DFS Shark Tank Week 1: Player/Stack/Avoid Pitch for the $1M Open Tournaments
I (RC) am going to play one DFS lineup in a $1M (min.) contest each week to try and take a dart throw at the big money to fund three things: (1) Myself, (2) FFM, (3) my favorite charity.
The odds of hitting on one entry in a giant pool is near impossible…but that’s the fun of it, the lottery dream of it.
My plan to make a lineup is going to be part of the ‘fun’ here. I, myself, do not functionally play DFS myself…I get submerged in Fantasy and scouting and questions and shows and writing, etc., all day every day. I’m not an expert in the DFS salary and stack aspects, etc, so I’m going to do the smart thing -- lean on two people who are more expert in it than I.
There will be five inputs to make my FF lineup for the million (or bust)…
1) FFM’s Ross Jacobs, who is taking a deeper dive into the world of DFS this year.
2) Andrew Duhan…known to us as ‘Andrew DFS’…one of the most expert DFS sources that I know.
3) My wife, who knows nothing about football, is going to make one random pick at a position (probably like DST…or from a group of top options of the other positions.
4) I will pick one favorite play/player.
5) I will let Advanced Sports Logic’s ‘DFS Optimizer’, which uses FFM projections correlated to the salary and instantly/AI’s the best spends to fill out as many positions (or all positions) as needed. More info on the program and subscribing to the DFS Optimizer on the ‘Optimizer’ tab on the FFM homepage.
But I will begin each week by consulting with my two experts, who I’ve asked to pitch four concepts…
1) Their best ‘stack’ play, and why.
2) Their best mid-range salary player I should have in my lineup.
3) Their best cheapo play I should have in my lineup construction.
4) The bigger name/salary player I should avoid -- for either game logic or DFS ‘ownership %’ logic (and we’ll explain what that means).
The two DFS experts are going to pitch me (a la a Shark Tank type pitch) their concepts Saturday night on a group chat, which will be posted in full below -- so you can see their picks/plays and logic to consider for your own lineup constructions in DFS. I don’t know who they are gonna pitch until they pitch it…and I’ll react to it, and we’ll group discuss it. They also don’t know who the other might pitch -- they may end up with the same exact concept/player…they won’t know until the chat starts.
We haven’t practiced this ahead, I just laid out the generic concept and we’re about to see where it goes. Forgive any typos…and good luck with your DFS plays this week!
RC: OK, Week 1...let's start this off with the DFS King...Andrew DFS, 'stack me' -- what's the stack I gotta play and why?
ANDREW DFS: Lots of good stack options this week. When you’re pondering whether to implement a stack in your DFS lineup, it’s a good idea to research the Vegas O/U. The highest O/U this week (currently 53.5) is the Chiefs @ Cardinals. I’m going to select Patrick Mahomes as my QB, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling and TE Travis Kelce from the Chiefs. Additionally, I’m going to select ARI WR Marquise Brown as the “bring back” piece. Arizona has a lot of issues with their secondary and their cornerbacks are no match for the Chiefs pass catchers. Given that the Cardinals will be trailing, I believe Brown will be in line for a bunch of passing targets, especially since Moore is out and Ertz is questionable. Not a huge fan of Kelce's full season prospects; however, I believe he has a chance to receive the majority of the target share for KC this week.
RC: Ross, just yes or no...is this your stack game as well?
ROSS: That's not my game although I understand the draw to it. In my opinion that's going to be very close to the chalk pick which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I like to go against the grain because the value is never with the mainstream. Everyone always overplays the highest Vegas line games, and it doesn't often work out because, well, it's obvious. I do like differentiating with MVS instead of Juju (who I also like). I'll probably have several pieces from this game, but I'll be fitting them into other builds built around a few different stacks.
RC: This game is 'the one' that stands out obvious, for sure. The Cardinals secondary is dying off by the day...if Byron Murphy falls to illness then KC could score 50+.
RC: With that said is the better way to go with KC = all WRs, and not pull Kelce in? Arizona was really good vs. TEs last year.
ROSS: Isaiah Simmons is very likely going to be all over Kelce. If I was playing a KC stack (and I'm sure I'll have a few shares) I like Juju/MVS stacks better.
RC: Would this be a spot for a swerve...if KC is going to waylay ARI's secondary, might Skyy Moore play more (to get reps in a non-close game) and be a shock pick part of the stack?
ROSS: Possible but I'd take Hardman over Skyy this early on. He might eat into Hardman later in the season, but he doesn't project well just yet. Too much of a dart throw for my tastes this early
ANDREW DFS: I don’t disagree right off the bat, especially since Kelce is a chalky play. However, this is also Mahomes’ first game with his new receivers. I believe his chemistry with Kelce will ultimately result in a big game for the TE.
ANDREW DFS: Sky, MVS, and Juju are all new WRs for Mahomes and they may not have established the rapport with their QB yet.
RC: Does Mahomes go nuts with WRs to show up Tyreek (we don't need you)?
ROSS: Whether the WRs go nuts or not I doubt it has anything to do with showing up Tyreek.
ROSS: Mahomes wants to win. He'll work whatever is open.
RC: Ross, Marquise, with Rondale out, over/under 15 targets for Hollywood?
ROSS: Depends a lot on whether Ertz plays. If Ertz is out, then yeah Hollywood is in for a probable monster day. If Ertz plays you take it down a tick, but he's still a nice pick and another very, very popular one. I think Brown is going to be a top 5 owned WR on the week.
ANDREW DFS: His ownership projection is currently over 20%. Definitely a chalky play for this week. Same for Kelce.
RC: Marquise gets doubled out of things, to a degree, if Ertz-Rondale out?
RC: Doubled out of an upside?
ROSS: That's possible and one of the reasons I absolutely love pivoting to James Conner as the leverage play. He's projected to be under 5-10% owned and should get a massive number of targets since Arizona is likely playing from behind most of the game.
RC: Ok, we got the ARI-KC stack that is chalky...but the chalk is made from gold dust if Murphy is out. Ross, what is your stack event?
ROSS: It's tough to pick just one stack because I have 3 that I really like. But for fun and to see the reaction...I like a Carr-Adams-Renfrow stack with Mike Williams on the bring back
RC: What is the fear factor LAC is going to have a defensive war party a la Buffalo onto the Rams, as Josh McDaniels tries to attack via the run? And when LV starts throwing it will look like Stafford fearing for his life every throw?
ANDREW DFS: LV @ LAC has the second highest O/U in the mainslate (52). This is also an interesting game with "stack" potential. The Raiders OL versus Chargers pass rush worries me though. If I were going to stack this game, I might only concentrate on Chargers players and potentially ignore the bring back piece here. There is also a "revenge" factor to this game as well. Let's not forget how LAC's season ended last year.
ROSS: It's possible. I don't think LAC is nearly as good or tough as the Buffalo D, not yet anyway, and they are missing JC Jackson this week. Their 2021 pass D was a little bit of a fraud if you go back and look at it. They killed a bunch of bad passing games like Washington and NYG, but better teams really didn't have problems with them. LV is projected for around 24 points and it's the 2nd highest total game of the week at 52 points. A shootout is very possible.
ROSS: I'm specifically targeting the Raiders because I know Chargers players are going to be the next most popular behind the Chiefs. When the crowd zigs, I zag.
ANDREW DFS: Do you think that Mack can have a similar effect as Von Miller did on Thursday? This is also a revenge game for him as well.
ANDREW DFS: The projected ownership for Herbert and all of his WRs are less than 10% each, I'd be comfortable with that play.
ROSS: Yeah, sure it can happen, but what does that matter? Taking down a main slate million-dollar tournament requires you to hit 95% scores on 9 players. We need upside and can't worry about possible downside. Is this scenario the most likely? Absolutely not. That's why I'm betting heavily on it, because most people go for the most likely result, the average play. That won't win tournaments.
RC: I fear the pieces of the new LAC Defense...from the new pass rushers, to the two new DTs, to Callahan added to help the coverage...which the pass rush will also help the coverage a la the Bills pass rush helping Jackson-Benford do well, when the QB can't even throw...and that's a not-good LV O-Line.
RC: It's fair to zig when others zag, and no J.C. Jackson helps...but that one has a lot of elements that confuse me -- Josh McDaniel, the LV O-Line, the new look LAC defense.
RC: Why not Waller in there?
ROSS: Because Derwin projects to cover him.
RC: Callahan on Renfrow?
ROSS: Yes but the best slot receivers are virtually uncoverable these days and again I'm not worried about the average result. I'm shooting for the ceiling and this stack has all the necessary pieces to go off and very few people are going to play it.
ANDREW DFS: It's definitely not a chalky play, I'll give you that. I'm concerned with the upside though. And I think that the likelihood of getting an explosive performance from a stack concentrated on the Raiders will be difficult. If you do hit this though, you'll definitely have a leg up on the competition!
RC: OK, we got the stacks. Onto the mid-range player of the week I should have for sure in my lineup. Andrew...who is that guy?
ANDREW DFS: My mid-range player this week is SF RB Eli Mitchell (D$ 5,400; ETR proj ownership <5%). I believe SF will lean towards a run-heavy game script in Trey Lance’s 2022 debut. Chicago looked lifeless in the preseason and have no hope of keeping this game close. Further, I believe the 49ers OL will dominate the Bears defense. I expect Mitchell to go over 100 yards rushing and have at least one rushing touchdown. Great ROI potential with Mitchell this week.
RC: Heavy/sloppy rain help or hurt Mitchell's upside? Heavy run game to stay safe...or slip & slide conditions?
ANDREW DFS: Good point on the weather. I think that led to an even more run-heavy game script than I would've initially expected.
ROSS: I like Mitchell as well. He's a nice value as your second RB. I do worry a bit about the low total on this game though and probably doesn't get you much in the passing game. My issue is you really need to 4.5x or better every player and it might be tough for Mitchell to get to 24 or 25 points. He's a nice stab though.
RC: Ross, your midrange player?
ROSS: Saquon. $6100 and profiles as one of the top options for Daniel Nickels to dump short passes to. I could care less if he only gets 40 or 50 yards rushing so long as he catches 6-7 passes to make up for it. And between Golladay doing his best Weekend at Bernie's impression, Shepard coming off an Achilles injury, and Toney supposedly still trying to earn the trust of Daboll it leaves Barkley as the one trusted option.
RC: Tennessee's 2nd and 3rd best defenders are now out in this game too
RC: Did you catch Elijah Molden got put on IR?
ROSS: Nope, missed that.
ANDREW DFS: I think Barkley is a good play here too. He's projected to have a high ownership percentage (20%+) but I'm more comfortable going with the public when it comes to RBs as opposed to WRs and QBs.
RC: What is Mitchell's ownership %?
ROSS: There's only so many good RB options every week. QBs and WRs are much harder to project.
ANDREW DFS: Agree with Ross. Mitchell’s projected ownership is 3.9%. Keep in mind that these projections are not perfect and vary by site. It should only be used as a benchmark to gauge the public's perception. I expect the ownership projection models to be volatile during the first few weeks of the season.
RC: Andrew...the cheapo play of the week?
ANDREW DFS: I have to go with WR Kadarius Toney who is currently priced at D$ 4,100. There is good reason why he's priced low as Ross alluded to earlier. When there is a cheap player as dynamic as Toney on the board, they are hard to ignore. Toney may make or break my lineup this week. He's currently on the chalkier side with an ownership projection above 10%.
ROSS: I'll have a piece of Toney too but I'm starting to get the feeling he's going to rotate a lot more than we would like to see. I just don't completely trust Daboll to go all in just yet. We should get there eventually but who knows if it's week 1 or not. For $4000 you have to take a stab.
RC: I love Toney, especially cheap...but he is a wild card. Ross, who is your cheap play of the week?
ROSS: There are multiple cheap TEs I like this week, but my favorite sneaky play might be Austin Hooper. $3700 for possibly the top target of the Titans in a game where they are projected to score 24 or 25 points. Bobby Trees is coming off a major injury. Westbrook-Ikhine is just another guy. And Philips and Treylon are rookies. The Titans tried to get the ball to Jonnu before he left, and Hooper is no slouch. He just was forgotten rotating in with 2 other guys in Cleveland.
RC: Attacking the non-Blake Martinez LBs, are we?
RC: But Austin Calitro...
ROSS: I'm very intrigued by Tae Crowder this year but I think he'll be attacking the line and running side to side, not covering over the middle.
ROSS: Don't need a ton for Hooper to be worth it. 4-5 catches and a TD is plenty to return value.
RC: Hooper may chip in with a TD...but is he the kind of firepower to try and win a million with? Will Hooper shock me? Is my first reaction...
ROSS: The perfect lineup TE is a cheap guy around 70% of the time from what I can tell. You're better off spending big at WR and just hoping to hit a touchdown with your TE.
RC: Andrew, agree or disagree with that sentiment?
ANDREW DFS: Getting 15+ points with Hooper at D$3,700 would be a great ROI. Not sure if I would lean in that direction.
RC: Should I chase Pitts like unicorn hopes...or go solid, steady-eddie Hooper types likely to get a TD?
ANDREW DFS: I agree that most of the salary should be concentrated on WRs (and QB). The average spend on TEs in big competitions is around D$5,000.
ROSS: The trouble with expensive TEs like Pitts/Kelce/Kittle/Andrews is that they cost so much you need them to go over 100 with a TD to make it worth it. That doesn't happen often even for those guys. I'll be on Pitts at some point but not sure I'd hammer him in this spot in a projected low scoring game against a very good Saints pass defense.
ANDREW DFS: I want to be very confident on the TE if I'm going over D$5,000. I am with Kelce; not sure I can say the same about any other TE in that range.
ROSS: This week I'm going to have a rotating cast of cheap guys: Hooper, Irv Smith, Hurst, Mo Alie-Cox, and Everett
RC: How dare you not name Juwan Johnson
ROSS: He's a possibility but again I don't love how low scoring that game is supposed to be. I might have Juwan and Olave in a few lineups
ANDREW DFS: I like Irv, Hurst and Everett as cheap plays. Can't get behind Mo Alie Cox though, his QB is abysmal.
RC: Oh, no...don't get Ross started. Moving on...
RC: Ok, on the way out...who is the chalk/public fave that should be avoided player this week that stands out most?
ROSS: I'm just ignoring the Colts blasphemy now. I'll be accepting apologies when everyone is over their grieving period.
ANDREW DFS: Let's get Ross started if he's high on QB Matty Lice. The chalk/public fave that I'm avoiding at all costs is WR Michael Pittman. I love Pittman as a WR but I don't think he clicks with his new QB (downgrade to Carson Wentz) right off the bat. Pittman's ownership projections are well above 20% and I will gladly fade this play with no hesitation.
ROSS: Eh, that's fair I guess. I'm not in love with Pittman this week but I don't hate him either. Stingley might be tough, and the Colts could just run over the Texans like they did every time they played last year...but ironically I'm going to say a different Colt. Jonathan Taylor and it's not because I don't think he could have a big game. He very well might, but at $9100 it's nearly impossible for him to be worth it. He literally needs to run for 200 yards or score 3-4 TDs. Unlikely. Same goes for CMC in a low scoring game with Cleveland. Both of them are fantastic cash game plays but I won't touch either for a GPP.
ANDREW DFS: At D$9,100, he's going to need to go over 40 points if you want to win the million-dollar contest
RC: I'm looking at Alvin Kamara as an RB option...Andrew does it ring up OK on your ROI run?
RC: Or is he too much?
ANDREW DFS: He's priced on the higher side (D$7,600) but I think the upside is there. The Falcons LB core is pretty bad, and I think that sets up AK nicely in this game.
ROSS: I don't particularly like the price and I don't like that the Saints are favored. The key to a monster game for Kamara is catching a ton of passes. Not much reason for New Orleans to throw to him much here unless you think Atlanta can take a big lead...
RC: I'm shocked no one mentioned Dameon Pierce at any point.
RC: DraftKings $4,800
ANDREW DFS: He's definitely in my lineup and a great play since Colts LB Shaq Leonard is out.
ROSS: I'll have a bit of Pierce but he's going to be highly owned I imagine as he's the cheapest starting RB available. But Houston projects to play from behind all game which theoretically limits his upside. If they can keep the game close (which everyone but me seems to think is not just possible but likely) then he's got a shot.
RC: The chalk I don't like this week = Justin Jefferson vs. GB secondary
ROSS: I love Jefferson precisely because I think a lot of people will back off for fear of the GB secondary. It's not a guaranteed play though and I will definitely be covering my bases with lots of Thielen/Irv/Osborn to compensate
RC: Ok, after this discussion, here's who I put in as the foundation of my lineup...
RC: Mahomes with MVS + Marquise with Saquon, Hooper, Toney
RC: Going to let my wife pick my DST
RC: Going to let the ASL optimizer pick the remaining RB and Flex
ROSS: You'll have a ton of $ left over
RC: Unless I back out Toney...how do I have an NYG stack?
ANDREW DFS: My concern with that foundation is that SB, Hooper and Toney are all from the same matchup with an O/U of 41.
ROSS: I wouldn't stack Toney/Saquon unless you include Daniel
ROSS: Agree with Andrew. Likely need to pick and choose from that group.
RC: Better play, Saquon at $6.1 or Toney at $4.1?
ROSS: I like Saquon personally.
ANDREW DFS: Hard for me to pass up Toney's ceiling.
RC: Jump off Hooper into another cheap TE play to get away from NYG/TEN?
ANDREW DFS: I would, maybe go with Everett or Hurst given their QB situation.
RC: OR...is NYG/TEN stack leaving me all alone in that lane (to die)?
ROSS: That's a good idea. Hurst is available for even cheaper, and you get access to Burrow or you could go Irv Smith to fade JJ
ANDREW DFS: Irv is a good play too.
ROSS: Everett against the LV linebackers is nice too
RC: What if I did a Fortson swerve into the KC-ARI game/stack?
RC: Fortson at $2.5!!
ROSS: That's very brave but go for it if you want. I don't remember the last time someone won a GPP with a backup TE
RC: But I'm looking for a TD at least to make it worth the play, then if I get extra from there great?
ANDREW DFS: You're banking on a Kelce injury. At $D2,500 you only need 10 points to make that investment worthwhile.
RC: No, I'm banking on Fortson in on all red zones and if the game gets way out, more Fortson less Kelce in the game 2nd-half/4th-Q?
ROSS: That's somewhat true but 10 points is still on the low end. It's a "value" play but doesn't give you much high-end points. TE you're looking for 15-20+
RC: I'm taking a dart throw that Mahomes's #1 red zone look is...Fortson.
ROSS: If you win a tournament with Fortson, you are a literal god
ANDREW DFS: You would need to make up that shortfall with the extra money you get for other positions
ANDREW DFS: Agreed with that Ross!
RC: It won't be MVS...or Skyy/Mecole...JuJu most likely but he's not a great red zone threat. Kelce and Fortson on the field same time, Fortson acting as a #3 WR in the red zone.
RC: If I get 3-40-1 from Fortson...worth it? Or wasted?
RC: At $2.5
ANDREW DFS: Money well spent in my eyes
ANDREW DFS: That would equate to 13 points which gives you a point / salary ratio in excess of 5. That is highly desirable in DFS.
RC: And if I'm right...he's in the high scoring game...and would play heavier late if out of hand and Henne in
ROSS: It could work I suppose
RC: Just a thought at the price.
ANDREW DFS: Again, to Ross' earlier concern, that excess money you don't spend at TE, you need to bank on explosions from your other positions.
ANDREW DFS: Do you like him better or Juan Johnson from NO?
ROSS: If you hit that line then 13 points is not bad at all. Just seems like you could get the same from another TE that's actually on the field most of the game
ROSS: Jody Fortson career stats: 5-47-2. He's efficient I'll give you that
RC: And 2 TDs in 3 series w 1st-team with Mahomes in preseason Week 2, I think
RC: They have a TD thing going on.
RC: Well, thank you for your advice, experts! I will be entering the DK $5M/1M to first for $5...you can find me near the bottom of the standings to follow along and see my final lineup choices with the 'ffmetrics' handle. Good luck to you and your plays and to the audience plays!
ANDREW DFS: Thanks RC and Ross! Good luck to both of you.
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