I’m going to start with a story about the showdown slates. I finally did it. I finally got last place. Literally last place. You’ve heard me talk about “if you’re not first, you’re last” and if you finish one spot out of the cash line in a tournament, you might as well finish last (it pays the same). This is a reminder that when you’re playing for first place in a tournament you need to be willing to make some uncomfortable plays or build around some uncomfortable games, of which there are plenty to choose from this week.
Now, that doesn’t mean you need to pick bad players – or, said better, players that have no reasonable chance to get a couple TDs. You use your same smart lineup building principles and you make some good ownership-driven pivots. We talked about Justin Jefferson being way too low owned for his upside last week just because he was in a “bad matchup”. That’s a smart play simply based on ownership level not matching talent level. Sure, it’s uncomfortable paying a premium salary for a WR playing against the Bills, but it’s not that far a reach. Smart pivots.
Back to the showdown slates. Those are all about ensuring your lineup tells a story, which is similar to full slates. My last place lineup was built around the Eagles running game a couple weeks ago. It didn’t have any hail-mary players, it just didn’t turn out to be the game script that happened. More recently, a showdown lineup built around the Titans controlling the game through their passing attack won first place. It didn’t have any hail-mary players, it simply told a different story. A story that was unpopular enough that it won 70k for first place, rather than splitting it with hundreds of other lineups.
Just like in middle school, be willing to be unpopular.
My first thought going into this week was Justin Fields might see the highest QB ownership levels we’ve seen this year, making David Montgomery a nice pivot. And dropping down to Dak at QB. But then Khalil Herbert went on IR and now everyone wants to play Montgomery, making Fields a nice pivot! Again. Imagine a dual-threat QB that just put up 40 points two weeks in a row in the second-highest projected game of the week is only the fourth highest owned QB, under 10%. Yes his price went up, but be willing to play the “unpopular” Justin Fields simply because of his potential upside.
I thought Barkley would have high ownership against the Texans, but that doesn’t appear to be the case, making him a strong play in a week with out a lot of great RB options. Especially if everyone is paying down to Montgomery at RB, it’s easy to be unique and pay up for Barkley. He hasn’t had a monster game yet but it’s his in range of outcomes this week.
Speaking of Barkley, remember our salary multipliers. On FD, we want a player that can score 3x his salary. For Barkley, that means he needs almost 30 points just to pay off for us. Montgomery only needs around 18 points. You can see why there is a big ownership difference now. But when you’re looking at players that are closer in salary you need to think about the difference in the scores they need. Right now, Mixon coming off a dud off a season then a surprise (and not repeatable) 5-TD performance is priced at 9,000 on FD and is projected for more than 15% ownership. Barkley, at 9,700 in one of the best RB matchups in football, is projected for less than 10%. Based on the 3x multiplier, Barkley only needs to score 2 more points than Mixon! I’ll take that bet. Dameon Pierce is projected for more than 25% ownership and, priced at 7,600 (7.6 x 3 = 22.8) needs 22.8 points. Barkley (9.7 x 3 = 29.1) needs 29.1. Ultimately, you have to decide for yourself whether you think the odds of players hitting their 3x compared to another player hitting 3x is worth the ownership tradeoff. Barkley vs Mixon seems pretty simple. Barkley vs Pierce, given matchup, is less simple but a bet I’m willing to take.
Think through these numbers and the difference in what the players need to score when building your lineups.
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