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The Scroll Week 2

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    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)


    Meet The Team


    Angles

    Happy Thursday!

    New members: Every Thursday morning, we send out the Angles email — in which we take a critical, “overview” look at the slate ahead.

    The Lay Of The Land ::

    Week: 2

    Total Main Slate Games: 12

    Slate Overview:

    Well — I bet Amazon is happy.

    You can’t blame the NFL for reserving some of the better games and offenses for prime time (NFL fans would complain otherwise), but there are only so many “top offenses” in the NFL, and when you have four island games in a weekend, and those games include the Chiefs, Chargers, Packers, Bills, Vikings, and Eagles, you’re left with…well — with what we have this Sunday.

    There are eight teams playing in island games this weekend. Among those eight teams, five have an implied team total of 25.0 or higher. That’s a 62.5% hit rate — and that doesn’t even include a Vikings offense that somehow has an implied team total of only 24.0 against Philadelphia.

    There are 24 teams on the Main Slate this weekend, and seven have an implied team total of 25.0 or higher. That’s a 29.2% hit rate — and that doesn’t even tell the whole story.

    Of the 24 teams on the Main Slate, a whopping 11 have an implied team total of 21.5 or lower. There are four teams implied to score more than 26 points, and those teams are favored by 10.5 (Rams over Falcons), 10.0 (49ers over Seahawks), 10.0 (Broncos over Texans), and 6.0 (Raiders over Cardinals).

    What this means for Main Slate play?

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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::

    It’s interesting how quickly the perceived certainty left the building, as we swiftly left the realm of condensed roster constructions and now find ourselves in the land of bountiful unknowns. Here’s what we know this week with a high degree of certainty:

    • The field is all over the Raiders.
    • The field is all over the running backs who exhibited high levels of involvement in Week 1 (Saquon Barkley, Darrell Henderson, Leonard Fournette, Javonte Williams, D’Andre Swift, Christian McCaffrey, and Joe Mixon)
    • The field is certain the Bengals defense will finish the week with a top-three raw score on the slate.

    That about covers it all, no? But what other trends can we identify this week? For one, the field has absolutely no clue what to do with the tight end position. Secondly, quarterback ownership is spread out behind Derek Carr, indicating no true stance on the top game environments on the slate (outside of the Raiders). Finally, we can expect more of a “standard salary distribution” as the percentage solution from the field (more on this below in the Chalk Build section). That’s actually a good bit of information for us to add to our decision-making matrix, the majority of which the field will not be thinking through this week.

    If you’re new to OWS (and, more specifically, the End Around), what we’re trying to do with this piece is to identify how the field is likeliest to be looking at a specific slate and how to find a different path to first place, not having to fight against a massive portion of the field to do so. I have developed this process through my journey with and studies in Game Theory, with very specific tenets driving these methodologies. If you’re curious to learn more about the theory behind the practice, or how I developed these processes, I urge you to explore the three different Game Theory courses I have written in the One Week Season Marketplace. This year’s offering, the DFS Game Theory Bible, builds upon the previous two and is, without a doubt, my definitive work in this field.

    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.

    DEREK CARR

    Neither Restrictive Chalk nor Expansive Chalk. The quarterback of the team with the highest Vegas implied team total. Got it.

    SAQUON BARKLEY

    Restrictive Chalk. Finished Week 1 as the overall RB1 in fantasy land. Got it.

    DARRELL HENDERSON JR.

    Neither Restrictive Chalk nor Expansive Chalk. Finished Week 1 with the second-highest net running back usage from an underlying metrics standpoint (saw 82% of the team’s rush attempts on an 81% snap rate and was in a route at a 78% clip). Got it.

    LEONARD FOURNETTE

    Neither Restrictive Chalk nor Expansive Chalk. Finished Week 1 sixth in total running back usage from an underlying metrics standpoint (64% of the team’s rush attempts on a 76% snap rate and was in a route at a 76% clip, and that includes Rachaad White seeing seven of his eight total opportunities on the final two drives in a blowout). Got it.

    JAVONTE WILLIAMS

    Neither Restrictive Chalk nor Expansive Chalk. Saw 11 targets. Got it.

    DAVANTE ADAMS

    Restrictive Chalk. Saw 17 targets. Got it.

    BENGALS D

    Expansive Chalk. Plays the first team to lose their starting quarterback this season. Got it.

    Overview

    I specifically left out all individual analysis for every piece of chalk except for raw box score numbers and running back utilization from Week 1. I guarantee you that is the majority of what the field is seeing heading into Week 2. What can you challenge with those chalk pieces? Where is the field assuming more certainty than is actually present? I want you all to answer those questions internally this week!

    CHALK BUILD::

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    Relative Value Breakdown

    Dwprix is a research expert at OWS, with focuses on NFL Edge Matchups and the Relative Value Breakdown

    Better Play on Draftkings or Fanduel?

    There are several things we can look at to figure out if a player is a better value on Draftkings vs Fanduel. This is important because we may want to roster a certain player but might be unsure where our money would be best spent rostering them. 

    One exercise we can do is compare the amount of salary that’s needed to roster a player on Draftkings vs the salary needed to roster the same player on FanDuel. This is done by dividing the salary on one site by the total amount of salary allowed to build your roster (DK $50k, FD $60k). Then we can take the percentage of the total salary on one site and subtract it from the percentage of total salary on the other site. We can also look at the scoring rule differences and what type of player would be best suited for that particular site. Lastly, we can check how the player’s points-per-dollar value based on their average in recent games compared to their salary in a given week.

    The goal of the article is not to give you picks but to show you how to recognize these values on your own. Each week I’ll break down a few players and give you some quick hitters that you can explore further.

    WEEK 2:

    Cooper Kupp: FD $9.7k, 16.7% // DK $9.9k, 19.8% // Value on FD

    TDs are more valuable than on Fanduel because there’s no 100 yard bonus and receptions are worth less. Kupp’s scored at least one TD in seven straight games and had seven games with two TDs last season. His salary on Fanduel takes up 3.1% less than on Draftkings.

    Diontae Johnson: FD $7.1k, 11.8% // DK $5.8K 11.6% // Value on DK

    Diontae is 0.2% cheaper on Draftkings where targets have more value. He averaged the 2nd most targets last season (10.6) and followed that up with 12 last week. His price went down on Draftkings $200 but went up to $400 on Fanduel.

    Russell Wilson: FD $7.5k, 12.5% // DK $7.2k, 14.4% // Value on FD

    Wilson is the 3rd highest priced QB on DK but tied for the 7th highest on FD. He takes up 1.9% less salary on Fanduel. Other QBs in the same price range take up more salary on Fanduel: Wentz 0.74%, Lance 1.1%, Stafford .07%.

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    JM’s Player Grid

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


    OWS Fam ::

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

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


    The Grid ::

    Bottom-Up Build

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

    Blue Chips

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

    Build-Arounds

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

    Building Blocks

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

    Bonuses

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


    Angles Pod

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    Bottom-Up Build

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

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

    Matthew Stafford
    Darrell Henderson
    Saquon Barkley
    Noah Brown
    Davante Adams
    Ben Skowronek
    Juwan Johnson
    Greg Dortch
    Cowboys

    Standard (Straight-Value) BUB
    DK Salary Remaining :: $13.3K

    Matthew Stafford
    Darrell Henderson
    Chase Edmonds
    Noah Brown
    Jahan Dotson
    Ben Skowronek
    Juwan Johnson
    Greg Dortch
    Bengals


    Blue Chips

    Davante Adams

    We’ve talked about this a lot this week, but one of the easiest traps to fall into in Week 2 is assuming that Week 1 told us everything we need to know. Will Davante Adams average 10 catches for 141 yards this season? Well…no. Of course not. That would be 170 catches for 2394 yards. But can he continue to produce at a level this year that has him priced higher than $8600 pretty quickly? Absolutely! Adams is likely to end up as the highest-owned wide receiver on the slate, so you’ll want to make sure he’s on a roster that does things differently in other spots (note: pairing him with Greg Dortch — or even with Carr and Dortch — is no longer shaping up to be “different”; as explored in this week’s Angles Podcast, you can still do that, but you need to make sure you’re also finding separation from the field somewhere else on your roster), and the field is likely overrating the chances of Davante “never disappointing again”; but he’ll be the most popular wideout on the slate for a reason. His “disappointing game” here should still provide strong raw production, and his ceiling is as high as any player on the slate.

    Cooper Kupp

    There is probably no one in DFS who will come into this week expecting Kupp to “fail” — and yet, he’ll likely draw about half the ownership that Adams will draw, as he’s priced high enough above Adams for Adams to feel like a “bargain.” While we’re typically very value-conscious in our thinking, we also want to be willing to let go of “value” a little bit in places where we can gain obvious separation from the field as a result. As I’ve said many times over the years: the moment games kick off, salary no longer matters; all that matters is the production you get. At worst, Kupp is a coin-flip to outproduce Davante (and realistically, he’s probably a slight favorite), and if we land in a scenario where he outproduces Davante by 10 or more points, he becomes a particularly powerful piece.

    “Light Blue” Chips

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    Build-Arounds

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    Building Blocks

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

    Stafford + Henderson + A-Rob
    Cost: $21.9K DK // $23.5K FD
    Story:

    “Rams score four or five touchdowns, and Kupp gets only one (or none)”

    Why It Works:

    Low combinatorial ownership. The field will have plenty of focus on the Rams’ offense, but this is a pairing that very few people will have. If the Rams have a big game (four or five team touchdowns) and two or three of those scores flow through Henderson and A-Rob, you’re sitting very pretty with this one.

    How It Works:

    You need this game to play out along a specific path in order for this block to work out just right — but the initial entryway for that path (“Rams score four or five touchdowns”) is wide open. It’s not unreasonable to believe that in a game that has the Rams scoring “four or five touchdowns,” there will be anywhere from three to five touchdowns available outside of whatever Cooper Kupp produces. To be clear :: the Rams could score “only four touchdowns,” and Kupp could account for two of those, and the chances of this block hitting would diminish. There is also (obviously) a chance that things work out “exactly the way we need” (Rams score a bunch; Kupp doesn’t dominate all the touchdowns), and yet the touchdowns go to Higbee or Skowronek, leaving Hendy and A-Rob empty-handed. But compared to the ultra-low combinatorial ownership you will get by making this “complete bet,” the chances of it paying off are pretty high. This is a sharp, high-upside “starting point” in tourneys of any style/size — giving you two popular, “obviously good” plays in Stafford/Hendy, while coming with low overall ownership and clear paths to ceiling.

    POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE:

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

    CMC + Saquon
    Cost: $16.2K DK // $17.8K FD
    Story:

    “CMC and Saquon are the focal points of their respective offenses, opposite one another”

    Why It Works:

    “Is it okay to play these two running backs together?” Both of these players will be popular, but a large chunk of the field will get stuck on that question, and will have a hard time pulling the trigger on these two together, thus allowing us to gain exposure to a pair of strong plays at lower effective ownership.

    How It Works:

    Same as the individual plays themselves, this one is about as easy as it gets. Neither guy directly correlates to the other, but a big game from one has a zero-percent chance of “directly hurting the other,” and there are very clear ways in which a big game from one of these two provides a slight boost to the other. The mega value here comes from the fact that these are both “obviously good plays,” and yet the percentage of rosters that pair these two will be relatively low due to the uncertainty from the field on “whether or not this actually makes sense.”

    POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE:

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

    Sutton + Jeudy

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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 ::

    Derek Carr || Matthew Stafford || Russell Wilson || Jameis Winston || Trey Lance

    RB ::

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    Update (Colts) ::

    Saturday night update, re: thoughts on Colts without Pittman >>

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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 ::
    Christian McCaffrey

    CMC was the highest owned RB in Week 1 largely under the premise that he was severely mispriced. After one off week, his price has barely risen and his ownership is likely to be cut in half. He is facing a Giants team that struggled badly in coverage against running backs last week, with Dontrell Hilliard scoring two touchdowns through the air.

    Saquon Barkley

    Just way too good for his price tag. Looks like his old self. 

    Joe Mixon

    Mixon has a solid role as the feature back, goal line back, and catches passes for a potent offense that is projected to score a lot of points and win this week.

    Darrell Henderson

    Henderson appears to be the lead back for the team with the second-highest implied team total on the slate. His price does not reflect his current situation, and while I’m not sure about the ceiling he has, he is by far the “surest bet” of the running backs in his price range.

    Nick Chubb

    Chubb scored 18.1 DK points in Week 1 without scoring a touchdown. This is a team that is clearly going to lean on their running game and Chubb has the explosive ability to break off big plays. He will almost certainly go overlooked with so many other quality backs in the same price range, but has 30+ point upside in any game the Browns are favored in.

    Tight End ::

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    A Wrap ::

    Let’s crash the leaderboards this weekend!

    -Mike

    Sonic’s MME Pool

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


    OWS MME Degens! Are you ready to battle the masses? If you want to successfully navigate these big fields you’ll need to make some decisions on chalk. As JM always says, chalk is chalk for a reason. These highly owned plays like Bengals DST and Greg Dortch have exceptional value and will be in nearly 100% of cash lineups.

    I wonder if Dortch was drafted in a single Underdog Best Ball draft this offseason?

    Regarding DST, I’m going to run my lineups and cap the position at 10-15% per usual. I’ll be approaching the Bengals as a late swap piece. If I have lineups that are in a nice position to climb, I’ll leave the Bengals in there. Hopefully there will be a few of those. For everything else I’ll be swapping off them. There are two late-starting defenses below Cincinnati and two others with $300 so I’ll leave a few bucks on the table in my hand builds that utilize the chalk piece at our most volatile position.

    At running back, I’m happy to eat the chalk provided the player in question has a near-guaranteed voluminous role. The research suggest that highly owned, expensive running backs are +EV, even in massive tournaments.

    But you don’t need to be a chalk donkey like me. You need to be YOU.

    LFG!

    Sonic


    QB:

    RB:

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    Willing To Lose

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

    Have you ever heard the statement, “discomfort is a catalyst for growth?”

    If I did a poll of every reader of this article, I’d venture a guess many of you would have heard this statement already, and less than 10% of you would disagree with it. It’s a widely accepted reality that when we step outside of our comfort zones, we learn and we grow. It’s a natural tendency as humans to shy away from these uncomfortable situations because when the nerves set in, all we want is for them to immediately go away. But, we also all know the feeling of being nervous about something and then conquering whatever fear that was by attacking the situation at hand. And wow, what a feeling that is when the discomfort is behind you. And when that euphoria hits, isn’t it also amazing how we feel more prepared for a similar situation the next time it arises? We get the “been there, done that” vibe and we’re better for it. By accepting this discomfort, we grow. Being bold, challenging ourselves, and pushing whatever boundaries we have set lead us down a path of learning and personal growth. This is where we all want to be.

    Seeking Discomfort

    Circling back to DFS, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when we decide how to build our lineups each week, we seek comfort. Duh. We always want that warm, fuzzy feeling of being able to justify how and why we clicked on each player’s name, and how and why they fit into a respective lineup. And how do we get that justification? Typically through having read that player’s name in a DFS article, or finding underlying data points that prove to us this player’s positive expected environment in their upcoming game. The more data points and times we read about a player or a situation during a given week, the more comfortable we feel about playing them. And herein lies the problem. To win DFS tournaments, we need to earn first place. And to do that, we need to play the players that others are not playing. We need to do something different. So why then, do we want to hear three, sometimes four or more reasons as to why to play a player, or attack a game environment? We talked in this space about this irony in 2021 but it still rings true. The more reasons, the higher the ownership. The higher the ownership, the less likely you win a tournament. 

    As we try to conquer this upcoming slate together, we need to find the different scenarios that the field won’t touch. This is why I’ll be here this season. Now stay with me in a few uncomfortable situations I am seeing this week . . .

    New England

    There’s something boring about the New England Patriots. I can’t put my finger on it, but the most boring team in the NFL at this moment is the New England Patriots. Vegas thinks so (40.5 game total). Colin Cowherd thinks so. And it’s likely you also think so. Their young quarterback is banged up. Their skill position fantasy relevant players are all non-exciting. And they were one of only three offenses in Week 1 to score 7 points or less. Also, the guy who scored their lone touchdown, Ty Montgomery, is now on injured reserve. 

    Boring is great for DFS. If you’re playing large tournaments, it’s likely this will be the last place you look. We’ve got a lousy implied game total that screams “defensive struggle” between New England and Pittsburgh. But there is something telling me we’ll have a Patriots player making a difference in tournaments on Sunday. For one, we’ve got the Steelers defense losing TJ Watt. The Steelers lost both games in 2021 when he did not suit up, giving up a combined 65 points to opponents. Second, we’ve got a Patriots offensive line that is still strong and can win in the trenches, with PFF ranking them as the sixth-best unit after its Week 1 performance in Miami.

    So if you’re Bill Belichick, going into the Pittsburgh stadium (which should not have changed its name), ask yourself, how would you try to win the game on offense? The strength of this Pats O is in the running game, with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson and their offensive line. Let’s not forget that this group led Harris alone to 15 rushing touchdowns in 2021. We know Mac Jones is also banged up so we can assume it’s unlikely the Pats would like to lean on their quarterback to win this one if they don’t have to.

    I fully expect New England to come out and establish the run. With the way the backfield was split in Week 1 (only 57 offensive snaps) across three running backs (Harris 39%, Ty Montgomery 37%, Stevenson 25%), it’s safe to say not many will go here. But with Montgomery now on IR, and Stevenson’s role as the preferred goal line and likely better pass-catching back, I will side with him. We can pair him with the Patriots defense at extremely cheap ownership, and frankly, in large field play, I just love this (don’t forget they are playing Mitch Trubisky).

    Vegas passing attack and Zach Ertz

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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 2 Topics

    1.  Week 2: Redemption Week

    2. Don’t Forget The Middle Class

    3. Signal or Noise?

    4. Floating Plays

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


    1. Week 2: Redemption Week

    The Question ::

    Well, Week 1 of the NFL season certainly didn’t disappoint. We had some exciting games, some huge weeks from premier players, and a few shocking outcomes. As we head into Week 2 there is a lot to digest and, specifically for the main slate, some very interesting situations that will force us to take some stands on what we learned (good or bad) from the first week of real NFL games in seven months. 

    There are six teams who are favorites on Sunday’s main slate that entered the season with high expectations and are coming off of a very disappointing opening week ::

    • The Colts, coming off of a 20-20 tie to the lowly Texans.
    • The Broncos, playing an embarrassing Monday night loss in Seattle.
    • The 49ers, who looked atrocious offensively in their loss to the Bears, who many people expect to be a bottom-3 team in the league.
    • The Rams, who were absolutely embarrassed on the night they celebrated their Super Bowl victory from last season.
    • The Bengals, who made countless mistakes and boneheaded plays as they lost to a Steelers team that very few had high hopes for entering the year.
    • The Raiders, who lost to a good Chargers team but definitely didn’t have the showing that they expected.

    All six of those teams are now favored in Week 2, with all of them except the Colts expected to win by a touchdown or more. Which of these teams do you feel the strongest about having a big “bounce back” game this week? And are there any of these teams that you have serious long-term concerns about for this season after what you saw in Week 1?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    I’ll start with the long-term concerns and focus on the 49ers; and honestly (sorry Dwprix!), this doesn’t even have anything to do with how they looked in bad weather in Week 1. I’ve been concerned all offseason.

    Trey Lance is going to have spiked weeks this season. This offense is too “downhill” and too well-designed for Lance — with his skillset — to NOT pop from time to time. But with every training camp report, it became more and more difficult for me to believe that Lance would suddenly solve his processing and accuracy shortcomings this season. This doesn’t mean he won’t develop into “that guy,” but the road is long. Lance will be on the fringes of my tighter player pool pretty much every week, as his rushing upside is undeniable; but I don’t expect a high level of consistency, nor do I expect this offense to be one we can comfortably rely on for big production week in and week out.

    With the other five teams…this may sound naive, but I expect all five of them to take care of business this week. The Rams and Bengals are the easiest to feel comfortable with, as each team has plenty of continuity and strong leadership. The Bengals, undeniably, performed at their absolute ceiling down the stretch last year (no one came into this year arguing that the Bengals are “the best of the best in the AFC”), but they remain good; and when healthy, they’ll continue to be a competitive team that can score points and win games. The Rams continue to need a WR2 who can actually separate from coverage, but they get a pass for playing a Bills team that could make a lot of opponents look silly.

    The Raiders’ biggest weakness on offense is their O-line, and a game against the Chargers was always going to be a bit of a challenge, but I don’t see any reason to sound the alarm.

    The Colts are still a great quarterback away from being an upper-tier team (and they probably need better ancillary pieces on offense to become elite), but while we’ve been lamenting Matt Ryan’s declining arm strength since 2020, he’s still a master of pre-snap reads, post-snap processing, decision-making, etc. Said differently: in every area except arm strength, he’s an upgrade on Carson Wentz; and especially in the AFC South, this should be enough for plenty of wins and good-looking weeks.
    As to the Broncos. I mean. I’m holding onto this like a bad breakup. There is no way Nathaniel Hackett is this much of a dunce…is there? Teams are 2-42 all-time on field goals of 64+ yards. Teams were 48% last year converting 4th-5. The Broncos had time on the clock, and timeouts, and he chose the 4.8% option instead of the 48% option. He made the Broncos FAR less likely to win with one decision that my wife knew, at the time, made no sense (and while she grew up in a football family, and is married to me, she is, by no means, a football-head). Worse? The reason Hackett gave for ‘wishing he had done things differently was the fact that it didn’t work. What? No! The reason you should wish you had done things differently is because you did the thing that would lose you that game far more often than not. I mean. I literally don’t understand it. And probably the worst thing of all is that Hackett had decided BEFORE THE GAME that if they were in a situation where they needed a field goal at the end of the game, 64-yards was the mark where they were willing to take their shot. Okay, sure. I can buy that — if it’s a choice between a Hail Mary or a 64-yarder. But that wasn’t the choice. Does he not see that? I’ve probably never been as upset about a coaching blunder for a team I have no rooting interest in as I was with Hackett’s call on Monday night. It’s indefensible. (*End rant*) That said: we need to separate end-of-game decision-making from play-design/play-calling. The Broncos will be fine. They just can’t afford to be in close games as the clock winds down…

    Xandamere >>

    I’m not super concerned about any of the teams from a “can they score points” perspective. Generally speaking, I’m not going to change any of my perspectives on teams or players after a single week – that’s one of the worst things you can do in DFS. You’ll frequently hear me say “we know very little in Week 1, but we know even less in Week 2,” because now all we have is one data point that we can all collectively freak out about and overreact to.

    That said…I am very wary of the 49ers for DFS purposes. I have almost no 49ers exposure in best ball this year, because I just couldn’t see how they could possibly pay off their ADPs on a run-first, low passing volume offense. I feel the same in DFS – Trey Lance isn’t going throw 35+ times per game, so you’re relying on massive efficiency for a 49ers pass catcher to smash, and at their prices that’s not the kind of outcome I want to be betting on. 

    Butttt that isn’t me changing my perspective, as that’s the perspective I had on the 49ers in the offseason. Let me leave you with this: if you find yourself reevaluating how you view any teams or players after Week 1, you’re probably doing it wrong, with a couple of narrow exceptions (Rams RB situation, Giants WR room).

    Hilow >>

    I think you have to be concerned about the 49ers at this point. I was routinely mocked this offseason for my handling of Trey Lance in Best Ball, but it was quite simple for me – last year I was extremely overweight Jalen Hurts due to a wide range of outcomes being drafted so late; a similar wide range of outcomes was present in Trey Lance this season, yet he was going four rounds earlier all summer. Spoiler – I don’t have a lot of Trey Lance in Best Ball. The field was all caught up in his upside and neglecting the fact that he had not put everything together quite yet, and I could take a similar profile in Justin Fields four rounds later. All of that to say, we have to understand that Lance is not a complete quarterback just yet, meaning the 49ers have a lot of uncertainty moving forward. The next five to six weeks could be filled with many ups and downs as he continues to progress as an NFL quarterback. And that’s not even considering the massive impact George Kittle has on this offense (I highlighted that fact last week in this space and in the End Around). And that’s not even considering the injury to Eli(jah) Mitchell. Considering their setup this week, I will be very interested in Jeff Wilson should Kittle return (a week after this team completely flopped and Eli gained some steam throughout the week). 

    The next team on my concern list would have to be the Broncos. As a Packers fan I’m familiar with the tendencies of Nathaniel Hackett, but good lord, he took the boneheadedness to a new level in Week 1. Play calling was choppy, game management was atrocious, and the offense lacked cohesion. We know they have all the talent in the world, but the Broncos are going to need their stable of clipboard-holders to start making better decisions to truly unlock the upside of this offense.

    I don’t really have much concern with the other teams on this list and chalk up Week 1 to minimal preseason repetitions.

    Mike >>

    I feel the strongest about the Broncos, Rams, and Raiders having bounce back games in Week 2. The Raiders lost a one score game to a very good Chargers team and have advantages against a vulnerable Cardinals team in Week 2, they should have a strong showing. The Broncos are in a prime spot at home to throttle the Texans. Finally, the Rams at home against a Falcons team that has personnel shortcomings across the board should get back on track handily in Week 2.

    From a long-term perspective, I talked in my NFL Edge writeup about the importance of this week for Trey Lance and the 49ers. It is reasonable that his job could be in jeopardy with a loss to the Seahawks this week.

    Also, the Broncos approach and decision making on Monday night brought more questions than answers. It is too early to judge, as that was a difficult situation for them in general with the emotions and energy in Seattle, but my trust in them to have optimal approaches and strategies is on a short leash at this point.

    Finally, I still think the Colts will win their division, but I have doubts about their ability to contend in the AFC once again. They should have some weeks where they look unstoppable, likely against inferior opponents, but I doubt they have the firepower or sharpness to beat the elite teams in the league.


    2. Don’t Forget The Middle Class

    The Question ::

    The Week 2 main slate presents an interesting scenario. Week 1 had no games with a spread of more than a touchdown, and with a couple exceptions the games were mostly clumped together as far as their expected game totals. In Week 2, however, we have the following situation ::

    • Four games with spreads of more than seven points
    • Six teams with implied team totals of less than 20 points
    • Only two games with game totals over 47 points (WAS // DET and ARI // LV)

    What that is likely to lead to is a heavy concentration of the field on the teams that are heavy favorites and the two games that are a step above the others in terms of expected scoring. 

    What that leaves us with is four games that fit this description:

    • Both teams have an implied point total over 20 points – meaning it wouldn’t be shocking for either team to score 3 or more touchdowns.
    • Point spread of four or less points – meaning it is expected to be a close game, which we know is often a recipe for fantasy goodness when teams start trading punches down the stretch. (Or, as we saw in PIT // CIN and IND // HOU last week, games that go to overtime and end up with massive play volume)

    While the field focuses on the “obvious” spots, we must realize it is only Week 2 and these spreads and totals are still far from efficient at this point. From the above criteria, we are left with four “middle class” games. The games that fit that category are:: 

    • MIA // BAL
    • TB // NO
    • CAR // NYG
    • IND // JAX

    Which ONE of those games do you think is the most likely to turn into a shootout and give us the chance to build uniquely around a game environment that could surprise the field?

    The Answers ::

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    Sunday Crunch

    Sunday Crunch is an Inner Circle feature that can be found on the Sunday Crunch Discord channel each week. We also post the Sunday Crunch notes in The Scroll, where non-IC members can jump into a chunk of the content each week.


    Discount Deebo Check::

    Pop Quiz:: What wide receiver saw 15 opportunities (carries + targets) in Week 1, for roughly 70 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown, and has the last name “Samuel”?

    Answer:: Trick question, there are two answers. Both Curtis Samuel and Deebo Samuel fit the description above. The difference?? Curtis costs far less ($4,600 DK, $5,700 FD) than Deebo ($7,800 DK, $8,000 FD) and is in a better matchup for Week 2. For significant cost savings, you can get the Samuel that’s playing in a dome, against a defense that just gave up 450 total yards in Week 1. I am legitimately shocked that Curtis Samuel is still projecting for single-digit ownership this late in the week, and love his floor/ceiling combination provided by his usage and playmaking ability at such an affordable price.

    Getting Defensive::

    Jaguars D – Jacksonville is playing at home against a Colts team that made a LOT of mistakes in Week 1. The weather is going to be in the mid-80s and humid in Jacksonville, which can be hard on visiting teams who aren’t acclimated to playing full NFL games in a Florida swamp in the summer. The Jaguars D is min-priced on Fanduel and near-min on Draftkings, while also carrying minimal ownership.

    Raiders D – Last week I talked about how teams that are decimated by injury are at risk of systemic failure and it came to fruition with the Packers and Cardinals playing horribly. This week, the Raiders offense is going to be very highly owned, and for good reason. However, if the Cardinals are as bad as they looked in Week 1 and the Raiders are scoring points to build a lead then the Raiders solid pass rush and coverage will have chances to make plays against an overmatched offense.

    Rush Hour::

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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. 

    Narrowing Your Player Pool

    As we talked about last week, this is another week where we have enough games and enough highly projected teams that we could feasibly build lineups strictly from the late games and use them on the Main Slate, and that construction alone would likely separate us from an ownership and uniqueness perspective. The idea here is that it naturally condenses your player pool and increases your chances of being unique, even if those games or teams will all be popular. As I said last week, the lineup I used in my big win on the “Afternoon Only” slate would have won several of the big main slate tournaments as well that week. Several of the “premium” teams with high-profile players are not on the main slate this week making this strategy even more viable, as fading the early slate altogether could potentially be optimal with only one early game having a total of over 45, and that is a game featuring Jared Goff and Carson Wentz as the QBs.

    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

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    Start/Sit Primer

    Research from the NFL Edge (game breakdowns and Matchups) is leveraged in this space to help us make sharper decisions on some of the key start/sit questions in fantasy

    1. How do we handle the Jets RB situation in Week 2 against a tough Browns defense?

    The Jets ran 76 plays last week against the Ravens, which is something that we should not expect to happen again this week or this season for that matter. Joe Flacco dropped back 59 times which allowed both Breece Hall and Michael Carter to garner nine targets a piece. Hilow noted in the NFL EDGE that Carter was used as the starter and lead rusher while Hall was more of the third down/ change of pace back. The Browns effectively shut down Christian McCaffrey last week, but with Cleveland expected to win this game against the Jets handily, and Joe Flacco’s penchant for checking down, it puts both Jets backs into low-end RB2 consideration.

    2. How do we handle the Browns RB situation?

    On the flip side of this game, we have a true timeshare with both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb saw 22 carries to Hunt’s 11 last week against the Panthers, but Hunt saw four targets and scored two touchdowns. In the past, when the Browns were big favorites, it led to Chubb taking the reins a bit as the lead back in the committee, but it’s truly anyone’s guess who Cleveland will use at the goal line on any given drive. For DFS purposes, as JM noted in his Interpretation of the game, it is a likely stay away spot at both of Chubb and Hunt’s respective salaries, but in season long play, both of these guys should get a decent bit of work and put up a score worthy of making your starting lineup. 

    3. Is Trey Lance a QB1 vs. Seattle?

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