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Strategy

The Playoff Pareto Principles: Conference Championship DFS Preview

by Jakob Sanderson, January 28, 2022

The final Pareto Principles of the year is underway. This column focuses primarily on the strategy and game theory elements of DFS. I do not discuss the individual matchups of players. Instead I am basing my stances on what the field is expected to do, and how to capture a similar ceiling with a unique build.

The conference championship is no time to cling to summer romance. Since returning from injury in Week 17, Elijah Mitchell has just six catches in four games for 18 yards. He also has just one score in that time, losing high-leverage carries to Deebo Samuel and all passing downs to Kyle Juzczyk. His high carry total provides a floor but not an insurmountable one if he’s kept from the end zone.

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Making a Cocktail From the Conference Championship DFS Slate

by Chase Vernon, January 28, 2022

There are three quarterbacks in this Conference Championship round with three stacks you can feel confident in for DFS. If you want to get spicy, you could even include Jimmy Garoppolo in hopes the 49ers can’t run the ball, George Kittle gets involved, and Deebo Samuel takes a couple of dump-offs to the house. However, in the playoffs thus far, you haven’t won money unless your quarterback put up over 30 points.

The Sazerac has two possible bases to start with, pending on who you ask. Some believe the official cocktail of Louisiana and staple of New Orleans used a cognac due to the area’s connection to French spirits. Others believe it was made with rye whiskey and is currently is the more popular build. It’s the perfect cocktail to discuss the Conference Championship for DFS. Make the base with your liquor preference as long as it’s one of the two, just as this slate will likely have two options to stack.

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The Playoff Pareto Principles: Divisional Round DFS Preview

by Jakob Sanderson, January 21, 2022

Prior to the year, our excitement regarding Ryan Tannehill was based in his high-efficiency paired with elite weapons. For the first time since Week 7, all of Derrick Henry, A.J. Brown, and Julio Jones will on the field for the Titans. While I am loath to attack the first game of a playoff slate, my exception may be with Tannehill. Play the former Aggie stacked with A.J. Brown and a bring back of your choice and you ride with a unique construction generating leverage off Joe Burrow and Derrick Henry.

Packers-49ers is a high volatility game with two slow-paced teams. However, the high-level skill players in this game provides a ceiling which will not be efficiently rostered in DFS contests. In their earlier meeting, these teams lit up the scoreboard for 58 combined points. In a similar shootout,  it is plausible Davante Adams and Deebo Samuel are the two highest scoring receivers on the slate. I will also be over-weight vs. the field on Aaron Rodgers, Aaron Jones, Brandon Aiyuk, and George Kittle in this game which offers asymmetric upside for its projected ownership.

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Making a Cocktail From the Divisional Round DFS Slate

by Chase Vernon, January 21, 2022

Joe Burrow creates an interactive situation being the first game on the slate. If he crushes and puts up over 30 points to start the week, you can optimize your lineups to make a run in the bigger tournaments. On the other hand, if he is mediocre, you could pivot to play it safe and end in the green, or ultimately sell out for a volatile option who may or may not hit. If you don’t start him and he puts up 40, you can adjust your other lineups knowing Patrick Mahomes or Josh Allen are must-plays because none of the other quarterbacks have it in their range of outcomes.

Finding pieces to compliment the skinny stacks aren’t tricky; I expect all these games to put up at least 48 points. The key to this is maximizing the opportunities each player sees. Players like Tee Higgins and Julio Jones will be utilized in the lineups where I want stronger running backs. Meanwhile, I will maximize the exposure to primary pass catchers. 

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Making a Cocktail From the Wild Card DFS Sunday Slate

by Chase Vernon, January 15, 2022

Building the Saturday slate was painful. It reminded me of a bar guest telling me, “I like everything” when asking what spirit they prefer. At first, you feel like you can do anything your heart desires, only to find out they only like vodka when you grab a bottle. Well, the cocktail I’m going to build for the Wild Card DFS Sunday slate will be a little more fun. 

The Wild Card games seem like a week where some of these players who have been on the cusp of breaking out could actually break the mold for DFS on Sunday. Of course, it doesn’t mean you should load up on these players, but if it improves the flavor, a rinse could be ideal. Tyler Johnson and Quez Watkins both have favorable matchups. Both are seeing the snaps but get used differently. Regardless, a touchdown for either one of these players could return on the investment. 

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The Playoff Pareto Principles: Wild Card Weekend Preview

by Jakob Sanderson, January 14, 2022

Reduced slates are my favorites to play. With fewer games to analyze, the threshold on playable options increases as you require less ceiling from each play to plausibly wind up in the optimal lineup. With fewer options to construct lineups, popular builds and players are further consolidated by the field. This leads to clear strategic inflection points.

In traditional slates, stacking hits a point of diminishing returns. Even in a shootout, the third or fourth highest scoring position player on a team is unlikely to produce enough raw points to ever hit an optimal lineup. The shorter the slate the more you pick ‘games’ over players.

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Making a Cocktail From the Wild Card DFS Saturday Slate

by Chase Vernon, January 13, 2022

The NFL playoffs are here and I couldn’t be more excited. Outside of Thanksgiving, there isn’t a weekend I like more for DFS than the Wild Card, which is why I’m creating a series based on building the best cocktail for each slate. We have familiar teams, offensive stars, and chalk to leverage on both Saturday and Sunday.

Flyers are like bitters. They are made to bring out the aromatics with some flavor, but if you overdo them, it’ll kill your cocktail. Two dashes is preferred: one Angostura and one orange. Finding the perfect flyer is challenging, which is why you don’t want to add too much. However, if you pick the right one – such as Danny Amendola in Week 18 – it will pay off big.

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Manipulating Values on the Gauntlet for Underdog Fantasy

by Chase Vernon, January 12, 2022

The 2021 regular season is over, which means absolutely nothing to those of us who obsess over fantasy football. I kept seeing tweets reading “Week 18 sucks for fantasy” and “It’s stupid to have your fantasy championship in Week 18.” While I agree with the latter, I loved the final week of the regular season and capitalized on the irregularities. However, the season isn’t finished, and a big reason is the Gauntlet from Underdog Fantasy. 

Instead of focusing on stacks and correlations, look for values from those who can get you past the first round and into the green. Treat these drafts as auctions rather than DFS entries. The immediate ROI is significantly more crucial than the future opportunity of a stack. Players like Dak Prescott, Amari Cooper, Odell Beckhams, and Elijah Mitchell can be the 2021 version of Ben Roethlisberger, Chase Claypool, Marquise Brown, and Kareem Hunt.  

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Targeting Games for Week 18 DFS Matchups

by Chase Vernon, January 8, 2022

The second toughest slate – only behind Week 1 – is upon us. The DFS matchups for Week 18 are not easily predicted as there are vast directions each game could go. With seven teams from each conference now making the playoffs, what used to be a throwaway week for fantasy, is now one we can play in hopes of some high-scoring contests. However, where we found values prior to 2020, are now areas with questions.

Although he plays mostly out of the slot, whenever slot corner Byron Murphy lines up there, the Seahawks move Tyler Lockett to the outside. After a massive performance from D.K. Metcalf in Week 17, DraftKings pumped his price up $500 and I expect the field to follow. I’ll be off Metcalf outside of a couple of lineups in Week 18. To finish off the stack on the Seahawks, I don’t mind running Rashaad Penny out with Russell Wilson.

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Targeting Games for Week 17 DFS Matchups

by Chase Vernon, January 2, 2022

The behemoths of all behemoths. There are a plethora of options to choose from the matchups on the Week 17 DFS slate. 14 games are upon us with no byes and no games on Thursday or Saturday. As a result, there’s little reason to fade players due to the spread of ownership projections. However, keep in mind the vast landscape also creates high levels of volatility, and aiming for the ceiling is a must.

When I go with the Dak Prescott-Amari Cooper-Tony Pollard stack, I’ll run it back with Christian Kirk in the slot against (hopefully) Jourdan Lewis. Trevon Diggs doesn’t travel to the inside and will likely line up on A.J. Green throughout the game. Zach Ertz makes sense as well, and don’t sleep on Antoine Wesley.

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