The Contrarian: FanDuel Week 6

Identifying underexposed players to create roster uniqueness in tournaments.

Chalk is in. The winning lineup for FandDuel’s Sunday Million had average ownership of 5.7, 8.5 and 8.2 percent through the first three weeks of the season. In the past two weeks those numbers increased to 13 percent in Week 4, and 15.8 percent in Week 5.

If you’re wondering why those numbers matter to us, check out our blog post regarding under-owned players. And you can review the strategy here.

In short, going against the crowd and limiting exposure to chalk plays is the surest way to separate our lineups from the pack. Hitting tournament value with an unpopular player sets up our rosters to leapfrog payout tiers as tournaments grind to a close.

Just like with fades, we’ll never advocate going contrarian for the sake contrarianism. There is a method to uniqueness. Throwing darts at low-floor, bottom depth chart players is not a part of that method. Taking advantage of injury situations and over/under point totals from Vegas is.

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.

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.

quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Tom Brady $9000 NE@IND 18.5 Colin Kaepernick $7300 BAL@SF 1.7
Andy Dalton $7600 CIN@BUF 15.7 Cam Newton $8000 CAR@SEA 1.5
Carson Palmer $8000 ARI@PIT 6 Joe Flacco $7800 BAL@SF 1.4
Aaron Rodgers $9300 SD@GB 5.3 Peyton Manning $8100 DEN@CLE 1.3
Blake Bortles $7300 HOU@JAC 4.8 Jay Cutler $7500 CHI@DET 1.2
Eli Manning $7800 NYG@PHI 4.6 Teddy Bridgewater $6600 KC@MIN 1.2
Marcus Mariota $7200 MIA@TEN 2.8 Russell Wilson $8000 CAR@SEA 0.6
Philip Rivers $7500 SD@GB 2.5 Ryan Tannehill $7700 MIA@TEN 0.6
Sam Bradford $7700 NYG@PHI 2.2 Andrew Luck $8600 NE@IND 0.5
Matthew Stafford $6900 CHI@DET 2.2 E.J. Manuel $5500 CIN@BUF 0.4
Ryan Fitzpatrick $6900 WAS@NYJ 1.7        

It seems like every time Colin Kaepernick is written up as a good contrarian, he turns in three interceptions and below 200 yards. Surely, this is the week where he makes us look good. Only the Chiefs have allowed more points to quarterbacks than the Ravens, who in addition to giving up the fifth most passing yards, have allowed the eighth most rushing yards and two rushing scores. Kaepernick, who finished as QB10 last week, should be able to throw and run freely at home.

The return of Jay Cutler secured tight wins for the Bears in Week 4 and Week 5. Over that timeframe, since coming back from injury, Cutler is the 10th highest scoring quarterback. This week he is on the road against a division rival that is allowing an average of 22 points per game to quarterbacks. Cutler needs only 22.9 points to hit tournament value. If Alshon Jeffery is cleared to play, we especially like his value.

It’s possible that the Vikings ride Adrian Peterson to victory on Sunday. But the Chiefs are tough to run on and easy to throw on. They’ve allowed more passing touchdowns than any other team with 13. At home, Teddy Bridgewater and his bargain bin pricing makes for a good GPP play that the crowd is going to stay away from.

Luck is in the air. And Andrew Luck is in the starting lineup for the Colts. His ownership as of Thursday night is more of a reflection of the uncertainty regarding his health status. So it’s likely he’ll be more exposed come Sunday, but will still be under-owned. The Patriots’ defense has been causing turnovers, but in the games they played that didn’t include Brandon Weeden, they’ve allowed an average of 25.6 points to quarterbacks. This is a good week to fade the crowd and put luck in your favor.

Would it be irresponsible for us to recommend Ryan Tannehill? Yes, yes it would. But tournaments are won with outliers and there’s a chance he returns GPP value. This offense has a lot to prove against a Titans’ defense that will struggle against the speed of the Dolphins receivers, not to mention the check-downs to Lamar Miller, should those actually take place. We like them to bounce back and not take their foot off of the gas as they build a lead.  

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Dion Lewis $7200 NE@IND 20.7 Thomas Rawls $6400 CAR@SEA 1.7
Christopher Ivory $7300 WAS@NYJ 13.9 Lamar Miller $6400 MIA@TEN 1.5
Adrian Peterson $8900 KC@MIN 10.3 C.J. Anderson $6600 DEN@CLE 1.3
Matt Forte $8400 CHI@DET 8.8 Ronnie Hillman $6400 DEN@CLE 1.1
Le\'Veon Bell $9000 ARI@PIT 8.5 Melvin Gordon $6500 SD@GB 1
Eddie Lacy $7300 SD@GB 7.8 Ameer Abdullah $5900 CHI@DET 1
Arian Foster $8500 HOU@JAC 7.4 Theo Riddick $5000 CHI@DET 1
LeGarrette Blount $6500 NE@IND 6.5 Duke Johnson $5900 DEN@CLE 0.9
Giovani Bernard $6700 CIN@BUF 5 Rashad Jennings $6300 NYG@PHI 0.9
Charcandrick West $6200 KC@MIN 5 Jeremy Hill $6400 CIN@BUF 0.8
Danny Woodhead $6000 SD@GB 4.6 T.J. Yeldon $6800 HOU@JAC 0.7
DeMarco Murray $7600 NYG@PHI 4.4 Darren Sproles $5500 NYG@PHI 0.7
Shane Vereen $5600 NYG@PHI 3.4 Ryan Matthews $5600 NYG@PHI 0.6
Chris Johnson $7200 ARI@PIT 2.9 Marshawn Lynch $8300 CAR@SEA 0.4
Carlos Hyde $7000 BAL@SF 2.9 Javorius Allen $5100 BAL@SF 0.3
Frank Gore $7000 NE@IND 2 Jonathan Stewart $6100 CAR@SEA 0.2
Justin Forsett $7600 BAL@SF 1.7        

Eddie Lacy may be the sixth highest owned running back, but at just 7.8 percent, we feel he is under-owned. Only the Browns have allowed more points to running backs than the Chargers, who present a tough challenge to Aaron Rodgers and his receivers. The Packers are favored by 11.5 points and projected to score 29.7. Let’s ignore recent performance and fire up Fat Eddie.

Dion Lewis is the most popular play this week. LeGarrette Blount is the better play for tournaments. The Patriots have a history of running all over the Colts and there’s a real possibility that they’ll be running the up score in this contest. Multiple touchdowns from Blount can be expected.

Only five teams have allowed more points to running backs than the 49ers. Justin Forsett is dealing with an ankle injury that may or may not keep him sidelined. In any case, Javorius Allen is next in line for touches and offers a skill set that meshes perfectly with Marc Trestman’s offense. For $5,100, he’ll be a steal should he get the start. And even if Forsett plays, Allen makes for a sneaky contrarian look.

The New York Giants have given up the third most receiving yards to running backs and two receiving scores. They’re tough to run on, having allowed the fourth fewest rushing yards, but vulnerable to pass-catching backs. Enter all of the Eagles backs, particularly Darren Sproles. He hasn’t done much lately, or even this season, but he is just a few blown up screen passes away from climbing the ranks. He adds an extra bonus by returning kicks. His low price tag of $5,500, and the Eagles projected score of 27.2, makes him an intriguing play. We think the Giants will keep pace in this contest and keep the Eagles in passing mode. Advantage: Sproles.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Julian Edelman $7900 NE@IND 34.6 Kamar Aiken $6000 BAL@SF 2.6
DeAndre Hopkins $8500 HOU@JAC 32.7 John Brown $6100 ARI@PIT 2.5
Larry Fitzgerald $7500 ARI@PIT 22 Odell Beckham Jr. $9100 NYG@PHI 2.3
Allen Robinson $6700 HOU@JAC 20.6 Keenan Allen $7700 SD@GB 2.3
James Jones $6600 SD@GB 14.6 Donte Moncrief $6200 NE@IND 2.3
A.J. Green $8100 CIN@BUF 11.9 Marquess Wilson $5400 CHI@DET 2.1
Brandon Marshall $8000 WAS@NYJ 11 Demaryius Thomas $8300 DEN@CLE 2
Allen Hurns $6500 HOU@JAC 8.5 Ty Montgomery $5800 SD@GB 1.7
Eric Decker $6100 WAS@NYJ 8.4 Rishard Matthews $6300 MIA@TEN 1.6
Jeremy Maclin $7200 KC@MIN 7.5 Andre Johnson $6000 NE@IND 1.5
Anquan Boldin $6500 BAL@SF 5.8 Antonio Brown $8600 ARI@PIT 1.4
Emmanuel Sanders $7900 DEN@CLE 5.5 Doug Baldwin $5800 CAR@SEA 1.4
Kendall Wright $5800 MIA@TEN 4.8 Mike Wallace $5400 KC@MIN 1.3
Calvin Johnson $8200 CHI@DET 4.7 Golden Tate $6900 CHI@DET 1.2
Travis Benjamin $6300 DEN@CLE 4.3 Torrey Smith $6200 BAL@SF 0.9
Jordan Matthews $6600 NYG@PHI 3.9 Pierre Garcon $6000 WAS@NYJ 0.9
Randall Cobb $8100 SD@GB 3.4 Steve Smith $6700 BAL@SF 0.9
Jarvis Landry $7300 MIA@TEN 3 Rueben Randle $5700 NYG@PHI 0.5
Ted Ginn Jr. $5500 CAR@SEA 2.8 Alshon Jeffery $7400 CHI@DET 0.2
T.Y. Hilton $7400 NE@IND 2.6 Davante Adams $5500 SD@GB 0.1

We are finally witnessing the decline of a one-of-kind receiver in Calvin Johnson. He is off to his worst start in years with just 322 yards and one touchdown on the season—currently WR29. Most of the blame can be put on the Lions dumpster fire offense. Some of it is on Johnson, who has clearly lost a step. Nonetheless, he is still the main red zone weapon and always a threat to score multiple touchdowns. Good news: the Bears are coming to down and have allowed more touchdowns to receivers than all other teams expect the Buccaneers and the Chiefs. Looking for their first win, the Lions are actually favored for the first time this season. We think the offense puts it together this week and Johnson hits tournament value.

With Steve Smith unlikely to play again this week, Kamar Aiken represents great value for $6,000. He has logged a nine-catch, 155-yard, one-score stat line since Smith has been injured. He’ll be the go-to option this week against the 49ers, who have allowed the fourth most receiving yards and the sixth most points per game to receivers.

On the same platform where we touted Luck, we’ll also tout Donte Moncrief. This contest has the highest over/under of the week at 54.5 points. The Colts are massive underdogs at +10.5, meaning a heavy pass-first attack is in order. Andre Johnson may have benefitted while driving down Narrative Street against the Texans, but Moncrief is the best option for Luck, especially with T.Y. Hilton nursing a groin injury. You’ll struggle to find a better option for $6,200.

Even with the probable return of Alshon Jeffery, who would be a terrific start in the event that he’s cleared to play, we like Marquess Wilson to see plenty of action. Martellus Bennet is in doubt for this game so all targets will be filtered to Jeffery, Wilson and Matt Forte. In Jeffery’s absence, Wilson has compiled 12 catches for 165 and a touchdown over two games. His $5,400 salary makes him a friendly GPP play.

As mentioned, the Chiefs are bleeding yards and touchdowns to opposing receivers. Just in time, Mike Wallace finally showed up in Week 4 with eight catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. A Bridgewater/Wallace stack will cost us only $12,000—just 20 percent of the cap—and would easily reach tournament value if they connect on a couple of long balls.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Antonio Gates $5500 SD@GB 34.9 Delanie Walker $5400 MIA@TEN 1.6
Tyler Eifert $6000 CIN@BUF 16.5 Julius Thomas $5200 HOU@JAC 1.6
Rob Gronkowski $8200 NE@IND 10.9 Jimmy Graham $6300 CAR@SEA 1.1
Gary Barnidge $5700 DEN@CLE 7 Zach Ertz $5000 NYG@PHI 1
Martellus Bennett $5800 CHI@DET 6.1 Jordan Cameron $5400 MIA@TEN 0.6
Greg Olsen $6300 CAR@SEA 3.6 Charles Clay $5700 CIN@BUF 0.6
Travis Kelce $6200 KC@MIN 3.1 Kyle Rudolph $5000 KC@MIN 0.4
Richard Rodgers $5100 SD@GB 2.1 Heath Miller $5500 ARI@PIT 0.2
Larry Donnell $5300 NYG@PHI 1.7 Derek Carrier $4900 WAS@NYJ 0.2

We’re hoping Blake Bortles is able to start, and that the return of Julius Thomas opens up the Jaguars offense. Primarily used as a red zone route runner in Denver, we have yet to see how Jacksonville intends to implement Thomas’s skill set. In any case, the Texans, when faced with a quality tight end (Olsen/Kelce), have surrendered 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Thomas is a risky play but should be the end zone target for Bortles, as Robinson draws most of the defensive attention.

Only the Saints have allowed more receiving yards to tight ends than the Giants, and only two other teams have allowed more touchdowns. Last week we saw what Zach Ertz is capable of. Granted, Brent Celek was the one that found the end zone, but Ertz is playing the majority of snaps and has more targets than any other Eagles player not named Jordan Matthews. He has a favorable matchup and priced like a kicker.

If you’re looking for a wild card play, as you should be, Jordan Cameron makes for an interesting spot against the Titans, who got gashed by Austin Seferian-Jenkins in Week 1 to the tune of 110 yards and two touchdowns. Since then, they haven’t allowed more than 5.1 fantasy points to a tight end. Cameron is better than Seferian-Jenkins by just every metric. We like the Dolphins offense coming off of a bye and getting things going. It’s full of risk but this might be a good week to roll out a Tannehill/Cameron stack, or really any Tannehill stack, while no one is looking. Oh, and did we mention that the tight ends coach took over as head coach in the interim? Well then.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Denver Broncos $5000 DEN@CLE 25.1 Carolina Panthers $4700 CAR@SEA 3.2
New York Jets $4800 WAS@NYJ 15.1 Detroit Lions $4300 CHI@DET 3.1
Green Bay Packers $4700 SD@GB 6.6 Houston Texans $4800 HOU@JAC 1.2
Arizona Cardinals $5000 ARI@PIT 6.2 Baltimore Ravens $4700 BAL@SF 1.2
Tennessee Titans $4100 MIA@TEN 6.1 Chicago Bears $4300 CHI@DET 1.1
Cincinnati Bengals $4700 CIN@BUF 4.8 New York Giants $4400 NYG@PHI 1.1
Minnesota Vikings $4500 KC@MIN 4.1 Jacksonville Jaguars $4400 HOU@JAC 0.4
New England Patriots $4800 NE@IND 3.8 Buffalo Bills $4600 CIN@BUF 0.4
Seattle Seahawks $5000 CAR@SEA 3.3        

If you decide to fade the chalk plays (we like the Jets the most), it’s usually best to go as cheap as possible without completely punting the position. Enter the Minnesota Vikings. On the season, they’ve allowed the sixth fewest yards and third fewest points. They haven’t’ been able to reach the quarterback, which explains why they rank 17th in FanDuel points scored. That could change with the visiting Chiefs who are without their best player and have allowed a league-leading 22 sacks on the season.

The Baltimore Ravens don’t have a good defense, especially on the road, but even though we like Kaepernick, it’s worth noting the 49ers offense is easy to game plan against. Only the Dolphins have scored fewer points and only three other teams have allowed more sacks, partially thanks to Kaepernick who loves to be sacked. The Raven are tied for the sixth most sacks with 15. A defensive score isn’t out of the question.