“Escape competition through authenticity” – Naval Ravikant
Anyone who read my MLB articles this summer knows that one of my favorite recent reads was The Almanack of Naval Ravikant. If you’re not familiar with Naval (he’s a tremendous follow on Twitter), he’s an incredibly successful entrepreneur, angel investor, and even more so just an essentially original thinker.
We often talk about how DFS is a game of competition. As JM says, “it’s not about how many fantasy points you score, it’s about paths to first place.” Well, how do we figure out what a path to first place looks like? Through informed original thinking. The reason why I subscribed to OWS in 2018 was because of how heavy the focus is on strategy and out-maneuvering “the field” in these DFS slates. OWS empowered me to understand, interpret, and make my own predictions about the upcoming slate. And I hope I can help you do that too. Let’s take a look at Naval’s quote again…escape competition through authenticity. What does he mean? In his words (I’m paraphrasing a bit), “if you are competing with others, don’t copy them. We’re all different as human beings. So be different.”
This slate is unique in so many ways. Think of the non-original ways the public will be building their lineups. They (we) start with Vegas totals (most of the time), look at on-paper matchups (i.e. defense vs. position), then salaries, and QB/WR stacks with a bring-back etc. It looks like we will see high ownership on many players who have already smashed this season: Cooper Kupp, Darrell Henderson, Leonard Fournette, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Lamar Jackson, Brandin Cooks, and more. Almost all of those players are coming from the high-total offenses this week (with the exception of Arizona, more on them later). We can take advantage of this. We can accept some of this chalk into our lineups, and differentiate it in our own authentic ways. After all, one of my other favorite Naval-isms is, “predicting the future based on the past is a lousy approach.”
Ownership projections are showing a wide range at the moment, but fortunately, one of the simplest ways to avoid ownership impacting your lineups is through a game stack. I really like this game for a few reasons. First, it fits comfortably in the Vegas range 45.5-50.5 for an underowned game environment. This game ranks as the 4th-highest total on Sunday’s main slate. The second reason I like this game is that, as Dustin noted in Edge Matchups, both of these teams are top-ten in pass play rate. And third is because of Allegiant Stadium, the field where this game will be played.
If we take out the Raiders last home game against an ineffective, inexperienced Justin Fields (which ended 20-9), Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas has been playing Superdome-esque since its inception in 2020. Here is the amount of total combined points put up in eleven Raiders home games over the past two seasons (working from most recent):
● 29 :: Bears :: Week 5
● 59 :: Dolphins :: Week 3
● 60 :: Ravens :: Week 1
● 51 :: Dolphins :: Week 15
● 57 :: Chargers :: Week 14
● 71 :: Colts :: Week 13
● 66 :: Chiefs :: Week 10
● 49 :: Broncos :: Week 9
● 65 :: Buccaneers :: Week 6
● 53 :: Bills :: Week 4
● 58 :: Saints :: Week 2
Again, if we take out the Fields game a few weeks ago, the lowest total is 49. I personally did not bet the over on all Raiders home games last season but it’s safe to say that was profitable. 11 games and an average of 56 points (including the Bears game), with an average of 58.9 if we remove the most recent matchup.
Coming back to Sunday’s game with the Eagles, the question becomes can this game be a shootout? Well, based on stadium history alone, yes it can. Jalen Hurts and Derek Carr are both playable, with Hurts of course having the higher floor based on his rushing abilities. Miles Sanders (quietly 75/83% of offensive snaps last two weeks) and Josh Jacobs (four touchdowns in four games this season) are also viable. On the outside, if Dallas Goedert comes back, he’ll play all the snaps he can handle to take up a majority of the target share with DeVonta Smith. Darren Waller is probably the best floating play, albeit with his higher salary (remember how much we were all salivating over Travis Kelce in this same matchup in Week 4?). I will also have some Henry Ruggs and Quez Watkins. Stack this game up.
The narrative is popular by now, the Ravens can run the ball well. But with strength on strength, as the Bengals surprisingly rank 4th DVOA against the run, it’s possible the Ravens are forced to the air. We know this means Lamar scrambles, but it also brings in a concentrated target share that many of us jumped on last week: 45% combined with Brown and Andrews. With Lamar expected to garner the most ownership of any Ravens player this week, along with Brown’s ability to crush with a limited amount of targets, I like the idea of playing Brown and Andrews (if you can squeeze in Lamar, go for it) to get some leverage off Baltimore rushing touchdowns (Lamar and/or RBs).
If and when the Ravens are able to score, the Bengals would have to keep pace for this to work. The game script in this scenario should dictate this to be a game where the Bengals throw more than they run. While that has not happened much this season (Burrow has only thrown more than 32 times once, in an overtime game), he has still shown great efficiency with at least two touchdowns in every game this season. And while it’s true the Ravens did shut down the high-powered Chargers passing offense last week, it was also only two weeks ago when Carson Wentz threw for over 400 yards against them which was the second time a QB went 400+ on them this season (Carr, Week 1).
Of the Cincy WRs, Ja’Marr Chase should be the most popular. I wouldn’t sleep on Tee Higgins or Tyler Boyd in this matchup either. Both have seen their salaries drop this week (h/t Alex88). We’re going for high volume in the Bengals passing attack and a fast game script. On DK, with Chase, this four-man player block costs $24,200 (leaves about $6K average leftover). If we move from Chase down to Higgins or Boyd, there is even more flexibility.
I posted a question in our OWS Discord SE/3-Max channel early Thursday about the sentiment of a group of cheap WRs on DK: Elijah Moore, Rashod Bateman, Nico Collins, and Quez Watkins/Jalen Reagor. From my early research, my builds kept leaving me in this price range, and these guys all seem like WRs who will be priced a bit higher in the coming weeks. However, with some of the other suggestions from this conversation (Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, DeSean Jackson) and the lack of real support for any of these dudes, coupled with how obvious some of these offensive spots are this week (TB, LAR, GB, AZ), I realized I needed to change my builds and my thinking.
The Houston Texans defense does a lot of chasing on a football field. They see heels, elbows, and the backs of the offensive jerseys frequently. Recent offenders include Jonathan Taylor and Parris Campbell. As I was browsing through some early ownership on the high-powered offenses this week, I noticed a significant lack of ownership projected on one team: the Arizona Cardinals. With Kyler still banged up, it’s likely they lean run-heavy, but in a matchup that yields the highest success rate to WRs and the 4th highest explosive pass-play rate (h/t Lex in Matchups), why not Rondale this week?
He’s coming off his highest snap share of the season (58%), and with Kyler, Hopkins, and Edmonds all nursing injuries, this is the type of game where the young talent is given an opportunity to shine. Kingsbury can and should scheme even more looks for Moore, in a game the Cardinals should control, and with the success of their downfield passing game, Moore and Kirk are both threats to take a long one to the house.