Coming off of last week’s predictable scoring barrage, the DFS world is set to come back to Earth this week (or rather, back to earth — right down to the soil), with 11 games on the Main Slate, and with only six teams currently carrying a Vegas-implied team total north of just 24.5. Those teams are ::
30.25 — Seahawks
29.0 — Ravens
27.0 — Falcons
26.75 — Saints
26.5 — Colts
26.0 — Chargers
Among these teams :: the Colts have topped 24 points only four times this year, while the Chargers are relying on a quarterback in Philip Rivers who looks like he’s throwing sacks of flour. The Seahawks, Ravens, and Falcons are also expected to win in blowouts, while even the Saints have some Upside Dents with their game being played outdoors (note: beautiful weather is currently expected for that game, but it’s still not as nice as playing in the Superdome). Even if you had players who went off last week, you had to worry about players from plenty of other games going off as well and putting your roster at risk. This week (much like three of the four weeks that preceded Week 15), if you land on one of the players who hits, you are likelier to find yourself pulling away from the field, as there will be fewer of these players available (and will therefore be fewer rosters capturing the available big scores). And yet — as we always note in this situation — you will still need to find these players yourself, as a top-end score will still be required in order to take down a tourney.
This brings up another element worth thinking about this week :: targeting “unrepeatable scores.”
Kenyan Drake entered last week with recent touch counts of 22 // 15 // 12. We knew going into that game that the Browns are best attacked on the ground, and we knew that with the Cardinals playing at home, Drake was likelier than not to see 15+ touches. He was also priced around other backs who could typically be penciled in for 15+ touches, and it was impossible to know that the Browns would not even show up for their game against the Cardinals, and that Drake would score four touchdowns on 23 touches (a spike in touches from his previous couple games, but not some sort of monster, locked-in-production workload). This was an unrepeatable performance — a performance the field will likely chase this week, in spite of the fact that what they really needed was to be there last week when that game hit.
Or for example:
Mike Evans was out last week, and Chris Godwin got hurt in the third quarter; but these were not actually “the reasons” Breshad Perriman popped off. Perriman saw only six targets last week (marking the sixth time in eight games he had seen four to eight looks). The matchup was a good fit for Perriman’s speed and downfield skill set, but a 5-113-3 line on only six targets is miraculous production to capture.
And yet, these scores were nearly necessary last week in order to take down a tourney — which leads into a quick little discussion ::
There are two ways to target less-predictable, “necessary” scores like that:
1) Select a few offenses you want to bet on; and as you bet on key players from these offenses you “expect” to produce, be willing — as we have talked about fairly regularly over the last couple months — to embrace some uncertainty by hedging with “the players who are likeliest to hit if my guys miss.”
2) Pay attention to players with real roles and explosive skill sets, and be willing to embrace some uncertainty in that way.
If multi-entering last week, you didn’t need these guys on 100% of your teams, or even 25% of your teams. If you’d had them on just 10%, you would have doubled the field in most contests; and if you’d had them on 15%, you would have been putting a non-negligible chunk of your rosters in great position. Along the way, of course, you would also have had some hedge bets from other spots that didn’t work out, and this is why it’s so difficult for so many DFS players to shift toward this style of thinking; and yet, it’s a shift in thinking that’s necessary if you want to truly reach your ceiling.
It’s funny to say this, but “getting players like Drake and Perriman” is not actually how you win a tourney. Before those types of plays can win you a tourney, you first need rock-solid rosters around those plays that can ensure you aren’t losing all the progress that those plays make you. But in addition to those rock-solid plays that can generally be targeted through research and non-creative thinking, you often need one or two of those Perriman/Drake-type plays to truly reach the top of the leaderboards — and this is why we have spent so much time this season talking about the ways we can expose our rosters to those plays.
As you go through this ugly week, focus on identifying the sharp plays that can give you a rock-solid set of core plays across your builds. But then, make sure you also take the next step: keeping your eyes open for potential slate-breakers — even if you have to embrace a bit of uncertainty to get there.