As DFS players, we spend most of our time looking forward to the next slate, the next season, etc. Equally important, though, is looking back. Figuring out the thought process that leads to winning lineups is crucial. That’s what makes us better players long term.
Each week in 2022, I’ll look at the winning lineup in DraftKings Millionaire Maker Contest with an eye for how the lucky winner arrived at the lineup that took it down. We’ll focus on the key lessons of the winning lineup — and maybe even some mistakes to avoid.
While a high degree of positive variance is necessary to win a contest of this size (the standard $20 contests have over 236,000 entrants, there’s still a large amount of skill involved to get to a position to benefit from that variance.
Here’s Week 15’s winner:
RyanR1 took down this week’s contest with just a single lineup. Even more impressively, it wasn’t particularly close — the second place lineup was a dozen points back of the winner. We’ll dig into how they did it below.
As always, information on every DFS contest is available with the FantasyLabs Contest Dashboard Tool. It’s an important resource to review what worked, what didn’t, and what the top pros are doing on a weekly basis.
The completely unorthodox stack used here jumps off the page. RyanR1 used four Chiefs offensive players without having a single bring-back from the Texans. Conventional wisdom suggests that was an incorrect move — the Chiefs shouldn’t be able to support four big fantasy scores without somebody on the Texans having a big day.
This week though, they did. Davis Mills was responsible for all three of the Texans’ touchdowns, running in one and throwing two to players who had otherwise quiet days. Because of that, no single Houston player posted a “have to have it” score. Jordan Akins outscored Travis Kelce from a per-dollar standpoint, but ultimately raw points are what wins tournaments.
With huge scores from other cheaper players in this lineup, paying up for the premium combination of Kelce and Patrick Mahomes proved optimal. JuJu Smith-Schuster has a solid game as well but could’ve been replaced with similarly priced wideouts without ruining this lineup.
The real key was the addition of Jerick McKinnon, who, at $5,200, nearly outscored his $8,200 quarterback. It was clear early in the week this was a great matchup for the Chiefs on the ground, and RyanR1 was able to correctly pick which Chief running back to roster.
While none of the individual members of this stack came in below 8.3% ownership, we can safely assume that almost nobody else played all four of them together — especially without a Texan coming back.
Zay Jones is the only member of this roster to carry significant ownership outside of the Kansas City stack. Since this lineup used most of its salary on the Chiefs, RyanR1’s hand was forced a bit in finding value elsewhere on the slate. Jones was projecting as a solid mid-priced wide receiver with a strong game script.
The 6/109/3 line on Jones ended up being the best fantasy game of his career, which was certainly fortunate for RyanR1. Still a sharp play, of course, given Jones’ recent role, Trevor Lawrence emerging as a top quarterback, and the expected flow of the game with Dallas.
A.J. Brown was neither sleeper nor chalk here but doesn’t fit anywhere else, so it merits discussing. Brown is the GPP conversation on a weekly basis, with slate-breaking upside. With the Eagles being a run-first offense, the consistency isn’t always there, but he has slate-breaking upside. Brown is the archetypal ceiling play — with a scoring distribution reminiscent of Tyreek Hill with the Chiefs. While there wasn’t anything about this week that stood out as a Brown ceiling game, they’ll pop up sporadically with little warning.
Of course, what really differentiated this lineup was Tyler Allgeier and Rashid Shaheed. Shaheed was a sneaky play, coming in at roughly three percent ownership. However, it wasn’t totally off the wall (I used Shaheed in cash in Week 15). Algier came in at less than one-tenth that ownership.
Truth be told, it’s very hard to see how RyanR1 landed on Allgeier. Allgeier hadn’t topped double-digit DraftKings points in over a month, and his previous high was just 17.50. The game had a fairly low total, and he’s in a split backfield. Perhaps it was just a case of being the best option that fit the available salary.
With that said, it was a positive expected matchup for the Falcons on the ground, with the Saints ranking 22nd in adjusted line yards. Additionally, Allgeier and Shaheed fit the opposing running back/wide receiver correlation that is often overlooked. Whether that factored into the decision or not is impossible to say for sure, but it certainly worked out. I’d guess it was more a matter of salary being tight after rostering the Chiefs and Brown, but who knows.
Finally, RyanR1 went with a lower-owned defense in Tennessee. The chalk was Denver, who scored an extra five points but cost $500 more in salary. That makes Denver the better play in theory, but not at 10 times the ownership. As always, playing the most popular defense is a negative-EV move.