Week 17 DFS DraftKings Milly Maker Breakdown

Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins
Las Vegas Raiders v Miami Dolphins

The dynamic game of Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) requires much more than simply knowing the sport for which we’re entering contests to be successful. We must be adaptable, precise, and open to learning from previous endeavors, the latter of which will be the primary focus of this weekly written piece. Game Theoretic methodologies will allow us to analyze and dissect the previous week’s winner of the largest and most prestigious Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournament on DraftKings – the Millionaire Maker. These same tenets of Game Theory, which can most simply be explained as the development of decision-making processes given our own skill and knowledge, assumptions of the field based on the cumulative skill and knowledge of others playing the same game, and the rules and structure of the game itself, will allow us to further train our minds to see beyond the antiquated techniques of roster building being employed by a large portion of the field. Approaching improvement through these methods will give us insight into the anatomy of successful rosters and will help us develop repeatably profitable habit patterns for the coming weeks. We’ll start by looking at the previous week’s winning roster, extract any pertinent lessons for future utilization, and finish with a look ahead towards the coming main slate.

Winning Roster

Week 17 2023 DraftKings Milly Maker Winner
Week 17 2023 DraftKings Milly Maker Winner

Winning roster image courtesy Billy Ward at

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Lessons Learned

Never Play a QB Naked

Even if there’s a fire. Seriously, don’t do it. Cash games? Sure, play your uncorrelated quarterback to your heart’s content, but in GPPs, it’s literally throwing away EV to do so. Any game over the previous three seasons where a rushing quarterback hit ceiling or was optimal, he brought along at least one pass-catcher. Lamar Jackson was optimal twice last season. In both games, Mark Andrews was also optimal. Justin Fields was optimal twice last season. Again, in both games, Cole Kmet was also optimal. Rushing contributes to a quarterback’s floor, but they are almost never going to hit a ceiling outcome without bringing along at least one pass-catcher because their ceiling is unlocked through the air. Why is that? I did a study on the correlation between touchdowns and fantasy scoring at the four major positions this offseason. In that study, I found that the position with the most correlation to touchdowns was quarterback, and it is exceedingly unlikely that a quarterback rushes for more than two scores in a game in today’s current NFL. Thusly, a quarterback would almost certainly need to toss multiple touchdowns to be optimal, even with multiple rushing scores. Just eliminate naked quarterbacks from your GPP tool belt and save yourself from bleeding EV. The winning roster included wide receiver Zay Flowers, who caught one of Jackson’s five touchdowns on the day and also pierced 100 yards through the air.


Pair the TE With Your QB


Tight end scoring carried the second highest correlation to touchdowns in the same study I completed this offseason. Since tight end production is considered so flat in today’s NFL, largely due to very few players that see the requisite volume to return elite-level production consistently, the position typically requires a trip (or two, or three) to the end zone to be optimal on a given week. Now, Isaiah Likely was not the optimal tight end on this slate, losing out to Juwan Johnson’s career day against the Buccaneers, but he would have contributed an additional 12.3 DK points to this roster if played over George Kittle. While that might seem results-oriented, the data backs up the thesis. As was mentioned in the above segment, tight ends carry an extremely high hit rate in conjunction with their quarterback, because, again, scoring at those two positions are most closely linked to touchdown for fantasy production. Pairing your tight end and quarterback reduces the variables without reducing ceiling, all while carrying a path to get multiple positions right at once. Follow the link to view the full study on the correlation between touchdowns and fantasy production for all four major positions.


Looking Ahead


Tyrod Taylor + Darren Waller


This combination of quarterback and tight end costs just $10,000 in combined salary on the Week 18 main slate and brings immense upside from the pairing. The Eagles remain an extreme pass-funnel defense and are at risk of resting key contributors to both sides of the ball with little left to play for after their recent stretch of mediocrity, during which they dropped from the one-seed to the five-seed in the NFC. But their defensive scheme should not change dramatically, meaning we should still expect them to present a pass-funnel matchup to the Giants. Furthermore, floating safety Kevin Byard is one of the players likely to sit if Nick Sirianni goes that direction. Byard was brought in during the season for the specific goal of limiting opposing tight ends. Feel free to add in Darius Slayton or Jalin Hyatt, both of whom offer solid cost-considered upside. Slayton in the only pass-catcher on this offense operating in an every-down role, having been in a route on every New York pass play this season. Hyatt leads the league in aDOT, amongst qualified pass-catchers, and could see additional run to end his rookie season.


Jordan Love + Tucker Kraft


The Bears are another pass-funnel defense to attack with our primary stacks in Week 18. Tucker Kraft has seen his targets and catches matched or increased in every game where he has operated as the primary tight end for the Packers this season. Christian Watson, Dontayvion Wicks, and Jayden Reed are all banged up and should come into the weekend either out or questionable. Feel free to add in Bo Melton to the primary stack if all three of the previously mentioned wide receivers miss, or Jayden Reed if he plays.


Carson Wentz + Davis Allen


Matthew Stafford and Tyler Higbee have already been ruled out for the Rams’ Week 18 showdown with the division-rival 49ers, who present another pass-funnel matchup for our primary stacks on the main slate. Davis Allen has operated as the primary tight end for the Rams just once this season, going 4-50-1 on five targets and a 71 percent snap rate. He carries the athletic profile to operate as one of the primary pass-catching weapons for a Rams team likely to sit most of their primary contributors. Feel free to add in Demarcus Robinson or Tutu Atwell, depending on who the team decides to keep inactive.