WEEK 2 ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Point Total: 156.44
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 DraftKings roster, 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.
Patrick Mahomes :: 41.84
Melvin Gordon :: 30.60
James Conner :: 19.50
Antonio Brown :: 15.70
JuJu Smith-Schuster :: 34.10
Dante Pettis :: 4.50
Jack Doyle :: 4.00
George Kittle :: 4.20
Texans :: 2.00
Results :: This team was good for a clean sweep in double-ups, a strong H2H weekend, and cashing in all tourneys.
What I Wrote Before Kickoff:
If you hung out with me last week, this team won’t surprise you. In fact, I found this team while thinking through the slate with my eyes closed on the plane on Friday night, and I really didn’t move off it afterward outside of poking around at a few different ways to run it out there. I’m actually typing this on Saturday night instead of Sunday morning this week, and when I finish typing this I plan to enjoy a rare, relaxing Saturday evening.
Because the slate began to really make sense for me on Thursday and Friday, I had the luxury of looking at this roster from a number of different angles. I talk about floor and ceiling a lot, and what I’m really looking for when I say those numbers is the “20th percentile” and “80th percentile” outcomes for a player. I’m not concerned with those random, variance-driven bad games; and I’m not focusing on “the best thing that could happen for a player.” So in terms of “20th / 80th percentile thinking,” I have this team pegged at a realistic floor of 133 points and a realistic ceiling of 214. Given the way the slate shapes up this week, and the sacrifices others are going to make to fit some high-priced guys they think they “have to have,” I’m expecting 150 to 165 to be the range we’ll have to beat in order to make the cut in cash games (with the tourney number being somewhere around there as well — though with more variables obviously in play). I think this team would be able to beat the field a good 80% of the time — with enough upside to take down the $2120 tourney. You really can’t hope for better than that.
A realistic projection for the Steelers this week against the Chiefs is around 300 yards passing and 100 yards rushing. That’s a fair median prediction, given the situation and matchup. It’s also fair to peg more than 80% of this production to go to Conner / A.B. / JuJu.
It’s also fair to peg the Steelers for four touchdowns, which would make three touchdowns a safe projection for these guys.
It’s probably a bit low, but you can peg them for around 19 catches.
And among the three of them, it’s safe to assume you can get two of the 100-yard bonuses awarded on DraftKings.
Here’s my favorite thing about the three-way pairing, though: I’m not sacrificing anything by doing this, as it’s unlikely that any of them, individually, fall shy of 15 points (that is to say: this isn’t a situation where if one guy goes off, the other probably won’t); and I protect my investments in a big way.
For example: one way to run this team differently is with Emmanuel Sanders over JuJu. But while Juju could score anywhere from 15 to 30, Manny can score anywhere from 12 to 30, as the Raiders are not going to push the Broncos to air it out. Furthermore, if Antonio Brown only scores 25 points because Juju gets 30, I still get all those Steelers points. But if Antonio Brown only scores 25 and I have Manny, I now need Manny to hit.
I run into the same situation if I pivot up from Melvin Gordon to Todd Gurley, and down from JuJu to Golladay. It would be nice to have Gurley, but Gordon is around 30/70 to outscore Gurley this week, and what I lose by going up to Gurley (i.e., “needing Golladay to hit”) is simply not worth it for the small guaranteed edge gained from Gordon to Gurley. Gurley’s the better play between the two. But I would have more winning weekends with this roster by making that sacrifice.
Pettis and Kittle combine in a manner similar to the Steelers players, with the narrow target distribution there. The San Francisco backs are not big pass-catching guys, and Marquise Goodwin is out, making both of these guys underpriced. Between what the 49ers can be expected to do vs the Lions and what the backs, Garcon, and Trent Taylor can soak up of that production, I have a 13-130-1 combined receiving line between Pettis and Kittle as a safe median projection. I don’t love all the unknowns that come with rostering Pettis; but when taken alongside Kittle, I expose myself to more guaranteed total points than I could find anywhere else on the lower ends of the price range.
Doyle is a guy I am leaning on to stay within six or seven points of Tevin Coleman and T.J. Yeldon. I would have to sacrifice JuJu or Gordon to move up to one of those running backs; and the loss with that sacrifice would be greater than the gains, as long as Doyle scores within striking distance of those RBs. I don’t need Doyle to win that three-way set; I just need him to keep pace. A 5-50-0 line is his reasonable floor, and an 8-90-1 line is completely realistic; so I feel good about my position there.
The Texans’ defense allowed so much to work in other spots on my roster this week, and with no “guaranteed points” available (like we had in Week 1 with the Ravens), I took the savings. I’m sure some higher-priced defenses will outscore Houston, but I won’t be able to predict which ones they will be, and these savings make a lot work. I expect at least seven points here, with upside for 12 or 13.
Finally: I needed $600 to get up to Ben Roethlisberger, which would have also required me to move off JuJu or Gordon; there was no one $600 cheaper than them who I liked nearly as much. It’s actually reasonable for Mahomes — with his rushing upside — to keep pace with Big Ben. All three of my Steelers players could smash without Ben going for better than 300 yards and two touchdowns, so while I wanted to get up to him, it wasn’t worth sacrificing elsewhere. Mahomes can go for 270 passing yards and two touchdowns, while also adding 30 or 40 yards with his legs. I had the money to get up to Deshaun Watson, but the correlation between Mahomes and what I expect the Steelers offense to do was just too good to pass up.
It’s funny: I’m typing all this on Saturday night, but it almost feels as if I am typing it after the slate has taken place, as I already know I had a good weekend. What I mean is: even if I don’t come out on top this weekend, I had a good weekend. That’s a great build that provides a high chance of cashing and a genuine shot at winning all the smaller-field and high-dollar and single-entry tourneys we should always be focused on with our main roster. No matter what happens on Sunday, I’m very happy with this week.
I’m also throwing a second team into high-dollar tourneys:
If Sutton and Jonnu hit, that team has a shot at being the nuts. I’m a big fan of that build for tourneys, as it is unique and absolutely packed with upside at all levels.
I don’t imagine I’ll have much to write in my look back at this team. With things coming together quickly this week and plenty of time to poke at this roster and see if I could find anything better, I feel comfortable that I will not come out of Sunday with any major questions about this build, regardless of its performance. It’s rare to truly run into one of these weekends, so I’m going to give my brain a bit of extra rest tonight and enjoy this while it’s here. After that, it’s onto Week 3.
At first glance, this looks like the sort of week in which we will want to make sure we are not overthinking things. Let the field outsmart themselves this week while we focus our rosters on the absolute best plays.
As of this writeup, there are five teams on the Main Slate with a Vegas-implied total of 26.75 or higher:
Chiefs :: 31.5
Vikings :: 29.0
Falcons :: 28.0
Rams :: 27.5
Eagles :: 26.75
Behind those five teams, there are another four teams with projected totals of 24.25 or higher:
Saints :: 25.0
49ers :: 25.0
Ravens :: 24.25
Packers :: 24.25
Another 15 teams are currently projected by Vegas to score under 24.0, with 12 teams currently pegged below 22.0. (A line has not yet been set for the Titans // Jaguars matchup.)
Now, it should be noted: we should never lean on Vegas as the final word. I’ve said that before, and I’ll say it plenty more, but it really cannot be repeated enough. (As crazy as it may sound: up until 2017 — when I began incorporating Vegas totals into the NFL Edge — I didn’t even look at those numbers until Saturday, at the earliest. Sometimes, I never looked at those numbers at all. As we have noticed already: Vegas can be wrong, especially early in the week. And when we lean on our own research, we can find things that cannot be found by leaning too heavily on Vegas.) But these numbers do provide us with a snapshot-glance at the sort of weekend this is. There will be a few high-scoring games. There will be a lot more low-scoring games. Our chances of winning the weekend will be much greater if we focus the majority of our roster construction on those higher-scoring games.
As always, we’ll be walking through every game — and we’ll be letting go of preconceived notions and allowing the research to dictate what makes the most sense in each game this week. But go into your reading (and your subsequent roster construction) expecting this to be a week in which your focus turns toward the available high-scoring spots, and make sure you are extremely convinced in the spots where you decide to move away.
Dalvin Cook Out (Sept. 21)
Doyle / Mack Out (Sept. 21)
Jay Ajayi Out (Sept. 21)