Sunday, Feb 12th — Late
Bye Week:
49ers
Bears
Bengals
Bills
Broncos
Browns
Buccaneers
Cardinals
Chargers
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Commanders
Cowboys
Dolphins
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Giants
Jaguars
Jets
Lions
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The Scroll Week 17

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    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)


    Meet The Team


    Angles

    Happy Thursday!


    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: 17

    Total Main Slate Games: 13

    Slate Overview:

    The last two weeks of the regular season are upon us, with plenty still up in the air with regards to playoff seeding and the final playoff spots, and — unlike next week — very few teams at serious risk of playing things any differently than they have for the last couple months. With that said, however, there are some nuances in play this week (teams that have a meaningless Week 17 game but an important Week 18 game, or teams with lesser playoff seeding at stake, where some interesting elements may come into play), so while I always encourage you to spend some time each week with the NFL Edge, this is a week in which doing so could prove particularly important.

    We have an absolute gem of a game waiting for us on Monday night, with the Bills and Bengals squaring off (the Bills control their own destiny for a first-round bye and home field advantage; and while it’s unlikely that the Chiefs will drop one of their final two games, the carrot of this possibility keeps the Bengals in play for that coveted number one seed with a win here), and with 13 games on the Main Slate, we can lose this game and still have a full helping of top-end offenses taking the field. Even with Baltimore (somehow still ninth in offensive DVOA) and Dallas (somehow only 13th in offensive DVOA) also missing from this slate, we have 13 of the top 17 offenses (DVOA) in play. This is the power of “no bye weeks // no London games // no Saturday games” — a setup we haven’t had in a while.

    Of course, it isn’t all sunshine and buttercups, as this slate still gives us only two teams implied to top 26 points, and only five teams implied to climb above a mere 24 points. Those teams are ::

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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::

    The biggest impact on our decision-making matrices this week should be the size of the slate, as there are simply more opportunities for outlier production to develop on a 13-game slate when compared to a 10-game slate (which we’ve grown accustomed to over the previous three weeks). As such, we need to be willing to embrace a little additional variance as those 95-99% outlier games are going to be more prevalent than on a standard week, theoretically reducing the significance of the standard 80%+ outcomes we typically hunt for in these contests. The theoretical aspects of a larger slate also mean we can stray further from optimal and still take down a large field GPP, making this week best attacked (at least from a theoretical sense) through tight correlations and varied one-offs, increasing our exposure to 95-99% outlier production with our one-offs. As in, the bulk of rosters should be built similarly to how we’ve taught throughout this season (and beyond), but we should be looking to vary our one-off exposure more than on a standard week as we hunt for extreme outlier production. That was a lot of theory, but I thought it was important to understand due to the changing dynamics of the slate itself – and we’ll go further into this idea in The Slate podcast.

    The top-level slate view contains just two games with a game total over 45.0 points, four teams with Vegas implied team totals over 25.0 points, and various other teams implied for just over three touchdowns. I won’t belabor the importance of touchdowns any more than we have already this season (and, again, beyond).

    RESTRICTIVE CHALK VS EXPANSIVE CHALK::

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

    JARED GOFF

    Expansive chalk. Goff’s Week 17 salary is very likely a solid $1,000 too low, making him probably the cash and small-field quarterback of choice this week. He does not come without risk playing on a team with a high red zone rush rate, but the on-paper matchup and recent team play calling trends indicate a player of immense value this weekend.

    CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY

    Restrictive chalk. I honestly don’t understand where all this ownership is coming from considering Tyrian Davis-Price saw early snaps last week after not playing until the fourth quarter the weeks before. As in, there is far more uncertainty with CMC than on a standard week considering the 49ers are all but locked into the three-seed in the NFC, creating a possibility his touches are managed in a game they are expected to walk away with.

    RHAMONDRE STEVENSON

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. This one might come down at some point as the thinking all week was that ‘Mondre would play with no restriction and Damien Harris would be out. Damien Harris has now been removed from the injury report entirely while Stevenson drew the questionable tag. Either way, consider Stevenson a solid floor option with a ceiling unlikely to sink you for not playing.

    AMON-RA ST. BROWN

    Restrictive chalk. The dude’s a boss, the matchup is good, and he’s seen eight or more targets in all fully healthy games dating back to Week 12 of his rookie season. That said, he has touchdowns in just four games this season on a team dedicated to the run in the red zone and will need to approach double-digit receptions and a score in order to return a GPP-viable score on his low aDOT. I would argue the only two optimal ways of playing St. Brown are paired with Goff or in a bring-back with Justin Fields, as his blowup games have come in games with a combined 54 points, 53 points, 61 points, and 63 points.

    GARRETT WILSON

    Expansive chalk. On one hand, Garrett Wilson has proven to be a WR1/2 borderline player with quarterbacks not named Zach Wilson. On the other hand, the Seahawks have allowed the third fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season. I likely won’t end up here on my tighter builds but also won’t make a convincing argument against playing him in all formats, as he very clearly has a path to reaching 30 fantasy points (albeit with a lower percentage chance of actually happening in this matchup).

    EVAN ENGRAM

    Expansive chalk. Of the top three pass-catchers in Jacksonville (Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram), Engram is both the oldest and has the worst grades against zone coverage, the former of which is important due to the meaning (or lack thereof) of this game, and the latter of which is important due to the coverage tendencies exhibited this season from the Texans. This ownership is highly likely inflated due to his recent performance, more than it is an indication of a top on-paper play.

    49ers D/ST

    Expansive chalk. I have absolutely nothing negative to say about the Niners D/ST this week. In fact, they are the top on-paper play at the position.

    CHALK BUILD::

    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 17

    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 Week 17 players that are best utilized on Draftkings or Fanduel.

    Jared Goff:  FD $7.4k, 12.3% // DK $5.6k, 11.2% // Value on Draftkings

    Goff and the Lions are in the highest total game on the slate and they have the highest implied team total. He will likely be very popular this week on both sites, but he’s a better value on Draftkings where he takes up 1.1% less of the cap and is the 13th highest priced quarterback versus the ninth on Fanduel.

    Justin Fields:  FD $8.4k, 14.0% // DK $7.9k, 15.8% // Value on Fanduel

    On the other side of the highest total game on the slate, Fields is a better quarterback value on Fanduel than on Draftkings. Even though he’s the third highest priced quarterback on both sites, he takes up 1.8% less of the cap on Fanduel. He’s in a bounce back spot facing the Lions who give up the most Fanduel points per game to quarterback (23.6) after facing the Bills who give up the second least Fanduel points to quarterbacks (14.1).

    Brian Robinson:  FD $6.9k, 11.5% // DK $5.2k, 10.4% // 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 :: $6.2K

    Jared Goff
    Dalvin Cook
    D’Andre Swift
    Drake London
    Greg Dortch
    DJ Chark
    Travis Kelce
    Jamal Agnew
    Patriots

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    Blue Chips

    Greg Dortch

    I’m going out on a limb here and placing two bets: 1) Dortch will play 70% or more of the snaps, and 2) the move from Trace McSorley to David Blough doesn’t make much of a difference.

    Feel free to ding Dortch down to a “Light Blue” or even a “Bonus” piece if you want, but in all five games in which he played 70% or more of the snaps this year, Dortch has gone for 13+ DK points, with 15+ in four of those five games and 22.3 in two of five. As noted in several spots this week: if Dortch were 1) guaranteed to see 70% or more of the snaps, and 2) in a QB situation without question marks, he would be viewed as a “free square” this week, and would be one of those massively-high-owned pieces you would be playing simply to ride up with the field while playing 8v8 on the rest of your roster(s). Because of the seeds of uncertainty here, we instead get Dortch at 5% projected ownership (as of Friday evening), creating an opportunity for a guy with “everyone will be playing him” potential to instead function as a genuine low-owned separator. While there is some uncertainty here, I see the uncertainty as a major bonus given the edge it potentially creates. If I lose this week because Kingsbury decides to keep Dortch on the sidelines one week after he once again lit up the box score, I’ll be fine with that, as this risk opens the opportunity for me to instead grab 15 to 22 points for $3k in salary at low ownership.

    If you want a deeper dive on this spot, Hilow had a Hall of Fame writeup in the NFL Edge for this game.

    “Light Blue” Chips

    No “Light Blue” Chips for me this week.


    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

    Justin Fields + DJ Chark + D’Andre Swift
    Cost: $17.5K DK // Not as sharp on FD
    Story:

    “This game plays out as expected, and Fields smashes on the ground”

    Why It Works + How It Works:

    As explored in a number of place this week, there aren’t a whole lot of ways to “get different” with this game, as the Lions have a three-man rotation in the backfield and — outside of Chark and ARSB (who play pretty much all the snaps) — a messy rotation among pass catchers (with elevated 12-personnel rates the last few weeks, four tight ends in the mix, and three wideouts vying for WR3 snaps), while the Bears are back to a timeshare in the backfield and have seen only a random, unpredictable 17-pointer from Dante Pettis providing any sort of value at the wide receiver position outside of Darnell Mooney (on I.R.). Cole Kmet can be paired with Fields, but Fields can also hit without any one piece from the Bears hitting, while Chark and Swift, at their price tags, can hit without Goff “breaking the slate.” This setup essentially says, “Goff scores around 22 to 26 points and supports a big game from Chark, Swift finally breaks off some long plays, and Fields goes for 35 to 40 while spreading out any passing touchdowns.” This is not “the likeliest way” for this game to play out, but it’s also not a wacky bet, and it’s different enough to get you a unique path to first place around what is the clear top game environment on the slate.

    POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE:

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

    “$10.2k, x2”

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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 || Justin Fields || Jared Goff || 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 ::

    My approach to running back this week must be discussed with the backdrop of the entire slate in mind. I want to play as many of the high-end receiving options who could easily see 10 to 15 targets and whose teams are fighting for their lives as I can. Along the same notion, there is a big group of sub-$6,500 running backs who are in good matchups and/or game environments and/or have a realistic chance to touch the ball 18+ times. This list is a bit long, but my thought process this week is pretty straightforward – the list is long enough and the spots are good enough that I would be shocked if at least 2 or 3 of these players don’t put up a 20-point game and I also think all of them are likely to score at least 10-12 points…..while the high priced backs may have a couple 25-30 point games but unlikely to produce any “slate breakers”. With that in mind, I believe that tournament-winning rosters will be built with two running backs from the $5,100-$6,100 range and loaded up on explosive pass catchers. If playing fewer lineups, I would recommend whittling this list down more and what players you are using on the rest of your roster will likely have some effect on which of these guys you settle on, but my overall approach to the slate is working on the thesis that some combination of these backs will be played together on lineups that win this week.

    • Brian Robinson – Antonio Gibson is out and the Commanders are likely to lean on their running game against a porous Browns run defense.
    • Tyler Allgeier – Falcons are eliminated from the playoffs and Allgeier’s performance and snaps have been continuing to rise. This is a plus matchup where he should once again push for 20 touches.
    • Cam Akers – Akers has accounted for 45% of the Rams yards from scrimmage over the past two weeks and now faces a Chargers defense that has been hammered by running games all year.
    • AJ Dillon – Aaron Jones is likely to play, but Dillon should carry the majority of the load for the Packers backfield.
    • Leonard Fournette (DK) – Bucs season is on the line and Fournette is coming off his best game of the year and highest usage last week.
    • Isaiah Pacheco (FD) // Jerick McKinnon – McKinnon’s role is so valuable and Pacheco’s explosiveness and touch counts continue to provide a chance he spikes for a 100+ yard and 1-2 touchdown game at any point, especially against a Broncos team that has been left for dead and just gave up 147 yards and 3 TDs to Cam Akers.
    • Zonovan Knight – Knight’s role in Mike White’s starts has been opportunity counts of 17, 20, and 19. Seattle’s defense is a great matchup and Knight is the lead back on early downs and the preferred short-yardage option for the Jets.
    • D’Andre Swift – It has to happen eventually, right? RIGHT?!?!?
    Side Notes/Thoughts::
    • Paying Up – If looking to pay up, Dalvin Cook, James Conner, and Saquon Barkley are the only higher-priced running backs that I could see sneaking onto my builds this week. Cook is my favorite of the bunch and I specifically would look at using him in stacks from that game as described below.
    • Dart Throws – Khalil Herbert, Boston Scott, and “SF backup RB” are all extremely cheap options in good matchups who have paths to 10-15 touches depending on game flow and coaching decisions. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of these spots produces a 14-18 point game this week.
    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! 

    Week 17 Madness!

    I’m actually doing less hand builds this week because I believe the slate might hinge on some unexpected news that could break late. Not uncommon this week for a team like the Bears to decide to sit someone like David Montgomery to protect against injury. Avoiding offseason complications in terms of draft pick compensation for losing free agents etc, may end up being a priority.

    Much easier to react to this stuff in the optimizer than by hand-tweaking dozens of rosters.

    My other issue on this slate is at RB where I’ve made some tough cuts and still have 20 dudes in my freaking pool. Yikes.

    Week 18 is likely a complete shit show so I’m not sure I’ll be doing this article again this year. If not, it’s been a pleasure serving you degenerate sickos this year and I’ll look forward to tilting playoff tourneys with you in Discord.

    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

    Welcome to Week 17, OWS Fam! There are so many spots to attack on this slate, and with ownership likely to congregate less overall (due to more value with injuries and resting players, and motivated and unmotivated teams), I think it’s appropriate to dive right into the situations we can exploit this week. Keep in mind a few things: don’t chase your tail by changing your play style these last few weeks, always start with your preferred game environments, and remember that fluky outcomes are even more likely in these last few weeks of the regular season.

    So where can we win some money this week? Let’s go!

    Justin Fields + Khalil Herbert (+Lions)

    This 52-point total in the Bears // Lions game is the game of the week, you’ve already read this by now. So the question becomes, do you dive in or avoid it? If you play it, how will you be different? And with the Lions expected point total here of nearly 30 points, we should expect their pieces to be the place where many rosters start.

    My anticipated favorite roster build by the field this week is to play Justin Fields with Amon-Ra St. Brown and one of the Lions running backs (likely D’Andre Swift), and then throw in Cole Kmet on the roster since he’s the only comfortable Bear we can pair with Fields. One way we can simply differentiate that while also hoping this game carries rosters is to pair Fields with a running back, hoping for dump-off passes in catchup mode if the Bears trail as expected. We could still pair Fields with a pass catcher like Chase Claypool or Byron Pringle (in lieu of Kmet), but going to the Chicago backfield seems less likely. And in this situation, we have some very conflicting data to stack up against each other. First, there’s Khalil Herbert’s salary at the bare minimum on DK of $4,000. For a running back one week removed from an injury, seeing at least 40% of the snaps and likely 10-15 touches in the best game environment on the slate, $4,000 is simply too cheap. The other factor working in Herbert’s favor is he leads the NFL in yards per carry among running backs this season (5.9), and he gets a matchup with the Lions who boast the 30th-ranked run defense in yards per carry allowed this season. It’s possible David Montgomery handles the load here and reaches his point-per-dollar value, but with Herbert’s price, and unusual pairing with Fields, he provides a high per-touch upside which moves exponentially higher if his points come through the air.

    The conflicting stats that have me not overloading on this spot for Khalil: the Lions rank first (least) in receptions allowed and first in receiving yards allowed to running backs this season. Something will give, and this could also be a product of teams throwing and running the ball at will against the Lions defense this season, but it’s notable nonetheless.

    The full stack for Fields in this spot is Fields + Herbert + Pringle/Claypool + Amon-Ra and/or DJ Chark.

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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 17 Topics

    1. A Unique Slate

    2. Lessons Learned

    3. Value Hunting

    4. Floating Plays, Week 17

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


    1. A Unique Slate

    The Question ::

    There are a lot of moving parts as we head into the home stretch of the NFL season so I’m leading with an open-ended question that was a staple of “The Oracle” many times in the past. What are you seeing that makes this slate particularly unique?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    Oh, man — so much. On my RG pod with SquirrelPatrol, he called this “Week 18, Jr.”

    In the Angles Pod, I went game by game on the situations in play, but from a broad sense, we have the Jags saying “no games are meaningless,” but we are still at risk of playing popular DFS options for limited snaps; we have the Raiders benching Derek Carr; we have the Falcons shifting their focus toward their primary rookies in recent weeks; we have the Chargers, 49ers, and Vikings with less to play for than some other teams (playoff seeding locked into a tight band), and therefore more likely than some other teams to lighten the load a bit on key players (RBs, in particular, are at risk of this – they’ll all still play, of course, but could finish a bit below their expected usage rates); and we have several teams with everything to play for. This is also a week in which there are a lot of question marks on most of the high-priced players, but since this likely isn’t enough to shake the field off the “find ways to pay up” approach, this could concentrate ownership on a small number of high-upside-but-also-somewhat-fragile options (making mid-range rosters potentially powerful, if the high-priced pieces as a whole flounder this week). And if you’re playing on FanDuel, you have them botching their rollout of the slate so that the Sunday night game of Pitt // Balt is on the Main Slate and the afternoon game between the Rams // Chargers is not. Talk about uniqueness!

    Xandamere >>

    There’s going to be a lot of late news. It’s generally been the case this season, that by Saturday night/Sunday morning, we have all or almost all of the relevant news of who’s playing. But with teams looking at potential rest situations (hi, Jags), there’s a strong chance that there will be spots about which we don’t have clarity until inactives come out. We’re also at the part of the year in which we start seeing more weather impact to games, and that’s another spot where it’s hard to prepare in advance because weather forecasts don’t start to hone in until 12-24 hours prior to the game. 

    The point here is that this slate will, I think, have a lot of late information to which we’ll have to react, and those who can react both smartly and quickly to it will have an edge. While we’ll likely go into Sunday morning with some unknowns, try to prepare with if/then situations to the greatest of your ability. For example, let’s say the Jags unexpectedly announce Travis Etienne inactive 90 minutes before kickoff. What do you do here? How much exposure to JaMychal Hasty do you want? The more prepared we can be in advance, the better we’re likely to do – try not to be caught scrambling at the last minute. 

    Also, keep that dynamic in mind as you go through content this week. There is a LOT that is subject to change this week, at least for me, and my advice is don’t get fixated on something today and let it constrain your thinking on Sunday morning. 

    Mike >>

    A unique week this late in the season to have no real large weather concerns, especially after the debacle of Week 16. JM did a great job laying out specifics of team situations that are in play and how those will potentially change the way teams approach games in ways that don’t show up in spreadsheets. The “Week 18, Jr.” nickname for this slate is entirely appropriate as we are seeing so many factors at play that usually aren’t as predominant until the final week. 

    As for specific approaches to this slate, I dove in a bit as far as roster construction in my Player Grid. My basic thought process is I see a lot of risk and mediocre ceilings at the upper end of RB pricing ($6,500 and up on DK), making me want to build my rosters with relatively cheaper RBs and chasing ceiling at the WR/TE/FLEX spots. 

    Hilow >>

    First off, the fact that we have 13 games on the main slate should shape our approach this week. With more games comes more opportunity for outlier scoring to develop, which means the winning scores in GPPs are likely to be higher than on a standard week. As in, with the field likely identifying this slate as an “ugly slate,” realizing that the sheer size and total number of teams in play is likely to inflate scoring should give us an edge that most people won’t notice or realize.

    Beyond that is the obvious fact that there is more uncertainty and variance on this slate that we’ve seen since early in the season, with many teams holding higher variance due to already being eliminated from playoff contention. Most of that is due to uncertainty surrounding workloads, snap rates, and opportunities, which we can leverage in our favor in certain spots around the league this week.

    Notice the positive spin on the variance associated with this week, as most are likely to see it as a negative!


    2. This Is 30

    The Question ::

    There will likely be a lot going on next week (the last week of the NFL season always has a TON of fun dynamics to discuss), so I’d like us to take a moment this week to reflect on our DFS seasons so far. As sharp players, we are always learning and paying attention to trends, results, and processes. What is the biggest thing you’ve learned throughout this season that you believe will help you be a better player moving forward?

    The Answers ::

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    Thanks for hanging out with us in The Oracle this week

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

    Sunday Crunch

    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.

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    What’s Cook-in’::

    Dalvin Cook is at his lowest salary of the year in a matchup with one of the league’s worst run defenses and is playing in a game with the second-highest total on the main slate. He has had an up-and-down year but has four games with 26+ Draftkings points and has yet to realize a potentially monster ceiling this year. Earlier this week I was focused on paying down at running back, but some late week ownership changes and extra value opening up at wide receiver have me opening my mind up to paying a little extra at running back and Cook is by far my favorite option of the running backs priced at $6,500 or more. If there is one running back I think could surprise us with a 35-point game this week, it is Cook.

    Fish Race::

    The Patriots defense plays man coverage at one of the highest rates in the league and will be without multiple cornerbacks, while Tyreek Hill has been the most dominant wide receiver in the league against man coverage. Hill should have modest ownership for his slate-breaking ability due to the game’s modest point total and the absence of Tua Tagovailoa, but the Dolphins should still maintain a heavy pass rate and with their season on the line, I would expect Hill to be a dominant part of their game plan.

    Getting Defensive::

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    Afternoon-Only

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

    Finding an Edge

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

    Ownership Strategy

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

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

    QB STRATEGY
    • Baker Mayfield and Jarrett Stidham will have almost no ownership. Given the other options on the slate, that seems right.
    • Aaron Rodgers is likely to be the highest owned QB in the highest projected scoring environment facing the second weakest secondary on the slate.
    • A group of four QBs – Justin Herbert, Kirk Cousins, Brock Purdy, and Mike White – are in solid spots at various price points, and should all have double digit ownership but are unlikely to get steamed too hard based on the nature of the slate.
    • Geno Smith should be in a tier of his own in the upper single digits of ownership, with a tough matchup and pricing right around several other quarterbacks in better spots, and the added fact that his running back, Kenneth Walker, might have the highest ownership of any running back on the slate.

    My guess on final ownership:

    • Rodgers – 18-25%
    • Herbert, Cousins, Purdy, White – 12-20% each
    • Geno Smith – 8-12%
    • Mayfield and Stidham – 1-3%
    Defense Strategy
    • The 49ers defense will likely be around 50% owned in tournaments but frankly, the spot they are in is so good that it will be somewhat surprising if they don’t put up a double digit score.
    • The Chargers defense is an attractive tournament option this week facing a Rams offense that is overmanned but benefitted from facing Nathaniel Hackett’s lame-duck team last week. They are priced high enough to keep their ownership low but have a very high ceiling thanks to their ferocious pass rush and the likelihood of forcing Baker Mayfield to throw the ball often.
    • The Raiders defense is the only one on the slate I would say is definitely out of play. 
    • Both the Vikings and Packers defenses should have a lot of chances to make plays in a potential shootout, the Jets have a great defensive unit and should never be overlooked, and the Seahawks are playing at home against a Jets team that has turned the ball over often at times this year, and the Rams have a great defensive scheme and are still playing hard. My lineups will probably all be using the 49ers and Chargers, but those are the basic arguments for the other options. 

    HOW I’M APPROACHING EACH GAME

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

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    Underdog Underowned

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

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

    Brief Review of Previous Data

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

    • In 21/34 weeks, there have been at least four QB-teammate stacks in the top-five rosters (15 of 21 were QB-WR)
    • 2022 QBs in top-5 (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) // Kirk Cousins (4/4) // 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) // Dak Prescott (1/1)
    • Of the 80 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 170 top-five rosters, 118 have had two RBs (69.4%)
      • This means a 1-2-2-1 roster construction
    • Mark Andrews has made a top-five roster in 12-of-26 weeks he has been on the slate, and Travis Kelce has made a top-five roster in 12-of-24 weeks he has been on the slate
    • In 2022, 12-of-16 weeks have had a single WR or RB make all five top-five rosters

    Week 16 Top-Five Rosters: Score // Roster // ADP

    Looking at Week 17
    Quarterbacks:

    Notable QBs missing from this slate: Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott, Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray, Matthew Stafford

    • Despite the largest slate of games since early season, the QBs absent from the slate have left the position pretty weak overall
    • Mahomes and Goff carry the highest team totals on the slate by a wide margin, with Goff vs Fields projecting to be a more competitive scoring environment than Mahomes-Russ
      • At the time of this writing, ADPs: Mahomes (6), Fields (9), Goff (30)
    • Aaron Rodgers vs Kirk Cousins scores since 2020: (43-34) / (28-22) / (31-34) / (7-23)
      • Rodgers hasn’t scored 20 fantasy points all year, but has third highest team total on slate
      • Cousins has six scores of 23+ fantasy points, including four of the last five games
    • Deshaun Watson has faced a tough slate of defenses in his return, but Washington has allowed productive rushing days to QBs. Wentz starts have been higher scoring environments than Heinicke’s, and he has clear stackable players on his own team and on the other side
    • Teddy Bridgewater: Productive in his one start, two stackable weapons slipping due to New England defense/Tua concerns, both teams extremely motivated means both offenses need to leave it all on the table
    Running Backs:

    Notable RBs missing from this slate: Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliott, Tony Pollard, Joe Mixon, Najee Harris, JK Dobbins, Devin Singletary, Jonathan Taylor

    RBs with upside outside the top-six drafted:

    • Isiah Pacheco: “KC is implied for 29 points at home as a 10+ point favorite” Deja Vu from a week ago, playing a defense that appears to have given up after getting obliterated by Cam Akers on the ground. Pacheco has between 13-22 rush attempts in each of the last seven games. With his scoring almost assuredly going to come on the ground, he is one way to get leverage off Mahomes.
    • Brian Robinson: Cleveland has really struggled to defend the run; Gibson has been missing practice; Robinson has 4 games of 20+ carries; Washington needs to win to stay alive
    • Tyler Allgeier: Allgeier has taken over the backfield with 35 carries last two weeks, including 4/43 through the air last week; Arizona’s has been more susceptible to RBs and is certainly an easier matchup than Atlantas previous two opponents
    • Detroit RBs: Certainly it could play out that both RBs cannibalize each other, but both Buffalo RBs just had strong games in this same matchup (Cook on winning GL stand roster), and Detroit is projected for the second highest total behind Kansas city

    Leonard Fournette: Still appears to be the lead man when healthy after seeing 30 touches last week. CAR has allowed strong RB success and Fournette can get usage from ahead or behind; teams essentially playing for the Division

    Wide Receivers:

    Notable WRs missing from this slate: Stefon Diggs, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Ceedee Lamb, Diontae Johnson, Christian Watson

    WRs with upside outside the top-14 drafted:

    • Amari Cooper: Fresh off best game with Watson in frigid conditions and with a missed easy touchdown opportunity; Washington defense lends opponent to attacking aerially
    • Dotson/Samuel: Both had success with Wentz early in season; Gibson absence would potentially lead to more short area work for Samuel; Washington needs to win
    • Zay Jones: See NFL edge about Jones success vs Houston’s preferred zone coverage
    • Drake London: Massive target share with Ridder and no Pitts; no Byron Murphy on the other side
    • Elijah Moore: Better matchup in slot vs Seattle; 10 tg in last Mike White game
    Tight Ends:

    Notable TEs missing from this slate: Mark Andrews, Dalton Schultz, Pat Freiermuth, Zach Ertz, Kyle Pitts

    • With more options at RB and WR this week, Kelce is a priority again for me
    • As long as Deebo remains out, Kittle’s blowup potential is elevated
      • I’ve even taken both Kelce and Kittle in a draft considering their respective ceilings; while unlikely, we did just witness an example last week of both Kittle & Hock scoring 27+ fantasy points each
    • Quick notes on some TEs past top trio:
      • Evan Engram: On a roll against a tougher WR defense
      • Cole Kmet: The most reliable target left for Fields
      • Taysom Hill: Usage has been up of late and weather still favors the ground game; can score variety of ways

    Logan Thomas: Heavily targeted by Wentz last week

    Underowned Combos:
    • Lawrence + Etienne / Zay
    • Goff + 2
    • Rodgers + Lazard / RBs
    • Teddy + Hill/Waddle
    • Watson + Cooper / DPJ
    • Cousins + 2
    • Kelce + Kittle

    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 has been hammering short slates and utilizing late swap. In this article, he will help you take advantage of late swap.

    StatATL is traveling this week but will be back in Week 18!

    The Gauntlet Strategy

    Published on 12/30 before Week 17 was played

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    Overview 

    • Six player snake draft comprised of 10 rounds in a Best Ball tournament format
    • Teams are made up of 10 total players with a starting lineup of 5 players – 1 QB, 2 WR/TE, 1 RB, and 1 Flex
    • (4) Round structure with only the top team advancing out of a group of (6) the first two rounds, followed by a group of (8) in the round aligning with the conference championships. 157 teams in the Super Bowl with $100K up top.
    • Getting out of the first round is crucial but difficult if drafting 3 or more from a bye team (currently the Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles).
    • Like a Milli-maker on DK, the payout structure is extremely top-heavy. 

    The final two bullets bring up an interesting dilemma as the two bye teams are the most likely to make the conference final and Super Bowl but drafting several of those players hampers your chances of getting out of the first round. 

    To win, you will likely need (at least) five players to reach the Super Bowl. This incentivizes stacking your lineups to consolidate around a few teams you are hoping can make deep playoff runs, however, an aggressive stacking strategy has its trade-offs. If you prioritize stacking elite contenders, such as the Bills or Eagles, this will likely have you drafting some poorly projected depth players to round out your team. Someone in your first pod/round will likely have drafted studs on wild card teams and while they will have an uphill battle to win the whole tournament, these teams will have a leg up on getting out of the first round.

    If you consider stacking both bye teams you are drawing dead to advance, and even stacking one bye team significantly hurts your odds of getting out of the first round. However, the tournament is very top-heavy, so we will discuss below some of the strategies to best balance these predicaments and try to thread a very thin needle.

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    Roster Composition:

    From a 10,000-foot view, stacking is critical as you want to try to set yourself up to build around multiple teams (ideally 3 or 4 total) with at least one from each conference. 

    Since your lineup must consist of 1 QB, 1 RB, 2 WR/TE, and 1 Flex, I think there are three builds to consider when approaching your draft, but before we hop into that, let’s start by discussing QB allocation:

    Quarterback Strategy:

    In general, QB DFS scoring is the flattest of any position and I think there is a strong case to be made for both of the following compositions:

    Single QB build:

    In a single QB build, the bet you are making is that QB’s team makes it to the Super Bowl. Knowing how important correlation will likely be, I would try to ensure you can draft at least two other players from that same team, whereas four total is likely ideal (for example QB, RB, WR, WR/TE). 

    In drafts where you can pull off a single QB build, I think a 4-3-3 (four players from one team, three players from another, and three players from another) or 4-2-2-2 build is optimal, with at least 4 other players coming from the other conference to your stack (more on this later). Since the contest is so top-heavy, I think that single QB builds offer the most upside as you get more options at the other positions, however, this strategy is only realistic if you don’t draft a QB with a 1st round bye.

    Double QB build:

    This is a less risky strategy to employ as all your eggs aren’t in one basket. If drafting a QB from one of the bye teams (Buffalo and Philadelphia at the time of this writing), a second QB is essential. In a double QB build, ideally, you are to end with a 3-3-2-2, 4-3-3, or 4-4-2 roster composition. If one of your stacks is around a team with a bye, I think there is merit in considering a high-upside player from a one-off team (a 4-3-2-1 build). This player may get eliminated in the first round, but hopefully, they help you enough to advance.

    3 (or 3+) QB build:

    In my opinion, a triple QB build is not a composition you want to consider as it limits your exposure to the other required positions.

    Draft Strategy:

    Three team build:

    As discussed above, correlation is key in these contests and can be achieved by building stacks of players from the same team. When drafting, a strategy I like is to start with either an Elite QB and his alpha pass catcher (Allen and Diggs for example), or two elite pass catchers such as two of Chase, Jefferson, or Lamb with your first two picks. Why I like these three is that based on the current ADP, you are likely able to get one of their QBs at the 3/4 turn – Something like Chase, Lamb, Mixon, and Prescott. From there you could either shift to two pieces from another team with your next two picks, something like Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, or snag a secondary option from one of your earlier round stacks, such as Zeke / Schultz or Tyler Boyd. In a build like this, I think the ideal composition is 4-3-3. 

    Four team balanced build:

    If one of the teams you’re building around is the Eagles or Bills/Chiefs (depending on who gets the one seed in the AFC), a draft that produces an allotment of 3, 3, 2, 2 is also a strong approach. You are playing somewhat shorthanded in round one with (3) players on bye, but if you can get out of the first round with the (7) other players, your chances of advancing are improved compared to the average team advancing.  

    For example, if starting something like Josh Allen/Justin Jefferson (assuming Buffalo bye), I think it’s optimal to wait until later rounds to scoop up additional Bills players as you will need to focus on options playing in the first round, as well as another QB, before continuing to load up on players with a first-round bye. From this start, you could go Dalvin Cook in the 3rd, Cousins in the 4th, and come back around with Gabe Davis in the 5th. In the 6th, mark your territory by starting another stack (potentially around Miami, Jacksonville or Tampa).  

    Another example of a four-team build could be something like this:

    1st round – CMC 

    2nd round – Diggs

    3rd round – Pollard

    4th round – Prescott

    5th round – Aiyuk

    6th round – Singletary

    7th round – Purdy

    8th round – Gallup 

    9th round – Henry

    10th round – Burks

    (Or two Jags like Etienne and Zay Jones with your final two picks).

    This provides a 3-3-2-2 configuration that gives you the viability of five in the Super Bowl if the 49ers or Cowboys advance from the NFC and the Bills or Titans advance from the AFC. 

    Four team with onslaught build:

    One of the more aggressive approaches I’ve taken is a 5-2-2-1. I’m referring to this as an onslaught build, and I think it offers immense upside if things break your way. The key is to try and build around one of the non-bye teams with your 5 player onslaught with your other 2 “stacks” coming from the opposite conference. If executed to perfection, this approach also allows you to likely snag two players from a bye team. Like a 4-3-3 build, this construction provides access to 7 players in the Super Bowl if things play out in your favor. This could also be built as a 5-3-2, but I think if drafting early, I’d rather take on the risk of a one-off player from a non-guaranteed team as the value of getting them several rounds early is worth the risk and will help you get out of the first round.

    Based on the current ADP, an example of this 5-2-2-1 construction would be:

    1st round – Chase

    2nd round – Burrow

    3rd round – D Smith

    4th round – Mixon

    5th round – Goedert

    6th round – Schultz

    7th round – Boyd

    8th round – Gallup

    9th round – Z Jones

    10th round – Irwin

    Drafting early vs drafting late: 

    The key difference between drafting early versus drafting late (after week 18) is around the certainty of both who the playoff teams are as well as around seeding and the byes. As of this writing (before week 17), 5 AFC teams have secured playoff berths (Bills, Chiefs, Bengals, Ravens, and Chargers), and 4 NFC teams have also punched their ticket to the postseason (Eagles, Vikings, 49ers, and Cowboys). With the uncertainty around these five remaining spots, drafting early allows you to take on some risk on players who may not make the playoffs but can be drafted much later due to this fact. A player like Tyreek Hill, who will likely become a second or third-round pick if the Dolphins secure a playoff spot, is going around the 6th-7th round of drafts I’ve done. Other season-long ‘studs’ such as Barkley and Henry are going even later… If you can handle the risk/reward element of drafting early, I’d recommend embracing some uncertainty later in your draft.

    I hope this article helps you in drafting your Gauntlet teams! Feel free to send me a DM in Discord if you have any questions or want to chat strategy. Happy New Year OWS Fam!