The ‘Right’ Leverage
Week to week in DFS, it is very easy to spot the ‘chalk’ (players that will be highly owned due to smash spot matchups) and plug them right into your lineup. Sometimes, entire team stacks, or even game stacks are chalk. People always ask how DFS is a skill rather than just a game of ‘blindfolded darts’ where the hope is that all your players score five touchdowns each. Knowing what the chalk will be and where significant leverage is, is exactly what manufactures the skill gap within DFS.
Before diving into leverage, I want to first break down the types of stacks there are briefly: full game stacks (QB/position player of the same team/position player of the same team + position player on the opposing team), skinny game stacks (QB/position player of the same team + position player on the opposing team), and skinny team stacks (QB/position player of the same team). In all of those stacks, most of the time, the position player on the team of the quarterback rostered is a receiver or a tight end but with how some teams use running backs in the pass game, running backs with quarterbacks are becoming a bit more popular. To provide a very recent example of a skinny game stack that was used in just Week 5 by many DFS players, the Jaguars/Texans game was targeted in this very situation. The stack of Deshaun Watson (29%)/Will Fuller IV (40.2%)/James Robinson (45.3%) was used quite a bit on FanDuel, and I provided the ownership values of each player based upon the $444 single entry GPP I was in. That stack netted 48.16 fantasy points, and helped a good portion of the participants in my contest cash, mainly by the efforts of DeShaun Watson being the highest owned quarterback in the contest and being the fourth highest scoring player at his position on the day.
If you are a member here on Simple Slates, you are well aware that our Week 5 quarterback was not DeShaun Watson. Is it because we thought he was a bad play? Absolutely not, in fact, we actually had two of our core plays of the day being Will Fuller IV and James Robinson. So why not just skinny game stack it since you are playing two players in that game? One word ladies and gents: leverage. We had decided to core Lamar Jackson against the Bengals naked (without any player on his team). Lamar against Cincy is like Alabama playing a D3 community college. Last year, he threw for a combined 459 yards and three touchdowns on top of 217 rushing yards on two touchdowns in the two games he had played against them. The matchup was so good, and the crazy part, no one was even remotely talking about it. To be honest, Lamar hasn’t looked like his MVP self from last season, and to be fair it would be extremely difficult for him to ever replicate that consistency for the rest of his career. Regardless, this is Lamar Jackson we are talking about, someone who can throw for 250 yards and three touchdowns, on top of 100 yards rushing and a score on any given Sunday. The fact he wasn’t projected to be owned at all was mind boggling for how good of a ‘get right’ matchup it was. To once again keep everything transparent, his ownership in my $444 single entry GPP was 12.5%, more than half of Watson’s ownership. That ownership leverage alone made my mouth water. Now unfortunately, Lamar had a dud of a day passing for 180 yards, two touchdowns, threw an interception, and only rushed for three yards. He netted 14.5 fantasy points with that performance, so the leverage on ownership was completely destroyed due to the lackluster day he had.
That right there is the coin flip of DFS. Two players in an incredible smash spot, one projected significantly higher ownership than the other, nine times out of ten, I am ALWAYS going to go with the lesser owned of the two if the matchup is favored equally for both. There are some weeks the chalk pays great, but, there are other weeks where only certain portions of said chalk were the right plays. If Watson were to throw for half of the yards he had, and only had thrown one touchdown and it was to Will Fuller, we would have been on the right side of the chalk playing the only player from the game to have any true fantasy production. While at the same time, if Lamar Jackson had thrown for 300 yards, tacked on an extra touchdown pass, and added 50 rushing yards to his stat sheet, he would have been the ultimate leverage over the field who played Watson. Those if’s are what every single DFS player has going through their head as soon as Main Slate kicks off each Sunday and immediately map out the ‘if so and so outscores so and so at this percent, I will have a great shot at winning *insert ridiculous amount of money*’.