Week two saw some of the stone chalk on the slate bust heavy. If you were high on the supposed shootout game of the week in the Cowboys/Chargers, it was not a good week for you. It is a fascinating study on how the DFS hive-mind will fixate on a particular game as a can’t miss. Even when there are plenty of other just as viable options on the table. Then a FOMO sets in, and it feels like if you don’t stack up that game or at least get pieces of it, you’ll kick yourself when the chalk hits.
Going into the slate, I was actually very high on the Cardinals/Vikings and Seattle/Tennessee game environments for stacking. I identified those as the two best pivot spots off the Dallas/LAC game. It turned out that this was indeed a good strategy as both of those games produced fantasy fireworks. At the same time, the Cowboys/Chargers utterly failed to meet expectations.
The only issue is that due to my highly correlative DFS approach, I like to get pieces of multiple games in secondary and third correlations in my lineups. I had too much Dallas/LAC spread out throughout my lineups as I wasn’t making a complete stand to fade the game entirely. Not that I didn’t also have primary stacks of that game, but I did make a point of having a good amount of other game stacks that didn’t project as well but came at an ownership discount.
The other thing that made it difficult to do well in GPPs was that four random defenses totally killed it with 19-22 DKP a piece. It was challenging to win a large field tournament without one of them. So, even if you had an otherwise good lineup, you had to hope you had one of the Bills/Bears/Pats/Bucs in it. Derrick Henry also broke the slate by scoring almost double what the next closest RB put up, so no Henry, likely no cash. It was one of those weeks where there were not as many paths to first place. Having one of the high-scoring defenses and Henry was crucial.
I did have an excellent week in cash games and head-to-heads. My cash lineup pretty much just played the best plays with some minor tweaks, which so much of the field fails to do. My ROI was 100% on double-ups and near 50% on head-to-heads.
As for my top plays articles and how the players did, keep in mind that these articles only tell you who the best plays are according to an aggregate of projection models throughout the industry. The simple “best plays” each week will become the cash game staples of all of the top pros in the DFS industry. These will also become the highest-owned plays in tournaments. There is a reason for this. No one’s going to outsmart an aggregate of the sharpest models made by the most brilliant minds in the industry.
In tournaments, one must consider ownership and pivot away from the “best plays” to an extent. Still, if you don’t even know what they are, you are lost entirely. When I list top plays by ceiling potential, mid-range value, and inexpensive value, I’m essentially just attempting to outline the actual best plays based on projection. Occasionally I may throw in a tournament flyer-type play, but that isn’t the primary goal.
With that said, here is a recap of how the top plays I listed for week two did.
Christian McCaffrey put up 24.7 DKP and 22.2 FDP. This is an excellent example of just how strong his floor is. He didn’t hit his ceiling but still put up a score that, while not enough to warrant his price tag, wouldn’t wholly tank a lineup. He was even out of the game with leg cramps for a while, yet still, put up 24.7 DKP.
Alvin Kamara only managed a paltry 7 DKP/5 FDP. In week two, Kamara was an unfathomable bust and proved that his floor was not what we hoped. In the past, we’ve seen a guy who rarely fails to exceed expectations when given the reigns in New Orleans with Michael Thomas out. He has no Latavius Murray to contend with anymore. You’d think that Jameis could be an upgrade over the version of Brees we saw last year in terms of overall fantasy potential for the Saints offense. The Saints simply couldn’t get anything going at all. We may have to alter our expectations for Kamara going forward until we see a shift in New Orleans.
Najee Harris did about what we may have expected with 19.1 DKP and 16.6 FDP. No crazy ceiling score, but the solid floor and median made him a cash-game staple.
Chris Carson hit 15.1 fantasy points on both sites. Same deal as Najee: got the job done for cash games, not a great tournament ceiling GPP score. It wouldn’t ruin a lineup but didn’t crush expectation.
Chase Edmonds was a riskier play, which we all knew, but he was cheap. He didn’t totally fail for his $4,900 price on DK with 12.5 DKP, but nothing extraordinary. He was a bargain that enabled you to pay up at other spots.
DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett: as I said in my article, one was very likely to do well, but we didn’t and never will know which. Lockett did indeed come in as WR2 on both sites with 34.8 DKP and 27.8 FDP. Metcalf busted. They rarely, if ever, both get there. It is just how it is.
Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb were both mega-chalk in the most popular game of the week. There is no DFS resource that I am aware of that wouldn’t have considered them both top plays. Amari totally busted and failed to eclipse 5 fantasy points on FanDuel. Lamb put up a mediocre score in the teens on both sites. If playing cash games, it was likely that you would have played one or the other. If you played Lamb, which I fortunately did, it was enough for that format. Amari, not so much.
I primarily focused on that game since it was the premier DFS game of the week for clear best plays. On the other side of the ball for the Chargers, Keenan Allen put up a mediocre score as well as the game just didn’t shoot out. It was acceptable for cash games but not tourneys. Cedrick Wilson for the Cowboys was a punt play banking on the game environment and loss of Gallup. He busted entirely, but we weren’t expecting much. Jalen Guyton was the cheap punt on the other side of the ball for LAC. He, too, did almost nothing. This game just didn’t produce.
I mentioned Darren Waller and George Kittle as ceiling plays because they are just that. At their best, they are likely to put up a TE score that is simply beyond what most tight ends in the league are capable of. This was not that weak. Kittle put up around 5 DKP and Waller just over 10. They were, however, the only legitimately high-upside tight ends on the slate outside of Kyle Pitts. That is assuming he is indeed what people think he is at the NFL level. He and Gronk, assuming he continues to drink from the fountain of youth. Or maybe he’s just drinking Brady’s green shakes.
It made sense to go back to the Pitts well after his bust in week one. He put up around the same score as Waller on both sites but for considerably less salary. Not exceptional, but at least cheaper and not devastating to a lineup.
Noah Fant and Tyler Higbee were the clear optimal cash-game TEs on DK. Both were plainly underpriced for their current roles in their respective offenses. It was a bit of a coinflip which you chose. Higbee did nothing with one reception for eight yards, while Fant got it done for his price tag with 13.3 DKP and 11.3 FDP. Cooper Kupp dominated all the offense for LAR. It made some sense if playing Kupp in cash games to play Fant rather than Higbee. I did that, and it worked out, fortunately.
I mentioned a couple of cheap punts in Harden Hurst and James O’Shaughnessy. These weren’t remotely optimal, but there’s often not much to be had in this price range. O’Shaugnessy got hurt and left the game after just one catch for 24 yards. Hurst was essentially a leverage option off of Pitts in case their shared load from week one continued. He had one reception for eight yards. The floor on punt TEs is low. You hope they have an outlier game/hit the end zone. They didn’t.
In the end, week one was a week of chalk, for the most part landing on one game busting. Some of the other chalk hit close to a median but didn’t exceed it. Some defenses really smashed, as did Derrick Henry. A high-owned Cooper Kupp, who I mentioned in my top WRs article, did indeed come through as WR1, and a lesser-owned Tyler Lockett was WR2. If you had Kupp and/or Lockett, Henry, and one of the four top Ds, you had a shot in GPPs.