FanDuel Championship Round Slate Breakdown
For this Championship Round, two-game slate, I will take a slightly different approach than usual in my analysis. On these slates, any player that sees normal playing time is viable so rather than discussing specific matchups and value plays, this space will look at the most likely game scripts and how to build lineups to fit those narratives, while also looking at some subtle ways to be unique from the field. Note that these are obviously not the only scenarios to build around but the ones that I will be using to shape the majority of my portfolio.
For those used to playing full slates there are some adjustments to consider:
- Short slates are not all about value - With so few players in the pool, there will inevitably be a ton of overlap in lineups which naturally leads to a high variance slate. For this reason, it makes sense to focus on GPPs. (Putting your tournament lineups in small 50/50s, however, can be a nice way to hedge if you are not playing any cash games.) Rather than building a lineup with the best point-per-dollar plays, owners should consider game flow scenarios and build lineups that follow a logical narrative relative to those scripts.
- Consider non-traditional lineup builds - On short slates, there are some lineup construction strategies to consider that would never make sense on a full slate. Some examples are playing more than one running back from the same team in a lineup, rostering one or two players against your defense, and leaving salary on the table. It’s going to be tough to find contrarian stand-alone players—look for other ways to be unique.
- There is leverage to be had at the “onesies” - Full slates will rarely have any quarterback, tight end, or defense in more than 15%–20% of lineups in large-field GPPs. On slates such as this one, players at those positions could exceed 50% ownership in even the largest fields. This presents a rare opportunity to be contrarian at positions where ownership is usually quite flat.
- Stick to a (relatively) small player pool - It’s tempting to try to cover all of your bases when the player pool is so small but that will only dilute your good reads. Narrow in on a small core with your favorite off-the-board plays and be way overweight on those players. Coupled with strong correlation plays, this is how to build a profitable portfolio on a short slate.
- Don’t forget about late swaps - If your lineups are slanted towards game stacks, especially for the earlier games, it’s imperative to see where you stand when the final game starts. If you only have one player left and someone ahead of you has the same player, the only way to win is to swap, even if it’s to a player with a lower projection.
- Being underweight on a player does not mean having zero exposure, especially on slates this small.
One narrative that has been floated this week is that the Titans will do their best to use Derrick Henry ($9,800) to control the clock and keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’s ($9,500) hands. While that sounds good in theory, that game plan is still likely to produce very few points for Tennessee and they can’t hope for two failed 4th-an-1s and a turnover to get them ahead as was the case against Baltimore. If the Titans can keep this close or pull off an upset, it will likely be in a high-scoring contest where we see the uber-efficient Ryan Tannehill ($7,700) that we saw over the second half of the season. A full game stack is the way to build around that scenario and there is some leverage to be had with playing Tannehill over Mahomes, who could very well end up on 50% of rosters in large-field tournaments.
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