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Ja'Marr Chase

Ja’Marr Chase

Cara Owsley/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

The dynamic game of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) requires much more than simply knowing the sport for which we’re entering contests to be successful. We must be adaptable, precise, and open to learning from previous endeavors, the latter of which will be the primary focus of this weekly written piece. Game Theoretic methodologies will allow us to analyze and dissect the previous week’s winner of the largest and most prestigious Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournament on DraftKings – the Millionaire Maker. These same tenets of Game Theory, which can most simply be explained as the development of decision-making processes given our own skill and knowledge, assumptions of the field based on the cumulative skill and knowledge of others playing the same game, and the rules and structure of the game itself, will allow us to further train our minds to see beyond the antiquated techniques of roster building being employed by a large portion of the field. Approaching improvement through these methods will give us insight into the anatomy of successful rosters and will help us develop repeatably profitable habit patterns for the coming weeks. We’ll start by looking at the previous week’s winning roster, extract any pertinent lessons for future utilization, and finish with a look ahead towards the coming main slate.

Winning Roster

Week 6 Winning Roster

Week 6 Winning Roster

Lessons Learned

Direct Leverage

This slate had multiple pieces that were expected to garner some of the highest ownership of the season, namely Rhamondre Stevenson, Eno Benjamin, and Tyler Lockett. We also had five teams that were forced to have backup running backs stepping into either featured or expanding roles due to injuries: Stevenson in New England, Benjamin in Arizona, Deon Jackson in Indianapolis, Ken Walker in Seattle, and Darrell Henderson in Los Angeles. User WestchesterBC included the player with the least expected ownership heading into Sunday in Deon Jackson, who rode an unreal pass game workload to the top overall running back score on the slate. Remember, DFS isn’t only about what we know and do, but it’s also about what the field knows and does – ownership and field tendencies are extremely important to consider in our own roster building processes.

Other pieces of direct leverage on this roster included uncorrelated JuJu Smith-Schuster from the top expected game environment on the slate (Bills@Chiefs) and the Cardinals defense in the second most popular game environment on the slate, both environments of which severely underperformed expectations.

Indirect Leverage

The plethora of value available at the running back position meant we were likeliest to see the majority of rosters have the salary to be able to pay up for perceived certainty at quarterback and tight end. User WestchesterBC fundamentally altered the way his or her roster was built via salary allocation, utilizing a pay-down tight end and an overall balanced roster (as evidenced by the low ownership on a few of the primary pieces on this roster). I would venture an educated guess to say there likely weren’t many rosters in play this week with three wide receivers in the $5,200-$6,200 range of salary. The indirect leverage generated through salary allocation ended up winning WestchesterBC a million bucks!

Secondary Correlation

Robert Tonyan hadn’t seen more than 58% of his team’s offensive snaps all season, meaning his inclusion on this roster tells the story of the Packers increasing their low 59.9% year-to-date pass rate, extreme touchdown variance, or increased snaps. In two of those scenarios, outside influence would be fundamentally altering Tonyan’s volume. As in, what would make the Packers change how they were utilizing their tight end after five consecutive weeks of low volume? That outside influence was likeliest to be the Jets pushing the Packers and forcing their hand, which ended up coming to fruition. If the Jets were to push the Packers, it was likeliest that their newly anointed lead back, Breece Hall, who had seen recent snap rates of 66% and 69% and running back opportunities of 23 and 20 over the previous two games, was part of the reason. Hall went on to see 22 running back opportunities to surge for 23.1 DraftKings points. The result is less important than the thought process that would lead to a more cohesive roster.

Looking Ahead

Jimmy Garoppolo + George Kittle (Direct Leverage)

The 49ers played with no less than eight defensive starters missing in Week 6, which forced them into a more aerially aggressive stance as they played from catch-up mode for the majority of the game. CB Charvarius Ward left Sunday’s contest with a groin injury and didn’t return, DE Nick Bosa missed the contest with a groin injury, DT Javon Kinlaw was placed on IR on Saturday, DT Arik Armstead has missed three of the last four games with multiple injuries, FS Jimmy Ward had surgery Tuesday to address a hand injury, CB Jason Verrett has yet to play a snap this year as he works his way back from an ACL tear in 2021, LB Azeez Al-Shaair is dealing with a sprained knee and likely won’t return until the middle of November, and CB Emmanuel Moseley tore his ACL in Week 5 and will miss the remainder of the season. That’s a lot of key injuries to fight through for a defense that gets its identity from pressure up front and lockdown secondary play, particularly considering they host the visiting Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7. Finally, if George Kittle is hitting a 90%+ ceiling outcome, it is likeliest to come through bulk yardage and scores, which directly correlates to increased scoring potential for his quarterback.

Josh Jacobs + Ken Walker (Indirect Leverage)

Jacobs’ price is getting to the point where we might start to see some biases creep in from the field, in that his $6,500 price point is approaching the workhorse running back range. Although Jacobs has never been a workhorse running back during his career, his last two games indicate he might just be underpriced still. His 89% and 81% snap rates, 60 combined running back opportunities, and increased pass game involvement over that time are a trend worth picking up on before the field notices, and the matchup could not be better against a Texans team allowing 31.6 fantasy points per game to opposing backfields.

As for Walker, whose price jumped only $400 (from $5,400 to $5,800) after handling a 69% snap rate and 24 running back opportunities against the plus run defense of the Cardinals, we get access to another expanding role with a price tag yet to fully match the expected workload, who also happens to be playing a Chargers team allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing backfields at 33.8. The indirect leverage comes through expected chalk salary allocation on a slate with big-name running backs including Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Jonathan Taylor (assuming he makes it back), Nick Chubb, Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette, Joe Mixon, and Aaron Jones. Basically, this pairing is highly likely to go under-owned relative to the upside it brings.

Mark Andrews + Amari Cooper (Secondary Correlation)

The Browns quietly allow the third most points per game this season at 27.2 (tied with the Seahawks) and Cooper has quietly notched double-digit targets in four of six games to start the season because of it. His underlying metrics are borderline elite as well, with a 31.2% target per route run rate (elite) and 27.7% team target market share (borderline elite). Mark Andrews is a key cog in the Baltimore offense, serving as the only player to operate at a near every-down option. Andrews has also notched double-digit targets in four of six games so far this season and holds elite underlying metrics (31.3% targets per route run rate and hefty 34.1% team target market share). Gaining exposure to this game environment through the primary members of each team provides a high upside secondary correlation starting point to build out rosters. Since each of these two players are such a large part of their respective pass offenses, they can safely be played without either quarterback. That said, feel free to add either quarterback to complete the full stack.

Allen Lazard (Direct Leverage)

The Packers come into a Week 7 matchup with the Commanders at a surprising 3-3 record, two games behind the division-leading Vikings. It’s a bit forward-leaning to declare a Week 7 game a “must-win,” but that is exactly what we have here for the Packers in Aaron Rodgers’ twilight. The Commanders rank sixth in run DVOA and 29th in pass DVOA on defense, indicating a clear path of least resistance for the Packers. Allen Lazard has fought through modest underlying metrics (21.4% targets per route run rate and low 19.2% team target market share) to score four touchdowns in five healthy games this season, with his only non-touchdown game seeing him surpass 100 yards receiving. The leverage here comes through a player that is obviously highly involved in the red zone seeing his targets per route run rate increase in a must-win game, a game that also involves a matchup that tilts expectations slightly pass-leaning. That would mean his price is depressed for expected workload, providing the same path to direct leverage as the previously mentioned running backs.