The Fade: FanDuel Week 5

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

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. 

The numbers presented below are taken from a Thursday night GPP. They, in no way, are meant to be used as the basis of your strategy. We use them to get a snapshot of groupthink. Even without the tangible data provided by Thursday GPPs, we’d still be able to project ownership percentages with a high level of accuracy. These numbers simply serve as confirmation.

Again, 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.

And 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.

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

Fresh off of a bye and picking up right where he left off, Tom Brady enters Week 5 as the highest owned quarterback. All the vital signs are there for him to have a huge game: road team, favored by more than a touchdown, high over/under, susceptible defense. But just how bad is the defense he is facing? On a per attempt basis, minus rushing, the Cowboys have allowed the 10th fewest fantasy points. Of course, it hasn’t mattered what defense Touchdown Tom faces; he finds a way to put points on the board. But for $8,800, we’re asking a lot. Especially considering the Patriots can run the ball just as well as they can throw it. We’re better off searching for a cheaper option and upgrading our overall roster in the process. Or, use him as a loss leader, stack him with a bushel of Patriots receivers and hope this team continues to rack up points regardless of game script.

Philip Rivers checks in as our second most popular quarterback. After ranking 23rd in Week 2 and Week 3, he shredded the Browns for 358 yards and three touchdowns, and finished the No. 1 ranked quarterback in Week 4. He now hosts a bad Steelers defense that has been fairly generous to opposing passers. Rivers receiving corps will be truncated, however, with Steve Johnson likely out and Malcom Floyd questionable. But he does get his favorite tight end back and it should be noted that, as of this writing, 68 percent of the money is on the over (45.5 points). All the more reason to think the under is coming. The Steelers offense isn’t the same without Ben Roethlisberger, and we could see a slow-paced Monday night game as a result. Rivers needs 22.5 points to hit tournament value, which isn’t a lot for him, but the game script may work against it.

Matt Ryan has been slowly climbing the popularity ranks and settles as the third highest owned this week. It’s interesting that, after the Falcons turned to their running game last week, the crowd has turned to the Falcons passing game this week. Perhaps that Washington run defense, which ranks fourth with the fewest fantasy points allowed per touch, is the sole indicator. Be that as it may, Ryan has yet to hit tournament value this year. He came close in Week 3 but has otherwise fallen well short. For $8,300 we can do better.

Only one team has allowed fewer fantasy points per game than the Rams. Last week, they gave the Cardinals a hard time. This week, they’ll face their hardest test all season against Aaron Rodgers. Tied for the most expensive player on the board, Rodgers is the No. 1 highest scoring player in all of fantasy football. But we saw elements of the Packers offense stuttering, as he was held to just 16 points against a defense that had allowed 680 passing yards and five touchdowns in the previous two weeks. We’re not too concerned about that performance as even elite players will occasionally disappoint. We are concerned that his upside is capped by the fact that the Packers may run away with this game.

The price for Eli Manning has come down $600 since Week 1. The crowd is a fan of his price tag at home against the 49ers—the team Rodgers fell flat against. Despite that game, on a per attempt basis, minus rushing yards and touchdowns, San Francisco is still contributing the sixth most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. For $7,700, it won’t be surprising to see Manning hit on a few long balls, and achieve tournament value for the first time this season.

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        

Trending to being the highest owned player in the history of large GPPs, Devonta Freeman leads off with an exposure of 40.9 percent. That’s what happens when you score six touchdowns over two weeks. But as mentioned, the Washington run defense is one of the best in the league. So far, they’ve allowed only one rushing touchdown and a total of 9.7 fantasy points per game to running backs. We all know that Freeman isn’t a great runner, despite what the box score tells us this season. But can we say with certainty that his performance over the last two weeks won’t be repeated? This is where separating recency bias from repeatability is so important. We all know that opportunity will always trump talent. Freeman has made the most of his opportunities and will be the starter going forward. However, Tevin Coleman has been getting in limited practice sessions, and should he be cleared to play, it’s likely he will strip Freeman of some playing time. And even if he doesn’t, it’s likely that Atlanta gets back to their pass-heavy tendencies. This sets up as a good time to let the crowd ride this wave as it crashes into the shore-break.

It’s a shame the Steelers got all their players back from suspensions, just as they lose their quarterback to injury. Le’Veon Bell picked up right where he left off in his return, racking up 282 yards and two touchdowns in two games. This week he travels to San Diego to face a defense that is allowing the second most fantasy points per touch to running backs. Given the current state of events, Bell is going to get fed, both as a ball-carrier, and a pass-catcher. His ownership can be ignored.

Jamaal Charles has accounted for 32 percent of the Chiefs’ offensive yards, and five of their nine touchdowns. On paper, the Bears rank 10th in the fewest points allowed to running backs. But only because they’ve been stingy in the red zone (and by stingy, we mean most of those touchdowns have gone to wide receivers). They have allowed the eighth most rushing yards, and there’s no reason to the think the Chiefs won’t force their Charles will on the Bears this Sunday in Kansas City. Chalk him up as a loss leader.

There were signs of life in the Ravens running game last week. Justin Forsett carried the ball 27 times for 150 yards; his best performance of the season. But he has yet to find the end zone. This week he gets a team that has allowed the most rushing yards, and seventh most receiving yards to running backs. We’d like to see him more involved in the passing game, and that should happen with injuries to the Ravens receivers and tight ends. It’ll be hard to pass on his friendly salary in a good matchup.

The same is true for Dion Lewis, who just signed a two-year extension. That extension signifies that the Patriots are happy with his performance, and so are we. For $6,900, you won’t find a better option. The Cowboys have allowed the fifth most yards to running backs, and are tied for second in touchdowns allowed with six. Lewis is a good all around runner and a great receiver. He’ll have no trouble hitting tournament value as Touchdown Tom and Co. blowup the box score.

Todd Gurley looked like a first round draft pick last week against a tough Cardinals defense. He solidified his role as the No. 1 back in a system that prefers to run the ball. The Packers defense appears vulnerable on paper—allowing the fourth most fantasy points per touch to running backs. But they rank 21st in fantasy points allowed per game. The reason for that discrepancy is Charles and Matt Forte. Charles banged in three scores in Week 3, and Forte lit up the Packers in Week 1 with 166 total yards. But outside of those performances by two of the leagues’ best runners, the Packers have allowed a total of 18.6 fantasy points to running backs. The laws of game scripts are not to be ignored. Should the Rams fall behind, and we think they will early, it’s going to be hard for Gurley remain a key cog in their offense. We like his salary and opportunity, and we love his talent, but this isn’t’ good week to jump on the bandwagon.

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

Once again, the Patriots hold three of the most popular players by position. Before their bye last week, Julian Edelman was the most popular overall. He’s third most popular as of Thursday, and we’re going to double-down on our stance from Week 3: Edelman is a volume player more reliant on receptions than touchdowns. He’ll need touchdowns to justify his $7,700 salary. Between a two-headed running attack, and the best tight end in the game, we don’t think there’s enough scores to go around, even in this offense. Fade.

Another week, another appearance by Larry Fitzgerald as one of the most consistent receivers this season. We didn’t think he’d hit value last week and that turned out to be true. But he still came close to 100 yards receiving. This week he’s on the road to Detroit, who have allowed the fifth most receiving yards. The only thing holding them back from being one of the friendliest secondaries in the league is the fact that they’ve allowed only three touchdowns to wide receivers. Fitzgerald leads all receivers with five. You will have a hard time finding a better option in his price range.

Our next most popular option is Jeremy Maclin. It took 18 games, but in Week 3, a Chiefs receiver finally scored a touchdown. After a slow start to the season, Maclin has racked up 19 receptions for 289 yards and a score over the last two games. This week he gets a home game against a Bears team that has allowed more touchdowns to receivers than all teams except the Chiefs. It’ll be hard to ignore his friendly $6,900 salary, especially with the Chiefs favored by 10 points. Don’t be concerned about his ownership percentage.

With Freeman driving the Falcons offense, Julio Jones posted his first bad game of the season. Despite finishing as WR67 last week, he is still the No. 1 overall, and gets a Washington secondary that has allowed the likes of Riley Cooper, Miles Austin and Rueben Randle to beat them. Jones is sure to rebound as the Washington defense forces them away from the running game. But it’s worth noting that, according to FootballOutsiders.com, Washington ranks ninth in defending teams No. 1 receiver. So if you’re looking for a tiebreaker between Jones and other options in his price range, it’s worth considering that Ryan might look elsewhere.

With his salary still not on par with his performance or role in a high-powered offense, James Jones continues to be a weekly crowd favorite. You won’t find a better option for $6,400, to be sure. But the Rams defense is legit. The over/under of this game has dropped from 47.5 points to 46, which suggests that Vegas had way too much action on the under and wants to force more towards the over. This is looking like a game to avoid.

We mentioned that, thanks to injuries, Rivers is going to be missing a few receiving options. Keenan Allen stands to benefit. He already leads the team in targets, receptions and yards, and is, in fact, the sixth most targeted player in the league. He’s also our sixth most popular receiver as of Thursday night, and we think that’s actually low. Feel free to plug him in as a solid option against the Steelers Monday night.

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

New week, same crossroads: to fade or to not fade Rob Gronkowski? At his price point, you have to consider him a wide receiver that you play in your tight end slot. Under that consideration, does he outscore receivers in that price range? It’s very possible. The Cowboys may have allowed the sixth fewest points to tight ends through four weeks, but they haven’t played anyone of note. We won’t blame anyone for designing their roster around Gronkowski.

Just in time, Antonio Gates is back and it appears the crowd missed him. He ranks as our second most popular option at 13.6 percent owned. The Steelers have allowed the fourth most fantasy points to tight ends this season. But a lot of that is skewed thanks to Gronkowski hitting them up for 94 yards and three scores in Week 1. Here’s how they’ve performed in total:

Player

Week

Rec

RecYd

RecTD

FantPt

Nick Boyle 4 3 12 0 2.7
Maxx Williams 4 2 17 0 2.7
Lance Kendricks 3 2 12 0 2.2
Jared Cook 3 1 7 0 1.2
Cory Harkey 3 0 0 0 0
Vernon Davis 2 5 62 0 8.7
Garrett Celek 2 2 10 0 2
Blake Bell 2 1 11 0 1.6
Vance McDonald 2 0 0 0 0
Rob Gronkowski 1 5 94 3 29.9
Scott Chandler 1 1 1 1 6.6
Michael Hoomanawanui 1 0 0 0 0
Michael Williams 1 0 0 0 0

They’re good against bad tight ends, and bad against good tight ends. Gates is a good tight end and his $5,500 salary might make him a better play than Gronkowski.

Even in a game in which the Bills offense fell apart, Charles Clay sill finished as TE4 last week. This week it might be a little harder for him as the Titans are coming off of a bye and have allowed a total of 14 points to tight ends over the last three weeks. There’s no question Clay will remain a huge part of the offense, but we have cheaper options with equal ceilings.

Jay Cutler made his return to the Bears last week and all of sudden, Martellus Bennett’s production goes from 13 catches, 118 yards and one touchdown in his first three games, to 11 catches for 83 yards and a touchdown last week. There’s no question that Culter is going to look for Bennett on every play, especially if Alshon Jeffery is out. We have no problem with his $5,900 salary.

No team is worse at defending tight ends than the Raiders. They have been blown up by every team they’ve faced, allowing an average of 22.7 points per game. As such, Owen Daniels has a 7.3 percent exposure. His $4,900 salary comes with Peyton Manning upside and gives our roster plenty of flexibility. He’s a great GPP play.

kickers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Cairo Santos $4600 CHI@KC 17.5 Chandler Catanzaro $4900 ARI@DET 2.9
Stephen Gostkowski $5000 NE@DAL 14.1 Mason Crosby $5000 STL@GB 2.6
Justin Tucker $4900 CLE@BAL 8 Zach Hocker $4500 NO@PHI 2.3
Josh Lambo $4500 PIT@SD 8 Sebastian Janikowski $4700 DEN@OAK 2.2
Josh Brown $4700 SF@NYG 7.1 Mike Nugent $4600 SEA@CIN 1.8
Matt Bryant $4800 WAS@ATL 6.2 Dan Bailey $5000 NE@DAL 1.4
Brandon McManus $5000 DEN@OAK 5.7 Dan Carpenter $4700 BUF@TEN 0.9
Robbie Gould $4700 CHI@KC 3.8 Caleb Sturgis $5100 NO@PHI 0.5
Steven Hauschka $5100 SEA@CIN 3.5 Dustin Hopkins $4800 WAS@ATL 0.4

Nothing too fancy here. Cairo Santos booted seven field goals last week and was the second highest scoring player overall. We’re going to repeat that: a kicker scored more points than every player in Week 4, with the exception of Freeman. So let’s fade him this week.

To be reasonable, there’s not a lot of value to fading and going contrarian in the kicker department. Stephen Gostkowski is always a solid option, though we think he kicks mostly one-pointers against the Cowboys. Besides, we’d rather turn to the bargain bin. Josh Lambo’s basement salary on Monday night makes him a great play.

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

Like kickers, fading the popular play isn’t always valuable. But this week it may be. The Broncos are, without a doubt, the best defense in the league. Last week they struggled against an inconsistent Vikings offense, and this week they’re on the road to Oakland, who provide a much bigger challenge. The Raiders are doing a decent job projecting the ball, ranking 15th in turnovers lost, and have allowed only five sacks all season. The hope is, should you go chalk, that the Broncos force volume on the Raiders offense and are rewarded with interceptions courtesy of a young Derek Carr.

The Giants, despite being one of the worst defenses in the league, are our second most popular play. Their $4,300 salary and a date with a pitiful 49ers offense—one that is traveling across the country—has the crowd ignoring defensive ranks. It’s an opportunity based strategy and we don’t blame them. The 49ers offense has given the ball away seven times and allowed 14 sacks. Thanks, Colin Kaepernick.