TJ's Take: Week 12 NFL DFS Recap

Nov 27, 2018
TJ's Take: Week 12 NFL DFS Recap

Week 12’s winning lineups from the biggest contests on FanDuel and DraftKings can be used to tease out lineup-building strategies and offer clues on how you could have landed on a similar team. Reviewing your hits and misses each week is imperative if you want to be a profitable DFS player but examining winning lineups is also a useful exercise in cultivating a winning approach.

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DraftKings Week 12 Millionaire Winning Lineup

Pajamadaddy17 won the 12th Millionaire of 2018 with a strategy that isn’t often atop leaderboards, but one that we’ve certainly seen before—the “naked” quarterback, aka a quarterback that isn’t stacked with a teammate. There are few situations where this lineup build is optimal, but it can make sense. Specifically, the “naked” quarterback works when you have a signal caller who runs a lot on a team that spreads the ball around. Lamar Jackson pulled it down 27 times in Week 11 and going into Sunday, no Baltimore pass catcher had a season target share of at least 20 percent.

This isn’t to say that Pajamadaddy17 completely ignored correlation, though—this lineup included opposing pass catchers from one game and an opposing running back and pass catcher from another. As has been the case for most of the season, this team was carried by high-owned, stud running backs but the differentiators were a trio of contrarian plays.

What Were the Indicators for the Low-Owned Plays?

Locking in a low-owned play isn’t about blindly throwing darts. Including unpopular plays in stacks means you have to be “right” less often than when you simply try to get every play right. In other words, have your team tell a story. We know that opposing offenses are highly correlated and Pajamadaddy17 took advantage of this fact, pairing two of his contrarian plays with chalk from an opposing team.

With Doug Baldwin nursing an injury, Pat James highlighted David Moore as a player to be overweight on in a game that had one of the highest projected totals of the week. Denver has been among the worst secondaries when it comes to long plays allowed through the air and JuJu capitalized on that weakness with a play that spanned virtually the entire field.

Melvin Gordon was supposed to be a game-time decision but it was announced well before the early games that Gordon was expected to play. Playing injured in a game where the Chargers were double-digit favorites, it was logical to think that Gordon could be limited. While it took an injury to Gordon for Austin Ekeler to have a big role in the second half, expecting Ekeler to have an increased workload in this game was a fair assumption.

FanDuel Week 12 Sunday Million Winning Lineup

For the 11th time in 12 weeks, the winning Sunday Million lineup used a running back in the flex spot, emphasizing one of the more dominant trends that we’ve seen in tournament play this season. With no players owned in fewer than five percent of lineups, michigan396 used a method that we preach weekly here at 4for4—find a low-owned stack to pair with a solid player core. The Steelers passing game was emphasized as a play to be overweight on in Week 12’s Slate Breakdown. michigan396 took it a step further, adding Emmanuel Sanders for an opposing passing game stack.

What Were the Indicators for the Low-Owned Plays?

The Steelers/Broncos game carried one of the highest over/unders of the week but Pittsburgh is one of the worst on-paper matchups for wide receivers. With Demaryius Thomas no longer in Denver, Sanders is the Broncos’ primary pass catcher and was underpriced relative to his expected volume and touchdown equity. In a potential shootout, the bad matchup should actually encourage ownership since the public is likely to fade such a play.

Adam Humphries wasn’t just an overweight suggestion in last week’s breakdown but a player that should have been considered as a core play. His recent snap share eclipsed all Tampa Bay pass catchers not named Evans, and San Francisco has been one of the worst teams against slot receivers this season.

TJ’s Final Take

NFL coaches often discuss the season as broken up into four quarters, game planning and looking at their record in four-game chunks. As DFS players, we can benefit by paying attention to this strategy, looking for trends that have changed throughout the season, rather than relying solely on season-long data. One stat that reflects how offenses want to operate is pass/run splits in neutral game script. When the score doesn’t dictate how a team is calling plays—passing when behind or running with a lead—we can gain insight into how coaches prefer to conduct their offense. Since neutral game script is where most plays take place—60 percent of plays this season have been when the score was within seven points—understanding how an offense operates is valuable for favorites and underdogs alike.

Now 12 weeks into the season, we can look for teams that might have changed their philosophy since Week 1. Below is a table of each team’s neutral passing rate, broken down into four-week windows followed by some key points to take note of.

Neutral Game Script Passing Rates, Weeks 1–12
Team Weeks 1–4 Weeks 5–8 Weeks 9–12 Total
CIN 66.3% 66.9% 63.2% 65.9%
ATL 62.7% 66.4% 69.2% 65.3%
PIT 62.2% 61.0% 70.4% 64.7%
MIN 70.4% 64.4% 56.2% 64.4%
DET 65.8% 44.4% 60.6% 63.8%
IND 70.3% 55.3% 59.0% 63.3%
PHI 61.4% 62.7% 66.3% 62.7%
NYJ 54.2% 51.1% 66.7% 62.1%
TAM 62.4% 61.9% 58.3% 60.7%
NYG 60.8% 67.4% 52.8% 60.6%
DEN 60.1% 52.4% 64.7% 60.3%
KAN 56.6% 67.0% 69.3% 59.9%
LAR 61.0% 47.6% 66.3% 57.9%
WAS 40.0% 50.0% 63.5% 57.8%
LAC 50.6% 57.1% 62.3% 57.7%
CLE 52.9% 63.1% 57.6% 57.4%
BAL 65.5% 64.4% 40.1% 57.2%
MIA 57.7% 59.6% 52.3% 56.7%
GNB 57.3% 65.8% 62.4% 56.6%
CHI 53.6% 57.1% 58.7% 56.4%
OAK 56.8% 54.7% 55.3% 56.0%
NOR 62.4% 48.7% 52.8% 55.9%
DAL 49.6% 55.6% 58.4% 55.4%
SEA 56.4% 40.6% 48.2% 55.0%
ARI 54.2% 61.6% 46.9% 54.3%
SFO 56.2% 51.4% 55.7% 54.3%
JAX 61.4% 58.4% 40.2% 53.5%
NWE 50.7% 60.8% 56.6% 53.3%
HOU 58.6% 53.3% 45.5% 53.0%
TEN 50.5% 52.0% 49.6% 50.6%
CAR 48.9% 58.7% 57.4% 49.6%
BUF 63.2% 46.2% 41.9% 47.1%


  • Minnesota has the fourth-highest neutral passing rate on the season, but rank in the top half of the league in neutral rush rate over the last month.
  • After running the ball heavily in the first half of the season, the Jets have passed at the fourth-highest rate in neutral game script over the last month.
  • Kansas City ranks 12th in neutral passing rate for the season but have the second-highest passing rate in one-score games over the last four weeks.
  • Washington has seen their passing rate steadily increase as the season has progressed.
  • Baltimore has been the most volatile offense when it comes to neutral passing rate—this can be attributed to the dramatic shift towards the run with Lamar Jackson under center.
  • Oakland has been the most consistent offense this season, in terms of pass/run splits.
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