Larejo is a mid-stakes tournament mastermind who specializes in outmaneuvering 150-max players with a small number of entries
There are two ways to look at this week’s main slate. One way, as you’ll hear from most DFS touts, is to say “it’s ugly.” We can take that at face value and lower our expectations for scoring and player scores. Another way is to look at this slate and the projected lower scores, and realize the good players in good spots are now going to be owned like great players in great spots. In other words, chalk should be even more chalky, and therefore leverage should be an even stronger force and easier to find. And in other other words, this is a fancy way of saying you might want to read Hilow’s End Around this week.
To me, these slates are fun because a whole group of people (likely in Las Vegas) will be wrong. Yes, the NFL is lower scoring this season, with teams averaging just 21.8 points per game, (down from 23.8 ppg just two seasons ago), and this week there are only two teams on this main slate who are projected to put up more than 26 points in the Chiefs and Dolphins. But there will be scoring, and there will be had-to-have-it player logs. When situations are murky, like what we are seeing in roughly nine of the 20 offenses playing on this slate with projected totals under 21 points, DFS players avoid them. They avoid them, or they only play the best players from those teams (think Dameon Pierce, Derrick Henry, or Alvin Kamara this week). This is why I enjoy these slates. After doing our research, we should have a strong understanding of where ownership will congregate and how we can maneuver our lineups accordingly.
In trying to sharpen my player pool this week, I want to examine a few of these high confidence observations that become obvious on ugly slates like this, and then set up how I’ll be building this week. First, we have the Chiefs, the Dolphins, and Justin Fields. This is exactly where the field will be looking for tournament-winning scores. We don’t need to avoid these spots, we just have to understand if we’re going there ourselves, we may need to try a wee bit harder to differentiate. Second, with nine(!) teams projected under 21 points, the one-off or bust principle should be the general consensus for these units. This might be rightfully so, but there aren’t many out there looking to stack the Texans, Broncos, Vikings (vs. Bills), Jaguars, Titans, Cardinals, Packers, Rams, or Colts offenses this week. So, if you aren’t the best player on one of these teams, then you likely aren’t going to be tracking much ownership. If this is true, we can look at Pierce, Henry, Kamara, Travis Etienne Jr., Justin Jefferson, DeAndre Hopkins, Cooper Kupp, and a few others who will still carry their weights in ownership this week . . . but their teammates, not so much. Therefore, prime examples of overlooked players this week should include guys like Chris Olave, Christian Kirk, Dalvin Cook, Brandin Cooks (if he plays), Kyler Murray, and Michael Pittman Jr.
We should be looking for offenses to put up 26 or more points when we are seeking an offense to stack. For a team, that’s at least three touchdowns, hopefully, four (28 points). For a game stack, that equates to 52 combined points, or at least six or more touchdowns. If we looked at every NFL week this season, we’ve seen a minimum of seven offenses put up 26 or more points. And as mentioned, Vegas is saying only four teams (Chiefs, Dolphins, Eagles, and 49ers) may get there this week. Based on a ten-week sample, I’ll be in the camp of Vegas being wrong this week. So where will we get unlikely production this week and/or how can we differentiate our rosters in popular spots from the field?
I know, I know, I’m all talk and no action, right? You were expecting some other plays here on lower implied total teams. Well, there’s a reason the Chiefs are expected to score 30 points in this one, and as safe as Justin Fields versus Detroit feels, Mahomes might feel a little safer. Of course, Mahomes doesn’t need much explanation, and neither does Etienne Jr. at his current DK price and role. Further to Etienne’s matchup this week, the KC defense still leads the NFL in receptions given up to opposing RBs (63). TEJ is in a great spot. But if you’re rostering these two, you’ll want to switch it up in large-field tournaments with a high-risk, volatile upside player. Enter MVS. I didn’t watch the Raiders vs. Jaguars last week, but I saw the highlights and I can’t get this Davante Adams picture out of my head.
I know the safety slipped on this play, but oh my, the yards of daylight Adams had in this game. It could very likely be the Travis Kelce show this week for KC, and the general perception is JuJu is next in line. This leaves MVS, Mecole Hardman, and Kadarius Toney as the next men up in some order, in the game of “who wants to burn the Jacksonville secondary?” I’ll take the largest aDOT and the guy who has proved he can be a deep threat first here, and one who should carry lower ownership than Kelce, JuJu, and maybe Hardman to couple with Mahomes and Etienne.