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.
It’s tough to gauge how well our OWS family does each week other than through the Discord discussions and Reflection pieces here, but it seems like Week 5 might have been one of our most profitable to date. The Edge writeups last week were on fire, and The Scroll came in hot, leading to some nice takedowns across the community.
This is a long NFL season and I’m so pumped we’ll be here together each week. It’s going to be a marathon into January, and I know we’re all here for it. For those who do actually read down to my pieces in the Reflection and the Scroll, thank you! Starting next week, I’m going to try to remember to do a reflection of reflections to build some core principles out for the rest of the season (I could have done it this week, but I can’t even begin to tell you how rough my weekend was traveling on Southwest Airlines), so in weeks 6-18, we’ll be building our best lineups yet!
As it always seems, this week had it’s good and bad. Let’s dive in!
Browns & Chargers
A 47 point total (closed at 46.5 in some places). A run-first team, coming off a 14-point game against an average defense (Minnesota, 14th DVOA) facing up against a team (Chargers) who had put up 30 and 28 points over the last two games, but still had a stigma from its over-owned Week 2 matchup with Dallas. Both teams also boasted top-ten defenses: Cleveland 3rd in DVOA with the Chargers ranked 9th. It wasn’t the perfect setup, but we can see why it wasn’t the attention-grabbing game it should have been right out of the gates. When I replied in The Oracle about my liking this game to go over, the basic angle I saw were these narratives. The recency bias of the stinker the Browns put up in Week 4 at Minnesota, combined with this Chargers team only playing one game on the main slate since their Week 2 debacle. It seemed like this late game just wasn’t getting the attention it deserved, even more so when you consider how potent both of these offenses can be.
Imagine being overweight on this game, however, and only profiting $10! While this article is not about my personal results, I rarely cover many squares as a mini-MME player (three to five lineups, usually) so playing a bunch of Keenan Allen and Austin Hooper really canceled out the Nick Chubb, Austin Ekeler, and Justin Herbert lineups I built this week. In hindsight, the two players who I should have had more of were Kareem Hunt and Mike Williams. I talked about how productive Hunt and Chubb have been as a player block in last week’s Willing to Lose, and their combined DK weekly point totals now look like this: 40.2, 23.1, 35.9, 31.1, and now 52.9! Makes you (me) feel really bad about spending a lot of time thinking about playing David Montgomery, Elijah Mitchell, or Chase Edmonds.
The other mega miss for me was Mike Williams. He has to be crowned your new alpha WR1 in LAC. DraftKings was telling us something this week when they priced Williams above Allen. They were calling this a changing of the guard. By doing this, it all but locked in Williams as the likely lower-owned player, which in hindsight, should have made us realize how much better leverage he would provide in tournaments. Slotting in any player who is in a full-time (+75% of the snaps for WR) role coming off a one-catch game should also be +EV over time. The signs were there, but I ignored them as I felt Allen’s movement around the formation would pay off better.
Two closing thoughts from this game: 1) a 46 to 49 Vegas-implied total range is typically a sweet spot for identifying where the under-owned game environments could be and 2) good offenses will usually prevail over good defenses (a bad offense also beats a bad defense).
Candidates for next week: Vikings at Panthers, Bengals at Lions
Avoiding Chalk Because of Play-Style
If I asked most of you what kind of DFS player you are, I’d be willing to bet most would respond by saying they are a leverage, contrarian, or against-the-field player. And those adjectives would be mostly true. A few years ago, I would have described myself in a DFS sense as contrarian to a fault. I always loved seeing those sub 1% owned plays locked into my lineups and felt like I accomplished something just by identifying those plays. I sometimes led the field in the lowest combined ownership, but I rarely won with that strategy. Fast forward a few years, and I started to realize how to be a smarter contrarian, meaning I embraced chalk here and there to complement my zero-one percent owned players. Then I had more success. This started to prove to me that ownership matters, but balancing chalk and leverage is always the way to go.
I know I’m stating the obvious here, but moving forward to today, I try to make a conscious effort to ignore ownership. It’s unnecessary sometimes. There’s a reason why certain players will be over 30% owned on an NFL slate: they are good plays. The goal in DFS should not be avoiding the chalky good plays. The goal in DFS should be building better rosters with a shot at first place. Week 5 reminded me why I need to continue to try to ignore ownership. When I was building my rosters this week, I wanted a good chunk of Derrick Henry. He had the road narrative along with the Jags defense, it was just too much in his favor. In his price range, there weren’t many alternatives, so where it made sense, I put him in. I think I played one Alvin Kamara share instead of Henry, but even that share was one too many. After the Dalvin Cook news, I did not play any Alexander Mattison. Why? Because I didn’t really sit down to look at my rosters after inactives before kickoff, and because for some reason, I felt oddly comfortable with Elijah Mitchell, Damien Williams, and Chase Edmonds.
We’ve talked over and over again on OWS about the importance of late swap. And yet, I didn’t practice it this week. (Technically, I know Mattison wasn’t a late swap but post 11:30 am EST news counts as a late swap in my book). So really, why didn’t I play Mattison? Because of my play style. I knew he’d be high-owned but I didn’t care. I felt a sense of false confidence that more players would jump off the Mitchells, Williams, and Edmonds out there which would drive down my ownership and increase my leverage! Yes, I know it’s a crazy thought. I craved seeing those low ownership percentages enough that I just ignored the most obvious play on the slate.
I created a blind spot for myself by not playing a good play out of pure laziness and false confidence. If looking closer at my rosters, I would have seen which had the game environments, which could be lower-owned, and then Mattison could have fit right into that roster narrative. I also gave in on my ownership cravings, something I do far too often. Don’t ignore obvious plays just because of your style of play. It’s not sharp to always fade Henry nor is it sharp to play a fourth-string WR at minimum price with a 15% snap share. Find your balance!
Candidates for next week: Lamar Jackson, Tyreek Hill, Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp
Confirmation Bias from Week to Week
Most of us know confirmation bias and what it is. But let me tell you how this affected my play this week. Two weeks ago in Willing to Lose, I highlighted Saquon Barkley and Kenny Golladay as a player block going against the New Orleans Saints. The Giants had a low implied Vegas total but lost two of their top three wide receivers, and with Saquon healthy again, I really liked the volume they could get. That week, Barkley had 29.6 DK points, while Golladay put up 20.6 points in the Giants road win. All of this happened, while Kadarius Toney actually led the Giants in targets with nine. Great confirmation on a great leveraged player block.
As Week 5 approached, I started to spend some time thinking through how the Giants could keep pace with the Cowboys. And where did my mind go? To Barkley and Golladay, of course. I also went as far as to look into Evan Engram because he’s an athletic freak, and the Cowboys against tight ends has been profitable for years. Still ignoring Toney. Then JM and others went deep on Toney around the tail end of the weekend, and I still played Amon St. Brown (another confirmation bias of mine, two weeks in a row, why?). My point in this is nobody is immune from confirmation bias. I think the most dangerous form is after winning a GPP. If you win, there is nothing stopping you from playing the exact same way for the rest of the season. You’ll be dense to a fault, because you saw it work. But even if you are cashing frequently and making great calls, you’re still likely to go back to those wells. Recognize where you got things right, how you could have been more right, and make notes of that. For me, Toney leading the team in targets even while my Saquon and Kenny G shares were doing well should have been a clear sign. I ignored it out of hubris, and we all saw what Toney did on Sunday. Find your lens and keep it clear.