The Fade: FanDuel Week 10

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

Is DFS a game of skill? That’s the question at the center of the war that has recently been declared by the current New York Attorney General. So let’s answer that question in brief.

Is it skillful to pour through hours of research and gigabytes of data? Not particularly. Unless you consider dedication and concentration a measure of skill. Even at that level you’ve separated yourself from someone who randomly throws out lineups or uses lineup generators. But most data is public and every player has access to it. The skill is in knowing how to interpret that data. Separating the signal from the noise and developing accurate projections is how profits are made in the long run. The best players have elite bankroll-management and game-selection discipline. To assume that discipline is being applied to a game of chance is utterly foolish.

Having access to ownership percentages is not a skill. Correctly using that data as part of your roster building process is a skill. You, of course, already know this. You know that the numbers presented below, taken from a Thursday night GPP, in no way are meant to be used as the basis of your strategy. As skillful players, we use the numbers 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 10:

Quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Tom Brady $9100 NE@NYG 12.3 Eli Manning $7400 NE@NYG 2.6
Cam Newton $8200 CAR@TEN 10.9 Joe Flacco $7500 JAC@BAL 1.4
Andy Dalton $8100 HOU@CIN 10.4 Peyton Manning $7700 KC@DEN 1
Drew Brees $8600 NO@WAS 9.8 Landry Jones $6200 CLE@PIT 0.9
Blake Bortles $7800 JAC@BAL 9 Matthew Stafford $6900 DET@GB 0.8
Aaron Rodgers $9200 DET@GB 8.9 Matt Cassel $6300 DAL@TB 0.8
Derek Carr $7500 MIN@OAK 8.4 Carson Palmer $8000 ARI@SEA 0.6
Kirk Cousins $6500 NO@WAS 7 Russell Wilson $7600 ARI@SEA 0.4

For the first time all season, Tom Brady failed to hit at least 2.6x value. Instead, his 299 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in Week 9 held him just below 2x. When we pay up for a top dollar quarterback, we’re expecting at least 25 points—something Touchdown Tom has been good for every week. Until last week. But was last week an outlier? Not according to the crowd. He is our most popular quarterback per Thursday night data. The matchup, as if that matters for Brady and Co., is everything you could want for a quarterback: on the road against a bad defense (particularly bad against tight ends) and the week’s highest over/under (54 points). So it’s understandable why the general public has no issues pay his $9,100 salary. We would be all over it as well if not for our concerns regarding the Patriots’ offensive line:

 

The good news is that the Giants pass rush hasn’t been heard from this year and their nine sacks is the lowest in the league. But we’re definitely trending towards a lot of short, underneath throws from Brady, which would be okay if they had Dion Lewis to contribute with yards after the catch. In any case, you have to wonder if Brady’s 5,400-yard, 44-touchdown pace is going to regress down the stretch.   

A lot of us buried the Panthers offense before the season started. There’s no way they’ll put up points after losing their best wide receiver, we thought. Cam Newton is too inconsistent and needs to be surrounded by playmakers, some said. But here we are, nine weeks accounted for, and the Panthers are undefeated. Only Touchdown Tom and Philip Rivers have scored more FanDuel points than Newton. This week he is on the road to Nashville to take on a revitalized Titans team coming off of their best victory in several years. This game has a low over/under of just 44.5 points, but it’s reasonable to expect Newton to put together his usual combo of rushing yards and touchdowns. It’s not reasonable to expect another four-touchdown performance. The Titans aren’t a push around defense. They’ve allowed the fifth fewest total yards. Football Outsiders ranks them seventh against the pass. Their 3.8 interception percentage is tied for the second highest. All things being equal, we might see more of a defensive showdown between these two teams than a barn-burning thriller. Newton’s floor is always protected by his rushing ability. The Titans are beatable on the ground more so than through the air, so that plays perfectly with his strengths. But his $8,200 places him as QB4 in terms of price and requires him to score 24.6 points to hit tournament value. He scored that many three times this season, or about 38 percent of the time. There are better matchups to exploit.

It’s not random that our three most popular quarterbacks are all leaders of the three undefeated teams. Andy Dalton may be the biggest surprise of all. His touchdown percentage ranks third behind Aaron Rodgers and Carson Palmer. His 18 passing touchdowns rank seventh despite his passing attempts ranking 18th. That is solid efficiency. This week he’ll host the Houston Texans, who have allowed the eighth fewest passing yards but 16 touchdowns to six interceptions. The Bengals are favored by a healthy 12 points, pushing their team total to 29.5. It wasn’t that long ago that Blake Bortles, Ryan Tannehill and Matt Hasselbeck combined to dump 826 yards and nine touchdowns on the Texans. That averages out to 275 yards per game, which is actually lower than Dalton’s season average of 278. For $8,100, it wouldn’t be surprising to seem him fall just short of 3x value, but three scores look almost certain. 

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

DeAngelo Williams $7600 CLE@PIT 30.9 Jonathan Stewart $6600 CAR@TEN 2
Todd Gurley $9200 CHI@STL 19.5 Charcandrick West $6400 KC@DEN 1.4
LeGarrette Blount $6900 NE@NYG 15.6 Chris Johnson $6800 ARI@SEA 1.2
James Starks $6000 DET@GB 14.7 Ryan Mathews $5600 MIA@PHI 1.2
Mark Ingram $7500 NO@WAS 11.5 Shane Vereen $5800 NE@NYG 1.1
Lamar Miller $7200 MIA@PHI 11.5 Matt Jones $5600 NO@WAS 0.6
Darren McFadden $7000 DAL@TB 10.3 Antonio Andrews $6000 CAR@TEN 0.5
Adrian Peterson $8600 MIN@OAK 10.1 Brandon Bolden $5900 NE@NYG 0.4
DeMarco Murray $7700 MIA@PHI 10 Latavius Murray $6700 MIN@OAK 0.3
Justin Forsett $7100 JAC@BAL 7.7 C.J. Anderson $5900 KC@DEN 0.3
Doug Martin $6700 DAL@TB 6.5 Eddie Lacy $6000 DET@GB 0.2
Jeremy Langford $6200 CHI@STL 4 Alfred Blue $5900 HOU@CIN 0.2
Giovani Bernard $6300 HOU@CIN 3 C.J. Spiller $5500 NO@WAS 0.2
T.J. Yeldon $6500 JAC@BAL 2.9 Theo Riddick $5300 DET@GB 0.2
Marshawn Lynch $8000 ARI@SEA 2 Matt Forte $7700 CHI@STL 0.1
Jeremy Hill $6600 HOU@CIN 2 Isaiah Crowell $5300 CLE@PIT 0.1

Having a late career redemption, the 2015 version of DeAngelo Williams looks a lot like the 2008 version. In three games as a starter, he has averaged 125 rushing yards with five touchdowns. We’d love to push the regression button here and tell you to fade the crowd, but his matchup against the Browns is impossible to ignore. No team has allowed more yards to running backs. Only four teams have allowed more FanDuel points per game. The Steelers are at home with a questionable quarterback situation. Williams is a lock for 25 touches and has no threat of losing out on goal line packages. His salary jumped $1,100 but it doesn’t matter. He’s still one of the best values on the board at $7,600. Fire him up as a loss leader.

Another week and another impressive Todd Gurley performance. His box score doesn’t look all that fancy, but considering he was running into a wall of defenders all day, it’s amazing he was even able to achieve 3.7 yards per tote. Things will get a little easier this week. He’ll be in his own backyard against a Bears defense that has been a lot stingier against the run than we would have expected this season. They’ve allowed the 19th most total yards to running backs and their four allowed touchdowns are well below the league average of 6.8. Despite that, Gurley is the team’s offense. So volume is not threatened in this contest. If the Bears are without Alshon Jeffery, it’s possible the Rams cover their 7.5-point spread and run all over them. But $9,200 is a lot to pay up for a running back that plays for a terrible offense. We’ll let the crowd swallow that and look for cheaper options in equal or better situations.

LeGarrette Blount is one such option. His role won’t change much even though Dion Lewis is out for the season, so don’t expect a sudden jump in snap counts. But do expect a game plan similar to what the Patriots rolled out last week. That is, lots of running against a banged up defense that has allowed over 130 yards per game over their last five. We mentioned the Patriots offensive line is a mess which could certainly play a factor, but the Giants don’t pose any sort of threat to take advantage of that. The downside is his reliance on touchdowns. He has proven capable of busting big runs but massive yardage totals are never a given. Regardless, his touchdown upside as a featured back for one of the best offenses of the league can’t be ignored. Furthermore, his $6,900 salary does wonders for the rest of our roster.

Another great bargain bin option is James Starks. The crowd is all over his $6,000 salary and promotion to RB1 for the Packers. The visiting Lions have allowed the most rushing touchdowns (11) and are giving up the eighth most points per touch to running backs. Eddie Lacy is dealing with a groin injury, which won’t help him turn around his abysmal play this season. All signs point to Starks having a big day on Sunday. It’s worth noting, however, that the Packers are coming off of two bad losses, one of which was an embarrassment, so don’t be surprised if this game is all Aaron Rodgers and his receivers. Thankfully, Starks has good hands so he should still log decent yardage. If he sneaks in for a touchdown, all he’ll need is a combination of 120 yards to hit tournament value.

Here are Mark Ingram’s FanDuel points over the last five games: 8.4, 19.1, 21.8, 13.9, 11.6. It’s getting difficult to trust his ceiling despite the fact that he will dominate snap counts for the foreseeable future. Drew Brees has finally hit regular season form, so goal line opportunities should come in bunches. On the road to Washington, the Saints are a coin-toss for Vegas, but own the second highest over/under, a fantasy friendly 50 points. Washington has allowed a total of 918 yards and four touchdowns to running backs over their last five games. Ingram is in a good spot to bounce back, but we think this game goes through Brees in what could be a shootout. In any case, Ingram’s $7,500 salary comes with a lot of baggage but at least gives us some flexibility.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Allen Robinson $7500 JAC@BAL 25.6 James Jones $5700 DET@GB 3.5
Michael Crabtree $6400 MIN@OAK 20.2 Willie Snead $6500 NO@WAS 3
Randall Cobb $7700 DET@GB 16 Cole Beasley $5600 DAL@TB 3
A.J. Green $8300 HOU@CIN 15.6 Emmanuel Sanders $7800 KC@DEN 2.9
Julian Edelman $8000 NE@NYG 14.8 Larry Fitzgerald $7400 ARI@SEA 2.5
Antonio Brown $8700 CLE@PIT 12 Pierre Garcon $6400 NO@WAS 2.1
Stefon Diggs $6600 MIN@OAK 11.3 Travis Benjamin $5700 CLE@PIT 2.1
Demaryius Thomas $7900 KC@DEN 9.7 Kenny Britt $5500 CHI@STL 2
DeAndre Hopkins $8900 HOU@CIN 9.6 Marvin Jones $5400 HOU@CIN 1.9
Odell Beckham Jr. $8800 NE@NYG 9.5 Allen Hurns $7300 JAC@BAL 1.8
Alshon Jeffery $7600 CHI@STL 9.5 Rishard Matthews $6000 MIA@PHI 1.7
Brandin Cooks $7200 NO@WAS 9.3 Nate Washington $5200 HOU@CIN 1.5
Jarvis Landry $7000 MIA@PHI 8.9 Calvin Johnson $8000 DET@GB 1.4
Amari Cooper $7100 MIN@OAK 8.1 Rueben Randle $5700 NE@NYG 1.1
Martavis Bryant $6500 CLE@PIT 6.5 Jeremy Maclin $6500 KC@DEN 1
Brandon LaFell $6200 NE@NYG 6.1 Michael Floyd $5900 ARI@SEA 0.9
Tavon Austin $6000 CHI@STL 6.1 John Brown $6100 ARI@SEA 0.8
Mike Evans $7700 DAL@TB 5.7 Golden Tate $6300 DET@GB 0.6
Jordan Matthews $6600 MIA@PHI 5.4 Dorial Green-Beckham $5200 CAR@TEN 0.6
Davante Adams $5800 DET@GB 5.3 Doug Baldwin $5400 ARI@SEA 0.3
Kamar Aiken $5400 JAC@BAL 4.1 Jamison Crowder $5600 NO@WAS 0.2
DeSean Jackson $6000 NO@WAS 4 Terrance Williams $5400 DAL@TB 0.1
Dez Bryant $8100 DAL@TB 3.7 Mike Wallace $5300 MIN@OAK 0.1

The crowd is well aware of how exploitable the Ravens’ secondary is. No team has allowed more touchdowns to receivers, and only four teams have allowed more yards. Allen Robinson is having a solid season, thus far ranking as our eighth highest scorer. We’re not concerned with his ownership percentage this week. Fade at your own risk.

We are little more concerned with Michael Crabtree. The crowd sees his 273 yards and four touchdowns, which ranks him fourth over the last three games, and have pegged his $6,400 salary as a perfect tournament play. The matchup, however, disagrees. The Vikings have been hard on receivers, allowing just 493 yards and three scores over their last five games. They also haven’t been tested by a solid No. 2 receiver. If Teddy Bridgewater plays, this game may turn into a shootout, which obviously bodes well for Crabtree. If he doesn’t play, the Raiders will win with ease and ride their defense/running game.

Look who’s back: Randall Cobb. It’s been a while since he’s rode the popular vote. He checks in as our third most owned after seeing 12 targets last week. He finally found the endzone and came a yard short of the century mark against the Panthers. This week he gets the Lions who are allowing the sixth most FanDuel points to wide receivers. There’s really no argument to fade Cobb regardless of his exposure. His $7,700 salary isn’t prohibitive and his ceiling could swing tournaments. This a great week for a Packers stack.

The same can be said about A.J. Green. After a disappointing Week 9, the crowd is still hot for his services. He has great matchup against the Texans defense, who Football Outsiders rank 24th against No. 1 receivers. We noted that the team point total for the Bengals is high, so it makes sense to be high on a Green/Dalton stack in tournaments. There was a time when defenses could focus on Green, knowing that if they took him out of the game the Bengals were beatable. That time has expired. Dalton and Co. are infused with weapons that can attack the opposition from multiple angles. We like Green to see plenty of single coverage and blow up on Monday night.

Julian Edelman makes his routine appearance atop the popularity ranks. Concerns with the Patriots offensive line actually help his chances of seeing lots of underneath targets. As does the loss of Dion Lewis. But this games sets up a lot better for Rob Gronkowski and Blount. Edelman could very well see 10 targets. But he could also end up with numbers similar to last week (5/55/1). His $8,000 salary interferes with all the other receivers we’d rather roster. Note that Gronkowski is the same price and a much better play.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Tyler Eifert $6200 HOU@CIN 23 Jimmy Graham $6000 ARI@SEA 1.5
Jordan Reed $5800 NO@WAS 16.8 Jason Witten $5600 DAL@TB 1.4
Greg Olsen $6300 CAR@TEN 13.5 Travis Kelce $5800 KC@DEN 1.2
Rob Gronkowski $8000 NE@NYG 13.2 Eric Ebron $5300 DET@GB 0.9
Benjamin Watson $5500 NO@WAS 7.4 Crockett Gillmore $5000 JAC@BAL 0.9
Delanie Walker $5900 CAR@TEN 4.1 Julius Thomas $5400 JAC@BAL 0.6
Martellus Bennett $5400 CHI@STL 2.2 Zach Ertz $5000 MIA@PHI 0.6
Richard Rodgers $5400 DET@GB 2 Austin Seferian-Jenkins $5300 DAL@TB 0.3

Tyler Eifert’s breakout season continued last week when he found the endzone three times. He now leads all tight ends in touchdowns and ranks third overall. Back in Week 1, Travis Kelce laid out the Texans defense with 106 yards and two scores. Delanie Walker contributed six catches for 62 yards in Week 8 before their bye. So despite Houston ranking 16th in points allowed, when faced with elite players they’ve been scorched. Eifert looks like a good play if you can afford his $6,200 salary.

For $400 less, Jordan Reed might be an even better play. Washington is getting healthy in the receiver department, so he may not see as many targets as he usually does. But the net result is less defensive attention. The Saints were destroyed by tight ends last week and have been a soft matchup all season. Fade at your own risk.

Greg Olsen has been as consistent as they come. He has found the endzone three out of the last four games and compiled 341 yards on 20 receptions in the process. His matchup against the Titans isn’t the surest thing. They did get crushed in Week 1 but have since settled down against so-so competition. Olsen is the focal point of the Panthers passing attack and should be busy on Sunday. The only reason to fade him is because we have other options available to us in better matchups.

We’ve already mentioned Rob Gronkowski a few times. Truthfully, he should be much higher owned than the data is showing from Thursday night games. The Giants haven’t been able to cover any tight end in any game. Gronkowski will destroy this defense despite a questionable offensive line. If you can make room for his $8,000 salary, it’s reasonable to expect multiple touchdowns.

Kickers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Stephen Gostkowski $5100 NE@NYG 13 Sebastian Janikowski $4600 MIN@OAK 4.1
Brandon McManus $4800 KC@DEN 10.5 Steven Hauschka $5000 ARI@SEA 3.7
Justin Tucker $4900 JAC@BAL 8 Josh Brown $4800 NE@NYG 3.6
Greg Zuerlein $4500 CHI@STL 7.4 Mason Crosby $5000 DET@GB 3.1
Connor Barth $4800 DAL@TB 5.9 Blair Walsh $4900 MIN@OAK 2.4
Graham Gano $4700 CAR@TEN 5.5 Caleb Sturgis $5000 MIA@PHI 1.6
Chris Boswell $4500 CLE@PIT 5.5 Kai Forbath $4700 NO@WAS 1.3
Mike Nugent $4600 HOU@CIN 4.5 Nick Novak $4500 HOU@CIN 0.8

Of the three highest owned kickers, Brandon McManus maybe the riskiest. Peyton Manning is a little banged up and the Broncos offense isn’t performing well. We would be better off paying up for Stephen Gostkowski, or saving a few hundred dollars and going with the likes of Mike Nugent or Greg Zuerlin.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Carolina Panthers $4700 CAR@TEN 17.6 Seattle Seahawks $4900 ARI@SEA 2.6
Denver Broncos $5200 KC@DEN 16.7 New England Patriots $4900 NE@NYG 2.3
St Louis Rams $5400 CHI@STL 7.7 Oakland Raiders $4300 MIN@OAK 1.8
Cincinnati Bengals $5000 HOU@CIN 7.5 Baltimore Ravens $4400 JAC@BAL 1.7
Green Bay Packers $4900 DET@GB 7.2 New Orleans Saints $4300 NO@WAS 1.3
Pittsburgh Steelers $4600 CLE@PIT 5.9 Dallas Cowboys $4600 DAL@TB 0.9
Philadelphia Eagles $4700 MIA@PHI 5.4 Minnesota Vikings $4500 MIN@OAK 0.8
Tampa Bay Buccaneers $4000 DAL@TB 4.1 Tennessee Titans $4000 CAR@TEN 0.7

There aren’t many solid options at defense this week so it’ll be hard to fade the consensus favorites. The Panthers make the most sense give their budget-friendly $4,700. Even though the Titans came out swinging and lit up the Saints last week, the Panthers present a whole other level of problems.