Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

The Scroll Week 10



    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)

    Meet The Team


    Happy Thursday!

    New members: Every Thursday morning, we send out the Angles email — in which we take a critical, “overview” look at the slate ahead.

    In This Week’s Angles Email:

    1. This is an easy week

    2. This is a difficult week

    1. This Is An Easy Week:

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    2. This Is A Difficult Week…

    The Lay Of The Land ::

    Week: 10

    Total Main Slate Games: 10

    Slate Overview:

    Let’s start with this :: this is a difficult week.

    Let’s continue with this :: we should LOVE difficult weeks.

    This is similar to when an NFL coach is asked about weather conditions for an upcoming game, and they respond with something like, “The conditions will be the same for both sides” (that sounds like a direct quote from Belichick; apparently, I grew up in New England). Left unsaid here is the fact that a truly sharp coach will recognize that the weather conditions in question — due to being unique — create unique opportunities for his team to find an added edge by finding a better way than the opponent to account for this weather.

    This NFL DFS week is difficult — but if it’s difficult for us, it’s also difficult for our competition, which means we can carve a unique edge by understanding how to tilt these difficulties to our advantage.

    Throughout the weekend (in the NFL Edge, the Scroll, the Angles Pod, and the Slate Pod), we’ll be doing everything we can to carve advantages on this slate; but before we can truly find these advantages, we must first identify what the difficulties are.

    Here are 3 things I’m seeing on this slate that will make it particularly difficult for the average DFS player:

    1. Only three teams are implied to score over 25 points

    Vegas is acting like they don’t expect Josh Allen to play (the Bills are implied for only 23.5 points at home against the Vikings), which leaves us with only Chicago (25.75 at home against the Lions), Miami (26.25 at home against the Browns), and Kansas City (30.0 at home against the Jags) with attractive Vegas-implied team totals. The Raiders are sporting a 24.25 total at home against the down-bad Colts, and the Cowboys are implied to score 24.0 on the road at Green Bay; each of the other 15 teams on this slate is implied to score 23.5 or fewer points.

    When we look at a slate like this from a bird’s eye view, we often say something like, “This could be a lower-scoring DFS slate than usual” — but oftentimes when we say this, the slate ends up being surprisingly high-scoring. Realistically, this should be a lower-scoring slate, but it’s also very reasonable to think things could swing the other way. Our rosters have to account for this by making sure that “If this slate is higher-scoring than expected, we’re positioned to compete for first place with the way we’re building.”

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    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


    The talk around the industry is how disgusting this slate is. My view is the polar opposite as there are so many fun things you can do differently than the field this week. From a macro perspective, there is a higher number of chalk running backs this week than on any other slate this year, which means I’m immediately trying to find other areas of certainty. Are there other areas of certainty available this week? The other thing to immediately notice is that the field appears completely lost as far as game environment goes, with no true standout games available and no true high likelihood smash spots immediately jumping out. I will personally be looking to embrace a little additional variance in the areas the field seems to be looking for certainty, which for this week means getting a little weird at running back. There’s almost no way every single piece of running back chalk fails this week, but I would go out on a limb and say that every single piece of running back chalk is more fragile this week that in any other week this season. There are a couple of different ways to handle the position on a week like this – reserve exposure to only the players that carry the highest top-end ceiling (Kamara, Barkley, Jacobs, Taylor, Etienne, Pierce) or get creative with variance with lower-owned plays that can match the top-tier players (Miami backs, Chicago backs, Jamaal Williams, CEH with a banged up McKinnon, Najee Harris (yuck, but seriously). I will be looking to get creative at the position this week as I flip the script on the chalk build (covered below).


    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.


    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. The field(s) didn’t know – now they know. I got a lot of flak this offseason for saying the Fields possessed a similar skillset to Josh Allen before Allen made the leaps he did in pocket presence and reading defenses. Now, I’m not calling Justin Fields Josh Allen, I’m stating that Fields has the tools to develop into one of the elites at the position. Now that we’re starting to see the Bears lean into developing those skills – wheels up baby. Justin Fields is a simple and natural way to cover the quarterback position this week, with a range of outcomes that rivals those of the top players at the position.


    Restrictive chalk. Patrick Mahomes has thrown for 400+ yards nine times in his career. Two of those times have come in the previous two games. There is no denying the fact that Mahomes can put the slate out of reach every time he takes to the field(s). Okay, subliminal Fields shots done (maybe).


    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. I was absolutely giddy at the potential to get Dameon Pierce at low ownership (before I looked at expected ownership this week) as the clear option priced under $7,000 with the best on-paper expectation. Then my dreams were crushed by Mike when he brought up the fact that Pierce was expected to be the highest-owned running back on the slate. There are some super interesting ways to leverage this chalk this week, with my personal primary means likely to be to pair Pierce with another low-priced running back to unlock the upper echelon of wide receivers.


    Restrictive chalk. I will likely only play Kamara on rosters that leverage this game environment this week, which is likeliest to come through Kenny Pickett + Diontae Johnson + George Pickens stacks. Extremely solid on-paper play, but New Orleans can crater any upside that Kamara possesses.


    Restrictive chalk. King Henry is in a matchup where the Titans should be able to control the game on the ground, which plays directly into his skillset. That said, The Titans are allergic to scoring in the second half and have proven time and time again that they will take their proverbial foot off the gas when controlling a game.


    Restrictive chalk. Etienne probably ranks second in the price-to-expected-volume matrix this week, just behind Dameon Pierce. Extremely solid on-paper play, albeit with some legitimate uncertainty due to their opponent (Chiefs), the relatively low receiving floor, and the potential game script.


    Restrictive chalk. Man, more chalk running backs. There is no denying the fact that Jacobs has exhibited an elite ceiling this season and we’re expecting the Raiders offense to be a highly concentrated unit this week with both Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow on IR.


    Restrictive chalk. It’s interesting to me that Saquon is this far down the list of expected chalk running backs this week, playing in the top on-paper rushing matchup of the week. Maybe the field is acceptant of the fact that Saquon’s pass game usage has taken a massive hit in a low-volume offense.


    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. The two wide receivers on this list are on the fringes of chalk consideration, as both St. Brown and Kupp have been hovering around my personal 20% expected ownership cutoff the entire week. I honestly don’t expect either of these players to garner prohibitive ownership, and the rosters that do contain them are highly likely to be rather predictable. As in, St. Brown paired with Fields and Kupp likely paired with either DeAndre Hopkins or Rondale Moore.


    Expansive chalk. 20%+ expected ownership on a rookie tight end playing in his fourth NFL game. Let that sink in real quick. Yes, Dulcich has established an instant rapport with quarterback Russell Wilson, but I’ll take my chances elsewhere with so many rosters expected to be built so similarly this week.

    Chalk Build::

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    Relative Value Breakdown

    Dwprix is a research expert at OWS, with focuses on NFL Edge Matchups and the Relative Value Breakdown

    Better Play on Draftkings or Fanduel?

    Week 10

    Pricing can change the value of a play between Draftkings and Fanduel. Recognizing what plays are better values on each site based on scoring rules and points per dollar can create a sizable edge when building rosters. Here are the Week 10 players that are best utilized on Draftkings or Fanduel.

    Justin Fields:  FD $8.3k, 13.8% // DK $6.5k, 13.0% // Value on Draftkings 

    Fields has jumped to the third highest priced QB on Fanduel but he’s only the sixth highest on Draftkings. He’s scored 20+ Draftkings points in three straight games and now faces a Lions defense giving up the fourth most Draftkings points to QBs per game (22.7) and second most rush yards to QBs per game (28.1).

    Dalvin Cook:  FD $7.5k, 12.5% // DK $8.0k, 16.0% // Value on Fanduel

    Cook takes up the least amount of cap on Fanduel compared to Draftkings, of all playable RBs this week – 3.5% less of the cap on Fanduel is one of the highest differences I’ve seen all season. He’s the fourth highest priced RB on Draftkings but only the eighth on Fanduel. The matchup against the Bills is tough but they have given up 30+ Fanduel points to RBs in back-to-back games. 

    Dameon Pierce:  FD $7.7k, 12.8% // DK $6.3k, 12.6% // Value on Draftkings

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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


    :: 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


    :: 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

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    Important Week 10 Note (Please Read)

    With sickness running me ragged this week, I’m going to be doing a “cliff notes” version of the Player Grid this week — focusing on critical “how to best play these guys” components, while largely leaving player/game-focused analysis to the NFL Edge. (As always, you can find analysis on any of these players/games there, and can also find expanded thoughts of mine in the DFS Interpretations.) (POST-“GRID WRITTEN”-UPDATE :: true to form, I wrote more than I expected to write in most spots, but I’m still a bit light compared to what I would normally pile in here.)

    I’ll expect to be back to my normal self (and my normal routine) next week.

    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 :: $6.0K

    Justin Fields
    Travis Etienne
    Dameon Pierce
    Kalif Raymond
    Amon-Ra St. Brown
    Marquez Valdes-Scantling
    Evan Engram
    Robbie Anderson

    Join The Bottom-Up Build Contest On DraftKings!


    Build with a salary cap of $44k or below!

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    Join Here – Contest 1

    Join Here – Contest 2

    * With the BUB becoming more popular, we’ve set up two contests. ONLY ENTER ONE. The best score between the two contests will be credited with the win! *

    Blue Chips

    Justin Fields

    We’ve made it! The road from “don’t throw stones at me, but playing Justin Fields right now reminds me of when we were playing Josh Allen in 2018” to “hey, this guy is a Blue Chip and no one is arguing about that” has been much shorter than expected. But Justin Fields is a Blue Chip option this week (a high “price-considered” ceiling; relatively low chances of price-considered failure), and no one is really arguing about that.

    As noted above (under the heading, “Important Week 10 Note (Please Read)”), I’ve been far under the weather this week, and will be leaving most of the player-based analysis to the NFL Edge (where you’ll find expanded thoughts on all these players in the game breakdowns and in my DFS Interpretations). We’ll also be digging deeper into this game environment (and ways we can approach other pieces from this game) in the Build Arounds. So for now, we’ll leave things here. Fields at home against Detroit = good.

    “Light Blue” Chips

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    Building Blocks

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

    “Eventual Milly Maker Winner”
    >> Kenny Pickett + George Pickens + Diontae Johnson
    Cost: $15.7K DK // $18.8k FD

    “Kenny Pickett plays a clean game”

    Why It Works:

    Current ownership projections on these guys are 8.7% Diontae // 4.5% Pickens // 3.5% Pickett. With Mike Tomlin making an off-hand comment in a press conference this week about Pat Freiermuth handling a lot of the middle-of-the-field targets that Claypool was handling, and with this quote being blurbed by news outlets (while neglecting to mention the full context of the quote, in which Tomlin also talked about increasing roles for other guys), we’re seeing Freiermuth projected for nearly 10% ownership, and we can expect that a lot of people who play Pickett will include Freiermuth as one of their stacking pieces. There will also be some “Pickett with only one pass catcher” builds, leaving this complete stack extremely low-owned. On a week in which it could be difficult to score 200+ DK points, you only need about 60 points from this stack to keep you on a 200-point pace, and this stack is capable of producing at a much higher level.

    How It Works:

    Kenny Pickett’s average intended air yards sit at a middling 7.2, but his starts have come at Buffalo, home against Tampa, at Miami, and at Philadelphia, which is quite the tough stretch for a rookie signal caller thrown into the fire with very few first-team reps before he became the starter. Mitchell Trubisky has the third deepest average intended air yards in the NFL in this same offense, and Pickett is coming off a bye that will have allowed Pittsburgh to further adjust this offense to account for their new starting QB, while giving Pickett himself more time to study and get acclimated to what this team is wanting to do. The tape through Pickett’s early appearances shows a guy who is willing to move around and take aggressive shots while adding two to three points with his legs most games. (Pickett also posted a pair of rushing touchdowns in his abbreviated appearance against the Jets.) The risk here is high, of course; but with the Saints having only two(!) interceptions all season, there’s also a good chance that Pickett has his “coming out party”; and if he hits the high end of his range, 25 to 30 points is very much within reach. If he’s hitting that type of score, it’s not unreasonable to think Diontae and Pickens will be combining for around 50.

    This can be played with Kamara, with Olave, or with no bring-back. I’ll have fringe consideration for this stack on my Main Build (where I would probably use Kamara), and I’ll be mixing this stack throughout my large-field play, with variations of “no bring-back” // “Kamara bring-back” // “Olave bring-back” mixed in.


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

    Mahomes + Kelce + Etienne
    Cost: $22.8K DK // $25.0k FD

    “This game plays out the way it’s expected to play out”

    Why It Works:

    With the way pricing is set up this week, it’s very difficult to build “a roster you feel good about” around a Mahomes // Kelce stack. No one would argue that this is a strong set of plays; and yet, this stack will be lower-owned than most people will expect, simply by virtue of the tight pricing available on this slate.

    How It Works:

    Etienne will be leaned on throughout this game by the Jags, with a ground-based role in the early-going, a dynamic role if/when the Jags start to fall behind, and a pass-catching role if/when Kansas City takes firm control. The easiest way for the Chiefs to “take firm control” will be through Mahomes and Kelce, but because of the tight pricing on this slate, this is a stack that won’t appear on as many rosters as one might think. There’s plenty of upside at low expected ownership here, and in order for this to hit, all you really need is for “this game to play out the way it’s expected to play out.”


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

    Tua Double, +

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

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

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

    QB ::

    Justin Fields || Tua Tagovailoa || Patrick Mahomes || Kenny Pickett

    RB ::

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    A Wrap ::

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


    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 back to my (Mjohnson86) 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 course you can find in our Marketplace. 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 ::
    Saquon Barkley

    Absolute stud talent. Home favorite. Texans have given up 30+ DK points to opposing RB1s in 5 of 8 games.

    Jamaal Williams (DK)

    Good chance that he sees upwards of 20 carries in a fruitful game environment and is priced under $6k on Draftkings. Four games with multiple TDs this season.

    Travis Etienne

    Being treated as a workhorse. Plays in the highest game total of the week. The Chiefs defense tends to funnel targets toward opposing RBs, which could open up that side of Etienne’s game this week as well.

    Dolphins RBs

    Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson both having roles keeps projections for each of them in check. However, we saw just last week they combined for two touchdowns and they have an outstanding matchup this week. The focus will rightfully be on the Dolphins passing game this week, but one of these RBs could easily have a 20+ point game at very low ownership. I like Mostert on Fanduel and Wilson on Draftkings due to their respective prices.


    • Tony Pollard – Pollard has an outstanding matchup and has a good chance to match or exceed the number of touches he had two weeks ago against the Bears. One of the most explosive RBs in the league facing a banged-up defense that can’t stop the run, Pollard is a GPP dream this week.
    • Devin Singletary (FD) – If Josh Allen is out, the Bills likely still throw often but Allen’s runs become running back runs and Singletary is most likely to receive goal line carries while playing roughly 75% of the snaps.
    • Jonathan Taylor – Taylor has battled ankle issues most of the season but is practicing fully this week. The Colts will likely lean on the run and while the Raiders pass defense is the focus of most people, they aren’t scary by any means as a run defense. Taylor is an elite talent in a fine matchup at very low ownership and costs a fraction of what he did at one point this season. The Raiders defense has given up 134 yards per game and five total touchdowns to opposing RB1s over the last three weeks. The Colts offense is a fragile spot to expose yourself to, but Taylor’s spot here is terrific.
    Tight End ::

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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! 

    OK, this slate is gross. You know it. I know it. 

    But we’re gonna get through this. 

    Just skim through these notes and click on the players you feel have a path to a tournament-winning score. 

    Easy game. 





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    Willing To Lose

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

    There are two ways to look at this week’s main slate. One way, as you’ll hear from most DFS touts, is to say “it’s ugly.” We can take that at face value and lower our expectations for scoring and player scores. Another way is to look at this slate and the projected lower scores, and realize the good players in good spots are now going to be owned like great players in great spots. In other words, chalk should be even more chalky, and therefore leverage should be an even stronger force and easier to find. And in other other words, this is a fancy way of saying you might want to read Hilow’s End Around this week.

    To me, these slates are fun because a whole group of people (likely in Las Vegas) will be wrong. Yes, the NFL is lower scoring this season, with teams averaging just 21.8 points per game, (down from 23.8 ppg just two seasons ago), and this week there are only two teams on this main slate who are projected to put up more than 26 points in the Chiefs and Dolphins. But there will be scoring, and there will be had-to-have-it player logs. When situations are murky, like what we are seeing in roughly nine of the 20 offenses playing on this slate with projected totals under 21 points, DFS players avoid them. They avoid them, or they only play the best players from those teams (think Dameon Pierce, Derrick Henry, or Alvin Kamara this week). This is why I enjoy these slates. After doing our research, we should have a strong understanding of where ownership will congregate and how we can maneuver our lineups accordingly.

    Week 10 Player Pool 

    In trying to sharpen my player pool this week, I want to examine a few of these high confidence observations that become obvious on ugly slates like this, and then set up how I’ll be building this week. First, we have the Chiefs, the Dolphins, and Justin Fields. This is exactly where the field will be looking for tournament-winning scores. We don’t need to avoid these spots, we just have to understand if we’re going there ourselves, we may need to try a wee bit harder to differentiate. Second, with nine(!) teams projected under 21 points, the one-off or bust principle should be the general consensus for these units. This might be rightfully so, but there aren’t many out there looking to stack the Texans, Broncos, Vikings (vs. Bills), Jaguars, Titans, Cardinals, Packers, Rams, or Colts offenses this week. So, if you aren’t the best player on one of these teams, then you likely aren’t going to be tracking much ownership. If this is true, we can look at Pierce, Henry, Kamara, Travis Etienne Jr., Justin Jefferson, DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp, and a few others who will still carry their weights in ownership this week . . . but their teammates, not so much. Therefore, prime examples of overlooked players this week should include guys like Chris Olave, Christian Kirk, Dalvin Cook, Brandin Cooks (if he plays), Kyler Murray, and Michael Pittman Jr.

    We should be looking for offenses to put up 26 or more points when we are seeking an offense to stack. For a team, that’s at least three touchdowns, hopefully, four (28 points). For a game stack, that equates to 52 combined points, or at least six or more touchdowns. If we looked at every NFL week this season, we’ve seen a minimum of seven offenses put up 26 or more points. And as mentioned, Vegas is saying only four teams (Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles, and 49ers) may get there this week. Based on a ten-week sample, I’ll be in the camp of Vegas being wrong this week. So where will we get unlikely production this week and/or how can we differentiate our rosters in popular spots from the field?

    Patrick Mahomes + Travis Etienne Jr. + Marques Valdes-Scantling

    I know, I know, I’m all talk and no action, right? You were expecting some other plays here on lower implied total teams. Well, there’s a reason the Chiefs are expected to score 30 points in this one, and as safe as Justin Fields versus Detroit feels, Mahomes might feel a little safer. Of course, Mahomes doesn’t need much explanation, and neither does Etienne Jr. at his current DK price and role. Further to Etienne’s matchup this week, the KC defense still leads the NFL in receptions given up to opposing RBs (63). TEJ is in a great spot. But if you’re rostering these two, you’ll want to switch it up in large-field tournaments with a high-risk, volatile upside player. Enter MVS. I didn’t watch the Raiders vs. Jaguars last week, but I saw the highlights and I can’t get this Davante Adams picture out of my head.

    I know the safety slipped on this play, but oh my, the yards of daylight Adams had in this game. It could very likely be the Travis Kelce show this week for KC, and the general perception is JuJu is next in line. This leaves MVS, Mecole Hardman, and Kadarius Toney as the next men up in some order, in the game of “who wants to burn the Jacksonville secondary?” I’ll take the largest aDOT and the guy who has proved he can be a deep threat first here, and one who should carry lower ownership than Kelce, JuJu, and maybe Hardman to couple with Mahomes and Etienne.

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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 10 Topics

    1. Thinking For Yourself

    2. Running To Daylight

    3. Value Plays

    4. Floating Plays, Week 10

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

    1. Thinking For Yourself

    The Question ::

    As JM alluded to in the Angles email, this is a difficult and somewhat strange week. First of all, this is the smallest “main slate” we see all year (only 10 games). Also, there are only three teams (Bears, Dolphins, and Chiefs) implied to score 25 or more points. Finally, the other games on the slate all have some huge question marks and concerns regarding their scoring upside::

    • Broncos @ Titans – Broncos have obviously been a massive disappointment on offense and the Titans are a methodical running and ball control team facing a very good defense.
    • Vikings @ Bills – Uncertainty around Josh Allen’s elbow puts the scoring, pace, and game flow here all in question, while the Vikings offense has a very tough test against a top-notch Bills defense and struggled against a much less talented Washington defense last week.
    • Texans @ Giants – Both teams want to pound the ball with their running backs and neither team has scored over 27 points in a game this year.
    • Saints @ Steelers – The Saints are playing on a short week, coming off a bad offensive performance, and face a Steelers defense getting TJ Watt back. The Steelers offense ranks last in the league in yards per play.
    • Colts @ Raiders – The Colts have been the worst offense in the league the last two weeks, while the Raiders have become conservative and predictable and have a difficult matchup against a good Colts defense.
    • Cowboys @ Packers – The Packers offensive struggles are likely to continue against one of the top-3 defenses in the league and the Cowboys have a great matchup on the ground.
    • Cardinals @ Rams – Kliff/Kyler have struggled mightily against the Rams defense and the Rams offense, which has already been playing poorly, may be without Matthew Stafford.

    We often discuss how “the best way to be contrarian is to think for yourself”, and this week certainly presents some opportunity to do just that. We can assume with a good deal of certainty that the brief summaries I provided will roughly reflect the thoughts that most of the field will have about these games. Considering all of those situations, are there any that you are seeing in a significantly different way from the brief summary I provided?

    The Answers ::
    Xandamere >>

    Obviously any game can go wildly different from expectations (the CAR/ATL shootout in Week 8 comes to mind), but what Mike has laid out above is correct in terms of what is most likely. But what is less likely…

    • If Josh Allen misses and Case Keenum plays poorly, the Vikings could break through the Bills defense just based on volume and time of possession. They do, after all, have some elite weapons on offense.
    • With the Raiders down both Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, and with a tough matchup on the ground, we could see a narrowly concentrated aerial attack with Davante Adams and very cheap Mack Hollins and Foster Moreau – cheap prices plus high concentration of volume can equal good things.
    • The Titans are a pass funnel defense and while the Broncos (specifically Russ) have been really bad on offense, they do have elite receiving talent and narrow concentration of volume.
    JM >>

    As Xandamere noted, we should keep in mind that any game can go dramatically different than we expect it to go, and we can/should always be thinking about ways in which these unattractive games might turn out differently than expected. While by no means “the only spots” that I can envision playing out differently, two spots that stand out to me are the Cowboys’ backfield and the Steelers’ offense.

    With Zeke coming back from injury and talking about taking a ‘long view’ with his knee issue, it seems “more likely than not” that if Zeke is active (my hope), he ends up seeing less work than normal, while Pollard picks up the slack. This is not a “by the book” way to see that game playing out, and is one I’m interested in.

    As to the Steelers’ offense, they threw Kenny Pickett into the fire in the middle of the season with limited first-team reps under his belt in a string of tough defenses and/or situations. He is now coming off a bye week that will have allowed both he and the coaching staff to get more comfortable with what they are doing here. The risk of failure for this offense is still high, but it’s a whole lot lower than the field is likely to assume.

    Hilow >>

    Oh yea, baby! While this seems like a “gross” slate to most, I am giddy as a school girl with this slate. There are so many easy and fun things you can do to generate immediate differentiation. If you don’t believe me, go watch the videocast with JM and Pete Overzet this week. How absolutely disgusted do you think most people watching them piece together that roster felt? Probably a solid 90-95%? Now snap back to reality, oh, there goes gravity – wait, sorry, I digress. There are so many cool things that can be done on this slate. Basically, embrace the variance this week! It’s another great MME week, even so much that I decided to dip my toes in the Battle Royale streets on UnderDog for the first time this week, and then decided after five or so drafts to max the damn thing. A case can be made that every single one of those games listed has viable alternate outcomes to what the general consensus of the field is, with most games this week carrier extremely wide ranges of potential outcomes.

    • Broncos @ Titans – The path of least resistance for the Titans to attack this game aligns with how they would like to attack, regardless of who is under center for them this week. That should provide a rather tight range of potential outcomes as far as the expected game environment goes – when the Titans can control the game on the ground, you better believe they have a high likelihood of controlling the game environment. 
    • Vikings @ Bills – EMBRACE THE VARIANCE! These are two top offenses, with one top defense. When you see a strength on strength matchup, it typically leads to a wide range of potential outcomes. For my baseball DFS players – what happens when a top pitcher meets a top offense? Typically the mantra is “top pitching beats top offense,” but then you get that top offense at extremely low ownership and can leverage the associated variance of a team sport. Same-same in NFL (another highly variant sport). Also, the Bills are not likely to suddenly turn into a run-first team in the absence of Josh Allen (should he miss), meaning Bills pass-catchers still carry immense upside here. Oh yea, and Allen could just still play… keep an open mind about this one until 90 minutes prior to first kick. 
    • Texans @ Giants – Both defenses present a nice matchup for the opposition’s preferred method of attack (ground game). Both Saquon Barkley and Dameon Pierce have the explosiveness to rip this game wide open. Nobody will be on Daniel Jones, who is a mobile quarterback with rushing upside (how many games has he ripped 100/1 on the ground in his career?).
    • Saints @ Steelers – Yes, Pitt gets TJ Watt back, but TJ Watt cannot play 11 positions all at once. This Steelers defense has looked #bad this season, and while Watt is able to generate organic pressure upfront, he cannot cover Alvin Kamara out of the backfield nor double-team Chris Olave – not to mention the usage we expect Taysom Hill to get. The Steelers are a high pass volume offense that is suddenly expected to be highly concentrated. The Saints have averaged 26.83 points per game across Dalton’s six starts. The Saints have allowed 25.2 points per game this season, fourth most in the league. This is also rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett’s first start against a non-elite defense (his appearances have come against the Jets, Bills, Buccaneers – left early, Dolphins, and Eagles – quite the list, eh?). There is legitimate upside here.
    • Colts @ Raiders – Each offense is expected to EXTREMELY concentrated – a massive percent of the expected production is likely to flow through Jonathan Taylor in Indy while the Raiders are basically down to Josh Jacobs and Davante Adams (yea, I’ll gladly let others chase Mack Hollins). 
    • Cowboys @ Packers – Yea, I got nothing with this one. This is probably one of the more narrow ranges of outcomes games on the slate, to be completely honest. 
    • Cardinals @ Rams – Yea, I got nothing with this one. This is probably one of the more narrow ranges of outcomes games on the slate, to be completely honest. 
    Mike >>

    There are three spots from this mix that I find particularly interesting in ways that the field may not be acknowledging. Coincidentally, all of them involve teams coming off their bye week::

    • Cowboys – The Cowboys offense went absolutely nuts against the Bears in Week 8 and are finding their rhythm with Dak Prescott healthy and his receiving corps rounding out and getting healthy as well. The Packers run defense is obviously awful, but when a team is that bad in one area and plays a team with a strength to exploit it they will often sell out to try to keep things in check. It wouldn’t be a surprise for the Cowboys passing game to end up being the source of the points in this one.
    • Broncos – The Broncos have elite talent in their passing game (sorry, despite the to-date results and how frustrating it has been, it’s still true). The Titans are a clear “pass funnel” defense with the #1 rush defense DVOA and a beatable secondary. Coming off their bye, it’s possible they ride the momentum they built in their win over Jacksonville in Week 8.

    Steelers – Others on the site have touched on this, but this is the first game for the Steelers without Chase Claypool and they are also playing with the benefit of an extra week to take a breath and re-group for their second half of the season. Kenny Pickett will likely make a jump at some point down the stretch this year, and at home, off the bye, against a defense that is beat up playing on a short week sounds like a decent recipe for just that.

    2. Running To Daylight

    The Question ::

    A major question on the table this week is about the running back position. We have had a recent run of main slates where most of the popular RBs were popular for a reason, as they were in very good spots and were reasonably priced. As we enter Week 10, however, the lay of the land at the running back position is very different. Almost all of the running backs who are clearly the “lead” back in their offense and involved in both the run and pass game are priced at $7,100 or higher. The only two RBs below that threshold who are clearly the lead runner for their team’s backfield duties are James Conner (injury prone and in a tough matchup) and Dameon Pierce (2nd lowest implied team total on the slate). 

    While a lot has changed in DFS over the last few years, one thing that seems to hold true is people chasing “macro trends” from week to week and thinking that the way recent weeks played out is just “the way things are now”. Because of this, it seems safe to assume that there will be several running backs who become popular and due to the roles those players have there is a good chance they will be on the expensive side or in questionable situations (Conner and Pierce). Adding to that dilemma is the fact that, as alluded to in question #1, there are so few good game environments available so in order to access those potent passing games you will likely have to sacrifice “safety” at the RB position.

    Putting this all together, is there a specific strategy or viewpoint you are approaching the RB position with?

    The Answers ::

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    Sunday Crunch

    Sunday Crunch is an Inner Circle feature that can be found late on Saturday nights and non-IC members can receive a chunk of the content each week. Mike also posts updated thoughts to Discord on Sunday mornings for Inner Circle members.

    Davante’s Inferno::

    Things are close to a breaking point in Las Vegas as their season circles the drain. I don’t think most people realize just how good Davante Adams has been recently or the potential he has in the immediate future. He had a terrible game against the Saints, which we can attribute mostly to his severe illness that week. If we ignore that game, his average line in the last four games is 7.5 receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown. That line would be worth 28.2 points on Draftkings and 21.5 points on Fanduel. Again, that is an average. Adams just (rightfully) called out the Raiders coaching staff for going away from things that are working and will now move into the slot much more often with Hunter Renfrow on IR. The perception of Adams in the DFS community isn’t as high as it probably should be due to a slowish start and a couple of bad games at high ownership this season. However, with Renfrow and Darren Waller on IR and Adams sure to be featured as a “squeaky wheel” and used as a moveable chess piece like he was in Green Bay, he could be in line for a crazy run in the coming weeks.

    Winning At DFS In A Nutshell::

    The last time we saw Tony Pollard, he was smashing the Bears defense for 147 total yards and three touchdowns at monstrous ownership. That game was played without Ezekiel Elliott, but the reality is that Elliott’s absence really didn’t change that much about Pollard’s role. Pollard only had 15 opportunities in that game and he had 14 in each of the two prior games. He also only played 53% of the snaps and none of his touchdowns were of the “goal line” variety, coming from 7, 18, and 54 yards away – which tells us he doesn’t need Ezekiel Elliott inactive to have a monster game. Elliott is still battling a knee injury and will likely be wearing a knee brace. It was a knee injury last season that made Elliott look sloth-like as well. While the Cowboys coaches and front office are saying all the right things in regard to Zeke, the reality is that Pollard’s performance and Elliott’s health have to change their approach somewhat. 15 to 18 touches for Pollard seems very reasonable here in an elite matchup against a defense that is losing key players. Pollard is likely going to have 20-30x less ownership this week than he had in that matchup against the Bears while likely having a similar role and opportunity. This is pretty much exactly the situation we should be looking to exploit in DFS tournaments, especially in a week where there is less certainty or good matchups than usual at the running back position.

    Getting Defensive::

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

    Finding an Edge

    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. 

    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. 


    The three games on this week’s afternoon slate are ugly, to be kind. All of the game totals are 44 or lower and feature three of the bottom seven DVOA offenses in the league along with a Packers offense that has struggled mightily, and now faces the top defense in the league fresh off their bye. While this “ugliness” makes things hard to project, it also makes the field’s behavior a little more predictable and makes the threshold for a winning lineup likely to be much lower than most weeks. As for how that affects the QB position, we should expect Derek Carr and Dak Prescott to combine for an overwhelming majority of the ownership. Kyler Murray and Matthew Stafford may not even be active, and if they are, they have tough matchups and a lot working against them given the injuries they are battling. Sam Ehlinger has been the worst QB in the league the last two weeks and Aaron Rodgers faces the top defense in the league. You can go away from Dak and Carr but it’s still going to take multiple spots going very differently than expectations for that to pay off. Not only would you need one of those QBs to overcome very rough situations but you’d also need Dak AND Carr to fail in very good spots in order to actually benefit. It’s certainly possible on a three-game slate, but a tight needle to thread.

    Defense Strategy
    • I really like the Rams, Cowboys, and Colts defenses. They are the “best” defenses on the slate and they are all in spots to create turnovers. 
    • The Cowboys are priced so high that people will be reluctant to pay up for them but they could have a true “separator” score.
    • The Rams will likely be much lower owned than the Cardinals (who will probably top the slate in ownership) but they are very talented and have had the Cardinals number in recent years. Kyler’s hamstring injury could either keep him out or make him a pocket passer when he’s facing Aaron Donald with a beat-up offensive line is . . . not great.
    • The Colts defense will likely go overlooked but this Raiders offense has issues and keeps losing skill players. The Colts are down a couple of players as well but they’ve been very good this season and the negative vibes about the team’s coaching situation and offense are unfairly affecting the perception of the defense as well.


    Be sure to check the NFL Edge game breakdowns for deeper dives into these games, but here are some afternoon specific thoughts.

    IND // LV 

    (NFL EDGE)

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    Underdog Underowned

    Lex is a matchup researcher who focuses his play on Underdog’s Battle Royale contest.

    Week 10

    The goal of this article is to present you with information and strategy about a different-style DFS tournament that is not currently as strategically optimized as traditional DFS due to its infancy as a contest style. Due to Underdog’s main customer base of Best Ball players, there are many people approaching this tournament in a suboptimal way. So let’s take advantage!

    New to Underdog? Use this link to receive up to $100 matched on your first deposit

    Brief Review of Previous Data

    This section will just be to track some top-five lineup trends that may help you in constructing your roster.

    • In 18-of-27 weeks, there have been at least four QB-teammate stacks in the top-five rosters (13-of-18 were QB-WR)
    • 2022 QBs + teammate in top-five: Joe Burrow (10/10) // Lamar Jackson (9/10) // Josh Allen (5/9) // Patrick Mahomes (5/5) // Justin Fields (0/5) // Jalen Hurts (4/4) // Tua Tagovailoa (2/2) // Jared Goff (1/1)
    • Of the 45 QBs on a top-five roster in 2022, 40 have scored four or more touchdowns
      • Exceptions: Allen in Week 4 (four teams, two touchdowns) and Tagovailoa in Week 8 (one team, three touchdowns)
    • Of the 135 top-5 rosters, 98 have had two RBs (72.6%)
      • This means a 1-2-2-1 roster construction
    • Mark Andrews has made a top-five roster in 11-of-20 weeks he has been on the slate, and Travis Kelce has made a top-five roster in 10-of-18 weeks he has been on the slate
    Looking at Week 10

    Even with ADP shifting over the course of the week, we can get a pretty solid idea of who is going where early in the week, and what players are being left off the board that might provide overlooked winning upside. 

    This week specifically is missing a lot of usual depth due to the teams on Bye or on island games, and Josh Allen’s status has also thrown the drafting rooms into a frenzy.


    Notable QBs missing from this slate: Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Tom Brady, Geno Smith, Marcus Mariota

    • Top-six QBs by ADP: Patrick Mahomes (JAC), Josh Allen (MIN), Justin Fields (DET), Tua Tagovailoa (CLE), Kyler Murray (@LAR), Dak Prescott (@GB)
    • If Allen misses, Mahomes is one of the most valuable players on the slate. Fields with Detroit on deck will get him steamed up the draft board throughout the week.

    QBs with upside outside the top-six drafted:

    DISCLAIMER: Based on who is going undrafted and what the matchups are for the big dogs at the top, the top three-to-four guys specifically should probably be prioritized. The following guys are probably more useful to consider for the 12-man draft contests.

    • Jared Goff: Chicago shipped off multiple elite defenders and has allowed 84 total points the last two weeks. Chicago is also scoring 31.3 points per game over the last three weeks, leading to a lot of fantasy production for both teams in their games. While infrequent, Goff’s best scores as a Lion are 29.9 (33-41), 26 (36-27), and 34.2 (45-48). He has a clear stacking partner in Amon-Ra St. Brown, who will also potentially be going later in drafts after some down weeks. Still, in the case that this game goes off, Fields is certainly a massive favorite to outscore Goff. Due to the ADP difference, he doesn’t necessarily need to outscore Fields if you can build a better overall roster with sixth round Goff, but it would still almost certainly mean Fields is not having a game like last week (keep this in mind when drafting).
    • Russell Wilson: While certainly having a down year, his arm looked better in Week 8 and he has since had a bye to get healthier. Tennessee has allowed the fifth most QB fantasy points per game, with five-of-eight QBs topping 300 yards passing. Tennessee has been at the bottom of the league in WR fantasy points allowed in each of the last three seasons, making a pairing with either Jeudy or Sutton (or Dulcich) make sense if venturing to the Wilson play. When at his best, Wilson is one of the few capable QBs here with a reasonable chance at being the top QB scorer of the week.
    • Matthew Stafford: Arizona has been a below average pressure-generating defense despite leading the league in blitzes. Los Angeles’ biggest problem this year has been offensive line play, and Stafford (like most veteran QBs) has historically torched heavy-blitzing defenses. In 2021, Stafford made a top-five roster more than any QB except for Josh Allen. In three 2021 games vs Vance Joseph’s Cardinals’ defense, he averaged 256 yards & 2.7 touchdowns. Kupp is slipping a bit in drafts due to his recent performances against Arizona and Byron Murphy, but he’s always a threat for a huge game (including a 13/123/1 game vs Arizona in 2021). Stafford & Kupp together will be virtually unowned in this contest (seven of Stafford’s 11 appearances on top-five rosters last year came with Kupp too).
    Running Backs:

    Notable RBs missing from this slate: Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey, Kenneth Walker, Joe Mixon, Rhamondre Stevenson, Leonard Fournette, Miles Sanders, Cordarelle Patterson

    • Top 10 RBs by ADP: Saquon Barkley (HOU) // Derrick Henry (DEN) // Nick Chubb (@MIA) // Travis Etienne (@KC) // Alvin Kamara (@PIT) // Josh Jacobs (IND) // Tony Pollard (@GB) // Dalvin Cook (@BUF) // Dameon Pierce (@NYG) // Jonathan Taylor (@LV)

    RBs with upside outside the top-10 drafted:

    DISCLAIMER: I feel mostly the same about this group as the QB group, in that it is very hard to see which undrafted RBs are legitimately worth bets to outscore most of the top-10 guys. The position is just missing so much depth this week.

    Chicago vs. Detroit:

    • This game is set up for lots of fantasy production (both defenses bottom-five in rush defense DVOA), the problem just being that both backfields come with unpredictable usage. I will lay out why I have some interest, but keep in mind the splits on each side could ultimately prevent any of them from helping your roster.
    • Chicago RBs: Detroit is allowing the sixth most RB fantasy points per game behind the fourth most RB rush yards per game and second most RB rush touchdowns (11). Before holding Green Bay to nine, Detroit had allowed between 24-48 points in every game. Chicago has scored 31.3 points per game over the last three weeks, with Fields scoring as many rushing touchdowns as Monty and Herbert combined (three). If the touchdowns go through one of the RBs this week, a big game is in play.
    • David Montgomery: Montgomery has nine games of 20+ fantasy points (half-PPR) in the last 2.5 seasons, so he’s proven capable of the necessary ceiling. He has 14-17 rush attempts in six-of-7 full games. Since returning in Week 5, he leads Herbert in red zone touches 14 to 5. He leads Herbert in receptions 13 to 3 in games played together.
    • Khalil Herbert: Despite fewer rush attempts, Herbert has out-rushed Monty in four-of-seven games together. Before last week’s seven attempts in a tough RB matchup vs Miami, Herbert had 28 rush attempts to Monty’s 30 in the two games prior. Every career game where Herbert has at least 10 rush attempts, he has rushed for 70+ yards.
    • Detroit RBs: Chicago is allowing the fifth most RB fantasy points per game behind the sixth most RB rush yards per game and second most RB touchdowns (12). Chicago has recently allowed point totals of 29 (MIN), 49 (DAL) and 35 (MIA), and also traded away two of their best defenders in that time. Notable top Detroit RB scores this year already: 25, 15.7, 23.7, 23.4, 21.1.
    • D’Andre Swift: Despite injuries and often what can feel like frustrating usage in his career, Swift has eight games of 20+ fantasy points in his 30 career games. When healthy, Swift is typically a highly drafted player due to that ceiling. Selecting him is a bet his usage swings way back up and he uses that high efficiency to score multiple times in a high scoring game. He outscored Williams in the first two weeks before being limited with his lingering injury.
    • Jamaal Williams: Williams has the 13th most RB fantasy points this season thanks to four games of two touchdowns. He has 26 red zone touches on the season. Selecting him is a bet that Swift remains extremely limited, and that he continues to rack up work as the lead back on his way to scoring multiple touchdowns..
    Wide Receivers:

    Notable WRs missing from this slate: AJ Brown, Devonta Smith, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Garrett Wilson, DJ Moore, Terry McLaurin

    WRs with upside outside the top-14 drafted:

    • Denver WRs: Tennessee has been one of the most generous defenses to wide receivers for fantasy purposes in each of the last three seasons. Between Sutton & Jeudy (or even Dulcich), it is almost a given that one of these guys has a strong game this week. Sutton led Jeudy in targets 46 to 29 in the first 5 weeks, but Jeudy has led 25 to 16 in the last 3. The main thing holding these guys back (and why they are down here in the undrafted bucket in the first place), is Denver is currently the third lowest scoring team in the NFL with a pathetic 15.1 points per game. This is a bet on one of them being able to score and likely help produce one of Denver’s best scoring games of the season.
    • Darnell Mooney: A lot about this game environment has been written already in the RB section, but it also applies here. Detroit has given up the fourth most WR fantasy points per game, and the third most completed air yds, something that bodes well for an explosive play threat like Mooney. He finished with 135 and 125 yards in his two games vs Detroit in 2021. He now has a more legitimate WR opposite him to draw some defensive attention (his eight targets in Claypool’s first game were actually his second most all season). Fields will be 100% owned, but very few will pair him with Mooney.
    Tight Ends:

    Notable TEs missing from this slate: Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Dallas Goedert, Kyle Pitts, Gerald Everett, Hayden Hurst 

    • Massive advantage for Kelce this week, should be the first pick every time. Every roster without Kelce should be thinking about ways to leverage his success, i.e:
      • Juju Smith-Schuster
      • One of the first round players that never slip to a Kelce roster (i.e. Tyreek Hill or Saquon Barkley) puts up a must have score; now what does that mean for the rest of the roster?

    If I can’t get Kelce, then I’m usually looking to stack my TE with QB. I also like a healthier Dalton Schultz with Dak Prescott back, considering his splits with Dak, and Greg Dulcich’s upside in a nice matchup. David Njoku is expected to return, but the high ankle sprain does worry me a bit considering its long-standing history of negative performance impact.

    Underowned Combos:
    • Fields + Swift/Williams
    • Fields + Mooney + (St. Brown)
    • Goff + St. Brown + (Monty/Herbert/Mooney)
    • Wilson + Jeudy/Sutton/Dulcich
    • Dak + Pollard + Schultz
    • Stafford + Kupp + (Higbee)

    Hope this helps you get started with the contest and ship that first place! Good luck everyone!