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2023 NFL Week 5 DFS Lineup Recap: What We Can Learn From Results

In DFS, crafting the perfect lineup is an art and a science. It requires a deep understanding of player dynamics, game environments and the unpredictable nature of sports. 

In the following article, we will review two of our lineups to give you insight into how we constructed them and where we went wrong.

Mark Garcia’s Review

Contest: NFL $3.5 Fantasy Football Millionaire [$1 million to 1st]

Entrants: 207,215

This reflection is going to be slightly different from the previous weeks for me. I made the decision to transition my play to MME away from SE and 3-Max for the Week 5 slate, and I will likely continue on that path moving forward. As such, I think it will be more beneficial to examine some of the rules I fed into optimizers, in addition to some of the big stands I took on a given week.

In Week 5, I took four major stands:

The Miami backfield was one of the spots of most certainty for me heading into the weekend. The New York Giants had allowed 1.80 yards before contact per rush, which ranked 32nd in the league, and the Dolphins led the league in explosive rush rate. We saw the combination of those two metrics come to life with Achane’s 76-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

The Lions were without Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jahmyr Gibbs, leaving Montgomery alone to handle the bulk of the backfield work and rookie TE LaPorta alone to handle the bulk of the work over the middle of the field. This rule was on track to crush until the game environment got out of hand and Craig Reynolds entered the backfield picture for mop-up duties.

Regarding the Texans, here is an excerpt from one of my written works this week leading into the weekend:

“Quarterback C.J. Stroud is averaging more than 300 pass yards per game through his first four NFL starts, which is truly remarkable. Collins and Dell both rank in the top 18 in receiving grade, yards per route run, and targets per route run against man coverage, while the (Atlanta) Falcons have employed man coverage at a top-10 rate in the league this season. Overall, Collins ranks fourth in yards per route run (3.57), and Dell ranks 18th (2.32). Collins ranks fifth in fantasy points per route run against man coverage (2.74), and Dell ranks sixth (2.57). The two have combined for 56.1 percent of the team’s air yards this season and have been on the receiving end of five of Stroud’s six touchdown passes this season. A rule of ‘at least one of Collins/Dell on every roster’ is not out of the question here. There is a chance standout and lockdown corner A.J. Terrell shadows Collins after the Atlanta defensive back lined up opposite Calvin Ridley on 79 percent of his snaps in Week 4, which could set Dell in secondary man coverage for most of the game.”

All of that was accurate, but a second-quarter concussion suffered by Dell simultaneously took him out of the game and allowed Terrell to shadow Collins for the remainder of it. Dell had 57 yards on three receptions prior to departing, and the Houston offense managed just one scoring drive before the two-minute warning in the second half without Dell on the field.

The Cardinals angle was my largest leverage on the field, a field that was certain the Cincinnati Bengals could not fail on the road in a tough environment. Joe Burrow ranked near the bottom of the league in intended air yards per pass attempt during the first month of the season, and Jonathan Gannon’s Cardinals defense utilizes a modified two-high defensive structure with shallow safeties.

In other words, Burrow has been unable to throw deep due to his calf injury, and the Cardinals were likely to have all 11 bodies within 12 yards of the line of scrimmage. I placed too much emphasis on this spot, and it ended up costing me the week (as in, none of my 150 entries in the Milly Maker on DraftKings cashed), which makes sense considering that the highest score of the week came from Arizona’s opponent (Ja’Marr Chase) and that Conner left with a knee injury at the beginning of the second quarter following a 35-yard run. He had 46 yards on six carries prior to departing.

Some might look at a return of $0 on an investment of $3,000 as a striking failure (to be straight, it was not good), but the process that led to my portfolio management was tight heading into the week and was heavily influenced by injury variance. I can live with that.

Expect more MME write-ups and reflections moving forward.

Jordan Vanek’s Lineup

Contest: NFL $60K Red Zone [Single Entry] [Afternoon Only]

Entrants: 1,400

My main slate lineup faced challenges due to injuries to key players such as Dell and Anthony Richardson. Instead of breaking that down, I wanted to give you guys an afternoon-only slate breakdown.

On a smaller slate, you need to take big stances. Instead of following the crowd and targeting the Kansas City ChiefsMinnesota Vikings game, I decided to go against the grain and attack the Bengals-Cardinals matchup. This move provided a clear leverage opportunity.

By opting for Josh Dobbs and Zach Ertz, I gained significant salary relief compared with the popular duo of Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce. I maintained confidence in the Chiefs' ability to score, especially against the turnover-prone Vikings. To maximize this potential, I constructed a lineup featuring Isiah Pacheco and the Chiefs' defense, hoping to capitalize on multiple touchdowns and turnovers.

The runback for me in this game was going to be Chase, and to keep it simple, I knew he would get a ton of volume without Tee Higgins. I didn’t believe Burrow would be able to push the ball down the field because of his calf, but he proved me wrong, and that’s something to adjust going forward. 

Recognizing that Jalen Hurts' success hinged on his rushing ability, I made D'Andre Swift a crucial part of my lineup. Additionally, I wanted A.J. Brown because I saw him as a dominant player against the Los Angeles Rams’ primary coverages and because the Rams have struggled against big, physical wide receivers. The budget constraints prevented me from fully stacking the Cardinals game with Joe Mixon. Nevertheless, I found a great consolation prize by selecting Breece Hall, given his prime matchup against the Denver Broncos.

I would not change anything about the process in this lineup — the results would obviously push me toward a Hurts double-stack with Dallas Goedert or to find a way to Burrow over Dobbs. When attacking the afternoon- or early-only slate, don’t be afraid to avoid what the rest of the field is doing and be different.

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