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NFL DFS Week 1 WOaT: Weekly Ownership and Trends
DREWBY
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The WOaT (Weekly Ownership and Trends) is a weekly series on Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournaments on DraftKings helping identify ownership trends, tidbits and takeaways that we can use to better ourselves as DFS players. If pricing were perfectly efficient, some DFS players could beat GPPs on ownership alone. Vince Lombardi once said ownership isn’t everything, it’s the only thing. Wayne Gretzky famously let aspiring DFS players know that you miss 100% of the shots on 2% owned studs that you never take.

Shout out to my friends at The Fantasy Fanatics for access to their NFL Ownership tools which I leveraged for most of this analysis. You can access all ownership data in their premium tools.

Week 1 Lookback

At QB we were led by Chalk Prescott (13%), Derek Carr (12%), and Matthew Stafford (10.5%) demonstrating the diversity with which people approach the QB position, while at RB we had 7 backs at 10% or higher – Latavius Murray (10%-semi bust), Ezekial Elliott (12%-bust), Mark Ingram (15%-bust), Lamar Miller (20%-semi bust), TJ Yeldon (23%-meh), Christine Michael (25%-woof) and of course Spencer Ware (30%-hero). Of this the most interesting to me was Zeke going off at nearly the same ownership as Dak, despite being priced at a competitive price point to David Johnson. This indicates some game theory-ing of “Pivoting off the chalky QB to his RB that nobody is going to own” that backfired in ownership and performance particularly when the more proven David Johnson was found at high single digits in a better spot and certainly a safer play. If the 1st level of the game is to play Dak and the 2nd level is to fade Dak and play Zeke, we’re at least 3rd level deep into the meta game by fading chalky pivots from chalky players.

dr_300x250_nfldr_300x250_nflEqually interesting to me was Yeldon’s ownership coming in at 23% with the late news coming in Sunday morning. Despite the fact that at least 60-70% of lineups were already built, we still saw his numbers approach the levels of Ware who had a week of steam building up. DFS players are reacting to late news. The same cannot be said for the already Live Thursday contests where very few people went back to leverage late swap. If value materializes post lock, whether Thursday to Sunday, or Sunday afternoon, you should be able to gain an edge (high value, low ownership) by not being a good for nothing lazy bum. Like seriously you can swap on mobile. Or you could be like me and be too drunk on Carr bombs to check your phone. Also at RB, Jeremy Langford went off at just 5% ownership, despite a similar pricing / workload dynamic. Guilty of investing in all 3, I’ll be more cautious with the flavor of Sunday morning, but I stand by Langford being an exceptional GPP play last weekend despite the result.

At the pass catching positions we were hoping not to have to keep up with the Joneses as Julio (32%) and Marvin (25%) went off as #1 and #2. This was a case where Marvin Jones was clearly priced as a value to his role and other value on the slate made Julio very affordable. Due to that, he went off 2-3x the ownership levels of ODB and Hopkins, and with Antonio Brown not playing until Monday night Julio alone sucked up so much ownership in the $7k-$8k WR range. While AJ Green and Brandin Cooks were the only ones to deliver GPP winning performances it is certainly worth noting how the value at RB and QB opened up salary cap and created some elite contrarian options with more than 10 guys talented enough to deliver AJ Green like upside around 5% owned. Other highly owned wide receivers included Amari Cooper (21%), Sammy Watkins (19%), Michael Crabtree (16%), and Donte Moncrief (14%). The market was fairly efficient with identifying wide receiver target volume but without TDs many were left hoping for more, and as evidenced (or lack there of) by Julio Jones and Hopkins you really need monster games for your elite weapons to win GPPs and fading them was largely profitable this week. Regardless, I wrote earlier this year that we tend to over value matchups for our wide receivers, and the ownership certainly tilted hard towards “plus matchups” in Week 1. Identifying WR value in matchups that don’t jump off the table is going to be a critical component of GPP success.

Everybody likes tight ends but nobody really likes tight ends. I mean I guess people will play Jordan Reed but after that it gets a little dicey… things were pretty spread out and unproductive. It will be good to have Reed, Olsen and maybe Gronk back for the full slate Sunday as it will force more decisions on the full slate. The most noteworthy thing to me was Martellius Bennett being 8% owned on the full week slate vs. 21% owned on Sunday only. Some of this was news oriented which further reinforces that people are less likely to use late swap, while some of it was driven by the availability of Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed.

Ownership – The Second Wave

With stacking being the most popular GPP strategy the way people approach stacks is always interesting to me. We know that Dak, Carr, Stafford and Brees were the most popular QBs, but how were their stacks approached? Again leveraging The Fantasy Fanatics we can take a look at in-depth granular ownership data on how people are approaching their stacks for each QB.

Click HERE for the full summary from The Fantasy Fanatics.

  • Dak was 14% owned and the most popular Dak stack was Dak and Dez at 2.3%, with Dak/Witten 1.3% and Dak/Zeke at 1.1%. Half of the people who played Dak did not stack on him instead banking on his cheap price tag and legs to produce value.
  • Derek Carr was 11% owned in the $300 Blitz, while Carr/Cooper was 3.7%, Carr/Crabtree at 1.4% and Carr/Cooper/Crabtree at just 1.25%.
  • Matt Stafford was 11.3% with Stafford/Jones at 6.3% taking the cake as the chalkiest stack of the week. Other people Detroit combos included Stafford/Tate at 1.4%, and Stafford/Tate/Jones at 1.1%.
  • As for Drew Brees, his stacks were pretty distributed with 1.5% ownership on Snead, 1.1% on Cooks, and 0.5% on the full trifecta.
  • Other popular combos included Tyrod/Watkins (3.7%), Winston/Evans (2.4%), Wilson/Baldwin (2.4%), and Osweiler/Hopkins (1.6%).

This ended up being a little surprising to me as even our most popular stacks typically ended up in the 1-2% ownership range with really Stafford/Jones being the noteworthy exception. While we look for ways to differentiate our lineup in some ways just by stacking we are already separated from 99% of the field if we hit on the nut stack and just need to be thoughtful with our complementary pieces.

Deploying what we learned

We’ve already learned that QB will have the most distributed ownership with candidates at the upper end including Josh McCown at minimum price, Big Ben off a primetime showing, but expect it to be relatively distributed amongst others like Cam Newton, Brees, Eli, Palmer, and Carr. While our stacks will be critical in our success, they should by default leave us with pretty low ownership, and Logan Hitchcock’s GPP series implies the QB may not be as valuable as the WRs he opens up. I have no issues with DFS players simply looking for the best value and forgoing ownership concerns on their stack.

RB seems to be a spot that will produce compressed ownership and decisions particularly in heavy news weeks, and early NFL news leads me to Yeldon as the clubhouse leader if Ivory remains out. We’ll also have jersey chasers, err, point chasers, and could see Ware remain popular and possibly Hyde off a big Monday night and affordable price tag, or Blount off a 22 touch game. In week 1 Spencer Ware rewarded this play, but we certainly have seen other times where the workload or results failed to come through.

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WR should also produce some compressed ownership which I think will start with Tajae Sharpe, a clear source of pass catching value at $4100 and one that was already 11% owned in week 1, and rookie Will Fuller off 11 targets and 100 yards + a touchdown. Sharpe should have the trust of more players due to preseason play and hype, but the presence of a couple options could keep things in check in tournaments. Another name to watch is Travis Benjamin whose role should continue to grow after Keenan Allen’s injury, and Terrell Pryor certainly could have ended up with Fuller’s stat line if not for a missed connection. Popular mid-priced plays could include Willie Snead THE FOURTH and Emmanuel Sanders as people continue to pick on the Colts. It is hard to see people not trying to find the cap to pay for Antonio Brown or ODB and would expect them to garner 20% or so leaving Julio Jones as a possible contrarian play. AJ Green should tick up a bit but I’m guessing we see a similar ghost town around Hopkins, ARob, Nelson, Cobb, Evans, Hilton and Tate. To me this is the group to focus your efforts on for potential GPP targets either as a standalone or complementary piece if you find the salary to fit in an AB or ODB.

While we won’t get a great feel until later in the week on where the market is moving, hopefully this series will help frame some of the decisions you’ll need to make. And remember, don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is.

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