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.
Top Game Environment Exposure
We should notice a commonality amongst most of the exposure on the winning roster – six of the eight skill position players played in the three games with the highest game totals heading into the weekend (Kansas City @ Houston, Philadelphia @ Chicago, and Dallas @ Jacksonville). The primary lesson here is that each of those three games included top offenses in games that played out differently than public perception due to the large spread in each spot. As in, both the Chiefs and Eagles were double-digit road favorites and ended up playing to close games. The Jaguars were home underdogs and ended up winning in overtime. The perception in those spots left little room for players to consider that the games themselves might play out differently than Vegas implied, with all of Patrick Mahomes, Jerick McKinnon, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Travis Kelce, A.J. Brown, and Zay Jones checking in with lower ownership than we would have seen would their respective game spreads have been tighter. Simply gaining exposure to top expected offenses at low ownership is a surefire way to increase expected value over time.
DraftKings user RyanR1 utilized a secondary correlation of Rashid Shaheed and Tyler Allgeier, both of whom were under-owned and cheap. We've covered the strategy of pay-down running backs in this space before, so we'll leave that discussion out when talking about Allgeier. That said, these two players hit completely independent of each other but were optimally played together due to the additional paths to bulk scoring the correlation opened up. As in, although Shaheed hit early in the game with a 68-yard touchdown for the second score of the game, and although Allgeier then erupted for 139 yards on the ground when the team fell into an early 14-0 deficit, the per-touch upside of each of the plays individually gave them additional “outs” to hitting as a collective, increasing the percentage chance of bulk scoring emerging from the pair.
To best highlight what correlation means from a statistical sense, consider the raw probabilities of hitting an optimal lineup on a slate with 20 teams playing, as was the case this week. We're talking astronomical odds. You would have to get the exact right quarterback out of 20, the exact right running backs out of up to 40 (two per team), the exact right wide receivers out of 60 (three per team), the exact right tight end out of 20, the exact right flex out of the remaining pieces, and the exact right defense out of 20. Mathematically, that equates to the following equation:
That is the reason we have never seen an optimal roster in the many years of the Milly Maker on DraftKings, with each contest having 200,000-400,000 entries per run. That is also the reason why correlation is an optimal practice, in that a bet on a game environment simultaneously increases the chances of points being scored as well as getting multiple pieces “correct” at the same time. So, back to Rashid Shaheed and Tyler Allgeier, the correlated pairing reduces the variables while also increasing the combined upside from two positions. If don't correctly (there are many instances that correlation does not directly improve the chances of one or more pieces hitting at the same time), correlation is a great practice to fold into your daily fantasy repertoire. And finally, since the bulk of the field is privy to this information and practice already, the act of utilizing secondary correlations, like was found on RyanR1's roster, is something to begin implementing before the field fully grasps the upside potential.
Team Over-stack Without Correlation
Four players from the same team without a correlated bring-back? That seems strange to most players, right? The practice of over-stacking is simply an attempt to capture most of the scoring from a single team in a good environment for points to be scored. Leveraging our discussion on optimal rosters above, the fact of the matter is we don't need optimal in order to win at this game, we need to beat the others playing it. Thusly, capturing bulk points through being over exposed to a top offense on a slate can be a +EV endeavor. And that's before we even consider variant acts like overtime and game environments playing out differently than expected.
Josh Allen + Stefon Diggs + Gabe Davis (Team Over-stack Without Correlation)
This stack will look familiar to my One Week Season fam after I covered Jalen Hurts and his pass-catchers last week. Basically, Justin Fields is currently capable of keeping games close all by himself due to the state of the Chicago Bears, who have no singular pass-catcher outside of tight end Cole Kmet that plays more than 60-65% of the offensive snaps. But the ability of Fields to do so much on his own means that games against the Bears have played closer than public perception of late, meaning we can capture bulk upside from teams against them without having to worry about correlation on the other side – particularly due to how weak the Chicago defense is. Furthermore, we've seen secondary pieces from the Bills excel recently due to the opponents Buffalo has played, with the Dolphins, Jets, and Patriots all capable of generating pressure up front. The Bears are not in the same stratosphere as far as defensive push up front goes, meaning Josh Allen should have more time for the higher per-touch upside pieces to develop their routes, leaving this stack as one of the higher upside stacks available on the Week 16 main slate.
J.K. Dobbins + Drake London (Secondary Correlation)
Dobbins returned from injured reserve in Week 14 to lead the Ravens in rush attempts and production, surging for more than 120 yards on the ground in each contest. He now gets an Atlanta defense allowing the fifth most rush yards per game this season and is now three full weeks removed from injured reserve. Drake London holds the eighth highest targets per route run rate (30.1%) and 10th highest team target market share (28.1%) on the season and just saw 42.3% of the team's targets in Desmond Ridder's first start of his career. Furthermore, the path of least resistance against the Ravens is through the air as the team ranks third in yards allowed per carry but 16th in yards allowed per pass. Both players are cheap and provide similar upside to what we saw last week with Rashid Shaheed and Tyler Allgeier.
Ja'Marr Chase + Jakobi Meyers (Secondary Correlation)
The Bengals played Week 15 down to corners and lost Cam Taylor-Britt during the game, meaning they might be forced to play down three starters in the secondary against the Patriots. Jakobi Meyers returned from a missed game to see only 62% of the offensive snaps for New England but will be another week removed from his concussion. Finally, the Patriots have been largely incapable of slowing down elite wide receivers this season after the exodus of top-tier talent from their secondary this past offseason. These two combine to provide multiple paths to elite upside in a game environment unlikely to get a lot of attention this week.
Seahawks, Chiefs, Eagles, and Cowboys (Top Game Environment Exposure)
There are currently only two games with game totals over 47.0 points on the Week 16 main slate – Seattle @ Kansas City and Philadelphia @ Dallas. And while the latter holds a small 1.5-point spread, the former has the Chiefs currently instilled as 9.5-point favorites. That said, I leave you with some questions to end this piece this week. Might either of those games play out differently than public perception? What are some ways to gain exposure to each game in ways the field is unlikely to utilize? Can you see any avenues to leverage from either of those situations?