Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

The Scroll Week 5



    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)

    Meet The Team


    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: 5

    Total Main Slate Games: 12

    Slate Overview:

    “Unique” has been the operative word so far this season, and this slate is no different, with three of the top offenses in the NFL (Bills, Eagles, healthier Buccaneers) in action with broader spreads and implied team totals of 27.0 or higher, and with four other teams implied to score 25+ — with spreads in these games ranging from 3.0 points to 7.0 points (as of this writeup). We also have the low-profile/low-priced Patriots implied to score 24.25 at home against the Lions, we have the aggressive Dolphins implied to score only 23.5 with Teddy Bridgewater under center against the attackable Jets, and we have the punch-you-in-the-mouth 49ers implied to score only 22.75 on their cross-country trip to visit the Panthers.

    The eight teams missing from the slate are the Colts, Broncos, Giants, Packers, Ravens, Bengals, Raiders, and Chiefs. There are strong offenses and a lot of marquee names removed from consideration with that list — including three of the top running backs in Jonathan Taylor, Saquon Barkley, and Joe Mixon, two of the typically-highest-priced quarterbacks in Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, a number of elite pass catchers (including Davante Adams, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Courtland Sutton, and DFS Darling Michael Pittman), and the three tight ends who typically grab the highest price tags in DFS (Andrews, Kelce, Waller). The absence of these “top of the price range” players will set this up as a particularly interesting week.

    From a “macro, game environments” perspective, there are a few distinct buckets into which “key teams/games” fall this week.

    “They Can Do It Without Help” ::

    The Bills are favored by 14.0 points over the Steelers at home, the Bucs are favored by 9.0 points over the Falcons at home, and the Eagles are favored by 5.0 points over the Cardinals on the road. All three of these teams are willing to keep scoring points regardless of what their opponent is doing, giving us confidence that “foot off the gas” won’t be a major issue in these spots (up to a respectable point, of course; i.e., none of these teams are particularly likely to set scoreboards ablaze without a competitive game environment, but all should be expected to produce at a high level).

    The Bills are facing a middle-of-the-road Steelers defense that will likely do everything they can to prevent big plays. Unfortunately for the Steelers, the Bills are capable of marching the field as well. The Bills may also enjoy some short fields with Kenny Pickett set to be under center for Pittsburgh.

    The Bucs quietly rank 17th in run defense DVOA and 27th(!!!) in adjusted line yards on defense, while the Falcons — under “run the ball” guru Arthur Smith — quietly rank 2nd in run offense DVOA and 3rd in adjusted line yards. Their defense remains mediocre, but the field is likely to view this as “Bucs smash,” whereas the Falcons may be able to turn this into a competitive game if they can keep pounding the rock with authority.

    The Eagles will be perceived to have the best overall game environment of this group — and that’s probably accurate — but it’s also worth noting that while the Cardinals are thought of as a team that’s “a shootout in waiting,” they have actually had only two games in their last 17 in which total points exceeded 55. (Interesting side notes on that :: 1) these two games were the final regular season game of the Cardinals’ 2021 season and the first regular season game of their 2022 season; 2) across these two games — 68 and 65 combined points — the Cardinals’ offense scored only six total touchdowns.) While 55 is a solid number of total points, this does not constitute a “had to have it” game environment. This game will be interesting to dig into throughout the week

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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


    The field seems completely lost this week. The two teams with Vegas implied team totals north of four touchdowns both have spreads of 10 points or more. Then we have an Eagles team that nobody wants to play because it’s difficult to narrow down where the production will go. Then we have seven games in the “magic range” of game totals where not even Vegas knows how they will play out (the magic range of 43.0-47.0 points historically carries a wide range of potential outcomes as far as total points go – see Miami at Baltimore in Week 2). There’s very little certainty this week and the field seems to be hunting for it in all the wrong places, which means we should absolutely love this slate (and I do!). It also means we can generate a solid amount of leverage simply by staying true to the basics, which I will highlight further in the Exploitative Leverage section.


    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.


    Restrictive chalk. Averaging over 30 DraftKings points per game through four weeks. Likely needs to be pushed to truly put the slate out of reach (as in, score 40+ fantasy points).


    Expansive chalk. The Panthers are allowing just 22.1 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields, this game checks in with the lowest game total on the slate at just 39.5, and the path to 22+ running back opportunities is low considering the continued usage of Deebo Samuel in the running game. The net-adjusted line yards matchup yields just a 4.27 value. Consider it a neutral-at-best matchup in a slow, grind-it-out environment.


    Neither restrictive now expansive chalk. People are literally willing Fournette to return to form through continued ownership expectations this season. Tampa’s offensive line is blocking to a putrid 3.91 adjusted line yards and 3.45 running back yards per carry. Fournette has a gross 3.7 true yards per carry (48th in the league) and paltry 4.4 yards per touch (38th in the league).


    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. The last time Kamara scored multiple touchdowns was on Christmas day in the year 2020 (to be fair, he put up six touchdowns that game lolz). The price is borderline disrespectful, but we are likely to have multiple 30+ fantasy point games this week based on how this slate shapes up, and I loosely doubt Kamara’s path to that kind of upside after missing two of the last three games with painful fractured rib cartilage. 


    Expansive chalk. Geno Smith has five career games of 300 pass yards or more. Two of those games have come in the previous two weeks. He has been in the league since Nam (okay, since 2013). While Lockett’s 30 targets over the previous three games look nice in the box scores, his moderate 26.4% team target market share means a lot has to go right for him to provide a GPP-worthy score here, particularly considering the Seahawks average 61.25 offensive plays per game and 33.3 pass attempts per game on a 61% pass play rate. Seattle was able to run 71 and 70 offensive plays the past two games against the Lions and Falcons. In their first two games against the 49ers and Broncos, they averaged only 52 offensive plays per game. Things are not adding up for me here.


    Expansive chalk. Okay, I can get behind this one. Chris Olave leads the league in total air yards (679) and deep targets (15) through four weeks. I expected the change to Andy Dalton to fundamentally influence how the offense was being run, but his 11.1 average intended air yards last week feel right in line with how the offense was being run under Jameis Winston (11.4 average intended air yards). The price has yet to match the upside for the dynamic rookie.


    Expansive chalk. Matthew Stafford actually ranks second in the league in PFF grade when under pressure this year, behind only Patrick Mahomes. But what the field assumes is that this is primarily due to Higbee (hint: it isn’t, it’s primarily due to some dude named Cooper Kupp). Higbee’s targets (first), target share (second), and route participation (fifth) rank amongst the elites at the position, but his nominal 4.1 aDOT ranks 30th in the league, and his modest 6.4 yards per target ranks 24th in the league. Perfectly fine floor option this week, but I doubt his ceiling with those underlying metrics. Oodles of leverage potential to go elsewhere.


    Expansive chalk. Of chalky defenses this year, the Cowboys are probably the best so far. That isn’t necessarily a ringing endorsement, but they should generate significant pressure on Stafford this week and we know the mistakes Stafford can make when under pressure.


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    Relative Value Breakdown

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

    Better Play on Draftkings or Fanduel?

    Week 5

    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 5 players that are best utilized on Draftkings or Fanduel.

    Jalen Hurts:  FD $8.6k, 14.3% // DK $8.1k, 16.2% // Value on Fanduel

    Hurts takes up 1.9% less of the salary cap on Fanduel than on Draftkings. The lack of bonuses make rush yards and rush touchdowns more valuable on Fanduel. Hurts is averaging 51 rush yards and one rushing touchdown per game.

    Trevor Lawrence:  FD $7.6k, 12.7% // DK $5.6k, 11.2% // Value on Draftkings

    Lawrence takes up 1.5% less of the cap on Draftking than Fanduel. He’s the 12th priced QB on Draftkings, but priced up on Fanduel where he’s the seventh highest priced QB. The Texans are allowing 11.9 yards per completion (fourth highest) which could lead to some bigger plays for Lawrence who’s averaging 10.3 yards per completion.

    Deebo Samuel:  FD $7.3k, 12.2% // DK $7.7k, 15.4% // Value on Fanduel

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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


    :: 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


    :: 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 :: $6.4K

    Tom Brady
    Jeff Wilson
    Raheem Mostert
    Justin Jefferson
    Chris Godwin
    Khalil Shakir
    Cade Otton
    Zay Jones

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    Blue Chips

    No individual spot or player qualifies as a “Blue Chip” for me this week. Let’s jump to the “Light Blues” >>

    “Light Blue” Chips

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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

    Josh Allen + Singletary + Shakir
    Cost: $17.5K DK // Not As Sharp On FD

    “The Bills’ offense produces, with limited weaponry available”

    Why It Works:

    Explain this one to me. As of this writeup, Josh Allen is projected to be the highest-owned quarterback on the slate, at 18.9%. Meanwhile, the combined ownership of Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Isaiah McKenzie, Khalil Shakir, and Dawson Knox is 16.0%.

    How It Works:

    Dawson Knox is not going to play this weekend (he’s currently projected at 3.0% ownership, which will obviously fall to 0), and McKenzie appears unlikely to clear his concussion. This gives us a more condensed target distribution for the Bills than we typically have, with Diggs // Davis // Shakir the likely focal points through the air. It is unbelievably rare for a high-priced quarterback — even one with mega rushing upside — to be “the quarterback who wins you a tourney” and to not bring at least one pass catcher with him, and the fact that we have a weekend in which the field is apparently willing to bet on that unlikely scenario (“Josh Allen smashes; no Bills pass catchers are worth rostering with him”) gives us a really nice edge, both in playing Bills pass catchers as one-offs independent of Allen rosters, and in stacking up some Bills pieces with Allen.

    To be honest, I would be fine stacking up any of Singletary // Davis // Shakir with Allen (you could add Diggs to this list as well — though you know where I stand on him as a DFS option in this offense), but the pricing with Shakir added to this build makes it very attractive.


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

    Hurts + Goedert
    Cost: $12.8K DK // $14.7K FD

    “The Eagles keep doing what they’ve been doing…and the Cardinals keep doing what they’ve been doing”

    Why It Works:

    This stack is something of a “last in line” option for ways to stack this game — and it makes a lot more sense as a “top option” from this game than most people will realize

    How It Works:

    Remember when Davante Adams was 50% owned against Arizona and put up two catches for 12 yards? Total fluke, obviously…but then, remember one week later when Cooper Kupp went 4-44-0 against Arizona? And remember how Kupp has failed to top 90 yards in only two of his 21 regular season games with Matthew Stafford(!!!)…and how the other game in which he failed to top 90 yards was a 5-64-0 outing on 13 targets against the Cardinals last year? Meanwhile, remember how Travis Kelce destroyed the Cardinals in Week 1, and everyone was like, “Yup, this is clearly the worst defense in the NFL.” And then remember how Darren Waller went 6-50-1 against them for his best fantasy score of the season? And how Higbee chipped in 4-61-0 against the Cardinals in Week 3? Arizona ranks 11th in DVOA against the run, and they have quietly allowed the seventh-fewest WR yards after allowing a respectable 13th-fewest last season. I don’t think this defense is good, but I do think it’s better than people realize (which isn’t a high bar to clear, given that most people are looking at this defense as the legitimate worst in the league).

    The Eagles are a special team at the moment, and I would be fine trusting this Philly offense in any way you want to stack things up; but Hurts + Goedert makes plenty of sense on a week in which the field will be looking toward other potential pathways for this game to take off.


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

    Bridgewater + Mostert + Tyreek

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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 ::

    Josh Allen || Jalen Hurts || Justin Herbert || Tom Brady || Teddy Bridgewater || (Carson Wentz)

    RB ::

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    A Wrap ::

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


    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 ::
    Alvin Kamara

    Kamara appears to be back at full strength after being a late scratch for the Saints game in London last week with a rib issue. Kamara’s salary is the lowest we’ve seen in years and with Michael Thomas ruled out once again this week we could see a vintage performance from Kamara. His biggest backfield competition is Mark Ingram, who last week split work with practice squad call-up Latavius Murray – a sure sign that the Saints aren’t very confident in Ingram. Meanwhile, the Seahawks, have given up big games to Jamaal

    Dalvin Cook

    Similar to Kamara, Cook is at home in a great matchup and has a much lower price tag than we’ve seen in recent years. Cook has been splitting some time with Alexander Mattison, but is still a strong bet for 20+ touches each week as long as his health holds up. Cook only has one touchdown and zero 100-yard rushing games this season, both of which I expect to change this week. 

    Jeff Wilson

    Wilson is still priced relatively low and should see around 20 opportunities to touch the ball this week in a good matchup where the 49ers may try to limit the usage of Deebo Samuel.

    Rashaad Penny

    Penny had a monster game in Week 4 while splitting work with Kenneth Walker. Walker then popped up on the injury report Thursday with a shoulder issue and his status is now in question. In theory, this is a tough matchup, but if Walker is out then Penny is underpriced by about $2k on Draftkings and $1k on Fanduel. Going back to last season, Penny has five games where he handled 16 or more carries. In those games, he has scored eight touchdowns and has had AT LEAST 135 rushing yards in every game. Even if Walker is cleared, his murky late-week status and lack of practice time would likely lead to a reduced role that would boost Penny’s outlook without the spike in ownership.

    Tyler Allgeier (DK Only)

    Allgeier is a rare RB who has a salary under $5k and we can expect to touch the ball 15+ times. The Falcons running game has been great this year and the Bucs run defense has been disappointing. The Falcons should be running the ball often early in the game and if they fall behind, Allgeier should see most of the running back work in the passing game as last week he ran 8 routes compared to only 1 for Caleb Huntley.


    • Nick Chubb and Austin Ekeler – these two will also be in my player pool but I will specifically be using them in lineups built around that LAC//CLE game.
    Tight End ::

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    Sonic’s MME Pool

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

    OWS Fam:

    Sonic’s dad passed away this week. The MME Pool will be on hiatus for a week or two.

    Drop Sonic some love on Twitter if you get a chance.

    Willing To Lose

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

    Biases suck. 

    We all have them. For the biases we have that we know of, we wish we didn’t have them. For the biases we have that we don’t easily know, they can be impossible to ignore. Biases are important in DFS. They lead us to click or not click on player’s names. And they can come from anywhere. This won’t be a thesis on different types of psychological biases, but in DFS, selection bias, confirmation bias, and anchoring bias all play prominent roles in how we build lineups.


    I’ve long been a proponent of every DFS content provider writing disclaimers next to the names of players they write about, stating if that player has won or lost them money. This is selection bias. For instance, I’m Larejo, and I’ve had my biggest wins with: Austin Ekeler, Sammy Watkins, and defenses against Jameis Winston. Now, every time you read me mentioning Ekeler or a defense vs. Jameis, you know. Our guy Sonic (thinking of you this week, my man) is maybe the best example of this. He always makes it known that Deebo Samuel was the catalyst to his Milly Maker win a few years back. He lets us readers and community members know right up front that he has a bias toward Deebo. It makes him a better DFS player, content provider, and it benefits all of us.

    Selection Bias

    Selection bias is one of the primary reasons why I have not landed on tournament-winning game stacks in the last few weeks. See, I’m a New York Jets fan, and I endured a few years of Geno Smith at QB, so regardless of his price and matchup, it’s highly unlikely I’m clicking his name on a DFS roster. Geno, I have watched you throw. I also have a bias toward Pete Carroll. He’s an old-school coach, with a mentality that matches it, and I think his best coaching years are behind him. His formerly (until what seems like now two weeks ago) run-first ways, have historically led me to play a lot of Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, and sometimes that has worked out. All of this factored into the reasons why I just could not get behind a Lions and Seahawks game stack last week. We all saw how that worked out. I played Jamaal Williams and TJ Hockenson but I could not round out the rest of that game to build a better lineup. Looking back on Week 2, I could make the same excuse for why I could not play Tua in Week 2 against the Ravens. The negative narrative on Tua was too strong and I’ve watched one too many videos on social media showing just why he should not be a starting QB in the NFL. Six passing touchdowns later . . . 

    Anchoring and confirmation bias

    Anchoring and confirmation biases can be similar in how they affect our DFS process. Anchoring bias is catching that one bit of news or statistical nugget and holding onto it for dear life. I can tell you how many air yards Chris Olave has through four weeks, for instance, and show you how it leads the NFL by a WIDE margin, and you could take that and justify 100% Olave on your rosters this week. That’s anchoring. Confirmation bias, similarly, is coming up with some sort of hypothesis, like Jared Goff throwing for 300 yards at New England this week, and only justifying why this will happen with the one or two stats that support it (DET number one offense, NE could build a lead, etc.). Meanwhile, you’d likely ignore the fact that the Patriots are currently 2nd in yards allowed per pass while ranking 31st in rushing DVOA.

    I bring this up to encourage you to think through your biases when building lineups this week. I also bring this up because as we frequently discuss at OWS, it’s all about identifying the right games to smash. Great lineups start there. The best way to avoid some of these biases (and one I don’t always practice) is to spread your wealth across multiple game environments. And that’s exactly what I’ll be doing this week in my three to five lineups.

    Chargers at Browns

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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 5 Topics

    1. What makes this particular slate particularly unique?

    2. All Aboard The Touchdown Express

    3. One Of Them Is Not Like The Other Ones…..

    4. Floating Plays, Week 5

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

    1. What makes this particular slate particularly unique?

    The Question ::

    A throwback to a 2021 staple of The Oracle, what are you seeing that makes this slate particularly unique?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    I’ve hit on a lot of things this week that make the slate unique, including the large spreads attached to high-implied-team-total offenses, the lower likelihood of “had to have it” game environments, and the “WTF?” pricing on the Bucs passing attack and the Cowboys defense (I mean…come on, DraftKings); but maybe the most interesting thing about this week is the way that A) the lack of obviously-strong value and B) the absence of many of the players the field is typically paying up for is likely to influence salary allocation. I ran through this in the Angles Pod this week, but it’s looking like we are going to see a heavy concentration on the players in the $5k to $7k range, with the field generally leaning toward the same “pay up” options across the board (Allen, Hurts, and Kupp, in particular). Boiling all that down: it looks like this is shaping up as a somewhat confusing slate for the field, which gives us a huge opportunity for positive expected value.

    Xandamere >>

    Two big things stand out to me. First, we don’t have a single game on the slate with a total above 50, but we have SEVEN games with totals ranging from 45 to 48.5. Because of the nature of how chalk forms, though, we’ll still likely see the field expressing tremendous confidence in some of these guys (and players in those games) while largely ignoring other games and teams with similar expected offensive production. I love slates like this because I can attack game environments that are very, very similar to the “best” games that the field is largely targeting without having to give up much at all in terms of expected team points. Second, tight end is missing the two studs (Kelce and Andrews). Last week on the show with Hilow we talked about how slates with just one elite tight end can be frustrating because there’s one guy who, if he hits, just puts the slate out of reach (which turned out to be the case except it was Hockenson, not Andrews). On this slate we’re all going to be fishing in murky, crappy tight end waters. Fun!

    Hilow >>

    There’s very little certainty on this slate but there are also a lot of games with middling game totals and expected game environments. I think JM put it best when we were texting about the slate yesterday in our group chat – this slate is fun. It’s a fun slate to try and figure out. It’s a fun slate because you can do so many different things. It’s fun because it appears people are struggling with what to do with the running back position. It’s fun because we don’t have either of the top two tight ends on the slate with the Chiefs playing on MNF and the Ravens playing on SNF. It’s fun because we have two teams with Vegas implied team totals over 28.0 points and each team is greater than a 10-point favorite (Bucs -10.0 and Bills -14.0). I’m going to be having some fun this week!

    Mike >>

    The unique thing about this week to me is the way things shape up at the “onesie” positions. At quarterback, Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts are the clear cream of the crop and with so many other elite QB options not on the slate, they separate in such a huge way from everyone else in terms of both salary and ceiling. At tight end, with Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Darren Waller not on the main slate we are left without any pay up options, which puts a bigger emphasis on hitting the “right” mid tier tight end if one of them has a big game and also limits options from a roster construction standpoint, as “paying up at TE” is taken off the table.

    2. All Aboard The Touchdown Express

    The Question ::

    As we talk about often at OWS, good DFS players focus on creating great rosters rather than just thinking about individual plays. Due to that thinking, we are always looking for team stacks and game stacks to build the core of our rosters around and expand on building the rest of the roster from there. When doing that, ideally, we are always looking to target game environments and favorable matchups that have a realistic chance of breaking the slate open. Something that JM has talked about often over the years is the threshold of “five or more offensive touchdowns” being where you really start to see these outlier offensive performances that end up littering the top of the leaderboards. 

    Last week, we talked about how much scoring was down and how rare those 4+ or 5+ touchdown games had been. Then, in Week 4, those numbers rose dramatically as three teams had five or more offensive touchdowns (while we had only seen four such instances through the first three weeks) and two of those three teams were on the main slate in the same game. We also had another three teams who scored four offensive touchdowns, two of which were on the main slate. The two teams who scored four or five offensive touchdowns that were not on the main slate – the Bucs and Chiefs – were also playing against each other. 

    So putting that all together, what did we see last week? 

    • Two game environments that went nuts for 11 and 9 touchdowns
    • Two individual teams – the Chargers and Eagles – who ended the week with the 3rd and 4th highest implied team totals and scored 4 touchdowns.
      • It’s also worth noting that the opponents of both LAC and PHI each scored three touchdowns of their own.

    Considering what we saw last week and how we know those big touchdown games are often the key to unlocking a slate, are there any takeaways that you have from the results and are there any teams or games on this slate that you feel very strongly that they could provide those tournament winning scoring environments?

    The Answers ::

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    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.

    Just-In Time ::

    What is it that draws large portions of the field to certain players in a given week? Usually, it is the same few things….a great matchup, a low salary for a player’s talent, a perceived great game environment, etc. However, what these tendencies also do is leave players in perfectly fine situations with high upside overlooked. Enter Justin Jefferson. On paper, the Bears pass defense looks very solid, ranking 3rd in the NFL in yards per attempt allowed through four weeks. However, when you dig deeper you find that they have faced: Trey Lance in a monsoon, Aaron Rodgers with a beat-up receiving corps, Davis Mills, and Daniel Jones/Tyrod Taylor. Kirk Cousins gets a lot of heat for flopping in primetime, but home games against poor teams are where he thrives. Dalvin Cook should be fairly popular and Jefferson appears to be going overlooked. Add to that the fact that the Bears will be without their top corner, and we could be in store for a multi-”Griddy” game from Jefferson.

    Making Your Wallet Chubb-y::

    Nick Chubb has averaged 4.9 yards per carry or more in every game this season and is facing a Chargers team that has conceded the 3rd most yards per carry in the NFL this season and has given up 50-plus yard touchdown runs in consecutive games. At this point, Chubb is basically Derrick Henry from a couple of years ago as a running back who has a high price and doesn’t catch many passes, which keeps his ownership down. This week he has the highest chances of a 30+ point fantasy game of any running back, however.

    Getting Defensive ::

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

    Finding an Edge

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

    Ownership Strategy

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

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


    My guess on the order of QB ownership:

    1. Jalen Hurts
    2. Kyler Murray
    3. Matthew Stafford
    4. Jimmy Garoppolo
    5. Cooper Rush 
    6. Baker Mayfield

    A huge percentage of the field is going to play lineups built around the PHI // ARI game, meaning Hurts and Murray will likely account for over 60% of the QB ownership by themselves. That information may make some people lean towards trying to be different but if you do so you have to be smart about it. First of all, that game has such a high floor and ceiling relative to the other games that it will be hard to match. Second, while the raw numbers of people playing PHI // ARI will be high, the lineups built around other teams will all look so similar that it will be equally difficult to differentiate. For instance, a Matthew Stafford lineup will naturally include Cooper Kupp and Tyler Higbee for most people. Where will they go next? 

    • Well, at running back, most Stafford lineups will then look to play the lead runners on the highest total teams on the slate: Miles Sanders and Jeff Wilson.
    • Most people will also probably try to use PHI D or SF D in these lineups, as correlation with one of their running backs and because the most popular defense, Dallas, is facing the passing game the roster is built around.
    • That lineup has spent a lot of money with Kupp and high-priced defenses so they’ll next look to save some money somewhere. No players from ARI on the roster yet, so adding Rondale Moore makes sense.
    • From there, the lineup could go a lot of ways, but we almost certainly know that at least one of the remaining spots will be a DAL player to correlate with the Rams stack. The point is that Stafford will likely be 15-20% owned and most of those rosters will be stacked the same way and built similarly for at least 2-3 of those spots.
      • QB: Stafford
      • RB: Sanders
      • RB: Wilson
      • WR: Kupp
      • WR: Moore
      • WR:
      • TE: Higbee
      • FLEX: 
      • DEF: SF or PHI
    • This means that you will essentially be 5 to 7 spots the same as roughly 10% of the field and be playing 2v2 and 3v3 from there.

    Overall, my point on this is that on short slates like this (especially ones with only three games) there is going to be a ton of overlap across rosters. If we know that, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to chase these other spots with lower floors and ceilings when they aren’t going to actually differentiate us that much.

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