The Contrarian: FanDuel Week 5

Identifying underexposed players to create roster uniqueness in tournaments.

Before getting into Week 5, we feel it necessary to address the current situation facing our beloved industry, and how relates to this space. Obviously, given the news in recent days, ownership percentages are a crucial part of a winning DFS strategy. While the sites refine their processes and systems for how they handle and protect their internal data (be sure to read their statement on the matter), we'll continue to do our best bringing you estimated ownership percentages through our independent calculations and research. 

Going forward, we’ll have to leave our comfort zones a little bit. So be sure to protect your bankrolls and limit how much you invest as a contrarian. And definitely use the Interactive Value Chart as a part of your process. It incorporates the core of your roster with the ease of lineup optimization and top-20 stack rankings. Complete with strategy guides for both cash and tournament games, you won’t find a more comprehensive daily fantasy tool anywhere. Use it and abuse it. You can also check out our Cracking FanDuel blog for more information and updates

The numbers presented in the tables below are taken from a $2 Thursday night GPP. We can use these exposure percentages to assist our ownership projections for Sunday/Monday GPPs. Doing so increases our accuracy and provides a clearer picture of groupthink—something we’ll almost always try to avoid.

On to Week 5:  

quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Tom Brady $8800 NE@DAL 25.5 Marcus Mariota $7400 BUF@TEN 2.7
Philip Rivers $7500 PIT@SD 9.8 Sam Bradford $7500 NO@PHI 2.3
Matt Ryan $8300 WAS@ATL 8.9 Drew Brees $8100 NO@PHI 2.1
Aaron Rodgers $9200 STL@GB 6.9 Andy Dalton $7300 SEA@CIN 2.1
Eli Manning $7700 SF@NYG 5.8 Michael Vick $6500 PIT@SD 1.7
Tyrod Taylor $7500 BUF@TEN 5.2 Jay Cutler $7400 CHI@KC 1
Alex Smith $6900 CHI@KC 4.7 Joe Flacco $7700 CLE@BAL 0.9
Carson Palmer $8100 ARI@DET 4.6 Kirk Cousins $6400 WAS@ATL 0.8
Peyton Manning $8200 DEN@OAK 3.7 Russell Wilson $8200 SEA@CIN 0.7
Blake Bortles $6900 JAC@TB 3.2 Nick Foles $6400 STL@GB 0.4

Through four weeks of the 2015 season, Alex Smith ranks as QB12 in FanDuel scoring. He piled up 386 yards on the Bengals defense and nearly hit tournament value despite not scoring a touchdown. This week he gets the Chicago Bears at home, who have allowed more touchdowns to quarterbacks than every team except his own. He’s a solid $6,900 GPP option.

We get that the crowd is shy after seeing the decline of Peyton Manning. But if anything, Manning has proven that he can still pick apart a bad defense and justify his salary in any given week. The Vikings kept Manning’s crew in check last week, but the Raiders won’t be as successful. We like stacking him against a bad defense, even on the road, with one of his receivers while the crowd is scared.

We finally saw the deep ball develop for the Eagles last week. Sam Bradford connected on throws of 62, 45, 39 and 30 yards in route to his best fantasy output of the season (QB2). Expecting long touchdowns is foolish, but the Saints have allowed more fantasy points per attempt than any other team. We like Bradford and his mid-priced salary to take advantage of a bad defense and turn in another solid performance.

It’s clear that the offensive line in Seattle is a mess. As such, Russell Wilson is constantly evacuating the pocket and either scrambling or throwing on the run. The running game hasn’t been effective either, pushing a lot of responsibility onto Wilson’s shoulders. The Bengals defense has, for the most part, been good against opposing quarterbacks, but if Smith can dump 386 yards on them, we’re guessing Wilson can find similar success. He’s a liability for $8,200 so the crowd will stay far away.

running backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Devonta Freeman $7600 WAS@ATL 40.9 Jeremy Hill $6800 SEA@CIN 1.4
Le\'Veon Bell $9000 PIT@SD 28.4 Duke Johnson $5900 CLE@BAL 1.4
Jamaal Charles $9100 CHI@KC 15.2 Rashad Jennings $6200 SF@NYG 1.3
Justin Forsett $7200 CLE@BAL 13.4 C.J. Spiller $5500 NO@PHI 1.2
Dion Lewis $6900 NE@DAL 12.2 Karlos Williams $6900 BUF@TEN 1.1
Todd Gurley $6700 STL@GB 11.8 Latavius Murray $7000 DEN@OAK 1
LeGarrette Blount $6200 NE@DAL 8.2 Giovani Bernard $6600 SEA@CIN 1
T.J. Yeldon $6600 JAC@TB 5.3 Ameer Abdullah $6100 ARI@DET 0.9
Eddie Lacy $7600 STL@GB 5.2 Alfred Morris $6300 WAS@ATL 0.8
Danny Woodhead $6000 PIT@SD 4.9 Melvin Gordon $6500 PIT@SD 0.7
Matt Forte $8400 CHI@KC 4.4 David Johnson $5600 ARI@DET 0.7
Doug Martin $6400 JAC@TB 4.4 C.J. Anderson $6600 DEN@OAK 0.5
Ronnie Hillman $6600 DEN@OAK 3.6 Chris Thompson $5100 WAS@ATL 0.5
Chris Johnson $7000 ARI@DET 3.1 Matt Jones $6000 WAS@ATL 0.3
Mark Ingram $8000 NO@PHI 2.9 Marshawn Lynch $8600 SEA@CIN 0.2
Joseph Randle $7400 NE@DAL 2.2 Isaiah Crowell $6100 CLE@BAL 0.2
DeMarco Murray $7400 NO@PHI 2 Shane Vereen $5600 SF@NYG 0.2
Carlos Hyde $7000 SF@NYG 1.8 Ryan Mathews $5400 NO@PHI 0.2
Darren Sproles $5700 NO@PHI 1.8        

The crowd has backed off of Darren Sproles, realizing that the Eagles running game just isn’t very good. But for the way he’s used, on special teams, as a runner and as a receiver, he still represents a threat to score multiple touchdowns. Plus, there’s the added bonus of a bit of revenge as he hosts his old team. The Saints have been decent against the run, but for $5,700, Sproles is a big play away from returning tournament value every week.

Even though he ranks 10th in popularity this week, Danny Woodhead is under-owned at 4.9 percent. With the Chargers likely missing a chunk of their receiving corps, Woodhead is a natural solution and should see an increase in snaps. He is currently the seventh highest scoring running back of the season.

In the bargain bin and full of risk is Chris Thompson. He looked sharp against the Eagles last week both as a runner and a receiver. He earned a large role, trailing Alfred Morris in snaps 35-32. This week Washington will need him even more as the Falcons are sure to force them into comeback mode. Atlanta has allowed more fantasy points per touch to running backs than any other team, and has allowed more receiving yards to running backs than any other team. This sets up perfectly for Thompson. His $5,100 salary does wonders for our rosters.

wide receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Julian Edelman $7700 NE@DAL 27.6 Doug Baldwin $5700 SEA@CIN 2.3
Larry Fitzgerald $7400 ARI@DET 22 John Brown $5900 ARI@DET 2.2
Jeremy Maclin $6900 CHI@KC 20.9 Calvin Johnson $8100 ARI@DET 1.9
Julio Jones $9200 WAS@ATL 16.3 Pierre Garcon $6200 WAS@ATL 1.7
James Jones $6400 STL@GB 15.7 Terrance Williams $5900 NE@DAL 1.6
Keenan Allen $7700 PIT@SD 12.3 Brandin Cooks $6800 NO@PHI 1.2
Travis Benjamin $6200 CLE@BAL 10.6 Eddie Royal $5500 CHI@KC 1.2
Odell Beckham Jr. $9000 SF@NYG 9.7 Cole Beasley $5200 NE@DAL 1.1
Allen Robinson $6300 JAC@TB 9.2 Golden Tate $6600 ARI@DET 0.9
Emmanuel Sanders $7700 DEN@OAK 8.4 Anquan Boldin $6200 SF@NYG 0.6
Kendall Wright $5900 BUF@TEN 6.8 Roddy White $5200 WAS@ATL 0.6
Vincent Jackson $6800 JAC@TB 6.7 Michael Floyd $5000 ARI@DET 0.6
Demaryius Thomas $8600 DEN@OAK 5.7 Alshon Jeffery $7600 CHI@KC 0.5
Jordan Matthews $6800 NO@PHI 5.3 Michael Crabtree $5900 DEN@OAK 0.5
Allen Hurns $6100 JAC@TB 5.1 Jermaine Kearse $5600 SEA@CIN 0.5
Randall Cobb $8200 STL@GB 4.9 Marvin Jones $5300 SEA@CIN 0.5
Tavon Austin $5800 STL@GB 4.6 Torrey Smith $6300 SF@NYG 0.4
Kamar Aiken $5800 CLE@BAL 4.6 Marques Colston $5300 NO@PHI 0.4
Leonard Hankerson $6000 WAS@ATL 4.5 Nelson Agholor $5200 NO@PHI 0.4
Willie Snead $5300 NO@PHI 4.5 Dontrelle Inman $5100 PIT@SD 0.4
Antonio Brown $8600 PIT@SD 4.4 Riley Cooper $5400 NO@PHI 0.3
A.J. Green $8200 SEA@CIN 4 Robert Woods $5200 BUF@TEN 0.3
Rueben Randle $5900 SF@NYG 3.8 Kenny Britt $5200 STL@GB 0.3
Amari Cooper $7300 DEN@OAK 3.3 Sammy Watkins $6400 BUF@TEN 0.2
Martavis Bryant $6100 PIT@SD 3 Marquess Wilson $4800 CHI@KC 0.2
Percy Harvin $5400 BUF@TEN 2.8 Marlon Brown $4500 CLE@BAL 0.2
Mike Evans $7500 JAC@TB 2.5 Steve Johnson $5700 PIT@SD 0.1

The Buccaneers offense has hardly been a source of consistent fantasy production, mostly thanks to their rookie quarterback. But this week they host the Jaguars and Mike Evans is healthy. Jacksonville isn’t terrible against the pass, but they don’t have anyone like Josh Norman to blanket cover Evans. We’ll take advantage of his relatively low salary and fade the crowd.

With the return of Jay Cutler comes the return of a promising passing attack from the Bears. Eddie Royal saw 10 targets last week and converted seven of them in to 54 yards and one touchdown. Should Alshon Jeffery be held out again, Royal stands to see a ton of targets against a vulnerable secondary. The Chiefs have allowed more yards and touchdowns to receivers than all other teams. Royal will cost us just $5,500.

Just like we love Bradford, we also love Nelson Agholor. He continues to see targets and leads all Eagles receivers in playing time. Hopefully last week’s performance from their passing attack is a sign of many fantasy points to come. Agholor has yet have a breakout game this season. The Saints look good in the box score against receivers, allowing the sixth fewest points, but a stretch against teams like Tampa Bay, Carolina and Dallas—all bad passing offenses—will have that effect. Pencil in Agholor as a high-risk, high-reward GPP play.

Around that same price point, we have Willie Snead, who has forced his way into a WR2 role for Drew Brees. Over the last three games Snead has 19 targets, including six last week, in which he caught all six for 89 yards. The Eagles have allowed the fourth most yards and rank fourth in fantasy points allowed per game for receivers. The only threat to Snead’s game is his usage in the red zone, as most of that work goes to running backs. But he leads all Saints receivers with three looks and should see more in a high-scoring matchup against the Eagles.    

tight ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Rob Gronkowski $8400 NE@DAL 23.6 Gary Barnidge $5400 CLE@BAL 2.7
Antonio Gates $5500 PIT@SD 13.6 Delanie Walker $5400 BUF@TEN 2.6
Charles Clay $5700 BUF@TEN 12.4 Jimmy Graham $6600 SEA@CIN 1.6
Martellus Bennett $5900 CHI@KC 10.2 Larry Donnell $5200 SF@NYG 0.9
Owen Daniels $4900 DEN@OAK 7.3 Heath Miller $5500 PIT@SD 0.5
Travis Kelce $6500 CHI@KC 6.1 Zach Ertz $5000 NO@PHI 0.4
Jason Witten $5700 NE@DAL 4.8 Derek Carrier $4500 WAS@ATL 0.3
Tyler Eifert $5600 SEA@CIN 3.3 Jared Cook $5200 STL@GB 0.2
Richard Rodgers $5100 STL@GB 2.8 Tim Wright $4500 ARI@DET 0.1

Staying with the Eagles/Saints game, Zach Ertz makes for an interesting option. The Saints have allowed more points to tight ends than all but two other teams. He may not be as involved in the Eagles offense as many thought he would be, but he’s third in targets and has three red zone looks. His price is the lowest it has been all season. This is a great week for a Bradford/Ertz stack.

We can’t expect the Bills/Titans game to turn into a high-scoring shootout, but we can expect Delanie Walker to be heavily involved no matter what. He has the third most targets for any player on the Titans, despite missing all of Week 2 and part of Week 1. The Bills defense isn’t a walk in the park, but Walker will be plenty busy, rewarding his $5,400 investment.

Kirk Cousins relied heavily on Jordan Reed, who has been ruled out for Week 5. Enter the bargain bin to find Derek Carrier. We don’t know a lot about Carrier from a pro level except to say he’s filling in a position that is targeted a lot in the Washington offense, and he has very promising metrics. One thing we can be sure of is that Cousins and Co. will be forced to pass a lot in this game, making Carrier an interesting GPP option for the price of a cheap kicker.

defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Denver Broncos $4900 DEN@OAK 23.1 Tampa Bay Buccaneers $4000 JAC@TB 4.1
New York Giants $4300 SF@NYG 13.2 Jacksonville Jaguars $4300 JAC@TB 2.7
Atlanta Falcons $4500 WAS@ATL 8.5 Cincinnati Bengals $4700 SEA@CIN 2
New England Patriots $4700 NE@DAL 7 Seattle Seahawks $5100 SEA@CIN 1.9
Arizona Cardinals $5200 ARI@DET 5.4 Tennessee Titans $4100 BUF@TEN 1.5
Buffalo Bills $4800 BUF@TEN 5.1 Philadelphia Eagles $4400 NO@PHI 1.1
Kansas City Chiefs $4600 CHI@KC 4.4 Pittsburgh Steelers $4400 PIT@SD 1
Green Bay Packers $4800 STL@GB 4.2 San Diego Chargers $4500 PIT@SD 0.7
Baltimore Ravens $4500 CLE@BAL 4.1 Cleveland Browns $4600 CLE@BAL 0.3

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense has allowed a lot of points but not a lot of yards, ranking 10th in that category with the fewest. They also have the 10th most sacks and face a Jaguars unit that struggles to do much of anything. We like them at home with a low over/under (42 points).

The same argument can be made for the Jaguars opposite Jameis Winston, who is a turnover machine. Jacksonville has only three takeaways this season but that should change on Sunday. Either one of these defenses make for a cheap punt play in tournaments.

But even better, and cheaper, is the Titans defense. Fresh off of a bye and hosting a team that may be without their best receiver and will be without their two starting running backs, the Titans look to be a good play. They rank sixth in yards per game allowed and have four interceptions to six touchdowns. You won’t find a better option for $4,100.