WEEK 10 ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Point Total: 128.12
Reminder: I always write my initial diagnosis of my roster right before games kick off, in order to capture my honest thoughts on the build. Here are those thoughts.
Second reminder: this is my Main Roster on DraftKings, as that’s where the majority of my play goes; but the breakdown of thought process is beneficial for all sites and styles of play.
22.32 – Marcus Mariota
8.80 – Dion Lewis
28.20 – Mark Ingram
9.50 – Tyler Boyd
19.80 – Kenny Golladay
8.10 – Mike Evans
2.40 – Jimmy Graham
28.00 – Todd Gurley
1.00 – Falcons
Results :: This team fell shy in the tourneys where it was entered, and it was outperformed by 38 of the 46 other rosters I had in multi-entry play, on a strong weekend for my builds as a whole, with my main team simply landing in the wrong spots.
What I Wrote Before Kickoff:
I’m writing this four and a half hours before kickoff — a week that took longer to settle down with than some others, but not quite as long as I was expecting, given how much uncertainty there appeared to be on the slate. I wrapped up my roster with time to let it sit for a bit, and with time to relax for a couple hours before the Sunday Morning email.
Each week on the #OWSChatPod, I tend to find myself talking about the elements that make that particular slate unique; and this week, “uncertainty” seemed to be the theme of the week. There were just so few spots that really stood out, and on top of this there were a lot of “good spots with question marks.” These weeks can be difficult to maneuver, so as I worked on rosters, my focus became eliminating uncertainty as much as possible. Essentially: I wanted the smallest possible number of spots on my roster to be carrying question marks — even if the question marks I was left carrying proved to be a little bigger than I would like. For example: many of my builds this week used Vernon Davis at tight end. Davis allowed me to pile most of my roster’s uncertainty into a single spot, so that if he hit, I would be in tremendous shape, and if he missed, I would still have a lot of floor and ceiling at all the other spots on my roster. To put that another way: by saving so much salary at tight end and taking one highly uncertain player, I was able to fill out the rest of my roster with players I truly liked. I entered a number of variations of this Vernon Davis approach into higher-dollar tourneys, with Dion Lewis // Mark Ingram // Tyler Boyd // Kenny Golladay // Todd Gurley all in place — which allowed me to mess around with various wide receiver / quarterback setups (primarily moving between Mariota and Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback, and primarily moving among Julio Jones, Michael Thomas, Davante Adams, and Mike Evans at the final wide receiver spot). I actually expected one of these to be my final build, until I realized I didn’t see a big gap between Evans and the other wide receivers, so as long as I felt good about Mariota, I could move up to a player I really liked in Jimmy Graham, while now putting weight on the shoulders of Mariota and Evans, and piling my uncertainty onto defense.
As for the players themselves:
I hadn’t messed around with pricing by the time Levitan and I went on air for the Square Table this last week, so I hadn’t yet spotted Mariota and the things he opened up. I thought this was a really sharp call by the public to be on him, and while I have some concerns about his weaponry, he should pile up about 15 to 16 points in a worst case, and he can easily clear 23 or 24. While talking through an answer on Saturday to an #OWSChatPod question, I began to “realize out loud” that there were really no higher-priced quarterbacks — until we got to Mahomes — who I felt had a strong shot at 30 points. So while I still liked the upside of Fitzpatrick more than the upside of Mariota, it made sense from a cost perspective to go with the cheaper guy. By choosing to not marry theoretical upside, I put myself in position to pick up more certainty at other key spots.
Lewis was a lock for me from the moment I began researching him for the NFL Edge. He just really popped off the page to me in the research in a certain clear and obvious way that I always pay attention to (Conner // Thielen // Conner // Kupp were those plays the last four weeks). I’m comfortable going massively overweight on these plays when I find them (even when I layer in some multi-entry play, I try to go 100% on these guys), as I can sleep just fine at night if I lose because some outlier scenario sends their game off the rails. But I won’t sleep nearly as well if I lose because I was overthinking a spot like this.
Ingram was significantly less “clear and obvious,” but by about the 30th roster I built (messing around with various ways to put together the week), I realized that Ingram was so “on brand” for me, most people probably knew I would be playing him long before I did. And why not? Last year down the stretch (removing games against Atlanta, who for some reason played well against Ingram/Kamara), Ingram and Kamara combined for DraftKings point totals of 46.7 // 39.7 // 36.5 // 41.1 // 61.9 // 53.1 // 45.4 // 53.8 // 53.0 — and Ingram had the higher score in six of those nine games. He came back from suspension to three difficult run matchups, followed by a shootout that played more toward Kamara; and while his role is down a bit this year, it’s not down significantly. He’s playing around 47% of the snaps right now after playing around 55% last year, and this matchup literally could not set up better for him: away from the dome, in the cold, in a game the Saints should be leading, against a defense that — as we have talked about again and again on the site — is “bend but don’t break…all the way into the end zone.” This team doesn’t typically give up big, explosive plays, but they allow opponents to march all the way into the paint, which sets up great for a potential multi-score game for Ingram, with his floor still sitting at about 10 or 12 points if things don’t work out. There’s not a whole lot that separates Mike Davis (assuming no Carson), Aaron Jones, and Mark Ingram, so I’ll stick with my guy — who has the clearest shot at a difference-making score.
Boyd :: this writeup is long enough. No need to dive in here. There are ways this play could “fail for the price,” but there aren’t many ways it could truly fail, and the upside for the price is awesome. I’m not trying to beat the chalk here.
Golladay just kept catching my eye every time I scrolled past him while building rosters, and the more I thought about it, the more he began to land as an early piece on my builds. The Lions aren’t going to just fall down and die. And while the Bears are extremely tough against the run, and are extremely tough in coverage against running backs and tight ends, they are merely “good” against wide receivers. I’m comfortable calling last week an outlier for Golladay. Unless his place on this team has just entirely changed, he looks like one of the few truly underpriced plays on the slate — as a talented, high-upside guy who should see six to nine targets.
Evans was part of my cycling through high-priced receivers to pair with Boyd. Once I realized I could not make a convincing case that Adams or Thomas or Julio was a better play than Evans, it made sense to go with the cheapest guy. There are some things to dislike for all four guys, and there are some things to like for all four.
Sticking with Evans allowed me to get back up to Graham, who doesn’t pop as a lock-and-load play, but he is safe and he does have upside, and he was literally the only guy outside of Kelce I felt I could label that way. I’ll hope for 18 points, but I’ll feel all right if I can get 10 or 12, as that’s better than I feel I can comfortably target from any other guy. I rotated a lot at tight end on any multi-entry spots, but it was nice to get to Graham on my Main Build.
The more I thought about the top end of the running back range, the more I realized if I was going to make room to pay up, the sharpest play was to pay up all the way. These other guys are priced so close to a player who really is in a different tier. If Gurley scores 25, it’s a disappointment — and that can’t be said for any of the other top three guys (Gordon // Kamara // Hunt).
And finally, the Falcons. Not the defense I wanted (I liked the Chiefs and Jets, and the Packers stood out late in the week as a solid play as well), but if I couldn’t get one I wanted, it made sense to take a low-owned play against a sacks-and-turnover-prone offense. Worst case, the Falcons shouldn’t kill me (four or five points should be in their floor), and there are definitely some paths to upside. If this has to be the place where I’m forced to take on uncertainty, I can deal with that.
This week’s Roster Recap video became fairly long, but if you are working to continue growing as a DFS player, I do strongly encourage you to take a moment this week to watch it, or listen to it. I talk through some things I am studying and learning about DFS, and more importantly, I walk through what I believe are some cool and valuable process-driven ideas for building rosters. This is one of the things I love about this site; that actual DFS study and training can be shared throughout the season.
From an “overview” perspective, this week is quite different from what we were given the last few weeks — weeks in which there was very little certainty, and in which very few players were underpriced. This week, we have what I feel is the best setup for DFS: tough decisions because there is plenty to like, rather than tough decisions because there is nothing to like.
This week provides us with a number of decent offenses in good spots and some good offenses in tougher spots — a great blend that will enable each of us to play around with various roster construction approaches to see what works best for our own style of play. As of this writeup, there are 13 teams on the Main Slate with a Vegas-implied team total in the range of 22.5 to 27.5 — with only one team projected above this range. There will be plenty of different ways to go on this slate.
As always: public sentiment will settle on a handful of players — and as always, your tourney rosters will suffer if these popular pieces hit and you are not on them. But ALSO as always: the best way to win over the long haul is to not worry about what others are doing until deep into the week. Spend the week figuring out who your favorite plays are on the slate — and if you look at ownership projections on Saturday evening and discover that your roster has moved away from most of the chalk: all the better. These less-chalky setups will lead to losing weekends if the chalk hits — but on the weeks in which the chalk misses, your unique lineup full of floor and ceiling will have a clear shot at the top of the leaderboards. Big-picture: weekends like this are the reason we play DFS — with lots to like, and with plenty of ways to build a great roster without simply thinking along with everyone else.