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    Week 12 Player Grid

    Week 12 Player Grid!

    (by JMToWin)
    OWS Fam ::
    This is not a complete list of all the good plays on the slate.

    This is, instead, a look at the player pool I’ll be fishing.

    Bottom-Up Build

    :: covered in-depth in the Angles Pod (it’s highly recommended that you listen to the breakdown of the roster in order to see the thinking behind it, and in order to understand what we’re talking about when we look at a “bottom-up build”; also, it is highly recommended that you join in our “Bottom-Up Build Challenge” on Twitter // DraftKings! — first prize is an Everything NFL bundle!)

    Blue Chips

    :: these are my “Tier 1” plays: the plays I feel confident leaning into across different types of builds; players who have a high ceiling and a low likelihood of price-considered failure


    :: these are games, offenses, situations, or scenarios I’ll be looking to build around across my rosters


    :: these are players who don’t fit into the categories above — either Upside pieces who don’t have the floor to be Blue Chips (and are not being focused on within my game-focused builds) or players who may not have a strong shot at ceiling, but are worth keeping in mind from a “role” perspective; essentially, these are the leftover “Tier 2 // Tier 3” guys from the old Player Grid verbiage; ones who don’t otherwise fit into the Bottom-up Build or a “build-around” spot

    Run To Daylight!

    Run To Daylight (hosted by TodFromPA || presented by OWS!) will be live at 8 PM Eastern.

    Hilow will be on.

    Lex will be on.

    Let’s have some fun!

    (Note: the podcast runs live, but it will be archived shortly after it finishes.)

    And with that, let’s get to the Player Grid!

    Week 12 Notes ::

    << Week 12 Angles >>

    Download MP3 For Offline Listening

    For all you single-entry // three-entry-max players (which is most of you), I wanted to consolidate something I’ve talked about over the last couple weeks (but which you may not have seen if you only hit other spots on the site sporadically before landing on the Player Grid) ::

    Last week, I decided to shift from mini-multi-entry to single-entry for the remainder of the season, in search of a new challenge. My goal (albeit without giving myself much time to hit it) is to land a double-win in the single-entry Game Changer (each Week, DK posts two of these for the Main Slate). I actually hit first place in the one Game Changer they posted for Thanksgiving, but I think I’ll consider that to be “goal not yet accomplished” and stick to this approach the rest of the year. (It’s been fun the last couple slates to get back to my single-entry roots!) This will also, hopefully, ensure that we’re keeping this Player Grid as tight as possible(!).

    As for you multi-entry players :: not a whole lot changes below; but in the places where I might not be branching out quite as far, I’m still layering in my thoughts on how I would attack things if mini-multi-entering.

    With that :: let’s go!

    Saturday Update ::

    As noted in the Angles Pod, Internet at my in-laws has thrown my week for a loop; and now that the hotel room I grabbed for five nights for OWS work is no longer available to me, I’ll be attempting to update the Player Grid from my phone. Thankfully, we’re on a pretty good track so far, with minimal updates necessary!!! Also, thankfully, Xandamere texted today with a few cash game questions that I mistook for tourney questions, which allowed me to answer with everything I would have put in this update. To simplify the update, here’s a look at that conversation ::

    Bottom-Up Build

    Full breakdown (of what this is, and what the thinking is behind these players) can (and should) be found in the Angles Pod

    Correlated Bottom-Up Build
    DK Salary Remaining :: $12.4k

    Matt Ryan
    Brian Hill
    Kareem Hunt
    Olamide Zaccheaus* (assuming no Julio)
    Laviska Shenault
    Andy Isabella
    Jordan Reed
    Jakobi Meyers
    Cleveland Browns

    Blue Chips

    Dalvin Cook

    He has recent touch counts of 32 // 34 // 24 // 32. The Vikings don’t really have a shot at the playoffs, but you can be absolutely certain that’s not the message they’re preaching inside that building, which gives them no reason to change what they’re doing. Carolina ranks 22nd in DVOA against the run and has allowed the fifth most rushing touchdowns in the league. Dalvin is a “don’t worry about salary multipliers” piece on a week like this (where there are not many clear spots on the slate for guaranteed points). He’s a rock-solid piece to build around this week.

    “Light Blue” Chips
    Justin Jefferson (+)

    In the Vikings’ last four games, here’s what Jefferson and Thielen’s combined target counts have looked like (highest target count to lowest) ::

    17 (Chicago stonewalling Dalvin)
    16 (Dallas scoring 31)
    9 (Dalvin rocking DET)
    8 (Dalvin rocking GB)

    Those are not typos. There have been two games in the Vikings’ last four in which Jefferson and Thielen have combined for under 10 targets. Jefferson has required nine or more targets in all three of the games this season in which he posted the sort of score you would be looking for from him this week (which isn’t to say he can’t hit on lower target volume, but you’d sure like the targets to be there), and Jefferson is likelier to see double-digit looks if the Panthers are putting up points. As such, I prefer to play Jefferson on rosters that also play a piece (or two) from the Panthers.

    From the Panthers’ wideouts (using DK scoring), you’d optimally like 22 to 28 points; but on this week (when big scores will be tough to come by), even 17.3 points would be satisfactory.

    That’s not an arbitrary number. I chose that number because the Panthers have played 11 games this year…and in 10 of those games, at least one Panthers pass catcher has scored 17.3 or more.

    In four of those games, two Panthers pass catchers have scored 17.3 or more.

    D.J. Moore has five games of 17.3 or more, and four of those five games have come alongside a strong game from one of the other Panthers pass catchers (two with Curtis Samuel // two with Robby Anderson).

    Honestly, this is pure guesswork. There’s nothing predictive we can point to in the matchups that show us which wideouts on the Panthers are likeliest to hit here (and there’s not even any guarantee that Samuel and Robby can’t buck season-to-date trends and be the pair that hits together). But if multi-entering, I would mix and match these Panthers pieces on Jefferson rosters (including some builds with two pieces).

    Because of the concentrated nature of this offense, “two Panthers hitting” doesn’t necessarily mean Teddy Bridgewater is hitting…but the Vikings have allowed the second most passing touchdowns in the league, which also keeps Bridgewater on the edges of my list.

    Finally, the Vikings’ offense is concentrated enough that Dalvin and Jefferson can easily hit together. Using DK scoring, they need about 60 combined points at their salary, which is very doable. In fact, if you throw in Kyle Rudolph, you need about 70 to 75 points. They can do that. I might not pull the trigger on this in ultra-large-field tourneys (the Slant, the Milly Maker, etc.), but in smaller-field and/or single-entry tourneys, a Bridgewater // 2 pass catchers // Dalvin // Jefferson // Rudolph roster will be entirely unique…and could literally put you at about 140 to 150 points if everything goes the way you’re hoping, while still leaving you with as much as $13.9k in salary (DK) for RB // FLEX // DST(!). If we played out this slate a hundred times, this six-player combo probably hits 140+ 12 to 15 times…and on those times when it hits, your path to first place is clear. “One thing right” gets you six things right. A 12% to 15% chance at having a clear shot at first place is a whole lot higher than your chances of guessing nine different spots right on a single roster.

    Brian Hill

    As noted in the Angles Pod this week, Gurley has scored one touchdown every 21.2 touches (nine touchdowns on the year)…and yet, he is averaging only 0.74 DraftKings points per touch. Hill, meanwhile, has only one touchdown so far on 60 touches…and yet, he is averaging 0.97 DraftKings points per touch. This team has been far more willing than in the past to give one back a full workload (in fact :: Gurley’s touches in games with Dan Quinn as head coach were 16 // 21 // 15 // 17 // 18 || Gurley’s touches in games since Quinn was fired have been 23 // 25 // 18 // 21 // 9 (injured)), and if Hill sees 18+ touches at his higher efficiency, he’ll A) have a very tough time “failing” at his price (especially in this matchup), and B) have a high likelihood of producing a score that will be difficult to win without at his price. Technically, Hill is a Blue Chip play, but backups filling in for starters always bring some small level of risk, thus bumping him down here. You should also keep in mind that a huge percentage of tourney builds this week will have Dalvin + Hill; so while this is an ultra-sharp way to start a roster, rosters that start this way should aim to do something different in other spots. (For example :: Bills // Chargers stacks with Dalvin + Hill will likely be the most common build. The other stacks listed in this Player Grid could provide a path around those clustered rosters.)


    New England + Arizona

    There are only three pieces from this game that I like for my roster(s) this week (if you want to know more, you can find the NFL Edge game writeup here), but those pieces work really well together:

    Andy Isabella // Cam Newton // Jakobi Meyers.

    As explored in the Angles Pod, here are DeAndre Hopkins’ seven career stat lines vs Bill Belichick’s Patriots (beginning with the most recent; playoffs included) ::


    The Patriots will try to force the Cardinals to win without Hopkins. Larry Fitzgerald is out, opening five to six additional targets. And Andy Isabella (who typically sees a couple targets per game already) should be on the field for most of this one. Whatever the opposite of an “Andy Isabella Truther” is, that’s what I am. But five to seven targets is massively likely, and it won’t be at all surprising if he climbs into the 8/9-target range. Kingsbury will scheme some short and deep looks for him; and as our old pal Levitan would say, he’s “stone minimum” on DK (and $200 over the minimum on FD).

    If Isabella has a tourney-winning game, that almost certainly means the Patriots are having to pass more often; and if the Patriots are having to pass more often, Jakobi (who saw a 40% target share in four consecutive games(!) before disappearing vs Bradley Roby last week and burning DFS players enough that they won’t want to play him this week) will likely jump back up to a heavy target share again. I prefer Isabella and Jakobi together, rather than Isabella or Jakobi solo; and adding Cam creates a really nice, high-upside, low-owned stack that doesn’t cost much in total salary and allows you to build in plenty of additional upside elsewhere. The fact that this one “feels” as risky as it does is a reminder that most people won’t want to play it.

    Swapping in Kirk for Isabella also works; though if going here myself, I prefer to take the guy who costs almost nothing and should be on the field just as often as the other guy.

    Chargers at Bills

    There are plenty of reasons to love this game. Stacks can be anchored on either side (Herbert or Allen), and can be built with any of the following pieces :: Keenan Allen // Mike Williams // Hunter Henry // Stefon Diggs // Cole Beasley // Gabriel Davis.

    Though…since this appears destined to become the most popular game on the slate (and since we’ve already used the NFL Edge to explore the reasons to like this game), I’ll also throw this out there:

    1. In the three games John Brown missed this year, the Bills scored 16 // 17 // 18. Two of those came against bottom-eight DVOA pass defenses in the Titans (25th) and Jets (32nd).
    2. The Bills target wide receivers at the highest rate in the league. The Chargers allow the lowest wide receiver target rate (and the eighth lowest wide receiver success rate) in the league. Only the Patriots have faced fewer wide receiver targets.
    3. Justin Herbert has posted 30+ DK points in two games :: 30.7 vs the 32nd-ranked (DVOA) pass defense of the Jets, and 41.5 vs the 30th-ranked (DVOA) pass defense of the Jags. He has only disappointed once (and I’m leaning toward him as my preferred quarterback in this game), but the Bills rank 14th in DVOA vs the pass (and have been improving as the season has moved along), which lowers the chances of him posting a “had to have it” score at his elevated price.

    In all, I have a hard time seeing this game “disappointing.” And I think that those who build around this game will get top-seven (maybe even top-five) QB scores, with rock-solid WR pairings. But I also believe there’s a higher-than-the-field-will-assume chance that the winning tourney rosters come from a different game. Given that this game will be the most popular, and given that my thoughts are leaning as laid out above, I may end up avoiding this one myself. (I honestly don’t yet know. I’m down to Herbert // Allen // Mahomes // Matty // Cam // Teddy for my single-entry build; and if I were mini-multi-entry this week, I might end up with pieces of all those guys.) But I wanted to lay out those thoughts as well.

    Of course, I’ll also note that I said something similar about the first Seattle // Arizona game, and was obviously wrong in the one-game sample size that played out that week. We’re talking percentages here, and the percentage chance of this game being the top DFS game are lower than the field realizes. But that doesn’t mean the field is “wrong,” as this is definitely one of the strongest spots on the slate. Just…again: not quite as locked-in-strong as the field will assume.

    Weigh those thoughts against your own, and do with them what you will.

    Falcons + Raiders

    As is typically the case with these Build-Around spots, you’re best served reading NFL Edge game writeup; but we should see points scored in this one; and there are plenty of ways to work to secure some of these points.

    Brian Hill is my favorite one-off play from this game.

    As you can find in that game writeup, my favorite stack from this game is Matt Ryan + a Falcons pass catcher + Nelson Agholor.

    As explored in the Angles Pod, Matt Ryan + Olamide + Hill can also viably get you there this week.


    As laid out in the writeup for this game :: since the start of Week 6, the Chiefs have passed the ball on early downs with the score within seven points at the fifth highest rate in the league, while the Bucs (who are allowing 2.97 yards per running back carry) are facing the highest opponent pass play rate on early downs with the score within seven points. Mahomes has six games already this year of 42+ pass attempts, and this shapes up as another such game. Honestly, you should read the writeup for this game. (Go ahead! It’s painless; and it won’t take you long!) But with the highest Vegas-implied team total on the slate, and with ownership likely to move elsewhere, there is plenty to like about this spot. Mahomes // Kelce // Hill // Watkins are all in the mix for me. Given the price tags (with Watkins the only cheap guy of the bunch, and with Watkins’ big games always coming in games in which Hill gets slowed down), I prefer to play only one of these pass catchers on a given roster. But all are very much in play.

    There is no natural bring-back on the Bucs, given their spread-out nature and the less secure certainty their offense as a whole carries; but if you wanted to go crazy, you could try to guess on a Tampa piece on the other side as well.

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    Running Backs ::
    Kareem Hunt

    As noted in the Angles Pod :: I didn’t like Hunt while writing up this game, as I was not yet at a point in my process where I was digging into pricing. But Hunt is cheap on FanDuel, and his price was dropped aggressively by DraftKings this week. In six games with Chubb, Hunt has three contests with 12 or fewer opportunities; but he has another three games with 19+ opportunities (with one coming in a pass-heavy game in a blowout loss, and with the other two coming in run-heavy Cleveland wins). The Browns have given Chubb opportunity totals on the year of 11 (blowout loss; pass-heavy game script) // 23 // 20 // 6 (injury; Hunt saw only 11 opportunities himself in this one) // 20 // 20. Chubb will get the first crack at 20 touches; but in a game the Browns should easily control (Jacksonville ranks 30th in time of possession, and they don’t set up all that well in this one), Cleveland could easily run the ball close to 40 times. In games Chubb has played, he has five touchdowns and Hunt has six. Chubb has four targets on the season and Hunt has 30. If you think the Browns control this game, you’re pointing toward a scenario in which Hunt is underpriced for the expected workload and upside. He’s a really interesting piece this week on a slate that doesn’t give us a whole lot to work with at the running back position. (Hunt also pairs well with the Cleveland defense, as a game with the Cleveland defense doing well is likely a game in which Hunt is doing well. Hunt also pairs well with your Jacksonville wideout of choice, as a game in which Hunt and the Cleveland defense are doing well is a game in which the Jags are left passing the ball plenty. With D.J. Chark and Chris Conley both out, Keelan Cole and Laviska Shenault will be the alphas. I explored this in-depth in the Angles Pod, but it appears likely that Cole will draw higher ownership, while Laviska carries a higher floor and a similar ceiling. With that, I’m planning to create some differentiation with Laviska. As a bonus: a tourney-winning score from Laviska likely hurts both Cole and Robinson, both of whom I expect to be relatively popular.)

    Austin Ekeler

    If Ekeler returns, he almost certainly returns to 20+ touches with a big role in the pass game. And given the way the DFS public handles players coming back from injury, he’ll almost certainly go lower-owned than he would go if we all knew for sure he was going to be handling 20+ touches. The Chargers will have to make a decision by 4 PM Eastern (Saturday) on whether or not to activate him off I.R. in time for this game. If he’s out there, he’s a relatively exciting play, given what we have to work with on this slate (and given the likely differentiation and the Upside Potential he provides).

    (James Robinson)

    Robinson has recent touch counts of 26 // 25 // 25 // 19, and he played 70.7% of the snaps last week with Chris Thompson out. If ownership projections by Saturday night // Sunday morning have him low-owned, he’s very interesting. If they have him high-owned, I’ll likely pass myself (though keep in mind that I’m rolling single-entry the rest of the way this year), as it’s easy to see him piling up touches, but it’s tougher to see him pushing for slate-winning ceiling with multiple touchdowns in this Glennon-led offense.

    (Jonathan Taylor)

    Taylor saw 22 carries and four targets last week. That could disappear this week, as the Colts have been hot-hand + opponent-specific + mystically cryptic in how they’ve handled RB duties from one week to the next. But because of the way the Colts have been with RBs, no one is going to want to play Taylor. If he sees 25+ opportunities again, he could absolutely turn into one of the more important plays on the slate.

    Tight Ends ::
    Darren Waller

    As noted in the NFL Edge writeup for this game, the Falcons have allowed the highest success rate on passes to tight ends, with a stunning, check-for-typo 83.8% completion rate on passes to tight ends, and with the second most yards and the most touchdowns allowed to the position. Waller’s average target comes only 6.4 yards downfield(!), which means he needs massive volume, busted plays, or multiple touchdowns to pay off his big price tag (and given how popular he’s likely to be, there are clear strategy cases to be made for moving away from him in tourneys); but taking away salary and strategy considerations and speaking only of raw production, Travis Kelce is the only tight end with a high likelihood of outscoring him, and Kelce comes with more risk in his matchup vs the Bucs. Waller is very much in the mix this week.

    Jordan Reed

    I like to condense things in the Player Grid where I can, but the full explanation is necessary on this one. Here’s what I said in the DFS+ Interpretation writeup for this game in regards to Reed ::

    The other guy from this game I want to mention is Jordan Reed. “But what about his spotty playing time? But what about his injury risk? But what about Nick Mullens?” Exactly. No one wants to play Reed. People are going to pay up for Waller and his likely 15 to 18 points (obviously, Waller can pop off; but if he ends up with 20% ownership, there are clear cases to move away from him given his high price tag and his aDOT of 6.4(!)), or they are going to pay up for Kelce and hope he can break a tough matchup for another elite game. If paying down, low-ceiling guys like Kyle Rudolph (with no Irv Smith, and possibly no Thielen) will draw the eye, leaving Reed practically un-owned. Speaking of “spending too much time calculating things” :: Nick Mullens has 445 career pass attempts, and 119 have gone to tight ends. That’s good for a 26.7% tight end target rate.

    To put that in perspective: the NFL defense that has faced the highest opponent tight end target rate this season has seen 25% of opponent targets go to tight ends.

    That defense? Yeah. It’s the Rams.

    To clean that up: Reed has played only two fully healthy games this year (he was ramping up his activity in two others, and he got hurt in another), and he has run a pass route on 61.6% of available drop-backs in that two game stretch. This only gives him a range of around five to seven targets; but Mullens loves his tight ends (leaning heavily on Kittle when Kittle has played, and leaning on Reed/Dwelley when Kittle has missed), and the Rams face the highest tight end target rate in the league, while ranking 21st (bad for them // good for tight ends) in success rate allowed to the position. Does the research “point to Reed”? No. But from a strategy perspective, he provides a different build than nearly half the field will have (“pay up at tight end”), and he provides a different pay-down option than your competition will have. If he duds, you can make up those points elsewhere (we’re all pretty used to overcoming tight end duds in 2020). If he hits for 10 to 15 DK points (especially if Waller ends up around 15 to 18 and Kelce ends up around 18 to 22), he can be an actual difference-maker for your roster.

    (Finally, as noted in the Angles Pod, he has scored 12.0 and 11.3 (DK) before touchdowns in those two “healthy games.” In the first of those games, he added two scores to get up to 24.0.)

    DST ::

    The Saints rank eighth in pressure rate and fifth in interceptions per drive. Denver has thrown the most interceptions per drive in the league.


    The Giants rank a solid 12th in pressure rate and 13th in turnovers forced per drive, while the Bengals turned the ball over at the 13th highest rate before losing Burrow. Only the Eagles have allowed more sacks than the Bengals this year, and in three games started last season, Brandon Allen took nine sacks and threw two picks with only three touchdowns, while completing under 50% of his passes.


    The Browns are missing Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward, and are down to three healthy defensive ends. But the Jags will be starting a statue at QB in Mike Glennon, and they’ll be without DJ Chark and Chris Conley. It’s very possible for Cleveland to wreck Jacksonville in this one.


    The Broncos quietly rank ninth in DVOA (eighth against the pass) and sixth in drive success rate, while pressuring quarterbacks at the third highest rate in the league and picking up sacks at the seventh highest rate. They do rank a lowly 28th in turnovers forced per drive, and the Saints’ run-heavy, ball-out-quick attack will limit opportunities for turnovers; but Taysom Hill took three sacks last week and has attempted only 41 career passes. Denver is a viable lower-cost option.

    If Building For Single-Entry // Three-Entry Max

    This is my narrowest pool, which means it’s the pool likeliest to change a bit as I move deeper into builds. If it changes throughout Saturday night, I’ll add an update in this space.

    If I were building for single-entry // three-entry Max, my tightened-up player pool would be:

    QB ::

    Mahomes || Allen || Herbert || Cam || (possibly Matty or Teddy)

    RB ::

    Dalvin || Hunt || Brian Hill || Ekeler* || (Jonathan Taylor if you’re feeling ballsy and/or need some major differentiation for your path toward first place)

    WR ::

    Jefferson (this is assuming no Thielen, of course; if no Thielen, Jefferson should be played if you’re not playing Dalvin; Jefferson can also be played with Dalvin) || Laviska (should have a Vikings piece opposite) || Isabella + Jakobi (would optimally be played together) || Keenan (can substitute Mike Williams; can add Gabriel Davis opposite; obviously, if you’re seeing things differently, Diggs or Beasley could go here) || Olamide (if no Julio; can add Agholor opposite) || Tyreek or Watkins (but not both together)

    TE ::

    Waller || Henry || Reed || (Rudolph)

    DST ::

    Saints || Giants || Browns || (Broncos)

    A Wrap ::

    Remember to check out the Run To Daylight Pod to hang out with Tod, Hilow, and Lex from 8 PM to 10 PM Eastern.

    And remember to check back on the Player Grid on Sunday morning. (Probably eight or nine weeks out of the season, we add late-Saturday-night/early-Sunday-morning notes to the top!)

    I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend!


    End Around :: Week 1

    Hilow’s End Around: Game Theory Training for DFS Play

    Mark “Hilow” Garcia


    Macro Slate View 

    We touched on the principles of Game Theory, and how to leverage those principles, in the Game Theory course released last week. If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly urge you to give the first five lessons (FREE!) a read, as this weekly article will leverage those thoughts and ideas. 

    We know from the course the idea of “common knowledge.” One of the first things I’ll do each week after finishing my research on the individual matchups on a slate is to look for angles that the majority of players will not consider, or the things that fall outside of “common knowledge.” More so than any other week or any other year (due to COVID, no OTAs/rookie camp, condensed camp, and no preseason), Week 1 2020 is going to be full of busted coverage, sloppy play, and teams working to find their identity. I guarantee not many DFS players are going to even think of this, let alone leverage it to their advantage. We also know that NFL personnel have one of the highest turnover rates from team-to-team and year-to-year of any major sports league. For these reasons, core plays should come from teams with little to no coaching turnover and minimal personnel changes, but we’re going to have a very tangible edge by rostering players that have one, or both, of: higher expected aDOT and higher expected YAC potential, specifically for wide receivers and tight ends.

    Good Chalk vs. Bad Chalk 

    CMC ::

    CMC will always carry ownership, and it’s never bad chalk. The problem with Week 1 is we don’t know a few things about this Panthers team: we don’t know what their pace will look like (although it’s likelier than not to remain high with Joe Brady calling plays); we don’t know exactly what Joe Brady’s NFL offense will look like (although it’s likelier than not to be designed to attack multiple levels of the field); and we don’t know how involved CMC will be in the passing game in other-than-negative game scripts (although it’s likelier than not for him to consistently see 5-7 targets as his likeliest range of outcomes). Put it all together and he’s likely overpriced by a good $1000 in salary for the unknowns for Week 1. (Neither good chalk or bad chalk; simply a factor when determining our “chalk build.”)

    George Kittle ::

    Many people will look to the injuries to the Niners’ pass-catchers and justify paying $7,200 for Kittle vs. a team consistently ranked near the bottom of the league in points allowed to the TE position. The problem is we can never truly bank on more than Kittle’s standard range of outcomes when projecting targets per game, which is likely to reside in the 6-8 target range most games. That’s a hefty price to pay for sub double-digit looks, even in a perceived failsafe matchup. (Borderline bad chalk when factoring in volume-driven chances at a slate-breaking game and the value available elsewhere at the position.)

    Zach Ertz ::

    PHI write-up covered below in “Leverage Spots.” (Good chalk with possible leverage angles covered below.)

    Antonio Gibson ::

    Here is your “RB thrust into perceived volume” chalk. The hype surrounding AG in season-long drafts has gone a little overboard, in that the masses are assuming the rookie converted WR will start seeing bell-cow usage out of the gate following the release of Adrian Peterson. He’s as dynamic as they come, but I have doubts as to his early season role when factoring in everything COVID has forced rookies to overcome this year. I’d peg his likeliest range of outcomes for touches in the 10-12 range for the first 3-4 weeks. He obviously carries upside on those touches, but it isn’t enough for me to plug him into lineups expecting 4x value on his low $4,000 price. He will need to find paint for him to sniff that value, on a team likely to utilize Peyton Barber as the goal line back, and with JD McKissic involved on third downs/hurry-up offense in the early going. Fine cash play; poor GPP play with the lack of ceiling associated with minimal expected touches. (Bad chalk for GPP, both SE/3-max and MME alike.)

    Terry McLaurin ::

    What we know: 1) Rivera/Turner will look to get the ball into the hands of their playmakers as much as possible 2) F1 will see a good bit of recent PHI addition lockdown corner Darius Slay 3) WAS defense has a better-than-perception chance of creating a “tributary game script” in this game (a game script that falls outside of likeliest scenario, or where PHI controls the tempo and direction of the game) 4) F1’s hype in season-long contests is off the charts. Putting it all together, I expect F1’s ownership to far exceed his likeliest range of outcomes in both expected targets and final box score numbers. (Borderline bad chalk with leverage opportunities.)

    Josh Jacobs ::

    The perception amongst season-long drafters is that JJ will see increased pass game usage (Gruden has said this since the middle of last season). The problem is coaching actions do not match their words. Not only did Jacobs not see extended pass game usage in 2019 following Gruden hyping that he would, the Raiders spent $7 million over two seasons re-signing Jalen Richard this offseason, in addition to bringing in Devontae Booker and Theo Riddick seemingly to compete for depth for that third down/pass-catching back role. Finally, after cutting Riddick, they brought in TB-cut Dare Ogunbowale for a workout. Actions are not matching words here. The problem for us for Week 1 (or good news?) is that it likely won’t matter what Jacobs’ pass game involvement is playing the Panthers. We can confidently project a floor of 18-22 touches for Jacobs regardless of game script. Without those valuable targets, realize his floor is lower than we’d like for a player priced at $6,800, but the chances of him disappointing on a floor of 18-22 touches against the Panthers are slim, and his ceiling remains intact. (Neither good chalk nor bad chalk; simply a factor when determining our “chalk build.”

    DJ Chark ::

    Again, off-season hype drives the majority of our expected ownership projections for Week 1, with no preseason and limited camp news. Keeping likeliest scenario for this game in mind, we should expect one of the Jags’ pass-catchers to see a spike in production this week, and outside of Chark, the snap rates of the secondary pass-catchers is not yet known, leaving Chark as the best bet to see a bump in targets and production. Breaking this down further, we shouldn’t be surprised to see 2.5 quarters of underperformance from this offense as a whole, capturing ceiling in garbage time. This makes us even less sure of any real floor for members of this offense, and the secondary pass-catchers become more GPP-viable. Of those secondary players, Chris Conley carries the highest raw ceiling, both from an expected snap rate perspective (played on 82% of offensive snaps in 2019, which actually led the team for wide receivers over the course of the full season; I’d expect Laviska and Dede to share playing time in the slot to start the year) as well as talent vs. opportunity perspective. (Borderline bad chalk for expected range of outcomes vs. expected ownership; Conley a viable leverage pivot for GPPs at only $4,000 in salary (another YAC/R gem).)

    Jamison Crowder ::

    With a bottom three defense and likely negative game script, paired with the injuries to the Jets’ pass-catchers, expect ownership to flow to the player who has received the most offseason hype. His floor is locked in for Week 1, but we have to question his price-considered ceiling in a tough matchup, likely needing heavy volume to reach the DraftKings receiving bonus and/or multiple touchdowns to capture a GPP-winning ceiling. (Solid cash game play, doubtful GPP ceiling. Bad chalk for GPP with a possible leverage to be covered later.)

    Chalk Build ::

    We should expect heavy ownership on the three RBs covered in the previous section as well as the two TEs, with likeliest chalk build being two of CMC/Jacobs/Gibson paired with either Kittle, Ertz or Waller at TE. Furthermore, expect a good percentage of the field to play all of CMC/Jacobs/Gibson plus one of those three TEs. There will also be a good portion of the field that plays CMC/Jacobs/McLaurin as opposed to Gibson, paired with one of the three TEs. There are a few ways to leverage these scenarios, which we’ll cover in the next section. 

    Leverage Spots ::

    With no preseason, and limited exposure available to camps, the field will have a harder time identifying solid leverage spots (again, areas outside of “common knowledge”). With the idea of “strategic reasoning” in mind, paired with the goal of our single entry and three-max builds (building a roster that effectively contains the same floor as if we had paid up at every position, while not sacrificing ceiling), we’ll introduce the idea of “leverage.” Leverage spots are ways to introduce unique roster constructions that will seem, to the untrained eye, as hyper-contrarian. The kicker is that we’re not sacrificing floor or ceiling when looking at the roster as a whole, instead choosing our spots where we can differentiate ourselves from the field, as opposed to utilizing pure ownership numbers. Typically, these spots are found by identifying highly concentrated passing offenses and utilizing players with lower expected ownership in our builds. These ideas were developed by breaking down DFS into the different areas of Game Theory that the game itself falls under: Non-Cooperative Game Theory, Asymmetric Game Theory, and Non-Zero-Sum Game Theory (for further explanation of these terms and ideas, a look into Game Theory psychology, and how to utilize these principles in DFS roster construction, grab my full Game Theory course in the Marketplace for only $29!).

    Now to the good stuff: where can these plays be found for week one?

    NYJ ::

    For the Jets, we have a team with a bottom three (if not THE worst) on-paper defense in the league and a concentrated passing offense for Week 1 (Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman missed majority of camp due to injury, with Mims being a rookie lacking NFL reps and Perriman new to the team and lacking Gase reps; Chris Hogan signed three weeks ago, and Ryan Griffin was limited in camp while recovering from offseason ankle surgery, leaving Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder and Chris Herndon as the only viable pass-catchers to receive meaningful camp reps with starting quarterback Sam Darnold). Because of the tough matchup against the Bills, there likely isn’t going to be large ownership numbers on any of these options, but the ownership that does come from the Jets is likely to be concentrated on Jamison Crowder, who has received the most hype on this offense this offseason. Were this an easier matchup, we could feasibly stack this offense, but since it’s a difficult one, the smart leverage play is to roster a sole member of the pass-catching corps not named Jamison Crowder, also tabling the possibility of rostering Darnold. 

    PHI ::

    Similar story for the Eagles as we had with the Jets, but the matchup is much better on paper. Looking at the Eagles’ offense, we have injuries primarily thinning out the herd for us. Alshon Jeffery was activated off the PUP the day of this writing, Miles Sanders has missed over half of camp, JJ Arcega-Whiteside has not transitioned well to the NFL game, and the rest of the receiving corps (outside of the guys we’ll cover next) consists of Greg Ward Jr., Quez Watkins and Jalen Reagor (who is expected to miss the first 3-4 weeks of the season). To this point, I’ve left out three players: Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson and Zach Ertz. Dallas Goedert suffered a hairline fracture to his thumb, and is likely to be wearing a protective brace on his hand and wrist. Furthermore, the Eagles have had two massive injuries to their offensive line, going so far as to work out Cordy Glenn this past week (showing you the state of emergency for that OL unit as a whole, as Cordy Glenn is #NotGood), and Goedert is 10x the blocker that Ertz is. Examining the matchup with Washington, we find a defensive line unit that PFF has ranked number four overall this year. With all this in mind, we should expect the Eagles to play primarily 12-personnel sets (1 RB, 2 TE), and Goedert to play primarily in-line for Week 1, as he is a better blocker than Ertz and has an injury that could limit his pass-catching ability and effectiveness. So that leaves us with Ertz and Jackson as viable options. With the masses having caught up to the fact that Ertz is a “possession TE,” deriving the vast majority of his value from volume, paired with the injuries to that offense and the public perception that goes with it, we can be certain the ownership numbers from the Eagles will be heavily weighted towards Ertz. The one thing holding volume down for PHI pass-catchers is the possibility of them jumping out to a big lead, which is muted by a couple things: 1) The fact that WAS should remain aggressive the entire game with a change of coaching (remember, Rivera’s Panthers led the league in pace of play last year) 2) If the Eagles do jump out to an early lead, it’s likely that damage has been done by either Ertz or DJax.

    Both Chris Herndon and DeSean Jackson stick out as high leverage plays, but that is where majority of our competition will end their analysis. By playing BOTH Jackson and Herndon on the same roster, for a combined $8,200 in salary, or only 16.4% of our salary available, we capture a tangible floor plus ceiling combination (stemming from the concentration of targets expected for each respective offense) for minimal salary. Bringing us back to the idea of playing high aDOT/YAC potential players in week one, Chris Herndon ranked 12th amongst TEs in 2018 (last healthy season) in YAC/R (yards after catch per reception) and Desean Jackson has consistently ranked in the top five wide receivers over the past five season in average depth of target, averaging an aDOT (average depth of target) over 16.0 over that same time (which is absolutely absurd)!

    WAS ::

    With the PHI write-up in mind, and the fact that Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson are sure to see heavy ownership when considering price and season-long hype, I’d prefer to get my exposure to this side of the game with the bare minimum WAS D as opposed to one of their pass-catchers. In my opinion, the “likeliest tributaries” paint a picture of either: 1) Washington asserting themselves on both sides of the ball to start the game (Ron Rivera establishing his tempo on both offense and defense), forcing PHI into volume passing and giving WAS the ability to execute their likeliest scenario game plan (one where they’ll look to control the ball and clock, setting up downfield looks) or 2) this game turns into a messy slug-fest, where neither team is able to assert themselves on offense. The perception is that of PHI controlling the game, but the ownership on WAS pass-catchers will likely be higher than the tangible chances of that happening. This gives us a nice leverage spot by either fading the WAS side of the ball, or taking a discount on the WAS D (remember, they boast PFF’s 4th-rated defensive line and PHI has issues up front).

    Dalvin Cook ::

    With so much ownership expected on both CMC and Jacobs, I feel Dalvin may go somewhat overlooked for Week 1. With how poor the Packers were at stopping the run game off the edges last year, coupled with the 18-22 rush and 3-5 target floor (with ceiling for more!) of Dalvin and the fact that the Packers did little to address their inside-out run-stopping game, we should be able to capture a higher floor and ceiling than Josh Jacobs at a fraction of the ownership.

    Emmanuel Sanders ::

    There is a ton to like from both sides of the TB/NO game, but Sanders is the likeliest to see very little ownership. We spoke in the first section about the opportunity for increased broken plays, blown coverage, and communication errors for Week 1; Sanders is one of the best in-space WRs in the league.

    Chris Conley ::

    Covered above in the DJ Chark write-up.

    In Summary ::

    We’re talking a lot this week on the site about the sort of score you’ll need in Week 1 to take down a tourney. In addition to keeping this in mind, be sure to also keep in mind the things we know, the things we don’t, and the ways we can use this to our advantage. This can help you move off the beaten path, with differentiated (and better!) roster compared to what the field is putting together.

    If you’re wanting to further sharpen your game theory thinking, be sure to check out the first five lessons (FREE!!!) of the Game Theory course.

    And if you have any questions, reach out to me on Twitter @HilowFF!

    Don’t Miss Out

    Get your access now before the season begins

    Willing To Lose

    By Larejo123 >>

    Get to know Larejo here (26-minute pod with JM and Larejo, from 2019: exploring his approach that took him to sixth in the Milly Maker with only three rosters)

    Follow Larejo’s (killer) OWS Collective here (Chase Claypool week? :: check! // Chiefs vs Jets? :: check!).

    Week 12 :: Thanksgiving

    Mitchell Trubisky. Cole Beasley. Jason Witten. Anthony Miller. 

    What do all of these NFL players have in common?

    They were all on the optimal lineup for the Thanksgiving slate last season.

    Was Trubisky a “good play”? Probably not; not with Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Josh Allen, and Dak Prescott all available. (Talk about significant opportunity cost.)

    How about Jason Witten? We all know what the ceiling looks like for a soon-to-be retired aging TE, as it’s touchdown or bust.

    That was 2019, however, and this is 2020. 

    The point in bringing up those names is that if you were only playing a handful of lineups in last year’s Thanksgiving slate, you either never considered or you likely pivoted off these players before kickoff. You may have had these optimal plays in your early lineup builds, but you moved off them because you realized, rightfully so, the percentages were very low that any of these guys (let alone ALL of them) would hit ceiling games on the slate. But if you did hold, you accepted that inherent risk, and on this one slate you reaped the rewards. 

    As we all progress through the phases of a DFS player (from playing your favorite plays, to the chalky ones, to the leveraged ones, and so on), we realize that sometimes you just lose because of variance and randomness. This is such a critical factor to understand on the road to DFS success. The only way to minimize the impact of these random outcomes is to accept them. And to Accept That Random Events Will Occur has the potential to change your entire lineup building strategy. Once you build these long tails into your thought process, I would argue it’s at that point when you are truly creating lineups that can compete for first place.

    It’s also important to note that when we factor in tributaries, and low-percentage outcomes into our projections, we will lose more often than we win. However, sticking with and refining our process over time will hopefully lead to less-frequent, but very large paydays. Because as much as first place can result from detailed and thorough analysis, high correlation, perfect stacking, an understanding of decision theory, and a ton of good luck…it can also require your individual willingness to lose. (Note from JM :: this is what we mean when we say “embrace some uncertainty.” Or as Larejo even more aptly puts it: be willing to lose!)

    Week 12 – Thanksgiving Slate

    What I love about the Thanksgiving matchups this week is that the GPP lineups almost build themselves. Two of these three matchups just took place within the past month, which should lead the field to form significant assumptions that past results will dictate future outcomes. 

    Marvin Jones Jr.* (dependent on the status of Golladay…and probably not in the way you think)

    This play is all about taking advantage of diverting eyes. Marvin Jones has mostly underwhelmed in Kenny Golladay’s absence the last three games, going 3-43-1, 8-96-1, and 4-51-0. Two TDs is great, but only one of three box scores truly mattered. And if Golladay can make it back this week, he’s going to steal most of Jones’ ownership. 

    Before the 2020 season, sharp minds in the DFS industry (look no further than OWS) were writing about how eerily similar the profiles of Jones and Golladay were with a healthy Matthew Stafford under center. I’ll re-direct you to those season-prep pieces if you want to go deeper, but over a somewhat significant sample size these two have very close aDOTs, target share, and per game production; however, they always carry a different reputation and price point.

    For this week, they are also very close in price on DraftKings at $6,000 for Kenny and $5,500 for Marvin. Most will shy away from the Lions offense after their performance last week against Carolina, but for those looking to play a member of the Lions, it will be simple and painless to pay up for the better player in Golladay. However, if you’ll let me, let’s go back in a time machine to last week. 

    Jakobi Meyers. Remember him? (Should I call him chalk-flop Jakobi Meyers?) He soaked up ownership north of 20% in the largest field GPPs last week, at $4,900 going against the weak pass defense (28th in Pass DVOA) of the Houston Texans. And then, Bradley Roby happened. And because of that, we could argue Damiere Byrd happened.

    Let’s play the same angle here this week. It’s possible Roby will shadow Golladay if he returns, leaving the 115th ranked CB Vernon Hargreaves to deal with Jones. I know snap counts aren’t everything (but hey, you can’t score fantasy points from the sidelines), but Jones has actually out-snapped Golladay in every single game this season (Marvin averages roughly 90% per/gm). Jones can and will win this matchup if it presents itself. 

    Cam Sims

    Cam Sims: or as he’s more commonly known, the Washington Football Team WR2. Sims became a full-time starter in Week 7, partly due to injuries, and since then here are his snap rates:

    88% // 74% // 94% // 84%

    While Terry McLaurin is the undisputed alpha WR in Washington, here are WR1/WR2 stat-lines on the season for the Football Team (WR1 all McLaurin, WR2 a combination of Sims, Dontrelle Inman, and Steven Sims Jr.):

    • Week 1 vs. PHI: 5-61-0 // 3-50-0
    • Week 2 at ARI: 7-125-1 // 3-53-0
    • Week 3 at CLE: 4-83-0 // 3-38-2
    • Week 4 vs. BAL: 10-118-0 // 4-29-0
    • Week 5 vs. LAR: 3-26-0 // 1-(-2)-0
    • Week 6 at NYG: 7-74-0 // 5-45-0
    • Week 7 vs. DAL: 7-90-1 // 1-22-0 (Cam)
    • Week 9 vs. NYG: 7-115-1 // 3-110-0 (Cam)
    • Week 10 at DET: 7-95-0 // 4-54-0 (Cam)
    • Week 11 vs. CIN: 5-84-0 // 2-20-0 (Cam)

    McLaurin has had some strong games, but in some cases, so has the Washington WR2. In two of ten games (Week 3 (DK 18.8 pts) and Week 9 (DK 17 pts)), those scores could be on a tournament-winning roster.

    Speaking of Dontrelle Inman (who was responsible for one of those two significant games), he’s back at practice this week. This creates an even more intriguing dynamic. I’d venture a guess some will do their research and realize the price on Cam Sims is tremendous for an every down WR. Then, they’ll click his name and see that Inman is returning and shy away from playing Sims in case he loses his starting gig. But if Inman returns in a reserve role (Washington has been winning games lately), then we have ourselves an every down WR, at an industry minimum price, who will scare away even those who are actively looking to play him.  

    McLaurin will most likely be the highest owned WR on this slate. For those of you brave enough to fade him, why not double-up your leverage with Cam Sims at $3,300? If variance swings his way, you’ll be passing McLaurin lineups while also moving up with the few who play Sims.

    Lamar Jackson

    Let me tell you about one of life’s greatest mysteries (in an NFL context, of course). In Week 8 when the Ravens and Steelers met, the Ravens rushed for a season-high 265 yards(!), and they lost. Now, you may think it’s contradictory to discuss Jackson here as a possible random outlier, as he is the second-highest priced QB and sure to draw some ownership. And my rebuttal would be: 1) his ownership will be lower than it should be, and 2) his ceiling is higher than the field believes.

    With Gus Edwards due to command a massive amount of ownership, I think Lamar’s will decrease slightly. Exposure to QB/RB on the same team, with an RB who rarely catches a pass, doesn’t make for a high correlation. Deshaun Watson has the best matchup and highest ceiling of any QB on this slate, but Lamar shouldn’t be far behind. I think it’s fair to say both Watson (2 on the season) and Jackson (3) have similar odds of scoring a rushing TD this week. It’s also fair to say Jackson’s upside for rushing yardage is higher. Jackson has 575 yards to Watson’s 269. Now, Watson has a much higher likelihood of throwing for 300 yards, which should not be discounted; but if Pittsburgh forces the Ravens to abandon the run and start throwing deep downfield, those passing yardage totals could climb quickly. 

    My main concern here is with Greg Roman, who, in all his stubbornness, clearly doesn’t like to adapt his game plan or style as the season progresses. We have an option here: bet on more of the same and “bad Jackson” showing up again vs. Pittsburgh, or look at Lamar’s raw upside, higher expected opportunity without two starting RBs, add in the Thursday game factor, where defensive miscommunications can be more common, and bet on the best player on the field in a backyard-style tributary. 

    Marquise Brown

    Ah, the enigma of Mr. Hollywood himself in 2020. His box score production through 10 weeks should be considered NSFW. Talk to any football fan about Brown these days and you’ll get a similar answer: “Man, what happened to him?” And here I come, telling you to play him on this slate.

    First things first. If you believe in Jackson this week, you should believe in Hollywood. His offensive snap counts (targets) the last four weeks: 94% (2 against Pitt), 86% (5), 94% (7), and 72% (3). There is concern here, especially with Dez Bryant now in the picture playing over 50% of the snaps last week. But let’s be honest, if Bryant is going to cut into anyone’s playing time it will be Myles Boykin or Willie Snead. We should not worry about Brown losing his role.

    Coming into Week 11, Brown ranked 9th in the NFL in WR Air Yards. And where does he rank in terms of actual receiving yards, you ask? How about 60th! He has some catching up to do! (Something just tells me that his longest catch of the season won’t be 47 yards!) Additionally (as if the Air Yards weren’t indicative enough) Marquise’s Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR :: a weighted combination of the share of team targets a player receives and the share of team air yards) ranks 15th in the NFL, tied with Calvin Ridley, and one spot higher than A.J. Brown.

    Brown had one catch for 3 yards last time out vs. Pittsburgh // Joe Haden. He had ZERO catches on 3 targets last week vs. Tennessee. He is at his lowest DraftKings price of the season. He is the perfect GPP play this week. Regression is coming.

    James Conner

    We’ll have to look at ownership projections prior to Thursday, but the COVID-19 news with the Ravens backfield has a direct impact with the leverage Conner can provide you on Thursday. As noted, Gus Edwards will be mega-chalk, and for good reason (you should play him!), but with the salary savings that come with a min-priced RB, Ezekiel Elliott (the most expensive RB) should also see a spike in his ownership as many lineups can now fit him in.

    Conner is not only interesting because of his projected lower ownership, but he’s also a strong regression candidate for different reasons than Brown. Did you know that of the Steelers last 10 offensive touchdowns, only one of them came via the ground? That was last week, with Benny Snell skipping in for a score. Aside from Conner specifically, it feels very likely the Steelers will score a rushing TD this week. So why not Conner? He has handled 88% (15 touches) and 69% (16 touches) of the Steelers’ snaps the last two weeks, both in blowout wins. He’s also Pittsburgh’s undisputed leader in Green Zone touches (shoutout Ian Douglas!). Leverage? Check. Regression? Check. Floor? Check. Ceiling as highest scoring RB on the slate? Check.

    Willing to Lose?


    Remember, you are playing for first place. Your roster can be both logical and illogical. You can take on risk and accept that in most weeks playing a QB against the top ranked passing defense makes no sense. Or you can play an angle, envision a low-likelihood outcome, and sit atop the leaderboards this Thursday night!

    Draft Page Example


    — from JM —

    Throughout my years in the DFS industry, I have noticed that oftentimes the only thing that separates a “tout” from a regular DFS player is that the “tout” has a platform. In fact (taking that a step further), I have noticed that “regular DFS players” often put in more time, effort, and sharp work in uncovering unique angles on a slate. And I started thinking: What if there were a way to get this research out there?

    Halfway through the 2018 season, I left a note to myself to look into this in the offseason. The thought was simple:

    We already have Game Notes on the site, where users can store their own thoughts and research. But…what if we took Game Notes up a notch and allowed users to publish their thoughts and research to the community, with an upvote system in place so that the sharpest, most valuable thoughts, research, and information would always be pushed to the top?

    At first, I didn’t know if this was even possible. But the more we thought about this, the more we realized we should make this a priority — and now, it’s NFL season…and OWS Collective is a reality!


    With OWS Collective, you can:
    • Save your Game Notes privately, OR publish your research to the bottom of games in the NFL Edge
    • Collect upvotes for your research, and provide upvotes to push your favorite content to the top
    • View all of your favorite contributor’s research for that week by clicking on their profile, and follow your favorite contributors so you can access them from your profile page
    • View a user’s upvote totals, and track the leading researchers on our OWS Collective :: Leaderboard


    Perhaps the coolest aspect of this feature is that we have so many subscribers who would be an invaluable member of the DFS research community if given a platform; and there are always sites on the lookout for fresh faces capable of providing high-quality research and information to readers. OWS Collective is a tremendous opportunity for such subscribers to get a foot in the door in this industry, and to begin building their brand!

    Oh! — and as such…

    Here are eight tips to help you maximize your upvotes/exposure through OWS Collective

    Prop test