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    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 ::

    • Kyren Williams – Williams has the best role and workload of any running back playing this weekend and is playing in the game with the highest total on the slate. The Lions run defense has been solid this season, but the Rams are committed to their running game and Williams is used as a receiver when they fall behind. The softer playoff salaries make it much easier to fit Williams than it should be, making him a priority target at RB.
    • Jahmyr Gibbs – Elite talent. Modest matchup. High game total. Team potentially missing two key offensive players (Sam LaPorta and Kalif Raymond). Now that Detroit is in the playoffs, I expect Gibbs to be fully unleashed and leaned on as the elite offensive talent that he is. 
    • Isiah Pacheco – The Chiefs have leaned on Pacheco as a true feature back down the stretch. This week they are playing in frigid temperatures against a defense that has been decimated by injuries.
    • Aaron Jones – The Packers have featured Jones during their run to the playoffs and I would expect that to continue this week with AJ Dillon either out or limited by injury. Jones has 76 rushes and 13 targets since returning from injury in Week 15 and has not scored a touchdown during that time. I expect that to change this week.
    • James Cook – This game sets up very similarly for the Bills to the home game where they dominated the Cowboys a few weeks ago. That game was Cook’s best of his career and with the high winds and cold temperatures, Cook could be in store for another vintage performance.
    • Tony Pollard – On the surface, Pollard had 19 touches last week to 12 for Rico Dowdle. Digging deeper, through three quarters the split was 17 to 6 before the Cowboys had the game in hand and turned to backups. The matchup is elite with the Packers run defense and Pollard should see in the range of 18-22 touches playing for the team with the highest implied total of the weekend.

    Tight End ::

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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

    The playoffs are here. It’s time to have some fun. I don’t play a ton of volume in Playoff Best Ball, but I’ve dipped my toes in it this season because it’s incredibly fun to project the NFL playoffs. We know that chaos awaits us, but we don’t know where it will come from. Playing postseason Best Ball or any other playoff fantasy pool requires us to think long and hard about which teams will win the games. A novel thought and one to apply at face value in DFS, but also such an easy activity to lose sight of in building DFS rosters. Pick the games > Predict the outcomes > Identify players who succeed in those outcomes > Build rosters. This is our process this week, and no matter the slate you are playing on (I’ll likely dabble in the Sat-Mon and build a few lineups on Saturday and a couple on Sunday), try to hold your ground to keep coming back to which teams will win the games.

    I’ve said it a million times this season, but predicting the present also holds true in the playoffs. We can’t project all six games with significant confidence. We’re going to be wrong somewhere. But, what we can do is know that A) variance will occur, in some games through one or two plays to determine the game, and B) that all the favorites, nor all the underdogs will win their games. Point B may seem like a probability to you, not an improbable one, and that’s fine if you feel that way. But for my money, I’m bought into the fact that whatever script the NFL operates off, it doesn’t follow conventional outcomes. And if all the favored teams win their games, that’s a very conventional outcome. Conventional outcomes stink for TV ratings. Embrace the chaos!

    I posted on X earlier this evening my thoughts on each game, so I’ll point you there if you’re interested in what I am seeing before this Wild Card weekend kicks off. I did this in order to ground myself on where I may be feeling different than the crowd. I’ll be wrong on some of these but I see CLE, MIA, BUF, DAL, DET, and PHI advancing. I won’t write about all below but based on where Vegas money is coming in, the places where I may have stronger feelings than the general public include: the over in CLE/HOU, the Dolphins rushing attack, the Bills defense, Cowboys running game, Rams coaches handling interviews better than the Lions, and the Eagles aerial game.

    With all this out on the table, let’s have ourselves a weekend!

    De’Von Achane + Tyreek Hill

    While the weather in this game doesn’t line up all too well for offense, it will likely also keep the totals low and the ownership down as game time approaches. There are two major factors pointing me to a player block combination of these two in this game. First, the concentration on the Dolphins offense. Mostert and Waddle may both play after missing Week 18 but what version of them will we get? Achane and Hill are healthy and explosive. The second factor is, regardless of the weather, the Dolphins defense has been decimated by injuries and is getting a lot of media attention for this. They’ll likely cede points to the Chiefs offense but that’s even better for Achane and Hill as the Dolphins can attack with these two in many ways. Speed plays in any weather.

    If the weather is very poor, the rushing attacks tend to be relied on more heavily. The Dolphins lead the NFL in yards per carry, and even though Achane doesn’t qualify on many sites that track Y/A, his 7.8 yards per attempt sticks out like a sore thumb. The guy is good, and if Pacheco garners more ownership on the other side, I’ll take the lower-owned, more explosive Achane at his price.

    Hill is Hill, and his domination of the Dolphins air attack jumps off the page equally. Tyreek’s percentage of team air yards (44.1) ranked third in the NFL, while his 32.7% target share trailed only Davante Adams. This is a revenge game for him as well, coming back to Kansas City who traded him to Miami. The price reflects it, but CeeDee Lamb’s ownership, and likely the weather, should keep Hill’s ownership in check. Lastly, if playing both of these guys, a fun bring back is Travis Kelce. I don’t know if I can get there yet on builds, but someone on the Chiefs is likely to have a big game and would correlate well with this pairing.

    DeVonta Smith + Jalen Hurts (+ Chris Godwin)

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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.

    Wildcard Topics

    1. Upsets Brewing

    2. Contest Selection

    3. Value Plays

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


    1. Upsets Brewing

    The Question ::

    Boiled down to its simplest form, DFS is about scoring the most fantasy points and, ideally, finding ways to get those points that are different than the majority of your competition. The best way to score fantasy points is to find offenses that post a lot of yards and points themselves. The teams that score the most points usually win. This all seems obvious, but for this weekend feels especially critical. Working our way backwards, if there is a team who posts an upset victory this weekend they are likely to have players contributing tournament-winning scores. The 4 vs. 5 games in both conferences both feel like relative coin flips, as they have close point spreads with the “worse” seed technically favored but playing on the road. It wouldn’t be surprising for either of those games to go either way. With all of that in mind, from the four remaining games which team do you think is most likely to pull of an upset or at the very least post some big offensive numbers::

    • Pittsburgh (at Buffalo)
    • Miami (at Kansas City)
    • Green Bay (at Dallas)
    • LA Rams (at Detroit)
    The Answers ::
    Xandamere >>

    Rams first and foremost. The Rams have been REALLY good lately. With their main guys healthy, as they are now, they’ve only lost 1 game since Kyren Williams took over at running back (and he’s been SO good, it’s made their offense as a whole much more effective). I think they’re quite underrated and while Detroit is certainly a very good team, I think the Rams have the highest chance of pulling off an upset. Next in line would be Miami, because the Chiefs offense has been hot garbage for much of the season – they’ve been winning with their defense, but Miami’s offense has so much explosiveness that they can score on anyone. Next would be the Packers, and then finally the Steelers. 

    Hilow >>

    The Rams have the best chances of the remaining teams at an upset, and I would argue they likely also have the best chances of the remaining teams to return a score you had to have. Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua, in particular, are capable of that 30+ DK point outing and Kupp, in particular, appears to be going relatively overlooked on both the Sunday slate and the full six-game slate. As a Pack fan, I would love nothing more than an upset on the road in Jerruh World, but I was really hoping the 49ers would have pulled off the win in Week 18 over the Rams so the Packers could travel to a familiar opponent in the Lions. Alas, here we are. As for those 4-5 games, I like the Buccaneers to topple the Eagles and the Browns to decimate the Texans.

    Mike >>

    The more research I’ve done on these games and as they get closer, I actually think we are in store for a potentially extremely exciting weekend of football. I wouldn’t be surprised by upsets in any of these four games, which is cheating on the question a bit. The Steelers have a shot because of the impending weather, which adds a layer of uncertainty and crazy things can happen – plus Buffalo often finds ways to beat themselves. If that happens, however, it is likely in an ugly, low scoring type of game. The Dolphins have a chance due to the Chiefs offensive struggles but the weather there I think actually hurts Miami the most. Miami’s defense is also very banged up and I feel like they may actually have the toughest time actually pulling out a victory from the four teams mentioned.

    This leaves us with the Packers and Rams. As Xandamere points out, the Rams have been playing great football lately and even gave the dominant Ravens a scare, forcing them to come back to force overtime in Baltimore. They probably have the best chance of winning among the #6 and #7 seeds. The team that really interests me for DFS purposes, however, is the Packers. As I discussed in the NFL Edge writeup for that game, the Packers defense is highly unlikely to hold the Cowboys much below 30 points based on a variety of factors from past performance and how those units matchup. This means that if the Packers win, they have scored a lot of points and put up a lot of yards – which is exactly what we are looking for.


    2. Contest Selection

    The Question ::

    What slates and contests are you planning to play this weekend and what are some things that you are focusing on in your builds or strategies as you enter these contests?

    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!