Sunday, Feb 12th — Late
Bye Week:
49ers
Bears
Bengals
Bills
Broncos
Browns
Buccaneers
Cardinals
Chargers
Colts
Commanders
Cowboys
Dolphins
Falcons
Giants
Jaguars
Jets
Lions
Packers
Panthers
Patriots
Raiders
Rams
Ravens
Saints
Seahawks
Steelers
Texans
Titans
Vikings

The Scroll Week 14

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    The DFS Slate

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    Meet The Team


    Angles

    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.

    The Lay Of The Land ::

    Week: 14

    Total Main Slate Games: 10

    Slate Overview:

    This deep into the season, this has the feel of a throwback slate: Week 14; only 10 games on the Main Slate.

    With the 18-week NFL season, the final week of byes is now Week 14 (it used to be Week 13) — and with the NFL giving us a three-game Saturday slate next week (Week 15) and a three-game slate on Christmas day (Week 16), this isn’t even our final 10-game slate of the season. But at a point in the season when we are conditioned to seeing an overflow of available options and teams, we instead have a slate that offers us a total number of games on the lower end of what we’ve seen over the last couple months.

    Teams missing from this Main Slate include the Saints, Colts, Packers, Bears, Patriots, Cardinals, Raiders, Chargers, and Dolphins — which means a LOT of “top running backs” absent :: Alvin Kamara // Jonathan Taylor // Aaron Jones // David Montgomery // Rhamondre Stevenson // Josh Jacobs // Austin Ekeler. Additionally, we are missing Davante Adams, the dual-threat upside of Justin Fields, the marquee names on the Cardinals’ offense, and the fully-stocked passing attacks of the Chargers and Dolphins.

    Add it all together, and with all the premium names missing, this already-small slate has the feeling of an even smaller slate — a feeling that is compounded once we look at some of the matchups the “top available offenses” are facing:

    The Bills are implied to score 26.75 at home against the Jets, and they can certainly get there; but in terms of “offensive upside,” this is one of the tougher matchups on the Bills’ schedule, making it less likely that they soar past this implied total for a “had to have it” score.

    The Chiefs are implied to score 26.0 on the road against the Broncos, and they can certainly get there; but in terms of “offensive upside,” this is one of the tougher matchups on the Chiefs’ schedule, making it less likely that they soar past this implied total for a “had to have it” score.

    The Cowboys are in a smash spot at home against the Texans (favored by 16.0!; implied to score 30.75!), but as we’ve been hammering all year: Mike McCarthy has made it clear since summer that he sees the Cowboys’ defense as their identity, and that — much like Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco — he feels confident that the Cowboys should call their offensive game plan accordingly: taking control of games, dominating on the ground, and forcing the opponent to become one-dimensional against the lethal Dallas pass rush. McCarthy has been good to his word, limiting pass volume in games the Cowboys control — which essentially leaves us with the Cowboys’ split backfield as the clearest source of upside in this game.

    Similarly, the Eagles are in a matchup they are capable of controlling…but as we’ve been on top of throughout the season: this is an adaptable offense; and against a beatable Giants run defense, it’s reasonable to expect the Eagles to lean on the ground game, again limiting the scope of upside we can target from a potentially high-scoring Week 14 offense.

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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

    MACRO SLATE VIEW::

    Another week, another slate where the field appears to be picking out the top on-paper plays. I have theorized that player selection is rapidly approaching Nash equilibrium in my work this season, a state of the game where no one member (player or roster) can gain an edge on another through the use of varying principles, doctrine, or techniques. The use of improved projection systems and technology has made that part of the game we hold so dear a level playing field, meaning we have to hunt vigorously for other ways to generate an edge. And this is nothing new to us at OWS as we’ve been talking about it the past two seasons, but that idea bears repeating on a slate like this one, where there is one clear top expected game environment and most of the top one-off plays have been identified correctly by the field (via expected ownership). That said, there are some pieces of chalk this week that are more fragile than others (and we’ll cover that more in-depth below), but the macro trend is that the field has done well to identify the top range of outcomes plays here.

    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.

    JARED GOFF

    Expansive chalk. Quarterback for the team with the second highest Vegas implied team total in the top expected game environment. Makes sense to me, although I was shocked to see Goff with this level of ownership considering the Lions propensity to run the football in the red zone.

    DERRICK HENRY

    Restrictive chalk. The Jags are #notbad against the run this year, ranking 11th in adjusted line yards allowed and eighth in yards allowed per running back carry. Henry is priced at $7,900 and has returned a 4x salary multiplier on that salary just twice in 12 games played.

    JOE MIXON

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. If we removed Mixon’s five-touchdown game from five weeks ago, would the talking heads of the industry be hyping him up as much? I think not. Mixon is priced at $6,900 for Week 14 and has only hit a 3x salary multiplier of that salary twice all season (Week 1 when he barely did it and his historic output in Week 9). In fact, Mixon has been priced at $6,700 or higher in every game played this year despite the muted production, which means the field continues to roster him. And sure, reason away his massive output in Week 9 by pointing to the gap in expected fantasy points per game and actual fantasy points per game, but at some point, we have to call a spade a spade. Mixon currently has four total breakaway runs this season, two of which came in that Week 9 game. His laughably low 2.5% breakaway run rate ranks 45th in the league. His 22 evaded tackles rank 44th in the league. His 11.1% juke rate ranks 52nd in the league. His 4.6 yards per touch ranks 36th in the league. Yea, he’s tied to a top offense, but that’s about it from his profile that is a positive.

    D’ANDRE SWIFT

    Expansive chalk. Christian McCaffrey has averaged 7.6 targets and 13.4 rush attempts per game in his five games with the 49ers when he has played more than 28% of the offensive snaps. D’Andre Swift has averaged 6.5 targets per game and 15 rush attempts in games he has been off the Lions final injury report over the last two seasons. Swift is off the team’s final injury report again this week and is priced at $2,700 less than CMC. Just saying.

    AMON-RA ST. BROWN

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. No explanation required.

    GARRETT WILSON

    Expansive chalk. No further explanation required.

    JUSTIN JEFFERSON

    Restrictive chalk. No further explanation required.

    GREG DULCICH

    Expansive chalk. I mean, sure. Dulcich has a more than solid 19.4% targets per route run rate and elite 12.1 aDOT in Denver, but his offense is averaging a league-low 13.8 points per game and the Chiefs allow a below average 10.7 DK points per game to opposing tight ends. Courtland Sutton being out theoretically boosts his expected range of outcomes. Fine on-paper play unlikely to sink you for not playing him.

    T.J. HOCKENSON

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. I’ll put it like this – Hockenson has surpassed a 3x salary multiplier on his current $5,300 salary three times in 12 games played, two of which have come in the five games he has played with his new team. Additionally, he is operating in a low aDOT role in Minnesota and has yet to surpass 16.0 fantasy points while competing with Adam Thielen for a secondary role in the offense. Another fine on-paper play unlikely to sink you for not playing him.

    DALLAS DEFENSE

    Restrictive chalk. The unquestioned top on-paper play at the defense position on this slate.

    PITTSBURGH DEFENSE

    Expansive chalk. The Ravens have a wide range of potential outcomes regarding how they are likeliest to attack here, which means the Steelers defense carries a wide range of potential outcomes as far as their opportunities to amass fantasy points go. If playing the “defense against a backup quarterback” card, why not shift to the now-healthier Buccaneers against a third-string, seventh-round rookie quarterback at half the expected ownership?

    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 14

    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 14 players that are best utilized on Draftkings or Fanduel.

    Geno Smith:  FD $7.7k, 12.8% // DK $6.2k, 12.4% // Value on Draftkings

    Smith has scored at least 20 Draftkings points in four straight games and has hit the 100-yard bonus in two straight. He’s a little better value on Draftkings where he takes up .4% less of the cap and is the seventh highest priced QB versus the sixth on Fanduel.

    Jalen Hurts:  FD $8.7k, 14.5% // DK $8.1k, 16.2% // Value on Fanduel

    Hurts has scored a rushing touchdown in three of his last four games which is great for Fanduel scoring. He takes up 1.7% less of the cap on Fanduel than on Draftkings. He also has the highest salary multiplier based on average production and his price this week (2.95x). 

    Ezekiel Elliott:  FD $8.0k, 13.3% // DK $6.1k, 12.2% // 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

    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

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    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

    Deshaun Watson
    James Cook
    Miles Sanders
    Ja’Marr Chase
    Phillip Dorsett
    Chris Moore
    David Njoku
    Donovan Peoples-Jones
    Eagles

    Alternate BUB
    DK Salary Remaining :: $6.2k

    Joe Burrow
    James Cook
    D’Andre Swift
    Ja’Marr Chase
    Phillip Dorsett
    Chris Moore
    Greg Dulcich
    Donovan Peoples-Jones
    Cowboys

    Join The Bottom-Up Build Contest On DraftKings!

    Buy-In:
    Free

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

    Prizes:
    150 Edge Points (good for two free DFS Education courses!) + ‘Discord Blue’ color in Discord!

    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

    There are no “True Blue” Chips on my list for this week

    “Light Blue” Chips
    Jalen Hurts

    With Josh Allen playing the Jets and Patrick Mahomes playing the Broncos, Hurts is the “elite DFS QB” likeliest to go for 30+ points. The Giants rank bottom-six in DVOA against both the pass and the run, and we are likely to see the Eagles start this game the way they typically start games: going surprisingly pass-heavy, before taking a lead and turning things over to the run. In both of these pathways, Hurts will be an engine of the offense until this game gets out of hand (and if it doesn’t get out of hand, he’ll remain an engine throughout). His chances of a true blowup game are lower in this spot, given that the Giants are unlikely to keep pace; but his chances of disappointing are very low, and his chances of being the highest-scoring QB on the slate remain relatively high.

    Amon-Ra St. Brown

    Some interesting math here…

    If we throw out the game in which ARSB got hurt this year (he was in and out of the lineup afterward, but was largely ineffective, and then proceeded to miss most of the next month) and throw out the games in which he played very limited snaps, he has averaged 25.14 DraftKings points per game across his last 14 contests. (This includes his first two games back from injury, in which he posted his two worst games in this stretch.) This would put him above the 2022 per-game production of both Justin Jefferson and Stefon Diggs. In fact, to more deeply illustrate how underpriced ARSB is: getting ARSB at $7.8k against his relevant sample size of production is the equivalent of getting 2021 Cooper Kupp (27.9 DK points per game) at $8.6k. I’ll also note that ARSB has four games in this stretch of 15.3 or fewer DK points (i.e., he is capable of working out as a fade), and his “likeliest outcome” is somewhere in the mid-20s (23 to 26 points), which helps those who rostered him, and doesn’t kill those who don’t roster him. But just in terms of “production expectations gained for the salary,” he’s definitely underpriced — especially against a Minnesota defense that has allowed the most WR yards and second most WR receptions in the NFL.

    Cowboys DST

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    Build-Arounds

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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

    Goff + ARSB + Chark + Hockenson
    Cost: $22.8K DK // $26.9k FD
    Story:

    “This game plays out the way the public expects it to play out”

    Why It Works:

    This game is going to be stacked lots of different ways, and even this stack won’t “set you on a clear path to first place” if it hits. But this particular combination of players makes just as much sense as any other, and it’s likely to be lower-owned than many of the other ways this game could be built (Swift, Thielen, Jefferson, etc.). If the touchdowns come through the air for the Lions and Hockenson scores once or twice for Minnesota, this setup would separate from the field, allowing you to play a chalky game and still gain a significant edge when it hits.

    How It Works:

    Because this building block doesn’t necessarily “separate from the field” if it hits (as noted already: it should put you ahead of a lot of rosters if it hits, but you’ll still be competing against other rosters that have a similar setup, especially in large-field play), I would look to pull one or two additional levers on this roster: rostering a high-upside piece that the field is overlooking, or finding some leverage off a popular piece, etc. Still (and again) :: this is one of the more unique ways to attack the most popular game on the slate, while still telling a story that makes all the sense in the world.

    POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE:

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

    Geno + Lockett + Metcalf + DJ Moore

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    Bonuses

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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 ::

    Jalen Hurts || Joe Burrow || Deshaun Watson || Jared Goff || Geno Smith || Tyler Huntley

    RB ::

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    A Wrap ::

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

    -JM

    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 ::

    I’m really not a fan of the running back situation this week, as the top options based on my criteria are all very pricey and also rate slightly lower than the usual top options. My preferred way to build on Draftkings this week will be with cheaper options at running back and hoping they can get me 15-20 points while using the extra salary to load up on high-upside passing game pieces.

    Dalvin Cook

    He checks all the boxes we want and the attention that Minnesota’s passing game will receive from the field should keep his ownership in check.

    Christian McCaffrey

    CMC’s role in games without Elijah Mitchell is, by far, the best role in fantasy football.

    Derrick Henry

    Henry is basically two different players in Titans wins and losses. This week the Titans are favored against a Jaguars team that Henry has demolished over the years. 25+ touches seems very likely in this spot with a solid matchup and potential for some big plays.

    Per my comments above, these first three RBs I like much more on Fanduel than on Draftkings. Their prices are less prohibitive there and allow much better builds around them. That’s not to say that they can’t be played on Draftkings, but it takes a specific type of build to make it work.

    Tony Pollard/Ezekiel Elliott

    Pollard and Elliott should both have solid workloads until the game gets out of hand. Pollard’s explosiveness and the matchup allow him to have a much higher ceiling than Elliott. He is underpriced for his recent performance on both sites. The duo has combined for 42 and 57 DK points in two of the last three weeks, making them viable to play together in this matchup in smaller field contests and also making it likely that the production isn’t an even split and one of them posts a 4x or better score while the other disappoints. The biggest concern here would be a situation where the Texans implode very early and give Dallas short fields that give touchdowns but limit yardage and receptions, while also allowing the Cowboys to put both of these guys on ice early.

    D’Andre Swift

    Swift appears to be trending in the right direction with his usage and health, as he took control of Detroit’s backfield in last week’s win over Jacksonville. If Swift is truly taking over the backfield, he’s drastically underpriced. Even if he simply maintains half of the usage, he gets a ton of work in the passing game and has the explosiveness and game environment to pop off for a big game.

    D’onta Foreman

    Foreman is a battering ram facing a run defense that has been battered lately. He has 100+ rushing yards in four of his last six games and is the short-yardage back for the Panthers.

    SIDE NOTES::

    • Rachaad White/Leonard Fournette – The matchup dictates that the Bucs should throw the ball a lot and the Tampa running backs will likely catch a lot of balls like the 12 they combined for on Monday night. It wouldn’t take much for one of them to fall into the end zone and, along with their 5 to 7 points from receptions, be in easy striking distance of a 20-point DK game. As I said earlier, I prefer paying down at RB this week to spend up on receivers, so this option (while seemingly having a lower ceiling) opens up some things.
    • Isiah Pacheco – 15+ touches in four straight games. Very likely in a positive game script. Facing a “run funnel” defense and an offense that struggles to sustain drives, therefore increasing Kansas City’s expected play volume. 20 touches for Pacheco seems very reasonable in this spot and with how he has popped on film this year, I will be surprised if he doesn’t have a big game before the season ends.
    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! 

    We all know by now that this slate revolves around the Lions/Vikings game and Amon Ra St. Brown is the key cog in that machine. I’m not going to be scared off the chalk but I will be cognizant of the enormous number of rosters I’ll be competing against. Even in my hand builds I’ll be incorporating a rule like this one I set up in Labs.

    If playing Amon Ra St Brown use at least 2 of:

    Then we list players that have a high ceiling at single digit ownership, preferably on the lower side.

    A.J. Brown

    DeVonta Smith

    Deebo Samuel

    Chris Godwin

    Christian Kirk

    Amari Cooper

    Gabe Davis

    Mike Evans

    Tyler Boyd

    Darius Slayton

    Marquez Valdez-Scandling

    D.J. Chark

    You get the point.

    LFG!

    Sonic


    QB:

    RB:

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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

    Have you ever had the feeling . . . that this is the week? I think it’s safe to say most of us have had that feeling. Why do we get this feeling? Usually, it’s because things just click. We have more time to devote to research and reading content. We listen to podcasts and go down deep Twitter rabbit holes. We run our own projections, we walk through the slate game by game, all thoughtfully and with purpose. And then what typically happens? We have a terrible week. This can be so demoralizing. When we’re truly engulfed in the slate, we can tell you our takes on almost every game and player, and the results should follow but they don’t. And the only reason why this happens is simpler than I thought originally. We’re too damn sharp for our own minds. When you’ve been in the DFS streets for years, you tend to get action and follow multiple sports and you have had a few notable payouts but there’s a dangerous trap we fall into . . . we outsmart ourselves.

    Trust your Instincts

    I’d venture a guess that most of you reading this could glance at an upcoming Sunday main slate on the previous Monday morning (six days before kickoff), and build lineups just by scanning the games and they would outperform lineups you build later in the week. Because if you’re reading this, you’re an OWS member and with even just a few weeks of content consumption and understanding lineup strategies, you’re sharp as a nail. You’d be able to look at specific games and probably guess the over/unders within a few points before Vegas establishes them. You’d know who may have the nut matchups, which players are coming on, and who is due for positive regression. But, then we read more content. We let pricing influence our builds. We glance at ownership and it talks us onto or off of certain players who we liked at the beginning of the week. And then, at times, our lineups suffer. If you’re just getting into DFS, it makes all the sense in the world to devote the time, analyze each game slowly, and take as much advice as possible in building lineups that can win. But if you’ve been in the game awhile, you’re forming your own opinions even as you progress through The Scroll each week, thinking about what you’re reading, but also thinking for yourself. And my true advice this week is to keep on doing just that. Think, don’t overthink, for yourself. Just don’t be blindly stubborn.

    Mark Andrews + Travis Kelce

    On certain weeks when I can slow down my analysis, I love to literally write down the names of all viable players on a slate. It helps me recognize some names I wouldn’t have thought of, understand where there could be some opportunities, and identify the games I want to target. Below is my pool for BAL/PIT as well as KC/DEN:

    Stare at those pools for a second. Specifically the BAL and KC rows first. Tell me exactly, where is the volume going? Tyler Huntley has a mess at running back if Dobbins returns, along with a cast of characters at WR and of course, Mark Andrews (who he has a clear affinity for). Andrews hasn’t hit his ceiling lately, but he’s been dropping touchdowns from Lamar on what seems like every week, and he’s still hitting a minimum of seven targets over his last three games. At just $6,500 on DK, his price is right (comparable WRs in this range include Chris Godwin, Christian Kirk, and Tyler Lockett) and even though his game environment is expected to be low scoring, he had 15 targets in this same matchup against Pittsburgh last season in Week 17 (Huntley at QB, duh).

    Kelce is also a strong play this week in his own right. He’s averaged 78 receiving yards per game against the Broncos in his career, and he’s coming off two nondescript games (for his standards) where he failed to hit his point-per-dollar expectation. Ownership should be slightly depressed on him for this reason, and yet when he looks up, whether or not Kadarius Toney plays, he still does not have much competition for targets from Patrick Mahomes. But the best reason to play Travis this week? He had a costly fumble last Sunday in the game against the Bengals, and he is not happy about it. Extra motivation works for me.

    Pairing these two together is where this block becomes intriguing for me. It feels like putting two adversaries on the same team, as typically when we play one, we don’t play the other, but volume and expected roles this week have me leaning into the TE in the flex spot on my rosters (Kelce, for the late game). I talked about the possible WR pivots from Andrews above in his price range, and for Kelce he’s right next to Amon-Ra St. Brown and CeeDee Lamb, and in a perceived tough matchup against the Broncos secondary. Play the volume. Forget the positions.

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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 14 Topics

    1. Snap, Back To Reality

    2. Diamond Hunting

    3. Early Bird Gets The Worm

    4. Floating Plays, Week 14

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


    1. Snap, Back To Reality

    The Question ::

    Well that was fun (not really) while it lasted. Last week we finally had a week with a plethora of explosive game environments and high profile teams. Obviously, some things went well, but on the whole the week disappointed in some of the biggest spots (LAC//LV and KC//CIN went under their totals, Jimmy G and Waddle got hurt and short circuited the MIA//SF game, CLE defense stole the show, and JAX never got anything substantial going). As if that reality check wasn’t enough, we are now in a week that is, on the surface, probably the ugliest we’ve had all year. Only 10 games, and only one of those games (MIN//DET, which is a second divisional matchup) has a total over 47…..with only three others over 44.

    In a week like this with a condensed player pool and a lot of projected low scoring games, how do you walk the line between being creative and chasing extremely thin plays?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    Sort of randomly, my mind never categorizes slates as “ugly” or “exciting,” etc., which I think always helps. Instead, I have a tendency to look at the slate, see what it offers, and immediately start thinking about my clearest path to a first-place finish. We all have to play the same slate, and I tend to find that slates everyone else sees as “ugly” are often my most profitable — with part of this certainly being due to the fact that I’m just seeing it as “a slate,” while others are seeing it as “an ugly slate.” I start with that to say: If you’ve been looking at this slate and “defining it as ugly,” I would encourage you to let go of that thinking and instead just focus on what you can control: the best way you see to play this particular slate toward a first-place finish.

    With that out of the way :: well…I guess my answer to this question would be different on different weeks. But on THIS week, I love a game that the public isn’t likely to be on, which makes it pretty easy for me to “play what I most want to play, while also being different.” If you’ve been around the site this week, you know what game I’m talking about :: Browns // Bengals, where I am not only approaching the Bengals’ side thinking that Zac Taylor will likely build his game plan assuming the Browns will be capable of putting up points, but where I am also approaching the Browns’ side asking, “And what if the Browns actually ARE capable of putting up points?” The opportunity to get Deshaun Watson at sub-2% ownership against a high-scoring opponent because of a one-game sample size of him looking unsurprisingly rusty is too great for me to pass up. Currently, I plan to have Burrow or Watson on roughly 60% of my large-field builds, with one or the other on most of my tighter builds.

    Outside of that game, I also like Ravens // Steelers and Panthers // Seahawks as spots with sneaky shootout potential. While I obviously like the Vikings // Lions game (and will be playing plenty of pieces from that one, including some rosters built around Goff/Cousins), I also see a lot of fun ways to target differentiated upside on this slate.

    Xandamere >>

    First, keep in mind the tournaments you’re playing in. If you’re a smaller-field player, you don’t need to chase extremely thin plays. If you’re trying to take down the Milly Maker, you’re going to need to go off the board somewhere. For me, I build 3 rosters per slate (main, early, and afternoon), and so generally I will pick 1 or 2 primary games I’m going to focus on. You can probably guess which game I’m primarily focused on (surprise! It’s MIN/DET!), and so on a week with one very clear “best” game, I’ll build 2 rosters that are predicated on that game hitting (not necessarily with the QBs, who I think are only so-so plays at best, but with multiple other plays from that game). And then, since I expect that especially in small field tourneys that will be the overall highest-owned game, I’ll build one roster around the idea of “what if the game everyone is targeting falls short, either via overall offensive floundering or just poor distribution of fantasy points?” That’s my general approach to slates with a clear best game, as I feel that, in smaller field tournaments, if the best game hits, I can construct rosters around better than most players and give myself a solid chance at a score. And then in the event that game fails and drags down a ton of rosters with it, I still have an out via my second favorite game. 

    Hilow >>

    Similar to how JM opened his response, my process remains the same, slate in and slate out. As I’ve articulated before, that process begins with analyzing (or breaking down) each individual game environment in an attempt to identify which games carry the highest upside in their ranges of outcomes. I then look to individual teams before finishing it off with individual players (one-offs). And while the slate appears “ugly” on the surface, there are still spots that fit into each one of those categories for me. As far as the player pool and being creative go, all we can do is tailor our decision-making processes to the information we have. Take a germaphobe choosing the optimal stall at the office or at school – would they be best served to pick a stall at random or would it prove optimal to also consider the fact that the most commonly used stalls are on the ends? Similarly, there are upside spots that the field seems to not be fully interested on this slate – those are the spots that gain intrigue on a slate like this.

    Mike >>

    My approach from a slate perspective is to try and get a feel for two things. First, how do I think the slate is likely to play out in terms of the biggest games from the high priced individual players. Second, I try to identify where there is the most “value” from a positional standpoint. Combining those two things, we can put together a puzzle of how the field is likely to approach things and also what type of construction gives us the best chance of a 200+ point roster. For this week, the high priced quarterbacks are in spots that make it seem unlikely to me that any of them gets up into that 35-40 point range. Likewise, the higher priced running backs are in some solid spots but their game environments and matchups don’t seem likely to produce those 35-40 point games that you end up needing to have. With that in mind, my preferred build this week is to save money at quarterback and running back which allows me to spend up at the receiving positions and load my rosters with players who have explosive potential and high target projections. This approach also allows me to spend up for the Dallas defense, which I think is likely to score 15+ points this week (something you are rarely able to say about a defense).


    2. Diamond Hunting

    The Question ::

    In the first question, we dove into the lack of game environments that project for high scoring and explosiveness. Taking this a step further, there are ELEVEN teams on this slate that are projected to score less than 21 points. Considering that there are only 20 teams playing in total, over half of them having under three touchdowns as a median outcome certainly limits some things. That being said, as I just mentioned an implied team total is simply a median projection and actual performance can sway greatly from the median with a great enough sample size. Considering that we have 11 teams who fall in this “bucket” this week, it stands to reason that one or two could dramatically outperform and score upwards of 30 points. Which of those teams projected for under 21 points do you think is most likely to score 30?

    The Answers ::

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    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

    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.

    Click here to join Discord for free.

    Stacking The Seahawks::

    The Seahawks are likely to be without their top three running backs this week, leaving them with Travis Homer and Tony Jones as their top options at the position. Homer is a pass catching specialist and Geno Smith is the league’s most accurate quarterback. We should see Seattle throw the ball on a very high percentage of their plays and Carolina’s opponents have had the 4th highest amount of plays per game this season. Smith and Homer are great plays, and DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, and Noah Fant should also have a lot of opportunities to put up points against a middling to poor Panthers defense. I love stacking up the Seahawks offense this week and even bringing it back with at least one of DJ Moore or D’Onta Foreman from the Carolina side.

    Zooming Out::

    Obviously, we always need to be looking at matchups, game environments, and data points as we examine plays in certain weeks. However, sometimes it becomes necessary to “zoom out” and find spots where players have performed well below their usual expectations and take a blind leap of faith in things correcting. I will be doing just that this week with Mike Evans. Since 2019, Evans ranks 2nd in the NFL in receiving touchdowns. During the 2020 and 2021 seasons, with Tom Brady as his quarterback, Evans averaged a touchdown once every 8.3 targets. Over the last eight games, Evans has had 68 targets without a touchdown. Based on his past performance, we would have expected Evans to score EIGHT touchdowns during that span. The Bucs offense is not what it was in past seasons and this game isn’t expected to be high-scoring, but Evans has a low salary for his talent and will likely be under 2% owned. I’m willing to bet on his talent correcting his recent performance in a game where the Bucs might have to throw 45+ times.

    Getting Defensive::

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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

    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. 

    QB STRATEGY

    Only three games on this week’s afternoon slate, which obviously condenses the QB pool considerably and makes most of the field’s builds relatively predictable.

    • Geno Smith should easily be the highest owned QB on this slate.
    • Patrick Mahomes has a tough matchup and the highest price tag but by far the highest team total.
    • The four remaining QBs are all projecting for minuscule ownership on the main slate, meaning they will all likely end up garnering a little bit of ownership on the Afternoon Only slate and making it tough to nail down which of them will be the most popular but also making it almost certain that none will get near the Mahomes level.
    • From a strategy perspective, the important thing to think about is how those last four QBs will most likely be played. All of them are unlikely to be played with a running back from their team or against the opposing defense, giving a lot of value to playing those pairings.

    My guess on final ownership:

    • Geno Smith – 40-60%
    • Patrick Mahomes – 15-25% each
    • Wilson, Darnold, Purdy, Brady – 5-12%
    Defense Strategy
    • The top-3 defenses on this slate are sure to be the Panthers, 49ers, and Bucs. The Panthers are extremely cheap and the 49ers // Bucs game is projected to be close and low scoring (with QBs who are potentially very vulnerable). 
    • The Chiefs are an outstanding “pay up for uniqueness” option as it will be tough for people to justify the extra money to move up from the other options on the slate. They won’t be completely overlooked against the hapless Broncos offense, but I particularly like the idea of playing the Chiefs D with Mahomes stacks as a bet that Kansas City’s offense gets rolling and forces Denver to be aggressive, leading to a full-scale Wilson meltdown.

    HOW I’M APPROACHING EACH GAME

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

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    Underdog Underowned

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

    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!

    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 19-of-31 weeks, there have been at least four QB-teammate stacks in the top-five rosters (14-of-19 were QB-WR)
    • 2022 QBs in top-five (stacked/total): Joe Burrow (12/13) // Justin Fields (4/12) // Lamar Jackson (9/10) // Josh Allen (5/9) // Jalen Hurts (7/9) // Patrick Mahomes (5/5) // Justin Herbert (2/3) // Tua Tagovailoa (2/2) // Jared Goff (1/1) // Kyler Murray (1/1) // Mike White (1/1)
    • Of the 65 QBs on a top-five roster in 2022, 53 have scored four-plus touchdowns
      • Allen and Fields had 70/1 and 85/1 on the ground in their games without four touchdowns
    • Of the 150 top-five rosters, 111 have had two RBs (71.6%)
      • This means a 1-2-2-1 roster construction
    • Mark Andrews has made a top-five roster in 12-of-23 weeks he has been on the slate, and Travis Kelce has made a top-five roster in 12-of-21 weeks he has been on the slate
    • In 2022, 11-of-13 weeks have had a single WR or RB make all five top-five rosters

    Week 13 Top-Five Rosters: Score // Roster // ADP

    Looking at Week 14
    Quarterbacks:

    Notable QBs missing from this slate: Justin Fields, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert, Kyler Murray, Derek Carr, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford

    QBs with upside outside the top-six drafted:

    • Kirk Cousins: Detroit has allowed high QB fantasy production all year. Cousins has averaged 300 yards and two touchdowns in his last two games vs Campbell’s Lions. This game carries the highest total on the slate. He is easily stacked with Jefferson or Hockenson.
    • Deshaun Watson: For many of the same reasons as last week, Watson is interesting at miniscule ownership. Relatively high game total, easily stackable, leverage off Chubb, high ceiling.
    Running Backs:

    Notable RBs missing from this slate: Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Josh Jacobs, Rhamondre Stevenson, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, David Montgomery, James Conner

    RBs with Goal-Line Work, High Touch Expectation, Pass Game Usage, Strong Matchup:

    • Joe Mixon (CLE)

    RBs with Goal-Line Work, High Touch Expectation, Strong Matchup:

    • Derrick Henry (JAX) // Dalvin Cook (DET) // Nick Chubb (CIN) // D’Onta Foreman (SEA)

    RBs with Goal-Line Work, High Touch Expectation, Pass Game Usage:

    • Christian McCaffrey (TB) // Saquon Barkley (PHI)

    RBs with Goal-Line Work, Pass Game Usage, Strong Matchup:

    • D’Andre Swift (MIN) // Ezekiel Elliott (HOU)
    Wide Receivers:

    Notable WRs missing from this slate: Davante Adams, Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, Chris Olave, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams

    • With the amount of elite WRs and RBs off the slate, there is some potential for double stacks to come in to play this week
      • Two of Justin Jefferson + Dalvin Cook + T.J. Hockenson at Detroit
      • Amon-Ra St. Brown + D’Andre Swift vs. Minnesota
      • Two of Ja’Marr Chase + Tee Higgins + Joe Mixon vs. Cleveland
      • DK Metcalf + Tyler Lockett vs. Carolina
      • A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith + Miles Sanders atNew York Giants
    Tight Ends:

    Notable TEs missing from this slate: Cole Kmet, Gerald Everett, Tyler Higbee, Taysom Hill, Juwan Johnson, Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Darren Waller, Kyle Pitts

    • Kelce remains the most valuable player in the format, and Andrews has had significant value himself. That being said, both have shown some struggles with their current matchup 
    • Quick notes on TEs past the top duo:
      • T.J. Hockenson: Six-plus targets in every game with Vikings; weak pass defense
      • Dalton Schultz: Dallas is implied for 31 points
      • Pat Freiermuth: Seven games of seven-plus targets; best matchup of the Steelers players
      • George Kittle: Splash play ability; matchup tilts offenses to the air
      • Chig Okonkwo: Role growing; strong matchup; Burks out
    Underowned Combos:
    • Burrow + Mixon + (Cooper / DPJ / Njoku)
    • Burrow + 2
    • Watson + Cooper / Njoku + (Mixon / Chase / Higgins)
    • Cousins + Jefferson / Hockenson + (St. Brown / Swift)
    • Goff + Swift + St. Brown + Jefferson / Cook

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

    Late Swap

    StatATL is an OWS Fam grad who had multiple tournament wins last season that included a large field showdown for MNF and a $50,000 SE win. This season Billy has been hammering short slates and utilizing late swap. In this article, he’ll help you take advantage of late swap.

    Need more late swap education? Read this free educational article on Late Swap

    Outlook – Late Games:

    Three of the ten total games fall into the late window this weekend, with only the Chiefs surpassing a 24-point Vegas implied team total. While KC is a ten-point road favorite, the two main offensive pieces (Mahomes and Kelce) carry hefty price tags. That said, I don’t expect heavy ownership around any of these three games, despite one offering some sneaky shootout potential (more on that later). 

    Overall, ownership should congregate around a few spots this week with the main decision point being how you account for Minnesota at Detroit. This game carries a 53 implied point total (a full touchdown more than the next highest) and features several strong on-paper plays. If your main stack on a roster is from the early games, such as the aforementioned MIN/DET matchup, I suggest a construction with at least one spot, preferably the Flex, saved for the afternoon games. This will allow you to block the most popular player if your early plays smash, or get contrarian with some of the options outlined below if your roster needs to play catch-up to get over the cash line.

    Important Early Outcomes to Watch:
    • Vikings and Lions skill position players – specifically Amon-Ra St. Brown, Justin Jefferson, D’Andre Swift, Dalvin Cook, and TJ Hockenson. All project to be in the top five in ownership at their position. Early projections have St. Brown as the highest-owned player on the slate as well as Goff and Cousins as the two highest-owned QBs.
    • Cowboys – Pollard, Zeke, Lamb, and Schultz. Dallas is projected to win by three scores and this matchup features one of the only times all season a team has a 31+ Vegas implied team total.
    • If Treylon Burks is inactive, I expect a strong performance from either Derrick Henry or Chig Okonkwo
    • “Slate Breakers” – unexpected monster performances like Joe Mixon a few weeks ago
    Price Range Breakdowns (Late Games):

    $6,500 and up:

    • DK Metcalf – Coming off his best performance of the year, Metcalf is priced the highest he’s been all season. He is top ten in the league for targets this season including 48 over his past five games.
    • Travis Kelce – Ownership will likely be spread out at TE this week and while Denver presents a tough matchup, this doesn’t affect his ceiling. If shutdown corner Patrick Surtain is matched up with JuJu Smith-Schuster, this may create more looks for Kelce. Early projections have him at 12% ownership.

    $5,500 – $6,400:

    • Isiah Pacheco Lead running back on a team favored to win by two scores. With CEH on IR, Pacheco has averaged 17.5 opportunities (rushes + targets) in the past 4 games. Projected at sub-5% ownership

    $4,500 – $5,400:

    • D’onta Foreman – Facing one of the league’s worst rush defenses, Foreman has 24 or more carries in 3 of his past 5 games. If you want an idea of the upside of this spot, go look back at what Josh Jacobs and Cam Akers did to this same Seattle defense the past two weeks.
    • Jerry Jeudy – Has been an absolute world-beater against man coverage, averaging over 6 yards per route run. The next best are Chris Olave and Ja’Marr Chase, who both average less than 4 YPRR. With Sutton doubtful, this could be a sneaky spot for Jeudy as DEN will likely be playing catch-up.

    Sub $4,400:

    • George Kittle – I can’t remember a time when Kittle was this cheap. He has put up 5x his current salary in terms of DK points twice in the past six games and should come in at sub-5% ownership.
    • Greg Dulcich – A second Bronco for late swap consideration?! I know it’s gross, but KC should be leading and if Sutton is out, the “offense” gets even more condensed. Broncos coach Nathaniel Hackett said the team will be using Dulcich in a “wide receiver role”. Expect high ownership, however.

    Defense:

    • 49ers ($3,200) – Should carry low ownership and have shown the ability to be the had-to-have-it defense for the week. The Niners are averaging over 12 DK points at home this year, despite playing high-powered offenses such as the Chiefs, Dolphins, Chargers, and Seahawks.  
    • Bucs ($2,900) – The Bucs are facing third-string QB Brock Purdy who will be making his first NFL start and are averaging over 3 sacks per game. Additionally, they have only given up over 23 points in a game twice all season.
    Stacks/Construction:
    • Seattle is my favorite stack to build around in the late window this week, as the offense is very concentrated. If Kenneth Walker is inactive, I would expect a slightly higher focus on the passing attack, and Geno has eclipsed 20 DK points in 7 of his past 10 starts. You can stack Geno with two of Jones/Homer, Fant, Lockett, and Metcalf in the hopes of capturing all the TDs. DJ Moore or D’onta Foreman make strong bring-back options at their salaries if building a game stack.
    • Reiterating the need to be mindful of how you are accounting for the Vikings vs. Lions game if not stacking it. This game is head and shoulders ahead of the rest of the slate in terms of fantasy goodness, and the likelihood of it completely failing is very small.  
    • I would expect a vast majority of rosters to build almost completely around the early slate. If you build with late swap in mind leaving at least one player from the late window and your early bets flounder, my favorite plays to consider are Pacheco, Jeudy, or a SEA WR (if Walker and DeeJay Dallas are both inactive). If your early stacks smash, look to block the most popular play by rostering Dulcich.
    • If your roster leaves both the FLEX and DST spots for the late slate, I’d recommend 49ers Def and Pacheco as placeholders as this will allow you good flexibility as you can always swap down to the Panthers (at $2,200) and use the extra salary for the flex spot (up to Godwin or Lockett). If we expect Seattle to be throwing more, this gives additional opportunities for sacks and interceptions for Carolina’s defense. Things could change, so as always, keep an eye on late-breaking news and remember to make sure your latest starting skill position player is in the FLEX spot.

    I hope to see you and your OWS avatar at the top of a leaderboard this week!