Each week this season, we will spend some time on Tuesday analyzing the highest scoring lineups from the previous weekend's DraftKings $10M Millionaire Maker contest. We will highlight trends and strategy such as how much to spend per position, which stacking strategies (if any) have been successful, and which position has been best used in the flex spot. We will also compare results from the 2015 season to our in-depth study of the results from the 2014 season and see if the conclusions we drew over the offseason hold up when more data is added to the equation.
We will also look forward to the upcoming Millionaire Maker contest and point out some players who are priced in the same ranges and have matchups similar to the players that helped previous DraftKings contest winners take home huge cash prizes.
THE WINNING LINEUP
DraftKings user runj put up a monster score of 295.32 in a high-scoring week overall. He stacked Andy Dalton with A.J. Green. He also used top scorers Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, Steve Smith Sr., and Greg Olsen. He rounded out his lineup with a pair of Colts (Donte Moncrief and Frank Gore) and the Panthers DST. runj nailed the top running back, top three wide receivers and the top tight end. Interestingly, he put up all his points in the early afternoon games on Sunday and had to spend the next 30+ hours sweating it out. Big Monday night performances from Randall Cobb, Jamaal Charles, James Jones, Jeremy Maclin and Aaron Rodgers pushed many competitors close to the top of the leaderboard, but runj was able to hold on for the narrow victory and $2,000,000 payday.
It was one of the highest scoring weeks in recent memory with five entries topping 290 points. It required 279.62 points just to crack the Top 20.
THE TOP 20
Below are the lineups of the top 20 finishers in DraftKings' Week 3 Millionaire Maker tournament:
THE TOP WEEK 3 PLAYS
For the first time this season, a player was 100% owned by the Top 20 finishers and that player was Devonta Freeman. Freeman outscored the second-highest scoring running back this week by more than 14 points and his low salary ($4,600) made him a necessary piece of a top roster. Greg Olsen was the second biggest key to assembling a winning roster. He outscored the second-highest scoring tight end by more than 10 points and was owned by 75% of the top finishers. A.J. Green was the highest scoring player overall in Week 3 and was owned by 65% of the top finishers. Larry Fitzgerald was a top play for the second consecutive week and was owned by more than half (55%) of the top finishers.
The Week 3 Millionaire Maker contest was dominated by two separate stacks that together accounted for 60% of the top entries. The best stack of the week was Andy Dalton and A.J. Green. 35% of the top finishers employed this stack, including the top scorer. Green was the week's highest scoring player overall and Dalton finished just behind Aaron Rodgers as the second-highest scoring quarterback. The second stack of note was Cam Newton and his top target Greg Olsen. 25% of the top finishers employed the Newton-Olsen stack, including the second place finisher Hoothead.
Overall, Week 3 was a great example of the benefits of stacking. The top three quarterbacks (Rodgers, Dalton and Newton) all relied on huge performances from their top targets, which is usually how it ends up playing out.
Andy Dalton (40%) and Cam Newton (30%) were the best options at the QB position in Week 3. Both finished in the top three at the position in scoring and were priced reasonably enough ($5,700 and $6,800 respectively) to allow for a bit of extra cap space to spend extra on the WR2, WR3 and Flex positions that ended up being key to a top finish. Overall, the top finishers spent only $6,315 and scored 32.2 points (5.1x) in a week in which scoring was way up across the board.
Looking forward to Week 4, neither Andy Dalton ($5,900) nor Cam Newton ($7,000) saw big price bumps despite their strong performances in Week 3 and their strong matchups (Kansas City and Tampa Bay respectively). Both look like top options again for Week 4. Sam Bradford ($6,000) and Tyrod Taylor ($5,800) are both intriguing lower-priced options that will allow you to load up on strong wide receiver plays this week.
We recommended Devonta Freeman in this column last week as a player who was priced in the same range and had characteristics in common with the running backs that were on previous top finishers and he ended up being the key player in Week 3. He was owned on 100% of rosters. Freeman was the RB1 on 40% of the top finishers and RB2 on 55% of the top finishers (and appeared as the FLEX in one lineup). Freeman was paired with a wide range of different running backs, ranging from the most expensive (Le'Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles each appeared on mutliple top rosters) to the the most inexpensive (Darren Sproles, Lance Dunbar and Chris Johnson) and everything in-between (Frank Gore and Joseph Randle were strong mid-priced option owned by multiple top finishers).
Overall, the RB1s averaged $5,880 and scored 35.31 points (6.0x) with most of the top finishers having either Freeman or one of the highest-priced backs as their RB1s. The RB2s averaged $4,550 and scored 31.7 points (7.0x) with Freeman by far the most common option. Despite the incredibly high-scoring, 20% of the top finishers were able to overcome the weak performance (7.3 points) of Danny Woodhead as their RB2. Pairing Freeman and Woodhead allowed plenty of leftover money to roster Olsen and a trio of top receivers and still have a great week.
Looking forward to Week 4, the top running backs all face relatively difficult matchups so the sweet spot again is probably going to be in that $4,500-$5,600 range at RB. LeSean McCoy ($5,600), Joseph Randle ($5,500), Melvin Gordon ($4,900) and Frank Gore ($4,700) all fit nicely with the type of situation and pricing that have led to success in the first three weeks.
The story of the week at Wide Receiver was that despite another impressive showing from Julio Jones (43.4 points), the best strategy was a more balanced approach to spending at the receiver position. Jones was only owned on 20% of the top rosters after being the key to success in Week 2.
Week 3 was dominated by the mid-high priced WRs in the $5,800 to $7,300 range. In fact, 60% of the top finishers paid at least $5,800 for each of their WRs with Brandon Marshall and Larry Fitzgerald proving especially strong options as WR3s. A.J. Green ($7,200) and Steve Smith Sr. ($6,200) were the two highest scoring players overall and both were common choices as the WR1 or WR2 on the top finishers. Overall, the WR1s averaged a much lower cost (compared to the first two weeks) of $7,590 and scored 37.3 points (4.9x). The WR2s averaged $6,665 and scored 39.8 points (6.0x). The WR3s averaged $5,430 and scored 30.8 points (5.7x). In addition to the decision to go with Devonta Freeman at RB, success in Week 2 really required saving some cap space to pay for three strong receiver options and nailing those selections.
The big question heading into Week 4 will be whether to try to repeat the best strategy from this past week with mid-high priced receivers like A.J. Green ($7,500), Randall Cobb ($7,400), DeAndre Hopkins ($7,300), T.Y. Hilton ($6,700) and Jordan Matthews ($6,600) or whether to go back to the approach that worked best in the first two weeks with a high-priced receiver like Julio Jones ($9,300) or Odell Beckham ($9,000) paired with cheaper options like Stevie Johnson ($4,400) and Marvin Jones ($3,700). While both are viable strategies, stocking up on three or four high-upsdie wide receivers in the $5,500-$7,500 range seems an especially attractive option again in Week 4.
The key to success in Week 3 at the tight end position was owning Greg Olsen. He appeared on a whopping 75% of the Top 20 rosters (including the top four finishers) and far outpaced his competition at the TE position. Overall, the TE position averaged $4,655 and scored 31.3 points (6.7x)
For the second straight week, the Flex position was dominated by wide receivers with 60% of the top finishers choosing to grab a 4th WR. We see many of the same players with high ownership rates at wide receiver showing up in the flex spot with Larry Fitzgerald, Brandon Marshall and Steve Smith Sr. all showing up on mulitple rosters in the flex spot. Again, the balanced approach ruled the day in Week 3 with most of the top finishers loading up on receivers in that $5,800 to $7,300 range and using the flex spot to get a 4th receiver in that mid-high priced tier onto their rosters.
Looking forward to Week 4, the value again seems to be at the wide receiver position and rostering a fourth receiver looks like the strongest option. Putting a player like Randall Cobb ($7,400) or James Jones ($5,300) in at Flex gives you both a top option in an enticing matchup (the weak San Francisco defense) and some added roster flexibility with both players slotted to play in the afternoon game and most of the top receivers playing in the early games.
TOURNAMENT PLAYER INFORMATION
Week 3 was more of a "chalk" week with the highest scores coming from non-fluky sources (unlike last week when Travis Benjamin was amongst the top finishers on his three passing targets) and that was reflected in the standings. 80% of the top finishers entered mulitple lineups and the winner entered six lineups.
Interestingly, despite the abundance of multi-entry contestants finishing at the top of the standings, it was again a week in which the big money players were left on the outside looking in. Of the Top 20 finishers, only one entered more than nine lineups (3rd place finisher baggeclaim entered 44). Week 3 was dominated by the guys who entered between two and nine lineups. Let's call them the "average smart players."