Larejo is a mid-stakes tournament mastermind who specializes in outmaneuvering 150-max players with a small number of entries
Following the same theme as Saturday’s WTL edition (scroll up!), I’d like to share a brief story about overanalyzing a small number of games on a short slate.
One summer evening this past year, I decided I was going to get into some MLB DFS action. It was rare I would have the time to research the slate, and I had been tapering off my MLB play recently before this particular slate, so I had some reading I needed to do. I went to a popular DFS site where I had a subscription and read through their analysis game-by-game (I think around six to eight games total) to get a feel for how I would want to build lineups. In MLB, we’re always looking to stack offenses (usually up to the max), so in addition to identifying those stacks, I was also digging into which pitchers to use, trying to find underpriced bats, etc. In other words, I was spending the proper amount of time to understand the slate, and as I wasn’t tapped into MLB each day before this, letting a content provider guide me on my journey. When I was finished, I felt comfortable. I knew the good plays, I knew which teams were in the best stackable matchups, and I knew where I could find value. I was ready to enter lineups . . . and then I finished (from what I remember) dead last in this tournament! Literally, I could not have done worse. Our gut reaction when this happens is . . . WTF? I spent the time, got my feel, and made a great lineup. But, as variance in baseball often does, the offense I chose did not show up, the value didn’t deliver, and the pitchers underperformed. Ho-hum. This was hardly the first time that a lineup I built after spending ample research time finished horribly. And on the flip side, I’ve had plenty of lineups that do very well when I spent no more than five to ten minutes building them.
Here’s the point: less is more with analysis on these short slates. You know these teams. You know these players. You’ve seen which ones have ceilings, you’ve seen where matchups have busted, and you’ve seen these coaches make head-scratching decisions. You know the Bills. You know the Dolphins without Tua. You know the Bengals and Ravens. And including the Giants and Vikings, you have literally seen them play before at least once. Trust your instincts. Trust your process. Don’t predict the future solely based on the past (we’ve talked about before why that’s a lazy way to do this). But do realize, we have seen some indicators we can use to our advantage in every week of NFL football this season.
At this point, I simply imagine Daniel Jones screaming from the mountaintops Russell Crowe-style, “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!” Can this man do any more (other than winning people loads of money in the Best Ball streets). Jones needs a lot less explaining on how and why he’s a great play in this game: A) The Giants just had a ton of success in the passing game just three weeks ago in this same matchup (334 passing yards), and B) Brian Daboll is just a mastermind at maximizing what he is good at (quick throws and rushing the football). Jones is likely to draw ownership on the Sunday slate, as both he and Kirk Cousins are underpriced for their matchup and expected game total.
The more interesting Daniel to me on this slate is Bellinger. He’s one of my favorite players, if only because the poor guy suffered a gruesome eye injury about halfway through his rookie season, and it’s just great to see him recover and back on the field. The popular narrative right now, however, is how great a Giants stack will look with Jones + his cheap pass catchers. Yet, it’s all love for Richie James Jr., Isaiah Hodgins, and Darius Slayton, and no love for Bellinger. I get it, the Vikings secondary is exploitable, and while guys like James, Hodgins, and Slayton have all had ten-target or two-touchdown games, Bellinger has not topped 42 yards in a game and has not popped for more than one TD, either. In short, he’s been a player without a ceiling.
But anyone who reads these articles knows I am a sucker for players who play. One of the worst feelings is when you have a player on your roster, and all you seem to do is watch him on the sideline. But even as I was digging around to see if there was any leverage to be had, I was shocked to see how high Bellinger’s snap rates have been lately. He returned from his eye injury in Week 13 and played 97% of the offensive snaps. In week 14, he played 61% but was injured and left the game. In the following three weeks, his snap shares were: 98%, 99%, and 89%. He then rested in Week 18. We’d like to formally welcome the Giants TE1 to this party! He is going to pop one of these games. The Vikes have given up touchdowns to tight ends in each of their last two games (Kmet, Tonyan), and they are overall an average matchup for the position. Give me the popular environment, with the underowned player, who will be in the huddle every single play.