Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

The Scroll Week 16

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    THE SCROLL


    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)


    Meet The Team


    (MON) Christmas Slate Strategy

    StatATL has a math degree and a background as a financial analyst, and has blended an analytical, numbers-driven approach with an “OWS mindset” to rack up over $100,000 in lifetime DFS profit while maintaining low weekly buy-ins

    Christmas Strategy

    The Christmas slate provides us a unique opportunity unlike almost every other slate, where we can build the plane as we fly. This will be further discussed in the strategy section, but as more information becomes available as the games unfold, we can change our “heading” (see what I did there) on where each roster needs to go. You need to complete a full 9-player roster to enter a contest, however, my advice is to begin each build solely focused on the first game. While that can range from building a Mahomes overstack or completely ignoring it entirely, you should be mindful of the direction you as the pilot are building around.

    Let’s Dive In

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    (MON) Mike’s Christmas Player Grid

    My “Player Grid” for this week’s 3-game Christmas slate will have the feel of my usual “Afternoon Only” article that I do every Sunday. A full-fledged Player Grid would involve too many players for a slate with such a limited player pool to begin with. Rather, this slate very closely resembles what we see every Sunday with only three to four games in the late window. The added caveat for these fun slates is that we get time between each game to learn from what has happened already and the ownerships that have flipped over.

    QB Strategy

    Quarterback is always an important position, but that importance goes to another level on these small slates. There are two main reasons for this. First, on average quarterbacks score the most points of any position and we can only start one of them. Second, correlation is even more important as the slates get smaller and there are fewer scoring opportunities to go around. By choosing the right quarterback, you are also increasing the chances that you are right at two other positions. Again, the shorter slate condenses the scoring across all lineups, making each position more vital to separating and giving yourself a chance to win. This is why quarterback strategy has its own section:

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    Angles

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

    Week 16 Angles

    OWS Fam…

    Wow!!!

    What a week we have ahead of us.

    The NFL is working to not only become a global sport, but to also become a sport that dominates the entire week during parts of the season — with this week giving us a great example of their efforts in this direction, as we have zero teams on bye…and yet — with a game on Thursday, two games on Saturday, a game on Sunday night, and three games on Monday — we have a Main Slate of only nine games(!), our smallest of the season.

    Generally speaking, smaller slates give us a bit of an edge, in a pair of key ways. Firstly, the OWS community tends to be better than the field at identifying who the TRUE top plays are on the slate, while also identifying which chalky plays are “only chalk because of the slate they are on” (i.e., chalk that is more fragile). With a smaller slate, there is less to sort through, and it becomes easier to correctly identify these components. Secondly, the OWS community tends to be much better than our competition at the strategy side of DFS, and the fewer options there are, the more condensed ownership tends to be — and thus, the easier it is for us to pull strategy levers that move us up the leaderboards.

    We also have a unique setup, however, in that this deep into the season — between injuries that lower the ceiling of a number of teams and pricing that has generally become somewhere between “efficient” and “too high” — having a few more games available to choose from can be beneficial. Said differently: a 12- or 13-game slate at this point in the season typically feels similar to a 10- or 11-game slate in the middle of the season. With that, this nine-game slate feels like a particularly “small” slate, in terms of attractive spots and viable options, creating a really unique setup.

    On top of all of this, we have a massive convergence of available edges, in that A) this is a busy week for a lot of people with Christmas coming up on Monday, B) much of our competition is already dealing with the mental fatigue of plugging away at a new slate (or a new set of slates) week in and week out throughout the entire season, and C) much of our competition is dealing with the additional emotional fatigue of “not having had the season they wanted to have” — and while they might be aware that it only takes one week to transform the story of their season, the baggage they are carrying can often lead to them playing sub-optimally in order to “not lose any more,” when they should be positioning themselves to attack that much more aggressively (embracing a “willingness to lose”) in order to maximize their chances of that asymmetric payout they are chasing.

    Of course…this massive convergence of available edges is only valuable for you if YOU are not part of the pool of players providing this edge(!). If you are feeling overwhelmed with how busy this week is, or are dealing with too much mental fatigue to play at your best, or are carrying too much emotional baggage to be truly “willing to lose” with your rosters, it’s critical that you recognize this and scale back your play (or even be willing to take the week off entirely!) rather than leaning too heavily into a spot where you might be part of the edge others have. These are critical things to be thinking about on a week such as this.

    As for the games themselves, we have a set of stories being told to us by the Over/Unders and the implied team totals, but as we dive into the week (NFL Edge // Angles Pod // Scroll // Slate Pod // etc.), there are some spots with available upside masked by lower totals.

    As we have gotten used to this season, we have only five teams on this slate implied to score more than 22 points, and only three teams implied to score more than 23.5, with Taylor Heinicke (oh boy…) and the Falcons implied for 22.75 at home against the Colts, Justin Fields and the Bears implied for 23.5 at home against the Cardinals, Jared Goff and the Lions implied for 25.0 in a tough matchup against the Vikings, and the Cowboys (24.75) and Dolphins 26.25) squaring off in the late window in one of the “games of the week” between Super Bowl hopefuls who still have a lot to prove.

    While we’ll save the deeper dives for later-week content, I’ll note a few of the spots that don’t stand out by the totals but could nevertheless stand out when all is said and done on Sunday, as this provides a good snapshot of just how wide-open this slate really is:

    Opposite the Falcons, we have an aggressive Colts team that has a tendency to either A) create shootouts or B) put up plenty of points themselves — with 27+ points scored in six of their last eight games, and with 34+ points allowed in four of their last nine games.

    Opposite the Lions, we have a beat-up Vikings team that has weapons that can win through the air against a Lions defense that has allowed 26+ points in six of their last eight games.

    The Browns have played five consecutive games without Deshaun Watson, and they have thrown the ball 42+ times in all five of those games with a concentrated set of weapons, creating plenty of opportunity for fantasy goodness in their game against the Texans.

    The Seahawks have scored 20 or fewer points in four of their last five games, and only four teams have topped 24 against the Titans…but the Titans have also allowed 31+ in two of their last five games, and the Seahawks have three games on the season of 35+ points.

    And the Jags are likely to be without Trevor Lawrence (concussion), but it’s tough to run against their opponent (the Bucs), and it’s also tough to run against the Jags, which should create a pass-centric game with clear paths to the upside.

    Put it all together, and in spite of the many obvious drawbacks to this slate, there are some pretty interesting pathways along which this slate could develop.

    If you have the time, mental energy, and emotional balance to take advantage, it could develop into a really nice week!

    Late-Season Sales

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    Finally, just a reminder that Props Insider is now up to nearly $17,000 in profit(!!!!). Week passes are only $39.

    That does it for this week.

    See you at the top of the leaderboards!
    -JM

    The Workbook

    Majesstik is one of the most respected Slate Breakdown artists in DFS

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    Around The Industry

    Introduced in 2023, ‘Around The Industry’ provides a snapshot of sentiments from respected voices in the DFS and fantasy spaces.

    NOTE 1: Contributors’ scores are tallied each week, with a cash prize going to the leader at the end of the season

    NOTE 2: Full-PPR scoring

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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::

    We talked about the restrictive factor of time last week as one of the themes of the slate. That is only amplified this week as we had Thursday Night Football, two games on Saturday, a nine-game slate Sunday, three games on Monday, Christmas, the holiday season, travel, family, sickness (at least for my house, these kids are Petrie dishes, man) … the list goes on. All these factors decrease the time, energy, and effort we can dedicate towards the Sunday main slate. Add that to a unique and interesting slate and we’re likely to find the field struggle with the basics of identifying the top plays, thinking through roster construction, and generating leveraged rosters. We also have a very interesting dynamic invoked through the fact that this is the smallest main slate of the year, making chalk that much chalkier (spoiler, the chalk on this slate is shaky, at best).

    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.

    JETS D/ST

    NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. The Jets are a solid, not great, on-paper play this week. Their defensive scheme does better at suppressing offensive production than it does create opportunities to be disruptive (sacks and turnovers). Any defense expected to be amongst the highest-owned singular entity on a slate deserves fade/underweight consideration.

    TY CHANDLER

    NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. Yes, Ty Chandler saw a robust workload a week ago against the Bengals, handling 27 running back opportunities in the overtime thriller. Three things – that game went to overtime, that was the first instance of a Minnesota running back eclipsing 100 yards on the ground this season, and it was against a Bengals team allowing 4.7 yards per carry this season (second worst).

    RACHAAD WHITE

    RESTRICTIVE CHALK. Excuse my sense of hilarity with this situation. First off, Rachaad White is the most expensive running back on the slate. Then, you’re telling me he’s going to be one of the highest-owned backs on the slate, to boot? I don’t understand this one iota.

    JUSTIN JEFFERSON

    RESTRICTIVE CHALK. I’m not sure why the field would consider Justin Jefferson a better objective play than, say, Tyreek Hill, Amon-Ra St. Brown, or CeeDee Lamb on this slate, all of whom are playing with their starting quarterback while Jefferson is catching passes from the fourth starting quarterback utilized by the Vikings this season.

    BREECE HALL

    NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. Breece Hall is objectively a solid on-paper play this week. That said, I slightly prefer his teammate, Garrett Wilson, after the latter saw six of the first 12 Trevor Siemian passes directed his way last week (two were negated by penalty; the box score shows only four targets for Garrett Wilson after Zach Wilson didn’t target him in the first half and he was removed from the game late in a blowout).

    TREY McBRIDE

    NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. Trey McBride is an objectively solid on-paper play in the absence of Marquise Brown, against a Chicago defense that naturally filters production to opposing tight ends. The biggest theoretical dynamic involving McBride this week is the presence of five other tight ends that also carry elite ceiling.

    DJ MOORE

    RESTRICTIVE CHALK. DJ Moore has elite underlying metrics against man coverage this season but sees his target rate (19.9 percent), targets per route run rate (15.5 percent), and air yards share drop precipitously against zone. This is important considering the Cardinals are in zone at the fourth highest rate in the league this year.

    JUSTIN FIELDS

    RESTRICTIVE CHALK. A similar discussion to the one above can be had for Justin Fields. Fields is at his best when he’s able to remove the need to read and diagnose a defense. He now gets a matchup with the shallow Cover-2 shell of the Arizona Cardinals, which aims to force the exact things that Fields struggles with.

    CHALK BUILD::

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    JM’s Player Grid

    JMToWin is a high-stakes tournament champion (Thunderdome, Luxury Box, Game Changer, Wildcat, King of the Hill/Beach, Spy, etc.) who focuses on the DraftKings Main Slate


    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


    Saturday Afternoon Voice Note

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    Notes On A Unique Week

    Every DFS slate is unique in its own way — and more often than not, every DFS slate gives us at least one or two components we have never dealt with before. But from an OWS perspective, this week is unique beyond just the slate itself, as I finally caught the laryngitis my wife was dealing with, and on my heavy podcast day, I can only talk at a whisper, and I’m supposed to not talk at all. Because the Angles Pod, in particular, typically functions as a complement to the Player Grid, I wanted to start this week’s Grid with some macro thoughts and notes on the slate.

    For starters — as I explored in the Angles Email — small slates generally play to our favor. We tend to be better than the field at identifying the true “best plays on a slate,” and when we have less to sort through, it becomes that much easier for us to narrow our pool of sharp plays to its finest point. We also tend to be better than our competition at the strategy side of DFS — and the smaller the slate, the more clearly we can see “where the field is going,” and where we can build in +EV edges as a result. This deep into the year, however — in the war of attrition that is an NFL season — a 13-game slate generally feels smaller than a 13-game slate in September or October…and this nine-game slate feels more like a six- or seven-game slate might feel to us earlier in the year. On top of the lower scoring across the NFL that is already part of the landscape this year, we could have as few as 10 QBs this week who were the expected starters for their teams when the season began. (My goodness!)

    Along these lines, one thing I would encourage you to keep in mind is that this IS a small slate, and it SHOULD feel even smaller than it is. If your pool is smaller as well, that’s okay.

    At the same time: a slate this small, this deep into the season, is absolutely going to provide some plays that “are only chalk because of the slate these plays are on” — some plays that fall into the “fragile chalk” category. While these plays might truly be “the best plays on this slate,” they wouldn’t be “the best plays” on a different slate, and the gap between those plays and the overlooked plays might not be nearly as large as the gap sometimes is between the “mega chalk” and “the other plays.”

    One of the things we should be looking to do — this deep into the season, and especially this deep into the season on a slate like this — is find a few places where we can move away from “the best on-paper plays.” If you’re not an Inner Circle member, that might not make much sense to you, but in this week’s Winner Circle pod, we spent some time digging through the biggest fantasy scores from Week 15, and we saw a lot of spots where taking “the second best option on a team in a good spot,” or taking “a really good player in spite of a sub-optimal matchup” would have paid off much better than taking the fragile chalk everyone else was chasing. This week, more than any other, I would encourage you to look for a few places where you can do that.

    Finally, you’ll see in my Player Grid that I have a narrow QB pool, a narrow RB pool, a narrow TE pool, and a fairly broad WR pool. The breadth of that WR pool isn’t truly representative of how I’m seeing this slate, as the WRs attached to my QBs will be most central to my list, while ARSB and Mike Evans (not attached to QBs, but still on my list) are right behind those guys in terms of expected exposure on my end. But I also want to recognize that WR is the most high-variance position, so on a week in which the field is expressing confidence in somewhat fragile spots, I want to take swings on spots that could pay off in a big way. Said differently: WR is the primary position where I’ll be looking to mix and match some home run swings as the eighth or ninth pieces on some rosters.

    While lacking in nuance (and also lacking in potentially time-wasting thought trails), that’s generally what I would have looked to cover on the Angles Pod.

    Let’s dive into the Player Grid!

    Bottom-Up Build

    Bottom-Up Build
    DK Salary Remaining :: $6.0K

    Nick Mullens
    Chuba Hubbard
    Bijan Robinson
    Jordan Addison
    Parker Washington
    Jameson Williams
    Trey McBride
    Jake Ferguson
    Titans

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    Blue Chips

    Trey McBride

    Only three teams have faced more tight end targets than the Bears (a defense that, as we know, is fundamentally structured to push passes away from wide receivers and toward running backs and tight ends). McBride’s recent targets: 11 // 9 // 9 // 7 // 9 // 5 // 14. Hollywood Brown is out this week, and Greg Dortch could miss as well. Since taking over the lead tight end role, McBride is averaging 17.6 DK points per game, which is in line with Mike Evans, Michael Pittman, and D.J. Moore. He costs $5.7k on DK at a tough-to-fill position. He’s not guaranteed to hit. But he’s definitely a Blue Chip play.

    “Light Blue” Chips

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    Build-Arounds

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    Building Blocks

    “Fields+”
    Fields + DJM + Kmet + McBride
    Story:

    “This is the stack others will be chasing”

    Why It Works:

    If Fields hits, we know that D.J. Moore is almost certainly hitting, and we have a pretty good shot at Kmet hitting as well. And if the Cardinals are doing anything, it’s likely that McBride is a big part of that. This adds the highest-ceiling QB on the slate to the only Blue Chip and only Light Blue Chip in my player pool this week, in a heavily correlated manner. Adding Kmet dramatically lowers combinatorial ownership while giving us a player who has scored 15+ in all four of Fields’ “hits” (going back to last year), with 22+ scored in three of those four games. If Fields “hits” by having around 25 points, Kmet may not do enough to make the cut; but if Fields posts a true had-to-have-it, Kmet is likely coming along, while setting your Fields roster apart from the others.

    How It Works:

    If this block hits for its ceiling, you’ll have a nice edge on the field; but you’ll also have some popular pieces hitting, which means your edge will be tangible, but not dramatic. With this in mind, it’s worth considering additional “upside” pieces, including, potentially, at least one more low-owned play with upside (“with upside AND leverage,” if you can find it).

    POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE:

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

    “Not The Droids You Are Looking For”

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    Bink Machine

    A look at some of the rules I’ll be applying in the Bink Machine this week.

    No RBs in Flex // Split TEs/WRs

    This week, I want to maximize my exposure to WRs and TEs, and limit my exposure to RBs. Obviously, it’s unlikely that three-RBs proves to be the optimal way to build this week. Obviously, it’s also possible that this will nevertheless prove to be the optimal way to build this week, so if you wanted to change this to say 5% or even 15% RB, that wouldn’t be sub-optimal — and for hand-builders, realize that three-RB builds will probably be low-owned this week, so on the off chance it does prove to be optimal, it would be a nice edge. But I don’t mind taking some stances on my end (a handful of clear stances allows you to create a higher springboard for ALL your rosters if you end up being right; think of it like getting a three- to five-leg parlay correct :: if you get your stances correct, you’re now ahead of the field with ALL your rosters), and this is one stance I don’t mind taking this week.

    Note this rule says what % of rosters the Bink Machine is allowed to put the position in question in the FLEX. I’ll have immense exposure to Trey McBride this week, so this allows me to chase other tight ends. I could have a tight end in the FLEX on as many as 50% of my rosters, but it could also come out to as little as 30% of my rosters (with up to 70% WR allowed).

    “Fields+”

    This rule says, “On at least 40% of rosters, play this entire block of players.”

    I might have another rule that says, “On at least 70% of rosters, play at least Fields, DJM, and McBride together” (talk about a stance!). As explored in my Interpretations, this stack has the highest probability on the slate to be “the stack that everyone will need to be chasing.” And while “highest probability” obviously doesn’t mean “70% chance,” it does allow me to take a confident stance that would make me money over time.

    Double Dolphins RBs

    I would recommend reading my DFS Interpretations for this game (in the Building Blocks section, or in the NFL Edge), as I explore one of the interesting paths along which this game could play out. On this thin running back slate, that path might justify going Double Dolphins RBs. This set of rules is built around this thought. The first rule is in the Team Constraints section of the Team Stacks tab. This allows the Bink Machine to play two running backs from the Dolphins. The second rule (Mostert + Achane, no anchor) tells the Bink Machine to play this pair of players together on at least six percent of rosters.

    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 ::

    Fields || Lawrence (if he plays) || Flacco || Mullens

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

    Running Back ::

    Tier 1
    • Bijan Robinson – This is the week, folks.
    • De’Von Achane // Raheem Mostert – One of the top rushing offenses in the NFL facing a Cowboys defense that was obliterated on the ground last week. At least one of these guys is putting up a big game.
    • Ty Chandler – Talk about a statement. Chandler looked every bit the part as the Vikings lead back and from the sounds of his coach he has locked up the featured role even if/when Alexander Mattison returns.
    • Jonathan Taylor – The centerpiece of the offense. Elite talent and workload. Potentially high-scoring game environment. Welcome back, big fella.
    tier 2
    • Chuba Hubbard – 24 or more touches in three straight games and has a terrific matchup. Sometimes cheap volume is necessary at RB, regardless of the perceived team offensive environment.
    • Jerome Ford – Quietly a much better matchup than it appears on the surface, so I expect this play to go pretty overlooked. Houston’s defense has some injuries right now, so their season-long run defense stats seem a bit overblown. The focus for most people will be on the pass-heavy tendencies Cleveland has had with Joe Flacco under center, but this could also be a spot that Cleveland controls if the Texans offense struggles again.
    • Aaron Jones – Elite matchup and should operate as the engine of the offense. Green Bay needs him and his coach’s comments suggest he will be leaned on heavily.
    • Tyjae Spears – This one is a bit of a leap of faith, but Spears is an extremely talented player whose role could easily grow over the last three weeks of the season. I’ll be taking some shots.

    Tight End ::

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    Papy’s Pieces

    Papy is a full-time DFS player, with a focus on high-stakes tourneys, and with hundreds of thousands in lifetime profit

    The Board
    • This slate offers two stand out game environments in Det // Min (47) and Dal // Mia (50). Both games are expected to be competitive, carrying a FG spread or under.  
    • The next highest totals are Ind // Atl (44.5), Ari // Chi (43.0) Sea // Ten (41.5), and Jax // TB (41.5), creating a significant gap between the top two game environments and the rest of the slate.  
    • All the other game totals are 40 or below, with Was // NYJ (37) and GB // Car (37.5) being the low water marks.
    • This is expected to be one of the most competitive slates of the year. The biggest favorite is GB (-5), with the only other favorite over a field goal being the Bears (-4). 
    • There are four home underdogs (Hou // Min  // Car // Ten) and four home teams (Atl // NYJ // TB // Mia) who are favorites by a field goal or less.
    Pawn – WR Jameson Williams ($3,700)

    Lions at Vikings is a great game environment, and all the main pieces of both offenses are in play. I’ll be using Amon St. Ra Brown ($8,200), Justin Jefferson ($8,100), Sam Laporta ($6,400), Jahmyr Gibbs ($7,000), David Montgomery ($6,900), Jordan Addison ($6,000), T.J Hockenson ($5,800) and Ty Chandler ($5,600). They all make sense, but they’re either expensive, popular, or both. What about Jameson Williams? Last week was notable for Williams for a couple of reasons. He played 68% of the snaps which is the most he has been on the field this season. He played ahead of Josh Reynolds for the first time, after playing in a near-dead even split with Reynolds in Week 14, and before Week 14, Reynolds was playing firmly ahead of Williams. And last week wasn’t just the first time Williams was the Lions clear WR2, it was also the first time they included him in the game plan as more than a situational deep threat. Williams saw seven targets (he had eight targets over his previous four games combined) and turned them into a 4/47 line. That doesn’t look like much unless you’re paying attention, and Williams is expected to draw under 5% ownership, making him great leverage off all the chalk in this game. Throw in that the Vikings like to blitz, and it’s not hard to see a breakout game for Williams where he catches a long touchdown. On a slate with limited value, Williams is a great tournament play.

    Knight – TE Trey McBride ($5,700)

    McBride’s price finally went up! Just not nearly enough. McBride has been a regular in this article for the past month and he continues to produce. He’s seen 11 // 9 // 9 // 7 // 9 targets in the past five weeks and turned them into 23.2 // 22.9 // 13.0 // 9.3 // 24.1 DK points. That’s elite TE production on par with what we would expect to see from a player priced $1,000 – $1,500 higher. The best part? McBride has delivered the above DK scores while only finding the end zone once over that span. As good as McBride’s been, he’s only scored twice all year! It feels like there is meat left on the bone and if McBride hits for a multi-TD game, he has the potential to break the slate. That’s not something you can say about many TEs. McBride is going to remain a staple of my lineups if he’s priced below $6,000, and he’s my favorite bring-back to play opposite Justin Fields stacks.

    Bishop – WR GarreTt Wilson ($5,800)

    Wilson bricked out last week seeing only four targets (his lowest of the year) in a game his team lost 30-0. You’d think losing badly would create more passing game volume, but the Jets offense looked hopeless from the start, and Wilson withered on the vine alongside the rest of his teammates. It didn’t help that Zach Wilson exited in the 2nd quarter and that Garrett Wilson was shadowed by Jalen Ramsey. It’s not that Zach is particularly good, but he does like to pump the ball to his top WR. But Zach has been ruled out already this week and reports say he’s also likely to miss Week 17. Siemian being under center dings Garett Wilson’s projections, but there is always the chance with a full week as the starter Siemian figures out his best shot at moving the ball is feeding Wilson. The Commanders have been horrific against WRs, and the Jets don’t have anyone else to command targets. I’ll roll the dice that Sieman decides his best chance is firing the ball to Wilson 10 plus times, which should be plenty to hurt the Commanders. 

    Rook – RB Bijan Robinson ($6,300)

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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

    Caution

    As you have likely gathered by now, I don’t use this space to tell you the best plays. My gig is to suggest some players and correlations that will help you utilize the best projected players without having a roster with nine chunky pieces of chalk.

    Crazy how a nine-game slate feels so much smaller than even a 10-gamer, right? As the slate size shrinks, it becomes increasingly difficult to find sub 5% players with reasonable upside. For example, if you want a contrarian play on a three-game slate, you’re going to end up rostering the long snapper’s second cousin or some shit.

    This slate is still manageable though, so let’s dig in and see if we can find some spots that will help us differentiate.

    I must alert you though, some of these are not for the faint of heart. Also, if you are pregnant or may become pregnant, congrats on the sex.

    Secondary Core-Relations

    We’re always hunting for those high-ceiling combinations to add to our existing game stacks. It’s better to aim at getting four things right instead of trying to hit a nine-way parlay. I’ll lean on a handful of core secondary stacks that will be finessed into lineups whenever feasible.

    Mike Evans/Calvin Ridley

    These guys are both coming with some ownership but I’m dropping them in here anyway because I’ll be running this combination in a silly number of lineups this week. Both are in great spots where they should add ample volume to their existing big play upside. Both guys can get there on four catches but could approach double that number if this game starts volleying back and forth.

    I think Parker Washington is going to get steamed unless some other value opens up before lock. I’ve been hearing his name out there quite a bit. But if something close to his current projection of 1.2% holds, I like him as a salary-saving option across from Buccaneers pieces. Jamal Agnew gets thrown into that bucket as well. All of this is obviously better if Trevor Lawrence plays.

    Jaylen Waddle/Brandin Cooks

    Buffalo steamrolled the Dallas Cowboys last week with their run game, but Miami’s offensive line is not currently functioning anywhere near as well as the Bills. Given the importance of this game, I think Tyreek Hill will take the field even if he isn’t at full strength. But if Tyreek Hill is on a football field, he must be accounted for. There is a chance that we get the perfect storm for Waddle. The presence of Reek soaks up the defense’s attention, but he doesn’t get his usual allotment of targets, creating space and additional opportunity for the other Miami weapons.

    Brandin Cooks’ matchup here is less than great but he is one of those players that can score from anywhere on field. With an average aDOT of 14.35 over the last four games and a 32% share of Dak Prescott’s play action targets this season, Cooks should have opportunities regardless of whether Dallas finds themselves in positive, neutral, or negative game script.

    Will these two both hit for ceiling on Sunday? Not probable, but at 2.5% and 1.4% respectively, it’s worth a few shots on these two pieces emerging from Week 16’s highest total game.

    WHAT IF this game catches fire and Tyreek is mostly in decoy mode? Confidence and momentum are huge factors in all sports. Waddle may be on the right side of these after his strong performance last week. 

    I can’t resist playing Justin Fields stacks this week. It saddens me that he’ll be the highest owned QB. I’ll offset his ownership but correlating some low owned pieces with tournament-winning upside around him, like so:

    Jordan Addison/Sam LaPorta (or Jahmyr Gibbs)

    Addison 4%. LaPorta 1.8%. Gibbs 4.9%

    These players all smashed last week. We’d be donkeys to chase this. No player has ever had two or three great games in a row. Nothing to see here.

    Adam Thielen/Romeo Doubs

    Don’t do this. It’ll never work. Let me take the L for you.

    LOWER-OWNED TREASURES

    Running Back

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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

    One of the best experiences I’ve had this season is being given the opportunity to write about both the Main Slates and Showdowns here on OWS. Getting in the weekly rhythm here since August has allowed my perspective to change dramatically on just how similar and different a one game or multi-game slate can be. Breaking down just one game allows for more time and effort to see clearly what the expected and unexpected outcomes could be. This was how the Off Script series spawned. We can’t predict NFL games, but we can predict DFS player behavior. The challenge ahead of us in trying to win a tournament involves scoring more points than the competition, thus capitalizing on what we know is a piece of leverage we have to consider each week. Taking a peek at each game and letting the off script outcomes show themselves to us has been a blast.

    So it got me thinking . . . whereas one game slates are simpler to break down for the expected and unexpected outcomes, what if we take advantage of the smallest main slate of the season so far (nine games) and put in the effort to identify the off script scenarios. This feels like a worthy exercise as we always need to find the right game environments to simplify how we build first-place lineups and increase our odds of a high score with advanced correlation. In short, this week I wanted to take advantage of the training at my disposal. We’ll take a quick look at combining the power and tenets of Willing to Lose, with the fundamentals of Off Script, to see if that gives us an edge on the competition. Scripts vs. off scripts to give us the risky yet profitable scenarios that are forming in Week 16 . . . 

    IND @ ATL

    • Script: Colts offense puts up points, Falcons run the ball well and win a close one.
    • Off Script: These two teams put on an offensive clinic. Bijan and Taylor are the catalysts in a high-scoring game with Falcons having more success through the air than on the ground.

    GB @ CAR

    • Script: Green Bay dominates, leaning on the success of the run game.
    • Off Script: Green Bay wins but gets there through Love and his pass catchers “on the way up.”

    CLE @ HOU

    • Script: Browns throw the ball a ton, and rely on great defense to win.
    • Off Script: Houston’s defense takes over, forcing turnovers and short fields leading to an upset victory.

    DET @ MIN

    • Script: Lions continue to roll offensively and smother Mullens and Vikes.
    • Off Script: Vikings offense finds success with a full arsenal of offensive playmakers. Blitz-happy defense gets to road Goff.

    WAS @ NYJ

    • Script: Washington covers the spread, and has success on the ground.
    • Off Script: Jets cover as a home favorite (?), and beat the Commanders defense like every other team has done.

    SEA @ TEN

    • Script: Uncertain QB situation for Titans along with Geno back leads to an easy Seahawks win.
    • Off Script: Titans can move the ball well, Seahawks come out sluggish on a short week and early start time, and don’t tackle Henry well enough.

    JAC @ TB

    • Script: Jags win through the air like most teams against TB, and similarly Bucs have success through Baker, Evans, Godwin, and White. The over should be a popular bet here.
    • Off Script: Defensive dominance on both sides, leading to a low scoring slugfest between Beathard and Mayfield.

    AZ @ CHI

    • Script: Bears defense continues to be on the rise, and the Cardinals look like they are ready for the season to end.
    • Off Script: Kyler and Fields show up as dynamos, leading to a shootout.

    DAL @ MIA

    • Script: Game of the week. Explosive players make explosive plays in a tight game.
    • Off Script: Both teams decide to commit to the run leading to RBs on both sides succeeding while QBs and receivers on both sides underwhelm due to the lower volume of plays.

    These script scenarios are just what I am seeing and anticipating, based on Vegas spreads and over/unders, where the bet percentages are sitting, and some gut feels. You will likely assess these games in a different way. But you can see how a new lens on each game would show an unexpected outcome in its range of possibilities, thus building our menu to choose from this week in large-field play. Here are some of my favorites.

    Running Backs in Miami

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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. Getting on the Podium

    2. Double Your Pleasure

    3. Backwards Thinking

    4. Floating Plays

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


    1. Getting on the Podium

    The Question ::

    Thanks to the NFL scheduling this weekend’s games in a way that will surely get us all in trouble with our families, the Sunday main slate consists of only nine games. From those games, there is a clear top projected game environment between the Cowboys and Dolphins with its 50-point over/under and close point spread. There is also a clear “runner-up”, with the Lions and Vikings game having an over/under of 47 and a very close spread as well. After that, there is a fairly significant drop and then several games with similar on-paper projections::

    • JAX @ TB (43)
    • SEA @ TEN (41.5)
    • IND @ ATL (44.5) 
    • CLE @ HOU (40)
    • ARI @ CHI (43)

    Which game from that list gets your vote as the best game environment to target and get “on the podium” as a top-3 option on the slate?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    It’s funny that this question is framed in this way, as I was thinking about this right before opening The Oracle to start answering questions.

    First off, I should point out that I can see a clear case being made for literally any of those games. But what I was thinking right before I opened The Oracle was, “What if Cardinals at Bears turns into a running-QB showcase and becomes a genuinely exciting game?” The Bears’ defense has been excellent lately, but we know that their biggest structural weakness is tight ends, and they’re now facing Trey McBride and a QB who could, conceivably, attempt to take over this game with his legs as well. On the other side, Fields and D.J. Moore and Cole Kmet are very much capable of hanging a big number on the Cardinals. I could see the Bears’ split backfield soaking up the touchdowns and the Cardinals failing to get anything going against Chicago…but I could also see this game developing into something big in the context of this slate.

    Xandamere >>

    I’d go with JAX/TB as my first choice with CLE/HOU being an honorary mention. JAX/TB has everything I want: both offenses are capable, both offenses are pretty concentrated, both offenses are in matchups that tilt them to attacking via the air. I can see passing volume, I can see passing success, and I feel like I have a high degree of confidence in where the ball is going. Gimme. 

    Hilow >>

    Gimme all of the Browns and Texans, man. I just got done enthusiastically breaking that game down on The Slate podcast so I won’t belabor the details here. I will say, however, that this game has all the ingredients to truly erupt – concentrated offenses, solid offensive play callers, desperation factor (each team fighting for their playoff lives), and underperforming defenses in their current form. Jaguars-Bucs probably ranks second on that list, for me.

    Mike >>

    For me, IND @ ATL is the game that stands out as having a chance to end up top-3 in game environments, if not higher. We have seen so many times this year that the Colts game can turn into high scoring affairs thanks to their well schemed offense under head coach Shane Steichen as well as the aggressive but flawed defense that can make big plays but also gives up their share of yards and points. Ironically, a lot of the big plays may flow through the running game as both teams are relatively run-heavy and their best offensive players are Bijan Robinson and Jonathan Taylor. Atlanta has, deservedly, taken a lot of heat this year for not maximizing their skill players, but what we have seen from them is they are capable of being pulled into great game environments by their opponents in certain situations. Given the tendency of Colts games to create those chaotic scoring environments, I think there is a pretty good chance this turns into the game that breaks away from that “mid-tier” pack.


    2. Double Your Pleasure

    The Question ::

    This one is for Xandamere.

    We have a nine game slate this week. We also have a situation where there are a couple of very low total games and some of the elite wide receivers have extremely high salaries. Enter the tight end position. After a slow start to 2023, we have seen several tight ends jump into huge roles for their teams and post “ceiling” games. This week we have several of those players on the same slate::

    • David Njoku as a key cog to the now pass-heavy Browns offense
    • Evan Engram has consistently seen a lot of targets and Jacksonville is now without two of their top three wide receivers.
    • Trey McBride is the centerpiece of the Cardinals offense with a QB who loves to throw to TEs.
    • Sam LaPorta has erupted several times this season and the Lions boast the second highest implied team total on the slate.
    • TJ Hockenson leads all tight ends in scoring for the year and has a QB who has heavily targeted tight ends during his career.
    • Jake Ferguson is an every-down player in the week’s highest total game in a likely pass-heavy game script.

    There are also some cheaper options and tight ends with good roles who can easily be stacked with their quarterback. Considering all of the dynamics of the slate, how do you feel about rolling out two tight ends this week? Does it provide more upside than what we would traditionally expect?

    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!

    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. The biggest win of my career came on an “Afternoon Only” slate in January of 2021, and I hope to share some of my insights on the format to help you attack this niche corner of NFL DFS.

    Week 16 Slate
    • Only three games on this week’s slate, but once again they are among the better ones out of the nine-game main slate.
    • The DAL // MIA game is obviously an exciting one and boasts by far the highest total. Most of the key pieces carry very high salaries, so this will be a critical turning point for the slate as which players you use from that game will shape the rest of your roster.
    • ARI // CHI has some exciting potential thanks to the Cardinals putrid defense and playmaking dual-threat QBs on both sides.
    • JAX // TB is also highly intriguing now that Trevor Lawrence has been cleared. Those two defenses rank near the top of the league in opponent pass rate and both passing offenses are somewhat condensed and highly capable.
    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 a main slate. There are fewer alternatives to choose from so if they have a big game and you aren’t on them it is much harder to find other ways to make up those points.
    • This also means it is easier for lower owned players to pay off, as there are fewer players at their position that they need to have “fail” for them to be worth the risk.
    • Correlation is even more important than on the main slate because the useful fantasy games that pay off for the slate are likely to be clumped up from the same games. I always make lineups with a game stack (QB + at least one pass catcher + at least one opponent) and then one or two “mini-correlations” from other games.
    QB Strategy

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    Late Swap

    StatATL has a math degree and a background as a financial analyst, and has blended an analytical, numbers-driven approach with an “OWS mindset” to rack up over $100,000 in lifetime DFS profit while maintaining low weekly buy-ins

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

    Outlook – Late Games:

    The Week 16 main slate only features 9 games, which might be the smallest of the season. It likely feels even more condensed due to very few games that present strong on-paper game environments. Chalk is forming like it always does, and we’ll discuss how we can exploit some of these fragile situations below.

    Important Early Outcomes to Watch:
    • Breece Hall and Garrett Wilson – OWS subscribers know that we’ve been picking on the Commanders ‘defense’ all season and both Breece Hall and Wilson are projecting to be 2 of the 5 (or so) highest owned on the slate. Both certainly have upside in this spot, but both could easily fail with Trevor Siemian starting at QB for the Jets.     
    • Bijan Robinson – The RB position is thin this week and the Falcons RBs have a great on-paper matchup. We haven’t seen it yet, but Bijan likely possesses 30+ DK potential.   
    • Ty Chandler and Justin Jefferson – Like the Jets pieces mentioned above, both Chandler and Jefferson are projected to be 2 of the 5 highest owned on the slate. While both could hit, Chandler is facing one of the toughest defenses against the run and Justin Jefferson is playing with the 4th starting QB for the Vikings this season.       
    • NY Jets DST – The Jets are projected to be the highest-owned DST unit on the slate by a wide margin against a Washington team known for allowing sacks. The Jets are a strong defensive unit, however, they force a below league average amount of turnovers, which is where defense scoring comes from and they are currently projected for close to 30% ownership.
    • Slate Breakers – Such as Ja’Marr Chase’s 55 DK point performance in week 5 or CJ Stroud’s 46 points in week 9.
    Price Range Breakdowns (Late Games):

    $7,100 and up:

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    Battle Royale

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

    Welcome to Week 16!

    If you are new to this contest or just want to get a bigger picture of the first two years of the contest, here is my review of the top Battle Royale rosters in 2021 and 2022.

    The goal of this article is to hit on some thoughts regarding the layout of the slate, present some stacks and players I’m interested in for the contest format, and update some trending stats of winning teams.

    Many people are drafting the “same way,” falling into similar buckets of player combinations, leaving guys outside that top 36 far less owned relative to those above them for not much more reason than a slightly higher projection. Every week there are some underowned guys that are available at the end of drafts that can help you win a tournament, as the 6-person drafting means you aren’t having to find $3k DraftKings priced players just to be unique.

    Looking at Week 16

    Another condensed slate of several ugly offenses due to the number of primetime games this holiday week. There are very few “standout” spots, with DAL@MIA being the only game that even carries a significant game total. DAL’s offense has been much weaker on the road, and Tua has struggled more against stronger defenses, so even that game comes with questions, especially as neither defense has given up many big fantasy games on the season. The lack of good offenses presents two paths to play out:

    1. Someone like Fields/Dak at the top can put up a score that is “must-have,” meaning it was necessary to take a QB in the early rounds at the expense of higher ADP skill players.

    2. Neither put up a ceiling game on a slate with no other elite QBs, giving viability to all the last-round QBs with mediocre ceilings and giving more importance to which combination of skill players were drafted in the first few rounds.

    Stacks I’m Targeting:

    Justin Fields + DJ Moore:

    • With Trevor Lawrence set to miss, and others like Tua, Goff, and Kyler dealing with significantly tougher matchups, I believe Fields carries a ceiling far above anyone else’s reasonable expectations this week (save Dak, who is on the road against solid defense). DJ Moore in Fields’ last 6 starts has fantasy scores of 23.1, 45, 19.1, 16.9, 23.8, 7.2. ARI has allowed FIVE WRs to reach 140+ receiving yards this year, and Moore is the most likely beneficiary of a Fields blowup game in this spot. Since returning from injury, Fields has rushed 49 times for 251 yards in 4 games. The two come with ADPs right now of 6 (DJM) and 9 (Fields), making the combo possible consistently.

    Tua Tagovailoa + Tyreek Hill vs DAL:

    • Tyreek Hill is going at the 1.01 and doesn’t need a Tua stack to pop off, but if I take Tua it will almost solely be on Tyreek Hill rosters, as his ceiling games almost come exclusively in games Tyreek Hill posts a monster day. DAL has been pretty limiting in terms of allowing big games in 2023, but we have seen them hit for a couple of big days by pocket passers attached to elite weapons at home (Purdy, Geno). If Tua is going to be the winning QB on the week, it’s almost certainly going to mean these two are combining for at least 50 points.

    Baker Mayfield + Buccaneers vs JAC:

    • Positives: Mayfield has 4 scores of 20+ points, multiple viable stacking partners, and JAC has allowed 8 passers of 300+ yards. Negatives: Mayfield has just one game of more than 30 pass attempts in the last 7 games, and Lawrence is questionable to even play which could lead to easier game control by Tampa Bay.
    • What attracts me here on that positive side of things is that JAC is much tougher against the run, which could lead to an uptick in pass attempts, and they’ve been very vulnerable to RBs through the air, making one of Baker’s favorite things (throwing short to White) more efficient than on an average week. It’s more viable here just due to the lack of good QB options on the state, but the nice thing is Baker has also had a solid floor all year so it’s unlikely he hurts you himself.

    Others to Target:

    Chuba Hubbard vs GB:

    • Hubbard has 70 carries over the last 3 games against good RB defenses. Now he gets a weak Packers RB defense at home and goes frequently undrafted. GB has allowed 8 rushers of 80+ yards on the season.

    Calvin Ridley @ TB:

    • Ridley has been getting the targets and air yards of late, but the production has yet to follow. Well, this is a matchup that has tilted towards the air the entirety of Bowles’ tenure, and JAC is down their other starting WRs. Beathard would definitely be a big downgrade, but Ridley also comes free in drafts and still possesses a strong ceiling in a game where he’s expected to keep being fed targets.

    TE:

    The main three guys come with much higher median and ceiling projections this week, and ideally, I don’t want to be left without one of them in the 6-person drafts. Hockenson paired with Tyreek Hill is one of my favorite ways to leverage first-round Jefferson.

    TJ Hockenson vs DET:

    • Hockenson has a QB who loves to throw to his TE, has 10 straight games of 50+ yards, and faces a matchup soft to pass-catchers. While this spot is more favorable to Jefferson having a big game, Hockenson would be the next most likely to pop here, and his ceiling at TE is only rivaled by McBride and Njoku here.

    Trey McBride @ CHI:

    • McBride is averaging 9.6 targets/game over his last 7 games, producing 4 scores of 15+ points in that span. CHI’s defense filters targets to RBs and TEs through the air, giving him the best matchup on the offense this week after smashing in a tough matchup last week vs SF. McBride paired with Fields and Moore is my favorite game correlation on the slate this week.

    David Njoku @ HOU:

    • Njoku is averaging 9.3 targets/game over his last 9 games, producing 7 games of 50+ yards in that span and back-to-back 20+ point scores in the last two weeks with Flacco. There is nothing that “stands out” about the matchup, but a TE getting the usage he is, especially on a slate down Kelce, Kittle, Andrews, etc. means we need to keep him in consideration.

    Notable Stats

    These are some notable stats from rosters appearing in the top 5 of the contest so far this season.

    1st place performance:

    • 36 of the 51 teams had at least one flex player score 30+ half-PPR fantasy points
    • 21 of the 51 teams had all flex players score at least 20+ half-PPR fantasy points
    • 47 of the 51 teams had all flex players score at least 15+ half-PPR fantasy points

    Stacking and Correlation:

    • 30 of 51 had a QB paired with just one teammate
      • WR (22), TE (5), RB (3)
    • 7 of 51 had a QB stacked with two teammates
      • WR-RB (4), WR-WR (2), WR-TE (1)
    • 5 of those 37 QB stacks had a runback (Opposing player)
    • 50 of 51 had at least one game correlation
    • 15 of 51 had two different game correlations

    FLEX usage:

    • 169 of 255 top-5 rosters have had two RBs, meaning they chose RB at FLEX over WR and TE.
    • 85 of the other top 5 rosters all used WR at FLEX, meaning there’s only been one instance of double-TE to ever finish top-5 (2023 W7: Kelce/Andrews). 

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