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. Rather than going through every position, we’ll focus on key lessons that can be learned — and maybe even some mistakes worth avoiding.
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 6’s winner:
WestchesterBC took this one down with just a single lineup, and it’s a thing of beauty. This lineup fits all of the things we’ve talked about this year, and it worked to perfection. We’ll get into each point as we go through the review using the FantasyLabs Contest Dashboard Tool.
I’m still fairly convinced that outside of massive blowup games, running “skinny stacks” with a quarterback paired with just one pass catcher — and potentially a bring-back — is the optimal strategy in massive contests. In smaller tournaments, deeper stacks limit how many things you need to get right, but for contests like the Milly Maker, we need to be perfect, not just right.
That’s what WestchesterBC did here, pairing Joe Burrow with Ja’Marr Chase and bringing it back with Alvin Kamara. Chase was projecting very well and was also way less popular than Stefon Diggs, who came in just over 25%. Chase ended up outscoring Diggs by a few points while also saving some salary.
That shouldn’t be a shock, with the Saints missing top cornerback Marshon Lattimore and the Bengals’ No. 2 wideout Tee Higgins battling injuries. While the Bills usually have an attack more concentrated on Diggs, the emergence of Gabe Davis and the return of Isaiah McKenzie made that less of a given this week.
Cincinnati had enough other weapons to make Burrow worth playing, though. Both Higgins and Tyler Boyd had six catches each, and Burrow finished with 300 yards and three touchdowns.
WestchesterBC brought it back with Alvin Kamara, another excellent play. Most players force wide receivers or tight ends from the team opposite their stack, so this provided even more leverage than Kamara’s ownership suggests. With Chris Olave and Michael Thomas out, Kamara was effectively the WR1 in New Orleans, as well as the top running back.
Andy Dalton is also a better fantasy QB for Kamara, thanks to his willingness to check the ball down. He was starting for Jameis Winston this week. If anything, Kamara ran a bit bad. He finished with 99 rushing yards, one shy of the three-point bonus.
Deon Jackson was another sharp play by WestchesterBC. With both Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines ruled out for the Colts, he was the last man standing in their backfield. Normally that would have made him chalky at just $5,200, but Week 6 was a special case.
Darrel Henderson, Rhamondre Stevenson, Eno Benjamin, and Kenneth Walker were all in similar situations. Those four were known to be the starters for their teams early in the week, where Taylor was ruled out on Sunday. The field naturally owned all of them more, with Benjamin and Stevenson around 40% and Walker and Henderson in the 20% range.
There were reasonable questions about each back, though. Stevenson and Walker were underdogs, and neither profiled as likely to be highly involved in the passing game. The Rams had already announced a committee of sorts, so Henderson was a bit pricey, considering his status.
The only one who seemed definitively better than Jackson was Benjamin, but the Cardinals struggling offense was a concern there. The broader point is that nothing is guaranteed, and opting for the lower-owned player in similar situations is normally the right move. Our ownership projections — as well as a brief glance around the industry — correctly identified that as Jackson this week, and he paid off.
That won’t always be the case, but those are the risks necessary in massive tournaments, especially when entering just one lineup.
The only players in this lineup owned over 10% were Kamara and Chase — who likely had combined ownership way less than that. Well done, WestchesterBC.
Where to start? Jaylen Waddle is quickly becoming a weekly threat to break the slate — no matter who is at QB. He’s a boom-or-bust option, thanks to his extremely deep route tree. Those busts keep his ownership and salary down.
Brandon Aiyuk fits a similar bill. His streakiness is more due to the bulk of production coming from YAC, but the same logic applies. He figured to be extra-involved if this game turned into a shootout — which it did due to the injuries on the 49ers defense. A perfect example of second-order thinking — profiting off the 49ers’ defensive injuries by using their offensive pieces rather than their opponents.
JuJu Smith-Schuster had a quiet start to his tenure in Kansas City. However, he trailed only Travis Kelce in targets for the Chiefs — with a deeper aDOT. In the week’s best game environment, he was largely overlooked by the field. It will be interesting to see if this was an anomaly for the Chiefs’ nominal WR1 or a sign of things to come.
Robert Tonyan is the one play I have no explanation for. He wasn’t projecting especially well, the Jets are a fairly tough defense, and there were seemingly better options in his price range. Then Randall Cobb went down, the Jets got off to a lead, Big Bob saw 12 targets, and WestchesterBC is a millionaire. For what it’s worth, Evan Engram and Dawson Knox were both cheaper and projecting better. This lineup still would’ve won with either of them.
Finally, the star of the lineup: a sub-1 % owned defense. I’m not sure how WestchesterBC arrived on the Cardinals, but they recorded six sacks, an interception, and a fumble-six against the Seahawks. They were also the lowest-owned defense on the week — both in our projections and in actuality. If that was the extent of the thought process, it proves what we’ve said all year: defense is the spot to be contrarian.