The Fade: FanDuel Week 9

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

Week 8 was the kind of week the NFL fears the most. Whenever the league loses some of its best players to long-term injuries, everyone suffers. We are now down three top-tier running backs and just lost Keenan Allen, who was the fourth highest scoring receiver going into Week 8.

The silver lining, at least where our focus is concerned, is the opportunity these situations open up for DFS. It takes a few games before salaries catch up to players that are forced into lead roles due to injuries. DeAngelo Williams and Jeremy Langford great examples of that. Even though their prices went up $1,500 and $1,700 respectively, they are both underpriced in the sense that they are unquestioned lead backs for great offenses. Taking advantage of “the next guy up” is premium DFS strategy.

As is identifying fades and loss leaders, which you already know has been a major part of our strategy all season long. And if you don’t know, you can read more about it here. Per 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 9:

Quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Tom Brady $9500 WAS@NE 16.1 Peyton Manning $7700 DEN@IND 3.2
Drew Brees $8500 TEN@NO 13.4 Jay Cutler $7100 CHI@SD 2.8
Eli Manning $7800 NYG@TB 8.4 Tyrod Taylor $7200 MIA@BUF 2.6
Philip Rivers $8600 CHI@SD 8.1 Cam Newton $7900 GB@CAR 1.7
Derek Carr $7000 OAK@PIT 7.6 Aaron Rodgers $8900 GB@CAR 1.2
Ben Roethlisberger $8300 OAK@PIT 4.5 Ryan Tannehill $7400 MIA@BUF 1
Matt Ryan $8000 ATL@SF 3.7 Kirk Cousins $6600 WAS@NE 0.5
Jameis Winston $6700 NYG@TB 3.7 Andrew Luck $8700 DEN@IND 0.1

It seems we have been here before.

On a historic pace, again, Tom Brady is making a case as the best quarterback to ever play the game, again. He checks in as the most expensive player on the board. In fact, his $9,500 salary is the highest we’ve seen of any player since Aaron Rodgers opened the season at $9,700. That’s the only reason we should consider fading Brady, and it’s still not enough. Brady has scored at least three touchdowns in every game except one and has hit no worse than 2.5x value. He’s a good bet to continue that pace with a vulnerable Washington secondary coming to town. Ownership doesn’t matter in this situation. But if you want to have some roster flexibility and stay competitive in a large field tournament, the best option might be to look for a cheaper passer with a favorable matchup.

Drew Brees isn’t the answer. His ownership is the highest it has been all season and it’s all thanks to the 500 yards and seven touchdowns he dropped on the Giants last week. The Saints offense is rolling as of late and we love Brees at home. But the Titans are a wreck and don’t pose much of a threat to push the over/under past its current 48 points, which feels high to us. No doubt, he should throw for a few and have a decent box score. But it’s likely the Saints will soak up the clock with their running game.

Just like Brees, Eli Manning’s ownership is a product of a career performance in which he threw six touchdowns. His salary is at least reasonable and his matchup is one of the best on the board. The Buccaneers have allowed the second most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks and have allowed 17 touchdowns to four interceptions. This contest has our second highest over/under at 50 points, so there’s a lot of potential for a shootout. His Thursday exposure of 8.4 percent will grow by Sunday, but you could do a lot worse for $7,800. You could also roster the other quarterback in this game and save $1,100.

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Devonta Freeman $8900 ATL@SF 25.2 Lamar Miller $6900 MIA@BUF 3.2
DeAngelo Williams $6500 OAK@PIT 24 Adrian Peterson $8400 STL@MIN 2.8
Todd Gurley $9000 STL@MIN 14.4 LeSean McCoy $7800 MIA@BUF 2.6
Christopher Ivory $7500 JAC@NYJ 12.4 C.J. Anderson $6000 DEN@IND 1.8
Mark Ingram $7700 TEN@NO 12.2 Shane Vereen $5700 NYG@TB 1.5
Dion Lewis $7400 WAS@NE 11.3 T.J. Yeldon $6400 JAC@NYJ 1.4
Doug Martin $7100 NYG@TB 11.2 Melvin Gordon $6100 CHI@SD 1.2
Darren McFadden $6500 PHI@DAL 9.7 Antonio Andrews $5700 TEN@NO 1.2
Jeremy Langford $6400 CHI@SD 7.5 C.J. Spiller $5500 TEN@NO 1.2
Ronnie Hillman $6400 DEN@IND 6.2 Eddie Lacy $6700 GB@CAR 1.1
Danny Woodhead $6000 CHI@SD 5.7 Frank Gore $6700 DEN@IND 0.5
LeGarrette Blount $6400 WAS@NE 4 Ryan Mathews $5600 PHI@DAL 0.4
Jonathan Stewart $6600 GB@CAR 3.7 Darren Sproles $5500 PHI@DAL 0.4
DeMarco Murray $7500 PHI@DAL 3.5 Matt Jones $5800 WAS@NE 0.2
Latavius Murray $7000 OAK@PIT 3.2 Alfred Morris $5400 WAS@NE 0.1

After averaging 26 points per game through the first six weeks of the season, Devonta Freeman has scored 14 and 16.1 points over his last two. The Falcons offense as a whole has slowed down, which would explain why Freeman hasn’t found the endzone recently. That should change against the 49ers, who are allowing 22 fantasy points per game to running backs over the last three weeks. This contest doesn’t promise much in the way of a shootout, so volume and pace overall will be low. But that means more Freeman and less Julio Jones. His salary is tough to build around and his ownership is nearly prohibitive for tournaments, but a multi-touchdown game looks to be in order.

It feels like a long time ago but during the first two weeks of the season, with Le’Veon Bell serving suspension, DeAngelo Williams was our No. 1 scoring running back. An unfortunate injury to Bell has once again pushed Williams to the top of the depth chart. His salary and opportunity has pushed him to the top of the exposure chart as well, making him our second most popular option of all players as of Thursday night. As much as we’d like to take advantage of his salary while it’s low, the Raiders run defense has been quite good. They’ve yet to allow a 100-yard rusher and have allowed a total of five touchdowns to running backs all season. The Steelers offense is capable of changing that, but it’s more likely that they’re forced into a high volume passing attack in what could be a shootout.

Todd Gurley is justifying the Rams gambling a top-10 pick on him. Since getting a full workload in Week 4, he is averaging 141.5 yards per game on the ground and has contributed another 68 yards as a receiver. There were major concerns about this offensive line, and this offense in general, but he has quelled those concerns in true Adrian Peterson style. This week he’ll face a team that knows all about having their entire offense go through a game-changing running back. The Vikings, after being gashed by Carlos Hyde in Week 1, have allowed only 485 yards on the ground and one rushing touchdown. So this will be an interesting test for Gurley as they are sure to load the box and dare the Rams to throw. We’ll let the crowd swallow his $9,000 salary and chase surer game scripts.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Alshon Jeffery $7900 CHI@SD 20.3 Brandon LaFell $5200 WAS@NE 4.3
Odell Beckham Jr. $9000 NYG@TB 19.7 Rishard Matthews $6500 MIA@BUF 3.7
Malcom Floyd $6100 CHI@SD 18.1 James Jones $6000 GB@CAR 3.3
Julian Edelman $8000 WAS@NE 16.8 Randall Cobb $7400 GB@CAR 3.3
Julio Jones $9200 ATL@SF 15.4 Ted Ginn Jr. $5300 GB@CAR 2.9
Antonio Brown $8700 OAK@PIT 13.2 Allen Hurns $6800 JAC@NYJ 2.2
Michael Crabtree $5800 OAK@PIT 13.2 Jordan Matthews $6300 PHI@DAL 1.5
Amari Cooper $7300 OAK@PIT 12.7 Robert Woods $4900 MIA@BUF 1.5
Tavon Austin $5700 STL@MIN 10.9 Dez Bryant $7900 PHI@DAL 1.2
T.Y. Hilton $7700 DEN@IND 9.7 Donte Moncrief $6400 DEN@IND 1
Mike Evans $7500 NYG@TB 9.6 Pierre Garcon $6300 WAS@NE 1
Steve Johnson $5400 CHI@SD 9.3 Brandon Marshall $8100 JAC@NYJ 0.7
Brandin Cooks $7100 TEN@NO 9 Dwayne Harris $5300 NYG@TB 0.7
Demaryius Thomas $8400 DEN@IND 8.6 Davante Adams $5100 GB@CAR 0.7
Jarvis Landry $7000 MIA@BUF 8.6 Dorial Green-Beckham $4900 TEN@NO 0.6
Willie Snead $6100 TEN@NO 8.6 Sammy Watkins $6200 MIA@BUF 0.5
Eric Decker $6300 JAC@NYJ 7.1 Terrance Williams $5600 PHI@DAL 0.4
Martavis Bryant $6900 OAK@PIT 6.9 Roddy White $5300 ATL@SF 0.4
Stefon Diggs $7400 STL@MIN 5.6 Marquess Wilson $4800 CHI@SD 0.3
Emmanuel Sanders $7600 DEN@IND 5.3 Rueben Randle $5500 NYG@TB 0.2
Allen Robinson $7200 JAC@NYJ 4.6 Riley Cooper $5300 PHI@DAL 0.1

In the three games Alshon Jeffery has played this year he has seen 37 targets and averaged 114 receiving yards. He is, without question, Jay Cutler’s go-to and will be especially key to this offense with Matt Forte sidelined. Jeffery will have a tough matchup against Jason Verrett, the Chargers No. 1 cornerback, but we think that’s a battle he can win over the course of a high-scoring Monday night game. It’s worth noting that the Chargers have allowed the sixth fewest FanDuel points to wide receivers. No player has managed a multi-touchdown game against their secondary and only Amari Cooper has broken 100 yards. The fact of the matter is this team is so easy to run on that opposing offenses are finding their success on the ground. That may hold true in this game as well.

With his salary at its lowest since Week 2, Odell Beckham Jr. swung tournaments, catching eight his nine targets for 130 yards and three touchdowns. He is now our second most expensive receiver and one of the most popular as of Thursday night. We’ve seen what elite, or near elite, wide receivers have done to the Buccaneers defense. And we’ve already pegged this game as one we need to expose our roster to, given the point total and generous defenses. If you’re paying top-dollar for a receiver this week, Beckham is the one you want.

Of course, paying up for one of the most expensive players on the board means finding a discount somewhere else. This is where Malcom Floyd comes in handy. He ranks as the third most popular option, a result of both his friendly salary and new role as the Chargers De facto No. 1 receiver. This team can’t easily replace what Keenan Allen brought to their offense, but Floyd is a close second with his 6’5” 220-pound frame. Only the Chiefs have allowed more receiving touchdowns than the Bears defense, who will have a tough night trying to answer all of the weapons the Chargers have. Floyd is a great value option and a good bet to score, but for $700 cheaper, we can roster his teammate, Steve Johnson, and maybe get similar results.

Since the Patriots’ bye week here are Julian Edelman’s FanDuel points: 22, 17.2, 10.4, and 27.1. The basic premise is this: when Edelman finds the endzone he’s a top-five option. When he doesn’t, he is still, more often than not, a WR2. There may not be a higher floor of any receiver. The Patriots are favored by 15 points in a contest with an over/under of 52. Someone is going to score a lot of touchdowns. But we’d rather pay Rob Gronkowski’s $8,500 salary than Edelman’s $8,000 salary and bank on a multi-touchdown game from fantasy’s No. 1 tight end.

We mentioned that Julio Jones may not be needed nearly as much and that Freeman is likely to get most of the work. But Jones is still good for his usual share of endzone looks and targets. The problem is paying his $9,200 salary when we expect the Falcons defense to keep the point total low. He’ll need 27.6 points to hit 3x value, which is a lot to ask in general. But it’s worth noting that the 49ers defense is just awful. Only two teams have allowed more receiving yards and fantasy points per game. It’s also worth noting that the 49ers have made a quarterback change. So again, we can’t expect Blaine Gabbert and Co. to take the field and stir up a shootout. Ride Freeman in this contest.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Benjamin Watson $5700 TEN@NO 17 Jacob Tamme $5200 ATL@SF 2.7
Rob Gronkowski $8500 WAS@NE 10.9 Delanie Walker $5500 TEN@NO 2.1
Antonio Gates $6000 CHI@SD 10.8 Charles Clay $5700 MIA@BUF 1.6
Greg Olsen $6400 GB@CAR 6.3 Jason Witten $5600 PHI@DAL 1.2
Jordan Reed $5700 WAS@NE 5.1 Austin Seferian-Jenkins $5200 NYG@TB 1
Heath Miller $5800 OAK@PIT 5 Zach Ertz $5000 PHI@DAL 0.7
Martellus Bennett $5400 CHI@SD 3.4 Julius Thomas $5600 JAC@NYJ 0.4
Vernon Davis $4900 DEN@IND 3.3 Jordan Cameron $5200 MIA@BUF 0.3

Ben Watson is our No. 1 tight end over the last three weeks, during which he has 333 receiving yards on 23 receptions and two touchdowns. He’s no Jimmy Graham but he isn’t priced like Graham either. His $5,700 salary and role in the Saints offense is tempting. But we’ll let the crowd chase an unlikely big game, and put our money on the Saints running attack instead.

As mentioned, the Patriots are two-touchdown favorites in the highest over/under on the board. Rob Gronkowski is a no-brainer. His salary is hard to build around but well worth paying. It’s hard to imagine him not finding the endzone at least once.

The loss of Keenan Allen is going to be bad for the Chargers offense but good for Antonio Gates’s fantasy expectations. The Bears defense has been good against tight ends but it won’t matter. Gates is going to be the focal point of Philip Rivers, especially if Ladarius Green can’t play. If there’s one reason to fade Gronkowski, it’s Gates.

Kickers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Stephen Gostkowski $5200 WAS@NE 12 Josh Brown $4800 NYG@TB 3.5
Sebastian Janikowski $4500 OAK@PIT 10.9 Nick Folk $4600 JAC@NYJ 3.5
Robbie Gould $4600 CHI@SD 10.1 Graham Gano $4700 GB@CAR 3
Brandon McManus $5000 DEN@IND 9.3 Matt Bryant $4800 ATL@SF 2.8
Connor Barth $4800 NYG@TB 6.1 Kai Forbath $4600 TEN@NO 1.9
Josh Lambo $4700 CHI@SD 5.1 Mason Crosby $5000 GB@CAR 1.8
Chris Boswell $4500 OAK@PIT 4.3 Caleb Sturgis $5000 PHI@DAL 0.9
Blair Walsh $4900 STL@MIN 4.2 Dan Carpenter $4600 MIA@BUF 0.6

We don’t want to get too clever here. Nor do we want to ignore this position since finding a kicker that gives us 12-plus points is a major advantage in tournaments. Stephen Gostkowski is a great bet do just that. His $5,200 salary, however, will put strain on the rest of our roster. The crowd may be on to something with Sebastian Janikowski. The Raiders offense is looking like one of the best. But that also means efficiency. Janikowski has already missed three field goals this year, so we’ll let the crowd have him. We’re never comfortable putting too much stock in the Bears offense, and since we’d rather have one or two other skill position players on this team, Robbie Gould won’t cut it as a tournament play, even though he could end up with a lot of field goal opportunities.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Denver Broncos $5300 DEN@IND 18.2 New York Giants $4500 NYG@TB 2.1
New England Patriots $4900 WAS@NE 10.9 Dallas Cowboys $4500 PHI@DAL 1.6
Atlanta Falcons $4900 ATL@SF 10 Pittsburgh Steelers $4600 OAK@PIT 1.3
New York Jets $4700 JAC@NYJ 8.9 Minnesota Vikings $4700 STL@MIN 1.1
New Orleans Saints $4200 TEN@NO 7.9 Buffalo Bills $4700 MIA@BUF 1
St Louis Rams $5100 STL@MIN 4.8 Miami Dolphins $4700 MIA@BUF 1
Philadelphia Eagles $4700 PHI@DAL 4.7 Green Bay Packers $4800 GB@CAR 0.7
Carolina Panthers $4400 GB@CAR 3        

The Denver Broncos are undefeated thanks to elite defensive play. They check in as one of the heaviest owned options as of Thursday. Last week they shutdown the Packers almost too easily. The Colts offense is worse than the Packers so a similar game flow can be expected. But we’ll need defensive scores in order for the Broncos to justify their salary and ownership. We’ll bet against the crowd and search for a better option.

The New England Patriots defense has allowed the fifth fewest points and 10th fewest yards. This week they’re at home against a bad offense with a bad quarterback and not much for a running game. Their $4,900 salary is worth building around.

The same goes for the Atlanta Falcons, who are 7.5-point road favorites. But for $200 less we can grab one of the best defenses in football. The Jets are favored by nine points at home against the Jaguars in what is sure to be low-scoring game.