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 16

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    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)


    Meet The Team


    Angles

    Happy Wednesday! (And happy holidays!)


    New members: Every week (typically Thursday morning; Wednesday morning this week) we send out the Angles email — in which we take a critical, “overview” look at the slate ahead.

    The Lay Of The Land ::

    Week: 16

    Total Main Slate Games: 10

    Slate Overview:

    Once again, we have a “deeper into the season” weekend (post-byes; all 32 teams playing) with only 10 games on the Main Slate, as the NFL has wisely moved most of this week’s games to Saturday to account for Christmas falling on a Sunday. With a Thursday night game, a Saturday night game, a Monday night game, and three games on Sunday, we are dealing with one of the smaller slates we have had all season.

    A handful of marquee names are missing from this slate, with the ascendant Jags offense playing Garrett Wilson and the Jets on Thursday night, the concentrated Raiders playing Saturday night, the high-powered/concentrated Dolphins playing on Sunday, the disappointing (but still packed with name-value) Bucs playing Sunday night, and the “not as good on offense as everyone wants them to be” Chargers playing on Monday night. Still, however, this leaves us with a Main Slate that includes the Ravens in Lamar Jackson’s expected return, the Lions on the road against the Panthers, Josh Allen and the Bills taking on Justin Fields and the Bears, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs playing at home against the attackable defense of the Seahawks, Justin Jefferson and friends facing the attackable Giants, Joe Burrow and his elite weapons taking on the man-heavy coverage scheme and aggressive tendencies of the Patriots, Derrick Henry against the Houston Texans, Brock Purdy and his stable of explosive 49ers weapons against the Commanders, and the likely Minshew-led Eagles taking on the Cowboys. With a decade of NFL Main Slates in the memory bank, this looks — comparatively — like an “ugly slate”; but when we consider some of the slates we’ve been given this season, this slate actually appears to be more full of viable options than what we’ve typically been seeing.

    At the quarterback position, we not only have Mahomes in a likely high-scoring spot and Josh Allen — assuming the weather on Saturday cooperates — taking on an attackable Bears defense, but we also have Lamar Jackson vs the Falcons, Jared Goff vs the Panthers, Kirk Cousins vs the Giants, Joe Burrow vs the Patriots, and (depending on your imagination and risk tolerance) Deshaun Watson against the Saints and Gardner Minshew against the Cowboys.

    At the running back position, we have the monster role of Christian McCaffrey, the focal-point usage of Derrick Henry in a pristine matchup vs the Texans, and a slew of other high-priced running backs capable of scoring at the same level as these two (Nick Chubb, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Dalvin Cook, Rhamondre Stevenson, Joe Mixon, Tony Pollard, Miles Sanders, Kenneth Walker), in addition to some cheaper guys with high, price-considered ceilings (J.K. Dobbins, D’Andre Swift, David Montgomery, Jerick McKinnon).

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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::

    Unique and interesting slate, baby! Beyond the low totals and weather concerns, we have a mix of teams mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and teams fighting for a playoff spot or seeding. And while individual players or teams can succeed without anything left to play for, the additional motivation provided by teams jostling for the playoffs adds additional outs to the equation. Furthermore, while there are only a few top expected game environments on the slate with three totals over a modest 44.0 points (Seahawks @ Chiefs, Giants @ Vikings, and Eagles @ Cowboys), all three games carry more questions than they have answers. Kansas City is a 10-point favorite at home; the Giants and Vikings run conservative offenses in middling matchups, with a game environment less likely to take off than public perception; and the Cowboys have vaulted to 5-point favorites with the Eagles missing their starting quarterback. That said, all of the Lions, Bills, Chiefs, Vikings, Giants, Bengals, 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys are implied for more than three touchdowns, meaning nine of the 20 teams on the slate are projected to score enough to provide at least one viable GPP asset, per historical norms. We’ll dig further into this idea after we take a look at expected ownership.

    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.

    CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY

    Restrictive chalk. 28.6. That’s the low output from CMC over the previous three weeks with Elijah Mitchell out of the lineup in San Francisco. He has done it in all aspects, scoring four touchdowns, seeing 21 combined targets, and hitting the 100-yard bonus twice during that span. Not much left to be said about the best running back in the game on a very RB-friendly offense.

    DERRICK HENRY

    Restrictive chalk. Yea, yea, yea, we know – Derrick Henry has gone over 200 yards on the ground in each of the previous four meetings with the Texans. My 63-year-old mother knows this. That said, King Henry has seen his receiving volume dry up dramatically with Malik Willis in at quarterback, meaning if he doesn’t hit 200/2, he’s likely not sinking you, cost considered. There are also numerous players that have 30+ fantasy points within their ranges of outcomes on this slate, meaning a non-200/2 game could theoretically be made up for elsewhere. Furthermore, the Titans offensive line is extremely banged up right now, with no projected starter for Week 16 achieving even an NFL-average run-blocking rating from PFF this season. That said, Henry is in the top on-paper matchup at the running back position.

    DALVIN COOK

    Restrictive chalk. I compared Dalvin in this spot to Joe Mixon from his blowup game a couple of months ago. Look, I’m not saying Dalvin is going to put up a top-five-ever fantasy score, simply that his usage and involvement in this offense have left room for a far higher ceiling than he has exhibited thus far, and that variance could all hit at once in this matchup. For more of the “numbers” behind that claim, check out my write-up in the Edge.

    SAQUON BARKLEY

    Restrictive chalk. Also in the write-up of that game, I talk about how the matchup is sneaky difficult for Quon here, which makes him my least favorite on-paper running back from this pay-up range.

    JUSTIN JEFFERSON

    Restrictive chalk. Justin Jefferson chasing history in a cake matchup – yea, sounds good to me.

    DK METCALF

    Restrictive chalk. Opportunity, talent, and matchup are close to tops on the slate for DK this week. I prefer him when stacked with his quarterback, particularly considering most of the field’s exposure to him will be as a bring-back or naked correlated pairing with a member of the Chiefs.

    T.J. HOCKENSON

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. This feels an awful lot like “I want exposure to this side of the game but don’t want to pay up for Jefferson or Dalvin.” As in, there isn’t much in Hockenson’s profile with the Vikings that screams unrealized upside here.

    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 16

    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 16 players that are best utilized on Draftkings or Fanduel.

    Geno Smith:  FD $7.6k, 12.7% // DK $5.8k, 11.6% // Value on Draftkings

    Before facing the 49ers tough defense last week, Geno scored 20-plus Draftkings points in five straight games. This week he faces a Chiefs defense who’s allowed the fourth most Draftkings points per game (22.0). Smith is a better value this week on Draftkings where he takes up 1.1% less of the cap space and is the ninth highest priced quarterback as opposed to the seventh highest on Fanduel.

    Patrick Mahomes:  FD $9.2k, 15.3% // DK $8.4k, 16.8% // Value on Fanduel

    Mahomes takes up 1.3% less of the cap space on Fanduel versus Draftkings. He’s only priced $100 below Josh Allen on Draftkings but $300 below Allen on Fanduel. Mahomes only has three games this season scoring less than 20 Fanduel points and only four games without having multiple touchdowns. He’s a better value on Fanduel, but should be considered on both sites with this game having the highest total on the slate (49.5). Travis Kelce is an excellent stacking partner and is one of the better values on Fanduel as well.

    Dalvin Cook:  FD $8.7k, 14.5% // DK $7.2k, 14.4% // 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 MME and high-dollar, small-field 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).

    Bottom-Up Build
    DK Salary Remaining :: $6.1K

    Gardner Minshew
    D’Andre Swift
    Jerick McKinnon
    Justin Jefferson
    Rashid Shaheed
    Demarcus Robinson
    Dallas Goedert
    Jahan Dotson
    Texans

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    Blue Chips

    Derrick Henry

    As you may have heard by now, Derrick Henry is on a four-game streak against Houston of 211+ rushing yards and two or more touchdowns.

    As Hilow explored in the NFL Edge, the Texans’ defense has been rapidly improving; and with Malik Willis (26 total pass attempts across his previous two starts) under center for Tennessee, the Texans will be throwing everything they can at trying to force the Titans to win “any way but with Henry.” That said: the ceiling on Henry is as high as any player on the slate, and (as examined below), the chances of him really hurting a roster for playing him are somewhat low.

    From my DFS Interpretation for this game ::

    • “To Derrick Henry or not to Derrick Henry” will prove to be one of the key decision points on this slate. Furthermore, it’s folly to act as though “predicting whether or not Henry hits for a big game” is the edge on this slate. Instead, we should recognize that he easily COULD hit (he saw 32 carries the last time these two teams played), while also recognizing that he could easily NOT hit. Whichever way we play this slate (or whichever way we play an individual roster), we should be accounting for this decision.
    • On rosters with Derrick Henry, one thing I’ll be looking to do is to pair him with another high-priced piece that most Henry rosters likely won’t have (with primary focuses being CMC and Justin Jefferson). This way, if 1) Henry hits for 35+, 2) one of these other two hits for 35+, and 3) there are a limited number of 30+ point scores on this slate (which is likely), I’ll have a clear path toward moving ahead of all the other rosters that joined me on Derrick Henry.
    • On rosters without Derrick Henry, I’ll want to recognize that while “sub-10 points” is possible (he rushed for 86 yards and no scores, with zero receptions, in his last game against Houston before this four-game hot streak; also, he has been averaging over six DK points per game through the air across his last six starts with Tannehill, but he had only one total reception, for nine yards, across two Malik Willis starts), the likeliest way for Henry to “fail” is nevertheless for him to still rush for over 100 yards and score a touchdown, giving him around 20 to 25 DK points. This is the type of score that “won’t kill those who rostered him,” which means that in order to take advantage of this slight disappointment from Henry, “a big score that the Henry rosters don’t have” is my best bet. Again, this highlights Jefferson and CMC for me. In other words: the Henry situation effectively compels me to play a lot of Jefferson and CMC this week — not because I necessarily “think they’ll both have a monster game,” but because the clearest path to first place WITH Derrick Henry is for one of these other high-priced guys to also have a big game, and the clearest path to first place WITHOUT Derrick Henry is for one of these other high-priced guys to have a big game.
    Justin Jefferson

    From my DFS Interpretation for this game ::

    • Jefferson is one of my favorite individual pieces on this slate. He talked before the season about his goal of going for 2,000 receiving yards, and now that he’s close to reaching that goal, we can comfortably expect the Vikings to give him opportunities to get there (as we noted with the “A.J. Brown vs Tennessee” situation: if you have a players’ coach, and they can help a player in a way that also helps the team, we can generally expect them to do so; i.e., emphasizing Jefferson gives the Vikings their best shot at a win, and also gets him closer to that 2k-yard season). CMC and Henry will be popular on this slate, and the running backs below them include Saquon (no games north of 26 DK points since Week 1), Chubb (only six games in his five-year career north of 30 DK points), Rhamondre (best career game of 30.4 DK points), followed by a long list of players who are “not particularly likely to reach 30 DK points,” while the wide receivers priced below Jefferson include Diggs in bad weather, Chase against the Patriots, A.J. Brown with Minshew, ARSB in a game where the Lions likely won’t need to feed him massive volume, DK Metcalf in an elevated role but with zero 30-pointers on the year, etc., etc. — all of which further emphasizes the importance of getting a 35-pointer at the top of the price range if one comes available. I’d put the chances of a 35-pointer at Henry first, Jefferson a very close second, and CMC third. I’ll have plenty of Henry + Jefferson, plenty of Jefferson without Henry, and probably a decent amount of Jefferson + Dalvin (see Building Blocks Below). I won’t have Giants pieces away from Vikings rosters, but I may have some Daniel Jones and/or Giants pass catchers on the other side of Vikings-heavy builds.

    Because of the ceiling on Jefferson and the strategy angles available on both playing him alongside Henry and playing him away from Henry, he’ll be my highest-owned player on the slate.

    “Light Blue” Chips

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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

    Dalvin + Jefferson
    Cost: $16.5K DK // $18.0k FD
    Story:

    “The Vikings score a lot of points.”

    Why It Works:

    Jefferson will be somewhat popular this week. Dalvin will be somewhat popular this week. But nearly no one will play these two together.

    How It Works:

    As explored in my DFS Interpretation for this game ::

    • Dalvin has four games this year of 26.1 to 28.1 DraftKings points…and in three of those games, Justin Jefferson topped 30 points himself (33.32 // 38.3 // 33.3). This is similar to the old “Derrick Henry + Ryan Tannehill + A.J. Brown” setup, in that these two are specifically uncorrelated (one of them scoring points is taking away points from the other), but their ceiling games can end up somewhat correlated as they can come in “Vikings score a lot of points” setups. As Hilow has noted in multiple Vikings writeups this year: this team generally “marches the field” rather than attacking splash plays, which helps illustrate how Dalvin seems to hit in games where Jefferson is also hitting, as each player is helping to put together sustained drives that end in one of them scoring a touchdown. I won’t have to “worry about” Daniel Jones ownership on my Daniel Jones roster(s), as I’ll almost certainly confine my DJ exposure to rosters that have BOTH of these pieces from the Vikings. In those three games where both players hit, they went for around 60 to 65 points, which is exactly in range of 4x their combined salary, and is a combo that basically no one will have.
    POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE:

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

    Swift + Chark

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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 ::

    Patrick Mahomes || Geno Smith || Jared Goff || Daniel Jones (on Vikings-focused builds) || Joe Burrow (only place I’ll play Chase) || Gardner Minshew

    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 ::
    Tony Pollard

    Pollard is in a high-leverage game where his talents will be needed by the Cowboys. He has scored 20+ points in five of his last seven games and led the Cowboys with 24 opportunities last week. The Eagles just surrendered a 24.1 DK point game to David Montgomery last week on 15 opportunities and Pollard’s situation this week is drastically better than Montgomery’s was.

    Jerick McKinnon

    McKinnon’s recent run has been terrific and he appears to have taken over the lead in the Chiefs backfield. While he isn’t a true workhorse, his role as the pass-catching back with the majority of the red zone usage playing with Patrick Mahomes is highly valuable. McKinnon is what we all wanted D’Andre Swift to be but in a more explosive offense. 

    Derrick Henry

    There isn’t much to say about Henry that hasn’t already been said a thousand times in the fantasy football industry this week. He smashes bad run defenses. He smashes in games the Titans win and/or are heavy favorites. He has destroyed the Texans for a few years now.

    Dalvin Cook

    Cook has not flashed his highest upside yet this season, failing to reach 4x his Week 16 Draftkings salary through 14 games. Cook only has four games over 20 Draftkings points this season, although every time he reached 20 points he scored more than 25. Ultimately, your expectations for Cook should depend on how you think the Vikings offense does, as all four of his games of 25+ points came when the Vikings scored more than 28 points. Only once, against a stout Patriots run defense, did Cook have a down game while the Vikings offense scored 29 or more points. The Giants run defense is very poor and this is a spot where the Vikings could put up a big number. 

    Christian McCaffery

    I’ll say it this way, I think CMC is a pretty safe bet for 20+ DK points but is unlikely to put up the 35-40 point game that truly hurts you for avoiding him. At his price, that means he’s unlikely to cost you a tournament either way and should be considered based on the roster you are building around him.

    • Side Notes/Thoughts::
      • Kenneth Walker – If Walker is playing, I assume that he is well enough to do so. The Seahawks would prefer to keep this game close and keep the ball out of the hands of Patrick Mahomes, so Walker’s ceiling at his price tag is hard to ignore.
      • Miles Sanders – Sanders finds himself here this week because his ceiling remains the same this week while his workload is more secure and the field’s sentiment on him is very negative. 
      • Saquon Barkley – Barkley has had a great year but has not truly “popped” since his 36-point Week 1 outing against the Titans. This week he has a chance to do just that as he is the focal point of his team’s offense in a high-scoring game.
      • James Cook – Cook’s role has fluctuated this year, but his season high in touches came in a game against the Patriots that the Bills controlled from start to finish. This week, the Bills are playing in very heavy winds that could lead to increased use of the running backs against a bad Chicago defense. The playoffs are just around the corner, so it would make sense if the Bills try to limit the number of hits Josh Allen is taking in a game where Buffalo should be in control. There aren’t many great value options this week, so if you think the Bills handle this game then Cook could be a primary beneficiary.
    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! 

    Holiday tidings to all!

    I have two main concerns for this slate and they correlate.

    1. Trap chalk at wide receiver

    2. Adhering to the typical build

    I think this will be a week where we lean on Hilow’s expertise in guiding us through the chalk build and how to exploit it.  

    I strongly suggest playing within your means this weekend. Be efficient with your time because your presence really is a present for others. 

    We definitely don’t want to bring New York Giants wide receiver tilt to the dinner table.

    I hope you all have a lovely holiday weekend. Make it special for the young ones. They’ll remember.

    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

    It’s Week 16 and you’re tasked with reading a lot of words before Christmas if you want to digest OWS and prepare properly for the Saturday main slate, and by now, you’re building strong lineups, giving yourself a chance to bink something, and learning each week. We’re just waiting for the variance wind to blow our way . . .

    Oh, the weather outside is weather. The conversations in DFS land this week start and end with the weather. Well, welcome to late December football! We know the cold, wind, rain, and snow are already affecting the Vegas totals early this week, but of those factors, we’ll need to primarily focus on the winds. As of late Wednesday, it’s shaping up as a primary factor in the Saints // Browns game, and the Bills // Bears. As always, keep tabs on any changes in forecasts into Saturday morning, but as always, don’t overreact as the field will.

    Joe Burrow + Tee Higgins

    The Bengals have the seventh-highest Vegas team total on this slate, sitting at 22.5 implied points. They travel this week to cold (but warmer than Cincinnati right now) New England where they are favored by just 3.5 points. Nothing about this game environment screams for a stack, but although the numbers seem to project this as a close matchup, the Bengals are rounding into form in recent weeks and these are not your father’s Patriots. In projecting this game, there are traditional ways to look at it and non-traditional ones. I like to keep things simple, so let me make the case.

    Let’s look at the Bengals elite passing offense first. PFF ranks the Bengals as the second best passing offense in the NFL through 14 games, behind the Chiefs. They also rank second in pass rate over expectation, well behind the Chiefs, but just ahead of the Bills. Interestingly, while they rank just tenth in overall pass play rate on the season, their pass rate is up to 65% in road games (3rd in NFL) vs. just 56% in home games (18th). Their opponent, the Patriots, rank in the top-10 DVOA against both the rush and the pass so the onus is on Cincinnati to choose their preferred method of attacking. That should be through the air, and if it is, the volume would funnel through Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, who would line up nicely against a heavy man coverage defense.

    The problem, of course, is Bill Belichick, who is a guru for developing, adapting, and implementing opponent-specific game plans week to week. And although his time as a coach could be winding down, I don’t doubt he can single out Chase this week, bracket him up and make someone else beat them. That someone else could be Mr. Higgins. I found this tweet from Bengals beat writer, Mike Petraglia very interesting. It’s a quote from Bengals offensive coordinator, Brian Callahan discussing how Belichick used to line up against his former team, the Denver Broncos (back in the Manning days). The tweet indicates literally that a tight end or a third wide receiver is the way to beat the Pats. But the way I read this is Callahan is ready to adapt his game plan to beat Belichick. It’s always a chess match, and the Bengals talent should allow them to win if Chase is getting all the focus, they’ll turn to Higgins and Tyler Boyd.

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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 16 Topics

    1. A Lump Of Coal

    2. This Is 30

    3. Revenge of the Tight Ends

    4. Floating Plays, Week 16

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


    1. A Lump Of Coal

    The Question ::

    As we head into the holiday weekend and a unique Saturday slate of NFL games, winter is truly upon us in a big way. Multiple days of NFL games in one weekend is awesome, but digging into the slate we can see there is a lot of ugliness in store for us, in large part due to the cold and snow. There are several factors that have this week’s slate feeling more like a lump of coal than a shiny new toy. Here are some things to consider on this slate::

    • Four of the ten games on this slate (ATL // BAL, HOU // TEN, NO // CLE, and WAS // SF) feature two teams who are in the bottom half of the league in Pass Rate Over Expectation (PROE), meaning both teams prefer to play conservatively and run the ball when they are able to. All four of those games also currently have an over/under below 40.
    • Three of those four games (all except WAS // SF) have current forecasts of temperatures below 10 degrees at kickoff.
    • From the remaining six games, there is a lot of uncertainty as well::
    • BUF // CHI is being played in Chicago which looks like it will have frigid conditions on Saturday. The Bears have the lowest PROE in the league and the Bills have been more balanced recently.
    • SEA // KC should be the top game environment, but has a projected temperature at kickoff in the single digits and mounting injuries on the Seattle side.
    • DET // CAR – the Panthers have had four home games since they fired Matt Rhule and none of those games have had more than 40 points scored in them.
    • CIN // NE has an over/under of 40.5, a number which five of the last seven Patriots games has gone under (even in last week’s 30-24 loss to the Raiders, there were only 41 points scored by the offenses). 
    • PHI // DAL is indoors and projects well, but it looks like the Eagles will not have Jalen Hurts due to a shoulder injury.
    • NYG // MIN is the only other game being played indoors and appears to have no big concerns surrounding it.

    Taking all of this into consideration, what are your expectations for the slate and how will it affect your approach?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    From a “game environment” standpoint, I’m taking cues from Vegas on the games in Cleveland and Chicago (weather), and will be largely staying away from those offenses (outside of, potentially, some pieces on the ground), but I don’t see any reason to be worried about the game in Kansas City, and the two indoor games (Dallas // Minnesota) definitely stand out on a week with so many weather concerns.

    Stepping outside of “game environment” discussions, I see this as a slate that will have precious few 30-pointers on it, and those who end up with multiple 30-pointers on a roster will be in much better shape than the field to chase down a big payout. The question, “Can this player win me a tourney?” is a key one to ask this week. I’ll gladly allow the field to try to “guess right on eight different guys who will all score 20 to 25 points,” while instead targeting clear 30-point upside myself.

    Xandamere >>

    It’s the first real weather slate of the season, or at least it looks like it as of Wednesday morning. We have six games as of right now that look like they have some element of weather concern, and so I’ll go back to my general rules of weather and DFS:

    1. Temperature and rain don’t impact scoring unless they’re extreme (or at least they don’t impact scoring in predictable ways – rain and sub-freezing temps can result in players slipping around the field, which could help the offense or the defense – it just adds more volatility)
    2. Wind doesn’t really start to impact scoring until it gets past 15mph or so
    3. The field tends to shy away from passing attacks in any sort of “bad” weather, and so while weather can add more volatility and/or reduce the likelihood of ceiling games, the ownership discount we get often more than makes up for any weather impact

    Sum it all up, and my rule of thumb is to completely ignore weather unless it’s a full-on hurricane (i.e. sustained 20+ mph winds and/or a monsoon coming down). 

    I’m hoping people get off of SEA/KC, as if we remove weather, that is the clear best game environment for a potential shootout. Yes, it’s going to be extremely cold, but the wind looks to be light and just cold weather doesn’t really do much to scoring. 

    Hilow >>

    I’m almost entirely writing off game environments in all spots except one – Seattle @ Kansas City. The Seahawks lead the league in pass rate over expectation over the last six weeks and are playing a team in the Chiefs that lead the league in pass rate over expectation on the season. The injuries in Seattle condense the offense to a point that brings massive upside to the remaining players (and I also don’t think Kenneth Walker plays considering the Seahawks elevated two additional running backs today (Friday) and Seattle has played exactly zero games with five active running backs on the game-day roster this year). And the Chiefs are, well, the Chiefs. The other two top expected game environments have more paths to failure than I think the field will give credit for this week, with both the Giants and Vikings primarily content to operate with conservative approaches unless/until otherwise forced and the fact that the Eagles are missing their quarterback, playing a team that has been at or below league average in pass rate over expectation in every game this season. That leaves me highly interested in both sides of the SEA/KC game and otherwise looking for teams that can outperform their team totals. I’ll likely have high exposure to SEA/KC with various correlated secondary stacks and one-offs built around that spot.

    Mike >>

    I think this slate is likely to be “ugly”, something we have said often this year, but there are also some clear ways I am looking to “embrace the ugly” and kind of cheat code my way to the top::

    • Chasing 30-pointers – More about this in my response to Question 2.
    • Cheap, Ugly Stacks – Finding a quarterback and two pass catchers that have a combined salary of less than $15k, ideally in a good matchup, a potentially high scoring game, or a game in which they may have to pass more than usual. Candidates for this strategy for me this week are the Panthers, Commanders, Ravens, and Texans.
    • Overstacks – Playing four or five players from the same team as a bet on the game environment. While we often get hung up on salary multipliers, if we can find a spot where a team scores 24+ points and has 400 yards of total offense, we can often get 100 combined points from a group of four or five players. When this happens, we are in a great position to make a run at the top of the leaderboard, even if those players may be a little pricey. This approach does limit your ceiling a bit if the team/game does not go truly “nuclear”, but on a week like this where 200 points might be good enough, if there is a high probability spot we can load up on raw points at, it shrinks the amount of other things we need to parlay to get to the top.

    2. This Is 30

    The Question ::

    Given the context of the slate we discussed in Question 1, it is reasonable to think that we have a good chance of this week’s scoring being relatively low like last week’s was – with roughly 200 points putting you in contention in almost every tournament except the largest fields and even the largest tournaments having lower than usual winning scores. Last week we discussed how finding great salary multipliers can be very important on lower scoring weeks. However, these lower scoring weeks also make 30+ point games from individual players far more valuable, regardless of the player’s price, and this week there are many more players with clear paths to a 30-point game than we had last week. 

    Which players do you think have the best chance of scoring 30+ points this week and how will those players and overall factors of the slate affect your builds?

    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!

    *Saturday Crunch

    Saturday 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 Saturday mornings for Inner Circle members.

    Click here to join Discord for free.

    Frost Bite::

    I live in Wisconsin and for the last couple of days, the weather has been absolutely brutal. As I was outside shoveling yesterday in the blistering cold, I was trying to occupy my mind by thinking about the upcoming Saturday football slate. Thinking through the games, as I could barely feel my extremities, I couldn’t help but think about all these games that will be played in bad conditions this week. One of the games that is likely to be hit the hardest by this is the Saints // Browns game, with single-digit temperatures and 25-30 mph winds with gusts to 50 mph (meaning below zero wind chills), which is contributing to the game’s 32 point over/under – the lowest we’ve seen all year. However, standing there I couldn’t help but think to myself “there is nothing I would have less desire to do in this cold than try to tackle Nick Chubb”. We know the weather is going to force both teams to run the ball even more than normal and Chubb is one of the best pure runners in the game. He will have very low ownership and slate-breaking potential in this spot. He could certainly run the ball 25 times for 80 yards and not score any touchdowns, giving him a low floor, but his ceiling is far higher than most people will give it credit for due to the low game total. If the Browns build a lead, it will likely be based on Chubb’s success and will also lead to more carries for him as defenders become more defeated.

    Across The Pond::

    I talked up Drake London last week in this spot and see an even better opportunity for him this week. Desmond Ridder has a game under his belt now and the Ravens run defense is so good that it forces the third-highest opponent pass rate on the season. London has seen an absurd 46% target share over the last two weeks and even if that drops a bit this week we can reasonably expect 8 to 10 targets at a low price and low ownership for a very talented player. I think London will likely spend most of his career priced in the $6k to $7k range on Draftkings, so I’m going to play the discount with relatively locked-in volume while I can.

    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

    Afternoon-Only will not be published today with only 2 games in the late slot.

    Looking for Sunday Strategy? Find writeups and late swap of each game in the NFL Edge.

    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 20/33 weeks, there have been at least four QB-teammate stacks in the top-five rosters (14 of 20 were QB-WR)
    • 2022 QBs in top-five (stacked/total): Joe Burrow (12/13) // Justin Fields (4/12) // Jalen Hurts (9/12) // Lamar Jackson (9/10) // Josh Allen (5/9) // Patrick Mahomes (8/9) // Justin Herbert (2/3) // Tua Tagovailoa (2/2) // Jared Goff (2/2) // Kyler Murray (1/1) // Mike White (1/1) // Trevor Lawrence (1/1) // Geno Smith (0/1)
    • Of the 75 QBs on a top-five roster in 2022, 54 have scored four-plus touchdowns, and most of the rest did heavy scoring on the ground
    • Of the 155 top-five rosters, 118 have had two RBs (71.5%)
      • This means a 1-2-2-1 roster construction
    • Mark Andrews has made a top-five roster in 12-of-25 weeks he has been on the slate, and Travis Kelce has made a top-five roster in 12-of-23 weeks he has been on the slate
    • In 2022, 11-of-15 weeks have had a single WR or RB make all five top-five rosters

    Week 15 Top-Five Rosters: Score // Roster // ADP

    Looking at Week 16
    Quarterbacks:

    Notable QBs missing from this slate: Jalen Hurts, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, Tua Tagovailoa, Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson(?), Tom Brady, Russ Wilson, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford

    • Top-six ADP concerns: Josh Allen with extreme snow weather, Burrow vs a New England team strong against touchdowns, Fields with extreme snow weather vs. a solid defense
    • Mahomes / Geno and Cousins / Daniel Jones are playing in the two outlier high total games; Kansas City is favored by 10, Minnesota is favored by fuor
      • Mahomes is the only one of them not going in the last round (ADP)

    QBs with upside outside the top-6 drafted:

    • Daniel Jones: Minnesota has allowed the sixth most fantasy points to QBs, including ground success to the likes of Hurts, Fields, Kyler, Allen. Jones has multiple scores over 25+ fantasy points, and has rushed for the fifth most yards of any QB (41.6/g). This game carries the second highest total on the slate, and Jones could conceivably outscore Cousins on the other side even with a big game from a Minnesota skill player or two.
    Running Backs:

    Notable RBs missing from this slate: Kenneth Walker(?), Jonathan Taylor, Aaron Jones, Travis Etienne, Josh Jacobs, Najee Harris, James Conner, Austin Ekeler

    RBs with upside outside the top-6 drafted:
    Isiah Pacheco: Kansas City is implied for 29.5 points at home as a 10-point favorite, playing a defense allowing the second most fantasy points to RBs. Pacheco has averaged 15.8 rush attempts in the last six games, with a range of 13-22. Even in a game last week in which he fumbled and was briefly benched, he reached 16 touches. With his scoring almost assuredly going to come on the ground, he is one way to get leverage off Mahomes and the fifth highest RB by ADP, Jerick McKinnon.

    D’Andre Swift: Carolina has allowed some big RB days this season. Swift’s usage has been a question mark all year, but he’s currently off the injury report and is clearly a more explosive player than his touchdown-vulture teammate Jamaal Williams. Swift has 20+ point upside on a motivated team, and can be successful in different game scripts.
    Wide Receivers:

    Notable WRs missing from this slate: Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Garrett Wilson, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Diontae Johnson, Chris Olave, Tyler Lockett, Michael Pittman, Christian Watson, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Cooper Kupp

    Positive Notes:

    • Justin Jefferson: Elite WR matchup for 2022’s current WR1; Players around him with questions: Henry (Willis), CMC (knee), Allen (weather), Diggs (weather), Chase (matchup); extremely thin depth at WR on slate
    • Amon-Ra St. Brown: Carolina has allowed fourth most WR receptions; 8-12 targets in every healthy game this season
    • DK Metcalf: Kansas City has allowed fifth most WR fantasy points; no Lockett; opposite elite offense
    • Brandin Cooks: Tennessee has allowed most WR fantasy points and is very tough vs. run; no Nico Collins
    • Curtis Samuel: San Francisco secondary weakest against slot, which is where Samuel primarily plays; SF has faced seventh most pass attempts
    Tight Ends:

    Notable TEs missing from this slate: Pat Freiermuth, Darren Waller, Evan Engram, Gerald Everett, Robert Tonyan, Tyler Higbee, Mike Gesicki, Zach Ertz, Kyle Pitts

    • Jefferson may have more value than Kelce this week due to their respective ceilings and the week’s depth at their respective positions, but they are my top two targets of the week
    • As said before, If Kelce disappoints, likely a strong game from another Chief; McKinnon has popped two straight weeks while JuJu and Pacheco have been mildly productive; Pacheco is going undrafted now, but the game could certainly play out with him scoring the touchdowns that McKinnon scored last week
    • Andrews has tumbled down the ranks due to lack of productivity, but he has his best matchup in weeks and still carries elite ceiling for the position
    • Kittle has shot up to No. 2 this week after his blowup, but he is usually a fade for me at higher ADP due to his lack of volume and reliance on long scores; that being said, WR depth is weak, Deebo still out, and Purdy hasn’t been as good as Jimmy G at finding Aiyuk
    • Quick notes on some TEs past top trio:
      • T.J. Hockenson: “Always one Viking,” strong target expectation
      • Dawson Knox: Production up (15 targets last two games), plus-matchup
      • Taysom Hill: Weather favors ground game; usage up recently
      • Dallas Goedert: Upside; even with backup QB, a strong offense
    Underowned Combos:
    • Cousins + 2
    • D Jones + Dalvin + (Jefferson / Hockenson) + (Slayton)
    • Geno + Metcalf + Walker / Fant + (Chief)
    • Darnold + Moore + St. Brown / Swift
    • Lamar + Andrews
    • Henry + Cooks
    • Chubb + Taysom

    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

    Quick overall thoughts:
    • The main decision point of the slate comes in the early game around Tyreek Hill. Pricing seems on the loose side and rostering Hill doesn’t hamper the ability to build ‘comfortable feeling’ rosters. As a result, Hill should carry the highest overall ownership, and while he is the most dynamic player, there is always merit for a fade if building around a different game script.
    • I would expect around 75% of the total QB ownership to condense on Tua, Brady, and Rodgers, and with two of them playing in the first game, this should provide ample direction on what makes the most sense from a game theory perspective based on how that game plays out.
    •  On a normal Sunday slate, the Broncos at Rams, with an implied game total of only 36 would likely be a game we mostly avoided. 
    Let’s Dive In:

    What I like about Sunday’s slate is that the most dynamic game is first. While this game will likely be the most owned game due to its perceived “fantasy goodness”, it has many tributaries on how it can play out on a one-game sample size. Players who are willing to embrace some uncertainty and leverage late swap will likely be at a competitive advantage.

    On a small slate, like this upcoming three gamer for Sunday, one of the biggest mistakes our competition will make in terms of roster construction will be thinking about certainty or safety (what’s likeliest to happen) first and building around that. It’s essential to remember that on a one-week sample size, things will likely play out differently, and embracing uncertainty is advantageous.

    I want to once again emphasize the importance of capturing the players who put up 20+ point scores, as there may only be a few of them on the entire slate. As always, we are not just picking players we like, but are constructing a roster that works together. With that in mind, below are some key skill position players from each team with their top scores thus far this season. This is a good measuring stick of who is and likely isn’t capable of a had-to-have-it score as well as which players most consistently return 3x their salary.

    For reference of how important capturing a 20-point score is, excluding QBs, there are only 6 skill position players across all 6 teams that have three or more games all season eclipsing the 20 point ceiling, and all come from the Dolphins, Packers and Cardinals(!!):

    Late Swap / Roster Construction Theory:
    • Focus on two games on each roster, with only 1 player from the other game. I think a common mistake is trying to get multiple skill position players from each game on every roster, and while it is viable, I believe the percentage of rosters built that way far exceeds the likelihood of that construction being optimal.
    • As mentioned above in the quick thoughts, I would expect most rosters to feature builds revolving around either the Packers, Dolphins, or Bucs. Tua with Hill, Rodgers with Watson, and Brady with Godwin should all be highly owned stacks. While these all make sense, what if the touchdowns come on the ground or through secondary receivers?
    • Most people will not build a full game stack, however, a QB, RB, WR (or two WR) from one team with a bring back (or two) is generally an underplayed strategy on short slates.
    • Correlation is even more important on a short slate. When building each roster, make sure you’re accounting for all 3 of the games, and what specific scenario or game script each construction means for the individual games.
    • If you build in a way that has most of the scoring from the early game coming on the ground (for example, you roster Jones and Mostert) and you’re wrong, you should consider swapping away from Brady stacks as your roster is likely way behind and you can’t ride up with the chalk as too much of the field will have the same plays.
    • Remember that once we get to the final game, salary doesn’t matter anymore, and decisions should be made based on current standing – If you’re ahead, block popular plays. If behind, swap to lower-owned plays to try and make up ground. If possible, I’d recommend having at least two skill position players from the final game to allow for a late swap.

    Going into the late game, a few salary combinations are below for consideration:
    Highest owned pair:
    Brady + Godwin ($13,000)
    If behind, consider:
    Brady + Hollywood Brown ($11,500)

    Highest Owned Late Game Trio:
    Brady + Godwin + Evans ($19,200)
    If behind, consider:
    Brady + Evans + Fournette ($18,100)

    Defense:

    With the news coming early of Colt McCoy being ruled out, I fully expect the Bucs Defense to be the highest owned by a wide margin. The most likely game script has the Cardinals falling behind and having to pass with their 3rd string QB making his first start. We have seen the Buccaneers offense struggle for most of the season, however, so a game where the Cardinals keep it close by pounding the rock with Conner is certainly a reasonable tributary on how that game may play out. As we know, defensive scoring is hard to predict, and simply embracing variance when it comes to DST can be a profitable strategy, especially on a short slate like Sunday, where I expect more than 50% of the ownership to congregate on the Bucs and Broncos.

    I hope to see you and your OWS avatar at the top of a leaderboard come Sunday night.