Larejo is a mid-stakes tournament mastermind who specializes in outmaneuvering 150-max players with a small number of entries
Have you ever heard the statement, “discomfort is a catalyst for growth?”
If I did a poll of every reader of this article, I’d venture a guess many of you would have heard this statement already, and less than 10% of you would disagree with it. It’s a widely accepted reality that when we step outside of our comfort zones, we learn and we grow. It’s a natural tendency as humans to shy away from these uncomfortable situations because when the nerves set in, all we want is for them to immediately go away. But, we also all know the feeling of being nervous about something and then conquering whatever fear that was by attacking the situation at hand. And wow, what a feeling that is when the discomfort is behind you. And when that euphoria hits, isn’t it also amazing how we feel more prepared for a similar situation the next time it arises? We get the “been there, done that” vibe and we’re better for it. By accepting this discomfort, we grow. Being bold, challenging ourselves, and pushing whatever boundaries we have set lead us down a path of learning and personal growth. This is where we all want to be.
Circling back to DFS, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that when we decide how to build our lineups each week, we seek comfort. Duh. We always want that warm, fuzzy feeling of being able to justify how and why we clicked on each player’s name, and how and why they fit into a respective lineup. And how do we get that justification? Typically through having read that player’s name in a DFS article, or finding underlying data points that prove to us this player’s positive expected environment in their upcoming game. The more data points and times we read about a player or a situation during a given week, the more comfortable we feel about playing them. And herein lies the problem. To win DFS tournaments, we need to earn first place. And to do that, we need to play the players that others are not playing. We need to do something different. So why then, do we want to hear three, sometimes four or more reasons as to why to play a player, or attack a game environment? We talked in this space about this irony in 2021 but it still rings true. The more reasons, the higher the ownership. The higher the ownership, the less likely you win a tournament.
As we try to conquer this upcoming slate together, we need to find the different scenarios that the field won’t touch. This is why I’ll be here this season. Now stay with me in a few uncomfortable situations I am seeing this week . . .
There’s something boring about the New England Patriots. I can’t put my finger on it, but the most boring team in the NFL at this moment is the New England Patriots. Vegas thinks so (40.5 game total). Colin Cowherd thinks so. And it’s likely you also think so. Their young quarterback is banged up. Their skill position fantasy relevant players are all non-exciting. And they were one of only three offenses in Week 1 to score 7 points or less. Also, the guy who scored their lone touchdown, Ty Montgomery, is now on injured reserve.
Boring is great for DFS. If you’re playing large tournaments, it’s likely this will be the last place you look. We’ve got a lousy implied game total that screams “defensive struggle” between New England and Pittsburgh. But there is something telling me we’ll have a Patriots player making a difference in tournaments on Sunday. For one, we’ve got the Steelers defense losing TJ Watt. The Steelers lost both games in 2021 when he did not suit up, giving up a combined 65 points to opponents. Second, we’ve got a Patriots offensive line that is still strong and can win in the trenches, with PFF ranking them as the sixth-best unit after its Week 1 performance in Miami.
So if you’re Bill Belichick, going into the Pittsburgh stadium (which should not have changed its name), ask yourself, how would you try to win the game on offense? The strength of this Pats O is in the running game, with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson and their offensive line. Let’s not forget that this group led Harris alone to 15 rushing touchdowns in 2021. We know Mac Jones is also banged up so we can assume it’s unlikely the Pats would like to lean on their quarterback to win this one if they don’t have to.
I fully expect New England to come out and establish the run. With the way the backfield was split in Week 1 (only 57 offensive snaps) across three running backs (Harris 39%, Ty Montgomery 37%, Stevenson 25%), it’s safe to say not many will go here. But with Montgomery now on IR, and Stevenson’s role as the preferred goal line and likely better pass-catching back, I will side with him. We can pair him with the Patriots defense at extremely cheap ownership, and frankly, in large field play, I just love this (don’t forget they are playing Mitch Trubisky).