Larejo is a mid-stakes tournament mastermind who specializes in outmaneuvering 150-max players with a small number of entries
Whenever we get weeks where the chalk hits at a high rate, I think to myself, “damn, the ‘field’ is sharp.” What if this is our new reality in DFS? As we say all the time, there is a reason that chalk is chalk. Good matchups, good players, and all the information we can devour on Twitter telling us about expected performance. And this year, we’ve had more weeks than I can remember where not only are the higher-owned players hitting at a very high rate, but they are also coming in higher-owned than the projection models have them! It’s been wild, and of course detrimental to some DFS players who don’t tend to flock with the crowd.
Well, here’s what I’ve learned over the past few weeks: fading ALL of the chalk is just plain stupid. We get weeks with obvious value plays, we get weeks with running backs getting steamed left and right, and we have weeks with stud wide receivers going against decimated defenses, and in those weeks, like every week, we should be embracing logic but finding ways to do so through our own unique path. Think of it as researching a slate, reading content, and feeling comfortable with your process, but instead of flipping the lens close to 180 degrees, we just tilt the lens we are operating through 45 degrees or sometimes even less.
We don’t want to be everywhere the chalk resides. But, with just little tilts here and there, we can let the research help us. Real examples of this can be playing a WR2 in a matchup where a secondary is missing top cornerbacks and the WR1 is expected to be highly owned (think Jaylen Waddle last week vs. Lions). Another method could be diving right into the highest projected Vegas total games and overstacking the field on them. The efficient lines drive the plays to the game but your unique build could win first place. What about a double stack of two running backs against a terrible rushing defense just because we know the team should have a high chance of finding success on the ground? And lastly, coupling a high-owned quarterback plus pass catcher stacks with lower-owned pass catchers on the same team or the opposing team. To sum this all up and how it really comes to life in DFS in the simplest way – find out where the chalk will be, and then just simply be you.
This heading could have just as well read: A Sure Thing Played in a Unique Way Saving Salary with a Defense. The Buffalo Bills are 13-point favorites this week at the New York Jets. Their implied team total is over four touchdowns. For all intents and purposes, they have looked like the Super Bowl favorite (calm down, Eagles fans) and they happen to be catching the Jets at a time when it seems like regression will be hitting. The Jets looked lost and overmatched last week against a Patriots team that just wanted to beat them by three points. Without Breece Hall, stud O-lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, and WRs Corey Davis and Elijah Moore (effectively), they just had nothing. That is not going to fly this week against the soaring Bills boasting the best offense and defense in the league.
From an early glance at ownership projections, I was surprised to see Josh Allen ranking as the highest-owned QB. I don’t think he’ll end there as salary rules all in DFS, but even against a reputable defense by advanced metrics (8th in DVOA vs. run, 8th in DVOA vs. pass), this feels like a week where Allen can cruise to 30 fantasy points. The Bills think it’s nice to try to run the ball, and the reason why they had success last week was due to Green Bay’s porous abilities in that area (GB is 31st DVOA against the run), so in this matchup, it’s unlikely they reproduce that success on the ground. That brings the production back to Allen, and despite the prices on him and Stefon Diggs, it’s likeliest these two find success yet again here this week.
And while you didn’t come to this article for me to tell you to play the top-owned QB with his alpha receiver, the way I want to get unique is to add in the cheap salaries of Isaiah McKenzie ($4,900) and the Bills defense ($4,300). McKenzie hasn’t wowed us lately with his box scores, and we know he did sustain a concussion a few weeks back, but he’s playing over half the snaps in a game where the Bills should try to get him going in creative ways. I say that because when teams are this good, they want to keep everyone happy and start to share the wealth. We’ve seen Gabe Davis blow up, Diggs is almost every week now, and McKenzie is the next guy they need to start getting going in the slot.
The added bonus in playing McKenzie with Diggs and Allen, along with the Bills defense, is this is just a Milly Maker-type play (that I’ve been beating the drum on for two years – sup Tony Pollard, Jamal Agnew), with the double bonus of McKenzie taking a kickoff return to the house. Think of the Bills defense here as a salary saver and your perspective changes dramatically. Instead of paying down at defense, we pay up but do so in the manner of exposing us to this implied total, while also gaining an extremely low-percentage play of a double leverage score, and do this all against a decimated offense trotting out possibly the worst QB in the league.