Stokastic Roundtable: How Our Experts Are Attacking the Monday Night Football Slate With Joe Burrow’s Injury

Stokastic’s NFL DFS experts have advice as to how to approach the two-game Monday Night Football slate when Joe Burrow’s status is up in the air. Right now, Burrow appears to be giving it a go, but since the slate locks at 7:15 p.m. ET and the Bengals play at 8:15 p.m., there are a lot of interesting strategy variables. Let’s see the NFL DFS strategy our Stokastic NFL DFS minds are using to attack this MNF slate.

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Monday Night Football NFL DFS Strategy | Joe Burrow Injury

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Greg Ehrenberg’s MNF NFL DFS Strategy

If anyone tells you they are confident they know what Joe Burrow’s health is like, don’t take advice from them. It’s not a knowable situation. Neither Burrow nor the Bengals even appear to fully know how capable he is of playing tonight. We have a two-game slate, and reports are indicating that Burrow is going to play, so it’s a scenario where we are going to have to take some sort of stand.

This is a scenario where I want to manipulate ownership. If I am assuming that none of us know what Burrow will look like on the field, then I want to do the opposite of what the field is doing in large-field tournaments. There is a ton of variance with the fantasy output of Burrow tonight. His results can vary from having a massive game and breaking the slate all the way to not being physically capable of finishing the game. If he’s popular, I want to go underweight to the field. If the field is afraid of the injury and his ownership is low heading into lock, then I am going to load up on the Bengals star quarterback.

Steve Buzzard’s MNF NFL DFS Strategy

The biggest question on every DFS player’s mind as we gear up for tonight’s two-game slate is the state of Burrow’s health. Can we trust him in our lineups, or should we steer clear of the uncertainty? As it stands, Burrow seems determined to take the field, but will he last the game, and can we expect his usual stellar performance? Let’s dive into the decision-making process.

First and foremost, if Burrow starts the game, chances are he’ll finish it—barring any drastic score disparities. NFL teams are cautious with their franchise quarterbacks, and the Cincinnati Bengals are no exception. Although they’re off to a rocky 0-2 start, they won’t rush Burrow back recklessly. However, if the game spirals out of control, they might consider an early pull, which slightly affects Burrow’s upside, especially in blowout scenarios.

Additionally, this season Burrow has shown some hesitation to run, which, in turn, curbs his fantasy upside. So there’s no denying that there’s some inherent risk involved when rostering him.

Now, let’s look at the ownership landscape. Running Stokastic’s Contest Generator, we observe that ownership is quite evenly spread across all four quarterbacks in the two-game slate. Jalen Hurts slightly edges ahead, thanks in part to those who are fading Burrow. My guess is people are even more scared to play Burrow than what the Contest Generator is saying and possibly more than what ownership is saying as well.

So what do Stokastic’s simulations say about this situation? Surprisingly, the simulations suggest that Baker Mayfield might be the safest bet with the highest ROI potential, appearing in 33% of the top 150 lineups. Burrow is right behind him, though, at 30%. We don’t currently have specific injury risk built into the sims, so it thinks Burrow is just as likely to leave early as another quarterback. It’s possible that it is overstating Burrow slightly.

Let’s consider two adjustments to our strategy. First of all, I am going to give Burrow three boosts down on the Contest Generator. This moves down his ownership to the 20% range, which I think might be a little aggressive but is well within the range of outcomes. This adjustment naturally increases Hurts’ ownership given their respective talents.

The second tweak involves lowering Burrow’s projection by 1 point in the simulation. This small adjustment accounts for the risk of him not finishing the game and potentially running less than usual.

With these adjustments in place, Stokastic’s simulations reveal a surprising turn of events. Burrow now emerges as the favored choice in 37% of all lineups, while Mayfield takes the most significant hit, dropping from 33% to 22%.

Here’s what we can glean from these results: It’s not just about Burrow’s actual injury but also about how the public perceives it. If you firmly believe Burrow won’t come close to his usual performance, you should fade him completely. Otherwise, consider playing him more than initially planned, as others are likely to shy away from the uncertainty. In DFS, being aggressive when others are passive can lead to big wins.

While an all-in bet on Burrow may not be advisable, having him as your highest-owned quarterback on this slate seems like the right move. Our assumptions and adjustments turned Burrow lineups from a -12% ROI to +2%. It’s tough to find such a significant ROI boost with any other decision tonight. So don’t shy away from the Burrow gamble; it might just pay off in a big way.

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Matt Belman’s MNF NFL DFS Strategy 

Paraphrasing the great William Shakespeare, ‘To Burrow, or not to Burrow’ is seemingly the question on every DFS player’s mind as we try to navigate Monday night’s two-game NFL slate. Barring any setbacks, it appears likely that Burrow will try to suit up for tonight’s game against the Rams, but what does that mean for us DFSers? While Burrow surely won’t be 100%, he doesn’t need to be for him to be viable on a slate with only four quarterbacks in play. That said, playing Burrow means you aren’t playing Hurts, Stafford or Mayfield, so the opportunity cost is real for a guy that hasn’t looked much like Joe Cool at all in 2023.

As surely anyone reading this article knows, DFS is largely a game of projection and ownership, so while nuance is surely needed, the math needs to math. As of this writing, Stokastic’s NFL DFS ownership projections have Burrow as the second-highest-owned quarterback on the slate at 24.3%. Hurts is leading the charge at 39%, and given the question marks surrounding Burrow, it makes complete sense why most people would feel more comfortable locking in Hurts. It should come as no surprise that Burrow is also projected to be the second-highest-scoring quarterback on the slate, behind only the aforementioned Hurts.

Stokastic’s Boom/Bust Probability Tool puts all of the pieces of the puzzle together and gives us a better understanding of how our tools view Burrow as a play tonight. While there are some strong leverage plays scattered throughout the slate, Burrow does not seem to be one of them, as we have him optimal 24.40% of the time, right in line with his 24.30% projected ownership. While it’s probably fair to rationalize that Burrow’s actual ownership might end up being slightly lower than his projected ownership, there isn’t enough substance there for me to want to change anything.

From a ‘knowing ball’ standpoint, Burrow hasn’t looked good this year. He seems hampered by his injury and lack of playing in the preseason, and it wouldn’t shock me at all if the Bengals end up sitting him for a while if they lose tonight’s game. All that being said, however, he still has Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins as his top two wideouts, and he’s likely to turn it around sooner rather than later.

After tough matchups against the Browns and Ravens, Burrow finds himself in a much better spot tonight against a good but not great Rams defense. If he were at 100%, I think it’s fair to assume that his ownership would be significantly higher. While that presents a nice leverage angle, his injury is real and it’s impossible to know exactly how or if it’s going to hinder him.

I like Burrow tonight, and while he’s definitely in play for me, the ownership looks to already be there. With three other viable quarterbacks on tonight’s slate, I’d rather go elsewhere and hope the Bengals regret sending him out there. Fade at your own risk in GPPs.

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