The Fade: FanDuel Week 11

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

With the DFS showdown currently going on in New York, it appears FanDuel anticipated a lower participation rate this week. They shrunk the NFL Sunday Million down to 114,942 chairs with a first place payout of $300,000. We love contests of this size, especially when they pay 19 percent of the field.

This is also a good week where offensive matchups are concerned. We have five games with over/under totals of at least 47 points. On top of that, we have five backup quarterbacks under center, six if you count the situation in San Francisco, due to injuries or poor play. The net result gives us lots of affordable options and mixes in an added dose of uncertainty.

Uncertainty is our friend. It scatters ownership percentages effectively leaving some players under-owned and some over-owned. We’ll follow our weekly process to identify those players and take advantage of situations the crowd is ignoring.

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.

Quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Derek Carr $7700 OAK@DET 16.1 Alex Smith $6200 KC@SD 2.1
Cam Newton $8600 WAS@CAR 11.7 Tony Romo $8000 DAL@MIA 2
Tom Brady $9200 BUF@NE 9.3 Russell Wilson $7600 SF@SEA 2
Matt Ryan $7800 IND@ATL 5.2 Mark Sanchez $6400 TB@PHI 1.8
Matthew Stafford $7000 OAK@DET 4.7 Aaron Rodgers $8900 GB@MIN 1.4
Carson Palmer $8200 CIN@ARI 4.3 Tyrod Taylor $7200 BUF@NE 1.4
Brock Osweiler $6000 DEN@CHI 4 Ryan Tannehill $7000 DAL@MIA 1.4
Philip Rivers $8300 KC@SD 3.3 Andy Dalton $7900 CIN@ARI 1.1
Case Keenum $4800 STL@BAL 2.5 Ryan Fitzpatrick $7400 NYJ@HOU 0.2

This year's No. 10 overall quarterback in FanDuel scoring is our most popular heading into Week 11. Derek Carr is averaging 276 passing yards per game and his 21 touchdowns is tied with Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers for third most. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions’ 20.3 FanDuel points per game allowed ranks as third most. The matchup for Carr is ideal and his salary doesn’t choke the rest of your lineup. The only reason to consider a fade is the fact that the Raiders’ running attack is quite good and will be in full form on Sunday. No team has allowed more rushing touchdowns than the Lions. Quality running backs are crushing this team. So while Carr might be good for his usual yards and maybe a score, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Latavius Murray absorb a large share of the Raiders scoring potential.

Here is Cam Newton’s value returned by week: 1.61x, 3.69x, 3.78x, 1.93x, 2.72x, 2.08x, 2.38x, 4.38x, 2.56x. On average, he is returning 2.79x thanks mostly to his six rushing touchdowns and 366 rushing yards, both of which lead all quarterbacks. This week his salary got a $400 bump as he hosts a Washington team that has allowed 20th most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks. Newton has effectively been matchup proof, having scored a rushing touchdown in six of his nine games. But Washington’s defense isn’t a push-around group bleeding fantasy points. They’ve yet to allow a 300-yard passer and their 76 rushing yards ranks 26th. Obviously, they haven’t faced someone as gifted as Newton, and he’ll be good for his usual rushing attempts and probable rushing scores. But it’s worth noting that his $8,600 salary—third highest among quarterbacks—requires a return of 25.8 points in order to qualify as a tournament option. We think, unless Washington comes in and threatens an upset, he falls well short of that in a low-scoring game.

Falling all the way to third most popular, Tom Brady enters the week as our No. 1 overall quarterback. He has been an automatic start most weeks thanks to a historic pace of passing yards and passing touchdowns. But there are concerns worth monitoring going forward. The Patriots offensive line is battered with injuries causing a weekly shuffle (though they look to be a lot better off this week in returning a few key players). Touchdown Tom recently lost two of his favorite targets in Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman. Losing Edelman is especially challenging considering his route tree and role in this offense. Fantasy points aside, Edelman was a key element Bill Belichick’s game plan, lining up all over the formation and running a variety of patterns not asked of most wide receivers. His role is not something any player can just step up and fill. So betting on Brady to continue ripping apart defenses and racking up the box score is ill-advised. That’s not to say the sky is falling. But our process is to identify popular plays that might underperform based on salary expectations. Brady is a candidate this week. Note, that the Bills have allowed just .45 fantasy points per attempt, which ties them with the Chiefs for ninth fewest. All things considered, we have enough evidence to fade his $9,200 tax.

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Charcandrick West $7100 KC@SD 34.1 Karlos Williams $5700 BUF@NE 1.6
Devonta Freeman $9100 IND@ATL 25 Chris Johnson $6800 CIN@ARI 1.3
Lamar Miller $7400 DAL@MIA 18.3 Ronnie Hillman $6200 DEN@CHI 1.2
Todd Gurley $9200 STL@BAL 13.5 Justin Forsett $6900 STL@BAL 0.9
Adrian Peterson $8900 GB@MIN 11.7 Matt Jones $6100 WAS@CAR 0.9
Jeremy Langford $6700 DEN@CHI 10.9 Giovani Bernard $6300 CIN@ARI 0.8
Christopher Ivory $7200 NYJ@HOU 8.9 Darren Sproles $5400 TB@PHI 0.4
DeMarco Murray $7600 TB@PHI 8.6 C.J. Anderson $5700 DEN@CHI 0.3
Darren McFadden $6800 DAL@MIA 7.6 Jay Ajayi $5200 DAL@MIA 0.3
Danny Woodhead $6400 KC@SD 7.3 Jeremy Hill $6500 CIN@ARI 0.2
Jonathan Stewart $7000 WAS@CAR 7 Melvin Gordon $6000 KC@SD 0.2
Latavius Murray $6800 OAK@DET 7 Theo Riddick $5100 OAK@DET 0.2
LeGarrette Blount $7300 BUF@NE 6.5 Matt Forte $7800 DEN@CHI 0.1
Marshawn Lynch $8100 SF@SEA 4.8 Brandon Bolden $5900 BUF@NE 0.1
LeSean McCoy $7500 BUF@NE 4.7 Eddie Lacy $5600 GB@MIN 0.1
Frank Gore $6600 IND@ATL 3 Thomas Rawls $5600 SF@SEA 0.1
Doug Martin $6600 TB@PHI 2.8 Alfred Morris $5400 WAS@CAR 0.1
James Starks $6200 GB@MIN 2.2 Charles Sims $5200 TB@PHI 0.1

Only three running backs have scored more fantasy points than Charcandrick West since Week 7, which is even more impressive when you consider those three have played four games to his three over that timespan. His first start in relief of Jamaal Charles was, in a word, horrible. But he has destroyed every defense he has faced since in true Charles fashion. Last week cemented the fact that he may be the best running back to own going forward. The Broncos, though easier to run on than common thought, issue a tough defense that we typically avoid when analyzing matchups. West clocked them with 161 total yards and two scores. This week he travels to face another division rival. This time, there is no threat defensively. The Chargers, when faced with even mediocre running talent, have been blasted. Their league-leading 27.3 FanDuel points allowed per game is a whole point more than second ranked Miami. There’s no reason to overthink West’s $7,100 salary. He is the loss leader of the week, so ignore his ownership and jump on the bandwagon.

We’re not as confident in Devonta Freeman. The Atlanta Falcons offense has been sputtering as of late. They’ve scored just 46 points over their last three contests, despite facing nonthreatening defenses. Freeman has averaged 18.6 points per game over that timespan, which wouldn’t be terrible if his average salary wasn’t $8,900. He’s back to costing north of $9,000 this week, but coming off of a bye should help his offense return to their early season form. A date with the Colts defense should also help. Only four teams have allowed more fantasy points per rush and their 10 total touchdowns is tied with two other teams for seventh most. His salary is almost prohibitive, but this may be a good week to side with the crowd and pay up for Freeman.

Since Dan Campbell took over as the head coach in Week 6, Lamar Miller is our No. 1 scoring running back with 622 total yards and seven touchdowns in five games. This week he gets a Cowboys defense that, even if surprising at times, has allowed 165.6 yards per game to running backs over their last three. Their 560 receiving yards ranks as third most and their 901 rushing yards ranks ninth. Tony Romo is expected to make his first start, so it’s possible the game script gets away from the Dolphins, should the Cowboys offense return to the form expected of them when healthy. As such, expecting Miller to see a ton of carries is foolish. But his contributions as a receiver protect his floor. His 22 targets over the last three weeks are tied for second most on the team, and even if Jay Ajayi is slowly eating into snap counts, we’re far from considering this to be a committee approach. But matchup aside, the Dolphins offense might be the biggest reason to consider Miller a fade. Over their last three games they’ve averaged just 318.6 total yards, including just 220 rushing yards over that timespan. In general, their offensive production is pointing downward and the trickledown effect will eventually reach Miller.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Danny Amendola $6100 BUF@NE 27.1 Rishard Matthews $6400 DAL@MIA 2.4
Julio Jones $9100 IND@ATL 25.8 Doug Baldwin $5400 SF@SEA 2.2
Amari Cooper $7200 OAK@DET 22.9 Michael Floyd $6400 CIN@ARI 1.7
Michael Crabtree $6500 OAK@DET 19.8 Golden Tate $6200 OAK@DET 1.7
Mike Evans $8000 TB@PHI 12.1 John Brown $5700 CIN@ARI 1.7
Larry Fitzgerald $7400 CIN@ARI 12.1 Ted Ginn Jr. $5200 WAS@CAR 1.7
Jarvis Landry $7200 DAL@MIA 11.1 Marvin Jones $5400 CIN@ARI 1.3
Eric Decker $7000 NYJ@HOU 8.9 Donte Moncrief $6100 IND@ATL 1.2
Steve Johnson $5600 KC@SD 8.9 Cole Beasley $5400 DAL@MIA 1
Calvin Johnson $8100 OAK@DET 8 Nate Washington $5600 NYJ@HOU 0.9
Brandon LaFell $6900 BUF@NE 7.3 James Jones $5200 GB@MIN 0.9
Stefon Diggs $6700 GB@MIN 6.7 DeSean Jackson $6100 WAS@CAR 0.8
Dez Bryant $8400 DAL@MIA 6.5 Wes Welker $5200 STL@BAL 0.8
Demaryius Thomas $7700 DEN@CHI 6.5 Terrance Williams $5300 DAL@MIA 0.6
Sammy Watkins $6600 BUF@NE 6.1 Jamison Crowder $5800 WAS@CAR 0.5
Tavon Austin $6000 STL@BAL 4.8 Andre Johnson $5400 IND@ATL 0.5
Randall Cobb $7100 GB@MIN 4.2 Pierre Garcon $6000 WAS@CAR 0.4
Davante Adams $6800 GB@MIN 4.1 Chris Givens $4500 STL@BAL 0.4
T.Y. Hilton $7200 IND@ATL 4 Emmanuel Sanders $7600 DEN@CHI 0.3
DeAndre Hopkins $8900 NYJ@HOU 3.8 Roddy White $5400 IND@ATL 0.3
Brandon Marshall $7900 NYJ@HOU 3.8 Dontrelle Inman $5000 KC@SD 0.3
Jordan Matthews $6300 TB@PHI 3.8 Torrey Smith $5500 SF@SEA 0.2
A.J. Green $8200 CIN@ARI 3.6 Cecil Shorts $5400 NYJ@HOU 0.2
Jeremy Maclin $6300 KC@SD 3.5 Mike Wallace $5200 GB@MIN 0.2
Alshon Jeffery $7500 DEN@CHI 3.2 Robert Woods $5100 BUF@NE 0.2
Kamar Aiken $5900 STL@BAL 2.6 Kenny Britt $5300 STL@BAL 0.1

We’ve already briefly touched on what the loss of Edelman means to the Patriots. The next man up is Danny Amendola. His 27.1 percent exposure the second highest of all Thursday players. The crowd has identified his role as the next Edelman but at a major discount. The fault in that logic is that Amendola isn’t as athletic and won’t be asked to run the same routes initially. That said, he should see a carload of targets, especially underneath as the Patriots attempt to keep the Bills defensive line away from Brady. For $6,100, we almost have to ignore his ownership and buy a share of the Patriots offense at a discount.

The Falcons are coming off of a much needed bye and we’re hoping they’ve sorted out some of the offensive issues that have crept over the past few weeks. Here’s the tricky thing heading into Week 11: do you buy Julio Jones, or do you buy Freeman? This isn’t the kind of game where we’re comfortable in paying up for both and risking the negative correlation associated with that type of lineup, especially considering the cost to do so (30 percent of the salary cap). But it’s seems almost certain that one of these two players is going to have a monster game. They are priced identically so salary isn’t a factor. The Colts defense is beatable at nearly every angle, both though running backs and receivers. The over/under total in this one is a healthy 47.5 points, indicating that perhaps a decent amount of scoring is in the cards (maybe starting both is a good play). But the Colts are featuring a backup quarterback, who is effective but not the type to trigger a high-scoring shootout. The deciding factor, if you’re in the business of choosing at least one Falcons player, is positional opportunity. And by that we mean, the opportunity to select other players with similar matchups. There are lot of good running back options this week. We’ve mentioned three of them with West, Freeman and Miller. Digging deeper you find Adrian Peterson at home against the Packers, Marshawn Lynch at home against the 49ers, and even if Todd Gurley has a tough matchup, he’s a lock for 25 or more touches. There, of course, are always lots of good-to-great receiving options. But Jones is an elite option every week and especially elite when facing a forgiving defense. Fire him up as a loss leader.

Teammates Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree rank as our third and fourth most popular per Thursday data. You’d think by now that their salaries would reflect their production. Both are great plays against a Lions defense that has allowed the ninth most receiving yards. This game could and should feature lots of scoring, so we might be tempted to roll out a Raiders power stack with Carr, Cooper and Crabtree. If you’re into just one of those two receivers, the sharp move would be to fade Cooper and take the Crabtree discount. He ranks 13th in targets among all receivers, and his 37 over the last four weeks are just two fewer than Cooper’s. It’s worth noting that FootballOutsiders.com ranks Detroit 16th against WR1s and 28th against WR2s. Crabtree, per ProFootballReference, has seven targets inside the 20 compared to Cooper’s three, and three targets inside the 10 compared to zero. It’s also worth noting that Murray, as mentioned, may soak up a couple of touchdowns leaving few for other players. The Lions have allowed only eight touchdowns to wide receivers this season.

The Buccaneers’ offense is a bit schizophrenic. Some games, like in Week 5 and Week 7, they explode and dump 30-some points on their opponents. Then there are other games, like in Week 3 and Week 10, where they score 10 points or fewer. This week they are on the road to take on a secondary that has allowed the fifth most FanDuel points to receivers. Be sure to check out their defensive game logs and note how they’re getting killed by WR1s. With that in mind, despite the uncertainty of the Buccaneers offense, Mike Evans has a beautiful Week 11 matchup on paper. He should be littered with targets (he has seen 32 over the last two games) and there’s a high propensity for him to rack up eight catches, just as he has done three times out his last four games, in route to his fifth 100-yard box score. But there’s also the propensity for Jameis Winston to throw more interceptions than touchdowns and spend a good part of the game getting harassed by the Eagles’ pass rush. So expecting 3x value from Evans’ $8,000 salary might be asking a lot.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Greg Olsen $6400 WAS@CAR 20.3 Jacob Tamme $5300 IND@ATL 2.2
Rob Gronkowski $8400 BUF@NE 14.4 Richard Rodgers $5400 GB@MIN 1.3
Travis Kelce $5700 KC@SD 6.9 Martellus Bennett $5200 DEN@CHI 1.3
Jordan Reed $5800 WAS@CAR 6.7 Crockett Gillmore $5300 STL@BAL 1.1
Antonio Gates $5900 KC@SD 5.5 Coby Fleener $5000 IND@ATL 0.8
Tyler Eifert $6200 CIN@ARI 5.2 Charles Clay $5200 BUF@NE 0.8
Jason Witten $5500 DAL@MIA 4.8 Zach Ertz $5200 TB@PHI 0.7
Eric Ebron $5400 OAK@DET 3.9 Brent Celek $5300 TB@PHI 0.3
Jimmy Graham $5800 SF@SEA 3.3 Vernon Davis $5000 DEN@CHI 0.3

Greg Olsen enters the week as TE4 per FanDuel scoring. Since he’s basically a wide receiver, he leads all tight ends in targets and his five touchdowns rank fifth. This week he is at home against a Washington defense that has allowed only 408 yards to tight ends and only one touchdown. Olsen, of course, is matchup proof thanks to the Panthers lack of other options. However, this contest looks like it could be one of the lowest scoring this week should the Panthers defense down Kirk Cousins and Co. Let’s look elsewhere.

There’s going to be more work put on Rob Gronkowski’s shoulders given the fact that the Patriots just lost their most targeted player. You can pretty much ignore the Bills success against tight ends this season, and ignore his exposure as well. Gronkowski is in for a big Monday night. The challenge, as always, is designing a lineup around his $8,400 salary.

That said, if you’re looking for a pivot play, Travis Kelce has you covered. His exposure was the third highest per Thursday night data, but not fade-level high. He has been an unreliable option this year, but we love his $5,700 salary against the Chargers, who have allowed seven touchdowns to tight ends thus far.

Kickers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Stephen Gostkowski $5100 BUF@NE 15.8 Brandon McManus $4800 DEN@CHI 3.3
Cairo Santos $5000 KC@SD 7.5 Connor Barth $4800 TB@PHI 3.1
Chandler Catanzaro $4700 CIN@ARI 6.4 Matt Bryant $5000 IND@ATL 2.4
Dan Bailey $4600 DAL@MIA 6.4 Josh Lambo $4700 KC@SD 2.1
Graham Gano $4800 WAS@CAR 5.6 Greg Zuerlein $4600 STL@BAL 2.1
Blair Walsh $4900 GB@MIN 5.1 Randy Bullock $4500 NYJ@HOU 1.7
Sebastian Janikowski $4600 OAK@DET 4.7 Mason Crosby $4900 GB@MIN 1.5
Steven Hauschka $5000 SF@SEA 4.5 Caleb Sturgis $4800 TB@PHI 1.1
Justin Tucker $4900 STL@BAL 3.4 Andrew Franks $4700 DAL@MIA 0.4

As always, we don’t want to overthink this position. Stephen Gostkowski should have plenty of opportunities and will likely be the highest scoring kicker of the week. We’re not as confident in Cairo Santos, even if the matchup says otherwise. In general, it’s hard to suggest any kicker priced higher than $4,700.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Seattle Seahawks $5400 SF@SEA 20 New England Patriots $4800 BUF@NE 3.9
Carolina Panthers $4900 WAS@CAR 11.6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers $4000 TB@PHI 3.7
New York Jets $4700 NYJ@HOU 9.3 Arizona Cardinals $4800 CIN@ARI 2.9
Philadelphia Eagles $4900 TB@PHI 6.2 Atlanta Falcons $4600 IND@ATL 2.6
Kansas City Chiefs $4400 KC@SD 4.9 Miami Dolphins $4700 DAL@MIA 1.5
St Louis Rams $5000 STL@BAL 4.8 Oakland Raiders $4500 OAK@DET 1.4
Chicago Bears $4200 DEN@CHI 4.3 Dallas Cowboys $4400 DAL@MIA 1
Denver Broncos $5300 DEN@CHI 4.2 Green Bay Packers $4600 GB@MIN 0.8
Houston Texans $4500 NYJ@HOU 4 Cincinnati Bengals $4700 CIN@ARI 0.5

The chalk Seattle Seahawks are a must-roster for us. It’s hard to imagine them not scoring a defense touchdown or allowing more than 10 points at home to one of the worst offenses in the league.

We’ve already mentioned the Panthers defense will likely swallow Cousins whole. But we also don’t want undersell the fact that Washington’s offense is just now getting healthy and can compete. Perhaps fading Carolina’s $4,900 salary and heavy exposure is a good idea.

The Jets defense has looked vulnerable over the last few weeks, but they should right the ship against a bad Texans offense pushing out a backup quarterback. If you’re looking for Seahawks pivot, the Jets are your best bet.