Reflection is an underrated aspect of consistent DFS play. Think about this: How do the best pitchers, wide receivers or financial analysts remain on top through the changing dynamics of the game or the markets they play in?
They do so by consistently learning, growing, being open to new ideas and practices, tweaking what works and what doesn’t and changing with the game.
Reviewing your mistakes can give you staying power in any competition. Most of the top DFS players examine their play the following week — so what edge can we gain over even the most die-hard players?
Let’s examine the Week 4 slate and compare those conclusions with rosters from some of the top players in the game.
Week 4 DFS Lessons Learned
We shouldn’t understate the importance of raw points, particularly with league-wide scoring down. That importance takes on an even greater meaning at D/ST, where we typically see the heaviest rate of fragile chalk develop.
Looking back, the New England Patriots ranked in the top 10 in the league in pass rate over expectation and were near the top in pace of play. Those two aspects of their team tendencies create more opportunities for defensive scoring against them – more offensive plays and more times dropping back to pass means more opportunities for sacks, turnovers, and defensive touchdowns against them. They wrapped that all up in a package to take on the top overall defense in the league. And yet, the Dallas Cowboys D/ST was rostered at a 2.6 percent clip in the $555 Millionaire Maker contest on DraftKings.
We can use the same thought process to justify chalk at volume positions such as quarterback and running back. Christian McCaffrey and Kyren Williams combined to be on 58.3 percent of rosters in play in the $555 Millionaire Maker, which mattered less considering they finished as two of the top three running backs on the slate (McCaffrey first and Williams third). Again, the power of raw points outweighed any exposure levels from the field.
How, then, do those two ideologies compare to one another? Salary and expected field exposure levels matter far less at more variant positions such as D/ST and tight end. At the same time, we should be more willing to accept chalk at more projectable positions such as quarterback and running back. And it’s pretty simple – we are much better at projecting a range of running back and quarterback outcomes because fantasy production is closely tied to volume and touchdowns. But because touchdowns at those two positions are also easier to project through metrics like team red zone touchdown rate, team red zone rush-pass ratios, and Vegas implied team totals, we’re able to project their ranges of outcomes more accurately when compared to the more variant aspects of how D/ST generate their scoring.
The same is true for wide receivers, who typically have a much broader range of outcomes than quarterbacks and running backs. Tight ends are also extremely variant, with an increased rate of their fantasy production coming from touchdowns around the league.
DraftKings user themachinebrf included many of these ideas in their winning roster construction from Week 4. Williams and McCaffrey appear on the winning roster at elevated rostership numbers, but it didn’t matter because they were two of the top on-paper plays heading into the weekend. The Cowboys D/ST scored a whopping 27.00 DK points on the backs of two defensive touchdowns, immediately making them the optimal defense due to the difference in scoring between them and the other defenses on the slate. They became a “had to have it” piece and were present on just 2.6 percent of the rosters in this contest.
If we’re splitting hairs and analyzing this roster thoroughly, theoretical points were left on the table by not correlating the tight end to the quarterback (which we discussed previously this season). Including Cole Kmet would have reduced the variables while increasing the total upside on the roster.
Either way, the combination of players providing elite-level production on this roster made it so there was room for certain mistakes. Even with poor relative performances from Logan Thomas, Marquise Brown, and Jerome Ford, themachinebrf became the newest fantasy millionaire with a roster that blew away the competition, outscoring the field by a whopping 16.7 DraftKings points.