The Fade: FanDuel Week 8

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

Todd Gurley reminded us why fading a player simply because he’s heavily exposed is terrible process. He started a little slow but then proceeded to ground and pound his way to 30.3 points and an RB2 ranking. It’s no surprise that the highest scoring roster in the FanDuel $4M Sunday Million acquired his services, which provided 4.1x value.

Loss leaders are major part of our strategy. We can’t ignore value and potential top-five positional rankings simply because the crowd is wise to the same players. As such, we’ll continue with business as usual.

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.

On to Week 8:

Quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Philip Rivers $8500 SD@BAL 10.2 Teddy Bridgewater $6900 MIN@CHI 2.3
Andy Dalton $8100 CIN@PIT 8.5 Ben Roethlisberger $8200 CIN@PIT 2.1
Cam Newton $8000 IND@CAR 8.3 Aaron Rodgers $9000 GB@DEN 1.9
Carson Palmer $8100 ARI@CLE 6.6 Jay Cutler $7300 MIN@CHI 1.6
Matt Ryan $8000 TB@ATL 5.1 Joe Flacco $7400 SD@BAL 1.1
Ryan Fitzpatrick $7400 NYJ@OAK 4.7 Peyton Manning $7600 GB@DEN 1
Eli Manning $7300 NYG@NO 3.9 Russell Wilson $7800 SEA@DAL 0.9
Drew Brees $7900 NYG@NO 2.4 Andrew Luck $8800 IND@CAR 0.6

Only Touchdown Tom has scored more FanDuel points than Philip Rivers this year. Rivers leads the leagues in passing attempts, passing yards and is second in touchdowns. Over his last four games he has completed 139 of 209 throws for 1,562 yards and 10 touchdowns—QB1 over that stretch and it’s not close. This week he is on the road against the Ravens, who made Colin Kaepernick and Josh McCown look like future hall of famers. His 10.2 percent exposure will be much higher in the weekend slate, but a top-five performance can be expected. His salary might be worth avoiding though, as we can find high-volume matchups for cheaper.

Andy Dalton, for example, is $300 cheaper and gives us a similar ceiling. He is surrounded by weapons and is on the road against a team that has no answers for them. The Steelers offense is about to return to its regular form with the return of Ben Roethlisberger. As a result, the Vegas favorite has flipped from -2.5 for the Bengals to -1.5 for the Steelers. The over/under of 48.5 points, second highest of the week, hasn’t budged, so we can expect lots of offense in this one. If you’re into previous performances, Dalton has been horrible against the Steelers, averaging just 218 yards with 11 touchdowns to seven interceptions over eight games. But this is a new Bengals team and you can bet Dalton and Co. are fired up to roll against a division rival, one that has had their number for the better part of a decade, and kick some tail. As dangerous as it might be, a Dalton/A.J. Green/Tyler Eifert power stack could be a tournament winner. There, of course, is tons of risk implied, considering it will cost you 37 percent of the cap and if Turnover Andy shows up, the roster is dead. But if Dalton continues his QB1 pace of 23.3 FanDuel points per game, then a Bengals power stack is sure to cash.

Our third most popular quarterback has the 35th most rushing yards in the league and ranks sixth in rushing touchdowns inside the 20 yard line. Basically, Cam Newton is a running back that gets the ball on every snap and sometimes throws touchdowns passes. It’s fair to be nervous about a quarterback when 38.3 percent of his fantasy production comes from rushing points. Last week against the Eagles he completed only 14 passes not including three interceptions. If he doesn’t score a rushing touchdown his floor is among the worst in the league. That said, he is our QB7 through seven weeks despite not having reliable pass-catchers, and hosts the Colts on Monday night, who haven’t faced a dual-threat quarterback since Week 1 when they allowed 41 yards on nine rushes to Tyrod Taylor. The Panthers a touchdown favorite, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Colts can push them into a high-scoring high-volume game. In any case, for $8,000 Newton is an expensive option, but it’s not difficult for him to hit tournament value when he is the entire offense. Our only concern is the possibility of Jonathan Stewart and Michael Tolbert getting most of the work against a bad rushing defense. As such, you’re better off with Dalton if paying up for a quarterback.  

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Todd Gurley $8100 SF@STL 40.2 Adrian Peterson $8900 MIN@CHI 2.1
Devonta Freeman $9100 TB@ATL 17.1 Ronnie Hillman $6100 GB@DEN 1.8
Justin Forsett $6900 SD@BAL 16.3 Latavius Murray $6900 NYJ@OAK 1.7
Chris Johnson $7300 ARI@CLE 16.2 Eddie Lacy $6700 GB@DEN 1.6
Danny Woodhead $6100 SD@BAL 11.4 Jeremy Hill $6300 CIN@PIT 1.6
Doug Martin $7500 TB@ATL 10 Antonio Andrews $5300 TEN@HOU 1.2
Jonathan Stewart $6600 IND@CAR 8.6 Frank Gore $6700 IND@CAR 0.9
Christopher Ivory $7700 NYJ@OAK 5.7 Duke Johnson $5800 ARI@CLE 0.5
Le\'Veon Bell $8900 CIN@PIT 5 Charles Sims $5100 TB@ATL 0.5
Matt Forte $8200 MIN@CHI 4.8 Shane Vereen $5500 NYG@NO 0.4
Darren McFadden $6400 SEA@DAL 4.4 Orleans Darkwa $5100 NYG@NO 0.3
Mark Ingram $8000 NYG@NO 3.6 C.J. Anderson $6300 GB@DEN 0.2
Giovani Bernard $6700 CIN@PIT 3.2 Melvin Gordon $6200 SD@BAL 0.2
Marshawn Lynch $8300 SEA@DAL 2.7 Dexter McCluster $5200 TEN@HOU 0.2
Alfred Blue $6500 TEN@HOU 2.4        

If you wagered an expensive draft pick on Todd Gurley last summer, you are now coasting with an RB1 for the rest of the season. His salary jumped $700 since last week after he pounded the Browns defense for 163 yards and two scores. This week he gets another soft matchup against the 49ers, who have given up the eighth most fantasy points per touch and the seventh most rushing yards to running backs. It’ll be hard to fade his situation, given that he is now the entire offense and has a soft matchup at home. Chances of multiple touchdowns are high, while the Rams ride him to a victory. But let’s not forget the Rams offense is horrible so it’s possible the game script gets away from them. The good news is they’re playing the only offense worse than their own. All told, their defense may keep this one in check. The net result will be a slow-paced attack, meaning less volume all around. We may not find the talent, but we can find better game scripts in higher-scoring matchups for less than $8,100.

King of carriers, Devonta Freeman, had his worse game of the season last week and still managed 130 total yards. He had only two carries in the redzone but that was more a fault of the Falcons offense as a whole; they came out completely flat against the Titans and scored a season low 10 points. This week they return to the Georgia Dome and are heavy favorites in the second highest over/under of the week (48.5 points). The visiting Buccaneers boast the NFL’s ninth ranked rushing defense, allowing a top-five 3.7 yards per carry. Context, as always, is needed. Here is where the teams they’ve faced so far rank in rushing: 27th, 20th 25th, 5th, 21st and 19th. Alfred Blue is the only running back to rush for more than 100 yards, but as you can probably tell, it’s not like they’ve faced quality competition. Freeman should be inline for a huge workload and find the endzone. Whether or not he is worth his $9,100 salary is another question. The Buccaneers offense has averaged 30.3 points and 419.7 yards over their last three games. As good as the Falcons’ defense has played, they’ll be tested in Week 8 in a contest that has shootout written all over it, even if they’re favored by eight points. That might mean more work for Julio Jones and less for Freeman.  

Speaking of shootouts, the Ravens and Chargers represent this week’s highest over/under of 50 points. There will be touchdowns. Justin Forsett comes out of Thursday as the third most popular ball carrier. His $6,900 salary and plus matchup is everything we’re looking for in a DFS back. The Chargers are allowing a full fantasy point per touch to running backs, most in the league, and the second most total yards and total touchdowns. The Ravens offense is hardly comforting, but Forsett’s salary and high-volume potential can’t be ignored. He is third in team targets and first in redzone looks. Fire him up as a loss leader.

Making a legitimate case for Come Back Player of the Year, Chris Johnson ranks second in rushing yards and 11th overall. He now has three games of at least 100 yards and as averaging 5.1 yards per attempt. At some point we have to wonder if a healthy Andre Ellington is going to cut into Johnson’s playing time, but there’s no indication of that. He might lose out on passing downs should the Cardinals actually find themselves playing from behind. That’s not expected against a poor Browns team, who have allowed the most rushing yards to running backs this season and tie the Chargers for most fantasy points per game. Johnson’s salary increased $400 but it’s still a friendly $7,300. It’ll be hard to fade him at that price given the soft matchup. The only thing that limits his upside is lack of touchdowns. That’s more of anomaly considering he has the fourth most attempts inside the 20 yard line, and third most inside the 5.

Danny Woodhead’s price still hasn’t caught up to his upside. He is FanDuel’s third highest scoring running back thanks to a league-leading 403 receiving yards. He owns 80 percent of his team’s rushing attempts inside the 10, which is third most of any team. Unfortunately, that accounts for only four total carries as the Chargers favor Rivers arm above all. This is a pass-first team, without question. That blends perfectly with what Woodhead’s skill set brings to the table. Last week the Chargers fell way behind and he saw 12 targets as a result. This week they’re on the road to Baltimore in a likely shootout. Woodhead, who leads the Chargers in redzone looks, should see plenty of action. His $6,100 salary means we can ignore his ownership.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Stefon Diggs $6700 MIN@CHI 29.5 Amari Cooper $7500 NYJ@OAK 3.8
Keenan Allen $8000 SD@BAL 12.8 Travis Benjamin $6300 ARI@CLE 3.8
Steve Smith $6700 SD@BAL 11.7 Michael Floyd $4900 ARI@CLE 3.8
Alshon Jeffery $7700 MIN@CHI 11.2 Donte Moncrief $6400 IND@CAR 3.6
Martavis Bryant $7200 CIN@PIT 11 Michael Crabtree $5700 NYJ@OAK 3.5
Julio Jones $9200 TB@ATL 10.1 Kendall Wright $5900 TEN@HOU 3.4
James Jones $6200 GB@DEN 9.2 Willie Snead $5800 NYG@NO 3.3
Larry Fitzgerald $7700 ARI@CLE 9 Brandin Cooks $6800 NYG@NO 3
Antonio Brown $8400 CIN@PIT 8.9 Demaryius Thomas $8100 GB@DEN 2.5
DeAndre Hopkins $9000 TEN@HOU 7.7 Randall Cobb $7600 GB@DEN 2.3
A.J. Green $8200 CIN@PIT 7.5 Rueben Randle $5600 NYG@NO 1.7
Mike Evans $7800 TB@ATL 7.4 Steve Johnson $5900 SD@BAL 1.4
Brandon Marshall $8300 NYJ@OAK 7 Emmanuel Sanders $7800 GB@DEN 1.2
Eric Decker $6400 NYJ@OAK 6.1 Anquan Boldin $6000 SF@STL 0.7
Nate Washington $5400 TEN@HOU 6.1 Doug Baldwin $5500 SEA@DAL 0.6
John Brown $6700 ARI@CLE 5.7 Roddy White $5200 TB@ATL 0.6
Marvin Jones $5400 CIN@PIT 5.7 Eddie Royal $5100 MIN@CHI 0.6
Ted Ginn Jr. $5300 IND@CAR 4.6 Mike Wallace $5300 MIN@CHI 0.5
Odell Beckham Jr. $8700 NYG@NO 4.4 Davante Adams $5300 GB@DEN 0.4
Tavon Austin $5300 SF@STL 4.2 Marquess Wilson $5000 MIN@CHI 0.2
T.Y. Hilton $7700 IND@CAR 4.1 Kenny Britt $5000 SF@STL 0.1

We recommended fading Stefon Diggs in this space last week. Sorry about that. He had a great game and now checks in as our most popular receiver. The Bears defense hasn’t allowed a lot of receiving yards, but their 11 touchdowns is tied for second most. Overall they are the eighth most generous to wide receivers. Diggs’ 28 targets over the last three weeks leads all Vikings players, as does his 108 yards per game. The downside is this contest holds one of the lowest over/under totals of the week at 42.5 points. But a healthy Bears’ offense gives us confidence that the over is in order. Big-play potential and a friendly price tag is well worth a look, but it might be wise to let the crowd double-down on his services.

Keenan Allen leads the league in receptions and is third in both targets and yards. The only thing missing from his game is more work in the redzone. He has only six looks in that category, which leads Chargers’ receivers but isn’t what we want from a WR1. The potential of Antonio Gates being sidelined again sets up a lot opportunity for Allen against the Ravens. The Ravens, as a reminder, have allowed the second most receiving yards and trail only the Chiefs in FanDuel points per game. The over/under of 50 points and a small three-point favorite of the home team has us excited for lots of scoring in this game. Baltimore ranks seventh in offensive pace and the San Diego ranks eighth per Football Outsiders. Loading up on players involved in this contest is wise.  

And that includes Steve Smith. Smith ranks 11th in both targets and receptions despite missing a game due to injury. He makes for a nice pivot play if you want to get out of Diggs’ heavy exposure and into a better game script. The big concern here is him being added to the injury report this week with a knee issue. He did practice Friday so these concerns should be ignored. He is Joe Flacco’s go-to, and the potential of them playing from behind means he’ll go to him a lot. If anything, Smith’s injury might suppress his ownership percentage come Sunday, making him an almost must-roster player.

We mentioned the Bears offense is finally returning to near full health. Alshon Jeffery, in his first game since Week 1, went off with eight receptions on 11 targets for 147 yards and a touchdown. That was against a team lacking quality defensive players and getting shredded as a result. This week will be much harder. The Vikings have the league’s sixth rank pass defense with only Keenan Allen posting a game of 100 yards or more. That’s not to say they’re unbeatable. Football Outsiders ranks them 20th versus No. 1 receivers and Jeffery may be the best they’ve faced this season. But he is not an automatic start for $7,700, especially considering his exposure.

For $500 less we can roster Martavis Bryant. The return of Roethlisberger gives us lots of confidence that the Steelers offense is one of the best in the league. Regardless of quarterback play, since making his debut in Week 6, Bryant ranks as WR2 with 182 yards and three scores. We’ll remind you that 48 percent of those yards, and 36 percent of his fantasy points came on one big play. Last week he looked like a great deal and barely hit 2x value. But again, with Roethlisberger back in the lineup so everything is different. You could do worse for $7,200.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Tyler Eifert $6000 CIN@PIT 18.5 Delanie Walker $5400 TEN@HOU 3
Greg Olsen $6400 IND@CAR 12.2 Jimmy Graham $6100 SEA@DAL 2.3
Ladarius Green $5300 SD@BAL 9 Crockett Gillmore $5000 SD@BAL 1.3
Martellus Bennett $5700 MIN@CHI 5.8 Antonio Gates $5900 SD@BAL 1.2
Gary Barnidge $6300 ARI@CLE 4.3 Richard Rodgers $5000 GB@DEN 1.2
Benjamin Watson $5400 NYG@NO 3.8 Kyle Rudolph $4900 MIN@CHI 0.8
Jason Witten $5500 SEA@DAL 3.7 Heath Miller $5000 CIN@PIT 0.5

Part of the recommendation for a Bengals power stack, risk assessment aside, includes Tyler Eifert. Only three teams have allowed more yards to tight ends than the Steelers, and only two have allowed more FanDuel points per game. He is second in team targets and has more redzone looks than A.J. Green. In fact, Eifert’s nine targets inside the 20 ranks 10th most of all players. For $6,000 you’re getting a wide receiver in your tight end spot. Fade at your own risk.

The only reliable receiver in the Panthers offense is Greg Olsen. His 50 targets lead the team with the next closest player having only 37. Unfortunately, he hasn’t seen a redzone look over the last two games. The Panthers running game, starting with Newton, is hitting stride so Olsen hasn’t been needed. Still, he is a major part of the offense and should get a lot more action against the Colts on Monday night. But his $6,400 salary might prohibit us from creating profitable tournament rosters.

We can save $1,100 by downgrading to Ladarius Green, assuming Gates fails to play. Should that be the case we can also assume his exposure will be close to that of Eifert’s. We’ll use him as a loss leader in that situation and maybe even plug him in as a part of Rivers/Allen/Green power stack.

Kickers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Josh Lambo $4500 SD@BAL 7.3 Mason Crosby $5000 GB@DEN 2.7
Brandon McManus $5000 GB@DEN 7.1 Graham Gano $4700 IND@CAR 2.3
Connor Barth $4800 TB@ATL 5.4 Mike Nugent $4600 CIN@PIT 2.1
Nick Folk $4600 NYJ@OAK 4.7 Chandler Catanzaro $5000 ARI@CLE 1.7
Justin Tucker $4900 SD@BAL 4 Greg Zuerlein $4600 SF@STL 1.6
Steven Hauschka $5100 SEA@DAL 3.7 Adam Vinatieri $4800 IND@CAR 1.4
Matt Bryant $4800 TB@ATL 3.7 Kai Forbath $4600 NYG@NO 0.4
Blair Walsh $4900 MIN@CHI 2.9        

Per usual, there’s not much for no-brainer fades. Brandon McManus is the third highest scoring kicker. But we can dodge his $5,000 salary in a game where the Broncos are going to need touchdowns. Josh Lambo is the most popular but his $4,500 salary is too good to ignore. We don’t want any part of Connor Barth, even with the Buccaneers offense visiting the redzone with regularity over the last few weeks.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

St Louis Rams $5100 SF@STL 27.2 Green Bay Packers $4800 GB@DEN 3.6
Arizona Cardinals $5400 ARI@CLE 8.1 Minnesota Vikings $4700 MIN@CHI 2.8
Carolina Panthers $4800 IND@CAR 7.7 Tennessee Titans $4500 TEN@HOU 2.5
New York Jets $4800 NYJ@OAK 7.5 Houston Texans $4700 TEN@HOU 2.4
Seattle Seahawks $5200 SEA@DAL 6.8 New York Giants $4400 NYG@NO 2
Atlanta Falcons $4800 TB@ATL 4.1 San Francisco 49ers $4000 SF@STL 1.7
Denver Broncos $4700 GB@DEN 4.1 Pittsburgh Steelers $4600 CIN@PIT 0.5

The Rams defense was the chalk play last week and finished as the best overall. They are the chalk play again this week and could very well finish as the best overall for the second straight week. The major difference is the fact that their price jumped $600. Regardless, the Rams are the favored by the most points in a game with the lowest over/under.

The Cardinals are the most expensive defense on the board and get a banged up Browns unit. Even they’ve allowed the ninth most yards over their last three games, we can expect the Cardinals to flirt with a shutout.

The Panthers might pose the most risk with Andrew Luck and Co. coming to town. If there is one popular play to avoid, it’s them.