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The Scroll Week 1

JUMP TO

    THE SCROLL


    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)


    Meet The Team


    < NOTE >

    The Scroll typically goes live Friday/Saturday, but the Week 1 Scroll will populate with content throughout the week. If you want to be pinged when new content is live, you can turn on notifications for the “New Content” Discord channel.

    Angles

    Angles hits inboxes on Thursday mornings throughout the regular season; you can also find Angles in The Scroll Thursday afternoons

    In This Week’s Angles

    • It’s Good To Be Back
    • Everything Free
    • Price Bump
    • The Lay Of The Land (Week 1!)

    It’s Good To Be Back!

    That’s all.

    I can’t tell you how excited I am to hang out all season.

    Everything Free

    If you’re an OWS Free member, be sure to take advantage of free projections, free DraftKings/FanDuel ownership projections, free access to everything in The Scroll, and free access to the Angles Podcast and Inner Circle pods (all of which can be found throughout the week on the One Week Season podcast feed). As always, everything is free Week 1.

    Price Bump

    Inner Circle and OWS DFS are both receiving permanent price bumps at the end of Week 1. If you get in early, you’ll lock in the lower price for life. (If you get in and have buyer’s remorse, don’t worry; you have two full weeks to ask for a refund. You even get to keep that lower price if you come back in the future. All upside, no risk.)

    The Lay Of The Land ::

    Week: 1

    Total Main Slate Games: 13

    Slate Overview:

    In this week’s Oracle (live in The Scroll at halftime of Thursday Night Football!), one of the questions includes the following:

    The NFL leans into the excitement surrounding the opening weekend and intentionally schedules many high profile games with marquee matchups. Such is the case this week, with some incredible Week 1 games to get our juices flowing. The secondary result of that, however, is a lot of lower expectation games and a clear separation in expected quality across the slate. For this week’s main slate, some big picture things to consider:

    10 teams with an implied team total of 21 or lower
    9 of 13 road teams are favored
    9 of 13 games have an over/under of 45 or lower

    We also have separation between the first two “games above 45.0” (GB/MIN currently at 47.0, PHI/DET currently at 48.5) and the latter two “games above 45.0” (LV/LAC currently at 52.0, KC/ARI currently at 53.5). These top two games are sitting on a higher shelf than pretty much all the other games.

    Also from The Oracle, however (and I absolutely love this), Mike contributed the following:

    While we certainly want to keep this information in mind, we also know that these spreads and game totals are historically the least efficient in Week 1 that they will be all season. Despite this being fairly common knowledge among serious DFS players, most of the field still hangs on to these numbers like gospel and treats them with far more certainty than they have historically shown to have. Later in the year, most lines end up pretty accurate but in Week 1 we know there are some huge inefficiencies on the board, creating an opportunity for us to exploit inefficiencies if we can accurately find them.

    Throughout my response to that topic, I began to realize that I had played around with plenty of rosters that had gone through players and packages from those lower-total games. I was definitely hunting through those games, but I also hadn’t found any one spot that really stood out from others (in terms of either likelihood or highest-end ceiling). The fact that there is so much unknown in Week 1 almost guarantees that something unexpected will emerge from one or two of these games (potentially of the slate-shifting variety, and potentially including game environment factors that lead to multiple pieces from one of these games being on tourney-winning rosters), but that same uncertainty also pretty much guarantees that there isn’t some data point we’re going to uncover that will give us the answers to the test. The “wrong” game totals are likeliest to be wrong because of factors that we are, at present, unaware of.

    So how do we use this information to our benefit?

    First off, if we believe that “something crazy will probably happen from these lower-total games and end up on tourney-winning rosters,” we need to realize this means we need to account for this in some way.

    And then, from there, we have something of a sliding scale.

    If we’re looking at smaller-field contests (this has its own sliding scale, but say anywhere from 100 to 500/600 entries), you can recognize that this week offers a massive gap between the top two games and everything else, and can consider leveraging this fact to say, “I’ll let others make mistakes trying to out-guess me on lower-total games. I’ll take the top games and find a way to build around them intelligently-uniquely.” There’s no need to chase the other games too deeply (not unless there’s something that stands out to you — something you want to play because you’re confident in the play, rather than for strategy purposes); just be smart about the way you’re building around these top games in order to set your roster apart.

    If we’re looking at contests in, say, the 600 to 2000-entry range, we’re probably becoming a bit more willing to anchor at least one part of our roster to a more significant bet on these lower-total games. (The major exception would be if we were building around the higher-total games with an approach that we felt comfortable the field just simply wouldn’t have; see Building Blocks in The Scroll this weekend for a few ideas here.) In contests of this size, we don’t need to go too far off the board in gaining access to these lower-total games. We can find “really good plays,” as long as these plays feel at least a little bit uncomfortable (which is to say: as long as these plays will be an actual differentiator for you if they hit).

    As we get into contests ranging from 2000 to 10,000 entries in size, we have to really start assuming that there will be sharks in the waters hunting for potential prizes amongst the low-total games — thus increasing the chances of someone finding that unforeseeable edge, and thus increasing the need for you to be thinking about how you might be able to find that unforeseeable edge yourself.

    And as we get into contests north of 10k entries (again: consider all of this to be on a sliding scale, and these thoughts to be generalities), we reach a point where there are rapidly-diminishing benefits to taking the higher-certainty plays at the top of this slate, while it becomes increasingly valuable to take risks with intelligent, game-based builds in the lower-total setups.

    In short: the larger the tournament field, the likelier it is that we’ll miss out on first place to a roster that has found that “hidden gem” in the lower-total games, thus increasing the value of us shrugging off Week 1 Vegas totals and hunting for that hidden gem ourselves. The smaller the tournament field, the more valuable it becomes to allow others to chase those off-the-board scenarios, while you gain your edge by building a differentiated roster around the games whose totals are so much higher than the others on the slate.

    That’s a lengthier Angles Email than usual, but hopefully worth the time spent reading.

    Now buckle in and build some ultra-sharp rosters!

    Final Notes:

    All podcasts this week can be found on the One Week Season podcast feed (search your favorite podcast player).

    If you’re an Inner Circle member or an OWS DFS member, be sure to hit up the Podcasts page to add the 2022 IC Pods and Angles Pod to your podcast player.

    I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards.
    -JM

    End Around

    Hilow is a game theory expert (courses at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Northwestern) and tournament champion who focuses on mid/high-stakes single-entry/three-entry max

    MACRO SLATE VIEW::

    YouKnowNothingJonSnow.gif. That should be the resounding theme of the week in our minds. “But Hilow, we know there are three very clear games the field is likeliest to build around,” you say. And you’d be correct! More on that in a minute. From a macro perspective, however, we absolutely must keep this notion of not pretending to know more than we actually do fresh in our minds as we explore the state of the slate for Week 1, the year of our Lord 2022. Show me a team with zero moving pieces from last year and I’ll call you a liar. It does not exist. That said, there are varying degrees of change amongst the teams in the league (which all contributors here at OWS have done our best to relay to you through the many works found around the site this week), meaning we should be varying our levels of trust in what we have taken in over the previous four months of offseason and continue to digest leading up to roster lock come Sunday. Simply put – challenge everything you see, hear, and read regarding Week 1 certainty.

    Now, back to those three games the field is likeliest to build around this week. Based on rumblings around the industry (and Vegas implied team totals, and game totals, and projected ownership percentages, and everything else in the Meta), it is clearly evident the vast majority of the focus amongst the field this week is being placed on Kansas City @ Arizona, Philadelphia @ Detroit, and Green Bay @ Minnesota; and even then, expected ownership is highly congregated amongst a few specific players from each of those teams.

    If you’re new to OWS (and, more specifically, the End Around), what we’re trying to do with this piece is to identify how the field is likeliest to be looking at a specific slate and how to find a different path to first place, not having to fight against a massive portion of the field to do so. I have developed this process through my journey with and studies in Game Theory, with very specific tenets driving these methodologies. If you’re curious to learn more about the theory behind the practice, or how I developed these processes, I urge you to explore the three different Game Theory courses I have written in the One Week Season Marketplace. This year’s offering, the DFS Game Theory Bible, builds upon the previous two, and without a doubt is my definitive work in this field.

    RESTRICTIVE CHALK VS EXPANSIVE CHALK::

    Quick explanation: restrictive chalk is an expected highly owned piece that restricts the maneuverability of the remainder of your roster while expansive chalk is an expected highly owned piece that allows for higher amounts of maneuverability on the remainder of your roster. Classifying various forms of chalk as either restrictive or expansive allows us to visualize what it means for roster construction on a given slate and how restrictive a certain player might be, meaning more of the field will look similar from a roster construction standpoint with that piece.

    JALEN HURTS

    Restrictive chalk. The quarterback with the expected highest ownership on the slate, which makes sense considering the perception surrounding his game environment paired with the rocket ship expectations from the season-long and Best Ball scenes. From a numbers standpoint, he currently sits third in median projection and top in ceiling projection (85th and 90th percentile projection). I would argue heavily against his distribution being widely spread. As in, his bell curve distribution is probably one of the tighter ranges on the slate. Said another way, he is an excellent floor play.

    CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY

    Restrictive chalk. Hands down the top point-per-dollar range of outcomes on the slate. Not really anything more needs to be said other than weird stuff can happen in the first game of the season and we expect this game to play rather slowly.

    SAQUON BARKLEY

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Hands down the second point-per-dollar range of outcomes on the slate. I’m personally more inclined to play Saquon over CMC simply due to the price differential but consider these two the top plays at the position from a point-per-dollar perspective (although it is definitely worth noting the increased fragility in projections of Barkley compared to CMC).

    MICHAEL PITTMAN JR.

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Pittman is the prototypical “Game Theory Level I” play for week one. Allow me to explain. Utilizing Game Theory doctrine, we base our game plan development on three factors: (1) our own knowledge, (2) our assumptions of the field’s knowledge, and (3) leverage potential. Those three things influence our decision-making processes. What we have seen over the previous season or two is the field has become more aware of base form leverage, or “pivots.” So, these ownership expectations on Indianapolis have a lot to do with the field outsmarting themselves, thinking along the lines of “I know Jonathan Taylor is in a great spot, but I also know his projection is fragile due to his low pass game involvement and aerial projection – let me pivot to Michael Pittman. Look at me, I’m being so smart.” The reality of the situation is, yes, I am about as high on Pittman as can be for season-long contests, but he required a very specific game environment to be counted on for any semblance of ceiling from the sample size of one game based on how Frank Reich runs that offense. As in, if Houston isn’t pushing Indianapolis, Pittman’s chances at posting a score you’d be sorry you missed is rather low. Excellent floor play but chances at a “can’t miss game” are likely much lower than his ownership is shaping up to be.

    MARQUISE BROWN

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Rondale Moore has been ruled out and DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six games, leaving the Arizona wide receiver room in the hands of de facto alpha Marquise Brown, an aging A.J. Green, Greg Dortch, and Andy Isabella. TE Zach Ertz missed the better part of two weeks with a calf strain and the Cardinals are currently six-point underdogs in a game with a 54.0 game total. A lot makes sense with this play, and I will personally have my exposure here. That said, there are some interesting leverage spots to be had. More on that below.

    TRAVIS KELCE

    Restrictive chalk. A ton of the ownership on the Chiefs appears likely to flow through Kelce and Mahomes, which makes sense considering the lack of certainty elsewhere. Kelce is without a doubt one of the top two tight end plays on the slate but he’s likely going to need to hit the yardage bonus and score multiple touchdowns in order to provide a score that you can’t win without.

    COMMANDERS DEFENSE

    Expansive chalk. If you learned one thing from me last season, please, oh please, let it be not to play chalk pay-down defenses. That’s strike one. Strike two is the state of Washington’s defensive line and linebacker unit, which comes into the season with no less than three impact starters missing. Expanding on that a bit, the primary means of generating points from a defense in fantasy is through pressure in the backfield, which generates sacks, fumbles, and interceptions, all of which generate bulk scoring (and the opportunity for defensive touchdowns). The Jags actually ranked towards the top of the league in adjusted sack rate allowed in 2021 at only 5.6% (that’s a low number), while the Commanders blitzed at a top-five rate. Trevor Lawrence struggled mightily against the blitz last season but was an adept passer against the blitz in college. Basically, if Washington’s blitzes aren’t hitting home due to defensive personnel, the Jags should move the ball extremely well. Or, as Xandamere would say, don’t play middling chalk defenses.

    CHALK BUILD::

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    Relative Value Breakdown

    Is he a better play on Draftkings or Fanduel?

    There are several things we can look at to figure out if a player is a better value on Draftkings vs Fanduel. This is important because we may want to roster a certain player but we might be unsure which site our money would be best spent rostering them. 

    One exercise we can do is to compare the amount of salary that’s needed to roster a player on Draftkings vs the salary needed to roster the same player on Fanduel. This is done by dividing the salary on one site by the total amount of salary allowed to build your roster (DK $50k, FD $60k). Then we can take the percentage of the total salary on one site and subtract it from the percentage of total salary on the other site. We can also look at the scoring rule differences and what type of player would be best suited for that particular site. Lastly, we can check how the player’s points per dollar value based on their average in recent games compare to their salary in a given week. 

    The goal of the article is not to give you picks but to show you how to recognize these values on your own. Each week I’ll break down a few players and give you some quick hitters that you can explore further.

    Justin Herbert

    FD $8.4k, 14% // DK $7.6k, 15.2%  

    Herbert’s priced as the second-highest QB on Draftkings but the third-highest on Fanduel. Herbert takes up 15.2% of the total salary on DK and only 14% on FD. The difference between these (1.2%) is higher than any other high-priced QB this week. Patrick Mahomes is .9%, Lamar Jackson’s is .43%, Kyler Murray’s is .33%, and Aaron Rodgers is 1%. Based on salary allocation, Herbert is a better value on Fanduel than the other high-priced QBs. 

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    JM’s Player Grid

    JMToWin is a high-stakes tournament champion (Thunderdome, Luxury Box, Game Changer, Wildcat) who is focusing this year on single-entry/three-entry max


    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


    The Grid ::

    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”)

    Blue Chips

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

    Build-Arounds

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

    Building Blocks

    :: unique player pairings that can be used as foundational building blocks for tournament rosters

    Bonuses

    :: 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


    Angles Pod

    The Week 1 Angles Pod can be found on the One Week Season podcast feed

    (Search “One Week Season” on your favorite podcast player)


    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 (above)

    Correlated Bottom-Up Build
    DK Salary Remaining :: $6.2k

    Kirk Cousins
    Antonio Gibson
    Eli Mitchell
    Rashod Bateman
    Randall Cobb
    Elijah Moore
    Irv Smith
    JuJu Smith-Schuster
    49ers


    Blue Chips

    Mark Andrews

    We should expect Baltimore to run the ball more often this season, but they enter Week 1 without Gus Edwards, and with J.K. Dobbins either banged up or not yet ready to go (we’re hearing he’s still a couple weeks away, but he’s definitely pushing to get back on the field). Sure, the Ravens are likely to eventually be in control of this game; but for the first three-plus quarters, we should see them throwing a bit more often than they will deeper into the season, creating an opportunity for Andrews to pop off for a big game. Even if he sees “only” six or seven targets, he’s not likely to hurt your roster on a week when it’s easy to find extra salary for TE; and if he sees nine or more targets, he could find his way to one of the top scores on the slate.

    Worth noting: Lamar + Andrews stacks tend to work best in competitive games in which Lamar is under pressure, or getting designed runs called for him, or “making things happen” from minute One to minute Sixty. I’m coming into this game expecting that if we compare his Week 1 carries to his end-of-season, 2022 average carries per game, this week will prove to be on the lower end. I know Lamar is expected to be somewhat popular this week, so take that as one opinion of how this one is likeliest to play out; but also, if you’ve been scared to not play him, there’s a bit of ammo for you.

    Christian McCaffrey

    McCaffrey is the king of pre-touchdown fantasy scoring (i.e., points per game if we filter out touchdowns, which gives us a really great usage/floor/role snapshot for a player) — and somewhat counterintuitively, his edge in pre-TD PPG over everyone else is even higher on FanDuel (with half-PPR scoring) than on DK (full-PPR). This is because there are wideouts who can close the gap on him on DK, whereas his massive usage just sets him apart from everyone on FanDuel.

    The usage/role sets the floor higher than anyone else in football; and when it comes to CMC, I don’t worry too much about “predicting if touchdowns will pile up in this particular game or not.” He has proven in the past that he can put up a big game anywhere, which will always keep him in the Blue Chip convo.

    “Light Blue” Chips
    Elijah Moore

    Elijah Moore played four games last season without Zach Wilson under center. In those games, his average line was 6-84-1 (20.4 DK points; 17.4 FD points). That includes an 8-141-1 in the game he played with Joe Flacco. Moore costs only 10% of the salary cap on FanDuel and 10.2% on DraftKings. Not only does his average line from non-Wilson games equal exactly 4x his Week 1 salary (note: if you got 4x your salary across the board, you would score 200 points), but even if we take his full-season stats from last year, he’s one of the most underpriced players on the slate when comparing 2021 per-game scoring to Week 1 salary. The Jets should eventually have to pass the ball a decent amount, and Moore should be a focal point.

    Eli Mitchell

    If you’ve read the NFL Edge or listened to the Angles Pod or read The Oracle (etc., etc.), you know I like this play this week. But I like this play this week.

    Mitchell ranked 10th among running backs last season in pre-TD PPG on DraftKings. He’s priced at $5.4k. David Montgomery was also in the top-10, and is priced at $6k. Najee Harris was also in the top 10, and is priced at $6.4k. Every other running back on that list is priced at $7.1k or higher.

    Mitchell ranked 9th among running backs last season in pre-TD PPG on FanDuel. He’s priced at $6.7k. Every other running back on the list is priced $1.1k or more above him.

    Do we not think the 49ers will score some touchdowns against the Bears?

    He’s one of those “screaming values // excellent plays that apparently no one is playing.” Regardless of how things play out in the small sample size of one week, you can feel good about Mitchell on either site, on any style of tournament roster.

    Derrick Henry

    Henry is the second most underpriced running back on DraftKings by “Week 1 price against 2021 per-game production” (behind only Eli Mitchell…), and he’s the most underpriced back on FanDuel by this metric (by a large margin). The Titans are 5.5 point home favorites against a Giants defense that ranked 32nd in DVOA against the run last year. In fact, Henry should be such an obviously “good play” to us that the real question is, “Why only Light Blue?”

    Blue Chips are guys who have a low likelihood of price-considered failure; and because Henry is somewhat touchdown-heavy in his scoring, his “down” games can land farther down than the “down” games for someone like Christian McCaffrey (a pretty much perpetual Blue Chip).

    To illustrate this (and to go a layer deeper), Henry — starting with 2021, and moving back — has ranked 2nd // 4th // 11th in pre-touchdown fantasy points per game for half-PPR scoring. He has ranked 5th // 11th // 23rd in pre-TD PPG for full-PPR scoring.

    This does mean he becomes much closer to a True Blue Chip on FanDuel, where he’s even more underpriced relative to others at his position, and where his skill set has a higher floor.

    On DraftKings, he has one of the highest ceilings on the slate; so while we have to acknowledge that his floor in a “down” game will be lower than some others, we’re also chasing first place in tourneys, making him an excellent guy to consider.

    Joe Mixon

    I was initially eyeing Mixon as a guy in the sort of “in between” range of pricing on DraftKings who most people wouldn’t gravitate toward, and who would therefore carry lower-than-it-should-be ownership. As we move deeper into the week, it actually looks like Mixon will be more in that “in between” range of ownership as well. While this doesn’t quite give him the power I expected him to have as a strategic piece (a low-owned play who also changes the salary structure on your team from what most people will have), he is still a strong play. If the game is competitive, he’s always a threat for receptions; if it’s not competitive, he’s a threat for a smash day on the ground.

    “Wait…JM. I don’t see Jonathan Taylor.”

    Jonathan Taylor is essentially exactly as strong of an “in a vacuum” play as Henry. He’s not in my player pool, but that has nothing to do with the play itself; it’s simply the way I’m approaching things this weekend from a strategy perspective. (See the Bonus plays below for some insight into one way I might be handling this.)


    Build-Arounds

    LV/LAC

    I need no analysis on this one.

    Here’s what I mean:

    This game can obviously hit. It can go nuclear. It can be one of the top games of the season. The Chargers were Coors Field last year (for my MLB DFS crowd!). Seven of their last 13 games went for 58+ combined points. That included games of 89 // 78 // 70 // 67. The game of 89 points came against the Browns — a spot most people would not have pegged as a potential “top game of the year.”

    This game can also disappoint. Any game can.

    I don’t need to spend any of my time trying to figure out if I “think this game is going to hit this week.” That’s incorrect DFS thinking. It pulls me away from what does matter: “If it goes off, what are some of the ways that can happen?” In a game like this, I want to build for scenarios in which the game goes nuclear. Or I want to build rosters without this game, assuming it finishes at or below expectations (ideally finding some leverage for that scenario). I don’t mind one-offs from this game, but this is a “scenario game” for me. I’m focused on game-focused builds.

    Players I’ll comfortably play from this game:

    Justin Herbert || Austin Ekeler || Wideouts (though I never play Keenan Allen — as most of you know; I’m looking for price-considered slate-winning ceiling) || Gerald Everett

    Derek Carr || Josh Jacobs || Davante Adams || probably Hunter Renfrow (though only if stacking this game multiple ways; not on my tighter builds — which obviously isn’t to say he can’t hit, but is instead to say it’s less likely, and thus not part of my tight-build pool) || Darren Waller (a great way to play tight end differently this week)

    KC/ARI

    I don’t need analysis on this one, either.

    Same thoughts as above apply — though I will note that I’ve definitely made money over the last couple years letting the field chase the Cardinals’ offense. It will look funny to the field, but I’m playing around with scenarios in which this game plays out…well, pretty much the way Vegas is saying: Arizona scores three touchdowns and a field goal; KC scores four touchdowns. Given price tags and offensive philosophy for Arizona pieces, a three-touchdown game for the team probably wouldn’t generate a had-to-have-it score from anyone. Whereas a four-touchdown game from Kansas City (given price tags and offensive philosophy) likely would post a Mahomes + pass catcher score that could find its way onto a tourney winner.

    It’s worth laying out that thought; otherwise, this pool will look pretty funny…

    The players I’m currently considering from this game:

    Mahomes || Clyde Edwards-Helaire || JuJu Smith-Schuster || Marquez Valdes-Scantling || Travis Kelce

    GB/MIN

    These teams played one game last year with main pieces at full health, and in that game, the Core 4 on the Vikings (Cousins // Dalvin // Jefferson // Thielen) combined for 113 DraftKings points. Are you kidding me? — that’s an average of 28.25 per player. I almost don’t even care what the cost would have been for that many points, as 28.25 per player across a four-player block will almost always keep you on a great track in tourney play. (For the record: they cost $27.2k — or 4.15x salary on over half your salary. Incredible.) Throw in Davante Adams, and we climb to 146 points, at 29.2 points per player.

    This is not to say that this is what’s going to happen this year. Instead, it’s to illustrate what can happen in games between these two teams. (You can flip back through the last few years, and we see it all the time.)

    This is similar to the games above, in that I don’t need to go much deeper for my style of tourney play than “knowing this game can pop off.” If it does, how might I be able to benefit?

    Players I’m interested in from this one:

    Any starter. Any starter on either team could soak up multiple touchdowns and/or be part of this game going off.

    Saints

    Things we don’t know in this one? Pretty much everything. But within the reasonable range of outcomes is Jameis, Kamara, #Can’tGuardMike, and Olave being priced much higher a few weeks from now than they are right now. I’d rather be early than late; and if they are going to be a fun offense this season, this will be a good first opportunity for them to show that off.

    Jax/WAS*
    *large-field Only

    I like Jahan Dotson and Christian Kirk as one-off pieces or together as somewhat correlated pieces (“somewhat correlated” because each is priced low enough that you don’t really need a particular game environment to hit in order for them to become one of the more valuable plays on the slate; you just need to be right about their role leading to them being more expensive a few weeks from now than they are right now; a note on that: Dotson is less valuable on FanDuel, where he costs 8.2% of the salary cap compared to $6.8% on DK; Kirk is underpriced-for-role on both).

    But extending beyond those two, I see this as one of the games that could surprise us, not so much because I’m “predicting that” as because there are so many unknown factors in play for both of these offenses, and neither defense has an imposing secondary. What if Trevor Lawrence looks really good? What if Travis Etienne is awesome? What if Even Engram flourishes under a coach who knows how to use athletic tight ends? What if Wentz plays like the best version of himself against a coach (Pederson) from whom he had a messy/acrimonious split? I’m forcing myself to not build around this game in small-field play (as the EV is higher in other spots for that style of play), but the larger the tourney field, the more valuable it becomes to think about games like this: games others aren’t seeing as potential shootouts, where potential shootouts could be hiding.

    If building around this game in large-field play, literally any starter — plus J.D. McKissic — would be in play for me.


    Building Blocks

    New this year: these are unique player pairings that can be used as foundational building blocks for tournament rosters

    Trey Lance + Eli Mitchell*

    *best in smaller-field play

    Cost: $11.4k DK // $14.2k FD
    Story:

    “49ers control this game, but Bears are competitive enough that SF continues to run their offense somewhat deep into the game”

    Why It Works:

    Immediate differentiation. You get a pairing that won’t make sense to most people, and therefore won’t be owned. You also start your roster with a unique salary allocation, as most of our competition will be looking to pay down at wide receiver in order to pay up at running back.

    How It Works:

    In the “story” above, we can look at Lance/Mitchell as if they are one running back who is likely to see 27 to 33 carries. Now, I wouldn’t pay $11.4k in salary for “that running back” (that’s Derrick Henry usage, and he’s $2.8k cheaper), but here’s where things get fun:

    What if we just look at their “ground work + Mitchell receiving work (likely negligible in this story — just as Henry’s typically is)” as $8.6k in salary (or rather: what Henry actually costs). Would you pay $8.6k for Henry against the Bears if you felt confident he would get 27 to 33 carries?

    If the answer is Yes, then the next question is: “What are we buying with that other $2.8k?”

    For that other $2.8k, you’re buying somewhere around eight or nine passing points from Lance (200 to 225 yards, in this “story”), and you’re buying an 80% to 85% chance of capturing every touchdown this team scores(!!!). The only way a touchdown isn’t coming through these two is if Deebo runs one in, or if Jeff Wilson (or another back) subs in when Mitchell needs a breather and happens to score.

    Mitchell + Lance rushing this year should have a YPC somewhere in line with Henry’s YPC, which means that if you would play Henry in this matchup, you can almost boil this one down to that final $2.8k in salary, and to whether or not you think that’s worth Lance’s passing points and “probably all the touchdowns.”

    The floor is high on this combo; the path to 4x is clear (170ish rushing yards, a 100-yard bonus, one or two receptions, two passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown — or better yet, a passing touchdown and two on the ground), and 5x is in play if the 49ers score four touchdowns and pick up some extra yards. Will these be the guys who “win you the tourney”? Probably not. But in contests of 2kish or fewer entries, I love this starting point for what we call “a block of guaranteed points.”

    Potential Downside:

    The story plays out differently, and you don’t get first place — which is really all that matters.

    Najee Harris + George Pickens

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    Mike’s Player Grid

    Mike Johnson (MJohnson86) has racked up nearly $500,000 in DFS profit as an NFL tournament player with success in all styles of contests


    Welcome to the first installment of my “Player Grid.” The format will vary slightly from JM’s Player Grid, as we each see things slightly differently and play in slightly different contests, but should complement his thoughts and content very well for those looking to build their lineups for the week. The format of this article will likely evolve as the season progresses, but should provide a lot of value. Enjoy!!


    The Core

    This is a list of players that stand out to me at each position from using my “Checking the Boxes” criteria outlined in my Checking The Boxes course. This list is a starting point, from which I build out lineups using game theory and roster construction concepts (which we will also touch on) with the mindset being to find the best plays with big ceilings. Low ownership is a bonus, but not a must. This section will focus primarily on three positions – running back, tight end, and defense – as the other two positions (quarterback and wide receiver) tend to have more dependent tendencies which I try to attack from other angles (which we will get into in the other sections). I like all of these plays on all sites, unless otherwise noted:

    Running Back ::
    Christian McCaffrey

    No need to complicate things. The best in the game when he’s healthy. Should have the best QB play of his career and only one other consistent option among Panthers skill players to compete with.

    Alvin Kamara

    Kamara’s ADP in drafts this season was depressed due to ongoing concerns over a potential suspension, but his role is deserving of a price near the top at the position when looking at things on a weekly basis. This week, he has a great matchup against a bad team that was near the bottom of the league against running backs in 2021 and hasn’t done much to change that outlook in the offseason. 

    Austin Ekeler

    The Chargers have tried all offseason to find a complement to Ekeler, but appear to still be searching. This is a great matchup and game environment, with Ekeler likely to see several targets and all of the high value red zone work out of the backfield. Going overlooked among the high priced RBs, Ekeler is a GPP dream this week.

    James Conner

    Similar to Kamara, Conner’s ADP is lower than what his weekly outlook would warrant. Most people rightfully question Conner’s durability for the course of a season. However, Week 1 is the healthiest you can expect any NFL player to be and Conner is likely to see 20+ touches in the game with the highest projected game total of the week. The Cardinals are hurting at the skill positions with DeAndre Hopkins suspended and Rondale Moore and Zach Ertz both looking very iffy to play. The Chiefs are best attacked on the ground and in the middle of the field, making Conner’s role even more likely to be a key and increasing the chances he is used heavily as a receiver. After paying Kyler Murray a massive contract extension this offseason, it would make sense to keep feeding Conner the goal line touches as well. This is a “solid floor, massive upside” play at very low ownership.

    Tight End :: 
    Travis Kelce

    Not a ton to say here. Kelce is a monster and the top option for Patrick Mahomes. In three playoff games last season, Kelce averaged eight receptions, 100 yards, and one touchdown – good for 26 DK points per game. He’s still got it, Tyreek Hill is now gone, don’t overthink it – worth every penny. 

    Dallas Goedert

    I have been high on Goedert since he came into the league and that belief went to another level once the Eagles acquired AJ Brown this offseason. Goedert’s price is significantly below the top tier tight ends, but I believe Brown’s presence opens up the Eagles offense and will give Goedert more room to operate and better matchups. I view Goedert as a top-5 tight end for the season and he’s currently priced in the middle of the pack; I want to be in on him early before price and public sentiment catches up. I will be somewhat surprised if he doesn’t score a touchdown this week.

    Defense :: 
    Baltimore Ravens

    Call this the “Joe Flacco play.” The Ravens defense was decimated last season and repeatedly was burned down the final stretch of the year. However, they are now healthy and with their defensive mentality are sure to be ready to put last season to rest. Now they get a matchup against Joe Flacco, who John Harbaugh knows very well from his time as the Ravens QB. Flacco threw a pick six against the Giants backup defense in the preseason and is susceptible to those back breaking plays at this point in his career, especially when forced to throw. I was legitimately shocked when I saw projected ownership so low for Baltimore this week, especially considering how soft pricing is and how easy it is to get up to them if you want to.

    Jacksonville Jaguars

    Let’s remember that for as awful as last year’s Jaguars season was, their defense was actually pretty solid. This is the team who contributed to many people saying the league had “figured out” the Bills (who just smashed the world champions) when they held them to six points and made Josh Allen look very bad. Washington’s defense is projected to be the highest owned defense on the slate. A chance to leverage the field’s certainty at the most uncertain position, while betting against Carson Wentz, and getting salary relief – that’s basically the nuts in a GPP. Sign me up.


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    Sonic’s MME Pool

    Sonic is a Milly Maker winner and large-field tournament mastermind who focuses on mass-multi-entry play


    OWS Fam! Excited to be back for another year of grinding MME tournaments.

    Look at this space as a way to quickly look up most of the pertinent players on the main slate and get a brief overview on their current situation.

    We’ve added a new column to the MME Player Pool this year. Just left of the notes you’ll see a column call “Grid?” which will indicate that JMTOWIN or MJOHNSON86 had included them in their Player Grid for that week.

    This column will continue to evolve, as they all do, but I think it should serve as a fun window to have open as you begin your builds.

    Let’s crush this season! Cya at the top!

    Sonic


    QB:

    RB:

    WR:

    Player $ Game Info Team Grid? Notes
    Justin Jefferson 9100 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIN Blue Chip The ultimate in Boom/Bust. He could get 194 yards for the record or get pulled if the first half doesn’t go well
    Tyreek Hill 8600 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIA
    Ja’Marr Chase 8400 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CIN JM
    CeeDee Lamb 8200 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DAL Needs 10 catches to break Cowboys record
    A.J. Brown 8000 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET PHI JM
    Stefon Diggs 7900 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BUF He’s been a bit quiet lately but he’ll be inspired and I don’t think Pats have a guy that can check Diggs right now. Expect ownership to steam
    DeAndre Hopkins 7700 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET ARI
    Tee Higgins 7600 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CIN JM
    DeVonta Smith 7500 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET PHI JM
    Mike Evans 7400 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB
    Jaylen Waddle 7300 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIA
    Chris Godwin 7200 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB
    Keenan Allen 6900 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAC IF Ravens upset Bengals. Late swap candidate although we know he’s not on brand for OWS
    Brandon Aiyuk 6800 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SF
    DK Metcalf 6700 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SEA Seahawks need this game. If you think Rams can keep it close, DK should get opportunities
    Mike Williams 6600 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAC If Ravens upset Bengals
    Tyler Lockett 6400 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SEA Not sure about health but I’ll def have him in some Geno stacks
    Jerry Jeudy 6300 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DEN JM Russ/Jeudy/Sutton/Albert O stacks have some upside and are very affordable
    Chris Olave 6200 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NO Hasn’t really produced as much as you might think but he’s one of those guys that can smash on 5 targets
    Michael Pittman Jr. 6100 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET IND
    DJ Moore 6100 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CAR Darnold loves him. It’s about time someone unlocked him
    Amari Cooper 6000 CLE@PIT 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CLE Love this spot if the ownership stays around 6%. Has a record to shoot for. Secondary stacks with Diontae Johnson are nice in case this one picks up in pace
    Deebo Samuel 6000 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SF
    Terry McLaurin 5900 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET WAS
    Garrett Wilson 5800 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NYJ Light Blue Chip Flacco should get right back to his gunslinging ways
    Joshua Palmer 5500 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAC
    Gabe Davis 5400 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BUF A low owned, high ceiling piece in Josh Allen stacks
    Marquise Brown 5300 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET ARI
    Diontae Johnson 5200 CLE@PIT 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET PIT ZERO TDs on the season. Perhaps Mr Pickett would like to help remedy this situation
    Jakobi Meyers 5100 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NE On injury report and seems risky for a guy that is more of a floor play anyway
    Adam Thielen 5000 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIN
    George Pickens 5000 CLE@PIT 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET PIT
    Drake London 4900 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET ATL JM If looking at next year, Falcons should be stressing the Ridder/London connection. Hopefully they throw it enough
    Brandin Cooks 4800 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET HOU
    Courtland Sutton 4800 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DEN JM Broncos would love to end this abysmal season on a positive note. $4800 is too cheap for Sutton vs (possible) Chargers backups
    K.J. Osborn 4700 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIN He’s similar to Russ Gage IMO. He may be the guy who plays with the starters and remain in after the studs depart
    Donovan Peoples-Jones 4700 CLE@PIT 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CLE
    Tyler Boyd 4600 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CIN Point projection doesn’t look great but then you look to the 1% ownership projection and arousal ensues
    Darius Slayton 4600 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET NYG
    Isaiah Hodgins 4500 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET NYG
    Jahan Dotson 4500 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET WAS We don’t really know who rookie Howell will favor but featuring Dotson downfield is a interesting bet at 6% ownership
    Russell Gage 4400 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB JM Could be the good player they leave in for the duration. I mean, there’s only so many players on an NFL roster. You’ll have to play some guys
    Richie James Jr. 4400 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET NYG
    Chase Claypool 4300 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CHI
    Parris Campbell 4300 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET IND
    Julio Jones 4200 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB
    Rashid Shaheed 4200 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NO JM Among my favorite floating plays. Only floating because I don’t trust Saints handling of QB position
    Michael Gallup 4100 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DAL
    DeAndre Carter 4100 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAC Has a shit ton of reachable incentives. Will interesting to see if they try to help him get there
    Ben Skowronek 4100 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAR
    Chris Moore 4000 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET HOU
    Curtis Samuel 4000 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET WAS
    Van Jefferson 3900 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAR
    Trenton Irwin 3800 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CIN a sprinkle in Burrow stuff
    Greg Dortch 3800 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET ARI JM The ultimate flop lag
    DeVante Parker 3700 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NE
    Jarvis Landry 3700 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NO
    Jauan Jennings 3700 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SF
    Scotty Miller 3600 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB
    Demarcus Robinson 3600 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BAL
    Ray-Ray McCloud III 3600 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SF
    Breshad Perriman 3500 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB
    Isaiah McKenzie 3500 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BUF
    Dante Pettis 3500 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CHI
    Alec Pierce 3500 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET IND
    Corey Davis 3500 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NYJ JM Possible rule: Always one Jets pass catcher
    Kendall Hinton 3500 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DEN
    Cole Beasley 3400 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BUF
    Kendrick Bourne 3400 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NE
    Equanimeous St. Brown 3400 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CHI
    Elijah Moore 3400 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NYJ JM Averaged 7 targets in the three Flacco games this year
    Terrace Marshall Jr. 3400 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CAR
    T.Y. Hilton 3400 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DAL
    Tutu Atwell 3400 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAR Projects really well for a guy that weighs less than my dog
    Tyquan Thornton 3300 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NE I like a sprinkle in Josh Allen
    Byron Pringle 3300 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CHI
    Amari Rodgers 3300 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET HOU
    Shi Smith 3300 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CAR
    Quez Watkins 3300 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET PHI A sprinkle in stacks
    Noah Brown 3300 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DAL
    Michael Bandy 3300 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAC
    Olamide Zaccheaus 3200 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET ATL
    Sammy Watkins 3200 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BAL
    Ashton Dulin 3200 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET IND
    Trent Sherfield 3200 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIA
    A.J. Green 3200 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET ARI
    Laquon Treadwell 3200 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SEA
    Nelson Agholor 3100 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NE
    Phillip Dorsett II 3100 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET HOU
    Laviska Shenault Jr. 3100 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CAR

    TE:

    Player $ Game Info Team GRID? Notes
    George Kittle 6000 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SF return of Deebo takes the excitement out of this spot
    T.J. Hockenson 5700 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIN Unlikely to play full game
    Mark Andrews 5400 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BAL JM/MJ Nice ceiling for this price. Possibly making a rule to include at least one Chargers/Bengals
    Dallas Goedert 4900 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET PHI JM/MJ Getting the targets and rounding back into form post-injury
    Cole Kmet 4600 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CHI
    Dalton Schultz 4500 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DAL
    Tyler Higbee 4400 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAR Baker’s man crush could work well as bring back in Geno stacks
    Dawson Knox 4200 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BUF I’m playing lots of Bills. I’m on board with the “Do It For #3” narrative
    Gerald Everett 4100 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAC 5 catches will earn him 250k. Not sure if they’ll let him stay out there for it. He won’t be in my pool
    David Njoku 3900 CLE@PIT 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CLE Concern here is that Browns force feed Amari to help him get his milestone
    Pat Freiermuth 3800 CLE@PIT 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET PIT Projecting well but ownership appears to be approaching ludicrous levels
    Juwan Johnson 3700 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NO
    Tyler Conklin 3600 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NYJ JM Hoping Flacco is as voluminous as Weeks 1-3
    Noah Fant 3500 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SEA
    Mike Gesicki 3400 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIA
    Hunter Henry 3300 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NE Jonnu OUT and Pats need this one
    Trey McBride 3300 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET ARI MJ I’d like him at current 1% but he’s being touted so I expect that number to rise
    Daniel Bellinger 3200 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET NYG
    Donald Parham Jr. 3200 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAC
    Hayden Hurst 3100 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CIN Should be out there for every snap. If Ravens try to limit the perimeter, Hurst could eat
    Cade Otton 3000 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB Not sure how this game will play out but Falcons allow 3rd most passes to the position
    Jordan Akins 3000 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET HOU
    Logan Thomas 3000 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET WAS
    Jonnu Smith 2900 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NE Q
    Mitchell Wilcox 2900 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CIN
    Jelani Woods 2900 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET IND Don’t trust the QB enough to throw the forward pass with precision
    Albert Okwuegbunam 2900 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DEN JM/MJ
    Isaiah Likely 2800 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BAL
    Cameron Brate 2700 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB
    Colby Parkinson 2600 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SEA Only plays 50% of snaps but wtf you want at this price?

    DST:

    Player $ Game Info Team Grid? Notes
    49ers $4,100 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SF JM DAVID BLOUGH. Should run right through this offensive line
    Eagles $4,000 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET PHI JM DAVIS WEBB. Eagles need it and Giants don’t. 31-3 is squarely I the range of outcomes
    Cowboys $3,900 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DAL JM SAM HOWELL. Wash line has struggled and Dallas has a lot to play for
    Bills $3,800 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BUF MJ Will be among the most inspired units in the last decade of professional sports
    Bengals $3,700 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CIN
    Chargers $3,600 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAC Playing time scenarios cloudy for this one
    Saints $3,500 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NO
    Buccaneers $3,400 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET TB
    Seahawks $3,300 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET SEA
    Steelers $3,200 CLE@PIT 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET PIT
    Colts $3,100 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET IND I suppose any defense vs Houston is fine
    Dolphins $3,000 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIA MJ Joe Flacco started 3 games this year and had pass attemps of of 59, 44 and 52. WOW
    Vikings $2,900 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET MIN JM/MJ NATHAN PETERMAN and Bears would wise to lose…but I think I had you at NATHAN PETERMAN
    Browns $2,800 CLE@PIT 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CLE
    Texans $2,700 HOU@IND 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET HOU JM SAM EHLINGER
    Bears $2,600 MIN@CHI 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CHI
    Jets $2,600 NYJ@MIA 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NYJ SKYLAR THOMPSON
    Panthers $2,500 CAR@NO 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET CAR
    Broncos $2,500 LAC@DEN 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET DEN CHASE DANIEL
    Falcons $2,400 TB@ATL 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET ATL How much will Brady play?
    Rams 2400 LAR@SEA 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET LAR
    Ravens 2300 BAL@CIN 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET BAL
    Commanders 2300 DAL@WAS 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET WAS
    Patriots 2200 NE@BUF 01/08/2023 01:00PM ET NE If you want to punt it’s not a bad idea to do it with an aggressive and talented unit
    Giants 2200 NYG@PHI 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET NYG
    Cardinals 2100 ARI@SF 01/08/2023 04:25PM ET ARI

    Willing To Lose

    Larejo is a mid-stakes tournament mastermind who specializes in outmaneuvering 150-max players with a small number of entries

    Infinite precision.

    I became really interested in this term recently. If we think about the combination of these two words, it becomes fascinating when using them together. If any of us had infinite precision, we’d predict specific outcomes every minute of every day. The world around us would no longer be dynamic, it would become mundane and predictable (even though presumably we’d all be rich). I first heard this term in Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Black Swan, which goes deep into “black swans” or the occurrence of extreme outlier events. And while there are many fundamental takeaways from this book, the two that I walked away with are A) always plan for black swans to exist and occur and B) understand that we live in a world with an infinite range of outcomes (essentially the opposite of having infinite precision). So while it’s great to feel like we have a handle on predicting the future, this is exactly why we rarely do it right.

    Attacking an NFL slate can feel like trying to win a game with infinite precision. The tournaments and prize pools are the largest of the year, the players and coaches have seemingly all changed teams, and we have no recent data to help us feel comfortable when building lineups. But the more we read, and listen, and talk about the slate, the more comfort we build and the more confident we become that our lineups will crush this coming Sunday’s main slate. It’s important to recognize that this is the best we can do. As much as it can seem like we’re playing a game we will fail at conquering, every single other entry in that same tournament is in the same boat as you . . . trying to predict outcomes with specificity. And like we always talk about at OWS, it’s not about having to build the optimal lineups, it’s about building lineups that can beat everyone else and win first place !

    So, when you attack this slate and all others this season, remember two things:

    1) Build with an infinite amount of outcomes in mind.

    2) When you walk away from this space saying, “I think Larejo has lost it, he’s nuts for recommending that!” then that is when we’re ready to win a GPP.

    Week 1

    We have an interesting dynamic on this slate, like many others, where the late afternoon games carry higher projected Vegas totals than most of the early games. We talked in this space last season about the many reasons for that, but the better quarterbacks and TV ratings are front and center in that rationale. The feature games are Raiders/Chargers and Chiefs/Cardinals as the only two games carrying expected totals north of 50. Your strategies in attacking these games will likely be a key decision point in your success on this slate (more on this in a bit).

    As we look to identify some of the better game environments outside of the obvious ones, I like to focus on the “GPP Vegas Zone” of 47-49.5 points. And sitting pretty in that zone this week are two games: Packers at Vikings and Eagles at Lions (bet up to this zone from where it opened at 46.5).

    Packers RBs and Kirk Cousins with Justin Jefferson

    Let’s start with the easier play. The Rams former offensive coordinator, Kevin O’Connell, comes over to Minnesota as their new head coach to install his version of the “Cooper Kupp” offense. Jefferson is the clear best talent on the team. Camp reports coming out of Minnesota all summer talk about him lining up all over the line of scrimmage, and being used as Kupp-lite wherever possible. The Vikings offense was a concentrated bunch to begin with under previous HC Mike Zimmer, so it should be safe to say getting a brighter offensive mind in the room can only unlock more potential. Jefferson is maybe the safest play on the board this week at any position, and while he will carry high ownership, pairing him with Cousins at QB will carry higher upside (and downside) and bring down the Jefferson ownership ever so slightly.

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    The Oracle

    The Greatest “Cheat Sheet” In DFS

    Each week in The Oracle, OWS team members will take on the key strategy questions from that week’s slate :: sharing their thoughts on how they plan to approach these critical elements from a roster-construction, game theory, and leverage perspective.

    Week 1 Topics

    1. A Tradition Unlike Any Other

    2. Exploiting Inefficiencies

    3. Value Plays

    4. Ahead of the Field

    5. “That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”


    1. What makes this particular slate particularly unique?

    The Question ::

    A weekly staple of The Oracle :: What makes this slate particularly unique?

    The answer to this question this week is fairly obvious – it’s Week 1!!

    • Pricing has been out for well over a month, leading to many situations where players have far different roles and/or team situations than their pricing from pre-training camp would have indicated. 
    • This is in addition to the already soft pricing the sites always have in Week 1 as they try to draw in new customers and give them a great experience. 
    • Players and coaches have changed locations, a new crop of rookies entered the league, and the veteran players are a year older and closer to the NFL woodshed. Teams have had months to rethink their approach as they all embark on a journey with a common goal – we have no idea where those internal discussions, plans, reactions to their own situation, and reactions to league trends will take each team. While we saw at least some action from starting units during the preseason, this is the first real game action since the Super Bowl…there are a lot of situations we have strong beliefs in right now that will look silly by Week 4. 

    With all of those things as common and clear factors about the “uniqueness” of Week 1 NFL DFS, we will change course from the “standard” tone of this question we have on a weekly basis and instead ask a more philosophical question: Are there any ways in which you approach Week 1 differently or have different expectations than that of a “typical” DFS week? Bankroll management, contest selection, player selection, etc.

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    The first part of this answer only pertains to me (“Thanks, JM — big help you are”), as Week 1 is always a bit tricky on my end. With pricing coming out early, and with my August/early-September so busy getting everything ready for the site (on that note: my wife and kids are about to return from being out of town at my in-laws’ for over two weeks, in order for me to focus fully around the clock! — shoutout to the real heroes here, apparently), I basically enter Week 1 with “a little more prep time than normal,” while plenty of my competition enters with “a lot more prep time than normal.” But that’s my struggle…

    I think the most interesting “unique” component of this slate comes from the rise of Best Ball in recent years. Five years ago, some of the “sneaky guys who could pop off for a big game in Week 1” would have been invisible to the field, whereas those players might now see higher ownership than they should, as so many people have spent months salivating over the “What ifs.” Frankly, this is probably compounded by the rise of our old friends over at ETR, as Adam’s “sharpest-in-industry” ability to identify strong floor/ceiling, bang-for-buck plays now reaches even more people, with his thoughts permeating even deeper into the DFS player field. These plays are part of what make him such a sharp cash game player, and the fact that people lean too heavily on these plays in tourneys (what we could call “over-chalk,” where a sharp play reaches a “WTF” tipping point for +EV tourney play) is often something we can use to our easy advantage. But in Week 1, things can essentially fall one of two clear ways:

    1) The unknowns of Week 1 break in favor of these “sharp plays,” and the mega chalk hits

    2) The unknowns of Week 1 break away from these “sharp plays,” and everyone wonders why they played them

    Realistically, a week like this gives the LEAST edge to those who are playing “the sharp plays,” as there is far more uncertainty than normal in knowing where our expectations are right and where they’re wrong, and there is thus that much more chance of “the sharp plays” disappointing.

    Tying that up? If “the cheap guy I really like” proves to be popular this week, I’ll probably pivot without spending too much time laboring over that decision. If he hits, he hits; but I can go into the weekend knowing that the “heavy ownership plays” (especially at the bottom of the price barrel) are lower-percentage bets than in other weeks, when we have fewer assumptions and more certainty to work with. I don’t want the “could pop off” guy (again: especially “value plays”) that everyone else wants. I want the “could pop off” guy that others are overlooking.

    Xandamere >>

    I will say what I always say for Week 1: we know very little. The human brain is wired to seek perceived certainty and to spot patterns (even when no pattern exists, or when the pattern is just correlation and has no predictive value). So we look for what feels comfortable and what find consensus around: how offenses will attack the opposing defense, how individual player usage will shake out (i.e. what % of backfield touches will JaVonte Williams get vs. Melvin Gordon?), and what games are the “best” to target this week based on totals. 

    Week 1 is a great week to be contrarian. The chalk tends to get stronger as the season goes on and we learn the identities of each team in the league and how they’re going to use their players, but in Week 1, the chalk is at its most fragile. That doesn’t mean all Week 1 chalk plays are bad, of course – some of them could pop off for big games – but on the whole, Week 1 chalk is the weakest it will be all year. 

    So, if you’re targeting tournaments, consider a more contrarian approach. Recognize that the perceived certainty we have is actually far from certain. Here are a couple of examples of where we might perceive certainty but could be wildly wrong:

    • Is Jonathan Taylor going to get 20+ carries per game early in the season? Last year Taylor didn’t see a 20 carry game until Week TEN. That’s right. The Colts view themselves as a playoff team, and so maybe they’ll think more about keeping Taylor fresh and managing his workload early in the season as they did last year?
    • Is Javonte Williams really “the guy” in Denver? How much will Melvin Gordon play? Will it be a 70/30 split, or a 55/45 split, or something in between?
    • What rookies will establish strong roles in Week 1? Will guys like Chris Olave, Treylon Burks, and Romeo Doubs see significant Week 1 roles, or will they be worked in gradually?

    We know VERY little going into Week 1. Build your rosters accordingly.

    Hilow >>

    The start of the regular season brings everything we’ve been studying, working towards, and consuming and digesting since May to an abrupt head. Basically, we’re leaving the realm of speculation and uncertainty and into the realm of action – but that transition is about as messy as could possibly be. What I mean by that is this – we’ve all spent the better part of the past four months creating biases, generating and acting on stances, and seeing player values ebb and flow through season-long and Best Ball SZN. With all those preconceived notions comes a good amount of perceived certainty that, quite simply, does not exist. On the contrary, Week 1 is about as uncertain as any week we’ll have for the rest of the season (if not far and away the most uncertain week) in that most of these teams either haven’t played starters or have allowed their starters to play very few snaps throughout the preseason, we’re coming off one of the highest personnel and staff turnover offseasons in recent memory, and salary means very little (as does ADP, in the aforementioned formats).

    All of that long introductory paragraph to say – challenge everything this week. Challenge ownership projections. Challenge median projections. Challenge range of outcomes and outlier projections. Every. Thing. With that understanding, most would naturally lean towards a bit of discretionary spending for these first few weeks of the season. I take it the other direction (similar to how you heard me handle the Best Ball landscape this offseason, where I looked to draft as many teams early as I could to maximize my exposure to variance). There is an innate amount of leverage that can be had by simply understanding the difference between perceived certainty, actual certainty, and variance – something I look to lean into at the beginning of the season (hello 2020 Week 2 Aaron Jones call). I am currently toying with the idea of max entering the $5 Milly Maker on DK this week instead (or in addition to) my normal medium-stakes single entry and three-max contest selection.

    Mike >>

    Bankroll – I do generally go a little higher in the amount I play Week 1 for a couple of reasons. First, I play more entries of the super large field stuff (Milly Makers on both sites and the large contest on Yahoo) this week than a normal week because overlay is likely, price points of those contests are lower, and such a large chunk of rosters are basically dead from being very inexperienced players and/or rosters made days/weeks in advance. Second, there is a ton of value in being early on players/teams and Week 1 provides the best chance to get paid off for having unique thoughts and seeing things for yourself – which I believe is a strength of mine.

    Contest Selection – As noted above, I adjust slightly to leverage opportunities in the larger field contests.

    Player Selection – I want to get in early on guys I think are going to pop and leverage teams who have different outlooks than the last time we saw them – as most people are in a “see it to believe it” mindsets even when they know situations are different.


    2. Exploiting Inefficiencies

    The Question ::

    The NFL leans into the excitement surrounding the opening weekend and intentionally schedules many high profile games with marquee matchups. Such is the case this week, with some incredible Week 1 games to get our juices flowing. The secondary result of that, however, is a lot of lower expectation games and a clear separation in expected quality across the slate. For this week’s main slate, some big picture things to consider:

    • 10 teams with an implied team total of 21 or lower
    • 9 of 13 road teams are favored
    • 9 of 13 games have an over/under of 45 or lower
    • There are only 3 games with an over/under set at 49 or higher

    While we certainly want to keep this information in mind, we also know that these spreads and game totals are historically the least efficient in Week 1 that they will be all season. Despite this being fairly common knowledge among serious DFS players, most of the field still hangs on to these numbers like gospel and treats them with far more certainty than they have historically shown to have. Later in the year, most lines end up pretty accurate but in Week 1 we know there are some huge inefficiencies on the board, creating an opportunity for us to exploit inefficiencies if we can accurately find them.

    With this in mind, which teams or games do you think have the greatest potential to surprise and greatly exceed expectations? Likewise, which of the high profile games on the main slate do you think is the most likely to lay a dud?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    I don’t think any of the top three games will dud (GB/MIN || LV/LAC || ARI/KC — note: while PHI/DET has a higher total than GB/MIN, the shootout ceiling is higher in GB/MIN, which has me viewing it in something of the same bucket as the two highest-total games; to be clear, I also like the PHI/DET game, but the 90th percentile outcomes in that game don’t match what we could see in the other three), and there are interesting components to consider, in that these games/teams feature some higher-priced guys, but they also feature a lot of incredible value among potential alpha pieces (guys like Lazard, Hollywood, JuJu), and even among non-alphas with plenty of price-considered upside (guys like Thielen, who comes in as the second most underpriced receiver on the slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel — behind only Deebo, on both sites — in terms of “2021 per-game production divided by Week 1 pricing”). I do think that it’s “more likely than not” that none of these games significantly exceed their totals, and it’s highly plausible that we even see a couple of these games finish a bit below their totals. I’m happy to build around these games, but if I do, I’ll be stringently approaching them from different angles than the field. I think it’s completely possible for none of these game environments to be “must haves” in terms of “winning stacks coming from these games.”

    As a DFS player focused on limited entries this week, I haven’t found a game among the lower totals that I “feel could pop off” (which isn’t to say that any of them couldn’t; rather, that none have stood out to me that way just yet for tighter builds); but I have found myself playing around with scenarios in which I might play multiple players from some of these teams:

    49ers // Steelers // Saints // Ravens // Jets(!) // Giants

    I’ve nudged around some ideas for JAX/WAS stacks for my main roster as well, so sort of all over the place on these games — but if we want to translate that into “how can we really use that” :: there are a lot of scenarios we could paint down here for things breaking positively for risk-takers; and there is enough uncertainty down here that trying to find some stat or angle that “tells you which team/game the field will be wrong on” is probably less useful than recognizing that something crazy will probably happen from one or two of these games/teams/etc., and if that’s the case — depending on the size of the tourney we’re in — we have to assume that someone will be capitalizing on those “crazy things” wherever they hit, which means we should be aiming to hunt for a few of them ourselves. If we’re wrong, we weren’t winning anyway, because someone else found the “crazy things” from down here regardless. So at least this way, you give yourself a shot at finding that hidden upside yourself. The larger the tourney field, the more willing you should be to take some swings down here on surprising “top offenses of the week,” “top stacks,” “surprise game environments,” etc.


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    Xandamere >>

    With two games having totals that are much higher than the rest, it’s hard for me to consider avoiding them entirely. It’s highly likely at least one of KC/ARI and LV/LAC will be high-scoring, and thus it’s likely that we’ll see good fantasy scores emerge. Those games are both good environments and I’m happy to target them.

    One area where I’ve found positive results over time is looking not just at games but at teams. For example, the two highest total teams on the main slate are the Chiefs and the Chargers. No surprise here. But next come the Eagles, the Colts, the Ravens, and the Bengals. You could consider stacking those games (something I like to do – just betting the underdog team manages to, unexpectedly, keep up). You can also consider just doing stacks with no bringback. This is something the field largely avoids – DFS players have been trained for years now on the value of the bringback – but if the Colts are projected for 26.25 points, that’s 3-4 touchdowns, and that can happen regardless of whether or not the Texans do much of anything. Overall I like stacking games, and I use bringbacks on most of my rosters, but my point here is don’t blindly feel like you MUST use bringbacks on every roster or it could lead you away from attractive options because you don’t feel confident about who to bring the stack back with.

    In terms of a next tier of games that I think are interesting to stack (both sides of, that is), Bengals/Steelers stands out to me as a game with one really good offense and one offense that will be good if it gets good QB play. Both teams have concentrated offenses, making it easier for us to see where the points are likely to come from. That spells stacking goodness.

    Hilow >>

    The Saints and Ravens have stood out to me all week (or all two weeks) as teams that could absolutely pop off for “had to have it” games at likely lower-than-should-be ownership, particularly the pass offenses from each team. 

    The Ravens have more issues with injuries to their backfield and Lamar Jackson let us know today (Wednesday, 7 September) that he will not be discussing his contract situation once the season starts. It takes a bit of conjecture, but L-Jax in a “prove it” type mindset based on no contract extension being agreed upon, in a game against the Jets, without his top two running backs (assuming J.K. Dobbins doesn’t make it back in time for Week 1) just screams L-Jax and pass offense stomp game. Now consider general coaching tendencies with John Harbaugh, who is one of the more “run it up” type coaches in the league, and we could see Jackson post an insane score and bring along one or two of his very concentrated pass-catchers with him.

    The Saints play a mid-rebuild Falcons team still struggling to find their identity and we know the kind of upside Jameis brings to the table each and every week. The general consensus amongst the field is likely to lean towards the New Orleans run game in a soft matchup, but we’ve seen the kind of damage these Saints can inflict through the air should the touchdowns flow that way. Five, or even six touchdown is not outside the realm of possibility for this offense on opening weekend, and a bet on those touchdowns coming through the air is a high upside, minimal downside bet to make, particularly if ownership is going to be low on Jameis and his primary pass-catchers.

    BONUS

    The Giants are an offense I want to be early on rather than late with Brian Daboll now at the helm. The Titans just lost Harold Landry to IR within the week, who accounted for nearly 30% of their sacks last season. The Titans also have one of the softest secondaries in the league to pass on. If Bud Dupree is not getting to Daniel Jones, it could be a situation where we see one or two Giants pass-catchers (Saquon included) go absolutely ham at ridiculously low salaries.

    Mike >>

    Steelers // Bengals and 49ers // Bears are the two games I think could really surprise people. 

    The Bengals really turned on the gas with tempo and pass rate down the stretch last season, and I don’t think they are putting that genie back in the bottle. The Steelers offense could be reinvigorated by a QB who can actually use their downfield weapons and who can extend plays and create yards with his legs. Both defenses should be solid this year, but early in the season there are often breakdowns in secondaries and we really don’t know who these units are for sure yet – while how offenses interact is really the key to finding those shootout games.

    In the 49ers // Bears game, you have two young quarterbacks who both have a high likelihood of making mistakes (turnovers) and also are capable of explosive plays of their own using their arms and legs. These factors are often ingredients in those “had to have it, out of nowhere” type of games. Mistakes early by one team can lead to the other team getting a big lead and throwing things off script – the further off script a game gets in the early going, the more aggressive and variant things get from there. Imagine the Bears go down the field on a scripted drive for a TD to start the game, then Trey Lance fumbles in 49ers territory leading to a cheap Bears TD, then Lance throws a pick-6 (honestly not an unreasonable scenario). What would a San Francisco team with Lance’s legs and all those weapons around him look like for three quarters of playing uptempo football against a bottom tier team? (That’s a glance into the depths of how my mind works – scary place, I know.)

    As for “duds from the high profile games”, I don’t really think any of them truly falls apart but it’s Week 1 so we should expect the unexpected. Packers // Vikings is the game that concerns me the most because I have very serious concerns about the Packers offense this season and their defense looks like it could be truly special – leading to a recipe where both sides of the ball are struggling to put up points.


    3. Value Plays

    The Question ::

    The pricing for Week 1 NFL DFS contests has been out for several weeks already and the sites historically have made pricing much softer for the opening week than they would for a typical week in the season. There have also been many changes with injuries, cuts, trades, and role changes that make many of these prices way off base and clearly would be different if released today. 

    There are so many values on the board this week to the point where it is probably too many and can actually make taking stands and building good lineups more difficult than the average week because of the FOMO involved with not playing a player who is a perceived “great value”, especially given the relatively flat nature of ownership that we usually see in Week 1. With that in mind, let’s try to give some direction to subscribers trying to wade through the plethora of options – who are your three favorite values this week, regardless of position?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    DraftKings: I’m going to stay above $5k for my crew, as there are plenty of high-upside youngsters I like below $5k, but we’re also more full of guesswork down there than the field will assume after hearing positive things about these youngsters for months; favorite values above $5k :: Eli Mitchell || Elijah Moore || Allen Lazard

    FanDuel: Eli Mitchell || Adam Thielen || Justin Herbert (lemme explain…)

    One stat I really like to lean into in Week 1 is previous year’s per-game production against Week 1 salary (i.e., given the sample size of last season’s production, how does this player’s Week 1 price stack up?)

    Eli Mitchell is the most underpriced RB on DraftKings by this metric, and he’s one of the most underpriced on FD

    Thielen is the second most underpriced WR on both sites by this metric (behind only Deebo)

    Herbert is not only the most underpriced QB on DraftKings by this metric, but he also costs 15.2% of the salary cap on DraftKings compared to only 14.0% on FanDuel (sheesh!)

    It’s relatively safe to expect a somewhat pass-leaning game plan from the Ravens given their personnel for Week 1; Flacco is a great fit for Moore and has reportedly performed extremely well in camp; volume should be there for the Jets’ passing attack, and a lot of that volume should flow through Moore

    Lazard is “on brand” more than anything; there are a lot of other $5k DraftKings wideouts I could have chosen, but I’ll stick with the guy I’ve been lonely on the bandwagon for all summer, in one of the highest-total games on the slate

    Xandamere >>

    Draftkings: Saquon Barkley at $6,100 (bellcow RB, should be fully back from injury, solid matchup/pass game role/etc, probably won’t be TOO chalky with Najee priced right near him), and then the $5k – $6k WR tier is just chock-full of value options. You could pick quite a few names from here, but my favorites are Michael Pittman ($5,500, clear alpha WR1 on his team, QB upgrade, going up against a bad D) and Juju Smith-Schuster ($5,200 as the WR1 on one of the best offenses in the NFL in the main slate’s highest total game).

    Fanduel: Lots of RB value with some role uncertainty that I’ll mention but aren’t my overall top 3, but I would be remiss not to note Travis Etienne at $6,200, Chase Edmonds at $5,800, Clyde Edwards-Helaire at $5,800, or Rhamondre Stevenson at $5,600. All are risky but with plenty of upside. 

    My overall favorite FD values, though, are DJ Moore at $6,400, Amon-Ra St. Brown at $6,500, and Juju Smith-Schuster at $6,400. All are leaders of their offense and all will be $7k+ players within a few weeks. Honorable mention as well to Christian Kirk at $5,800 and Elijah Moore at $6,000. Man FD pricing is SOFT this week.

    Hilow >>

    DK only for Mr. Hilow.

    With that, the top values on the board depend on how you define “value.” To me, from a GPP mindset, value has nothing to do with point-per-dollar outcome and everything to do with “where is this player likely to be priced in four weeks, or eight weeks?” That’s how we get exposure to these builds where we’re working with a $60,000 salary instead of a $50,000 one when we look back on things a month from now. The three top “Hilow values” with that in mind are Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, and Elijah Moore, all of whom are likely to see their salaries increase a full $2,000 (or more) before the midpoint in the season, assuming health.

    Extremely close honorable mentions (I’m going to cheat and list six total players) to Adam Thielen, Michael Pittman, and Allen Lazard, who are all priced in the mid 5k range on DK and very likely could see low-to-mid 7k prices in a few short weeks.

    Mike >>
    • Michael Pittman (Draftkings) – Wide receivers with ADP’s in the 3rd round in Draftkings Best Ball drafts as of this week, along with their Week 1 DFS prices:
      • Mike Evans – $6,900
      • AJ Brown – $6,400
      • Michael Pittman – $5,500
      • Keenan Allen – $7,100
      • Tee Higgins – $6,100
      • Mike Williams – $6,600
      • Courtland Sutton – $5,900
    • Juju Smith-Schuster (DK & Fanduel) – As I talked about in my NFL Edge writeup, Juju is an extremely talented player who is now the #1 WR for Patrick Mahomes. He’s playing in a dome in the highest total game of the week against an overrated defense. 
    • Josh Palmer (DK & Fanduel) – Cheap, should play almost every snap for an explosive team, and likely to be passed over for shinier cheap options and his high profile teammates.

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    4. Ahead of the Field

    The Question ::

    One of the best ways to gain an edge and raise your expected value (EV) is to be ahead of the field on players whose role and status grows – there is value in being early before price and ownership catches up to a player. There are a lot of players whose outlook today is very different than what it will be in a month and being ahead of the field on those players can benefit us.

    Looking into our “crystal ball”, who are some players that you expect to have significantly higher prices in three to five weeks than they have for Week 1?

    (Ignore those clear “Week 1 misprices” from injuries or role changes, which we all know will be quickly adjusted next week, and focus on players who you have high expectations for this year and you want to be early on – maybe this week isn’t going to be the week they explode but you are confident the jump is coming and want to be there when it does.)

    The Answers ::
    JM >>
    Players who I think gain $1k or more in DK price from where they are today:

    Trey Lance
    Chase Edmonds
    Eli Mitchell
    Maybe Travis Etienne (so many unknowns)
    Saquon Barkley
    Najee Harris
    Every DK running back from Mixon to the top, minus Jonathan Taylor (already priced appropriately) will likely gain roughly $1k at some point in the season, most particularly Mixon, Kamara, and CMC
    Wan’Dale Robinson
    Jahan Dotson
    David Bell
    George Pickens
    Jakobi Meyers
    Probably Chris Olave
    Probably Drake London
    Elijah Moore
    Christian Kirk
    JuJu Smith-Schuster
    Adam Thielen (did he die in the offseason? — he spent 11/13 games last year priced at $6.6k or higher, and he’s $5.4k in Week 1)
    You thought I was going to say Michael Pittman, but I’m not so sure
    Allen Lazard
    Maybe Michael Thomas
    Probably Diontae Johnson
    Not Amon-Ra St. Brown (ducks)
    Almost certainly A.J. Brown
    Almost certainly (at some point this year) Ja’Marr Chase, Deebo Samuel, Justin Jefferson and maybe even Davante Adams
    I’m not even going to try to touch tight end!
    (Note: I may have missed a few; don’t get concerned if you have someone you like who wasn’t listed!)
    Xandamere >>

    Holy moly it’s a “build a giant list” question! I’ll just vote here even if it means mentioning some names again:

    QB

    Trey Lance (most likely – unless it turns out he’s horrendous)

    Justin Fields (the upside in his legs is immense, he could easily end up being this year’s Jalen Hurts)

    RB

    Christian McCaffrey ($8.5k is nuts for him)

    Saquon Barkley

    Rhamondre Stevenson (IF he carves out a real lead role for himself)

    Breece Hall (see above)

    Eli Mitchell

    Chase Edmonds

    WR

    A.J. Brown

    Tee Higgins

    DJ Moore

    Michael Thomas (if healthy)

    Michael Pittman

    Adam Thielen

    Rashod Bateman

    Juju Smith-Schuster

    Christian Kirk

    Elijah Moore

    Drake London

    Chris Olave

    Jakobi Meyers

    Kadarius Toney

    Josh Palmer

    Jahan Dotson

    TE 

    Dallas Goedert

    Zach Ertz

    David Njoku

    Irv Smith

    Hilow >>

    Oh no, I answered this one above. Instead of regurgitating that response, I’ll add a few other names to the list (likely won’t see as aggressive of price increases than the previously mentioned dudes, but should see some).

    DJ Moore, perennially undervalued

    Saints wide receivers

    David Njoku, one of my big stands in Best Ball

    Mike >>
    Adam Thielen
    Kadarius Toney
    Juju Smith-Schuster
    Michael Pittman
    DJ Moore
    Saquon Barkley
    Chase Edmonds
    D’Andre Swift
    Justin Fields
    Kirk Cousins
    Dallas Goedert
    David Njoku


    5. “That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    “Why was I concerned about the low total in the 49ers’ game? Of course they were going to smash the Bears.”

    “Why did I try so hard to fade the top games? Of course one or two of them was going to produce something I really should have been aiming to get on my roster(s).”

    “Why did I hunt through so many unknowns for Week 1 value when there were so many underpriced plays on which we don’t have guesswork?”

    For me only: “Why has this same spider been climbing around my office walls for four days? Oh yeah, that’s right — Abby and the kids have been gone for two weeks so I could work around the clock, and I’ve let the spider take up residence because he’s apparently now my friend.”

    Xandamere >>

    This sounds corny, but….”duh, it’s Week 1, we know SO LITTLE about what’s going on, of course I should have played more contrarian!”

    Hilow stole this but ALWAYS ONE VIKING.

    “Oh of course <insert rookie here> ran behind <insert veteran here>, it’s Week 1 and most rookies get worked in gradually!”

    Hilow >>

    “Of course a roster with zero players below $4,000 shipped the Milly, we didn’t need these cheapie “value” plays.”

    “Of course Lamar Jackson came out and threw for four touchdowns and added one on the ground, the dude is playing for his next contract and his head coach likes to run up scores with reckless abandon.”

    “Always one Viking. DUH.”

    Mike >>

    “Why did I doubt Patrick Mahomes?”

    “Why didn’t I buy into how good this Eagles team was going to be sooner?”

    “Why did I approach this week with so much certainty when I KNOW that things are not going to be that simple in the NFL.”

    Thanks for hanging out with us in The Oracle this week

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

    Sunday Crunch

    Mike Johnson (MJohnson86) has racked up nearly $500,000 in DFS profit as an NFL tournament player with success in all styles of contests

    Value Traps::

    Salary constraints always make “searching for value” an important topic for DFS players. When we are able to find players at lower prices than the roles they will be in, we can often open up the upside of our lineups. However, there is a tipping point where “values” become “traps” and an offense can only take so many losses before it begins to cause problems for the offense as a whole.

    This week, there are three offenses that have several injury/suspension situations that has led much of the DFS industry to chase these “values” and help them fit in more “studs”. Those offenses are the Ravens, Packers, and Cardinals.

    • Ravens:: The Ravens backfield is dealing with injuries and filled with scrap heap RBs who other teams cut. This is leading many people to think that the team will lean on the pass more, but there is another scenario where the offense struggles to move the ball on the road with their greatest strength potentially being neutralized.
    • Packers:: After the loss of Davante Adams, the Packers have a bottom-tier WR room and will now be without their WR1, Allen Lazard. Their offensive line is also dealing with injured players working their way back. While everyone chases the value here, this could be a tough divisional matchup for the Packers, who were destroyed Week 1 of 2021 by the Saints.
    • Cardinals:: I have my doubts about Marquise Brown as a lead wide receiver, particularly against a good Chiefs pass defense. DeAndre Hopkins is suspended and Rondale Moore is injured. It’s going to be a struggle for the Cardinals to move the ball as Zach Ertz is old and hobbled and James Conner is solid, but usually gets his production from exploiting openings created by the rest of the offense. Arizona could get routed here, like the last time we saw them against the Rams in the playoffs.

    All of these situations have greater “collapse” potential than most of the field will realize, and in my opinion the “value” players are more likely to break those who use them than they are to break those who fade them.

    Getting Defensive::

    Building off our last point, the Vikings and Chiefs defenses are both relatively cheap on all DFS sites and are sitting in great position to exploit high profile, but depleted, offenses. If everyone is clamoring over themselves to play the cheap players on the Packers and Cardinals, you gain instant leverage by betting against them when you play the opposing defense. Wheels up.

    3 Low-Owned RB’s In Explosive Matchups

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    Afternoon-Only

    Mike Johnson (MJohnson86) has racked up nearly $500,000 in DFS profit as an NFL tournament player with success in all styles of contests

    The whole idea behind this piece of content is that it is unique. Specific content and strategies for the “non-main slate” contests are very rare in the DFS industry and most players who enter them are casual players or doing so on a whim after their main slate entries had things go wrong, and they want something to root for or to chase their losses during the late games. Edges are getting harder and harder to find in DFS as information gets better, projections get sharper, and the field gets more experienced. These smaller slates present a clear opportunity and advantage for those that focus on them, as most players will just take their thoughts from the main slate and approach these lineups the same way without considering how much having seven to nine fewer games (depending on the week) changes the strategy. 

    Narrowing Your Player Pool

    On a week like this with four games in the “Afternoon Only” slate, and three of them being higher total games of the day, there can be great value in building lineups for these slates and then using them in tournaments on the “Main Slate.” The idea here is that it naturally condenses your player pool and increases your chances of being unique even if those games are all going to be popular. Despite how popular ARI//KC, LV//LAC, and GB//MIN look like they will be, in addition to the cheap NYG pieces and Derrick Henry, it will be very rare for lineups to be made without any players from the early games, especially with how many great values that will be hard to resist. As a matter of fact, the lineup I had used for a big win on the “Afternoon Only” slate would have also won several of the big main slate tournaments that week. When there are only two or three late games and they aren’t very high total games, this strategy can be less viable. However, the TV networks usually want to have high-profile teams playing during the late window so on most weeks this is at least a viable consideration. The rest of the “late” games are usually West Coast teams, and this year both the AFC West and NFC West are pretty loaded with talented offenses, which should keep this as a viable strategy.

    Ownership Strategy

    Ownership will be higher for pretty much every player on “short slates,” just because there are fewer players to choose from. This will be especially true for “chalky” players from the main slate. This means getting these players right is even more vital than on the main slate. There are fewer alternatives to choose from so if they have a big game and you aren’t on them it is much harder to find other ways to make up those points. This also means it is easier for lower-owned players to pay off, as there are fewer players at their position that they need to have “fail” for them to be worth the risk.

    Correlation is even more important than on the main slate because the useful fantasy games that pay off for the slate are likely to be clumped up from the same games. I always make lineups with a game stack (QB + at least one pass catcher + at least one opponent) and then one or two “mini-correlations” from other games. 

    QB Strategy

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    Start/Sit Primer

    Research from the NFL Edge (game breakdowns and Matchups) is leveraged in this space to help us make sharper decisions on some of the key start/sit questions in fantasy

    1. Would you start Best Ball darling, Dameon Pierce, despite Houston being a 7.5 point home underdog?

    The Texans are not expected to score much against a very tough Colts defense. They’re also highly likely to be trailing, and we’d expect Rex Burkhead to play more than usual if the game plays out that way. The Colts ranked third in the NFL in rush DVOA last season. If you have better options than Pierce, you should go ahead and start them, as this Colts/Texans game would have to be a bit wonky for him to produce a matchup-winning score in this spot.

    2. How do we handle Antonio Gibson in a great on-paper matchup despite rumblings that Jonathan Williams will mix in?

    Papy notes in his writeup of the Jags Commanders game that Jacksonville ranked 19th in rush DVOA last season while being considerably worse against the pass. It has been clear all summer that Washington wanted to make Brian Robinson its starting RB until he tragically was shot in a robbery attempt. Papy also notes Jacksonville could easily lean pass heavy in this spot, and with Washington likely to mix in both Jonathan Williams and J.D McKissic, Gibson will need to find the paint to make it worth starting him.

    3. Are you starting Dak Prescott and Justin Fields in tough matchups this week?

    The Bucs allowed the second most pass attempts in the NFL last season, mainly because they were so tough to run against. Their game in Dallas this week has a 50.5 total and Prescott will likely be forced to throw a ton considering they will be without starting left tackle Tyron Smith due to a torn hamstring. The Cowboys will try and establish the run early, but once that doesn’t work, I’d expect a pass-heavy game plan as long as the Bucs are putting up points. Start Dak.

    Fields is much thinner as the Bears have one of the lowest implied totals on the slate at just 16.5. JM notes in his DFS interpretation for this game that he respects the Niners defense, and even with Fields’ rushing upside, he will not be going near the Bears offense on tighter DFS builds. In other words, there are better options than Fields in one-QB leagues.

    4. Which ancillary Chiefs player do you feel most confident in starting sans Mahomes/Kelce/JuJu in a likely shootout with Arizona?

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