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.
We had a single entry winner in Week 4, with user michaelt0717 taking down the million dollar top prize with just a single entry into the 200k+ entry field. It was a great week for the little guy, with the top four spots — all paying at least $50,000 — all secured by users who entered only one or two lineups.
It doesn’t get much simpler than this. Josh Allen was the highest projected quarterback in our models — and most around the industry — and michaelt0717 paired him with his top pass catcher. That made a ton of sense, as this game had the highest total on the slate, and the Bills were slight favorites.
Allen more than lived up to his projection, scoring five total touchdowns and throwing for over 300 yards. While he spread the ball around to eight different receivers, only Diggs had more than three catches. He took half of his six receptions to the house while totaling 120 yards.
From a strategy standpoint, this stack speaks to the value of pairing a quarterback with only a single option on their team. Especially quarterbacks like Allen, who we can expect to provide some value with their legs. Since we’re banking on some rushing production from the signal caller (they’re unlikely to win a massive GPP without it), it’s hard for them to produce week-winning scores from two separate pass catchers. Gabe Davis has a solid 15-point day for the Bills, but that won’t win any tournaments.
The other interesting part of this lineup is the lack of bring-back from the Dolphins side. The obvious choice was Tyreek Hill, but the Bills schemed their coverage to stop him and held him to just 58 yards on three grabs. It’s probably correct to still use bringbacks most of the time, but this lineup shows it’s not mandatory — especially when the salaries are so high.
For Christian McCaffrey to have a big game, it was necessary for some member of the Cardinals to do some scoring as well. I said I’d pair McCaffrey with a Cardinals player in my Week 4 Main Slate Breakdown, but I never thought it would be Michael Wilson.
McCaffrey handled 20 carries and a season-high eight targets — turning four of those touches into touchdowns — in large part due to Wilson and the Cardinals keeping this game (mildly) competitive. Wilson’s explosion came out of nowhere as the WR3 for Arizona and the lowest-projected of the bunch.
That makes the pick all the more impressive, especially for a single-entry player. I could see getting to Wilson as part of an MME portfolio that mixes and matches Cardinals players, but it takes guts to use him on your only roster.
The only other correlation play here is Nico Collins and Pat Freirmuth. Friermuth was a somewhat popular tight end pick who made sense as a pivot over the chalky low-ceiling Cardinal Zach Ertz. While that theory didn’t work out, it wasn’t enough to tank this lineup.
Mainly because of the explosion from Collins, who was the far less popular receiver from the Texans. The field gravitated heavily to Tank Dell following two strong games, but both players have a roughly equal role, making the ownership discount on Collins worth the extra $500.
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Adam Thielen projected to be, and ultimately was, a popular salary saver at receiver. He was taking on his former team the Vikings and had seen 23 targets the previous two weeks. Thielen isn’t a massive upside player, but he has an extremely strong floor while clearing the salary for my exciting options at other positions.
His 15.20-point performance didn’t win this tournament, but it didn’t lose it either at just $4,500.
Khalil Herbert was an awesome call in retrospect. His Bears took on the Broncos in a game with sneaky shootout potential, and Herbert was just $4,700 despite his RB1 role in the Broncos backfield. While he’s been losing carries to Roschon Johnson in recent weeks, targets are far more valuable — and Herbert has a top 10 target share at the position.
That ended up being the big factor, as Herbert added a 4/19/1 (good for 11.9 DraftKings points) receiving line to his 100 yards on the ground in a game that had 59 total points.
The other somewhat low-owned piece here was the Chargers Defense at $3,100. News broke late Saturday night/early Sunday morning that Jimmy Garoppolo was out for the Raiders, so the Chargers got to play against a fourth-round rookie quarterback. It went about as expected, with seven sacks and three turnovers.
The late-breaking nature of this announcement meant a lot of rosters were locked into their previous builds and unwilling or unable to pivot to the newly-strong Chargers (with Baltimore also strong for similar reasons.) The two units facing rookie quarterbacks making spot starts came in third and fourth in ownership while outscoring both of the top two teams easily.
That’s a good reminder that late news is more valuable than early news, with plenty of lineups built earlier in the weekend. It’s also another point to the “fade the chalk defense” argument, as defensive scoring is hard to predict.