harm in punting that position. It all works fine until someone like George Kittle comes along and breaks the slate. I’m sure dmalk was happy to have matched the field on that one.

    I’m scratching my head a little bit on the Dawson Knox fade, but it looks like Manny Sanders and Cole Beasley were the stack partners of choice. Even Stefon Diggs was only in four of the Josh Allen stacks. 

    The choices at DST were straightforward as well. I’m not particularly interested in dissecting this position. I almost wish it wasn’t part of NFL DFS at all. In a large field tournament like the Milly, you can be essentially eliminated from contention if a defense in which you do not have shares randomly puts up 20+ points. These points are often a result of a muffed punt or a tipped pass. Complete randomness. Whatever. Bleh.

    The recording studio is summoning me. I must continue to churn out music for TV consumption. I’ll see you all in The Oracle and my Player Pool later in the week. 

    Be sure to review your work from Week 14 and try to avoid repeating any mistakes you may have made. Our quest for perfection in an imperfect world is a perpetual one. 

    I’m going to do my best to avoid rostering guys that get injured in the first quarter. That’s a huge leak in my game!

    May variance fall in our favor this week, OWS fam. LFG!

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