Every week daily fantasy sports (DFS) players are aiming to create a near perfect lineup in order to take home the most money in their GPP (guaranteed prize pool) tournaments. The top entries will typically have a few representatives from this "perfect" lineup, and it's important to be mindful of what player combinations and correlated stacks are needed to win big from week to week. In this weekly recap article we'll take a closer look at the previous week's perfect lineup and compare it to the winner of a large GPP DraftKings contest. We'll reflect on strategies and trends for our future lineups.
Breaking Down The Winning Lineup
As you'll note above, three stacks were utilized in this week's perfect lineup: Cooper Kupp / D'Andre Swift ("mini stack"), A.J. Brown / Titans DST, and Ja'Marr Chase / C.J. Uzomah. A total of16% of the lineups that finished in the top 10% utilized the first stack of Kupp/Swift. The third stack was not included in most lineups, likely due to the Ravens' strong defensive performance the week before as they shut down the Los Angeles Chargers. Baltimore has to be one of the most difficult teams to get a pulse on in this NFL season, to say the least. As a result, Chase and Uzomah had ownership levels no more than 4.0% in the $4,444 ($1 Million Prize) Fourth Down Conversion contest on DraftKings. And for an affordable stack price of $9,200, they produced 61.2 points. Both players were discussed on our DFS podcast last week as contrarian plays needed to pivot off the chalkier Tee Higgins, Rashod Bateman and Lamar Jackson.
The rest of the lineup had one-off pieces with relatively low ownership levels (9.6% - 13.2%) including Tua Tagovailoa, Damien Harris, and Mike Evans. Most importantly and notably, however, is that the winner of the $200,000 top prize from DraftKing's $4444 NFL $1M Fourth Down Conversion also contest utilized the Kupp / Swift stack from the perfect lineup. This lineup featured an expanded version of that stack by including Matthew Stafford. Other stacks included were Devontae Booker / Giants DST and Miles Sanders / Hunter Renfrow. Chris Godwin and Mike Gesicki were the only players that did not belong to a stack yet were the winning lineup's two highest owned players at a combined ownership percentage of 60%+.
To dive a little deeper into the Week 7 DraftKings tournament results, we'll as always take look at the ownership data: the "cumulative ownership" percentage is a metric used by DFS players to gauge the uniqueness of their lineups and how they can separate from the rest of the field and win big. In similar sized contests this year, the average owned percentage of the winning lineup was 136.8%. Week 5 was an anomaly, however, as heavy "chalk" pieces hit and the winning lineup subsequently had a cumulative ownership percentage of 238.6%. This week's winning lineup's percentage was also above average at 166.0% as five players had an ownership percentage of at least 18%. Highly-owned players, in most cases, are a big red flag for GPP lineups, as they tie your lineups to the rest of your competition. Case in point: if you rostered Kareem Hunt ($6,200) in Week 6, who was part of 51.7% of lineups but wound up with only 10.8 points, then you were immediately usurped by the 48.3% of the field who DIDN'T roster Hunt.
However, sometimes "heavy" chalk pieces hit, such as Chris Godwin ($5,900) in Week 7, but the production only resulted in an advantage over 59.2% of the pool. On the other hand, Ja'Marr Chase ($6,200), who also had a productive week, would've resulted in advantage over 96.0% of the pool (!). It's of course easy to advocate for Chase in hindsight, but this specific example shows our motivation for fading the chalk.
Breaking Down The Week 7 "Winning Stacks"
The Week 7 GPP winning lineup above deployed a Rams stack with one Detroit bring back piece (Stafford/Kupp/Swift), all players that had ownership levels in excess of 10%. However, that specific combination was only used 0.4% of all lineups. This number jumps up to 4.0% (i.e. 10x) when examining the lineups that finished in the top 10% of the pool. As discussed on our weekly DFS podcast, Stafford was slated for a big game against the Lions and there was added motivation for head coach Sean McVay to prove that the Rams made the right decision in the offseason trade which sent Stafford to Los Angeles and Goff to Detroit. Cooper Kupp is Stafford's undisputed number one receiver and has received at least 10 targets per game all season. Stafford's and Kupp's fantasy production are extremely correlated with each other, as is including the pass-catching back on a team in the Lions who we expected to be trailing big and racking up a ton of garbage points in DraftKings' full PPR scoring format. Bottom line here: take advantage of potentially high-scoring games from both sides in your lineup builds to maximize your correlation.
Typically you want to shoot for a maximum 135-140% cumulative ownership in your GPP lineups, but even that is pushing it. Remaining at 130% or less (preferably even a max of 120%-125% most weeks) will give you enough room to fit in chalk pieces with high upside, in addition to correlated pieces at depressed ownership that specifically attack pass-happy NFL game environments. We'll continue to examine these ownership levels and stacking strategies each week in both large-field and small-field GPP tournaments.
Looking Ahead To Week 8
Our three highest opening over/under totals are surprisingly in all three of the primetime/standalone games. The only Week 8 main slate matchup to open with an over/under of 50 or more is Tampa Bay vs. New Orleans, a game which we expect to attract even higher ownership levels than usual due to the narrative of Jameis Winston playing his old team and the Bucs vs. Saints divisional rivalry at play.
Looking a little down the board, however, we see a few games hovering right under 50 in the Bills/Dolphins, Titans/Colts, Eagles/Lions and Patriots/Chargers. Even the Panthers/Falcons, which opened at 46.5, has the potential for some game-stacking and high-scoring potential, as most of the public is likely to fade the Carolina offense after the benching of Sam Darnold in Week 7. Same goes the Rams/Texans (opened at 45.5), in which we could see value if ownership levels stay depressed for Houston and Tyrod Taylor returns to the lineup, thus increasing the viability of Texans bring back options to accompany Rams stacks as we mentioned above. If Tyrod does indeed return, then stacking him with Brandin Cooks and bringing it back with multiple Rams players (i.e. Kupp/Henderson) could prove to draw very low ownership across the field. This is an injury situation we'll certainly be monitoring as the week progresses. All five remaining games on the Week 8 main slate all sports an O/U total of less than 45 and are subsequently likely to draw little ownership outside of a few standalone pieces (i.e. Chase/Deebo).
A low game total doesn't always mean low fantasy scoring outputs though. In fact, low O/U games have historically shown that player props go OVER at a higher rate when it comes to rushing yards, rushing attempts and rushing + receiving yards for running backs. Correlating an RB/DST stack, or an RB on a favorite with an upside WR bring back on the underdog, could each prove to be fruitful strategies in Week 8 as ownership is likely to condense around stacks in the higher-totaled games (i.e. Dolphins/Bills).
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