Sunday, Jan 29th — Early
Sunday, Jan 29th — Late
Bye Week:
Bears
Bills
Broncos
Browns
Buccaneers
Cardinals
Chargers
Colts
Commanders
Cowboys
Dolphins
Falcons
Giants
Jaguars
Jets
Lions
Packers
Panthers
Patriots
Raiders
Rams
Ravens
Saints
Seahawks
Steelers
Texans
Titans
Vikings

The Scroll Week 18

JUMP TO

    THE SCROLL


    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)


    Meet The Team


    Angles

    Happy Thursday!


    New members: Every Thursday morning (Thursday afternoon 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: 18

    Total Main Slate Games: 13

    Slate Overview:

    Every year, we use the Angles Email during the last week of the regular season to run through the scenarios at play in each game. This year is particularly unique, however, in that there is more uncertainty than normal. We pushed back the Angles Email a bit, hoping we would have some clarity on the Bills and Bengals situations, but with no timeline available for answers, we’re rolling out what we know at the moment.

    Let’s take a look at what each game offers based on the information we have. If anything changes from here, we’ll have you covered on OWS!
     

    Bucs (18.25) at Falcons (22.25)

    Neither team has anything to play for in this one — with the Bucs locked into the four seed in the playoffs, and with the Falcons eliminated. Todd Bowles has said that Buccaneers starters will play, while Vegas is signaling to us that they expect the Bucs to eventually move their starters to the sidelines, with Atlanta favored by four. For whatever it’s worth, however, the Bucs were in a similar situation in 2020 (they couldn’t move above the five seed and were highly unlikely to fall below the five seed, but still needed to continue building momentum before the playoffs), and they elected to play their starters for the entirety of their final game. That’s an interesting angle to consider here. The Falcons, of course, have moved Tyler Allgeier into a featured role and have expanded the emphasis on Drake London over the last month, and both of these should continue in this spot.


    Patriots (17.75) at Bills (24.75)

    The Bills need to win this game — the question is, “In what way?” Had the Bills defeated the Bengals on Monday night, a win here would lock up the 1 seed for them, which would mean the only bye in the AFC and a home game in the AFC Championship (assuming they were to make it that far). If the NFL decides to still play the Bills/Bengals game, this scenario remains in play; if the NFL decides to instead cancel that game and go to win percentage, Buffalo will not only have the unbelievable emotional roller coaster of the last few days, but will also lose out on the 1 seed through no fault of their own (assuming Kansas City handles business against the Raiders on Saturday). If the Bills were to lose this game and the Bengals were to beat the Ravens, Buffalo would be tied with the Bengals and would lose the tie-breaker based on strength of victory (the fourth tie-breaker available, by the way), thus dropping the Bills to the 3 seed. Summing all that up: the Bills will play this game to win, regardless of how everything “outside their control” shapes up. The Patriots, meanwhile, have an easy path to the playoffs: Win this game, and they’re in. (Lose this game, and they need help.) Both teams should be taking their standard approach in this one.
     

    Vikings (25.25) at Bears (17.75)

    You may recall that Nathan Peterman has 13 interceptions and only three touchdown passes on 141 career attempts. He’ll be under center this week for the Bears as they give a banged-up Justin Fields an opportunity to start healing early. The Vikings’ loss to the Packers last week dropped them from the 2 seed to the 3 seed in the NFC, but they can get that 2 seed back with a win and a 49ers loss. Because the 49ers are playing in the late slot, the Vikings should be expected to approach this game with maximum effort — though of course, if they have a big lead deeper into the game, there is a chance they pull some starters.
     

    Ravens (17.0) at Bengals (24.0)

    This is where things with the Bills/Bengals game get really messy. If the Bills/Bengals game is rescheduled, the Bengals still have a shot at falling as low as the 5 seed with losses to both the Ravens and Bills, though they also have a shot at the 1 seed with two wins and a Kansas City loss. If the game is not rescheduled, and the NFL goes to win percentage to determine playoff seeding, the Bengals will lock up the AFC North regardless of the outcome of this game. In this scenario, they will still have something to play for, as a Bengals win and a Bills loss would bump the Bengals up to the 2 seed (the 1 seed will be out of reach in this scenario), but there is also a chance the Bengals will decide that resting some players before a first-round playoff game is more important than putting players at risk in the hopes of moving up to the 2 seed. This is a spot where you will want to keep in touch with the news, as the Bengals are (obviously) a high-caliber offense capable of producing slate-topping scores, but they are also an offense at some risk of resting key starters, depending on a variety of scenarios and decisions.
     

    Texans (17.75) at Colts (20.25)

    The Texans and Colts have nothing but pride to play for. The Colts will be starting Sam Ehlinger, while the 38.0 total for this game gives us a good sense of what we should expect.
     

    Jets (19.75) at Dolphins (18.75)

    << Add Access >>

    OWS FREE

    (No CC Required!)

    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::

    I’m going to cheat a bit and repeat myself below as I just wrote something in the Oracle that (relatively) succinctly portrays the mindset that we need to adopt on this slate:

    “The uncertainty surrounding this week has been ‘priced in’ to projections, game totals, etc. As in, Vegas is so uncertain that basically every game opened with a game total between 39.0 and 43.0 points and has been bet either up or down from there. That should seem wild and foreign.”

    Next, ownership projections and median projections are all over the place. There is no “certainty index” that these algorithms can plug in to return accurate projections so the median projections you see this week are likely, and on average, lower than they would otherwise be due to the gross floors in the output, stemming from the reduced lower end in range of outcomes projections. Understanding the “why behind the how” of these projection systems gives us actionable information. As in, we have to be willing to place bets in situations, just as in any standard week. Only this week, the downside is much greater across the board. Basically, we’re likely to see the cash lines much lower but the score needed to ship GPPs stay relatively the same. That thought process should affect our decision-making matrix going into the week, and I think the standard answer from the field is going to be to hunt for “certainty.” The fact of the matter is we still need around the same score as a standard week to win anything on this slate. A payoff dominance strategy demands we build with a “what if I’m right” mindset, which generates natural leverage due to the general tendency from the field to utilize a risk dominance strategy (if you’re lost on what those mean, I explain them in depth in my Game Theory Bible course from this year). In layman’s terms, don’t be afraid to lose this week and instead build as if every assumption you make while building a lineup is 100% accurate and correct.

    That discussion is far more important than simply saying, “Hey, there are 13 games on the main slate and most of them have point totals in the 39.0-43.0 range and there’s a bunch of uncertainty!”

    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.

    JALEN HURTS

    Restrictive chalk. One of the league’s most dynamic quarterbacks on the team with the highest Vegas implied team total playing in a must-win game. Checks out. That said, Hurts is coming off two missed contests with a shoulder injury and derives a lot of his value from his red zone rushing role (13 rushing scores in 14 games played). We saw almost the exact same situation transpire last season with Kyler Murray, whose red zone rushing role almost completely dried up following an in-season shoulder injury. I’m not saying to expect the same from Hurts this week and into the playoffs, I’m simply saying this spot isn’t as certain as the field seems to think this week. And that doesn’t even take into account the low red zone touchdown rate the Wink Martindale defense historically allows (eighth-ranked 51.72% this season). His upside is undeniable in this spot but I simply like to provide the entire picture as opposed to being a sounding board for the rest of the industry.

    KENNETH WALKER

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. 28 and 24 running back opportunities his last two times out, so we know the upside is there in a must-win game. We also have to realize that those hefty workloads came in the lowest and third lowest pass rate over expectation (PROE) values for the Seahawks after they shifted to a pass-heavy offense over the second half of the season. There’s no way of knowing how they will attack in this spot but the proven upside from Walker is tough to argue against here, particularly on a week with so much uncertainty.

    CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY

    Restrictive chalk. There are so many unknowns surrounding CMC’s usage this week that it blows my mind he is coming in with the ownership expectation that he currently has. First off, the 49ers want to win this game as they still have a chance at the one-seed. That said, they are two-touchdown favorites against a practice squad quarterback. Furthermore, Elijah Mitchell is expected to be activated from injured reserve today and play this week, and we’ve seen how his presence has affected CMC’s workload this season. The paths to failure simply outweigh his upside for me this week.

    TYLER ALLGEIER

    Expansive chalk. I was on Allgeier heavily last week against a softer opponent, but the fact of the matter is the Falcons have scored point totals of 20 // 9 // 18 // 16 // 13 over their last five games and face a stingy Buccaneers run defense this week. This play feels a whole hell of a lot like the field chasing “certainty” and nothing more. 

    PAT FREIERMUTH

    Expansive chalk. The Steelers have exactly zero games above league average in PROE since Week 11 and have drastically increased their utilization of blocking tight end Zack Gentry in positive game script during that time. The matchup this week clearly points to the ground against a Browns defense ranked toward the bottom of the league in most run-stopping metrics.

    CHALK BUILD::

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

    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 18

    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.

    Josh Allen:  FD $8.8k,14.7% // DK $8.4k, 16.8% // Value on Fanduel

    Allen takes up 2.1% less of the cap and is priced below Jalen Hurts on Fanduel. They lowered his price from $9.5k two weeks ago to $8.8k this week. Allen has the second highest salary multiplier only behind Hurts based on price this week and average production this season (2.8x).

    Kenneth Walker:  FD $7.7k,12.8% // DK $6.4k,12.8% // Value on Draftkings

    Walker takes up the same amount of cap space on both sites, but is the seventh highest priced running back on Fanduel versus the 12th on Draftkings. Walker has seen 20-plus carries in each of the last two and hit the 100-yard rushing bonus on Draftkings in both.

    Justin Jefferson:  FD $9.0k,15.0% // DK $9.1k,18.2% // Value on Fanduel

    << Add Access >>

    OWS FREE

    (No CC Required!)

    JM’s Player Grid

    JMToWin is a high-stakes tournament champion (Thunderdome, Luxury Box, Game Changer, Wildcat) who is focusing this year on single-entry/three-entry max


    OWS Fam ::

    This is not a complete list of all the good plays on the slate

    This is, instead, a look at the player pool I’ll be fishing


    The Grid ::

    Bottom-Up Build

    :: covered in-depth in the Angles Pod (it’s highly recommended that you listen to the breakdown of the roster in order to see the thinking behind it, and in order to understand what we’re talking about when we look at a “bottom-up build”)

    Blue Chips

    :: my “Tier 1” plays: the plays I feel confident leaning into across different types of builds; these players have a high ceiling and a low likelihood of price-considered failure

    Build-Arounds

    :: games, offenses, situations, or scenarios I’ll be looking to build around across my rosters

    Building Blocks

    :: unique player pairings that can be used as foundational building blocks for tournament rosters

    Bonuses

    :: players who don’t fit into the categories above — either Upside pieces who don’t have the floor to be Blue Chips (and are not being focused on within my game-focused builds) or players who may not have a strong shot at ceiling, but are worth keeping in mind from a “role” perspective


    Angles Pod

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS || Inner Circle

    Rest-Of Season: 90% OFF!

    (Week Pass only $19)

    Bottom-Up Build

    Full breakdown (of what this is, and what the thinking is behind these players) can (and should) be found in the Angles Pod (above).

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

    Tyler Huntley
    Miles Sanders
    Cam Akers
    Corey Davis
    Greg Dortch
    Ja’Marr Chase
    Mark Andrews
    Albert Okwuegbunam
    Vikings

    Join The Bottom-Up Build Contest On DraftKings!

    Buy-In:

    Free

    Rules:

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

    Prizes:

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

    << Join Here >>

    *must use an OWS avatar (found on your profile page) to be eligible to win


    Blue Chips

    Justin Jefferson

    194 yards. Can he get there? — maybe not, but with games this year of 184, 193, and 223, Jefferson will definitely head into this game believing he’ll be able to set the record for receiving yards in a season, and it won’t be surprising if the Vikings look for ways to get him there. While Jefferson is a likable human being, and it will be fun if he gets the record, I couldn’t care less for DFS purposes. What I do care about is that A) the Vikings need to treat this like a normal game in order to keep their chances of the 2-seed afloat, and B) peppering Jefferson with targets is their best way to get there. The fact that Kevin O’Connell is a players’ coach and the Vikings would love to get Jefferson this record mean that we can feel comfortable projecting a nice workload for him in this spot, and “eyes set on 194 yards” will make it that much more likely that he notches the 100-yard bonus and falls into some scoring opportunities. In a week full of uncertainty, even Jefferson carries a bit himself, as the Vikings could sneak one by us and decide that they don’t think the depleted Cardinals can defeat the 49ers, and that it’s therefore better to rest key players after just a couple drives (wouldn’t that throw a wrench into this weekend!). But barring that scenario, Jefferson should once again land in the 11-16 target range (incredibly, he’s been there 11 times this year), giving him a clear path to becoming one of the stronger options on the slate.

    “Light Blue” Chips

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

    Build-Arounds

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

    Building Blocks

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

    Jefferson + Dalvin
    Cost: $16.4K DK // $17.0k FD
    Story:

    “Dalvin hits the way he has this season”

    Why It Works:

    Dalvin’s ownership projection is currently 18.4%, but nearly every one of those Dalvin rosters will NOT have Justin Jefferson. And yet, Jefferson (as we’ve explored a number of times recently) has scored 33+ DK points in three of the four games in which Dalvin went for 26+. In other words :: if Dalvin hits the way he has most often this season (in “Vikings smash” games that lead to Jefferson hitting as well), these Dalvin rosters won’t be separating from the field, as they’ll be getting “these points” while the Jefferson rosters get “those points.” By playing these two together, “a nice game from Dalvin” could easily mean you get one-up on the rest of the Dalvin rosters, while also having a nice head start on the rest of the Jefferson rosters.

    How It Works:

    Because of the salary spent here and the clear lead you’re gaining on a massive chunk of the field if this block hits (with Dalvin // Jefferson combining for around 40%-owned in projections, and these two likely to be on very few rosters together), you’re in a really nice position if this block hits. At the same time, the chances of these two massively separating from all the non-Dalvin/Jefferson rosters are somewhat slim (i.e., you’re likelier to get 3.8x to 4x your combined salary spent if everything comes together than you are to get, say, 4.5x+), which means I would still want to be hunting for at least one other really nice angle or edge on a Dalvin/Jefferson build.

    POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE:

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

    “One Jets Pass Catcher”

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

    Bonuses

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

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

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

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

    QB ::

    Jalen Hurts || Joe Burrow || a bit of Russell Wilson || potentially a bit of Joe Flacco

    RB ::

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

    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 ::
    Tyler Allgeier

    Allgeier is once again expected to see 20+ touches and is playing at home and facing a defense that may not be fully invested in this game.

    Cam Akers

    Akers has accounted for over 40% of the Rams yards from scrimmage over the past three weeks and is facing a Seattle defense that has been exposed by feature backs this season.

    Miles sanders

    Sanders had his best game of the season the first time he faced the Giants and should have less threat of losing goal line carries to Jalen Hurts than usual this week as Hurts eases back in from his shoulder injury.

    Najee harris

     In a week of uncertainty, Harris has a locked-in feature role against a defense that has been torched on the ground many times this season.

    Kenneth walker

    Should be popular, but is likely to see somewhere in the range of 25 touches in a must-win game for Seattle.

    • Side Notes/Thoughts::
      • CMC and Dalvin Cook – Both have incredible matchups and situations, with the concern being usage and/or their teams pulling the plug early. Both have 30-point games squarely in their range of outcomes if you’re willing to take a leap of faith.
      • Dart Throws – There are several running backs this week that are relatively cheap and should have elevated or featured roles that could pay off in a big way::
        • Joshua Kelley – Needs Bengals to win in the early window.
        • Ke’Shawn Vaughn – Look for reports on Fournette/White.
        • Gary Brightwell – Likely featured back for the Giants.
    Tight End ::

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

    Sonic’s MME Pool

    Sonic is a Milly Maker winner and large-field tournament mastermind who focuses on mass-multi-entry play


    OWS FAM! 

    Our last hope for main slate binkage!

    I’ll be submitting a few “clone” rosters with the express purpose of building them during the 4th quarter of the early games. 

    Here’s my article from last year in case you’re wondering wtf I’m talking about:

    It’s been an honor to do this little piece of content for you all this year. Let’s end on a strong note.

    LFG!

    Sonic


    QB:

    RB:

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

    Willing To Lose

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

    Stack them up this week.

    It’s Week 18, and we know by now stacks that are “in.” Correlation is key and not having a pass catcher with your quarterback on a roster is not a sharp move. This field stacks. And this season, though we’ve seen game stacks win a million dollars many times (Ravens // Dolphins in Week 3, Seahawks // Lions in Week 4, Seahawks // Raiders in Week 12, Cowboys // Jaguars in Week 15, and Giants // Vikings in Week 16), it’s still an underutilized strategy. Four or five or even six player blocks in one game do not work every week. But when it does, boy does it work.

    In Week 18, where certainty does not exist, and the obvious “game to stack” does not exist, we should continue to see rosters being spread across many games, as the field looks to get exposure to sure points, wrongfully assuming that we won’t see a game total go north of 55 points. Your rosters can be better than the field this week!

    Here is what is going up on my proverbial mirror this weekend:

    • Even though we think we know how these teams will all approach these games, we actually know nothing other than how playoff seeding will shake out if they win or lose.
    • Don’t forget that uncertainty drives people towards comfort, and comfort lives in high-priced players and household fantasy football names.
    • Most DFS players start their research with Vegas totals . . . and they are all under 44 on this slate . . . and because of this fact, game stack a minimum of four players, preferably five, in every lineup.
    Stack #1: Patriots at Bills (Allen, Cook, Davis, Rhamondre, Jakobi)

    On DK, starting with this core leaves a remaining average salary of $4,850.

    With what the Bills went through this past week, and fortunately now with the trending positive health of Damar Hamlin, I expect the Bills to come out firing in this game. The Patriots, for all their mediocrity this season, pose a perfect yet difficult matchup for them. As Hilow and JM pointed out in the NFL Edge writeup for this game, the Patriots did a few interesting things in their 24-10 loss to the Bills back in Week 13. Among them was their defense playing a lot of zone coverage, which should drive ownership again this week toward Stefon Diggs and away from Gabe Davis. The other beneficiary of a lot of zone coverage should be James Cook, who has seen his snap rate hovering around 40% in every game but produced a season high six catches in that Week 13 divisional matchup with New England. Betting on the “dinks and dunks” from Allen but with Davis slotting into downfield spaces in the zone and Cook underneath is an interesting way to get exposure to the Bills offense.

    If going to the Bills, the other factor we should consider is the Patriots still somehow being alive for the playoffs. Not that anyone thinks they will win, as even covering the spread here seems like a longshot, however, we should expect they will be playing this game to win throughout. There really isn’t a path of least resistance with the Buffalo defense, but their rush defense remains stout at 3rd overall DVOA, and of the small portion of the game we saw with the Bills and Bengals last week, we saw the Bengals choosing to air out the ball early and have success doing so. I expect a similar approach here with the Patriots, sending Meyers and Parker to find holes in the defense, with Stevenson handling underneath dump-offs and misdirection screens, attacking this game to let Mac Jones win or lose it for them (woof, that’s uncomfortable). Field goals won’t win this one so being aggressive on offense seems like the Patriots most viable option early and often.

    << Add Access >>

    OWS DFS |Inner Circle⭕️

    90% OFF!

    (WEEK PASS ONLY $19)

    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 18 Topics

    1. Uncertain Times

    2. Above The Rest

    3. The Future Is Now

    4. Floating Plays, Week 18

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


    1. Uncertain Times

    The Question ::

    There really is nothing like the final week of an NFL season and this year is no exception, with so many variables and situations to consider and question marks all over the place in terms of how teams will approach the week, motivations for individuals and teams, and difficulty to know where we can find “certainty”. There are even a lot of spots where the “motivations” for a particular team could be fluid and change as the game is being played. This lack of certainty provides anxiety and stress as we search for “certainty”, but it also provides a golden opportunity for those willing to embrace the chaos.

    What strategies do you see for your approach to this week in particular that may not work out every year but you believe, over time, give you the best chance to take advantage of the uncertainty that Week 18 provides?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    To be totally honest, my strategy for the final week of the regular season for the last three or four years has been, “Don’t play it.” Put simply: the aspects of NFL DFS that provide me with an edge are minimized on this weekend, and the aspects that don’t play to my strengths are maximized. One of the most challenging things for a lot of DFS players is finding that willingness to NOT play a slate, or to pull back on a slate; but if we think of everything in terms of “building up +EV sample sizes,” one of the easiest ways to maximize our profitability is to avoid adding negative samples to the bucket.

    None of that should be read as a recommendation that you avoid this slate. Rather, it’s me saying, “I shouldn’t pretend like I’m the one who should be giving you a layered answer to this question; but if you are like me, I can at least let you know that it’s okay to pull back on this slate if you’re not seeing your personal edge.”

    Xandamere >>

    Simply put, be willing to embrace uncertainty in tournaments. Week 18 is one of the most uncertain weeks of the year (Week 1 is up there as well!), and yet, as always, we’ll see chalk form. We often see some extreme chalk in Week 18 as people flock to perceived safety, looking for teams that have clear high motivation and basically X’ing out the teams with less clear situations from their player pools. That has rarely worked historically – we almost always see a couple of guys see really significant role changes in Week 18 and put up big fantasy scores at extremely low ownership. If you’re playing small field stuff, you don’t necessarily need to chase that much variance, but if you’re playing larger field tournaments (which I would qualify as anything over maybe 1-2k entries), be willing to lean into that uncertainty and take risks on players who project extremely poorly, because projections are extremely fragile this week. 

    Also from an ownership perspective, be aware that this is the week of the year in which ownership is the least likely to be accurate. We should always consider ownership when constructing rosters, but, I would suggest not prioritizing it as highly this week, because there are almost certainly going to be some significant misses in ownership projections.

    Hilow >>

    I like this question because there are multiple layers that we can unpack as we work our way through it. First off, the uncertainty surrounding this week has been “priced in” to projections, game totals, etc. As in, Vegas is so uncertain that basically every game opened with a game total between 39.0 and 43.0 points and has been bet either up or down from there. That should seem wild and foreign right off the rip.

    Next, ownership projections and median projections are all over the place. There is no “certainty index” that these algorithms can plug in to return accurate projections, so the median projections you see this week are likely, and on average, lower than they would otherwise be due to the gross floors in the output – stemming from the reduced lower end in range of outcomes projections. Understanding the “why behind the how” of these projections systems gives us actionable information. As in, we have to be willing to place bets in situations, just as in any standard week. Only this week, the downside is much greater across the board. Basically, we’re likely to see the cash lines much lower but the score needed to ship GPPs stay relatively the same. That thought process should affect our decision-making matrix going into the week, and I think the standard answer from the field is going to be to hunt for “certainty.” The fact of the matter is we still need around the same score as a standard week to win anything on this slate. A payoff dominance strategy demands we build with a “what if I’m right” mindset, which generates natural leverage due to the general tendency from the field utilizing a risk dominance strategy (if you’re lost on what those mean, I explain them in depth in my Game Theory Bible course from this year). In layman’s terms, don’t be afraid to lose this week and instead build as if every assumption you make while building a lineup is 100% accurate and correct. 

    Mike >>

    Usually each NFL game is its own entity, with no correlation or connections to be made across them. This week, the interdependent nature of the games being played is so unique to Week 18 as there are situations where certain players may have different outlooks depending on how other games play out. Some examples::

    • The Chargers will only “need” to win this week if the Ravens beat the Bengals in the early window. This means that your roster can “tell a story” where the Ravens win (JK Dobbins? Gus Edwards? BAL D?) and then stack on to that story with a low-owned Keenan Allen or Austin Ekeler. On the flip side, if you stack the Bengals passing game then a Joshua Kelley or DeAndre Carter makes a ton of sense to use as the Chargers likely rest their key players….you could go a step further as well by playing one or two Broncos offensive players under the assumption if the Chargers rest players on both sides of the ball then Denver has more success.
    • The Eagles can effectively make this game meaningless for the Cowboys if they jump out to a big lead on the Giants (who we already know will be resting players). Assuming the Eagles don’t run Jalen Hurts as much as usual this week, you can play Miles Sanders and/or an Eagles pass catcher with Sam Howell plus a Washington pass catcher. The story there is that if the Eagles score a bunch of points early, the Cowboys may rest Micah Parsons, Trevon Diggs, and other key defenders which would give a cheap and low owned Washington passing game an overlooked ceiling.

    Those are just a couple examples of ways we can use the unique nature of Week 18 to leverage correlated rosters that can pay off in a huge way.


    2. Above The Rest

    The Question ::

    Which games or teams stand out to you above the rest this week as the best bets for “certainty” and where you think they will be “riding their horses” with a lot on the line?

    The Answers ::

    << Add Access >>

    Inner Circle ⭕️

    Rest-Of Season: 90% OFF!

    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.

    Click here to join Discord for free.

    Chasing History::

    Justin Jefferson is 194 yards away from setting the single-season record for receiving yards and he is facing a Bears defense that has been awful all year and will be without their top four cornerbacks. The Bears also appear to be fully content taking the loss here to give themselves a shot at the #1 pick. The Vikings have talked about potentially resting some guys this week, but I have a hard time seeing Jefferson not having a huge first half that puts the record in reach and it’s going to be really hard to pull him off the field in that scenario. I predict that he gets the record and doesn’t need the entire game to do it.

    A Bright Outlook::

    Gary Brightwell is a cheap running back who is likely to play most of the game for the Giants. We saw a similar situation last Week 18 for the Bengals when Joe Mixon was held out and people thought Samaje Perine would be the feature back – but Perine had a tangible backup role that was valuable for the Bengals playoff run so he barely played and left Chris Evans the majority of the work. I see a similar situation playing out here, with Matt Breida being used sparingly and Brightwell operating effectively as the feature back against an Eagles team that has actually struggled against the run.

    Getting Defensive::

    << Add Access >>

    Inner Circle ⭕️

    Rest-Of Season: 90% OFF!

    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

    A Week Unlike Any Other

    The final week of the NFL season presents so many more different dynamics than a usual NFL week and the Afternoon Slate is especially tricky. Every game has potential playoff implications and three of the games have “motivations” that are correlated with the results of one of those games. Be sure to build smart, correlated lineups that make sense and check in on late news when inactives and reports for these games are released, as things will be changing throughout the day.

    QB Strategy
    • Jalen Hurts should be extremely popular on the shorter slate with all the value available and Josh Allen and Joe Burrow being removed from the pool.
    • Geno Smith and Russell Wilson make sense in the next tier as guys with fine matchups, reasonable price tags, and no “motivation” or playing time questions.
    • Purdy and Prescott should generate some interest on the shorter slate as their offenses should score a lot of points.
    • The rest of the crew is basically dart throws, but it wouldn’t be shocking if one of these guys were to score 18-22 points at a low price tag, on a day that is sure to have some surprises.

    My guess on final ownership:

    • Jalen Hurts – 25-40%
    • Geno Smith and Russell Wilson – 12-20% each
    • Brock Purdy and Dak Prescott – 8-12%
    • Sam Howell, Davis Webb, Baker Mayfield, and David Blough – 2-7%
    • Justin Herbert – 1-3%
    Defense Strategy
    • The high priced 49ers, Eagles, and Cowboys defenses are all facing lame-duck teams with nothing to play for that are severely overmatched on paper. Due to all of the extra value available today, they should all be relatively popular and account for a much larger percentage of lineups than a usual week. From an “expected outcome” perspective, those top defenses all present great cases for being used, and it is hard to see any of them “failing,” while also being likely that at least one of them puts up a 13-18 point game.
    • On the flip side of that, the Cardinals and Giants defenses are very cheap and will be low owned but it is extremely hard to see them succeeding given their respective situations.
    • The Commanders defense is very interesting to me this week, as they are a talented and competitive unit and the Cowboys could be given reason to rest players early in this game. Also, the Cowboys starting unit has been mistake prone at times, so they could make some plays regardless of the situation.
    • The Seahawks and Rams defenses are interesting in a game that should be relatively competitive and seems likely to go overlooked.
    • The Chargers defense becomes intriguing against Russell Wilson and the Broncos, if Baltimore were to win in the early window and force the Chargers to play with full motivation.
    • The Broncos defense will likely be the popular low priced option on the slate against a Chargers team expected to rest players.

    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.

    << Add Access >>

    Inner Circle ⭕️

    Rest-Of Season: 90% OFF!

    Underdog Underowned

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

    Late Swap

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

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

    Outlook – Late Games:

    Five of the thirteen Sunday games fall into the late window this weekend, with only the Eagles and 49ers surpassing a 24-point Vegas implied team total. In these games, only six total skill position players are currently projected for double-digit ownership, with two projecting as the highest overall owned players on the entire slate in Kenneth Walker and Christian McCaffrey. The others that fit the bill are AJ Brown, Cam Akers, Miles Sanders, and Dallas Goedert.

    Motivation comes into play this week more than any other of the NFL regular season, as many teams have nothing to play for, while others have playoff berths and seeding implications hanging in the balance.

    Important Early Outcomes to Watch:
    • Vikings – Third highest projected team total in the early window, and extremely concentrated offense. Motivation – Playing for seeding (home field). Justin Jefferson needs 194 yards to set the single-season WR record. Jefferson is currently projected as the highest-owned WR on the slate.
    • Bengals – Second highest projected team total in the early window and a reasonably concentrated offense. Motivation – Playing for seeding (home field). Jamar Chase tied with Jefferson as the highest projected owned WR on the slate.
    • Bills – Highest projected team total of the early games and also pretty concentrated. Motivation – Seeding implications and could be playing for a bye (if KC loses Saturday).
    Price Range Breakdowns (Late Games):

    $6,000 and up:

    • Kenneth Walker – Coming off back-to-back games of 24 or more RB opportunities (carries + targets) in a game the Seahawks have to win. Highest owned player on the slate but for good reason.
    • AJ Brown – Averaging 9.8 targets over his past five games, including multiple outings of 30+ DK points during that stretch. Must win game for Eagles to clinch the #1 seed. The Eagles put up 48 points against this same Giants squad last month.
    • George Kittle – Averaging 7 targets and 23.5 DK points over his past three games. Arizona is the worst DVOA against the TE position and the 49ers will be motivated as they can still grab the #1 seed in the NFC if they win and the Eagles lose.

    $5,000 – $5,900:

    • Miles Sanders – Lead running back on a home team favored to win by two touchdowns. Smashed this same Giants team for 144 yards last month and has shown 30+ point, multiple score upside, several times already this season.
    • Marquise Brown – Has seen 6 or more targets in every game this season (averaging just shy of 9.5). I expect the Cardinals to be playing catch-up most of the game and Hopkins and Ertz are both out.
    • Jordan Mason – 49ers should easily control this game and have shown a propensity to ease off CMC’s workload in less competitive games.

    $4,000 – $4,900:

    • Jonathan Williams – Expected to serve as the Commanders three down RB with Brain Robinson, Antonio Gibson, and JD McKissic all out. Had 12 RB last week (including 3 targets).
    • Chase Edmonds – Saw his highest usage of the season since Week 1 (while with MIA) with Marlon Mack on IR. I would expect Denver to try and keep the momentum going heading into the offseason.

    Sub $4,000:

    • Donald Parham – Chargers have nothing to play for and Parham has seen his snap count rise each of the past three weeks after missing 2+ months with a hamstring injury.
    • Albert O – Coming off his best performance of the season last week after Greg Dulcich was placed on IR. Again, I expect Denver to try and keep the momentum going heading into the offseason.

    Defense:

    • Eagles ($4,000) – At home in a must-win game against an opponent with nothing to play for. Good leverage off 49ers DST, who projects to be the highest-owned defense on the slate.
    • Seahawks ($3,300) – Similar explanation as Eagles DST.
    Stacks/Construction:

    If your roster leaves both the FLEX and DST spots for the late slate, I’d recommend 49ers and Kenneth Walker as placeholders as this will allow you the flexibility to swap down to Miles Sanders and Eagles DST or up to AJ Brown and down to Denver DST at $2,500. Things could change, so as always, keep an eye on late-breaking news and remember to make sure your latest starting skill position player is in the FLEX spot.

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

    Gauntlet Strategy

    Published on 12/30 before Week 17 was played

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

    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.

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

    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!