Sunday, Feb 12th — Late
Bye Week:
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Bengals
Bills
Broncos
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Buccaneers
Cardinals
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Commanders
Cowboys
Dolphins
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The Scroll Week 8

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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.

    In This Week’s Angles Email:

    1. The Hot Streak Continues

    2. Week 8 Slate

    The Hot Streak Continues ::

    NFL Props Profit:
    $831*

    NBA Props Profit:
    $3,698*(!!!)

    If you’re still playing DFS cash games, I strongly encourage you to pivot over to Props. As I said last week, these numbers will continue to grow.

    Even if you don’t follow the NBA — a bucket I fall into myself — you can easily/profitably tail these NBA props. It probably goes without saying that our weekly ROI won’t be this high all year, but anyone who A) picked up NBA Props Insider before Day 1 and B) tailed all the bets from the NBA prop-betting channel has C) paid for their subscription 12 times over, through just over one week of action. 

    *Profit is calculated by assuming recommended units on recommended bets (duh)

    The Lay Of The Land ::

    Week: 8

    Total Main Slate Games: 11

    Slate Overview:

    There are 10(!) teams missing from the Main Slate, with three Island games, a London game, and two teams on bye, with “missing teams” including the Chiefs (first in the NFL in points per game), the Bills (second in the NFL in points per game), the Ravens (sixth in the NFL in points per game), the Bengals (eighth in the NFL in points per game), the Browns (10th in the NFL in points per game), and the Chargers (11th in the NFL in points per game). We are also missing some marquee names with the Packers and Buccaneers off the Main Slate.

    In terms of “players missing,” we are subtracting four of the quarterbacks who tend to draw high ownership at the top of the price range in Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Justin Herbert (a list that doesn’t even include Joe Burrow in a Bengals offense that has finally shifted back to their pass-leaning ways — with Burrow’s price and ownership sure to continue climbing). This leaves us with only Jalen Hurts and Kyler Murray in the “expensive QB” pool this week.

    We are also subtracting both Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews from this week’s slate, which completely changes the tight end landscape, and we are subtracting a number of other typically-popular, high-priced options in Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Stefon Diggs, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Nick Chubb, Austin Ekeler, and Mike Williams.

    Finally — perhaps the element that will have the biggest impact of all on this slate — the Colts have decided to bench Matt Ryan in favor of Sam Ehlinger, who costs 10% of the salary cap on FanDuel…and only 8% of the salary cap on DK (for comparison: Jalen Hurts costs 16.6%; Ehlinger’s price tag on DK is $4,000). Ehlinger has mobility in the pocket, a willingness to take off on the ground, and a willingness to pull the trigger on tight-window, downfield throws. This would already be an attractive profile if he were more expensive than he is…and given his “too low” price tag, it’s highly likely that he draws plenty of attention this week. This will not only become a critical decision point from a standpoint of “whether or not we roster this player,” but will also materially shape the salary allocation and build structure of our roster(s) as a whole (particularly on DraftKings, where every other starting quarterback is priced significantly higher than Ehlinger).

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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::

    This slate started super ugly to me and turned into a beautiful swan. Basically, I initially saw chalk congregating a lot differently than it ended up heading into the weekend, which gives us an opportunity to simply “play the best plays” through smart roster construction without having to stand on our heads to generate leverage. 

    From a macro perspective, we have three clear top game environments in Dolphins @ Lions, Cardinals @ Vikings, and Raiders @ Saints, eight freaking games with a game total of 44.5 or lower, and three “key decision points,” as covered on The Slate podcast this week (if you missed it, no worries – we recorded on Friday evening this week and it is available now on the Inner Circle podcast feed).

    Those three key decision points are the 1) quarterback position, where the best on-paper plays are at pricing extremes in Jalen Hurts and Sam Ehlinger; 2) the tight end position, where Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews are absent, leaving only George Kittle as a player that can put the slate out of reach; and 3) the running back position, where we have more viable plays than any other slate this season. Let’s dive in!

    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.

    QUICK NOTE: Although not currently listed as chalk, I expect the ownership of Sam Ehlinger and George Kittle to get steamed throughout Saturday and into Sunday morning, giving us a little more to consider when looking at the chalk and chalk build.

    TONY POLLARD

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Pollard sports a gaudy 6.2 yards per touch this season, which ranks fourth at the position. As in, he has been one of the most efficient backs in the league. Ezekiel Elliott is now expected to miss this week with a knee contusion/sprain as the Cowboys head into their bye week in Week 9, meaning the bulk of the workload in the Dallas backfield should fall into Pollard’s capable hands. Similar to JM’s thoughts on the situation, Pollard isn’t exactly the “team jam him in smash play” that the field seems to think this week (although a great on-paper play). The Cowboys backfield averages just 21.2 DK points per game on 27.6 carries and 3.7 targets. Their 26 total running back targets ranks just 26th in the league this season, meaning Pollard should be considered closer to a yardage and touchdown back than perception indicates based on coaching and play-calling tendencies this year. Still a solid play, just not the “can’t miss smash spot” being tossed around the industry.

    JOSH JACOBS

    Restrictive chalk. Josh Jacobs is a genuine workhorse running back in the year of our Lord 2022. Oh, how times change and change fast! Jacobs holds the league’s second-highest snap rate and top overall opportunity share at 76.1% and 84.8% (!!!), respectively. His 54.2% route participation rate ranks 10th at the position. He has evaded the second most tackles, has the third-highest juke rate, a solid 5.7 yards per carry (sixth), and a beautiful 5.9 yards per touch (eighth). Furthermore, he gets the distinct pleasure of running behind the league’s top-ranked run-blocking offensive line. The matchup yields an insane 5.11 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Saints defense allowing a robust 4.75 running back yards per carry this season. Jacobs is still underpriced for that profile at $7,500 (he should be priced with Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey), and we’re likely to get some sort of psychological effect through the raising of his price by a full $1,000 from last week.

    KENNETH WALKER

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Walker is a stud. His breakaway run rate ranks first in the league (11.9%), his juke rate ranks first in the league (56.0%, lolz), and he has evaded the sixth most tackles this season while not becoming the starting running back until Week 6. He now faces a Giants defense allowing the sixth most second-level yards per carry and third most open field yards per carry.

    RHAMONDRE STEVENSON

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Stevenson has recently surged to an insane workload over the past three games, handling snap rates of 90%, 86%, and 77% over the past three weeks as Damien Harris has battled injury. His season-high snap rate before Harris’ injury was just 62%, which is more in line with standard lead-back duties across the league. Will Harris be more involved this week being two weeks removed from his injury?

    ALVIN KAMARA

    Restrictive chalk. Kamara is back to the Kamara we’ve grown to know and love over the previous five seasons, as the presence of Andy Dalton at quarterback has returned Kamara to a massive piece of the passing game. He brings one of the highest floors to the table this week, with recent target counts of nine, nine, and six over the three games in which he played and Dalton started. He has averaged 21.2 DK points per game in those contests and has yet to score a touchdown this season. Once the touchdowns start flowing, look out!

    DAMEON PIERCE

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. Pierce should see the lion’s share of usage out of the backfield moving forward but falls just below workhorse usage via a modest pass game role. As in, Rex Burkhead should continue seeing usage in obvious pass down situations. That said, a valid expectation of 20-22 running back opportunities should remain, albeit in a neutral-to-difficult matchup against the Titans. That profile would be more useful to us on a different slate than on this one, where we have no less than 15 viable running backs available.

    DJ MOORE

    Expansive chalk. I mean, I guess. The level of infatuation with Moore from the field is intriguing to me. This is a moderate-to-high volume wide receiver on a shitty offense, playing for a team with a Vegas implied team total of just 18.5 points. Although unlikely to completely sink a roster, he is equally as unlikely to post a “had to have it” score.

    TYREEK HILL

    Restrictive chalk. The concerns of Tyreek seeing a decrease in usage moving from Kansas City to Miami were overblown this offseason. The dude is a matchup nightmare, and he now faces the team running the highest rate of man coverage this season. Good freaking luck. Basically, the reasons to move off Tyreek this week should be tied to theoretical reasons, as he is very clearly one of the top overall plays on the slate.

    CHRIS OLAVE

    Neither restrictive nor expansive chalk. The primary pass-catching option remaining for a team that has averaged 31 points per game across Dalton’s four starts. Yea, count me in.

    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?

    Week 8

    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 8 players that are best utilized on Draftkings or Fanduel.


    Tua Tagovailoa: 
    FD $7.7k, 12.8% // DK $6.2k, 12.4% // Value on Draftkings

    QBs priced around Tagovailoa (Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray, Dak Prescott, Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford) all take up more of the cap space on Draftkings than on Fanduel. Tua takes up .4% less cap space on Draftkings than Fanduel. This week he gets the Lions who have given up the fifth most Draftkings points per game to QBs.

    Davante Adams: FD $8.5k, 14.2% // DK $8.6k, 17.2% // Value on Fanduel

    Even though there’s $10,000 more in salary to work with on Fanduel, Adams is $100 cheaper there than he is on Draftkings. Adams is the fourth highest priced WR and takes up 14.2% of the cap on Fanduel versus the third highest priced WR and taking up 17.2% of the cap on Draftkings.

    Josh Jacobs:  FD $9.0k, 15.0% // DK $7.5k, 15.0% // Value on Draftkings

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    JM’s Player Grid

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

    Sam Ehlinger
    Raheem Mostert
    Tony Pollard
    Tyreek Hill
    Amon-Ra St. Brown
    Van Jefferson
    Logan Thomas
    Braxton Berrios
    Jets

    Join The Bottom-Up Build Contest On DraftKings!

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

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

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    << Week 7 Breakdown >>


    Blue Chips

    No “true blue” chips for me this week; let’s move onto the “light blues” ::

    “Light Blue” Chips
    Sam Ehlinger

    Ehlinger is a completely different discussion on FanDuel, where he’s priced similarly to a lot of other guys, and is therefore just “a guy in a pile of potential options” as opposed to “a critical decision point.” On DraftKings, however, he’s very much a “light blue” chip for me, and he’s a guy I won’t be concerned about playing at high ownership.

    As laid out in my DFS Interpretations for this game:

    • We should expect Ehlinger to be popular this week, so it’s worth thinking through a few of the ways this could play out:
      • Ehlinger could disappoint, which would likely be something in the range of 10 to 13 DraftKings points (maybe 200 or fewer passing yards, only 30ish rushing yards, and no touchdowns — or perhaps throw a passing touchdown in there, but take away some of the passing yards)
      • Ehlinger could have “about the game we would expect,” which would be between 200 and 250 passing yards, 30 to 50 rushing yards, and one score he accounts for — leading to something like 15 to 20 points
      • Ehlinger could surprise with 250+ passing yards, 50+ rushing yards, and multiple touchdowns — leading to something like 23 to 25 points
      • Given the state of the slate, I would genuinely be happy with any of those outcomes if rostering him, basically looking at it as a situation in which I’m keeping pace with the field there, and gaining an edge somewhere else; with that said, there are plenty of +EV ways to not play Ehlinger on DK, including A) game stacks that bet on one game significantly outperforming the others, B) playing a cheap QB (any of the guys at $6.2k or below) who has legitimate 30-point potential, as a 30-burger would be worth the extra salary spent, especially if Ehlinger finishes in the middle or lower end of his potential range, or C) playing one of the top-end QBs (Kyler/Hurts), hoping that one of these guys pops for 30 or 35+, that Ehlinger disappoints, and that all the cheaper QBs end up in the 20ish-point range (that sounds like “a lot that needs to go right,” but you’d be a favorite for all those things breaking your way)
      • It should go without saying that Ehlinger will be on my list, though I’ll also be looking for other ways to play this slate

    It’s tough to get into any deeper nuance in written format, but I explored the Ehlinger situation a bit more deeply in this week’s Angles podcast.

    Derrick Henry

    33 // 30 // 25 // 25

    32 // 30 // 29

    The first list is Henry’s touches in his last four games.

    The second list is the Texans’ rank in run defense DVOA, adjusted line yards, and yards allowed per carry.

    You probably don’t need me to tell you that the Big Dog is a strong option this week, but consider this to be your confirmation that this is, in fact, the case.

    Tony Pollard

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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

    Tyreek + Mostert + Amon-Ra
    Cost: $21.3K DK // $22.7k FD
    Story:

    “This game outperforms all the others on the slate, but doesn’t go truly nuclear”

    Why It Works:

    Most people would be including Tua in their Tyreek // Amon-Ra builds, instead of including Mostert. While all three of these players will have high ownership, this particular structure will be a unique way to play things.

    How It Works:

    As we’ve explored throughout the week, it’s completely possible for this week to play out in such a way that a game total of 60 to 65 ends up as the “had to have it” environment. If this game explodes for 80+ points, having Tua or Goff will be necessary; but what if all the low-total games disappoint, the other two middling-total games hit their middling totals, and this game goes for 60 to 65? In that (not unlikely) scenario, the focal points of theses offenses would likely be posting high-end scores, while the quarterbacks would likely be posting middling scores. This building block accounts for the facts that A) Detroit has an awful run defense, B) Miami wants their offense to be built off the run, and C) Tyreek Hill (12+ targets in 5/7 games) is enough of a focal point that he can hit without dragging his quarterback up with him. Pairing this block with an Ehlinger roster or with a game stack from ARI/MIN or LV/NO is a unique, high-upside way to attack this slate.

    POTENTIAL DOWNSIDE:

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

    Ehlinger + Taylor

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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 ::

    Ehlinger || Tua // Goff || Cousins || Hurts || Daniel Jones

    RB ::

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    A Wrap ::

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

    -JM

    Mike’s Player Grid

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


    Welcome back to my (Mjohnson86) Player Grid. The format will vary slightly from JM’s Player Grid, as we each see things slightly differently and play in slightly different contests, but should complement his thoughts and content very well for those looking to build their lineups for the week. The format of this article will likely evolve as the season progresses but should provide a lot of value. Enjoy!!


    The Core

    This is a list of players that stand out to me at each position from using my “Checking the Boxes” criteria outlined in my course you can find in our Marketplace. This list is a starting point, from which I build out lineups using game theory and roster construction concepts (which we will also touch on) with the mindset being to find the best plays with big ceilings. Low ownership is a bonus, but not a must. This section will focus primarily on three positions – running back, tight end, and defense – as the other two positions (quarterback and wide receiver) tend to have more dependent tendencies which I try to attack from other angles (which we will get into in the other sections). I like all of these plays on all sites unless otherwise noted:

    Running Back ::
    Josh Jacobs

    Frankly, the price tag and projected ownership for Jacobs this week is a little insulting considering the run he’s been on of late and the matchup/situation he is in this week. 23 rushes and 5 targets per game the last three weeks and a matchup with a defense that has given up 28+ points in four straight games and just let Eno Benjamin score 23 DK points on only 16 touches. Fire him back up.

    TONY POLLARD

    Don’t need to overthink this. Pollard has been one of the most efficient and explosive RBs in the league over the past couple of seasons on a per-touch basis. Ezekiel Elliott is out this week, leaving Pollard likely to touch the ball somewhere in the range of 18 to 25 times at home against a poor run defense that is playing on a short week.

    Alvin Kamara

    Since returning from injury in Week 5, Kamara is averaging 18 rushes and 8 targets per game. That is elite volume for the seventh highest priced RB on the slate (9th on Fanduel). Kamara is playing in a dome in the game with the second highest over/under on the slate. He has touched the ball 101 times this season without a touchdown, something that is going to regress at some point – possibly in a huge way.

    Derrick Henry

    Henry has 26+ opportunities (carries + targets) in each of his last four games. The Texans have allowed 30+ Draftkings points to four running backs through six weeks. The biggest concern here would be a big Titans lead causing them to rest Henry, but he could easily have broken off a couple of long TD runs to help them get to that point. Henry has been close to breaking off long runs a few times in the last couple of weeks but was tripped up. An eruption is likely coming soon. If the current context wasn’t enough, here are Henry’s last three games against the Texans:: 211 yards, 3 TDs….212 yards, 2 TDs….250 yards, 2 TDs.

    SIDE NOTES::

    • Kenneth Walker – Walker has looked excellent the last couple of weeks and is the type of back who the Seahawks could look to build their offense around for the stretch run. He has big play ability and is in a great matchup, at home against a defense that has looked better in the box score than they have performed due to holding strong in the red zone. Walker can score from distance and the Giants defense could be in store for some negative TD regression. If his usage and improvement continue, Walker could very easily be an $8k RB by the end of November.
    • Saquon Barkley – Playing in the same game as Walker, Barkley has 25+ RB opportunities (targets plus carries) in five of seven games. Barkley has not broken loose for many long runs yet this season but is certainly still capable of it. His price tag and the look of a “road underdog” will likely keep him at the bottom of the ownership
    • Christian McCaffery – This is very straightforward as an NFL DFS GPP play – buy early (before you see it), bet on talent, and play high ceiling players at low ownership. There is a lot of uncertainty here as CMC has only played one game in San Francisco and saw limited action. Deebo Samuel is likely going to miss this game or be severely limited (Note: Deebo Samuel has been ruled OUT for week 8), however, and this is a high leverage game for the 49ers chances of winning the division. They didn’t give up all those draft picks to give CMC the ball 15 times. He is clearly still an elite talent, playing on the best offense for the best play caller of his career, and will not be heavily owned due to the nature of the slate with so many solid RB options.
    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! 

    I don’t remember a week where so many high-powered offenses were absent from the slate yet there were so many QB and RB options to sort through. 

    I’m using ownership to guide me at RB and WR. The list of potential slate-breaking players at single digit ownership is noteworthy.

    Cooper Kupp

    Christian McCaffery

    Davante Adams 

    A.J. Brown

    Other guys that sub 5% ownership that could separate from the field any given Sunday:

    D’Andre Swift

    Jonathan Taylor

    DeVonta Smith

    Brandon Aiyuk (matchup might be bad but guys slip on banana peels all the time)

    And of course…Robbie Anderson

    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

    Among my regrets this season through seven main slates is not having enough exposure to two “had to have it” game stacks: Ravens/Dolphins in Week 2 (80 points) and Lions/Seahawks in Week 4 (93 points). The reason I feel this way is because those are the types of slates where my play style could actually win a million dollars. You see, I am at the point in my DFS career (since 2014) where I know for a fact that I am unable to predict the future. Many of us would nod in agreement that we too cannot predict specific player performance with much certainty. But, even after acknowledging this fact, few of us actually put this into practice.

    Building winning DFS rosters is a skill, one that requires much luck, and in order to get that type of luck, we want and need to build for first place. But with all the roster spots we have to fill out, along with the seemingly infinite amount of options, I have only seen success in DFS through one macro strategy: game stacks. Correlation is our best friend, and using it to our advantage is key. Correlation leads us to try to predict fewer outcomes, and as we talk about frequently on the One Week Season streets, I like my chances if I’m predicting three things that need to go right while you are predicting nine.

    One of my favorite quotes that I constantly refer back to is from one of my favorite thinkers, Naval Ravikant. He states, “A lousy way to do memory prediction is ‘X happened in the past, therefore X will happen in the future.’ It’s too based on specific circumstances. What you want is principles. You want mental models.” Essentially, all he is saying is you are being lazy if you think what happened in the past will happen again in the future. And the only way to simplify our prediction process is to form guardrails in our minds and make soft rules or models mentally to dictate the do’s and don’ts of building tournament-winning rosters. For me, this means game stacking. Driving our stake into the ground to say, if we can successfully predict one game environment, we can successfully predict a handful of players to correlate and succeed all at the same time.

    On a slate as ugly as this Sunday, let your mental models find your game stack.

    Playing Sam Ehlinger Your Way

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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 8 Topics

    1. What makes this particular slate particularly unique?

    2. Decisions, decisions

    3. A Tale Of Two QBs

    4. Floating Plays, Week 8

    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 >>

    On DraftKings, the presence of Ehlinger combines with the low ceilings of most of the QBs within $1500 of him to create a very interesting and unique dynamic. By “interesting and unique,” I mean this is a setup we run into maybe once every handful of years, and it’s a setup we have to properly think through strategically in order to ensure that regardless of how we build (with Ehlinger, without Ehlinger), we are building in a +EV manner.

    We have eight games implied to score under 45 points, with only three games above that mark. As we often talk about, Over/Unders are not all created equal, as some games have a broader range of potential outcomes on either side of a game total than others; but generally speaking, it’s not unlikely that all of these low-total games finish under 50 combined points…and it’s not unlikely that two of the other three games also finish under 50 combined points. This could set up a situation in which one game going for just 60 to 65 makes it “the game you had to have.”

    We’re also missing most of the high-priced QBs, several of the top WRs, and both of the top TEs, while this slate gives us lower price tags than we used to see on CMC, Jonathan Taylor, and Alvin Kamara, alongside a lot of other really strong, largely-underpriced running back plays.

    Xandamere >>

    We’re missing SO many good teams! As a result, we have one game with a total over 50, two more in the high 40s, and that’s it for high total games to target. Missing a lot of key top players and a plethora of viable value options (especially at tight end with no Andrews/Kelce on the slate and at QB with Ehlinger) means that salaries feel exceptionally loose this week. To me, these types of weeks are really interesting, because it means we can identify with a high degree of accuracy how most of the field is likely to build, so we can decide how to smartly differentiate with a high degree of accuracy. 

    Hilow >>

    The quarterback position presents two unique decision points in our roster building journey this week, with quarterback shaping up as “pay up for the perceived safety of Hurts or all the way down to the min-priced Ehlinger” and with tight end a case of “George Kittle then everyone else.” This slate also has more viable running back options than any other main slate this season, which should be fun to navigate for the deeper thinkers. That makes this particular slate one of the more unique slates we’ve seen this season!


    2. Decisions, decisions

    The Question ::

    This week it seems like there are more viable running backs who are very talented and/or in great spots than I can ever remember on one slate::

    • CMC in the best offense he’s ever been a part of in his first week with a full role.
    • Derrick Henry in an absolute smash spot.
    • Saquon Barkley in a great matchup.
    • Jonathan Taylor in a potential “new look” offense at a “low for him” price and low ownership.
    • Dalvin Cook coming off a bye and his biggest workload of the season.
    • Josh Jacobs is still underpriced for his elite workload and production.
    • Alvin Kamara with an elite workload and passing game role at home and with TD regression likely waiting for him.
    • D’Andre Swift is fully practicing and plays in the game with the highest over/under of the week.
    • Miles Sanders as a big home favorite.
    • Kenneth Walker is smashing everyone and is playing at home against the 32nd ranked run defense.
    • Rhamondre Stevenson faces the Jets and appears to have taken control of the Patriots backfield.
    • Dameon Pierce is basically a lock for 20+ carries.
    • Tony Pollard in a workhorse role as a 10-point home favorite against a poor run defense.
    • Michael Carter without Breece Hall.
    • D’Onta Foreman as a workhorse with Chuba Hubbard out. 

    Those are 15 running backs who all have very justifiable cases to be made for them to have a very good game this week, and there’s almost certainly some I’ve left out and still time for late week news to creep in. While it is difficult in situations like this, we know we can’t play them all and failing to make a stand basically guarantees a losing week. How will you sort through all of these options and weed out the RBs you will be playing this week?

    The Answers ::

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    Sunday Crunch

    Sunday Crunch is an Inner Circle feature that can be found late on Saturday nights and non-IC members can receive a chunk of the content each week. Mike also posts updated thoughts to Discord on Sunday mornings for Inner Circle members.

    Run CMC::

    When we enter Week 8 of the NFL season, we generally have a very good idea of what every NFL offense will look like and how usage will look. The San Francisco 49ers this week, however, present a very unique situation. Christian McCaffrey is the highest floor/ceiling RB of this generation and is now on a very good offense with a great play caller/designer. There is a broad range of viable RB options this week that will keep CMC’s ownership subdued and Deebo Samuel has been ruled out, which raises our expectations of CMC’s role this week. This is a player who we know has a “had to have it” ceiling and who will almost certainly come in at single-digit ownership (and a price tag well below his peak). This comment is not directed at any one specific person, but in the fantasy football industry, there are a lot of people giving advice who have a very limited track record of success and/or are not putting much on the line in regard to the plays they recommend. I can guarantee you that if CMC fails this week, I will be right there with you if the parachute doesn’t open.

    The Adams Family::

    Davante Adams is still one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. While he is priced above Josh Jacobs and has been outproduced by him this season, Adams still has an elite ceiling and is likely to garner single-digit ownership this season. A 30-point game by Adams would not be shocking at all and with most of the field looking to use salary at running back, Adams provides leverage within his own team as well as from a roster construction perspective.

    (Yes, I know…..super crazy of me to suggest CMC and Davante Adams – the top 2 players in fantasy less than a year ago. Just a great example of recency bias among the fantasy football community as both of these players are in great spots at low ownership and have a very high chance of being parts of the slate you had to get right.)

    Getting Defensive::

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    Afternoon-Only

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

    Finding an Edge

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

    Ownership Strategy

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

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

    QB STRATEGY

    Quarterback on the Afternoon slate is especially interesting this week with no premium QB options and only one QB who projects for double-digit ownership on the main slate. Sam Ehlinger is the aforementioned QB, but his Draftkings price is $5,000 on the late slate rather than the $4,000 they have him at on the main slate. This brings his “value” back to the pack and introduces a lot of variables. That being said, here’s how I expect things to shake out:

    • Daniel Jones, Malik Willis, Geno Smith, and Ehlinger will all have relatively similar ownership across the board, likely in that order. None should have overly high ownership, but those four should cumulatively take up 70%+ of the QB roster spots.
    • Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford, and Davis Mills will all come in with 5-10% ownership.
    • Taylor Heinicke will be sub-2%
    Defense Strategy
    • Washington and San Francisco will likely be the “chalky” defenses as they are both top-3 in projected ownership on the main slate and relatively inexpensive. Washington could really get up there with fewer people playing Ehlinger as well.
    • Paying up for the Titans or Colts defense will be relatively unique and seems like the optimal approach given the ownership discount and the fact that those defenses are very good and have relatively high ceilings.
    • The Seahawks and Giants defenses are also interesting, with the game featuring QBs who have played well this year but have had very bad games at times in their careers. That game should also have a lot of QB and skill player ownership, which will keep much of the field away from playing the defenses.

    HOW I’M APPROACHING EACH GAME

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

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