Week Nine NFL DFS AutoMattek Absolutes
Times have changed in DFS. When I first started writing the AutoMattek Absolutes six years ago, cash games were all anyone wanted to talk about. A majority of players considered themselves cash game grinders and tournaments were secondary to the 50/50’s, head to heads and double-ups.
That is no longer the case. Tournaments are the primary source of discussion and interest for both the casual and serious DFS players. As such, the content has to evolve with time. Throughout the 2019 NFL season, the AutoMattek Absolutes will be a hybrid GPP strategy/individual plays highlight column to help you get prepared for the Sunday main slate of tournaments.
Worst. Slate. Ever
Okay, not really. I am sure there has been a slate more devoid of value but looking at it on Wednesday afternoon, things are not pretty. In the DailyRoto optimizer, there are less than 30 players at RB/WR/TE who project as positive values. Clearly, this is not a normal slate. We have only two games with attractive totals and offenses (Detroit/Oakland and Tampa Bay/Seattle) which is going to condense ownership HEAVILY on those two games. So we have to ask ourselves: how do we want to approach a slate without many interesting ways to differentiate?
The first way should be obvious to astute DailyRoto readers and that will be via the double stack with the #BringBack. Our research continues to show that an extremely small portion of the field uses double stacks with their quarterbacks and an even smaller percentage does that with a “bring back”. It should actually be intuitive why this produces better teams. Your chances of picking out the perfect WR2 are much more difficult than just picking out the GPP-winning QB. Both are difficult but one is clearly more achievable than the other.
So what are some of the off the radar double stacks that make sense given the context of the slate?
Aaron Rodgers vs the Chargers defense with two of his pass-catchers is my favorite non-chalk double stack this week. There is an element of uncertainty with Davante Adams finally returning from injury that will keep the general public away from the team, the total is not that high relative to an average Packers total and MVS/Graham/Lazard are all going to project for single-digit ownership. Jones should be reasonably owned but combined with the rest of these players, you are going to be locked into unique lineup construction with a quarterback who has already broken one slate this year. This lineup also offers some enticing bring backs with Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.
Despite Christian McCaffrey being one of the most popular plays of the slate and DJ Moore/Curtis Samuel projecting as heavy chalk, they are not going to be popular as a group. The Panthers have only a 22 team total, they don’t play at a particularly high pace and they are in a game against a team that is about as boring as it gets from a watchability/fantasy standpoint. However, Moore and Samuel are individually great values, CMC is the best play of the slate and a favorite to be the most owned player. Combining these facts and then adding in Kyle Allen takes the disparate elements and brings them into one lineup which is a more effective way to utilize their valuable individual projections.
In our 90th percentile early week projections, Josh Allen is actually the second-highest projected quarterback. Now, you do not want to necessarily double-stack a running quarterback because so much of their equity (especially for Josh Allen) is tied up in scoring rushing touchdowns close to the line of scrimmage. Drew Dinkmeyer and Michael Leone would definitely yell at me for this but in my head, it makes perfect sense. The slate is lacking in explosive plays, especially at the wide receiver position, so a 90th percentile game from John Brown at 26 points might actually be a slatebreaker. Brown is 20th in the NFL in receptions and 17th in yards so he is actually closer to being a true WR1 than he ever was in Baltimore or Arizona.
To Walton Or Not To Walton, That Is The Question
Using projections to build your cash game/single entry/three max teams is going to lead you in a path that many find uncomfortable and that is the path of Mark Walton. Walton played 87% of the snaps for the Dolphins last week and the team even stuck with him after he fumbled in the game away late in the second half. Walton had six targets in the passing game but rushed the ball only 11 times due to the lopsided score and the fact that, you know, the Dolphins are horrible.
So what do we do with a running back on a horrible team who gets both passing and rushing work? Most weeks, I think we could just write him off. However, as of Wednesday with many injuries (particularly James Conner and his shoulder) still pending and no real clear values, he is a player that is going to show up in whatever build you are considering. My initial position was to think of him like Kenyan Drake but Drake never really came close to playing the number of snaps that Walton did on Monday Night.
So now we get to the matchup. The Jets are one of the few teams in the NFL that might actually rival the Dolphins for putridity. On the season, they are actually worse in DVOA and expected points than the Dolphins are. So if this game stays close, I can’t come up with a reasonable objection to Walton getting 15+ touches again. The argument against THAT is: so what? He is Mark Walton. Kalen Ballage has been the goalline back for the Dolphins all year and will continue to be in that role until something changes. 9.4 DK points from Walton probably isn’t going to win you the slate.
I am probably going to limit Walton in GPP runs, assuming that we don’t get any obvious injury values at the position but I could never exclude him entirely. Walton is a little different from the Adrian Peterson/Frank Gore style running backs because of his minimal involvement in the passing game and his youth. You laugh, but young and more explosive athletes are more likely to be projected poorly by projection systems and to find access to long/explosive plays.