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.
It was an interesting week in tournaments, with the winners decided by who could fit the most Dolphins in their lineup. This week’s millionaire maker winner claimed four of the top five spots on the leaderboard. Besides the winning lineup, we’ll look at all of ctoujague’s exposure while focusing on the lineups that finished near the top.
Despite the massive 70-point score put up by Miami, this week’s Millionaire Maker winner didn’t use Tua Tagovailoa at quarterback. However, ctoujague used Tua in his 3rd place lineup and five of their 45 lineups.
The winner used a Lions single stack, though, with quarterback Jared Goff and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta. The Lions were expected to throw more in this spot with David Montgomery ruled out, and Detroit’s top receivers were also banged up. He used Goff in five lineups, all of which were paired with LaPorta or pass-catching running back Jahmyr Gibbs.
The Gibbs lineups were nothing special, but LaPorta led a weak tight end in position in overall scoring. He was a great GPP play with far more upside than the other options in his price range. He didn’t bring his Lions skinny stack back with any Falcons pieces, correctly betting on Atlanta being unable to produce much fantasy scoring.
Of course, he did have multiple Dolphins players in Tyreek Hill and Raheem Mostert. This was a bet on the Dolphins getting off to a lead through Hill and holding on to it with Mostert. With Jaylen Waddle out, there were plenty of scenarios where Hill drew such a large chunk of the Dolphins’ passing production that he was a week-winner without bringing his quarterback along with him.
There were Tua lineups that could’ve won, but the extra $500 in savings allowed him to get to the other pieces in this lineup. This is a good reminder that we don’t necessarily have to have the highest-scoring stack or quarterback.
Separating from the field at a weak position and saving salary for other pieces is also valuable.
We mentioned the Dolphins pairing, which was a must-have this week. RB1s and WR1s on the same team have a correlation of 0.29 on average but certainly are more linked in certain spots. Like when that wide receiver draws a massive share of his team’s targets.
Technically, Devon Achane was the Dolphins’ RB1 in this one with a ridiculous 54.30 DraftKings score. Nobody saw the Dolphins backup running back going off in such a fashion, though, and he was owned in just 0.3% of lineups. None of those handful of lineups got enough right to win anything of consequence.
The only other correlated pieces in this lineup are running back Kenneth Walker of the Seahawks and wide receiver Adam Thielen of the Panthers. Thielen was a logical piece here, as the Panthers’ passing attack got a boost by switching to Andy Dalton at quarterback.
Pairing opposing receivers and running backs always makes sense, as there’s a scenario where both get more volume. Namely, the running back’s team takes a lead early. That causes the leading team to run more and the trailing team to pass more. With Seattle as moderate favorites coming into the game, that was the likeliest way this one would play out.
The bigger lesson here — and one I’ve been convinced of since last year — is that we don’t need a ton of correlation in massive contests like this. With a few exceptions, winning a Milly Maker requires having the highest-scoring player at every position.
In particular, multiple pass catchers on the same team can limit your odds of doing so. There’s only one football per game, and teammates cannibalize each other’s production to an extent. Double stacks (particularly with a bring-back) make sense in smaller tournaments as they limit the number of things you need to get right. However, to have any hope here, you need to get at least seven or eight right, regardless of how correlated they are.
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There were four defenses that most of the field flocked to in Week 3. This lineup from ctoujague went with Buffalo — the second most popular overall. While it’s normally a bad idea to play chalky defenses since their scoring is somewhat random, when a defense goes off for 32 points, they’re a must-have. No other unit topped 16 points.
Tank Dell was also popular as a salary saver. He was the fourth-most owned receiver overall (with Hill coming in second). While there were a few viable options in his price range, Dell had by far the best projection. He finished with more points than any other wideout under $5,700.
This lineup was fairly chalky overall. However, it was built in a unique way. No Tua or Broncos bringback with Hill, two cheap receivers, and just one piece from the Chargers-Vikings game. It’s okay to play into high ownership if you can find unique combinations.
The only players owned at sub-10% were the Lions stack mentioned above. This became more unique by not adding in a Falcons bringback and pairing Goff with a single pass catcher. It’s generally better to pair pocket passers with two receivers unless the offense is super concentrated on one.
While not technically a sleeper, Keenan Allen is an honorable mention here. He was just the third most popular wideout in his game this week. I also suspect most lineups with Allen had at least one other pass catcher and a quarterback from that contest, making this version somewhat contrarian.
You can actually read more about how they landed on these lineups here — as our friends at RotoGrinders interviewed them.