Ladies and gentlemen, this is what a million dollars looks like. From afar it just looks like 8 players and a defense, but if we dive deeper, we can learn a little bit about why this lineup was successful. Let’s start with the team stack.
Before I begin I want to quickly mention ownership and how its determined. Ownership projections are important when constructing a GPP winning lineup. It’s literally impossible to know exactly how highly a player is owned, but you can get a pretty good indication of a player’s draft popularity by reading a lot of articles and listening to podcasts. I do a lot of that and thus I’ll do a lot of that for you and will mention the popular players, also referred to as ‘Chalk’ when I do my Game breakdowns going forward. OK, back to the breakdown.
Last week the KC @ OAK had the second highest O/U point total on the board at 52. The NO @ LAR total was the only one higher and just slightly so, at 53. Obviously that NO @ LAR ending with such a low score helped a ton. Both teams combined for a 38 point clunker as the Rams won 27-9. NO starting QB Drew Brees got hurt and so the entire offensive game plan for the Saints changed. Kamara barely got the ball and QB2 Bridgewater played like a backup QB.
Now, in hindsight, this game probably should not have had a higher projected point total than any game the Chiefs are involved in. Other than their matchups against BAL in Week 3, 9/22 and with CHI in Week 15 on 12/22, the Chief games should have the highest point total on the board. Their offense has given no evidence to the contrary and their offense is off the charts good right now. Mahomes is on another level right now. He’s also trying to break TD records, and season passing records. He and his offensive coaching staff are trying to help him get there, so he’s going to be motivated for stats alone in every game he plays.
***Game Theory Break***
To win one of these large GPPs takes a lot of luck, a lot of research and a lot of game theory. This week’s winner stacked the 2nd highest projected point total while the masses were stacking the highest total of Saints and Rams. This was a calculated move and the type of move we should implement in our own gameplans. We need to ask ourselves what game everyone else wants to stack and then zig while they zag. It doesn’t have to be a complete fade, we can still get a small piece of the highest projected total, but if the game we stacked, that less people were fully invested in, ends up with more fantasy points overall then our lineups are going to be stepping over a lot of people. Keep this in mind when using point totals. Vegas is often incorrect in their assessments and projections. They give a general indication of games to target and that’s exactly how they should be used. We’ll use the point totals as a starting point to find out where the public wants to invest and we can adjust our plan accordingly.
***End Game Theory Break***
Main Team Stack: Kansas City Chiefs – QB, TE, WR3
Alright, now back to the lineup itself. The lineup had a quality 3 player stack of the Chiefs, the best offense in the league. It has the highest priced QB in the league, Patrick Mahomes, highest priced Tight End in the league and an experienced wide receiver with opportunity due to a teammates injury. There’s a lot of nuance to this stack on its own. If you read any of the fantasy analysts opinions before this game, many of them were suggesting to target their young stud rookie receiver Mecole Hardman who had 0 receptions for 0 yards in Week 1, who was playing a new, fairly complex offense, that also happened to be filled with plenty of veterans anxious to capitalize on more playing time due to the WR1 Tyreke Hill injury.
Ok, so, if we had decided to stack this team. We would draft the QB, check, we would draft his top consistent receiver, All World TE Travis Kelce, who by the way averages somewhere around a TD a game and over 100 yards a game (in week 2 he had 1 TD and 107 yards) and didn’t get in the endzone last game, so was a very easy pick to add to the stack for positive regression’s sake. And then the 3rd guy, Demarcus Robinson, who in week 2 was the million dollar separator at 0.6% owned, he had 38.2 fpts with 2 TDs and 172 yards.
QB / TE / WR
I like stacking 3 deep: either QB and two receivers or QB, TE and a Receiver. Statistically there’s great correlation and if you pick the right offense and make the best educated guesses with target volume then things tend to work out very profitably. If we stacked this game, right off the bat without thinking, we pick QB Mahomes and his top target which is very consistently Travis Kelce. Now, a lot of people would error and say that Sammy Watkins should be a part of the stack along with these dudes or Kelce’s place following his Week 1 – 9 reception, 198 yard, 3 TD game. Picking Watkins in the game after he sets a career best in pretty much every category is called ‘Chasing points’ and it usually never ends well. Athletes don’t become twice as good as they have been for their entire careers overnight. AND Sammy Watkins is historically inconsistent. Kelce is Mr. Consistent. He has the same upside and was coming off of a game with below average fantasy points, so again, without thinking too much you already have a fantastic 2 man stack: QB, TE.
Now for the 3rd player to pair with this offense, you’ve already crossed off Sammy Watkins, so as to not chase points, and you know that RB1 Damien Williams and RB2 Lesean McCoy are in a timeshare, so they steal stats from one another, you have to go with a receiver. Everyone else is talking the rookie Hardman but the smart play was the experienced receiver in the offense who stands to see an increase in playing time with Hill out and Watkins due for an off game. The only guy who fits that description remaining in the receiver corps is Demarcus Robinson at a measly $3500. There is no possible way to know that he would be so successful in this game, but he was the right play using all of the information we had at our disposal and he just happened to ball out. Going forward, his price is going to rise and should we play him in the next game? No. We should not. He’s not that guy. But you know who is? The guy that we knew not to play after a career day. If we stack KC again next week, Watkins should be our man, even in a one off. These tiny instances where we connect the dots as we think through our decision-making is what will set us up for success.
Alright, that was a lot of words about the 3 man deep, KC stack. What surprised me most was that he didnt game stack that game, which is something that he should have done and you should too in a game like this. On the other side of the ball, OAK is going to get scored on a lot and thus will have plenty of opportunity to rack up stats as well. Everyone in the fantasy community was talking up WR1 Tyrell Williams because he had such a great game in Week 1 and ALSO because he was so cheap at $4400. In fact, in the $20 Milly Maker contest he was owned by 30.34% of entrants (Bad Decision – Sammy Watkins was at 25.17%). In Week 1, he had 6 receptions, 105 yards, and 1 TD. Now that’s a solid line, especially at a very similar price level. If you were team stacking with Carr, which was a very reasonable decision, then Tyrell had to be in the mix. But we did expect Williams to be popular. 30 percent ownership is huge, and it was expected. Just like game theory suggests that we stack the KC/OAK game as the 2nd highest point total instead of the LAR and NO game, we should have a similar mindset going in to stack in this game. Under the assumption that Tyrell Williams DOES NOT get the catches, yardage and points that everyone expected of him, someone on the Raiders was still going to get those stats because OAK would still have the ball so often, with KC scoring so quickly, and were still going to have to throw because they’re going to be playing from behind all game against a bottom 10 defense. So who else on the offense gets targeted the most besides T. Williams? TE Darren Waller, thats who. He had 7 catches that went for 70 yards in Week 1 (Tyrell had 6 catches). In week 2, he had 6 catches and 63 yards. Granted, he was a popular play too, at 24.72% ownership, but his price tag was so cheap at 3300. The OAK offense after Antonio Brown’s dismissal is very limited and Waller was going to get just about any target that Williams didn’t get it. There’s really no one else. Also, after T. Williams 100+ game it’s easy to expect the KC defense to try to double cover or at least have a second defender leaning in his direction making Carr go through his progressions only to find the easiest check down target available, his TE, Waller. In a general context, with a lower expected point total, and the same super high ownership, Waller may not be the play, but if you’re stacking this game, heavy on KC, then he should be a part of this stack every time.
Waller was not in the winning lineup, but if you had drafted the exact same lineup as the winning lineup but had him in your gamestack along with your KC guys, he or Kelce would have been in the Flex and you would have outscored the lineup that ended up winning the contest.
What I find most interesting about doing this analysis and making these lineups is working through the thought process and the stat analysis and seeing how your stacks can almost build themselves if you let them. It’s also nice to see mistakes in the million dollar lineup or common sense ways where we could have beaten it. It’s all hindsight and I get that, but gamestacking with educated game theory would have improved on his lineup point total and that kind of thinking might be what separates our next millionaire winning lineup from the guy in 2nd place.
Ok, back to the lineup review. Thus far we have 3 positions filled. What we have remaining: RB, RB, WR, WR, FLEX and DEF positions.
RB / RB
In the RB position, this guy chose Zeke Elliott and Derrick Henry. Zeke was not really a great play. At $8700, after signing a long term deal after a long holdout, when he shares an equal amount of carries as his backup in week 1, he’s not a great play value-wise. Any running back who was out of training camp or for any extended period of time who just signed a long term deal should not be expected to have a full workload the second week after he returns. That doesn’t make sense from an injury risk standpoint to put a player in that position. Injuries can happen anytime but they’re more likely to occur after an extended period away from football. He should have been eased into the role, just like he was in this game. He’ll be an every down back again in maybe week 4 or 5 and onward but until then, it behooves the coaching staff to build up to that workload. You should never spend $8700 on a player who should not see a full workload. The only thing that made Elliott the right play in this lineup is that he was the perfect pivot off of the more popular RB on the slate, NO Alvin Kamara, who usually has the same upside and was $500 cheaper at 8200. Alvin Kamara was 39.18% owned in this contest. That ownership is just too high. I mean, he’s a good way to get a piece of the Saints game, but he’s just too highly owned on a full slate. When you know a guy is going to be this popular on a main slate, then your job is to pivot to someone else, generally right around the same price range. Elliott was 8.47% owned. He was around the same price range as Kamara and had more or less similar upside, even though he should have low volume. We know he gets all the goal line work, and that along with the expected ownership is what should have taken us off of Kamara and put us on someone like Elliott. It looks like at $7400, Dalvin Cook was the right pivot. His upside was the same as these two, less ownership and full workload. You don’t have to be perfect in these pivots if you get some of them dead on right, then you’ll leave a little room for error. Elliott was not the right play but he helped make a millionaire in a day.
Derrick Henry. Solid play. Usually, it’s a good idea to consider stacking one of your RBs with your defense because of the positive correlation. If a running back scores a lot and/or does a great job with dominating the time of possession then the opposition is going to be trying to throw from behind and generally that increases the possibilities for turnovers for a Defense to receive points for. And if a Defense is doing a great job, then the RB1 is usually going to get more snaps as the game progresses as his team runs out the clock. TEN was playing in a game with one of the lowest projected point totals against a backup qb with interception issues, so Derrick Henry made complete sense. In many instances a stack of Henry/TEN would have been solid. EXCEPT for this week, because the slate had one of the most unique matchups the league has seen in quite some time.
Week 2 had one of the highest point spreads we’ve ever seen. I heard on a podcast I can’t recall the name of, that the NE @ MIA game had one of the highest point spreads since the 1980s, with a spread that hovered around NE -19. That’s a lot of games over a long time. But the game this week had arguably the best team/best coached team in the league playing against the consensus worst team/worst coached team in the league. MIA is tanking and several players have been in the media asking to be traded. This game was definitely a blowout just like everyone expected, 43 – 0. The starting QB for the MIA team, Fitzpatrick, is interception prone and quite frankly has played on so many teams that maybe he gets confused sometimes who he should be throwing to. The Patriots defense was the highest owned defense at 20.39% and made complete sense. It was pricey, at 3700, but it made complete sense. For some reason, many analysts expected the MIA offense to get at least one or 2 TDs against the 5th string roster that comes in at halftime but the Dolphins literally gave up. The MIA offense played so poorly that the NE defense literally broke the slate. You almost had to have this defense in your lineup if you wanted anything close to a top prize. Under normal circumstances, you want to draft a defense a low owned defense, under $3K, against a QB who tends to throw a pick or two, preferably a young QB or backup QB. But when a match like this comes around only once every 30 years or so, you gotta capitalize on it like this winner did and draft them.
WR / WR
We know we had Robinson from KC in the Team stack, so we’re left with the 2 other WR positions to fill. Generally, those positions should be used to grab a piece of another game we really like, either a high scoring game like what we expected from the NO and LAR game or by drafting a WR1 – the WR who gets the most targets on a team. One of the other offense stacks we liked this week was the BUF squad playing against one of the worst defenses in the league who just got murdered by the DAL team in week 1. Any time a generally average QB has a career game against a defense, with a perfect QB rating, that’s the kind of defensive squad you want to target against. Dak Prescott looked superhuman last game and so the Buffalo offense was bound to hit above their averages as well. The top receivers on the Bills in week 1 were John Brown at 10 Targets, and Beasley at 9 Targets. Either one of these guys would have been a great choice but the winning lineup had John Brown in it most likely just because the winner had the extra cash to afford Brown who was $5200 and the deep ball threat and clear WR1, while Beasley was a solid, high volume, short pass catcher, money saver at $3800. We were on this game, and we had a lot of Beasley and/or Brown and/or Josh Allen stacks so we got that one right.
The last of the specific WR positions was filled by Emmanuel Sanders. This was a really odd pick in some respects because he was a part of the game with the lowest projected point total on the board. Generally, that’s not really a game you want to target an offensive player from, against a tough defense, with so many other options available. But he is a clear WR1 in the DEN offense and he’s very talented. If anyone scores a TD or two in that game, he’d be one of if not THE top offensive player to do so. The ownership was going to be low because of the point total, he was owned by a whopping 1.84% of lineups, and despite the situation he’s still a number 1 receiver, and at $4700 . Game theory-wise, this pick makes sense. It’s still weird though.
And the final play of the day, Miami’s own Preston Williams, at 0.6% owned. The mindset needed to make this pick is the same mindset we would have used to pick Waller who outscored this dude in our gamestack of KC/OAK. This guy was chosen because he’s one of the receivers on the Dolphins squad who was going to get plenty of reps on offense after NE scored another TD on them. And this reason this guy was chosen, even though he’s more of a WR3, instead of more targeted players on the MIA offense, was based on the defensive strategy of the New England Patriots. Every single game, the Patriots defensive game plan is to take away the primary offensive threat on the opposing team. If they play GB they double Adams, if they play NO they limit Michael Thomas. They always do this and that strategy has been successful for years. Now what this does is increase the expected targets for any secondary or tertiary targets of any Patriot’s opponent. That’s why of all the players on this tanking MIA team, this lineup included a talented under the radar receiver that the Patriots would never have game-planned for. He was 0.6% owned and just did enough, with 10.3 fpts to work out for this lineup. Again, MIA is so bad that we would never have played this dude and would have outscored this FLEX pick with Waller, but this pick was one of 9 picks worth a million bucks.
35.62 – Patrick Mahomes – $7500
23.00 – Zeke Elliott – $8700
17.30 – Derrick Henry – $ 6000
14.20 – John Brown – $ 5200
38.20 – Demarcus Robinson – $ 3500
28.80 – Emmanuel Sanders – $ 4700
26.70 – Travis Kelce – $7300
10.30 – Preston Williams – $ 3400
37.00 – NE Defense – $ 3700
Total Cost – $50000
Total Fpts – 231.12