Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

The Scroll Reflection Edition. 9.21.


    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!


    There has been a lot of feedback surrounding this piece, specifically lately, that I wanted to address before we continue. Since I can’t control the movement of the lines or the timing of when lines do move, and since I write this article on Sunday evenings and it gets posted to the site on Monday mornings, we typically already see some of the line movements I call for before anyone gets to read this. With that said, I want to emphasize that this isn’t a “picks” forum. Staying true to the underlying ideologies of OWS, I want readers to view this article as a weekly discussion on hunting for expected value as opposed to strictly being about individual plays. So, as you read this piece going forward, think to yourself “why” I arrived at the plays I did, and how you can replicate that process moving forward. I try and introduce varying analytics, betting practices, and thought processes that combine to create positive expected value situations over the long run each week here. Utilize those ideas, fold them into your own process, and the hope is that you will be better equipped to be a profitable bettor over time.

    The next piece of the expected value puzzle I want to cover is the idea of “hunting for lines.” Similar to how different DFS sites have different scoring, different contest rules, and different payout structures, so too do varying sportsbooks. Why is that the case? Well, sportsbooks generate their own algorithms and set their own lines in an attempt to be unique. It’s a way for them to separate themselves from the field. What good would a new sportsbook be if they simply always had the same lines as the existing sportsbooks? How would they drive new customers to their platform, or how would they retain existing customers? They wouldn’t be able to. So, each individual sportsbook sets its own lines and creates its own algorithms. That is an extremely important aspect of wagering to understand as the customer. Quite often, we see lines, game totals, prop yardages, juice levels, and more that vary from platform to platform. So, if we make a wager on a game spread (or money line, or game total, or prop total, etc) on our “normal book” at -115, and that same game spread is available on another book at -105, we are literally giving away money to the books over time. Enter the idea of “hunting for lines,” which is basically perusing the available sportsbooks in your area for the best odds or lines.

    In order to do that, you must have access to multiple sportsbooks and have accounts created, opened, and verified at multiple places. Better yet, most books offer lucrative sign-up bonuses that are quite literally free money to you. Having multiple accounts also helps you spread action and avoid the dreaded betting limits that come with being a profitable bettor (as a book’s algorithm notices that you are a profitable bettor, they will begin to limit your action – you could go from being able to wager four figures on any line you choose, to being limited to $50 bets in a matter of four to six weeks). So, hunt for the highest EV lines, spread your action, and stop bleeding expected value to the books!

    Finally, 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 9)::

    You’ll notice a trend this week with solid expected value lines available to us early in the week. Away favorites, in games with smaller spreads, and the absence of the hook are solid early-week expected value trends to follow. We know by now that the hook added to lines that reside in the magic spread range increase the book’s edge three times over. We also know that an away favorite in a game with a spread under four points would be closer to a full touchdown were the away team playing at home (in other words, the value of home-field advantage translates to between 2.5-3.0 points on a game spread). Combining those two ideas leads us to a situation where historical trends indicate expected value on early-week lines set within a magic spread range absent of the hook. In addition to the expected value from a pure metrics standpoint, additional expected value can be gained by targeting these games that also carry the highest percentage chance of the line moving in favor of the away favorite as the week progresses. It’s a double-whammy. Instead of regurgitating the same ideas for all three games listed below, I thought it more beneficial to get that out of the way first this week.


    Are the Panthers for real? Are they frauds? The truth likely resides somewhere in the middle (as we’ve discussed over the previous two weeks around the site). The bottom line here is this line is likeliest to move in favor of the Patriots, which would come in the form of the dreaded hook. This movement should be due to the general public coming to the realization that the Patriots defense is one of the best-suited defenses in the league to be able to erase what the Panthers want to do on offense.


    This line oozes recency bias. The Chargers are coming off a loss to the Patriots while the Eagles just notched their second win of the season, in convincing fashion. What should be realized rather expeditiously is the fact that the Chargers are a better team from top to bottom, and the Eagles just beat the winless Lions. Expect the line to move in favor of the Chargers as the week progresses.


    What disrespect the Cardinals continue to get on the road this season. We’ve attacked them relentlessly in this space whenever they are small favorites (and even road underdogs, as they were a few weeks ago against the Browns), and we’ll continue to do so for as long as Vegas misprices their lines early in the week.


    No honorable mentions this week as these three lines are so far and away the top expected value-generating opportunities available to us. Hopefully, this weekly forum is helping tailor your betting process in a way that keeps you profitable over time. Let me know how I’m doing with this piece, what can be done differently (or better), and how you’d like to see it evolve in the future (this is a new piece for this year and I’d like it to provide as much value as it possibly can moving forward). DM me on Twitter, on Discord, or tag me in any thread with any questions you might have, or any suggestions for this piece moving forward, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!

    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, on in order to acquire). 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!

    TOP WAIVERS (Week 9)::


    There are a couple reasons Sharpe headlines this list for Week 9. Firstly, he carries extremely low ownership in both less competitive and high-stakes leagues, alike. Secondly, Calvin Ridley took a leave of absence to address his mental health and state of mind (and rightly so, mad props to him for taking care of himself first and foremost!) and Sharpe stepped into the highest perimeter snap rate on the team in Week 8. Some will say that won’t last but hear me out. After the Falcons Week 6 bye, Sharpe has out-snapped fellow perimeter wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus in two consecutive weeks. Many will point to Russell Gage as the primary beneficiary of Ridley being out, but Gage has seen at most 68% of the offensive snaps in any one game this year and has run almost 70% of his routes from the slot. His 6.7 aDOT, paired with his modest weekly snap rates, means bankable production will continue to be hard to come by. Of the remaining wide receivers on the roster, it’s Sharpe that leads the team in target rate per route run at 13.2%. That’s the most telling stat to me when projecting future fantasy utility. Add Sharpe for free now before the masses catch up (which should be a week or two; correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see anyone talking up Sharpe as an add this week).


    If Collins is still meandering around your wire, correct that post-haste. While true the Texans are a slow-paced, run-first team, they still are forced to throw the ball (Davis Mills has average 37.67 pass attempts per game over the previous three games) primarily due to continual negative game scripts. Yes, Chris Conley is the “starting WR2” and Brandin Cooks commands a significant share of the team’s targets (31.4%), but Conley has been targeted on a laughable 4.7% of his routes run (15.4% for Collins). Collins should continue to avoid top coverage with Cooks on the roster, Collins has already been utilized heavily in the red zone in his short career, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor will be making his return shortly. And I saved the best for last: Collins has out-snapped Conley in all three games he has started and finished this season. This one is too easy.


    Michel joined the Rams prior to the start of the season after Cam Akers was lost for the season, immediately filling the change of pace and backup running back role behind Darrell Henderson. You would think he would carry higher ownership after playing a solid 74% of the offensive snaps in the lone game Henderson missed this season. If he’s floating around your wire, he’s exactly the profile of a running back (on a good offense with a coaching staff that would utilize him as a demi-workhorse, with a soft fantasy playoff schedule) that could win you your league should something happen to Henderson.


    All of the hype (and all of the current ownership) out of the running backs on the Jets currently falls onto electric rookie Michael Carter, and for good reason. After starting the season in a three-way timeshare, Carter and Johnson have emerged as the clear 1A and 1B for the Jets, both highly capable on the ground and through the air. So, what would happen if the Jets lose Carter at some point? Scoop him now and avoid the FAAB rush!


    It has been a pretty steep fall from grace for rookie running back Trey Sermon, who has not seen an offensive snap over the previous two weeks since returning from injury. Hasty has seen a 34% snap rate in each of the last two games following the 49ers Week 6 bye, indicating where the backfield is at in the eyes of the coaching staff. Should Elijah Mitchell miss time, it is highly likely to be Hasty, and not Sermon, that steps into the 1A running back role. He’d widely available in moderately competitive fantasy leagues and is free to any takers!


    This one is the most speculative of the bunch. It caught most (including me) by surprise to see Patterson out-touch (and out-produce) Antonio Gibson this week, which led me down the rabbit hole of trying to figure out why that was the case. Could it be that Gibson’s nagging shin and leg issues are hinting at the team electing to throw him into “shutdown mode” once they are eliminated from the playoff picture (which could come as early as before fantasy playoff season)? I wouldn’t completely rule that scenario out, and Patterson is currently not owned anywhere. If you have the space, he’s a viable add to stash for late-season title pushes.


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

    Maximize Your Builds With OWS + FantasyLabs

    Week 8 Review

    Process Points

    Lesson of the Week: Think Like A Coach

    I am often asked the question, “what is it that makes you good at DFS?” There are a lot of things that go into DFS success, but what I believe is one of the things I am best at is being able to “think like a coach.” What I mean by that is that football is a game played by humans, who are fallible, and decisions made by coaches have a far greater impact on the outcome of games than in almost any other sport. The use of statistics and analytics can be great and very predictive, but understanding the human elements that could alter those projections can have a huge impact on how you evaluate plays and being able to see angles that won’t show up on a spreadsheet. Here are a few examples of “thinking like a coach” from Week 9 and things that wouldn’t naturally show up from looking at box scores but make sense from a coaching and theory perspective:

    • Seahawks passing game: I touched on this in the NFL Edge writeup for the game, but the Seahawks *had* to win that game. While coaches (and especially Pete Carroll) try to have an identity, when they are backed into a corner, ultimately the best thing to do is rely on your best players (see how often they’ve turned Russ loose in the 2nd half of games that he goes out and wins for them after being conservative early). In this spot against an awful Jaguars secondary that was going to load up in anticipation of the run, it made a ton of sense for the Seahawks to rely on their best players — Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf — to carry them rather than their ragtag bunch of running backs against stack boxes. Lockett and Metcalf combined for an insane 18 of Geno Smith’s 20 completions.
    • Kyle Pitts without Calvin Ridley: Obviously, this was going to raise Pitts’ projections as, in theory, he would have a bigger role, but more importantly, his ownership was going to shoot up, and he would get a lot more defensive attention. If it was known early in the week that Ridley may be out, the Falcons likely would have spent a lot of time scheming things specifically for Pitts. On short notice, however, that is extremely hard to do, and it is much easier for the Panthers to give Pitts more attention than it is for the Falcons to scheme him open against more attention. Again, these are things that don’t just naturally show up on a spreadsheet when “projected target shares” get redistributed. Compare that to AJ Brown on the Titans without Julio Jones, who the Titans knew would be out all week, or Chris Godwin on the Bucs when they knew Antonio Brown would be out, Gronk would likely be limited, and Mike Evans would draw Lattimore.
    • Darrell Henderson in a blowout: Henderson had played 80%+ snaps in every game this year where he didn’t leave with an injury. While we knew there was a chance of this game getting out of hand and him sitting for a decent portion of the second half, from a coaching perspective, this was a perfect time for McVay to get Sony Michel some extra work early and save the tread on Henderson — which is exactly what happened as Michel played an entire series in the 2nd quarter and had five first-half touches. Henderson still had a very good game, but it’s just another angle that deserves consideration that won’t show up on a spreadsheet. If we assume the Rams smash and score a lot of first-half points and that’s when Henderson needs to do his damage, losing one of their five first-half offensive possessions is a big ding to him. Michel had three runs for 10 yards and two receptions for 14 yards on that drive — which would have got Henderson to the 100-yard rushing bonus and given him an extra 7.4 DraftKings points.
    • D’Andre Swift without Jamaal Williams: Obviously, Swift projecting for a lions’ share (no pun intended) of the work seems like a smash spot, and I did play a lot of him. However, there’s something to think about in spots like this, as sometimes players thrive in certain roles for a reason. A player like Swift, who is so explosive and dynamic, may actually be more effective when he gets more rest and is fresh on the touches he does get. There can be diminishing returns on players like him where if they get run down. The extra volume doesn’t make up for losing some likelihood of explosive plays. Given the massive impact in ownership he saw when Williams was ruled out, the risk of the offense being hurt and Swift not making big plays was a big deal.
    • Robby Anderson: There is always the case of “missed air yards” and players who have seen a lot of targets but haven’t done much with them. On a spreadsheet, those players are going to project as great regression candidates. From a coaching perspective, however, there is going to be a breaking point when a secondary player on your team is consistently failing to produce with the opportunities you are giving him. I am definitely someone who looks for players who have disappointed and tries to attack them while the field is down on them, but a player like Robby (who isn’t the focal point of the offense) was just as likely, or even more likely, to have that volume cut by his coaches as he is to all of a sudden have a huge game. 

    These are just a few examples of ways we can think outside the spreadsheet and box scores to make decisions and try to gain an edge. It is easy to overthink these things sometimes, but there are usually a few situations each week where things just “make sense” if we think deeply about them that aren’t going to project a certain way. As we approach the midway point in the season and coaches fight for their jobs, teams adjust to injuries, young players show themselves as deserving of more opportunity, and older players show themselves to be nearing the end, there will be a lot of chances for us to “think like a coach” and see the things that “make sense” before they happen.

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

    The “story” I was telling: I loved everything about this lineup except one player….David Johnson. The thought process was that with Mark Ingram out of town and Houston likely to trail, he’d be the preferred pass down back. This is an instance of having no reason to force a bring back (which I always preach), but falling into the trap of something that may “make sense” in some ways but likely limits my ceiling and likelihood of a first-place finish. I would have been much better off moving down from RSJ and BUF D to the really cheap TE and DEF options like Arnold and WAS D — that would have allowed me to move off Johnson to a RB in the low $6k range. I was very happy getting the Rams passing game, which was very likely to lead the slate in TDs, double stacked with sub-10% ownership from each piece. Najee, AJ Brown, and Godwin were three of my favorite plays of the week for their locked-in volume due to their roles and with teammates who would be out, so I wasn’t worried about ownership there, but Najee at sub-5% was a nice bonus.

    Worst Lineup ($300K Red Zone, Single Entry, $50):

    The “story” I was telling: I know winter is coming, but that sure is a lot of snowflakes!! The Burrow/Higgins pairing is something I wanted exposure to in that matchup with the Jets. I wasn’t confident in a Jets bring back, which looks like a mistake in hindsight, but I was very wary of Mike White being able to move the team — kudos to him for a great performance. This lineup looked very different prior to the late inactive news as I moved to Pitts and Swift at that point. The Gibson/Jeudy correlation was a leap of faith on the game environment turning fruitful and a couple of players seemingly better from injury — Jeudy in his first game since Week 1 against the worst (or close to it) secondary in the league, and Gibson, who wasn’t on the Friday injury report at all, so I thought there was a decent chance he returned to a normal workload in a game against a team without its top six linebackers.

    Week 8 Results: This week, I cashed two of my 11 lineups for $450 total. Certainly not my greatest week, but continuing to learn and grow from my mistakes. Excited for Week 9!

    Week 8 Investment: $792

    Week 8 Winnings: $450

    Estimated Yearly Investment:  $14,000 

    Yearly Winnings: $3,180

    Bottom-Up Breakdown

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

    Week 8 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 :: 183 (148 eligible since 35 didn’t use 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 :: Michael Pittman – 44.26% (priced at $5,300)

    Highest Owned Stack :: Carsen Wentz (26.78%) + Pittman (44.26%) = 19.67% Combined

    See All The Entries :: Contest Link


    1st Place: Aothomas42

    2nd Place: Coach242

    3rd Place: Dsc1124


    This week there were a bunch of similarities in the top three lineups. They all played the highest owned stack in the tournament, Wentz + Pittman, which came from the highest total on the week and had a close spread of three. The top three lineups also played Michael Carter in a game in which the Jets were projected to be trailing. The week prior, Carter saw nine targets to go along with 11 rush attempts.  If the Jets were trailing, Carter was likely to be very involved in the passing game, and if the Jets were playing well as they did, Carter was also going to be part of the reason for that.  

    First-place finisher, Aothomas42, really attacked the Colts-Titans game using four players from it. On the Colts side, he rostered Wentz, Michael Pittman, and Zach Pascal.  What set him apart was running it back with AJ Brown which made a ton of sense if you had the salary to do it. He also rostered opposing RBs, Michael Carter and Joe Mixon, which can make sense if one is going to be ahead and get all the rush work, and the other is trailing and getting the pass game work. Aothomas42 was the only one of the top three to hit on both their RB choices.

    Coach242 got close to the very top of the leaderboard by playing the Wentz + Pittman stack and also had a mini-correlation of Khalil Herbert and Deebo Samuel. This was an interesting game to build around with the low total but they rostered the two players likely to get the majority of the work from each team. They had no other correlations, instead finding a path to leave plenty of salary in his flex position, choosing to pay up for Tyler Lockett.

    The third-place finisher, Dsc1124, had a cheap mini-correlation of Van Jefferson/Jordan Atkins from the same game. Although neither of these players went “off,” they still were solid enough to help the lineup push its way towards the top. Their most expensive play, D’Andre Swift, didn’t pay off but their next expensive player did, Chris Godwin. The Jefferson/Atkins correlation was solid enough to let their stack, mini-correlation, and Godwin push them towards the top. 

    Putting It Together

    The BUB field was very sharp this week! Wentz + Pittman, the highest owned stack, was used in several winning lineups across DK including the Milly Maker, the Wildcat, and the Redzone, to name a few. You could easily look at the top three lineups this week and see similarities between the top lineups in the BUB and with what won in other DK GPPs. This was a perfect game environment to build around for the BUB because it had a high total, was projected to be competitive, and offered plenty of value. Starting with a Bottom-Up Build lineup and substituting a few, expensive players that have big ceilings is an easier way to build, and can be an easy way to find yourself at the top of the leaderboards!

    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, and Aothomas42.

    Week 9 :: 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.

    The harsh reality about how much time we spend consuming DFS content each week is that your sharpest thoughts could be your first thoughts of the week. I might get in trouble for saying this, but once you’ve established your own foundations, core concepts, DFS precepts (have to get my own plugin there), and your ability to synthesize data, you may not need to listen to any outside voices. When you feel it, you are comfortable enough to scan a slate, interpret the salaries, injuries, and have a strong sense of how to build a competitive lineup. When this happens, my suggestion is to still spend time with the content writers and producers you know and love, but take their suggestions, thoughts, and feelings, and weigh them with your own. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, but the best way to be different is to be YOU.

    In addition to focusing on thinking for yourself, my other main focus for this week is to preach that even if you are losing, it does not mean you’re way off. This website is called One Week Season because we want to prepare you for YOUR week, whenever that is coming. I have personally had six of eight weeks this season netting a loss. I only play large-field tournaments but I’m down around $2,000 for the season. And that’s with immersing myself more than ever before in NFL DFS, since OWS brought me on to give an opinion on these slates this season. Needless to say, not how I thought these two months would play out! This past week, I actually made money for the second time with more limited play than usual, and this was on a weekend where I was traveling and spent less time consuming content of all eight Sundays so far. Taking the positive approach here, my belief is I profited because I did not have time to overthink. My initial thoughts and first assessments of the slate may have been better than I give it credit for, but as I do each week, my process frequently takes me off these thoughts when I have more time to deliberate. I need to trust my own judgment more, and as do you. You are sharper than you think.

    Build your foundation and repeat your process. People preach practice makes perfect. But in a DFS world, there is no such thing as perfect. I much prefer repetition creates expertise. Read The Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell if you don’t believe me. Expertise is what enables someone to become a trusted advisor. A voice in an industry. Expertise is what any OWS subscriber is working toward, and by Week 9 is really close to achieving. So, as Week 9 is upon us, what did I learn in Week 8?

    Trusting your instincts – Titans and Colts

    When Week 7 turned to Week 8, and I sat down to write last week’s Missed Opportunities on Monday evening, I wrote down the five precepts I’ve been working off like always. And in last week’s edition, as I looked ahead to Week 8, in the Vegas range for me was Titans and Colts. I believe it opened at 48 and ended up closing at 51. When I looked at the setup on my own, I thought here we have two divisional opponents, with concentrated offenses (I thought TY Hilton would have been out along with Julio Jones) and the plays on both sides were obvious: Ryan Tannehill, Carson Wentz, Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry, Michael Pittman, and AJ Brown. I built an early-week lineup based on this thinking and let it sit there on DK most of the week. Then, as the week went on, this game was showing up as very popular. Henry was getting buzz over Alvin Kamara (whom I liked more), Pittman was looking like a top two or three WR in terms of ownership on the slate, and Taylor wasn’t as sneaky as he may have seemed when JM brought him up on Tuesday night’s Inner Circle podcast, along with the Colts defense.

    In my typical style, I saw the field going there more and more, and I zagged to be heavier on the Bucs and Saints. I did keep a variation of this Colts and Titans lineup in there, which ended up finishing around 6,200th in the DK Milly Maker, but my conviction was no longer strong because of where and how often I read about this game during the week. Ownership does matter, but it’s mostly a futile exercise. I talked about this a few weeks back, but fading a guy because he’s going to be 10-15% owned is a waste of mindshare and breath. One of ten lineups with a player shouldn’t factor into your lineup decisions. If a player is over 25% (one in four), then in my opinion that’s a strong threshold to fade in tournaments (option A), or you can simply be confident you will find a one or two percent-owned sharp play elsewhere (option B). My point here is simple: you always have options. Don’t anchor on your biases (i.e. I always fade the popular pick, recognize why they are popular), and be willing to adjust your approach each week. My second, stronger point here is to keep those early-week notes somewhere. I know I’m not the first to point this out, but recognize where your head was at on Monday and Tuesday and trust your intuition. This is especially true if you’ve had success in the past, and have many years of DFS experience on your side. Chances are, your mind is able to process a slate way faster than you think. And you might not need five industry voices to contradict your thinking.

    Michael Carter / Elijah Mitchell

    I loved Kamara last week, along with Najee Harris, Taylor, and Joe Mixon. I wasn’t finding many ways to get lineups with two of these guys in there, but as the week went on, I saw Hilow’s sharp take on the double pay-up strategy in the End Around and on the Saturday night pod, and I just freaking loved it. Sometimes the “jam them in” style has made so much sense and it’s honestly a strategy few deploy anymore with pricing usually tight. However, in hindsight, which is how I write these articles, I had a blind spot ignoring the value plays at RB like Carter and Mitchell.

    When I talked a few minutes ago about the early week expensive Titans/Colts roster I built, my running backs were Mixon and Mitchell. I thought Mitchell looked explosive on SNF last week, and with the Bears name-brand defense, along with a low Vegas total, knew he would go overlooked. I just did not love his pass game role, because who could? And in true fashion, Mitchell posted his third 100+ yard rushing game with under 20 carries. A target is worth more than a carry of course, but the 100-yard bonus on DK is still worth three receptions. He becomes an exercise in looking back on box scores (yes, simple as that) and seeing his potential to get us to a ceiling game, where he’s now done it three separate times.

    Mike Carter is another story. If you were anywhere on OWS last week, you should have read Papy’s NFL Edge writeup about Carter, and/or seen JM’s inclusion of Carter on the Player Grid and in the Bottom-up Build. The Jets were giving him about 70% of the snaps at RB, and the Bengals allowed the most targets and receptions to running backs on the season, and the Jets were expected to play from behind most of the game. All of those points made Carter incredibly underpriced. He was also coming off a game where his new QB, Mike White, hit him with nine targets in just about three-quarters of action. Nine targets. I should have recognized that, and we all should have been driving his ownership higher once Tevin Coleman was again a healthy scratch.

    Defense is a high variance position

    I am usually out here preaching to pay up at defense in large-field tournaments. And while the Rams did not return value (their price over $5K was outrageous this past week), I also learned a new lesson at defense: don’t overlook just how bad some matchups and offenses can be. One of the staples of why we pay up at defense is for this very reason. I almost played the Rams this week because the Texans offense is just non-existent with Davis Mills at QB. Similarly, when the Jets put up a few stinkers against the Patriots, they were very obvious and strong plays for this reason.

    But this week, we saw the Eagles and Seahawks among the top finishers on tournament-winning rosters as they matched up with the Lions and Jaguars. These weren’t as obvious on-paper plays because of how terrible these defenses have been, but I should have recognized how strong these angles were with their respective low ownership and the field’s tendency to rally around the cheapest possible defenses (this week that was the Washington Football Team). 

    I remind myself here to never say never, and understand possibilities because for how often we can have a Jacksonville 30-point game against a historically bad Seahawks secondary, we can also have the opposite scenario play out more times than not. Take your conviction plays, and ask yourself how they can go wrong? Poke holes in them, as JM and team have preached this season, and play out those scenarios before landing on the play you feel has the better chance of going overlooked and under-owned. 

    Above The Field

    A Song of Fire and Icicles 

    A variety of things can happen amidst our quest to build first place lineups. On the one hand, we have lineups that, in hindsight, look like they were created by a complete noob (I’ll provide an example from one such dipshit later). On the other end of the spectrum, we have that glorious roster where the planets aligned and all of the little fire emoji congregated into one special place. 

    Such is the case for this beauty from this Week’s Millionaire Maker winner, PiReZ. 

    The obvious 3-stack of the week with zero additional correlation. “But you have to have a secondary stack, or you’re just playing the lottery!”- No, you really don’t. You just need to click on the highest-scoring players. If using a secondary stack helps you narrow your decisions from six to five, that’s great. But in a big tournament, if that little stack gets outscored by two other players whose salaries add up to a similar total, you’re beat. I still believe in correlating tournament lineups whenever it possibly makes sense, but one must be careful not to sacrifice too many projected points just to make your lineups look pretty. Pat Freiermuth was just 4.5% owned, probably in part because of the lack of correlating options on the Cleveland side. It’s odd to say that a $3600 tight end can be a “pay up to be contrarian” option, but with Dan Arnold as the chalk at $2800, here we are. 

    With 114.7% cumulative ownership, this one falls nicely into our sweet spot of 75% to 125%. Nothing micro-owned here but Freiermuth and Michael Carter were nice low-cost, low-ownership pieces. 

    Looking deeper, PiRez had ten lineups in the coveted 1%. Even if he didn’t bink this one, he still would have managed a profit of $1970. 

    Two of the more analyzed roster construction tournament debates are:

    • 3-Stacks vs 4-Stacks
    • To bring-back or not to bring-back

    My standard answer is that it’s possible to “get there” in a number of ways. This week, PiReZ made it all work with 29 4-stacks and 121 3-stacks, and he ran it back with an opponent on exactly 100% of his lineups. 

    PiRez’s cumulative ownership had a wide range of 48.5% all the way to 160.4%. If he is using an optimizer exclusively, he certainly didn’t install a rule that limited ownership at 125% like many do. I usually hand-build about 50 lineups and then put 100 into the opto, so some of my lineups will end up over that threshold. This happens most often when I build a lineup early in the week based on my own research prior to any ownership projections. I end up on the chalk because the obvious early-week data generally points to players that have performed well recently and are in plus matchups this week. 

    PiReZ used a tight quarterback pool, utilizing just five signal-callers, and was 4x over the field on his winning QB, Carson Wentz. 

    As mentioned in this space previously, running back pools have grown in the last couple of years as more committees and specialists take the place of the bell cow backs of yesteryear. PiReZ didn’t get lucky with Carter and Eli Mitchell in the same lineup, as he was overweight on each. I’m always interested in how DFS players handle the RB chalk. In this case PiReZ pretty much just matched the field on Darrell Henderson and D’Andre Swift, while managing a near-fade on James Robinson. 

    No real surprises at the wide receiver position. Normally the 19.33% usage of a 2% player like Quez Watkins would jump off the page, but I found myself rostering a similar percentage, mostly due to the barren wasteland of options in the $4000 range. Also, Quez was in a great matchup, and he has the profile of a high-upside player that could erupt at any moment. It didn’t work out this week, but I liked the process a lot. Quez was mentioned in JM’s Player Grid as well. 

    PiReZ had no apprehension rostering the chalk. Sometimes those high-owned plays are simply the best ones. Rostering them is +EV provided you have a focus on cumulative ownership in your roster’s construction. 

    Tight end was pretty gross this week. Those who didn’t eat the Arnold chalk probably had trouble competing. Given the fact that PiReZ had 39 Jalen Hurts rosters, I’m surprised at the lack of tight ends from this game. Only 4.46% of Dallas Goedert and not a single T.J. Hockenson lineup to be found. He chose instead to bring back his Jalen Hurts stacks with Swift 31 times and Amon-Ra St. Brown in the other eight. 

    Like many of the sharp tournament players, PiRez wasn’t fazed by the ownership defenses. Just spin the roulette wheel on the cheaper options and hope for the best. 

    A big congrats to PiReZ on his stellar play and well-earned good fortune. I’ll be checking in on his (or her/their) lineups on a weekly basis.  

    A Beautiful Sonic Blizzard

    We often spend our time studying the best of our rosters. We dissect them and reverse engineer each one to see how we landed on such a perfect collection of the puzzle pieces in play. I haven’t framed my Milly winner yet but still think about it nearly every day. I think there is also something to be learned by clicking that scoring column an extra time and taking a peek at the absolute worst lineup you’ve ever created. It’s humbling, and it’s also a good exercise. I try to ask myself if my process was bad or perhaps I just got unlucky. There are also times where I wonder if someone slipped some edibles into a recent meal because…damn. 

    This one is a bit of each. 


    Your standard 4-stack with the sub-optimal double tight end. I rarely use double TE but had to play the Hunter Henry revenge narrative since he’s probably so mad that New England handed him a massive contract after spending half of his Chargers tenure on the injured list. *Rolls eyes. 

    Nice correlation employed with the Jaguars stellar defense along with James Robinson. This was going to work out great as long as Jacksonville took an early lead and forced Geno Smith into a bunch of mistakes. 

    Notice the sharp secondary stack with Terry McLaurin and Courtland Sutton. Low-owned with proven upside. I mean, why would I want to save $1800 and go with the Michael Pittman/A.J. Brown stack? Too easy. Plus, that would have forced me off David Johnson. While touts across the industry are busy deleting their David Johnson “feels gross but has sneaky upside with Ingram gone” posts, I’m showing you a lineup where I actually rostered him. That’s the kind of genuine accountability you can expect here at OWS. Love this roster!

    I left $200 on the table because I was pretty sure I had the nuts. 

    Say what you will about this roster but if we play this slate out 100 times, it will eclipse the 49.22 mark at least four times.

    DraftKings should institute a promotion that rewards the lineup that has the most icicle emoji. They could partner with the York Peppermint Patty people. 

    I can relate. When I go a weekend without a tourney sweat, I do feel like I’ve been left for dead atop some remote snowy mountain, and I’d most definitely chew your leg off for another shot at first place. 

    It’s only Week 9, folks. May your Mr. Freezes morph into Heat Misers.


    Underowned UD

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

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

    What is Battle Royale?

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

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

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

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

    Reviewing Underdog’s Battle Royale: Week 8

    Here we take a look at the five highest-scoring lineups from Week 7, how they were constructed, what we can learn from them, and the most important concepts to keep in mind when drafting a team.

    135.26AllenTaylorPittmanAJ BrownDeeboHockenson
    134.76AllenNajeeEkelerAJ BrownGodwinHockenson
    Brief Summary of Five Highest Scoring Lineups:
    • 5/5 with TJ Hockenson // 4/5 with Chris Godwin, Michael Pittman // 3/5 with Josh Allen
    • QBs: Allen (x3), Matthew Stafford, Tom Brady
    • RBs: Jonathan Taylor (x2), Najee Harris (x2), Austin Ekeler (x2), Darrell Henderson (x2), Joe Mixon
    • WRs: Godwin (x4), Pittman (x4), AJ Brown (x2), Deebo Samuel
    • TEs: Hockenson (x5)
    • RB-RB-WR-WR (x4), RB-WR-WR-WR
    Information to Note:

    Once again, we see essentially just one stack in the lineup surrounded by some of the highest scoring players. Brady-Godwin was the only QB paired with a WR/TE, while Allen was successful naked due to his rushing prowess, Diggs failing, and Beasley putting up a much lower score in this format. Even more unnaturally for this format, a QB-RB stack (Stafford-Hendy) and RB-WR stack (Taylor-Pittman) made three appearances in the top 5. I say unnaturally because generally, it has required the highest scores possible to win here, and teammates can often cannibalize each other’s ceilings in half-PPR with no bonuses. However, going all-in on that game environment and the two best players from that team worked out here on a lower-scoring week, and a Henderson-Kupp pairing also produced a strong score. It should be noted though that this was the lowest-scoring top-5 of the season thus far, meaning the fewest points (& TDs) were required to win of any week yet.

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

    • QB: 4 // 2 // 4 // 4 // 3 // 2 // 4 // 3
    • RB: 5 // 5 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 2 // 2 // 2
    • WR: 4 // 5 // 5 // 5 // 4 // 5 // 5 // 4
    • TE: 3 // 2 // 4 // 3 // 3 // 3 // 2 // 5
    • Three times there have been the same two WRs on all five top-5 rosters
    • Of the five times there has been the same WR on all five top-5 rosters, two of them have included another WR on four of the top-5 rosters
    • RB continues to be the spot with the most differentiation, while there have always been 1-2 WRs you need to win every week

    As JM spoke to on his Battle Royale segment in W8 Angles, you need to hunt for the low-owned players that can vault you to first place. This week that player was Michael Pittman, someone outside the top-12 projected WRs, thus frequently going overlooked, and yet he ended up on 80% of the top-5 teams. This is happening almost every week, with guys like Jamarr Chase vs BAL, Mike Evans vs CHI, Ceedee Lamb vs NE, Mike Williams vs CLE, Tyler Lockett vs TEN, Mixon vs MIN.

    Travis Kelce’s appearances in the top-5 by week: 2 // 2 // 0 // 0 // 1 // 1 // 1 // –

    • While Kelce is still the most uniquely advantageous player for this format due to his unrivaled ceiling at the weakest position, it has yet to come to fruition this season as other TEs are either matching him or out-producing him every week, while one of the other “1st-rounders” is putting up a have-to-have-it score each week (usually Kupp/Davante/Hill)
    • With Kelce, Mark Andrews, & Darren Waller all off W8 slate, Hockenson & Kyle Pitts had increased value at the TE position as the only two with legitimately high & bankable ceilings. Pitts and the 3rd-highest projected Noah Fant both failed, leaving Hockenson as the clear top of the drafted TEs. Hock’s injury uncertainty throughout the week actually frequently left him available until the last round, and the only TE to approach his score was unowned (Pat Freiermuth).

    Two RBs have been drafted on 27 of 40 top-5 lineups, and 7 of the 13 three WR lineups came in Weeks 6 & 7. WRs carry a higher ceiling and we should expect three WRs to be drafted on the highest-scoring teams as the field gets sharper, but with the Half-PPR and no bonuses combined with a relatively softer field, the bankable production of the two RB strategy has been more successful overall through eight weeks. The majority of the most successful rosters in the first half of the season have rostered two of the highest projected RBs, one of the highest projected WRs, and one of the WRs outside of the top projected guys.

    Just seven of the top 40 teams over the first seven weeks have failed to combine for at least 10 TDs (9, 9, 9, 8, 8, 7, 7). 23 of 40 teams have scored 11+ TDs. 13 of 40 teams have scored 13+ TDs. In Half-PPR with no bonuses, TD equity is an extremely valuable commodity.

    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. Here I will take a look at a construction I liked, and my best scoring roster. 


    Cooper Kupp, the 2nd highest projected non-QB on the slate behind Henry, was taken with his first pick. Kupp had made 20/25 previous top-5 rosters when he was on the main slate and had an extremely soft matchup with a massive floor. Kupp has probably the highest TD expectation of any non-Davante WR in the NFL, and he didn’t slip this week in the way he did last week due to fear of a blowout. Kupp rosters are also likely to leverage the success of popular Henderson teams. Brown is taken next, with a matchup vs a defense getting crushed by WRs and in the highest total game on the slate without Julio Jones beside him. Brown has shown a high ceiling on even fewer targets than he was expected to get this week, making him one of the best plays on the slate. Joe Mixon is taken next as a high-projected RB in a good RB matchup as a large favorite and with one of his backups missing the game. For his first correlation, Pittman is taken as the opposing WR to Brown in the highest total game on the slate. The success of each other’s opposing offense pushes the volume expectation for both of these WRs, and both teams had easier paths to points through the air than on the ground. Stafford is then paired with Kupp, betting on the success of Kupp going hand-in-hand with his quarterback, and further leveraging the Henderson rosters. Mike Gesicki is his TE choice with his last pick, and with it being the second-last pick of the draft, Pitts & Hockenson were sure to be already gone by that point. Gesicki has been one of the most productive TEs this year and was expected to carry high volume in a spot MIA was likely to trail vs BUF. This roster ended with two strong stacks in Stafford-Kupp & Brown-Pittman, a large-favorite RB with pass game work, and one of the best fantasy TEs in football. Ultimately the point differential between either Stafford & Allen or Gesicki & Hockenson was the difference between 15th place & 3rd place.


    With my first pick, I took Diggs at #5 as the 2nd highest projected WR in a plus matchup and without a “breakout” game yet this year. With Allen frequently going early on a slate missing so many elite QBs and a much higher projection than the rest, I grabbed him at #8 to stack with Diggs. This was a bet on the success of Diggs & Allen going hand-in-hand, while also getting access to any BUF passing pts (& Allen rushing pts) that didn’t go through Diggs. Allen-Diggs was the highest projected stack on the slate. At #17, I took AJ Brown with a matchup vs a defense getting crushed by WRs and in the highest total game on the slate (also without Julio Jones). Brown has shown a high ceiling on even fewer targets than he was expected to get this week, making him one of the best plays on the slate. I took Mixon at #20 as a high-projected RB in a good RB matchup as a large favorite and with one of his backups missing the game. Mixon’s success also leverages a 100% owned Jamarr Chase. At #29, I made sure to grab one of the top two TEs on the slate by a wide margin in TJ Hockenson, and in a much better matchup than the guy above him (Kyle Pitts). Hockenson’s success also likely leverages a 100% owned Deandre Swift, a frequent 1st-rounder. For my last pick at #32, I was actually targeting Pittman to correlate with AJ Brown, but I was surprised he was selected before my pick and I had prioritized Hockenson first. I managed to land Austin Ekeler in the last round at a time he was slipping due to late-week injury concerns. Ekeler was in the best spot of any Charger and has shown one of the highest ceilings at the RB position this year. This roster finished 24th, just 9 points behind 1st place, and getting Pittman as I intended over Ekeler would’ve pushed it to 8th. Ultimately Diggs, my first pick, was the only one who held this roster back (and no one ahead of me had him), but I also may not have taken Allen, the top-scoring QB, without him. This is why it’s important to review the story of your roster, as it’s not as simple as just swapping in one player for another, even if it looks that way on the surface.

    Thoughts on Week 8

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

    Based on UD’s projections, these are the players most likely to be drafted in the first round (meaning majority of the time you will only end up with one of them): Ekeler, Alvin Kamara, Tyreek Hill, Aaron Jones, Stefon Diggs, Travis Kelce, Deebo Samuel, Josh Allen.

    In the one draft I completed on Tuesday night, Kelce slipped into the middle 2nd round after being a top-3 lock almost all season before Week 8’s MNF game. Waller, Andrews, Pitts, Gesicki, & Dallas Goedert are the most likely other 5 TEs to be taken in every draft, though Waller is questionable. TE is not the spot you need to go way off the board at, as the TEs below are all worse projected for good reason, and none carry ceilings like the guys just listed. If you do want to go off the board here, Dalton Schultz (with Dak Prescott), Zach Ertz, Albert O, & Foster Moreau (no Waller) would likely be the only other guys I’d personally even consider. With Kelce, Waller, & Andrews all back on the main slate, & Pitts in a perceived tough matchup vs NOR, it’s likely that Kelce & Waller are the only TEs that are frequently drafted before the last round.

    NOTE: George Kittle may also return this week, currently projected for 0 and going undrafted.

    RBs that get goal-line work, have high touch expectations, are used in the passing game, and are facing defenses allowing tons of RB production: Ekeler, Kamara, Aaron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley

    RBs that lack just one of the above criteria: Dalvin Cook (matchup), Nick Chubb (pass work), Mixon (matchup), Cordarelle Patterson (matchup), Josh Jacobs (pass work), Eli Mitchell (pass work), Myles Gaskin (touch expectations), Darrel Williams (touch expectations), James Robinson (matchup+health)

    WRs outside the top-12 projected who could conceivably end up on top-scoring rosters: Brandin Cooks (Tyrod Taylor boosts), Courtland Sutton (though most likely sees Trevon Diggs), Jaylen Waddle & Devante Parker (one of these two, or Gaskin/Gesicki is likely to put up strong score vs HOU, MIA implied for 26+), Jerry Jeudy (two 20+ pt scores in 2020, DAL scoring should boost DEN pass volume, easier matchup than Sutton), Kadarius Toney (likely the only one of the top-3 NYG WRs to play, though tough matchup).

    Unfortunately, there really aren’t any leverage angles involving a higher projected/owned player on the respective teams of the aforementioned WRs, so the only leverage for them is tied to ownership.

    Brady, Stafford, & Aaron Rodgers are the only big QB names missing, but all of Allen, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott, & Justin Herbert are on the slate. Low-owned QBs who at least have a somewhat reasonable chance at a top score, and have a stackable pass-catcher: Joe Burrow-Chase vs CLE (Mixon leverage?) // Derek Carr-Waller vs NYG, (Jacobs leverage?) // Tua Tagovailoa-Parker/Waddle/Gesicki // Cousins-Justin Jefferson/Adam Thielen (Cook leverage) // Tyrod-Cooks // Jones-Toney

    • Keep in mind, just because these guys all CAN approach a top score doesn’t necessarily make all of these good bets just due to low ownership. Without any bonuses, guys like Cousins & Carr really need outlier scores to compete with the ceilings of all the top projected guys (who all have huge rushing upside)
    • QBs who’ve fairly recently shown the capability of big scores without a good stacking partner: Allen, Lamar, Kyler, Hurts, Taysom Hill

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

    Deconstructing The Slant

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