The Fade: FanDuel Week 13

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

First of all, thanks to Chad Parsons for taking over this space last week. It was an interesting week of player selection with multiple options at running back, all of which looked poised for solid returns.

Week 13 isn’t quite as friendly, at least not where ball carriers are concerned. It’s the toughest slate we’ve been faced with in a while. Conversely, we’re blessed with a friendly portfolio of wide receivers pitted against slack defenses. The challenge in this scenario isn’t so much about avoiding high ownership as it is about choosing which highly owned player best fits as a loss leader, and which ones we can comfortably live without.

With bye weeks in the mirror, we’ll face this same dilemma for the remainder of the season. The good news is that ownership percentages will now be liquidated, at least initially, with a full slate of players to choose from. That dispersion of groupthink has its pros and cons. But we’ll gladly welcome back the variance associated with a wide range of options. Said variance is what skillful players, such as ourselves, can use as an advantage over dart-throwers. Variance, of course, isn’t anybody’s friend. Still, it’s good to have 15 games to choose from (minus the Thursday game).

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 13:

Quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Cam Newton $9000 CAR@NO 18.8 Blake Bortles $7400 JAC@TEN 1.9
Andy Dalton $8000 CIN@CLE 7 Marcus Mariota $7100 JAC@TEN 1.8
Ben Roethlisberger $8100 IND@PIT 6.9 Russell Wilson $7800 SEA@MIN 1.7
Tom Brady $9400 PHI@NE 5.8 Brock Osweiler $6900 DEN@SD 1.7
Jay Cutler $7000 SF@CHI 4.5 Derek Carr $7700 KC@OAK 1.6
Ryan Fitzpatrick $7500 NYJ@NYG 3.2 Alex Smith $6600 KC@OAK 1.6
Carson Palmer $7900 ARI@STL 3 Matt Hasselbeck $6500 IND@PIT 1.6
Kirk Cousins $6600 DAL@WAS 3 Eli Manning $7600 NYJ@NYG 1.4
Ryan Tannehill $7300 BAL@MIA 2.1 Jameis Winston $7200 ATL@TB 1.4

The Panthers are the new Patriots. Cam Newton and Co. dominate the exposure ranks coming out of Thursday. It’s hard to recommend fading him. He has scored 20 or more points in six of 11 games and hasn’t scored fewer than 16 since Week 1. We all know the story of the Saints defense: they’re historically bad. Like, epically, historically horrible in nearly every passing category. On average, teams are allowing 18.25 passing touchdowns this year. The Saints have allowed 30; five more than the second ranked Eagles. So even if Newton doesn’t find the end zone with his legs—where most of his fantasy points have been generated—he’s a solid bet to retain value as a passer.

Andy Dalton enters the week as our sixth highest scoring quarterback. He’s also our second most popular. A date with a friendly Browns secondary paints a nice outlook. The last time these two got together he dropped 234 yards and three touchdowns on them. But we shouldn’t just blindly march into matchups with high expectations. It’s worth considering that the Browns are also horrible against defending running backs so it’s entirely possible Dalton’s numbers are compressed accordingly as the Bengals run down the clock. We should seek high volume games, of which we have a few at our disposal, and pass on his $8,000 tax.

I actually figured Ben Roethlisberger would be the second highest owned quarterback and not a distant second either. Instead, he has a manageable exposure of just 6.9 percent. It won’t be surprising to see it higher on Sunday. In any case, the Steelers offense is a juggernaut capable of playing in any NFL environment and slapping around any opposing defense. Their own defense is also getting slapped around in the process, which sets up the potential for high-scoring contests that bleed fantasy points. That said, the Steelers have hit the under in 10 games this year. So in some ways, they’ve fallen below expectations. The over/under for Sunday night’s matchup with the Colts is set at a fantasy friendly 48 points. But you will be just fine selecting a few of Roethlisberger’s receivers and a cheaper quarterback.

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

DeAngelo Williams $7200 IND@PIT 25.4 Darren McFadden $7300 DAL@WAS 3.5
Jonathan Stewart $7200 CAR@NO 16.4 Shaun Draughn $5900 SF@CHI 3.4
Doug Martin $7600 ATL@TB 14.1 Todd Gurley $8400 ARI@STL 3.2
David Johnson $5900 ARI@STL 12.2 Spencer Ware $6500 KC@OAK 2.6
Adrian Peterson $9100 SEA@MIN 9 Charcandrick West $6700 KC@OAK 2.3
LeSean McCoy $7800 HOU@BUF 9 T.J. Yeldon $6100 JAC@TEN 2.3
C.J. Anderson $6800 DEN@SD 9 Jeremy Langford $6400 SF@CHI 2.2
Christopher Ivory $7100 NYJ@NYG 7.8 Jeremy Hill $6600 CIN@CLE 1.9
Thomas Rawls $7000 SEA@MIN 7.6 Ronnie Hillman $6300 DEN@SD 1.6
Matt Forte $7600 SF@CHI 6.7 Latavius Murray $6400 KC@OAK 1.2
Javorius Allen $6800 BAL@MIA 6.1 Mark Ingram $7200 CAR@NO 1.1
LeGarrette Blount $6900 PHI@NE 5.5 DeMarco Murray $7400 PHI@NE 0.9
Lamar Miller $6700 BAL@MIA 4.7 Danny Woodhead $5700 DEN@SD 0.9
Devonta Freeman $9000 ATL@TB 4.1 Frank Gore $6200 IND@PIT 0.4
Giovani Bernard $6200 CIN@CLE 3.7 Antonio Andrews $5600 JAC@TEN 0.2

If you need more of reason to fade Roethlisberger, you won’t find a better one than DeAngelo Williams. His price is still doesn’t reflect his combination of usage and production for a high-powered offense. The Colts are plenty beatable on the ground having allowed nine rushing touchdowns to go along with three receiving touchdowns. Those combined 12 touchdowns rank as sixth most allowed to running backs (tied with the Lions). Someone on this Steelers offense is going to blowup on Sunday. Our money is on Williams. He’s loss leader material.

Jonathan Stewart has an even nicer matchup. For as much attention as we give the Saints pass defense, their run defense is feeling a little left out. Only three other teams have allowed more FanDuel points to running backs. Just a couple of weeks ago Matt Jones rolled them for a combined 187 yards and touchdown. We’ll take this time to note that the Washington offense can’t quite compare to the Panthers offense. We’ll also note that Stewart has seen at least 20 carries in every game since Week 4, the week before their bye, and is our sixth highest scoring running back since that bye. But, if you do take exposure seriously, we can’t recommend starting both Stewart and Williams. Decorating your running back spot with chalk isn’t wise. So we need to pick one. Williams is the home back and not at risk of having rushing scores vultured by his quarterback. He’s the better option. But if you do decide to go full chalk at this position, Stewart and Williams will set you back just 24 percent of the cap, leaving plenty of flexibility for at least one top-tier wide receiver.

There are going to be a lot of people in your life that will warn you about Doug Martin’s floor and how he just isn’t seeing enough red zone work to justify his cost/exposure. So we’ll spare you of that bandwagon. The crowd isn’t shy about his services and you shouldn’t be either. While the Falcons have been stingy in rushing yards, they’ve allowed more receiving yards to ball carriers than any other team, and their 15 total touchdowns ranks first. His $7,600 salary is enough to give us pause, but a home game in which his team is favored eases some of our concerns.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Alshon Jeffery $7700 SF@CHI 22.8 Demaryius Thomas $7600 DEN@SD 4.8
Antonio Brown $9000 IND@PIT 19.1 Doug Baldwin $6200 SEA@MIN 4.8
A.J. Green $8400 CIN@CLE 14.2 Danny Amendola $6700 PHI@NE 4.2
Odell Beckham Jr. $9400 NYJ@NYG 10.9 Mike Evans $7900 ATL@TB 3.9
Julio Jones $9200 ATL@TB 10.4 Kamar Aiken $6100 BAL@MIA 3.8
Jeremy Maclin $6500 KC@OAK 10 Travis Benjamin $5900 CIN@CLE 3.2
Brandon LaFell $6600 PHI@NE 9.7 Dez Bryant $7200 DAL@WAS 2.9
Jarvis Landry $7400 BAL@MIA 9 Donte Moncrief $6400 IND@PIT 2.3
Brandon Marshall $8100 NYJ@NYG 8.8 DeVante Parker $5200 BAL@MIA 2.2
Allen Robinson $8000 JAC@TEN 8.8 Brandin Cooks $7100 CAR@NO 1.7
Martavis Bryant $6900 IND@PIT 8.7 Steve Johnson $6200 DEN@SD 1.3
Sammy Watkins $7000 HOU@BUF 8.5 Marvin Jones $5200 CIN@CLE 1.1
T.Y. Hilton $7300 IND@PIT 8.2 Stefon Diggs $6200 SEA@MIN 1
Larry Fitzgerald $7300 ARI@STL 6.6 Tavon Austin $6100 ARI@STL 1
Eric Decker $7200 NYJ@NYG 6.4 Anquan Boldin $6000 SF@CHI 1
DeSean Jackson $6500 DAL@WAS 6.3 Kendall Wright $5200 JAC@TEN 1
Amari Cooper $7000 KC@OAK 6 Vincent Jackson $6300 ATL@TB 0.7
Michael Crabtree $6600 KC@OAK 5.9 Rueben Randle $5800 NYJ@NYG 0.5
DeAndre Hopkins $8900 HOU@BUF 5.4 Jordan Matthews $6200 PHI@NE 0.4
Emmanuel Sanders $7300 DEN@SD 5 Dorial Green-Beckham $5100 JAC@TEN 0.1

Finally healthy, Alshon Jeffery deserves every consideration as the loss leader of the week. He is the third most popular player coming out Thursday night. The Bears offense hasn’t demonstrated much for scoring over the last couple of weeks but Jeffery has averaged 100.8 yards per game this season. The 49ers have allowed 192 per game to wide receivers. He has a solid matchup and his $7,700 salary is well worth the price of admission.

We mentioned the juggernaut Steelers’ offense and how at least one of their players is bound for a huge game Sunday night. Antonio Brown was held to just 51 yards last week after combining for 423 in his previous two games. He doesn’t have the easiest matchup against the Colts, presuming he winds up facing Vontae Davis all night. But Davis hasn’t been all that spectacular this year and he’s certainly no Richard Sherman. The only reason to fade Brown is because Williams and Martavis Bryant are available to us for much cheaper. 

The fact that only 10.9 percent of Thursday rosters enlisted Odell Beckham’s services makes us like him even more. Perhaps the early crowd was worried about Revis island. He won’t be available for this game. In fact, the Jets secondary as whole is a collection of undersized and burnable bodies:

Similarly, the crowd is surprisingly low on Julio Jones. If you’ll remember, Jones torched the Buccaneers for 12 catches on 13 targets, 162 yards and a touchdown the last time these two teams met. The Falcons offense has been retched as of late, which may explain why he’s not more coveted in Week 13. They’ve lost four straight games and have averaged below 17 points per. In those four losses Jones has accumulated 515 yards and one touchdown. So we’re not afraid and will gladly pay up for one of, if not the best wide receiver football.

A.J. Green finally regressed into a solid game against a tough Rams defense last week. This week he faces one of the softest in the league. The Browns coughed up an 80-yard, one touchdown performance to Kamar Aiken with Matt Schaub under center last week, a reprise to the combined 317 yards and three touchdowns allowed to Brown and Bryant of the Steelers the week before. Green’s $8,400 salary is a bargain and we have no problem ignoring the fact that he’ll be a popular tournament play this weekend.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Greg Olsen $6600 CAR@NO 27.7 Antonio Gates $5900 DEN@SD 3.7
Scott Chandler $5300 PHI@NE 13.9 Tyler Eifert $6400 CIN@CLE 2
Delanie Walker $6000 JAC@TEN 10.5 Kyle Rudolph $5100 SEA@MIN 1.4
Jordan Reed $5900 DAL@WAS 8.5 Jason Witten $5600 DAL@WAS 1
Julius Thomas $5800 JAC@TEN 6.6 Jacob Tamme $5200 ATL@TB 0.7
Travis Kelce $6200 KC@OAK 6.1 Vernon Davis $5200 DEN@SD 0.4
Gary Barnidge $6100 CIN@CLE 4.5 Charles Clay $5100 HOU@BUF 0.2

As mentioned, the Panthers are the new Patriots. With Rob Gronkowski unavailable to us, Greg Olsen steps in as the most popular tight end of Week 13. In fact, he’s the most popular player of all per Thursday GPP data—the second time this season a tight end has registered as such. The first time came back in Week 6 when Antonio Gates was the pick of the litter. He fell to TE6 that week with nine catches for 95 yards. That, of course, is not predictive of what Olsen might do to the Saints. When it comes to tight ends that are really just receivers in disguise, we have to recalibrate how we address this position and be cognizant of what we’re actually buying into. And that is, a No. 1 wide receiver at a tight end discount, which is not all that different from how the NFL structures its franchise tag. Basically, $6,600 feels like a lot to pay for a tight end. It is, in fact, the most you can pay for a tight end this week (Gronkowski is technically the most but obviously not an option). But if we were to log Olsen as a wide receiver, $6,600 suddenly becomes a massive bargain. It’s especially a bargain when you consider the matchup: no team has allowed more touchdowns to tight ends than the Saints. No team has allowed more fantasy points per game to tight ends than the Saints. Only one team, the Giants, have allowed more yards to tight ends than the Saints. Blend this all together and you have the No. 1 receiving option on a top-five offense playing one of the worst defenses for a ridiculously low cost. Fit Olsen into your lineup.

Our next most popular tight end—one of the most popular players overall this week—is Scott Chandler. He steps into the Gronkowski role for the Patriots at a friendly bargain price of $5,300. Here’s the thing about Bill Belichick: yes, his offense has been favorable for tight ends over the last several years. But only because he has had some game-changing tight ends at his disposal. Tom Brady, or Touchdown Tom as we know him, isn’t reliant on funneling targets to his tight ends. He just happens to have the best one in the game. Now that he doesn’t have the best one in the game, and is suddenly faced with a slow, lumbering former Bills’ version of Gronkowski. Why would we assume that Chandler is suddenly in line for major boost in fantasy ecstasy? Opportunity, of course, is the answer. It’s not as if the offensive game plan can afford to go through a major overhaul in Week 13, so the tight end position should still be a big component. And he does have Touchdown Tom throwing to him. Couple that with all of their other offensive injuries and the rest of it is obvious: Chandler should be the optimum play in DFS. But he’s not that good. In fact, he’s bad. Bad players in Belichick’s offense end up blocking. Which vibes perfectly with what Chandler has been asked to do his entire life. Heck, even Gronkowski has been forced into more blocking assignments over the last few weeks due to all their offensive line injuries. To make things worse, the Eagles have allowed the third fewest points per game to tight ends, including a measly two touchdowns and 468 yards. Fade.

The only other tight end with double-digit exposure is Delanie Walker. We really like his chances against a beatable Jaguars unit that has surrendered six touchdowns and ranks eight in fantasy points allowed. Walker is your cliché safety valve for a rookie quarterback and should be in line for a gaggle of targets. But when it’s all said and done, the best thing you can do is find a way to flip his $6,000 salary into $6,600 and plug in Olsen instead.

Truth be told, I could have probably saved us all a lot of time by suggesting to fade everyone and draft Olsen.

Kickers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Graham Gano $5000 CAR@NO 13.5 Chandler Catanzaro $5000 ARI@STL 3.3
Stephen Gostkowski $5100 PHI@NE 10.7 Josh Brown $4900 NYJ@NYG 3.1
Cairo Santos $4800 KC@OAK 9.3 Steven Hauschka $4900 SEA@MIN 2.5
Chris Boswell $4500 IND@PIT 8.2 Mike Nugent $4900 CIN@CLE 2.4
Robbie Gould $4600 SF@CHI 5.4 Sebastian Janikowski $4600 KC@OAK 2.3
Dustin Hopkins $4500 DAL@WAS 4.2 Dan Carpenter $4500 HOU@BUF 1.7
Brandon McManus $4800 DEN@SD 3.6 Shayne Graham $4800 ATL@TB 0.2

We won’t blame anyone for plugging in Graham Gano, but we’d rather stack Newton and Olsen and find a kicker in a different game. Stephen Gostkowski should see his usual action and maybe even asked to kick a few more field goals assuming the Patriots offense is going to be forced into throttling back a bit. But $5,100 can be a hard thing to fit into a competitive roster. We really like Chris Boswell’s chances of returning value for just $4,500. But it’s worth noting that the Steelers have attempted more two point conversions than any other team. That said, over their last three games Boswell has accounted for 32 points, which translates to 36 FanDuel points.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Carolina Panthers $4900 CAR@NO 17 Miami Dolphins $4500 BAL@MIA 2.7
Cincinnati Bengals $5100 CIN@CLE 14.3 Pittsburgh Steelers $4500 IND@PIT 2.2
New England Patriots $4800 PHI@NE 10.9 Buffalo Bills $4500 HOU@BUF 2.1
Arizona Cardinals $5400 ARI@STL 6.4 New York Jets $4600 NYJ@NYG 1.6
Denver Broncos $5300 DEN@SD 6 San Diego Chargers $4000 DEN@SD 0.8
Houston Texans $4900 HOU@BUF 3.2 Atlanta Falcons $4600 ATL@TB 0.5
Seattle Seahawks $4800 SEA@MIN 3 St Louis Rams $4600 ARI@STL 0.5
Kansas City Chiefs $4700 KC@OAK 2.9        

The Panthers check in as the highest exposed unit. They face a Saints offense that has managed just 20 points in their last two games. But this is a different team at home, where 20 of their 31 offensive touchdowns have been registered and where they claim three of their four wins. For $4,900, the Panthers defense looks like a fine play but we can do better.

The Bengals, also on the road, have a great matchup against the lowly Browns. Now with Austin Davis under center, the Browns come into Week 13 with their third starting quarterback on the season and ranking 28th in points scored. The Bengals defense, meanwhile, has allowed the fewest points in the league, rank 10th in takeaways and 11th in sacks. Their $5,100 price tag is tough to squeeze into our rosters but well worth it.

If there’s a reason to fade either of those units, it’s the New England Patriots. If you haven’t noticed, Touchdown Tom is pissed. That doesn’t necessarily translate to elite defensive play, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see this team absolutely dominate a bad Eagles club. The Patriots defense has allowed the fifth fewest points and is just now getting healthy. They’re a solid deal for $4,800.