Sunday, Jan 29th — Early
Sunday, Jan 29th — Late
Bye Week:
Bears
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. 4.21.

JUMP TO

    One Week Season

    Where Sharp DFS Players Hang Out


    Early Bets

    Published Monday Afternoon

    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!

    Hook & Magic Spreads

    This week I want to quickly define and describe the importance of the “hook,” which I have referred to multiple times thus far. In sports betting, the hook is a half point added to a game total or spread. What this is designed to do is force action to land on either side of the line. It is both a psychological tool used by odds makers as well as a tool to increase house edge. The other premise regarding lines and odds we should discuss prior to moving forward is the idea of “magic spreads.” In football, magic spreads land in two distinct ranges: 2.5-3.5 and 6.5-7.5. Why is this a “magic spread,” you ask? Well, the two most common margins of victory congregate around the two most likely ways of scoring points in football – a field goal and a touchdown plus extra point. Let’s take a look at the numbers when these two ideas are combined. When a hook is added to a magic spread, the value of the hook is approximately equivalent to 4.5% of the value of the bet in the casino’s favor. In every other case, the value of the hook is approximately equivalent to 1.8% of the value of the bet in the casino’s favor. In other words, a hook on a line landing in the 2.5-3.5 or 6.5-7.5 range is worth 3x as much to the casino as all other lines put together. That is extremely valuable for us, as bettors, to understand as we hunt for +EV scenarios!

    Author’s Note: I typically write this late on Sunday night but decided to wait until Monday morning this week as there were multiple lines that I wanted to let settle overnight before writing it up.

    +EV LINES::

    SEA (+3.5) @ SF

    That hook, man. It is extremely important for betting, and we get the hook in our favor through the Seattle side of this game early in the week. We saw the state of the Niners secondary last night on national television and the Seahawks have the tools to take advantage. But the hook is almost 80% of what matters here, with the contest between two divisional opponents fighting to keep pace with the Rams and Cardinals (each 3-0) in the NFC West. From an EV perspective, this line is highly unlikely to move in favor of San Francisco, so taking Seattle with the points (particularly the hook) is a +EV early week wager.

    TB (-6) @ NE

    Another case study revolving around the hook. We explored the meaning of the hook residing within the two magic spread ranges up top. This line, if it moves, is likeliest to move in favor of the Buccaneers as the week progresses. Thusly, it would move in favor of the casino at magnitude of 3x. This makes taking the Bucs before that happens a massively +EV wager. One additional note: this game is going to be highly polarizing this week simply for the fact that we can expect there to be a ton of national attention with the added storyline of Tom Brady returning to Foxborough. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this line ebb and flow right up until lock.

    CAR @ DAL U 50.5

    The Panthers have surrendered 10 points per game over the first three weeks of the season; they have ceded the third best completion percentage against at 57.47%; and have ceded the third shallowest yards per completion in the NFL at 8.8. They also lost running back Christian McCaffrey for the foreseeable future with a hamstring injury. Yes, they still have talented playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, but the injury to CMC makes this offense much more one-dimensional. So, to me, this game total is built to suit public perception surrounding the Cowboys much more than it is taking the state of the Panthers into account. It is likely we see this line move lower throughout the week as the public catches up.

    HONORABLE MENTIONS::

    HOU @ BUF U 48

    Same story as last week with the prevailing trend of the honorable mentions. Large game totals mixed with large spreads historically play to the under with greater frequency than the over.

    KC (-6.0) @ PHI

    Another one to think about prior to the favorite adding the hook.

    JAX @ CIN U 46.5

    This one plays off public perception and recency biases. In my opinion, the public has been slow to accept a couple of changes from the Bengals. First, their early season situation-neutral rush rates are rivaling the Ravens for tops in the league, even with a poorly graded run-blocking offensive line. Secondly, their situation-neutral pace of play is below average (22nd). And finally, their defense is playing surprisingly well to start the year (18.0 points allowed per game). With the dysfunction and mediocrity that the Jags bring into Cincinnati, expect the Bengals to control the pace, tempo, and script here.

    Process|Review

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


    Maximize Your Builds With OWS + FantasyLabs


    Week 3 Review

    Process Points

    MJohnson86 looks back at the week behind us: breaking down his rosters and results through the lens of process.

    Lesson of the Week: When “Keeping It Real” Goes Right

    Wow. What a week. For those who have been reading this article for the first two weeks, you are aware that I was not off to a very hot start to the 2021 season. I also noted in my first two reflections some things I had learned, strategies I was employing, and that I was not overly concerned about the results because of the high variance nature of large-field tournaments. The title to this section is a reference to the Chappelle Show, a mid-2000’s comedy show on Comedy Central, and a skit they would do called, “When ‘Keeping It Real’ Goes Wrong.” The premise of the skit was based on how people always talk about “keeping it real,” but there are times where “keeping it real” can come back to haunt them. This being my first year writing for OWS and doing a reflection article weekly, there is some risk to writing an article that “keeps it real” and is fully transparent about results and ROI. A couple of my friends were having a good time joking with me about it last week – if the bad results kept up too long then none of the readers would take anything I say seriously. In other words, it would have been a situation where “keeping it real goes wrong.” Well, in Week 3 things really turned around as I took first out of 29,365 entrants in the $9 Sunday Rush tournament on FanDuel for $40,000. I also took 23rd in Yahoo’s Million Dollar Baller tournament, which awards $100,000 for first place, and had a chance late into the slate to potentially jump to the top of that tournament before slow second half finishes from DK Metcalf and Leonard Fournette didn’t allow me to keep pace. Below is the lineup that won the Rush on FanDuel. We will explore the specific aspects of this lineup, as well as some broader ideas and concepts embedded in how it all came together for my first (hopefully of many!) big score in 2021:

    Big Picture Thinking

    I had the Week 3 NFL Edge writeup for the WFT/BUF game so I dug into that game pretty deeply. Washington received a lot of attention during the offseason as a top-end defense but struggled in the first two weeks. In my NFL Edge writeup, I noted that the Bills would likely make a conscious effort to get their passing game off the ground since a shaky first week and then game script in Week 2 kept them grounded. The Bills are one of the most data-driven and pass-happy organizations in the NFL, so being able to use them at low ownership was very intriguing to me.

    Built For First Place

    One topic that I think is important, and I discussed with JM in his Inner Circle Tuesday discussion after Week 1, is the need to build rosters for first place in any tournament you are playing in. There is no leaderboard for lowest ownership, only for total points. Obviously, ownership plays a part in it, but I found myself focusing too much on ownership and leverage angles in the first two weeks of the season and that resulted in making suboptimal decisions regarding the actual ceiling and likelihood of hitting that ceiling for many of my lineups. This week I built for ceiling first, and then once a roster was complete with players I felt really good about from a floor/ceiling perspective, I went back to determine if the roster needed to add in some leverage to differentiate. This particular roster had a “lower owned than it should be” Bills stack that was also unique in that it didn’t have Stefon Diggs in it and most Josh Allen lineups would have. With that angle and the Gibson bring back, there was zero reason to make decisions based on ownership elsewhere on the roster. Also, to tie those points together, the Bills stack was a beautiful play because it made me unique, but it did not require the most popular game environments to fail in order for its ceiling to compete. If the top games went off, Allen was still capable of being at the top of the leaderboard for the week. If the other top QB options didn’t hit their ceilings, then Allen could stand head and shoulders above the field for scoring for the week (as he did). But if the other QBs had good games, Allen’s ceiling could still compete with any of them. It is also worthwhile to note that this lineup would have taken first place in the FanDuel Sunday Million so the lineup certainly had plenty of ceiling and the ownership wouldn’t hold me back from winning any tournament. 


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    Fading Chalk – Unseen Benefits

    I did not play Derrick Henry at all this week and only had Alexander Mattison on a very small percentage of my lineups on Yahoo (none on DK or FD). Mattison had a very good price-considered game, but had I played him in this lineup what would it have done to my roster? Well, Mattison was $5,200 and so was Emmanuel Sanders. The logical switch would have been there, which would have left me wanting to find a way to a different Bills WR. Stefon Diggs was $7,700 while Cooper Kupp was $7,900. If moving to the “chalky” Mattison, then moving off Kupp to Diggs would have neutralized the extra ownership involved. So while Mattison had a great game, forcing him on this roster would have actually cost me 20.7 points and knocked me from first place and $40,000 to 29th place and $200. Just an interesting real-life example of something JM often talks about in regards to those super-popular plays and the difference between “great price considered game” and “can’t win without them game.” Just by avoiding some of these plays, your roster becomes unique (no Henry / Mattison means I’m built differently than every lineup with a high-end RB or cheap RB) in other ways that can help you focus on ceiling and get you to the top of the leaderboard.

    +EV Decisions

    In my +EV Primer course in the Marketplace, there are several big picture strategies that came into play here. I won’t go too deeply into the specifics, as I don’t want to feel like I’m giving away the information that a lot of subscribers have already paid for, but for those who have read that course many of the topics in it led to this outcome:

    • Stop Being Punctual: Saquon (early), Metcalf / Buffalo passing game (late)
    • Scheduling Cupcakes (Contest / Site Selection): FanDuel has much softer pricing (my lineup would have cost $56.6k on DraftKings!!) and Yahoo had huge overlay and a softer field of players
    • Time Horizons: Following my “Conservative Strategy, Cocky Swing” philosophy
    • Staying Plugged In – big picture convictions I had on some of these players that gave me more confidence to play them despite some concerns.
    • Built With Your Bare Hands

    Not trying to pump my own bags here, but again many of the things from my Player Pool course in the Marketplace came into play for how I chose the players on my roster. If you don’t look at the ownership “box,” all of the players in my lineup checked all of the other boxes this week, and the Broncos D was pretty much the best possible example of what I talk about looking for from a defense. In addition, the lineup met the criteria that I lay out in the course for evaluating and balancing ownership in a lineup (four checks on each side of the ledger, for those who have read the course).

    SE/3-Max/5-Max Yearlong Strategy and Weekly Review

    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. 

    Lineup Reviews

    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 ($500k Spy, Single-Entry, $100)

    The “story” I was telling: I really liked this game, especially on the Baltimore side, once their defense lost a slew of players to COVID protocols late in the week. Lamar smash spots can be so defining for a slate and there was every reason to believe they would have great offensive success in this spot against Detroit, who was playing on a short week after being stomped Monday night by Green Bay. I was thrilled to end up getting the Lamar-Andrews stack at about 6% ownership each, and Swift as the bring back from the other side also at sub-10%. This game did not quite meet the scoring expectations due to some blunders by both sides, but the process was great and I’ll take that spot any day. While that game stack did perform well, it had the ingredients to be nuclear and slate-changing if a couple balls bounce differently. The other correlation I had was Metcalf-Jefferson in the MIN-SEA game. I had played both of them a decent amount the first two weeks and saw this as a great spot for both to push each other if the game became a back and forth affair. Minnesota took control in the second half, but both players did plenty of damage with their volume-secure roles and high level talents. There were leverage points involved with Scotty Miller leveraging the popular TB-LAR players and playing Tennessee defense without Derrick Henry. Those who were playing Henry at his high salary would be looking for savings elsewhere, making Tennessee Defense a cheap and easy option with correlation. Tennessee D was popular (17%) but actually provided leverage because such a high percentage of those who rostered them would also have Henry. In a scenario where Tennessee smashed the Colts but Henry didn’t have an explosion game, I’d be gaining on much of the field. Sanders and Ekeler were two of my favorite “one-off” plays of the week for their price-considered roles in explosive offenses.

    Worst Lineup ($700k Power Sweep, 3-max, $150)

    The “story” I was telling: Not a fan of how this one ended up, and not just because of the results. Kyler-Rondale-Laviska I am fine with the process and results. Laviska scored all of his points in the first half before a fluky play flipped the game on its head and stripped the aggressiveness from Jacksonville. The Cardinals smashed offensively, as expected, but the running backs stole most of the scores from the passing game this week. Ridley and Hockenson are the plays I’m not that fond of, looking back. In both instances, a ceiling game was almost certainly going to be the result of a game environment producing other top score and each of them had players I liked on the other side at good prices (Saquon Barkley and Marquise Brown, respectively). Woods-Fournette as my second correlation in the lineup makes sense on some levels, but that pair lacks the explosiveness and ceiling that Barkley-Ridley or Hockenson-Brown would have provided. It would have been sharper to go with either of the latter pairings and then fill the lineup with one-offs from there.

    Week 3 Results

    I cashed two out of the 11 lineups. We’re making progress!! 0>>1>>2 cashes to start the year, so I’ll see you next week with three of 11!! Obviously, my week was made in other spots but I’m encouraged by my process and year-long outlook in this specific area that the article is focusing on. As we all know, one or two weeks can change everything!!

    Week 3 Investment: $792

    Week 3 Winnings: $325

    Estimated Yearly Investment:  $14,000 

    Yearly Winnings: $400

    Bottom-Up Breakdown

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

    Week 3 Review

    Each week I will review the Bottom-Up Build contest, looking at how the winner got to the top of the leaderboard. The purpose of the Bottom-Up Build is to put players in that you would feel comfortable rostering in a regular contest (price considered floor and high ceiling) so that when you’re building for these other contests, you’re not struggling with the last couple spots and jamming someone in that you are uncomfortable with.

    Overview

    Rules :: Max $44k Salary (exceeding $44k salary will disqualify entry); must use OWS avatar to be eligible for prizes
    Total Entries :: 200 (147 eligible since 53 went over salary, didn’t use an OWS avatar, or didn’t enter a lineup)
    Prizes (Edge Points) :: 1st = 100 Edge // 2nd = 50 // 3rd = 25
    Highest Owned Player :: Kyle Pitts – 43%
    See All The Entries :: Contest Link

    Winners:

    1ST: Swench1919

    2ND: Pjfrap

    3RD: Mattcm9

    Analysis

    The winner, Swench1919, paid up for Josh Allen (2.5%) and stacked him with mid-priced WR Emmanuel Sanders (6.0%). They chose not to run it back, instead using two Viking WRs with no other correlations. This $43.9k lineup would’ve been good enough to cash most double-ups.

    Pjfrap’s second-place lineup was a much different construction than Swench1919’s first place.  Pjfrap used a double-stack of Matthew Stafford with Van Jefferson Jr. and Tyler Higbee, running it back with Chris Godwin. He also incorporated two different game correlations of Chris Carson / K.J. Osborn from the SEA / MIN game (3rd highest total) and Clyde-Edwards Helaire / Keenan Allen from the LAC / KC game (2nd highest total). The double stack and run back were from the game with the highest total on the slate. Both RBs (Carson and Helaire) were favorites and each were paired with the WR on the opposing team. Pjfrap expected the RB favorites to have more rushing volume and the dog WRs to get more pass volume. Even though both favorites lost, the totals of these games were high enough that the game flow didn’t have to be perfect for the RBs to still be successful. This was excellent roster construction especially for a smaller field GPP.

    Third place finisher Mattcm9’s lineup consisted of a double-stack of Stafford with Robert Woods and Higbee, and a Leonard Fournette run-back. He stacked the team expected to be trailing and ran it back with an RB from the team likely to be ahead.  

    Putting It Together

    This was the second week in a row the winner of the Bottom-Up contest paid up at the QB position. Last week, the winner paid up for Kyler Murray ($8.2k, second-highest priced QB) and this week, Josh Allen ($7k, 5th highest priced QB). Of the 147 eligible entrants, only three rostered Josh Allen; of these three, Swench1919 was the only one to stack Allen and Sanders.  

    I’ve had three losing weeks in a row but I feel like my process is sharpening and I’ve felt more confident going into each slate. The good news is we still have 18 more weeks of quality slates left which means plenty of time to get it back. In NFL DFS, it can take just one slate to make your season. 

    Week 4 :: 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
    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@oneweeakseason.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.

    I’ve lost money each week this NFL season. I’ve cashed on exactly two of 17 lineups over three weeks, so needless to say I have lost a good portion of my bankroll so far this season. If there’s an icing on the cake somewhere though, it’s that I’ve had some very poor, near-last place finishes which make me feel my process is not broken. My variance may actually be in a decent place but I absolutely need to try to clear up any blind spots.

    NFL DFS is a small sample season. We have an expanded 18 week season, and if you count Showdown slates, which I typically don’t, you can land somewhere in the 20-50 slate total. If you’re primarily a GPP player who does not mass multi-enter, it’s quite possible you lose every week. I’m prepared for that, it would stink but it could happen. I’m more optimistic than ever though. In researching more this season for the content I have the chance to write on One Week Season and I’m getting into a more simplified process and making some great decisions, along with two or three decisions in setting lineups each week that just seem to go completely the other way (ugh, Matt Ryan).

    You didn’t come here to read about my DFS results, but I want to reiterate if you’re an MLB or NBA DFS player you’re probably going to go cold for at least a week somewhere (five to seven slates), if not more. I had two major MLB DFS wins in July and August this season. That’s a long way from April, but all of this is to say, just stick with your process. Don’t change everything. It’s likely you’re seeing things clearer than ever. And it’s likely your bink is coming soon . . .

    Josh Allen / Emmanuel Sanders

    This was my biggest missed opportunity from last week. I had Manny in one of my five lineups, along with the Browns defense. At the time, I had three lineups with the Browns D and only one with the Dolphins, and I wanted to get more Miami in there to balance out the highly variant position. By taking out Sanders and Browns and swapping in Dolphins D, I got rid of Manny for K.J. Hamler, and you all know how that ended (I did go up in RB from Jonathan Taylor to Najee Harris, but still).

    66 points from two players (88 including Cole Beasley), with Allen and Sanders. Why did Sanders explode? Why did I have him in a lineup? He was simply mispriced for his role. He was signed in the offseason to become a primary piece of this high-powered, pass-first Buffalo offense. Through two games, he had target counts of eight and six, but only a $4,200 price tag on DK. He hadn’t had a signature game with Buffalo and we know when the Bills start throwing, there are plenty of points to go around. Sometimes it really can be as simple as scanning those price tags and seeing a mispriced player.

    Josh Allen was the other play here, who should have been higher owned. We saw Justin Herbert and Daniel Jones both have solid, not spectacular, but better than expected games against this Washington Football Team defense. The narrative is now gone, but prior to last week there was still respect around for this defense. This was why late in the week we started hearing about the sneaky Stefon Diggs and Allen stack incoming. Allen still checked in at only 5% in the DK Milly Maker, with Diggs at 8%. It was the right thinking, just the wrong pass catchers this week.

    My notes from this one moving forward are to A) always find those mispriced guys and B) go where we haven’t seen the big game yet early in the season.

    Week 4 candidates for the Sanders breakout: Kyle Pitts, Jonathan Taylor, Chase Claypool, Robert Woods.

    Cooper Kupp

    And now from the sneaky plays to the obvious one. It’s frustrating when chalk hits. On one hand, Derrick Henry did not break the slate. On the other hand, Kupp did. I don’t need to go into detail about how unbelievable Kupp has been so far this season, but I do feel compelled to go back and think through why we all could have played him. Tampa’s defense was without their primary slot corner in Sean Murphy-Bunting (Kupp lines up there almost half the time). He was coming off a game where he dominated the Indianapolis Colts to the tune of 9/163/2, which proved as validation for his new role with his new quarterback, Matthew Stafford. He was also playing in a game environment which would call for a pass-heavy game script, against the #1 DVOA defense against the run.

    We’ve seen Cooper and Robert Woods alternate big games just like D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, and Adam Theilen and Justin Jefferson over the past few years. The difference now seems to be getting rid of noodle-armed Jared Goff and bringing in Stafford whom Kupp has a clear connection. I do expect Woods to have his share of big games when the matchups skew toward better perimeter coverage, but Kupp is already on his way to an extra-large season.

    “Good chalk” candidates next week: Najee Harris, Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp (he has Arizona)

    Kareem Hunt

    Okay, okay if I consider the Sanders play my biggest missed chance this Sunday, then Hunt was our biggest missed opportunity this week. In last week’s Willing to Lose, I highlighted Austin Hooper as a possible beneficiary of the Jarvis Landry injury. I was unsure at the time of writing whether Odell Beckham Jr. would play. He did end up playing but the basic premise was that it’s very evident to see just how integral a piece of the Browns offense Landry is. So my angle was really as simple as trying to identify where and how the Browns would fill the Landry void. I noted Hooper’s low aDOT, high snap rate, and preseason coach-speak for reasons why he could finally see an increased role. Hooper ended up doing just fine, but Hunt became the real gem of the Browns offense this weekend at 1% ownership. 

    The positive game script for Hunt was a huge factor here as well, with Justin Fields looking like Zach Wilson in his first NFL start. If you did play for the large Browns onslaught, it’s likely you went with Nick Chubb to pair with the Browns defense. But we’ve also seen Hunt smash in similar environments. He only played 33 (41%) offensive snaps but exceeded expectations with his 27.5 DK points. Playing Hunt would have been biased discomfort in so many ways. But the Landry injury opened the door for someone. If you had pegged Hunt as the dynamic playmaker who could fill the void, that’s an uncomfortable angle but a great one to play.

    Possible Week 4 “Hunts”: Kenny Golladay, Chase Claypool, Derrick Henry

    Najee Harris

    One of my early Sunday thoughts was no matter the Harris ownership, it wasn’t going to be high enough. When “important” players are injured, playbooks are changed. We had two cases of those types of players this past week with Landry and Diontae Johnson, and a third if you count Dalvin Cook, but RB’s are more interchangeable.  

    Missing their leading receiver, the question became how would the Steelers fill the void? There was plenty of chatter around JuJu Smith-Schuster during the week, but he came in at only 3% in the DK Milly. Chase Claypool and Harris were the two other every-down Steelers who could step in and fill the Johnson hole in a plus matchup vs. the Bengals. JuJu stepping out with an injury inflated both Najee and Claypool’s targets but they were both heading for 10+ regardless of whether JuJu was there or not. When teams miss target hogs like Landry and Diontae, expanded roles land somewhere. The volume Najee was going to see this past week, playing over 90% of the snaps without Ben Roethlisberger’s primary WR weapon, should not have left him lower owned than Falcons teammates, Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson.

    Above The Field

    It only Takes One

    An odd thing happened on the way to the top in the Milly this week.  My usual search for DFS players that max-entered and manipulated their pool in such a way as to position themselves with multiple lineups near the top…came up empty.

    All of these players had successful weeks, but it came by getting one magical lineup right instead of a “leverage the field by playing X% of player Y.”

    I took this as a sign from the universe to direct this week’s focus on individual roster construction rather than a 150-lineup portfolio as a whole. This fits in with my recent style of hand-building as many lineups as possible. With all of the correlation I’m trying to incorporate, I find it so torturous to run the optimizer 700 times to get the delicate balance to where I need it, especially since I like to stack at least one lineup from every game and have a secondary stack in each of those!

    Maybe I’m just a control freak. I’ve been called that before – amongst a variety of other things. 

    Week 3’s Millionaire Maker winner was a beautifully correlated gem turned in by wmm70116. Not sure about that screen name, but I’m guessing he’s a Star Wars nerd, and that’s the name of one of the malfunctioning droids that Luke and Uncle Owen told the Jawas to cram up their sandy cornholes. 

    Hard to believe some of the ownership here, but this was a weird week in that way. Not a ton of obvious chalk for people to congregate to, so everything kind of leveled off. 

    Classic QB/WR/WR/OPP 4-stack with a tight end coming back in the form of Logan Thomas. Wmm70116 only used Thomas in 4 of his 150 lineups, but that was enough to double the field and enough to land the 1.2% owned stud in his (or her) life-changing lineup. 

    The use of the Justin Jefferson/D.K. Metcalf secondary correlation was excellent and one that I employed (unsuccessfully) across a large percentage of my rosters. It was pretty tilting to see this and Emmanuel Sanders in the winning lineup, which leads us nicely into…

    Sonic’s MME Pool Review

    Yay!

    I wasn’t alone with this one. Assuming some ceiling regression from their WR counterparts, Tyler Lockett and Adam Thielen. 

    Price jumped to $6200 for Week 4, and I expect this trend to continue. Get him while you can.

    Justin Herbert and the coaching staff weren’t bullshitting us this preseason. Mike Williams will be a focal point going forward. Not on the main slate this week, though. ☹

    I had shitloads of Ja’Marr Chase/Chase Claypool secondary stacks. This was a Saturday evening development for me. More on this pairing later.

    I Run So Bad

    This is borderline comical. Having so many skinny stacks with D’Andre Swift and watching Marquise Brown drop so many deep shots was definitely tilt-worthy.

    This should have fallen in the positive category, but the lesson here is how I acted on my own information. The forward to my MME Player Pool from Saturday looked like this:

    Welp. I specifically stated that I was banking on Emmanuel Sanders this week, and I specifically said that I was ending up with $4200 in salary reasonably often. 

    So, tell me this, Sonic…WHY THE HELL DID YOU END UP WITH ONLY SIX ROSTERS WITH MANNY SANDERS?????

    Deep breath. It’s OK. We’ll all learn from this. 

    We spend so much time agonizing over hand-builds or tweaking settings on our optimizers that at some point we have to be finished. Done. Moving on to other things. Neglected family members, pets, chores await. We must tend to our proverbial garden. But we mustn’t forget to take a step back, remember our goals for this slate, and then take a final look at our rosters holistically. 

    Set a reminder in your phone for one hour after you thought you were done with your lineups (or sometime well before lock). If you’re on the West Coast that might be Saturday night. East coasters will probably finish their lineups in the morning. Either way, ask yourself what players do I feel the best about this week? What is my current allocation for this player compared to their ownership projection?

    This week I had a great feeling that there would be some positive regression for Manny Sanders. I mentioned him in the player pool but ended up with only 4%, which equaled the field. He produced as I thought he might, catching two touchdowns from Josh Allen, in whom I was heavily invested. But I didn’t give myself enough of a chance because I didn’t stop, take a deep breath and look at my lineups from afar.

    “Do as I say, not as I do.” 

    • Some guy who fucked up and feels bad now.

    The last lineup I’d like to look at comes courtesy of a tweet by @DfsFacts. This lineup would have won the Milly but was only entered in smaller contests. I snagged it because it leads me to another point I wanted to cover this week – Playing Multiple Skill Position Players Without Their Quarterback.

    This exquisite lineup features a Justin Herbert skinny stack with no Chiefs coming back and a roster block from the Steelers/Bengals game. Rostering two players from the same team without their quarterback is a build I rarely employ with a non-rushing QB because in the back my mind, I’ll always be thinking “If I’m betting that two players from the same team are going to hit their ceiling, the passing QB should have a ceiling score as well.”

    But there are exceptions to this rule, and they aren’t always fluky. It depends on a top-heavy roster with a concentrated distribution of touches.  

    Resident brainiac Xandamere is known around these parts for his “always one Viking” rule, and it’s a sound one. The Vikings have had a narrow distribution of fantasy points for the last couple of seasons. Dalvin Cook rarely shares meaningful snaps with his backups, and the Jefferson/Thielen tandem devours a massive share of the team’s pass-catching production. It’s a good bet that at least one of these players will have a voluminous role with a good level of efficiency, if not two players, or even all three. Our potential edge comes in identifying situations that mirror the Vikings narrow distribution when they arise during the season. In Week 3, the planets aligned, and injuries to Tee Higgins and Dionte Johnson led to two additional teams landing in that Vikings mold – and they were playing each other!

    One build I often employ is playing one of these roster blocks (of two players and a bring-back) and using a QB with rushing upside in place of the QB from the roster block. Using someone like Lamar Jackson in the QB slot is essentially saying, “multiple players from the Steelers/Bengals game are going to produce, but Lamar is still going to crush Ben Roethlisberger and his noodle arm.” This works best with a RB/WR combination because there is only so much pass production two WR/TE can share whilst both smashing and not bringing their QB up with them.

    If Ben had some rushing ability, or his noodle was a little more “al dente,” I’d probably just roll with him. 

    Given what we know about the Vikings, Bengals, and Steelers, we can make a rule in the Fantasy Labs optimizer that looks like this:

    Then, if you’re getting too much WR/WR and you’d prefer to run your roster blocks in the WR/RB mold, you can add a negative correlation from your favorite WR to his teammate while enhancing the RB.
    And just to make sure you’re getting a good dose of that juicy correlation:
    I’m sure this is somewhat rudimentary to some of you, but as I learned this week, it’s easy to overlook the obvious moves sometimes. 


    Good luck in Week 4, my friends. May your allocations be true, your correlations juicy, and your noodles facing north. 


    Sonic

    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 & 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, & TE from all of Sunday’s games (including SNF). Your final roster then competes with every entry in the tournament, not just your fellow drafters, for the highest score of the week.

    Four tournaments have been offered in the first three weeks in this format, with entry fees of $5, $20, $5, $6, and top prizes of $20K, $20K, $5K, & $20K. Week 3 also had a $10 entry tournament with 12 drafters instead of six.

    Week 4’s Battle Royale is a $5 entry, 13.8K entrant tournament with $12K to first place.

    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 3

    Here we take a look at the five highest scoring lineups from Week 3, how they were constructed, what we can learn from them, and the most important concepts to keep in mind when drafting a team.

    ScoreQBRBWRWRFlexTE
    142.32AllenHenryDavanteKuppJeffersonKittle
    142.04HerbertJonesDavanteKuppMike WillKittle
    139.82AllenKamaraDavanteKuppSaquonKittle
    139.72AllenHenryDavanteKuppEkelerKittle
    139.52AllenKamaraJeffersonKuppNajeeAndrews
    Brief Summary of Five Highest Scoring Lineups:
    • 5/5 with Cooper Kupp
    • 4/5 with Josh Allen, Davante Adams, George Kittle
    • QBs: Allen (x4), Justin Herbert
    • RBs: Derrick Henry (x2), Alvin Kamara (x2), Aaron Jones, Saquon Barkley, Austin Ekeler, Najee Harris
    • WRs: Kupp (x5), Adams (x4), Justin Jefferson (x2), Mike Williams
    • TEs: Kittle (x4), Mark Andrews
    Information to Note:

    These were the least correlated top scoring rosters of the first three weeks, with #5 having no correlation and three of the others having Adams-Kittle as the only correlation.

    • Allen was the highest scoring QB by a wide margin, but his best stacking partner (Emmanuel Sanders) was unowned while his #1 WR (Stefon Diggs) was 100% owned but disappointed
    • Kupp has made 100% of the top-5 lineups in back to back weeks in games without a necessary bring back from the opposing team, and with his QB still being outscored by others
    • No RBs significantly stood out on the week, allowing many one-off RBs to make appearances on the top-5 rosters
    • The most correlated team (5 players), took second by just .28 points

    Many top rosters had Travis Kelce in the first two weeks, but with fellow 1st round pick Adams posting a top-2 WR score, Kelce’s underwhelming score opened the door for rosters with Kittle, Andrews, and other TEs with decent weeks. Kelce still provides an unrivaled edge in this format with his unique production to the position; it was just a week in which Adams significantly separated himself from the rest of the WRs on the slate.

    Two RBs have been drafted on 12/15 top-5 teams thus far. Outside of Henry’s slate-breaker score in Week 2, top RB production has been pretty closely clumped together, with WR being the place that the top WRs have distinguished themself from the field. It’s still too early to tell what the best strategy for the FLEX is here, but thus far relying on the more bankable production of the RB spot and hoping to hit big on just two WR spots has worked more often than not.

    Every team in the top-5 has scored 9+ TDs in the first three weeks, with seven of fifteen teams scoring 11+ TDs. In Half-PPR with no bonuses, TD equity is an extremely valuable commodity.

    This wasn’t necessarily a week in which low-owned players were super valuable in the way that some were in the first two weeks, but Josh Allen & George Kittle were consistently available near the end of drafts. Mike Williams did make a top-5 roster as a mostly undrafted player, making it three weeks in a row of a late WR popping up in the top-5. Had someone stacked Emmanuel Sanders with Josh Allen, he also may have made an appearance, as he was a top-4 scoring WR on the slate himself. Each week there are many players or game environments with big-score potential left out of the draft due to the small rosters, but each week taking advantage of a low-owned player could have won you this tournament. WR projections carry such a wide range of outcomes, that focusing more on game environments through stacking is the long-term +EV approach to these drafts. Guessing right on a top scorer from five or six different games can work, SOMETIMES, but to consistently put yourself in a position to win every week, limiting how many things you need to go right is the best strategy.

    Story Each Draft Tells

    When we draft a player, we are assuming on that roster that the player has success, and therefore each successive pick must further align with the “story” we are telling on that roster. Normally this is where I’d review the story of each top-5 roster, but with so little correlation this week at the top, I decided to take a look at the best constructed of the top-5, as well as two of my own drafts from Week 3. 

    KetchupStainQBRBWRWRFlexTE
    142.04HerbertJonesDavanteKuppMike WillKittle

    This is a really well-constructed roster, as we have two separate game stacks with lots of upside. This roster takes Herbert & Williams as a QB-WR stack, both of which were extremely under-owned in Week 3 despite a huge game total. With Ekeler 100% owned, this stack provides leverage against all rosters with Ekeler, saying the TDs flow through Herbert and his most-targeted WR through two weeks. The other stack is an RB-WR-OppTE stack on teams with narrow scoring distributions at the top. Taking Jones & Adams is saying all the GB production flows through its two best players, and that with them having good games, SF’s pass volume increases and therefore benefits SF’s best player. Kupp at WR is a bet that he continues his massive volume to start the season against a banged up secondary, and that the TB production on the other side is too evenly distributed to produce a necessary bring-back. Ultimately, Josh Allen’s gap from the other QBs prevented this roster from 1st, but it was easily the best construction at the top and still only lost out on 1st by .28 points.

    LexMiragliaQBRBWRWRWRTE
    118.52AllenSaquonMike WillRidleyDiggsKelce

    This is my favorite roster I drafted from Week 3. After grabbing Stefon Diggs early, I paired him with a slipping Josh Allen as a bet that they would outscore the other popular pairings at the top (Kyler-Hop, Mahomes-Hill, Wilson-Lockett/Metcalf, Rodgers-Adams). Kelce offers unrivaled production at the weakest position, and him scoring well is a bet against Tyreek Hill, helping my selection of Diggs and further working against Adams-Kittle pairings. In order to further bet on Kelce’s game environment and volume, I took Williams with my last pick as he was going essentially undrafted compared to his teammates (Ekeler, Allen) despite actually leading the team in targets through two games. Stacking Saquon & Ridley was a bet on two guys expecting to lead their teams in volume, and an expectation that they can succeed in any gameflow (Ridley scoring early should mean more pass volume for Saquon; Saquon scoring early should mean more pass volume for Ridley).

    This roster was ultimately hurt by Ridley & Diggs disappointing (TDs went through ancillary ATL players // production flowed through basically every other top BUF player), but it was still my favorite construction of the week, with all six players correlated in some way.

    LexMiragliaQBRBWRWRFlexTE
    75.54Kyler MurrayJon TaylorAJ BrownMarvin JonesDavanteKittle

    This is a roster that obviously disappointed but did manage to correlate all six players in some way. Taking Kyler was a bet on him being the highest scoring QB of the week, and then later taking the Opp WR1 in Marvin Jones Jr in order to further bet on the game environment and volume from Kyler. Especially with the uncertainty surrounding IND QBs throughout the week, this was universally expected to be a game TEN controlled with Henry racking up volume on the ground. Taking Jonathan Taylor and then pairing him with AJ Brown on the other side was a bet on this game going differently than the field expected, with Taylor producing on the ground and Brown getting more pass volume because of it. Davante Adams was a bet on him being the highest scoring WR on the week against a banged up secondary and then later taking Kittle to further bet on that game environment and the expected scoring of both players if their volume increased. Adams & Kittle are also two players with some of the highest chances of outscoring other 1st round picks Tyreek Hill & Travis Kelce.

    Thoughts on Week 4

    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. This could mean guys with relatively high Best Ball ADPs, but underwhelming starts such as Robert Woods, Allen Robinson, Calvin Ridley, Robby Anderson, Kyle Pitts, David Montgomery, Miles Sanders, Darrell Henderson (injury related), etc.

    With Lamar & Kyler in tough matchups and Josh Allen in a potential blowout, pocket passers stacked with players from their game are likely to have more overall value this week for reaching 1st place. This makes it even more important to find game environments you want to bet on.

    Always look 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-3 to -5 ceiling at their positions.

    Deconstructing The Slant

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