Thursday, Sep 5th
Monday, Sep 9th

The Scroll Week 9



    The DFS Slate

    (In One Central Space)

    Meet The Team


    Angles hits inboxes on Thursday mornings throughout the regular season; you can also find Angles in The Scroll on Thursday afternoons.

    OWS Fam!

    Welcome to a unique Week 9, with only 10 games on the Main Slate, and with a long list of top QBs missing in action. 

    Players on Bye include Jared Goff, Trevor Lawrence, and Brock Purdy, while all of Tua Tagovailoa, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, and Justin Herbert are playing off the Main Slate.

    As if that weren’t enough, injuries have wrecked the quarterback position this year, with Kirk Cousins, Justin Fields, Matthew Stafford, Anthony Richardson, and (presumably) Deshaun Watson missing in action for their teams. Add in the benchings of Jimmy Garoppolo and Desmond Ridder, and this slate could provide us with as many as eight backup quarterbacks, as well as Mac Jones and Daniel Jones, and a long list of non-elite guys in Derek Carr, Sam Howell, Jordan Love, Baker Mayfield, and Bryce Young. Assuming Watson and Stafford both fail to play this week, the remaining quarterbacks are:

    C.J. Stroud
    Geno Smith
    Lamar Jackson
    Dak Prescott
    Jalen Hurts

    Interestingly, the second and third names on that list are playing against one another this week, as are the fourth and fifth names on that list…

    …all of which goes a long way toward defining the potential shape of this slate.

    The only teams on this slate implied to top 22 points are:

    Baltimore (25.0)
    Philadelphia (25.0)
    New Orleans (24.75)
    Indianapolis (23.25)
    Cleveland (22.75)

    In fact, there are as many teams implied to score under 18 points(!) as there are teams implied to top 22. For fun, the teams on that list are:

    New York Giants (17.75)
    Los Angeles Rams (17.75)
    Minnesota (16.25)
    Chicago (16.25)
    Arizona (14.75)

    This slate features eight of the bottom nine teams in offensive DVOA, and 13 of the bottom 16, with only seven teams from the top half of the league represented. Two of those teams (Minnesota and the Rams) are dealing with injuries to their quarterbacks. The remaining five teams (Houston, Indy, Philly, Seattle, and Baltimore) all have matchups against teams that rank in the top 15 in defensive DVOA, with three squaring off against opponents that rank in the top 8.

    All of this should create a setup that generally suppresses offensive production, but perhaps more importantly, all of this could serve to squeeze the slate together, where lesser offenses in better matchups might be able to compete — from a “bang for your buck” standpoint — with better offenses in tougher matchups, creating something of a potentially wide-open slate.

    Typically, we have a lengthier slate breakdown than this, but this small, unique slate lends itself to a small, unique bird’s eye view.

    What to watch for this week:

    > The players who can break away from the pack
    > The offenses that can break away from the pack
    > The games that can break away from the pack

    That does it for this week.

    I’ll see you at the top of the leaderboards in Week 9!

    The Workbook

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    Around The Industry

    Introduced in 2023, ‘Around The Industry’ provides a snapshot of sentiments from respected voices in the DFS and fantasy spaces.

    NOTE 1: Contributors’ scores are tallied each week, with a cash prize going to the leader at the end of the season

    NOTE 2: Full-PPR scoring

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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


    Beyond the fact that we have a relatively short slate with low game totals (half of the games on the slate carry a game total of 40 points or fewer this week), this is only the second slate in the previous five weeks that has projectable value (low cost players that carry a solid median projection at cost), meaning we are likely to see a large portion of the field cramming in as much top-end salaried players as possible and filling in the gaps with the perceived value. As we’ll cover shortly, ownership expectations support this claim. Furthermore, the perceived value chalk pieces are all comparatively fragile if we put them side-by-side with chalk value from earlier in the season. On that note, I want to take a second to be as clear as possible in support of that statement. If we played out this slate 100 times, guys like Demario Douglas and Devin Singletary would be found on winning rosters and/or optimal rosters for this week at a rate much lower than their respective ownership levels (we can even add in guys like Terry McLaurin, Rachaad White, Chuba Hubbard, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Wan’Dale Robinson to that list, all of whom are expected to garner 10 percent ownership or more as perceived value pieces).


    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. From my DFS+ writeup of this game:

    “While the Bears present a solid matchup for Alvin Kamara through the air, his two outlier aerial production games came with the Saints playing from behind for most of the game (14 targets in the loss to the Jaguars in Week 7 and 14 targets in the loss to the Buccaneers in Week 4). His target totals in wins and close losses this season are five, eight, and three, with the two games of five or fewer targets coming in the two New Orleans wins during the previous five weeks. The Saints are currently installed as 8.5-point favorites against the Bears. All of that to say, we should expect a likeliest scenario of 17-20 carries and three to five targets for Kamara in this spot, in a matchup that is more difficult than public perception. That’s a tough sell for me at $8,100.”


    EXPANSIVE CHALK. Demario Douglas is a 5’8” slot wide receiver who runs a 4.44 40-yard dash. His 13 targets over the previous two weeks are solid, but the absence of Kendrick Bourne is highly unlikely to drastically increase a snap rate that was already 62 percent and 77 percent the previous two weeks on an offense that typically lands around 60 percent 12-personnel utilization in games they are able to play to neutral-to-positive game script. Highly unlikely to sink your roster at $4,000 but equally as unlikely to contribute to a GPP-winning roster.


    EXPANSIVE CHALK. The Texans have utilized a split backfield for the entirety of the 2023 season, with the highest snap rate for a back in a single game this season landing at 59 percent. Furthermore, the three backs that have been active on game days have all seen offensive snaps for the Texans this season, including Mike Boone and Dare Ogunbowale. All of that to say, I find it highly unlikely that Devin Singletary is tasked with more than 60 percent of the offensive snaps in a pass-funnel matchup for a team that has fed its lead back more than a modest 18 running back opportunities just twice this season.


    RESTRICTIVE CHALK. I dig leveraging the uncertainty with Jacobs this week . . . at moderate ownership. The goods – Jacobs saw 11 targets in rookie quarterback Aidan O’Connell’s only start this season, a 24-17 loss to the Chargers, Jacobs ranks third in the league in opportunity share, third in carries, and second in targets at the running back position, and the Giants have allowed 23.8 DK points per game to opposing backs. The bads – the Raiders remain the only team in the NFL to score 21 points or fewer in every game this season, Las Vegas ranks 25th in red zone scoring rate at 44.0 percent, and the Giants have held the Jets, Commanders, and Bills to just 11.33 points per game over their previous three outings.


    NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. A little tidbit from Mike Johnson in a text last night: “Tyler Allgeier opportunity counts in Falcons wins: 24, 18, 16, 18.” The Falcons are currently 3.5-point favorites against a Minnesota team led by rookie quarterback Jaren Hall. Another way to read that is that Bijan Robinson has seen more than 16 running back opportunities in just three of eight games this season.


    RESTRICTIVE CHALK. I get it, we have to spend our salary somewhere this week and Barkley is coming off the highest single-game usage of any running back over the previous decade (36 carries and 35.7 percent team target market share). Even so, Saquon Barkley averages 17.8 DK points per game on 22 carries and five targets per game this season. In other words, Barkley is not exactly setting the world on fire with his robust opportunity this year.

    A.J. BROWN

    RESTRICTIVE CHALK. A.J. Brown boasts a 39.2 percent targets per route run rate against man coverage this season, including a league-leading 0.95 fantasy points per route run against that primary coverage alignment. The Cowboys are in man coverage at the fourth highest rate in the league (34.9 percent). He also just set an NFL record for six consecutive games of 125 yards receiving or more last week.


    NEITHER RESTRICTIVE NOR EXPANSIVE CHALK. Head coach Shane Steichen has largely made good on his promise to bring Jonathan Taylor along slowly over the course of a month following his return to the team after continuing to deal with an ankle injury into the season. Taylor’s snap rate has increased in each subsequent game, from 15 percent to 42 percent, to 50 percent, to 61 percent in Week 8. The Panthers rank 31st in DK points allowed per game to opposing backs at 32.6, having allowed 4.7 yards per carry and 14 rushing scores this year.


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    JM’s Player Grid

    JMToWin is a high-stakes tournament champion (Thunderdome, Luxury Box, Game Changer, Wildcat, King of the Hill/Beach, Spy, etc.) who focuses on the DraftKings Main Slate

    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

    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 (on the One Week Season podcast feed).

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

    Dak Prescott
    D’Andre Swift
    Jonathan Taylor
    Noah Brown
    Chris Olave
    Brandin Cooks
    Dallas Goedert
    Michael Gallup

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    Sunday Morning Update

    There is both more to update than normal and less to update than normal this week.

    There is more to update than normal in that I have a few players in my pool who weren’t in the Player Grid initially.

    There is less to update than normal in that I probably won’t have a completely clear picture of what my builds are going to look like this week until much closer to kickoff. This week, I’m going to keep building sets of rosters in the Bink Machine, saving ones that I like, building new sets of rosters, and so on, until I have a full set of rosters I like.

    But as far as I can tell right now, here’s how things will look on my end:

    At QB, I’m on track for nearly half my pool to be dedicated to the Dallas // Philly game (with a bit more Dak than Hurts, but obviously plenty of both). Carr is on track to be my next highest-owned QB, followed by Mac Jones, followed by Watson and Mayfield, followed by a bit of Jaren Hall.

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    Blue Chips


    The matchup against the Bears is interesting, as most of our competition will see “home against the Bears” and think, “soft matchup!” In reality, the Bears rank 10th in DVOA against the run, and 31st in DVOA against the pass, which has led to teams throwing the ball in this matchup at the seventh highest rate in the league (in spite of teams typically playing from in front against the Bears). If Kamara were uninvolved in the passing attack, this would be a massive trap for the DFS field, and we would be able to exploit it by staying away.

    As things stand, however, this is more a note of “something interesting” than “something actionable,” as the Bears not only face a high opponent pass play rate, but also rank 30th in DVOA against running backs through the air. Kamara leads the NFL in expected fantasy points per game (in PFF’s expected fantasy points per game, his mark of 25.4 is 4.0 points better than the guy who ranks second, in Ja’Marr Chase, and only two other players in the NFL are averaging more than 20 expected fantasy points per game), and in terms of pre-touchdown PPR production, Kamara is miles ahead of all other running backs on this slate (he’s averaging 18.8 pre-touchdown PPR points per game; the next highest running back on this slate is D’Andre Swift, who is averaging 13.9 pre-TD PPR points per game if we remove his Week 1, pre-lead-role game).

    Does any of this guarantee that Kamara hits? Absolutely not. But all of this guarantees he has the best shot of any running back on this slate, by quite a large stretch.

    “Light Blue” Chips

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    Building Blocks

    Run It Oddly, 1
    Baker + Rachaad

    “The Bucs have a solid game”

    Why It Works:

    From my DFS Interpretations for this game:

    • The Texans have yet to allow a wide receiver to crack 100 yards this year, and the Jets are the only team that has allowed fewer touchdown to the position, so Evans/Godwin don’t particularly stand out by the numbers…
    • …Mayfield + Rachaad have combined for a 160- to 195-point pace in four of their last six games, while the Texans rank 32nd in DVOA against running backs through the air.

    If Mayfield has a tourney-viable game in this one, it’s actually White who is likeliest to be the optimal stacking partner. Add in the fact that most people won’t play this game in this way, and we have a really nice setup.

    How It Works:

    This setup doesn’t have enough raw ceiling to be “all you needed to have in order to win a tourney,” but it’s a nice floor-starter for a roster, and it has enough paths to the upside to potentially be a nice little separator as well.


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

    Run it Oddly, 2

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    Bink Machine

    A look at some of the rules I’ll be applying in the Bink Machine this week.

    NOTE ::

    Because of the unique shape of this week, my strategy is going to come together deeper into the week than normal. As such, I don’t have any rules I want to highlight just yet — but as always, Bink Machine users will be able to download my entire list of Player Groups on Sunday morning, and Bink Machine users AND Inner Circle members will be able to hear my breakdown of these Player Groups on the Bink Machine page. (All of this is typically live no later than 8 AM Eastern on Sunday mornings.)


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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 ::

    Lamar || Geno || Dak || Hurts || Watson || Baker || Stroud || Carr || Mac

    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 Checking The Boxes course. 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 ::

    Tier 1
    • Jonathan Taylor – The Panthers run defense has been absolutely abysmal. They technically had their best performance of the year last week but that was largely due to the Texans being completely incapable of running the ball. The Colts have a very good offensive line and rank 4th in rushing offense DVOA, while Taylor is immensely talented. If you’re worried about his workload split with Zack Moss then you should probably play Moss because someone is likely to have a huge day here.
    • D’Andre Swift – The lead runner on a top-3 offense, Swift can get it done in multiple ways. His weighted opportunity counts over the last four games are 22, 21, 38, and 29. The Eagles appear to be limiting Jalen Hurts running the ball a bit, which also raises Swift’s floor and ceiling.
    • Aaron Jones – The Packers offense needs a spark, desperately, and according to his coach Jones is “ready to be cut loose”. After weighted opportunity (carries + 2*targets) counts of 17 and 18 the last two weeks, Jones could easily get in the 25 range this week in a great matchup at low ownership.
    • Bijan Robinson – Simply too talented for his price tag. I believe he will have a breakout game soon and this week the Falcons are without Drake London and facing a team without their quarterback.
    tier 2
    • Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, and Josh Jacobs – All of these guys rate out extremely well in my “Checking the Boxes” process. Kamara and Barkley are likely to lead the slate in opportunities and Jacobs could also return to a massive role this week. All three are also in above-average to great matchups. Really the only reason I don’t have these three listed in “Tier 1” is because of their respective price tags. If you’re building a lineup that has the salary to spend up at running back, then these guys are all equal to or above the guys listed in the first tier.

    Salary Savers

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    Papy’s Pieces

    Papy is a full-time DFS player, with a focus on high-stakes tourneys, and with hundreds of thousands in lifetime profit

    The Board
    • This week is tough. I’m not sure I’ve seen a slate with so many low total games. A whopping seven games have totals below 42.
    • The Seahawks // Ravens and Colts // Panthers are next, with totals of only 44. That leaves just Cowboys // Eagles with a desirable total of 47. Cowboys // Eagles is also projected to be competitive with the home team installed as modest three-point favorites.
    • The low total plague is largely being caused by a swath of backup QBs who are expected to start this week.
    • Saquon Barkley is the only player on the slate who can confidentiality be projected to see over 80% of his team’s RB snaps.
    • Only Alvin Kamara // Josh Jacobs // Deandre Swift can be projected to handle 70% of their team’s RB snaps, and all of them have paths to being 60% snap rate players. 
    • Outside of guys playing in the top game environment (Cowboys // Eagles) all of the high priced WRs have question marks
    • TE is the thinnest it’s been all season
    Pawn – WR Jonathan Mingo ($3,400)

    Mingo gets the Colts who have created explosive game environments all year. They’ve given up the sixth most yards to WRs, and the favorable matchup is why a large portion of the field is expected to pay up for Adam Thielen ($7,500). There is no question Thielen has been the alpha on this offense with a 35% target share, but last week was Thomas Brown’s first game as the Panthers play caller and it was clear coming out of the bye that he wanted to get Mingo more involved. Mingo played 99% of the snaps in Week 8 and had his highest yardage total of the season. With Theilen expected to be expensive chalk, and the field flocking to the Patriots WRs for salary relief, Mingo offers low owned leverage if this week is his coming out party.

    Knight – QB Mac Jones ($4,900)

    Mac isn’t currently projected to be popular, which is surprising, because his WRs, especially Demario Douglas, are all projected to be used as salary relief. I suspect that Mac’s ownership might creep up, but as long as it stays reasonable, he’s a strong value play. Priced like a backup, at home, against a defense that just traded away two of its best pass rushers, it’s not hard to see Jones having one of his best games. He showed his upside in Week 1 when he dropped 28 DK points on the Eagles, and he could break 20 DK points for the second time against the Commanders.

    Honorable mention – WR Christian Watson ($4,900)

    How many times am I going to let Christian Watson burn me? At least one more. Watson has played the most snaps of any Packers WR in the past two weeks and is a WR1 priced like a WR3. Watson saw three end zone targets last week, and we all saw what he could do with that type of usage at the end of last season. Jordan Love has been much better when not under pressure and remains aggressive with the deepest intended air yards per attempt in the league. The Rams have a weak pass rush and invite deep passing having faced the 5th deepest aDOT in the league. Watson is eventually going to hit for a monster game, at a massive discount, at no ownership. I refuse to miss out when it happens.

    Bishop – TE T.J Hockenson ($5,200)

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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


    Willing To Lose

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

    We’ve preached in this space and others before about the different stages of a DFS player. Concisely, we have the play all the good plays stage, then the play the good plays but account for ownership, then the play only the low owned plays, and ultimately more mature stages of blending together your own building styles, with anticipating others’ builds, and mastering contest selection. Since you subscribe to OWS, it’s likely you fall into this last category. But if we’re all in a mature stage of DFS play, then how can we navigate the DFS waters to consistently win? In a simple answer, by embracing the Goldilocks Principle.

    If you’re a loyal reader of Willing to Lose, then you’ve read this here before but the story of Goldilocks and the Three Little Bears goes back to the mid-19th century. The Goldilocks Principle refers to finding the bowl of porridge that is just the right temperature to eat. The little girl (Goldilocks) finds the right bowl only after trying other bowls that are either too hot or too cold. It’s a classic case of trial and error, that in my opinion has just about the same level of application in life as some other principles or proverbial sayings such as the 80/20 Rule (Pareto Principle) or “Everything in moderation, even moderation.”

    Week 9 overview

    To illustrate how the Goldilocks Principle can come into play as a DFS player, think through how you’ve progressed through these DFS stages in your journey, and identify how your mind would build rosters on any given slate. Since you came here to read about Week 9’s Sunday Main Slate, let’s apply these labels to help us see how this all shapes up:

    • Too Hot Approach: Playing the chalk, including loading up on the Eagles and Cowboys game with the highest total, and assuming past performance will dictate future outcomes.
    • Too Cold Approach: Team stacking or game stacking a low total team or matchup, like the Commanders // Patriots, or going heavy on sub-20 point total offenses. Building based too much on ownership alone (embracing all low-owned plays) and fading too many smash matchups.
    • Just Right: A mix of hot and cold approaches. Embracing some chalk, like always, but leaning into low-owned players in positive matchups. Identifying games that fit into the not-quite-the-best, but sneaky-good category for potential shootouts. Blending it all together to build a roster masterpiece.

    Welcome to Week 9, where we will strive to build those rosters just right…

    Lamar + Bateman + Andrews + Metcalf (+ Walker)

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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 9 Topics

    1. Lonely At The Top

    2. Chasing Waterfalls

    3. Mid-Season Review

    4. Floating Plays

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

    1. Lonely At The Top

    The Question ::

    There are only 10 games on this week’s slate, a stark contrast from last week when there were 13 games and most of the league’s elite teams were playing. This week, the 49ers, Jaguars, and Lions are all on bye while the Chiefs, Dolphins, Bengals, Bills, and Chargers are all playing in “island” games and therefore are not on the main slate. DFS sites have not really adjusted prices to reflect this, which results in an extremely unique and interesting setup from a salary perspective. Take into account the following comparisons between the Week 8 and Week 9 Draftkings pools of available players and their associated salaries::

    WEEK 8:

    • 17 flex (RB/WR/TE) players with salaries of $7,000 or higher
    • 7 flex players with salaries of $8,000 or higher
    • 3 flex players with salaries of $9,000 or higher

    WEEK 9:

    • 12 flex (RB/WR/TE) players with salaries of $7,000 or higher
    • 5 flex players with salaries of $8,000 or higher
    • 0 flex players with salaries of $9,000 or higher

    WEEK 8:

    • 6 QB’s with salaries over $6,500
    • 11 QB’s with salaries over $5,800

    WEEK 9:

    • 2 QB’s with salaries over $6,500 (Hurts at $8,000 and Lamar at $8,200)
    • 5 QB’s with salaries over $5,800

    With far less options available at the top of the salary structure, do you think that more lineups are built with a “balanced” construction? 

    Also, how does this affect your approach in regards to a “raw points” perspective – with there being fewer expensive players available on the slate and therefore the top individual raw scores become more valuable regardless of their “salary multiplier”?

    The Answers ::
    JM >>

    This is a great question. In my opinion, most people don’t zoom out and look at stuff like this enough, which leads to most people building for this slate as if it’s the same as any other slate. If roughly the same number of DFS players were to attack this slate with a “carve out salary to pay up in a couple spots” approach, we would end up seeing the same TOTAL ownership of high-priced players, concentrated on far fewer options. This would lead to artificially high ownership on high-priced players — “artificial” in that these high-priced players might not be drawing such high ownership if they were in this same matchup/setup on a different slate. This becomes especially interesting when we recognize that high-priced players are high-priced for a reason. They tend to have the highest levels of usage on their teams, and tend to have enough talent to break out for big games even in difficult matchups. With this, there would still be potential for one or more of these “artificially” high-owned players to nevertheless end up being “the player you had to have” this weekend, which means we can’t necessarily assume that “simply building a different way” is guaranteed to be the most profitable way to attack this slate.

    Which brings me to the second (equally great) question.

    I’ve noted a few times this week that it makes sense to be less salary-conscious than normal this week, but this pair of questions really illuminates why this is the case. If we’re being too salary-conscious, we could end up flocking to popular cheap guys who are popular NOT for their raw ceiling, but for their ability to produce a solid price-considered score…only for these savings to allow us to pay up for guys we might not be paying up for if they were in the same matchup/setup on a different slate. On the other hand, if we become a little less salary-conscious this week, we can put together rosters that are automatically unique (with some guys who are low-owned not because they are bad plays, but because they are “priced higher than the field would like”), while also giving ourselves clearer paths to a high raw score.

    Xandamere >>

    For me, it makes me shy away from cheap value options (specifically, standalone value pieces outside of game stacks). Generally speaking, the reason we play cheap value plays is in the hope they put up a good score for their salary (say, 12-15 points) while allowing us to afford to shove more studs into our lineups. But, on a slate where there just aren’t as many high-priced stud options (and many of them are in difficult matchups), it’s less likely we’ll see the stars-and-scrubs construction being optimal. 

    Weeks with a bunch of lower-total games also make me want to lean more into game stacks. As Hilow and I have talked about, when overall scoring is down, the value of having one game environment right is even larger because it’s less likely that other games will match it. While it is of course possible that more than 1 game could go nuts this week and result in 55+ points being scored, it’s less likely than on a slate with multiple higher-total games to choose from, so the overstack principle is very firmly in play.

    Hilow >>

    This is a super interesting question in the context of this slate, with a couple competing trends pulling the field in both directions. On one hand, we don’t have many options to pay up for this week. On the other hand, we have “projectable value,” or value with solid median projections, for the first time in a month. I see that as likely to lead to additional ownership on the top two quarterbacks and the handful of players that are priced above $7,000, which we’re seeing through early ownership expectations so far. More on this unique aspect of the slate in the End Around!

    Mike >>

    The most interesting part of this to me is how we’ve heard all week people talking about how “ugly” this slate is and the low team/game totals, but the reality of it is that the player pricing outlined above shows us why – that doesn’t really matter. What I mean by that is all the players and teams are priced appropriately for their expectations. It would be a different story if Draftkings had jacked up the prices of players to reflect how they compare to the slate, rather than their own performance. For instance, Dak Prescott is the QB3 in Draftkings pricing this week and his salary is $6,500 – which is $1,500 less than Jalen Hurts, who is the QB2. If Draftkings had adjusted things and made Dak $7,400 to cut into that gap, then it would be a bigger deal. This is just one example but can be made at basically every position….it’s not really “ugly” if you’re not being asked to pay more for something than you usually would. You’re just getting a smaller menu of the top options. The biggest thing I take away from this is not anything about how to approach this week, but rather a lesson we should keep in mind for future weeks…..this week AJ Brown and Ceedee Lamb will be very popular options despite price increases. Sure, they are coming off big games, but the “field” is mostly past that “recency bias” mindset and their high ownership is more about their solid setups and the lack of other options around them. If you take a step back, though, their situations really weren’t that different last week. Both had team totals near the top of the slate and both were playing relatively weak pass defenses. Brown was somewhat popular, but Lamb was like 5% owned in almost every contest. Both will be at or above 20% this week. It’s just an interesting thought study in not getting lost in the entirety of a slate and thinking about the fact that “if this slate was setup slightly different, this guy would be 20% owned – so why am I not playing him when everyone is off him for reasons that have nothing to do with his ceiling?”

    2. Chasing Waterfalls

    The Question ::

    This is once again a very barren main slate with only one game having an over/under of at least 45 and seven of the 10 games having an over/under of 41 or below. Those seven games that range in totals from 37 to 41 are::

    • MIN // ATL
    • ARI // CLE
    • LAR // GB
    • TB // HOU
    • WAS // NE
    • CHI // NO
    • NYG // LVR

    From that list, which game do you think has the greatest chance of popping off for a surprising shootout and why?

    The Answers ::

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    Thanks for hanging out with us in The Oracle this week

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


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


    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. The biggest win of my career came on an “Afternoon Only” slate in January of 2021, and I hope to share some of my insights on the format to help you attack this niche corner of NFL DFS.

    This Week’s Slate
    • Only 10 games on the Main Slate, and the Afternoon Only slate is only three games this week – so chalk will be much heavier and lineups are going to congregate in a big way. Basically, don’t look at your “currently winning” for the Afternoon slate until the 4th quarter because every score, catch, turnover, etc. is going to shift the leaderboards dramatically.
    • I would once again like to suggest the strategy of making “Afternoon Only” lineups and putting them in the Main Slate. This week’s afternoon slate features the premium game from the main slate (DAL at PHI), the Colts game which has been a source of huge fantasy scores the last few weeks, and an NYG at LVR game that features two teams with some star power and full-time guys at low salaries in an underrated matchup.
    • Josh Downs is probably the biggest potential injury situation we should be aware of. He popped up on the injury report Thursday with a groin issue. If he were to miss this game, Alec Pierce and the Colts tight ends gain some intrigue as ways to differentiate.
    • Zack Moss is probably the best play on the slate from a GPP perspective. All six of the “starting” running backs will be 25% owned or more, so there’s not a lot of leverage to gain at the position anywhere else. The Colts running game has an incredible matchup and Moss has had some huge games this year. It’s within his range of possibilities to lead the slate in RB scoring at single-digit ownership, while also freeing up salary to get higher priced wide receivers. Check out my Player Grid for thoughts on why I also think it is viable to play Moss with Jonathan Taylor.
    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 a main slate. There are fewer alternatives to choose from so if they have a big game and you aren’t on them it is much harder to find other ways to make up those points.
    • This also means it is easier for lower owned players to pay off, as there are fewer players at their position that they need to have “fail” for them to be worth the risk.
    • Correlation is even more important than on the main slate because the useful fantasy games that pay off for the slate are likely to be clumped up from the same games. I always make lineups with a game stack (QB + at least one pass catcher + at least one opponent) and then one or two “mini-correlations” from other games.
    QB Strategy

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    Late Swap

    StatATL has a math degree and a background as a financial analyst, and has blended an analytical, numbers-driven approach with an “OWS mindset” to rack up over $100,000 in lifetime DFS profit while maintaining low weekly buy-ins

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

    Outlook – Late Games:

    After 13 games on the last main slate, Week 9 offers us a small 10 game slate, with only one game with an implied point total over 44. This feels a lot like Week 7, a slate viewed as “gross” by the field and tournament winning scores in the low 200s. As always, chalk is forming, and it’s mainly focused on the RB position, with 8 backs currently projecting for 20% or more ownership. In terms of roster construction, this likely means we’ll see a lot more 3 RB builds this week than usual. In a week with very few comfortable plays, the field is scrambling to find “feel good” options. We’ll discuss below how we can utilize that knowledge to our advantage as there are 3 games in the late window this week, including two of the three best on-paper game environments.

    Important Early Outcomes to Watch:
    • Alvin Kamara, Rhamondre Stevenson, Rachaad White and Bijan Robinson – Projection models have these RBs as some of the best on paper plays at the position, and as such, each is likely to garner around 20% ownership. Add in Josh Jacobs, Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley, and Jonathan Taylor from the late games, and a vast majority of the field (probably close to 80%) will be rostering two or more of these eight RBs.
    • Seahawks at Ravens – The 2nd highest game total on the slate at 44, I expect ownership on the skill position players (Lamar, Walker, Andrews, Lockett, Metcalf, Zay Flowers, and Gus Edwards) to come in higher than currently projected. If Mark Andrews goes for 30 DK points, the only TE in the late window that realistically can match that output is Dallas Goedert.  
    • Demario Douglas – Currently projecting as the highest owned WR. I know that Kendrick Bourne is on IR and DeVante Parker has been ruled out with a concussion, but 20% ownership on a 5’8 rookie with 19 career receptions and a high of 11.4 DK points just feels insane. However, if he goes for 20+, you’ll need to account for his score.
    • Patriots DST – The field is loving their Pats this week as New England projects for 50% more ownership than the second-highest owned DST unit.Slate Breakers, such as Ja’Marr Chase’s 55.2 DK point performance in Week 5 or CeeDee Lamb’s 44 points last week.
    Price Range Breakdowns (Late Games):

    $7,100 and up:

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    Battle Royale

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

    Welcome to Week 9!

    If you are new to this contest or just want to get a bigger picture of the first two years of the contest, here is my review of the top Battle Royale rosters in 2021 and 2022.

    For this week, I’ll be hitting on some of my thoughts on each position and updating some trending stats. Let’s get started!

    Looking at Week 9

    Flip flopping back to a week similar to Week 7, we are missing a ton of the elite QBs/offenses on this slate. Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurts will likely go very early as the clear top-level guys but this also makes it a great week to scroll down and look for overlooked QBs and skill players who wouldn’t normally catch your attention on weeks with all the best offenses available.


    Notable QBs missing from the slate: Patrick Mahomes, Tua Tagovailoa, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, Jared Goff;

    Hurt: Kirk Cousins, Matthew Stafford, Deshaun Watson, Justin Fields

    Top 6 QBs by ADP: Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, Sam Howell, CJ Stroud


    • Derek Carr vs CHI: Offense finally showed some life last week vs IND and now gets a home dome matchup with a defense that just struggled mightily with Herbert’s Chargers. Chicago’s defense isn’t bad but will presumably face the same struggles with AK as they did with Ekeler, and Carr has several weapons to beat their average secondary with. A drop and a couple of missed throws were the difference between a better score for Carr and Olave last week, but this is another spot to bet on the TDs concentrating on Carr and the passing offense. This slate is pretty starved for QBs, so a Carr stack with Olave and/or Kamara has as much juice as anything else on this slate.
    • Mac Jones vs WAS: I felt better about this one prior to Kendrick Bourne tearing his ACL, given that Jones has so few legitimate NFL weapons to throw to. But, WAS pass defense has really struggled, and he still has a couple big bodied TEs that can take advantage, as well as an RB that he can be stacked with considering Stevenson’s pass game role. Jones has shown that on the rare week, he has the ability to put up a strong score, and on a week lacking options at QB, this would be a week he’s worth the risk in the last round.
    • CJ Stroud vs TB: A couple of down weeks have pushed his stock down, but this is a nice time to jump back on board in a matchup that generally forces an uptick in pass attempts. TB is a solid Bowles-led defense that could force turnovers on the young rookie, but they are also prone to throws over the top which Stroud can take advantage of through Collins and Dell.
    • Gardner Minshew @ CAR: As JM has voiced, the Colts are going to have weeks they pop all year, so on a week lacking so much talent, Minshew and the Colts offense should be kept top of mind. All of the main Colts weapons are stackable with Minshew, and Thielen is the ideal runback as well.

    Notable RBs missing from this slate: Christian McCaffrey, Travis Etienne, Derrick Henry, Raheem Mostert, Isiah Pacheco, Austin Ekeler, Breece Hall, Joe Mixon, James Cook, David Montgomery, Jahmyr Gibbs, Javonte Williams

    This slate is pretty ugly at RB, with lots of guys missing and with a couple of either questionable roles or unideal matchups. Kamara being the 1.01 this week is shocking until you see the rest of who’s available. I think there is a clear tier break after Kamara, Saquon, and Taylor, but there are still some others at the back of drafts that carry some upside on a bleak week.


    • Colts RBs @ CAR: The workload split is still a little confusing, but the matchup is one of the best, and one of them could still put up a significant score despite both receiving usage. Again, the slate is so starved for talent that the workload split is not as worrisome as it might be on a different week. Taylor has been one of my top targets in drafts thus far.
    • Rachaad White @ HOU: The HOU defense forces you to play in front of them and take a lot of underneath throws, meaning White could continue to rack up catches here. There are some concerns with Edmonds back, but this game should stay competitive throughout and White is still looking like the clear top guy.
    • Rhamondre Stevenson vs WAS: NE’s pass-catching situation is looking pretty gross, which could potentially force some extra looks his way this week. This game environment/opponent sets up better for NE to have the ability to run more throughout the game. WAS has already given up a lot of points in 2023 and just shipped off two of their best defensive linemen for picks.
    • CLE RBs vs ARI: I’d probably save these guys for the barren Early Only slate or 12-person drafts, but a great matchup will likely lead to a nice slate-considered score for Ford or Hunt here. ARI looks to be starting Tune in his first game vs this tough CLE defense, so there should be plenty of opportunities to go around for these backs.

    Notable WRs missing from this slate: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Stefon Diggs, JaMarr Chase, Tee Higgins, Keenan Allen, Garrett Wilson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Calvin Ridley, Christian Kirk, Deandre Hopkins, Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Courtland Sutton

    As you can see above, this slate is down a significant amount of the familiar top WRs. Most of the guys drafted this week are players who went largely undrafted last week. The PHI-DAL environment is the most attractive to drafters on this slate given the QBs and top weapons on both being taken early, but this is definitely another slate to scroll down and look for guys being overlooked.


    • Chris Olave vs CHI: Continuing to take Olave feels like banging your head against a wall hoping for a different outcome, but he’s still every week just a couple of plays off from big days (bad throws or drops). In the dome at home against a below-average defense looks like another strong setup, especially on a week without so many top guys.
    • Nico Collins, Tank Dell vs TB: The Falcons are the only team to not have a 90+ yard WR against TB, and Collins and Dell have shown already this year their ability to burn a defense for 100-yard days. HOU should throw above their baseline expectation this week against this typical Bowles-led defense.
    • Chris Godwin @ HOU: HOU can be burned deep, as evidenced by Rashid Shaheed, but in general this matchup sets up much better for how Godwin is used than Evans. Godwin’s usage has been trending up and his overall metrics show a much healthier receiver than the guy last year returning from a torn ACL.
    • Adam Thielen vs IND: It still feels weird to see Thielen going so early in drafts, but the matchup sets up well for what he does for CAR, and if IND is able to score as expected against this CAR defense, Thielen sets up the best to benefit from elevated passing volume. Thielen has between 8-14 targets in every game after Week 1.
    • Michael Pittman, Josh Downs @ CAR: CAR has allowed 6 WR TDs in the last 4 weeks, and both of these IND WRs have benefited from Minshew at QB given his different skill set from ARich. Pittman has 5 games of 11-14 targets, and Downs has 4 games of 7-12 targets.
    • Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers vs NYG: Neither of these feels great after that abhorrent MNF performance from Garoppolo, but McDaniels has been fired, Adams is losing his mind to the media with the QB play, O’Connell might start, and the Giants defense, while improved of late, is still allowing solid WR production. Meyers takes a hit with O’Connell compared to how often Jimmy G looked his way this season, but Adams should get a target boost and was only a couple of awful throws away from a huge game vs DET. Adams would probably be a first round pick this week if those throws were better, so this is a discount I’m willing to jump on here given the talent available.

    Notable TEs missing from this slate: Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Evan Engram, Sam LaPorta, Dalton Kincaid

    TE is shaky this week with the main guys missing, and Hockenson losing his QB. Andrews-Lamar pairing will likely be increasingly harder to get as the week progresses. Hard to envision a separator score at the position this week from anyone (outside of maybe Andrews), so the main important thing to look for in the depths of the position this week is who has the best paths to getting in the endzone. 


    • David Njoku vs ARI: Njoku has seen 8 and 9 targets in the last two weeks.
    • Luke Musgrave vs LAR: Questionable role and offense, but the Rams have allowed 4 TE TDs in the last 5 weeks.
    • Kyle Pitts vs MIN: MIN has been a quickly improving defense throughout the year under Flores, but London is questionable and Heinicke could be a boost to the passing game.
    • Hunter Henry, Mike Gesicki vs WAS: NE just lost its best WR in an already weak and injured WR room. Both could get more looks as a result. Henry has already had several nice games this year and WAS has been easier to attack through the air.
    • Cole Kmet @ NOR: Just received 10 targets in Bagent’s second start.
    • Juwan Johnson vs CHI: This hasn’t worked out once this year, and on a fuller slate I wouldn’t even suggest it, but he’s shown in his career his ability around the endzone and he’s finally healthy again. CHI has allowed strong TE production this year, and Johnson is a guy Saints coaches have continuously raved about over the past couple of years. There are solid games for him to come.
    • Logan Thomas @ NE: He has 11, 1, 6, and 8 targets in his last four games.

    Underowned Combos:

    • Derek Carr + Alvin Kamara + (Chris Olave/Rashid Shaheed)
    • Mac Jones + Hunter Henry/Mike Gesicki
    • CJ Stroud + Tank Dell + Chris Godwin/Rachaad White
    • Gardner Minshew + Michael Pittman/Josh Downs + (1 RB) + Adam Thielen
    • Jalen Hurts + Devonta Smith + Jake Ferguson
    • Kareem Hunt/Jerome Ford + David Njoku

    Notable Stats

    These are some notable stats from rosters appearing in the top 5 of the contest so far this season.

    1st place performance:

    • 31 of the 44 teams had at least one flex player score 30+ half-PPR fantasy points
    • 20 of the 44 teams had all flex players score at least 20+ half-PPR fantasy points
    • 40 of the 44 teams had all flex players score at least 15+ half-PPR fantasy points

    Stacking and Correlation:

    • 24 of 44 had a QB paired with just one teammate
      • WR (18), TE (4), RB (2)
    • 7 of 44 had a QB stacked with two teammates
      • WR-RB (4), WR-WR (2), WR-TE (1)
    • 5 of those 31 QB stacks had a runback (Opposing player)
    • 43 of 44 had at least one game correlation
    • 13 of 44 had two different game correlations

    FLEX usage:

    • 149 of 220 top-5 rosters have had two RBs, meaning they chose RB at FLEX over WR and TE.
    • 70 of the other top 5 rosters all used WR at FLEX, meaning there’s only been one instance of double-TE to ever finish top-5 (2023 W7: Kelce/Andrews). 

    Hope this helps you get started with the contest and ship that first place! Good luck everyone!