Welcome to 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 8 Topics
1. What makes this particular slate particularly unique?
2. The games that shape the slate
3. Floating-play strategy, Week 8
4. The gem that unlocks the slate
5. “That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”
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1. What makes this particular slate particularly unique?
The Question ::
A weekly staple of The Oracle :: In no more than two or three sentences, tell us what makes this slate particularly unique.
The Answers ::
I touched on this in the Angles email this week, but it’s somewhat interesting to see a Main Slate in which five of the seven highest-scoring offenses in the NFL are playing…and the next “highest-scoring offenses” are teams that rank 11th (Cleveland), 12th (New England), and 13th (Chargers), and are either spread-the-ball offenses (Browns/Patriots) or are in a below-average spot (Chargers). Which basically means we have five of the seven highest-scoring offenses in the NFL…and then the next team that stands out to us, through a conventional “team scoring” (and DFS production) lens, is a Colts team (vs Tennessee) that ranks 15th in the NFL in scoring. I always prefer to take a top-down approach to an NFL slate:: understanding the macro state of the slate before I start sorting through the micro. This is why the Angles email is structured the way it’s structured, and this is why Question 1 of The Oracle is structured the way it’s structured. There are plays from other games to consider; but as I consider those plays, I’ll be doing so against A) the backdrop of the fact that the Bills, the Bucs, the Rams, the Titans, and the Bengals have the best shots at leading the slate in Team Scoring this week…and B) the understanding that there is a definite gap between the upside-production of these teams and the other teams on the slate.
This slate feels like a “spread” slate in which ownership is going to be pretty broadly diversified across games. The Bills and Rams will be chalky as the only teams with totals over 30 (though perhaps the massive spreads will mitigate that somewhat), but when you look around for games to stack, nothing really jumps off the page. The Titans/Colts are the highest total on the slate and a close spread, but the Colts have been a hard time to target for fantasy production outside of Taylor and Pittman. Patriots/Chargers has a nice total but the Patriots are not the most stackable team. Same for Bucs/Saints.
So, this is a week in which I think the cores of our rosters can be based around a couple of different approaches:
- Try to identify the strongest in-a-vacuum plays, mix-and-match those plays with some QB/pass catcher pairings, hope you get everything right (this is what will be likely to win large GPPs this week, but is not the way I like to play because you’re trying to pick a whole bunch of things to go right…so I will not be playing large GPPs this week).
- Try to build game stacks around games that could feasibly exceed their totals (Titans/Colts will be the most popular, but Eagles/Lions and Panthers/Falcons are plausible as well).
- Just build onslaughts with the best teams (Rams, Bills, Bucs, Chargers) and hope you can get three or four spots right on a single team (possibly without a bringback).
This slate is unique because, as of Friday afternoon I’m not faced with any fade decisions. In MME, I’m always looking at ownership from a “step back and look at the slate holistically” standpoint and there appear to be no significant decisions looming. I don’t think Dan Arnold and the WFT DST really qualify as fade/lock commodities! Maybe Chris Godwin will get steamed to the point where he becomes a strategic piece. Instead, my thinking revolves mostly around players that are capable of 30 point outbursts and are not coming at high ownership. I may lean on a few of these with which to go 3 or 4 times the field on and build game stacks around them.
This feels like a slate where the masses are likely to struggle narrowing down the top plays in a vacuum, which in turn is likely to lead to rather spread ownership. On slates like this, it’s imperative to stick to the basics and attack game environments (which should go under-owned from a macro perspective). Running back also seems like a position where the possibility to gain leverage is fairly high.
This week is characterized by uncertainty. There isn’t a single player that I can’t make a reasonable case to fade, which is unique with 12 games on the slate. The three highest-priced players (Derrick Henry/Alvin Kamara/Cooper Kupp) are no sure bets, with the first two being in difficult matchups, and the third being priced extremely high for a WR in a game that shouldn’t be competitive. The Bills/Bucs/Rams/Titans/Bengals are the highest-scoring teams available, but each comes with their own concerns. The Bills have blowout worries, The Bucs are facing an above-average defense that has traditionally gotten up for this matchup, the Rams have blowout/defensive score worries, there is a chance the Colts strong run D plays the Titans tough, and the Bengals have similar concerns as the Rams. Despite a few warts, the “most confident” plays for me this week still come from those games. Diggs/Bills D, Godwin, Bengals D, and Henderson are likely to form the core of my rosters this week. That’s only five players, and two of them are defenses!
It’s the lack of high Vegas game totals to me this week. The last few weeks we’ve been spoiled with the Chiefs on the main slate (maybe not in hindsight), with multiple games sitting over 52 or 53 point totals. This week, our highest total is 51 currently with the Titans and the Colts. I assume this tells us we should see a lower total fantasy score winning tournaments though I am not sure that will be the case. Either way, lower totals and a lack of a clear “top game” should lead to more dispersed ownership.
My prediction for this week is that it will be the peak “Hindsight Week” of the year on Monday. What I mean by that, is that whatever happens this Sunday there will be easy things to point to and say “how did we not see that coming?!?” The reason I feel that way is that almost every offense that has been struggling or isn’t usually explosive is playing a bad defense, while there are also a lot of very good offenses who have matchups with tough defenses. The Bengals, Rams, and Bills are three clearly good offenses with good matchups — but will all draw heavy ownership in spots and have worries about whether their games will remain close enough to produce “had to have it spots”. Almost every other team has a reasonable “on paper” case to be made for why they will smash or why they will fail.
Even with the two extra games on this slate compared to the last two, we’re only seeing two games with an implied total greater than 50 points and another five that are below 45 points. However, the spreads are tighter this week so we can look forward to better “back and forth” type games and work toward building around those environments. Both of the games implied for over 50 looks to be competitive and three out of four of those teams have a narrow distribution of opportunities. The other, Indianapolis, could have a narrow range if T.Y. Hilton was to miss. For the most part, this week seems like a week to use more “skinny stacks” or “one-to-one” correlated plays.
2. The games that shape the slate
The Question ::
Game Environments, Week 8: This week provides us with a healthy spread of games, with six games (out of 12) in a relatively tight range of game totals, ranging from 47.5 to 51.0. With that said, however (as we know!), not all game totals are created equal. The Rams and the Bills are expected to win handily; and while each team warrants strong consideration, we also know that back-and-forth games are A) likelier to create late-game aggression, and B) likelier to yield macro game environments that soar above their projected total. In that category, we have one game that clearly stands out above the others, with the Titans and Colts boasting a one-point spread, and each team capable of putting up points. Additionally, we have some sneakier spots that have outside-shot shootout potential, with Philly/Detroit likely to be competitive throughout, and with Tampa favored by only 5.5 against the Saints in a game in which both teams should be passing plenty. If we take the Bills and Rams out of this conversation, is there a game (or two) that stands out from the others from a shootout and/or strategy perspective?
The Answers ::
Well. I guess I’m the one who comes up with these questions, right? So it makes sense that I love this question this week.
If you tuned into this Tuesday’s Inner Circle segment, it’s interesting/instructive to me that these are the spots we were talking about, without having looked at Vegas totals. As we noted in that segment: thinking through thoughts BEFORE looking at Vegas totals can allow you to have more confidence in your expectations for games, especially at those times when Vegas begins to tell a different story than the one you were seeing.
With the craziness (on my end) of travel prep on Tuesday and a full day of travel Wednesday, I won’t have a clear sense of exactly what my rosters will look like until Saturday night; but given everything I was exploring “in a bubble” at the front end of the week (as discussed on Tuesday), and given what Vegas is also saying, I expect my rosters to be heavily focused on the Bills, the Rams, the Titans/Colts game, the Eagles/Lions game, and the Bucs/Saints game.
As also discussed Tuesday: there is an obvious way to play the Titans/Colts game, and to feel like you’re outmaneuvering the field along the way:: “Everyone thinks of Derrick Henry when they think of the Titans. But the Colts have a good run defense, and their pass defense has struggled. Also, Carson Wentz has played well, and Parris Campbell is out, and T.Y. Hilton is likely to be out, which makes something like Wentz // Pittman // AJB both sharp and somewhat sneaky.” I’m on board with this. But as we also found in that Tuesday segment, there’s another layer here. What if the Colts (favored at home, and with a defense that is capable of making an opponent one-dimensional and then forcing mistakes from there) give the Titans’ offense a really difficult time? If that one thing happens, a Colts + Jonathan Taylor pairing becomes a high-probability way to capture a lot of points from this spot. People will have JT. Not many will have him paired with the Colts, betting on this particular story.
Eagles/Lions is another one I like plenty, with Hurts // Devonta // Reagor // Quez // Goedert // Swift // Hockenson in the mix. No major strategy angles stand out to me from this game (in terms of placing overlooked bets that also make plenty of sense), but the key pieces from this game are in the mix for me.
And I’m especially drawn to the Bucs/Saints game, around a story that says something like, “Maybe this is a breakout game for Jameis.” You cannot run against either defense, so we should expect a pass-heavy attack on both sides of the ball. With Antonio Brown looking unlikely to play and Mike Evans locked up on Lattimore, we could narrow our focus on the Bucs side of the ball, while taking some shots on the ways in which Jameis and the Saints might put up points through the air.
Titans/Colts is probably the best environment but JM described that one in detail, so I’ll go over to Eagles/Lions. Both teams boast poor defenses and offenses that can, at least on a good day, appear quite competent. The Lions have also been operating with a pretty narrow offense, which lets us focus on just Swift, Hockenson, and maybe a wide receiver (Raymond? Though I think Tyrell Williams is coming back this week…). On the Eagles side, you’ll need to employ more guesswork, with Smith and Goedert the best on-paper options but Watkins and Reagor are certainly in play as well. Or you could just play Hurts naked and hope none of his receivers really goes off, which is an entirely plausible outcome. The game total is 48, so only three points behind the highest-total game of the week. From a strategy perspective, stacking this one makes plenty of sense.
In MME, this question will always revolve around ownership. With all things being uncertain, I’ll gravitate towards the games that will benefit from the uncertainty the most. This week’s games that appear to be falling under that category are Dolphins/Bills and our late game hammer WFT/Broncos. There are ZERO wide receivers in either of these games that project to be over 11% (only the Bills guys are in that range) and ZERO RBs that are projected to be over 5%. The chalk here is at TE with Ricky Seals-Jones and freaking Tommy Sweeney. I think these games will be fun to stack while avoiding the thin chalk-ish plays and hammering the low-owned pieces.
I have a good deal more interest in the TEN/IND game today than I did when I wrote that game up (when it looked like Julio and TY Hilton would play). We now get a tighter range of expected target distribution, which was the biggest piece missing for me earlier in the week. That said, it feels like the optimal way to play that game is through correlated pairings as opposed to game stacks. As for game environments I feel could go overlooked, the two mentioned in the question stand out to me the most as games that might not get enough attention (minus one-offs).
With no sure things, and ownership likely to be spread out this week, the game that shapes the slate the most for me is the Broncos/Football Team. I did the write-up for this game, and you can find my full thoughts there, but I believe this game has more of a chance to open up than the total is predicting. The Washington Football Team is one of the clearest pass funnel defenses in the league and while it’s always risky to assume rational coaching, I’m leaning towards giving the Broncos staff the benefit of the doubt here. If the Broncos come out firing, there is a good chance Teddy Bridgewater and at least one of his pass catchers post a strong score. I’d rather pay up for Sutton on rosters that can afford him, but I don’t mind playing Jeudy on rosters that can’t. Fant is also in play, but the appeal of saving salary at TE will likely lead me elsewhere on my core rosters. Speaking of “cheap TEs”, RSJ is a viable bring back on rosters that stack this game, as is F1 if you want to spend most of your salary here. This game could be a low scoring, sloppy game, as the total is predicting, or it could become a gem that won’t draw much ownership.
It’s either the highest or second-highest game total on the board depending on when you are seeing it, but the Bucs and Saints is my favorite game to target this week. The pass-funnel nature of the Bucs defense always drives more plays for the opposing team, and along with their potent offense, it forces aggressive plays from their opponents. Jameis Winston and aggressive actually go together pretty well, in theory. I will not be betting on Jameis but if I were MME this week I’d have plenty of him. I like a full stack of Brady/Fournette/Godwin/Gronk on one side and/or Kamara/Callaway/Smith on the Saints side. This should be the last game to conclude on Sunday, so it does also play to my natural affinity to have something left in the tank when most of the games are over.
The game that shaped the slate in Week 5 was Browns/Chargers. The game that busted open the slate in Week 6 was Cowboys/Patriots. In Week 7, the Patriots scored 54 points and the Chargers had a bye. Now it is Week 8 and the Patriots play the Chargers in a game with a spread under one score and the game is tied for the second-highest game total on the slate at 49.5. Despite all of that, the ownerships on this game appear extremely low and I’m not seeing it talked about anywhere across the industry as of Friday.
The Cleveland offensive line is back to full strength and Nick Chubb practiced in full on Friday. Pittsburgh’s defense has been good, but it isn’t the stalwart unit that their name makes you think of historically. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s offense has concentrated volume, is coming off a bye, and is facing a Cleveland defense that will be missing Denzel Ward and possibly Jadeveon Clowney. This game has a low total but has more paths to a 28-24 type of game than most people will see with some clarity on which plays would be the ones to get it there.
Sans Bills and Rams, the two 50+ point games are interesting in that they are both tight on the spread. Something I like to look for when looking at these games is Drive Success Rate and look for matchups where the offense and the defense they are playing are both conducive to a back and forth matchup. This is a part of #TheWorkbook and it’s right in the “Game Environment” section of the Matchup Chart. The Titans and Colts have a nice shade of green in three of the four boxes for this matchup, meaning neither should be too much resistance for the other defensively and both have offenses that will be able to take advantage of the matchup.
The other one that looks semi-attractive from this lens is the Patriots at Chargers game where each has an offense that does well at what the opposing defense is weaker at. Chargers struggle to stop the run and cover tight ends, which is where the Patriots are strong on offense. The Patriots defense tends to allow opponents to gain rush yardage between the 20s then force the opponent to score through the air in the red zone. Well, Ekeler is a great between the 20s RB running and catching the ball and can be a pass-catching asset in the red zone, while Keenan Allen can take advantage of the Patriots in the red zone with their loss of Jon Jones at nickel corner. The Patriots are likely to be more concerned with keeping Mike Williams from hitting explosive plays that these two should put up solid scores.
3. Floating-play strategy, Week 8
The Question ::
Floating Plays, Week 8: In Question 2, we focused on three game environments :: Titans/Colts // Eagles/Lions // Bucs/Saints (while noting the strength of players from the Bills and Rams). If we were to take those five games off the slate, who are some of the “floating plays” (or even “floating stacks”!) that you would be likely to find yourself moving toward this week?
The Answers ::
Honestly, there are some pretty interesting pieces across the board this week.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone if Teddy Bridgewater throws for 300 yards and three touchdowns against Washington…which not only keeps Bridgewater stacks viable, but also brings Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Noah Fant in the “floating play” mix for me this week.
The Seahawks may not scorch the scoreboard against the Jags, with Geno Smith under center, but Alex Collins and James Robinson are both in the mix in this game, while Marvin Jones maintains sneaky 30-point upside if everything breaks his way.
Austin Ekeler is unlikely to go overlooked, but he’s the Chargers’ best means of moving the ball against a Patriots defense that will have an easier time “chess mastering” Keenan and Mike Williams out of some plays than they will Ekeler.
Carolina // Atlanta is a sneaky game environment as a whole, with two solid offenses that have deeply concentrated and bankable touch distributions.
Speaking of “concentrated and bankable touch distributions” :: Najee/Diontae/Claypool are the Steelers entire offense. It’s not a great spot against the Browns, but one of these three (and possibly two of these three) will nevertheless have a solid shot at a very strong raw score.
Khalil Herbert is very interesting to me against the 49ers, after taking over as a true all-purpose back (after 34 catches in his entire college career, he’s posted seven catches the last two weeks).
And of course, anyone from the Bengals can smash against the Jets.
I’m definitely going back to the well on big Mike Williams this week. He’s only had two bad games all year, one when he didn’t play much as he was clearly hobbled with an injury from the prior week. He’s healthy now, and the whole “Patriots take away the opponent’s best weapon” is a narrative that is super common around the DFS space but is not at all supported by the data. He’s my overall favorite wide receiver “floating play.” It’s impossible to ignore what Ja’Marr Chase has done this season, and he’s in the mix, but Tee Higgins has seen plenty of volume as well and should come in fairly low owned since he hasn’t put up a strong score yet this season. Also, at some point Robby Anderson will actually catch some footballs, or I’ll go broke. I’m not sure which will happen first.
At running back I’ll go with Joe Mixon (massive favorite against a bad defense), Chuba Hubbard (still getting all the RB work despite no big score the last couple of weeks), and Khalil Herbert (18, 22, and 23 touches in the last three games, with pass game work increasing each week).
Tight end is gross, especially with several games already checked off the list. I like Noah Fant but he’s hard to make a case for at his price with Jerry Jeudy coming back. Kyle Pitts is obviously awesome and I’ll play him a fair bit. Hunter Henry has scored a touchdown in four straight weeks and the Patriots should be in catch-up mode for much of this game. Ricky Seals-Jones is still playing almost every snap (remember LT3 last year, where we kept playing him because his role was so strong and it took FOREVER for him to finally start hitting…but then he did? RSJ is in the same role).
I’m going to stay on brand here and praise Deebo Samuel. I was sad earlier in the week that he was developing into chalk but those projections seem to have calmed. I know he’s priced up but I’m still going to be 2x on Jamarr Chase if it appears he’ll be only owned in the 10% range. Same with Terry Mclaurin and Mike Williams who are sitting below the 5% mark right now. I know matchups might not be perfect and they are somewhat pricey, but these are players that are capable of 30 points!
Although I don’t expect them to go entirely overlooked, the correlated pairing of Calvin Ridley and DJ Moore is likely to go under-owned (Most people that play either are likeliest to do so either as one-offs or paired with either quarterback).
Another correlated pairing I feel might be misplayed is Jalen Hurts with a D’Andre Swift bring-back (each can “get there” in any game environment and the field is likely to force a pairing with Hurts).
Jamison Crowder was all the way up to an 80% snap rate last game, indicating he’s both fully healthy and a large member of this Jets offense. With Corey Davis out, Crowder should provide enough volume in a likely extremely negative game script to return a viable cheap option (possible “key that unlocks the slate”).
I use a lot of floating plays/skinny stacks on my tighter builds, as I must really love a game environment to totally stack all its players. I typically reserve those types of “total” stack rosters for MME play. This week appears to be a good week for floating play, as we don’t have an obvious game to target for total stacks. I’ll play any of the mentioned core players for me this week (Diggs/Godwin/Henderson), by themselves (Henderson will almost always be without other Rams), and the WRs will only include their QBs if it makes sense for that lineup. Deebo Samuel has floating play appeal, as he is a part of what is expected to be a very poor game environment, but things are so concentrated on him that he is still likely to succeed. Michael Pittman (especially with TY out) is an appealing one off but is also pairable with Wentz. Dionte Johnson is a one off for his high-volume role, in an offense where you probably don’t want to also bet on Big Ben’s noodle arm. You can get creative with one off RBs this week, as several RBs in poor game environments are mispriced for their roles. Kahlil Herbert and Michael Carter stand out to me as the best examples of RBs that could be played as one offs. Neither should draw much ownership.
Beyond those games, floating plays on the Bengals is the place where I will start. Chase makes the best case, especially if he’s looking like he will be lower-owned than Higgins. Joe Mixon is next up there as well. Both could and should have touchdowns on Sunday.
Noah Fant keeps popping up for me as well. JM and X talked about him above and I understand the reasoning of having a lesser role with Jeudy coming back, but his athleticism hasn’t led to that blowup long TD yet as his longest catch of the season is 26 yards. I like him to have a TD catch of 40 yards or more this week.
I’m going to also list the Rams defense as a floating play. They cost $5,100 on DK but if I can fit them, I am going there for all the reasons noted in this week’s Missed Opportunities.
CAR/ATL:: Calvin Ridley, DJ Moore, Chuba Hubbard
NE/LAC:: Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, Justin Jackson/Joshua Kelley
PIT/CLE:: Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, Nick Chubb, OBJ
WAS/DEN:: Antonio Gibson, Jerry Jeudy, Ricky Seals-Jones
JAX/SEA:: Laviska Shenault, Tyler Lockett/DK Metcalf
Joe Mixon stands out as a nice floating play. The last time he played a team this bad against RBs was Week 6 in Detroit and he went for 26.3 DK points. The Jets are allowing the highest per game points (39.1) and targets (10.5) to the RB position. James Robinson and Alex Collins in the Jaguars at Seahawks game are both great looking plays on paper. Deebo Samuel is another floating play in a great spot between playing a terrible secondary and him being his team’s only hope of moving the ball through the air this year. I also really like the Steelers receivers (Johnson and Claypool) against the Browns, who take away the run and force passes. Chris Godwin looks like he’ll be busy against the Saints, who also take away the run and force the pass, and Lattimore has taken Mike Evans out of these games leaving just Godwin to be the major producer.
4. The gem that unlocks the slate
The Question ::
Value Plays, Week 8: This week appears to provide a lot more “value” flexibility than last week, with very little in the way of “guys who are obviously mispriced,” but with a decent number/range of options that could go for scores well above what their price tags would indicate. Are there any value players and/or approaches that you have consistently found yourself considering this week?
The Answers ::
From an “approaches” standpoint, there are some interesting stacks that could cover two or three spots on your roster while freeing up salary for other spots. One of these approaches is to stack Josh Allen with his two lower-cost pass catchers (Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley). Another is to stack Teddy Bridgewater with two of Sutton/Jeudy/Fant. Wentz/Pittman is a very sexy two-man stack ($11k in DK salary), with a Titans pass-catcher bring-back making a lot of sense here. Jameis + Callaway requires a lot of faith, but Callaway has 15 targets the last two weeks, and Jameis could easily post a season-high in pass attempts against the Bucs. This is another stack that would provide plenty of upside and free up salary (with clear bring-backs available on the other side of the ball). And if you want to get particularly frisky, Sam Darnold + Robby Anderson would fail far more often than not…but it would also hit for a monster price-considered score far more often than ownership will indicate.
From a one-off value approach, Quez Watkins and Brandon Aiyuk require things to break their way (for Quez, he’d need to take advantage of his blazing speed on what will likely be only four or five targets, vs a defense that is susceptible to players like him; for Aiyuk, he’d need to actually see some looks), but both are intriguing. And Dan Arnold is only $2.8k on DraftKings, and can easily see the same number of targets, and post a similar score, to any of the guys in the “below $5k” tight end range.
JM cheats by filling out his answers first. I don’t think I will go with Jameis personally, though I see the case for it, but Callaway is entirely viable. I’m not really seeing anything below $4.5k or so at wide receiver that JM hasn’t mentioned already beyond Van Jefferson, whose deep role gives him plenty of ceiling on limited volume, but comes with a high degree of volatility.
At running back I’ll reiterate Khalil Herbert as a play who is just underpriced for the volume he’s seeing, while at tight end I’ll note RSJ again and also concur with JM on Dan Arnold, who has been highly involved in the Jags offense since coming to town and is in a nice matchup.
Yeah, it could easily flop but this WFT/Broncos game is super cheap. Stacking this game solves your price and ownership problems in one swoop. Just add whatever pieces you want to them and you’ve built some ugly lineups that could blossom into the best kind of beauty. Other value that is coming in at reasonable ownership includes Trevor Lawrence (and stacking teammates), Myles Gaskin, Zack Moss, Van Jefferson, Jonnu Smith (or if he doesn’t play Hunter Henry) because Chargers are yielding 21.3 fantasy points to tight ends over the last four weeks. Honorable mention goes to David Johnson (pukes a little) who, if he receives extra snaps vacated by Mark Ingram, could see some extra dump-off in a Rams/Texans blowout. Keep an eye on the status of Austin Ekeler in Los Angeles. If he sits, value could open up if we can get a read on how the workload will be distributed.
Not to repeat myself too much here, but Jamison Crowder is super interesting as a “zero ownership” piece that should see eight to 12 targets. If he’s able to score, that kind of expected volume at his price tag could prove extremely useful.
Although not terribly cheap, Rob Gronkowski jumps out to me as a piece likely to go relatively overlooked in his first game back from injury (assuming he plays). The salary isn’t overbearing and while everyone looks to Chris Godwin, he could provide one of the cheaper ways to get exposure to that
The guy I’m going to be most overweight on compared to the field is James Robinson ($6,600). I’m going to deliver “the dissenting” opinion here from the edge game. I’m currently seeing Robinson projected for 4% ownership on the OWS ownership tool, and that appears to be in line with the industry, as the most aggressive ownership percentage I’ve seen for Robinson is 8%. I’m not sure why. What criteria should we use to evaluate an RB play for DFS? Opportunity, matchup, game environment, price, ownership, talent level, in that order. Robinson has played over 85% of the snaps in the Jags past two games and is coming off a bye, where he got a chance to rest. During the past four weeks Robinson has never seen less than 15 carries, is the clear goal line back, and has averaged over three targets per game (read the way I framed these stats, but please also read the way these same stats are commented on by JM in the Edge. We are both right. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics). The past four games have produced DK scores for Robinson of 25.4/20.6/24.7/19.1. Opportunity, check. The Seahawks are 11th in DVOA against the run (the Jags are 2nd in DVOA running the ball), but the Hawks have given up a lot of points to RBs, yielding a 31st in the league 70 rec yards per game to the position. They are coming off a Monday night game, and the Jags are coming off a bye. Matchup, check. The game environment is a concern, but it’s not one of the poorest on the slate, and if Geno Smith can find success against the Jags pathetic secondary then this one could be destined for the over. Robinson rarely comes off the field, so the game environment isn’t likely to phase him out either way. Game environment, good enough. Robinson is priced as the RB10 on the main slate, and while not cheap, his cost is in no way prohibitive. An RB playing 85% of the snaps priced under $7,000 is always a play I’ll gravitate towards. Price, check. Robinson is projected to be 5% owned. Ownership, check. If you haven’t watched a lot of James Robinson the past two seasons because the Jags are rarely on primetime, you’re missing out. During the past four weeks (and all season), Robinson hasn’t rushed for below 4.3 YPC. He dropped a whopping 8.3 YPC on 18 totes against the Titans in Week 5. The Cardinals also got abused for 5.9 YPC on 15 gallops in Week 3. Robinson has seen 22 targets on the year, and he has caught an astounding 17 of them! Good for a 77% catch rate. The past four games, he’s been even better, bringing in 12 out of 13 targets. TDs aren’t “repeatable”, but some players are simply tough around the paint. Robinson is a fireplug that has turned his redzone role into four straight games with a touchdown (two in Week 4 against the Bengals). Want advanced stats? Of course, you do! Robinson is number one in the league in DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement). DYAR measures a player’s performance running and catching the ball against a replacement level player, like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) in baseball. Second through fifth place on the DYAR list are Ekler/Henry/Taylor/Zeke. Robinson isn’t just in first place, he’s in first by a mile, with over 10 more DYAR yards than second place. Talent, check.
Tee Higgins on DK has to be the leader in the clubhouse on underpriced guys this week. Especially coming off a 15-target game. Robby Anderson is also lower than he should be, but it’s based on his lack of production this season so he’s a gamble as always. At RB, Mixon is cheaper than he should be given the matchup, Chuba is too cheap for his locked-in role, and James Robinson could be argued for as well. My favorite value play of the week, however, is Jamal Agnew, along with his Jacksonville defense and special teams.
We don’t get these chances often, but with Austin Ekeler likely out and both Justin Jackson and Joshua Kelley at min-price this is an opportunity to lock up all of the Chargers RB touches in one player block. Ekeler was priced at $7,900 and was only playing 60-70% of the snaps as it was. Larry Rountree played zero snaps Week 5 and was a healthy scratch Week 6, so a Jackson/Kelley split of the backfield seems likely. If Ekeler misses, the Patriots will likely divert most of their attention to slowing down Herbert and the passing game, which would leave a lot of meat on the bone for “LAC RB”. If you play that player block, you can do pretty much whatever you want with the rest of your roster.
In past weeks I have talked about playing the popular/high game total wide receivers as a stack but replacing their quarterback with a cheaper option to differentiate. This week, there appear to be some cheaper, somewhat condensed target share passing games in good spots that you could stack the cheap pass catchers and then play them with one of the premium QB’s. Teams with options I see that would fit this mold:: DEN, PHI, CAR, JAX, TB
Van Jefferson played 94% of snaps in Week 7 and Desean Jackson is gone now, meaning that is going to continue. He has seen 4+ targets in each of the last five games, plays one of the worst pass defenses in the league, and costs $3,900 on DK. This doesn’t have to be so hard sometimes.
The value plays I’ve found puzzling-in my builds have been Alex Collins ($5300) and Jamal Agnew ($3700) who has 6 and 7 targets as the new slot receiver for Jacksonville, and I like JM’s call on Dan Arnold in this game, too. Arnold has 15 targets through three games with the Jags and has last week’s bye to assimilate even further into this offense. I always like Quez Watkins who is going to see the field a lot more with Ertz gone and more 11-personnel looks coming. He’ll face off against veteran doormat Daryl Worley for most of his game. Tommie Sweeney and Jonnu Smith are interesting value plays at TE, along with Arnold. Sweeney is taking over a role that has seen Dawson Knox catch 5 TDs in. Last week, Patriots teammates said Jonnu’s breakout game is coming. If his teammates believe it, I’m going to pay attention, as his price has gone nothing but down and he’s in a prime matchup to exploit against the Chargers TE funnel defense.
5. “That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”
The Question ::
A weekly staple of The Oracle :: highlight one or two of the games, teams, or players you feel could leave people saying at the end of Week 7, “That was so obvious, how did I not see it?”
The Answers ::
“Of course the spots everyone in the industry was talking about were not as ‘guaranteed to hit’ as they were all making it seem.” (I could add this answer every week, and it would always fit.)
“Of course Josh Allen was going to be the highest-scoring fantasy player of the week.”
“Of course Brandon Aiyuk was eventually going to post a big game. How did I not see that one coming?” (Fingers crossed…)
“Of course Robby Anderson was eventually going to turn his insane volume into insane production.” (If we post that enough, it’ll eventually be true.)
“Of course Jameis Winston was going to throw three touchdown passes against the Bucs.” (Okay. So…not “of course.” But no one is going to be surprised if it happens.)
“Of course I should have embraced a bit more uncertainty, and bet a bit more on ‘things that hadn’t happened yet, but could happen,’ instead of clinging so tightly to what logic and ‘past performance’ were pointing me toward this week.” Hopefully that’s what the field will be saying, as you cruise to victory on more aggressive play.
Copy/paste on Josh Allen, Brandon Aiyuk, and Robby Anderson!
“Of course Derrick Henry was going to score three touchdowns again, he’s already done it three times this year”
“Of course a full onslaught of <insert Bills or Rams here> took everything down, they were projected to score over 30 points against a helpless opponent, I should have just played <QB + 2 receivers + RB + DST>”
“Of course Deebo was going to smash. Who the hell else do they have?”
“Of course Jalen Hurts was going to fall short eventually. He couldn’t keep bailing us out in the 4th quarter every week. He was a nice play at low ownership, but at 17% ownership…not so much for MME”
“Of course Robby Anderson was going to get his head out of his ass eventually. Why did I remove him from my MME pool at $4700 against the Falcons?”
“Damnit! I should have been above the field on Noah Fant. Dude was super low-owned and playing WFT who is yielding 8.29 targets per game to tight ends. I guess I was afraid Juedy would steal his targets.”
“Of course the PHI/DET game hit the over, the Eagles don’t run the football and the Lions are playing hungry.”
“Of course Rob Gronkowski came back from a punctured lung and fractured ribs to score two touchdowns. We knew the Bucs would be passing and that dude is the football Superman!”
“Of course Jamison Crowder saw 11 targets, CD was out and Crowder saw an 80% snap rate last game!”
Disclaimer: I don’t feel great about this theory, and I will only be betting a small amount on this play myself.
Heaven help me for saying this, but Odell Beckham is only $4,600 and I have an interest at that price. It’s hard to believe such a talented player has fallen to the pricing of an average ancillary piece. OBJ is still supposed to be the WR1 in this offense, and there is a chance he could see a spiked target week in a game where the Cleveland RBs are either banged up or coming off injury. If the Browns elect to target the relative weakness of the Steelers defense, there is a chance OBJ is the benefactor and delivers a big game, on low salary, at minimum ownership. How could we not play OBJ for $4,600 in a matchup where we knew they were going to throw! We might all scream on Monday.
“Of course the expensive pass-catching running back outscored the expensive yardage and touchdown running back this week (Kamara vs. Henry)”
“Of course a million dollars was won with a correlated WR, who returns kicks or punts, and a defense. Double points for a return touchdown on the road to $1M”
“Why do I keep overthinking these smash spots like Bills and Rams?”
- If the ownership projections I am seeing are right, these spots are not going to have anything close to prohibitive ownership in them. I honestly don’t understand why so many people are so focused on ways to get *off* these games.
“Of course Jameis Winston was going to throw four interceptions against the Bucs.”
- I literally copy and pasted JM’s comment and changed this from TDs to INTs….it just seems so unlikely he plays an “average” game in this spot and the Bucs D is starting to look like themselves again.
“Of course I should have played Najee Harris, who has averaged 28.5 carries plus targets over the last four games, at moderate ownership for $7,500 on DK.”
“Calvin Ridley. Still good.”
“Why does Mike Williams keep having single digit ownership?”
“D’Ernest Johnson smashed the Broncos who are down EIGHT linebackers right now, including six on Injured Reserve….of course Antonio Gibson was going to go nuts now that he’s finally off the injury report.”
Of course there wasn’t an obvious game environment for people to flock to so ownership was so spread out that the obvious one-offs and/or skinny stacks were the way to go instead of betting on game stacks.
Of course I wasted those one offs and skinny stacks by betting on the Jaguars again only to watch them “snowflake” my rosters.
Thanks for hanging out with us in The Oracle this week!
We’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards this weekend!