WEEK 7 ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Point Total: 129.7
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.
20.9 – Baker Mayfield
22.3 – Tarik Cohen
30.6 – Todd Gurley
17.1 – Brandin Cooks
5.6 – Taylor Gabriel
6.6 – Willie Snead
15.2 – David Njoku
13.4 – Robert Woods
-2.0 – Bills
Results :: Some late-week changes to my original “Main Roster” led to a $25k swing on the weekend, with this roster coming out on the worse end. The changes made weren’t “bad,” from a process standpoint; but they did give me a slightly lower chance of winning, and I felt the effects in the box score. (Interestingly, Gabriel/Snead would still have been on that other team; but Kerryon/Thielen/Colts would have made for 95th percentile results, compared to 60th percentile in tourneys with Cooks/Woods/Bills.)
What I Wrote Before Kickoff:
Boy, does this team have some leg to it. I don’t know if quite has the leg to make it all the way; but seven of the spots on this team have clear potential for 25+ points (with four guys on this team having shown 30+ range already this year). Everything would have to go just right in order to hit something like that across the board, but it’s great to start Sunday with a team that has this sort of upside, and this sort of floor. I’ll feel good heading into the games.
Strangely, it was a long and circuitous journey to get to this team — a team that is frankly pretty predictable, given the things I talked about on the site throughout the week. If the salary cap were $53k, rather than $50k, the build I would have landed on — according to the research and the discussions throughout the week — would pretty clearly have been:
To reach the team I landed on, I sacrificed Adam Thielen for Brandin Cooks, and I sacrificed Kerryon Johnson for Willie Snead (while taking the savings down to the Bills, who have a solid shot at matching the Colts). But somehow, I didn’t see this build until I drifted far away from it, running through a cycle of teams on Saturday night that sacrificed the three guys I had been holding onto all week: Mayfield, Thielen, and Njoku. (Note added Tuesday morning: I’m realizing the original “Final Team” I had (see video for the discussion of how/why I moved away) simply sacrificed Woods, down to Snead. It would have been better to sacrifice only one player off the “optimal build,” instead of sacrificing three. Reading that “optimal, $53k build” and recognizing that I wrote it five hours before games kicked off makes me wonder how I didn’t see that at the time. Tired mind at the end of a long week of work and roster-building, I guess.)
People sometimes ask why I build so many rosters each week if I plan to only use one or two or three. This week provides a perfect example.
We talk on the site about each week being a unique puzzle that has to be solved — the puzzle, essentially, being: “How do I squeeze as much safety and upside onto a single team as I can, within the confines of this salary cap?” And by building different solutions for each week’s puzzle, I begin to get a feel for the different ways in which the pieces fit together. (As always, it is something I recommend incorporating into your own process.)
I realized on Saturday that I had not yet built any teams without Mayfield, Thielen, and Njoku. And in holding onto those guys so tightly, I was limiting my opportunity to see other possible solutions.
I spent five or six hours away from those three guys, and multiple times I thought I had a team I would settle down with — a team that included none of those three. Finally, I arrived here:
Again, you would think it would have been an easy shift from this team to the one I ended up on (it’s just pivoting back down to my original favorite quarterback, and back up to my original favorite tight end and cheap defense), but first I pushed this team in a different direction — trying to see what it would look like to get up to Ertz. I realized that Blake Bortles had a legitimate shot at matching whatever Goff scored, and that if things played out that way, the $1400 in savings could be valuable. And then, it was only a matter of dropping from Gurley to Zeke, and I could move from Snead up to Ertz. (This left me with Howard/Ertz — a pairing I liked. Howard’s floor is lower than Njoku’s, but his ceiling this week isn’t far off. I also messed around with using Damion Ratley or even Nick Chubb at that $3600 tag.) For a bit, I planned on just entering both of these teams in the $3k tourney and calling it a night, but I poked around to see if I could come up with any further improvements, and I found the following hybrid of those two teams:
This brought back in a couple elements I liked in Kerryon and Njoku, and I actually entered it as my main team everywhere. But as I sorted through the rosters I had built during the week (checking to see if there were any I wanted to enter into the Milly Maker before turning in), I came across the roster above — the one I ended up using. It stood out to me when I scrolled over it as a roster I really liked; and then it hit me that it was a simple variation of the one I was using: Mayfield/Snead over Bortles/Kerryon. If I made any mistakes this week, it’s here, simply because I could see Bortles popping off for 30+ and passing Mayfield at his 24 or 25 points, and I already like Kerryon a bit more than Snead (I’m expecting 12 to 18 from Kerryon; 10 to 16 for Snead). But it just feels right to finish what I started, and to lean on Mayfield — who had been my guy throughout the week. This also leaves me betting on far fewer things. In order to have a big weekend, I only need:
>>> The Mayfield/Njoku connection to click
>>> The Rams’ offense to meet expectations (I get nearly all the points)
>>> The Bears to attack the Patriots with speed
That’s something we talked about on the #OWSChatPod a few weeks back: the value of putting yourself in a position where you need fewer things to go right (while doing so in such a way that you don’t cap your upside!). Mayfield and Njoku should combine for 40, and they can go for 50. The Rams trio should combine for at least 70, and they can go for 90. And while Cohen/Gabriel could be a sink hole if the Bears attack in a different manner, I feel confident in the way Nagy will look to exploit this matchup, which would leave these two with a range of 35 to 50. As long as we don’t hit any big outlier scenarios, a “bad day” for this team should be around 145, while a “good day” could touch 190 — before adding any points for defense. That’s not a true “20th percentile // 80th percentile” range, as there is extra variance added with the variable ways the Bears can choose to attack an opponent; but if we feel comfortable assuming that Cohen/Gabriel will be emphasized, that’s the “20th/80th” range we could expect. Not bad.
Ultimately, I had to sacrifice Thielen, but I figure the wind takes about four points off his projections — so as long as he gets around 24 to 26, the math plays out nicely on expectations for this roster, given what I would have to sacrifice to get to him (either dropping from Gurley to Zeke — which could pay off, but it’s not the bet I want to make in this spot — or getting creative by changing multiple other spots). And Kerryon down to Snead (as noted above) is not a huge sacrifice in expectations. I’m hoping Cooks is heavily involved with so many targets available in the absence of Kupp, and with McVay likely to use Josh Reynolds in the “keep Richard Sherman busy” role. Furthermore, I love the way this protects my investment in the Rams across the board, as I can take the guaranteed points and not have to guess which of these guys will have the best game. Realistically, all three could post 30 on the same week in this spot; and it is unlikely that any of them post a dud.
We’ll see how it plays out, but it was strong process again this week, and I expect to feel good regardless of the results.
This slate is going to be an absolute blast, with an incredible six out of 10 games on the Main Slate carrying an Over/Under of 49.0 or higher (seven out of 11 if you are playing the full-Sunday slate on FantasyDraft), and with eight out of 20 teams carrying a Vegas-implied team total of 25.0 or higher. This provides plenty to like on the surface, and there are some plays to like when we dig deeper, as well — including a few plays that stand out on some of the lower-total teams. This is the sort of week in which you will almost certainly need a big score in order to take down profit (something to keep in mind as you build your rosters), and it is also the sort of week in which you should be willing to build a couple extra teams if necessary, as you will likely land on multiple builds that you feel “squeeze as much floor and ceiling as possible onto a roster.”
Not much more to say than that. With plenty to get to, let’s get to it!