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2023 NFL Week 8 DFS: Lessons Learned From a Winning Lineup

Reflection is an extremely underrated aspect of consistent DFS play. Think about this: How do pitchers, wide receivers or financial analysts remain on top?

They do so by learning, growing, being open to new ideas and practices, tweaking what works and what doesn’t and changing with the games themselves.

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 8 slate and compare those conclusions with rosters from some of the top players in the game.

Week 8 DFS Lessons Learned

Week 8 Observations

NFL Week Teams Scoring 28 or More Points
Week 1 7
Week 2 12
Week 3 7
Week 4 11
Week 5 7
Week 6 2
Week 7 8
Week 8 9

Of the nine teams to score 28 or more points in Week 8, there was just one game where both teams playing managed to do so. There was one such game in Week 7, none in Week 6, none in Week 5, two in Week 4, none in Week 3, four in Week 2 and one in Week 1. This data should reinforce the changing dynamics of the NFL and, more importantly to us, the DFS landscape.

Before Week 1, we speculated that the downturn in scoring around the league during the previous three seasons would likely change optimal DFS strategy away from the “standard DFS core” (a quarterback plus one pass-catcher and a correlated bring-back from the other team). That strategy developed at a time when scoring was much higher throughout the league. Now that we have a solid eight-week sample size, we can move that hypothesis closer to the data-backed fact, leaving those who fail to adjust in the dust.

Furthermore, we theorized that the resultant strategy shift with scoring down around the league would make skinny stacks (a quarterback plus one pass-catcher and nothing else) and game over-stacks theoretically optimal strategy moving forward. Through the season’s first eight weeks, we’ve had six Millionaire Maker winnings utilize a skinny stack and two utilize a game over-stack. Again, the results have inched theory closer and closer to fact.

Roster Examination

DraftKings user clothsofheaven took down the $555 entry Millionaire Maker in Week 8, besting a field of 5,050 entries. As you probably noticed right away, there were some significant fantasy scores not present on the winning roster. CeeDee Lamb’s slate-leading eruption was missing, as were elite scores from DeAndre Hopkins, Tyreek Hill, Ja’Marr Chase, Jahan Dotson, Trey McBride, Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara. Even so, there were numerous things clothsofheaven got right to ship the Milly Maker.

Four primary decisions were elite from clothsofheaven in Week 8. First, the core roster starting point of Brock Purdy and George Kittle combined for 50-plus DraftKings points and a solid 4.65 salary multiplier. Some might doubt the upside of Purdy in that spot, but he is the quarterback for the team scoring the second-most points per game this season.

Kittle has absurd splits with Deebo Samuel in and out of the lineup over the previous three seasons and failed in Week 7 against a Minnesota Vikings defense leading the league in blitz rate. In other words, Kittle, the league’s top inline tight end, was used to block at an elevated rate against the Vikings but was set up well to run more routes against the Cincinnati Bengals. The modest expected ownership of both players generated solid leverage heading into the weekend.

Second, Gus Edwards had operated as the primary back in a positive game script for the Baltimore Ravens, who were playing an Arizona Cardinals defense near the bottom of the league in yards allowed per carry and rushing scores allowed this season. Edwards provided leverage off of Lamar Jackson and, more importantly, the highest expected ownership on the slate in WR Zay Flowers.

Next, Jaylen Waddle entered Week 8 with just one game where he led the team in receiving. That occurred in Week 2 against the New England Patriots. That makes sense, considering Bill Belichick’s propensity to allocate additional assets toward stopping his opposition’s top play-maker, which again transpired in Week 8 with Tyreek Hill. Waddle led the team in receiving, surpassing 100 yards for the first time this season while also finding the end zone.

Finally, Rashid Shaheed provided dual leverage against the high ownership of Kamara and the first pivot option in Chris Olave in one of the top expected game environments on the slate. He returned a career game on only three receptions, each for around 50 yards.

Beyond the individual plays on clothsofheaven’s roster, notice how a skinny stack surrounded by upside one-off plays anchored the roster, reinforcing the theoretical discussion from above.

Moving forward, we would do well to embrace additional variance while focusing on skinny stacks, game over-stacks and one-offs from teams expected to score a lot of points.

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