The Fade: FandDuel Week 2

Your weekly guide to identifying exposure and profiting in guaranteed prize pools.

As it was written in A Contrarian’s Guide to DFS, every good tournament strategy has three common ingredients: projecting ownership percentages, fading popular plays, and identifying contrarian plays. It is here where we’ll separate the fades from the loss leaders and adjust our lineups accordingly.

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.

Of course, this data isn’t meant to be the foundation of our tournament strategy for the weekend. For that matter, fading any player based solely on ownership percentage is never part of the strategy. Think of this as more of a guide to tiebreakers and pivot plays. In this space, we’ll use that guide to identify a few players that should be faded and few that are worth their chalk-heavy projections. There will be a follow up piece focusing on the contrarian side of things.

Before setting your lineups in stone, be sure to 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.

Quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Drew Brees $8900 TB@NO 13.9 Andrew Luck $8900 NYJ@IND 3.2
Carson Palmer $7800 ARI@CHI 10.2 Aaron Rodgers $9300 SEA@GB 3.1
Marcus Mariota $7400 TEN@CLE 8.3 Ben Roethlisberger $8400 SF@PIT 3.1
Tom Brady $8300 NE@BUF 7.8 Joe Flacco $8100 BAL@OAK 2.4
Sam Bradford $7500 DAL@PHI 5.5 Philip Rivers $8200 SD@CIN 2.3
Nick Foles $6500 STL@WAS 5.2 Eli Manning $8000 ATL@NYG 1.1
Matt Ryan $8700 ATL@NYG 3.7 Russell Wilson $8500 SEA@GB 0.9
Tony Romo $8500 DAL@PHI 3.3 Johnny Manziel $6500 TEN@CLE 0.1
Ryan Tannehill $8000 MIA@JAC 3.3        

The unquestioned chalk play at quarterback is Drew Brees. There’s just something about playing the Buccaneers at home as a 10-point favorite that has everyone all giddy. We don’t blame them. He’s loss leader material and worth exposure in a few tournaments.

The same can be said for Carson Palmer. As much as we’d like to leave these guys in the player pool and hope they drown the crowd, it’s bad process to ignore solid matchups. Palmer was a legitimate top-10 quarterback when healthy last year, and finished second last week. This week he gets the Bears secondary, which isn’t as promising compared to what the Saints offered, but still plenty friendly. Chalk it up.

Marcus Mariota, on the other hand, travels to face yet another bad team and possibly another Heisman winner (if Johnny Manziel starts). But as bad as the Browns might be, their defense presents a much tougher setup than the Buccaneers. This game has one of the lowest over/under totals of the week and there’s not much foundation to build our confidence on where the Titans offense is concerned. We can make a better investment for $7,400 and fade the crowd in the process.

The highest scoring quarterback last week was Tom Brady. Fresh of not being suspended, Touchdown Tom scored five touchdowns, four through the air and one on the ground, and looked as good as he ever has. He checks in as our our fourth most popular option. His $8,300 salary isn’t prohibitive but his matchup is. Check out his home/road splits: 25 fantasy points per game at home versus 18.5 points on the road. Leaving the office had a drastic effect on his fantasy performance last year. Add the fact that he’s playing against what we think is the best defense in the league and you have plenty of reasons spare your lineups of his disservice.

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Carlos Hyde $7000 SF@PIT 33.4 Chris Johnson $5700 ARI@CHI 3
Christopher Ivory $6900 NYJ@IND 18.9 Tevin Coleman $6500 ATL@NYG 1.8
Ameer Abdullah $6400 DET@MIN 13.2 Benny Cunningham $5800 STL@WAS 1.8
Matt Forte $8900 ARI@CHI 12.2 Alfred Morris $7300 STL@WAS 1.6
Mark Ingram $8000 TB@NO 9.3 LeSean McCoy $8100 NE@BUF 1.4
Justin Forsett $7800 BAL@OAK 9.2 Doug Martin $6700 TB@NO 1.4
Bishop Sankey $6500 TEN@CLE 9.1 LeGarrette Blount $6400 NE@BUF 1.2
Marshawn Lynch $8500 SEA@GB 9 Rashad Jennings $6400 ATL@NYG 1.1
Jeremy Hill $8400 SD@CIN 7.9 Dion Lewis $5200 NE@BUF 0.9
Darren Sproles $5600 DAL@PHI 7.1 Frank Gore $7000 NYJ@IND 0.8
Lamar Miller $7300 MIA@JAC 6.5 Latavius Murray $6800 BAL@OAK 0.7
DeMarco Murray $8300 DAL@PHI 5.9 David Johnson $6600 ARI@CHI 0.7
Eddie Lacy $8100 SEA@GB 4.3 Tre Mason $7200 STL@WAS 0.4
DeAngelo Williams $7400 SF@PIT 3.6 T.J. Yeldon $6500 MIA@JAC 0.4
Adrian Peterson $9000 DET@MIN 3.1 Ryan Mathews $5700 DAL@PHI 0.3
Joseph Randle $6700 DAL@PHI 3 Terrance West $5300 TEN@CLE 0.1

Carlos Hyde was on just 2.2 percent of lineups in the FanDuel NFL Sunday Million. Naturally, after finishing as the best overall running back, his ownership is highest of all running backs in Week 2. By a lot. And since salaries were programmed before the conclusion of the late Monday night game, his price actually came down $300. He is by far the best value in his price range. But that value takes on less meaning when a third of the crowd builds their rosters around it. Everything went right for the 49ers against the Vikings. We’re less confident in their offense on a short week as they travel across the country to Pittsburgh. Fade.

Chris Ivory was the third highest scoring running back last week. This week he gets a soft Colts front that was recently pushed around by the Bills. But now is when we need to consider the negative correlation road underdogs have on rushing production. The Colts are favored to win by seven in a 46.5-point over/under, which means the Jets project to score 16.25 points. We don’t doubt that they’ll be able to reach that projection and maybe even exceed it. But the game script aligns in such a way that those points won’t come from running backs. He’s still in play in redraft leagues, but in DFS, we have better options.

If Hyde can juke and spin his way through the Vikings defense, imagine what Ameer Abdullah can do. He didn’t get a lot of touches last week but it didn’t matter. He led the Lions running backs in snaps and put his talents on display in the process. We’re not bothered by his ownership percentage. His big-play ability combined with his low-cost is worth siding with 13.2 percent of the crowd.

The Saints exposed a level of the Cardinals defense that plays perfectly to Matt Forte’s strengths: pass-catching running backs. Forty-two percent of Brees’s passing yards went to ball carriers. So while we need to respect the Cardinals defense in a way that the Bears aren’t going to punch them in the mouth, we also need to adjust our projections to align with the way the Bears should attack on offense, should logic prevail. Unfortunately, logic isn’t always on our side and Forte’s salary sinks our ability to both separate from the pack, and build balanced rosters. We’ll need him to score 26.7 points to hit value. Let the crowd chase that.

Both Mark Ingram and Justin Forsett are similar in that they have a good matchup with affordable salaries. Ingram especially is in a great position to return his $8,000 investment. If you pass on Brees, Ingram is worth ignoring his potentially high ownership.

Forsett gets the same defense that Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard handled with ease last week. The Ravens are limited in the wide receiver department so the natural progression of their offense will go through Forsett. He’s a quality play.

In that same range of exposure is Bishop Sankey, who finished Week 1 as the fourth best running back. This is a situation where we can encourage the crowd to bite hard on recency bias while not exposing ourselves to any Sankey shares. We’ll fade him for all the same reasons we’re going to fade Mariota: there’s a chance that the Titans offense just isn’t very good.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Julio Jones $8800 ATL@NYG 37.7 Pierre Garcon $5400 STL@WAS 2.6
Antonio Brown $9200 SF@PIT 19.7 Andre Johnson $6800 NYJ@IND 2.5
Jordan Matthews $7000 DAL@PHI 17.7 Roddy White $7400 ATL@NYG 2.3
Jarvis Landry $7100 MIA@JAC 15.3 Golden Tate $6700 DET@MIN 2.3
Brandin Cooks $7400 TB@NO 15.1 Eric Decker $6000 NYJ@IND 1.7
Julian Edelman $7600 NE@BUF 13.4 Mike Wallace $6200 DET@MIN 1.6
Terrance Williams $6300 DAL@PHI 13.1 Randall Cobb $8200 SEA@GB 1.3
James Jones $5400 SEA@GB 13 Markus Wheaton $5100 SF@PIT 1.3
DeAndre Hopkins $8100 HOU@CAR 11.8 Anquan Boldin $6400 SF@PIT 1.3
Kendall Wright $6100 TEN@CLE 11.4 Amari Cooper $6700 BAL@OAK 1.1
Keenan Allen $8200 SD@CIN 8.1 Sammy Watkins $6600 NE@BUF 1.1
John Brown $6200 ARI@CHI 7.7 Marques Colston $5300 TB@NO 1.1
Odell Beckham Jr. $8700 ATL@NYG 7.6 Tyler Lockett $5000 SEA@GB 0.8
Calvin Johnson $8100 DET@MIN 6.8 Alshon Jeffery $8100 ARI@CHI 0.8
Steve Johnson $5700 SD@CIN 6.5 Vincent Jackson $7200 TB@NO 0.7
Donte Moncrief $6000 NYJ@IND 6.4 Torrey Smith $5900 SF@PIT 0.5
Brandon Marshall $7400 NYJ@IND 5.9 Nelson Agholor $5700 DAL@PHI 0.5
Larry Fitzgerald $5900 ARI@CHI 4.9 Charles Johnson $5400 DET@MIN 0.5
A.J. Green $8100 SD@CIN 4.8 Rueben Randle $5400 ATL@NYG 0.5
Steve Smith $6700 BAL@OAK 4.8 T.Y. Hilton $7600 NYJ@IND 0.4
Percy Harvin $5700 NE@BUF 4.7 Doug Baldwin $6000 SEA@GB 0.4
Brandon Coleman $5000 TB@NO 3.3 Mike Evans $8100 TB@NO 0.2
Davante Adams $6400 SEA@GB 2.7 Phillip Dorsett $5200 NYJ@IND 0.2
Cole Beasley $5700 DAL@PHI 2.7        

You’re not going to hear a lot of DFS analysts tell you to fade Julio Jones. Because you shouldn’t. He’s the most owned player as of Thursday and it will likely be the same for Sunday/Monday GPPs. He’s as good of a loss leader as there is.

The same goes for Antonio Brown. Until we have more weeks to digest matchups, these high-floor receivers are great tournament options. Brown and Jones are liable to catch double-digit passes and score multiple touchdowns in any game. The strategy you might want to avoid is loading your roster with both of them. We get the temptation to do so. But you can protect your roster by not sinking 30 percent of the cap into two players that will always have high ownership.

Jordan Matthews is besties with Sam Bradford. When not checking down, the Eagles quarterback has eyes for only No. 81. The Cowboys lost their best cornerback in preseason and have no answers to cover slot receivers. Matthews excels in the slot and pretty much everywhere else he lines up. We don’t mind his exposure, so long as you find a few contrarian plays to balance it.

On the other hand, despite the fact that Jarvis Landry is going to get all of his quarterback’s attention, his fantasy points from Week 1 were largely influenced by a special teams’ touchdown. You remove that touchdown and he scores fewer points than Rishard Matthews. Fade.

For $300 more, Brandin Cooks makes a lot more sense. He didn’t find much room against the Cardinals but he matches up perfectly against the Buccaneers. His game is similar to that of Kendall Wright, who was dynamic last week against this same defense. Feel free to side with the crowd but also be warned that unless he breaks a big play, his upside is limited to yards and receptions, and not necessarily the multiple touchdowns we require for tournament plays.

Our sixth most popular receiver put together a nice game of 11 receptions and 97 yards in the season opener. At 13.4 percent exposed Julian Edelman might be the only Patriot not named Rob Gronkowski worth rostering. But we’re expecting points to be rare in this contest, so Edelman sort of has Cooks Syndrome in that he’ll, once again, live off of receptions and yards. Without the threat of touchdowns, there’s no reason to jump on his bandwagon.  

A major injury to a top-tier player is often a death knell to redraft teams. In DFS, it creates opportunity and value. Terrance Williams reaps those rewards in Week 2. He’ll see double-digit ownership and needs just 18.9 points to reach tournament value. In other words, we’re asking him to catch seven passes for 90 yards and a touchdown—in an offense that is going to be so efficient that six or seven different players might catch a pass or three. Not happening. He’s this week’s Davante Adams.

Speaking of major injuries, James Jones took advantage of Adams deficiencies as a red zone threat. It would have been a three-score day for Jones had penalties not erased one. We’ll take this opportunity to note that we pegged him as a contrarian play last week. This week, we’ll remind you that he might find it a little harder against the Seahawks. Even if his $5,400 salary screams tournament play, his double-digit ownership screams fade.

Only Jones, Julio scored more points than DeAndre Hopkins in Week 1. As a result, Hopkins has nestled his way into the nine most popular receivers. We have a problem with this for two reasons: the first is a quarterback change. Ryan Mallett is taking over for Brian Hoyer. If you’re into arm talent, then by all means march Hopkins out into every lineup you’re building. If you’re into cognitive reasoning, then wait and see how this offense clicks or fails with Mallett under center. Our second reason comes in the form of everyone’s favorite cornerback sleeper: Josh Norman. Norman isn’t of the “avoid” variety for wide receiver matchups yet, but he’s trending in that direction. The crowd remains unaware. In any case, this contest screams avoid from every offensive angle.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Rob Gronkowski $8300 NE@BUF 16.8 Martellus Bennett $6100 ARI@CHI 3
Tyler Eifert $5900 SD@CIN 15.1 Heath Miller $5400 SF@PIT 2.5
Jason Witten $6000 DAL@PHI 14.9 Ladarius Green $5600 SD@CIN 1.9
Austin Seferian-Jenkins $4500 TB@NO 4.8 Jared Cook $5200 STL@WAS 1.8
Jordan Cameron $5500 MIA@JAC 4.6 Zach Ertz $5200 DAL@PHI 1.4
Jordan Reed $5000 STL@WAS 3.9 Dwayne Allen $5200 NYJ@IND 0.8
Greg Olsen $6000 HOU@CAR 3.4 Kyle Rudolph $5100 DET@MIN 0.7

Without surprise, Rob Gronkowski is the most popular tight end on the board. And it’s so hard to fade him. Just the very thought of fading him means he’ll score three touchdowns. But his salary and matchup and the fact that there are a few great alternative tight end options mean we might be able to get away with it this week.

Tyler Eifert’s exposure is very close to that of Gronkowski’s. His salary, on the other hand, is several tiers lower. But it did jump $900, which is a lot for a tight end. Vegas likes this game for 47 total points and favors Cincinnati by three. Between Jeremy Hill and A.J. Green, you have to wonder how much will be leftover for Eifert. Now is a good time to review how we implement ownership percentages. Eifert needs 17.7 points to hit tournament value. How likely is he to score that many points 15.1 percent of the time? Let’s let the crowd decide.

In case you missed it, check out this amazing play by Kiko Alonzo. That’s the man that will be tasked with covering Grandpa Witten on Sunday. No offense to Jason Witten, who we regard as one of the best tight ends ever, but youth will probably win this battle. And again, without Dez Bryant, this offense is going to spread the ball around. No one player is going to be the funnel. So as much as we otherwise love the situation and the salary, it’s not as appetizing once you peel back the layers.  

Kickers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Josh Brown $4500 ATL@NYG 13.7 Adam Vinatieri $5000 NYJ@IND 2.6
Matt Bryant $5000 ATL@NYG 9 Mason Crosby $5100 SEA@GB 2.5
Zach Hocker $4500 TB@NO 8.8 Greg Zuerlein $4800 STL@WAS 2.2
Stephen Gostkowski $5200 NE@BUF 4 Dan Carpenter $4800 NE@BUF 2
Justin Tucker $5200 BAL@OAK 4 Chandler Catanzaro $4700 ARI@CHI 1.8
Dan Bailey $5000 DAL@PHI 4 Cody Parkey $5000 DAL@PHI 1.5
Robbie Gould $4800 ARI@CHI 3.9 Mike Nugent $4800 SD@CIN 1.2
Steven Hauschka $5100 SEA@GB 2.6 Phil Dawson $5000 SF@PIT 0.7

Like last week, we’re not going over think things here. Josh Brown is the crowd favorite. The Giants offense suggests we should fade the crowd, so we will. In fact, fade all of these kickers and start Greg Zuerlein.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

St Louis Rams $4900 STL@WAS 17.2 New England Patriots $4300 NE@BUF 1.9
Miami Dolphins $5100 MIA@JAC 16.1 Seattle Seahawks $4700 SEA@GB 1.6
Baltimore Ravens $5000 BAL@OAK 11.9 Detroit Lions $4300 DET@MIN 1.6
New Orleans Saints $4500 TB@NO 6.2 Pittsburgh Steelers $4200 SF@PIT 1.4
Carolina Panthers $4700 HOU@CAR 6.1 Indianapolis Colts $4500 NYJ@IND 0.8
Tennessee Titans $4600 TEN@CLE 5.8 Cleveland Browns $4600 TEN@CLE 0.5
Houston Texans $4600 HOU@CAR 3.3 Cincinnati Bengals $4600 SD@CIN 0.4
Arizona Cardinals $4600 ARI@CHI 2.8 Minnesota Vikings $4400 DET@MIN 0.4

The St. Louis Rams are an easy chalk play but we could do better in terms of point totals offered by Vegas. For $200 less we’d rather take the Panthers at home in the lowest over/under of the week against a team that just switched quarterbacks and has no running game.

Besides, if you’re going to go chalk might as well go all the way with the Miami Dolphins. They finished fifth overall last week and just missed on a few scoring opportunities. Plus, they have some special teams talent that makes them a nice stack should you choose to start Landry.