The Fade: FanDuel Week 14

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

Last week’s cash line for the FanDuel Sunday Million was 152.84 points—nearly 30 points more than the week before. If you didn’t hit it big with a quarterback and a pair of wide receivers, chances are you missed the cut.

This week is a tough one to source out. There isn’t much value on the board for running backs and not a lot of obvious plays at quarterback. Wide receivers look to be the position set up with great matchups everywhere. This, of course, means exposure will be evenly spread out for the most part.

Uncertainty, in a way, is our friend. Skillful players can identify where value is hidden when the matchups are less obvious. That’ what we’ll attempt to do with the help of ownership data.

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.

Quarterbacks

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Russell Wilson $8500 SEA@BAL 10 Andy Dalton $8200 PIT@CIN 2.4
Jameis Winston $7800 NO@TB 9.6 Tom Brady $9300 NE@HOU 2.3
Blake Bortles $7700 IND@JAC 9.4 Aaron Rodgers $8900 DAL@GB 2.3
Cam Newton $9200 ATL@CAR 8.9 Alex Smith $6800 SD@KC 2.1
Ben Roethlisberger $8300 PIT@CIN 6.7 Johnny Manziel $6400 SF@CLE 1.5
Tyrod Taylor $7500 BUF@PHI 6.6 Marcus Mariota $7500 TEN@NYJ 1.4
Drew Brees $7900 NO@TB 3.3 Ryan Tannehill $6900 NYG@MIA 1.4
Ryan Fitzpatrick $7800 TEN@NYJ 3.1 Blaine Gabbert $6400 SF@CLE 1.4
Eli Manning $7500 NYG@MIA 2.7 Brock Osweiler $6900 OAK@DEN 0.9

Since Week 10, Russell Wilson has passed for 1,119 yards, 12 touchdowns to just one interception, and rushed for 147 yards and one touchdown—making him the highest scoring quarterback over that timeframe. This week he takes his $700 price increase to Baltimore where he’ll face the league’s ninth most fantasy friendly defense. It’s no surprise that he is the top pick for Thursday GPPs. He has scored at least 25 FanDuel points in his last three outings, which is the number he’ll need in order to hit tournament value this week. They’re aren’t a lot of obvious value plays at our disposal, so jumping on the Wilson bandwagon isn’t a terrible play (exposure is fairly evenly spread out anyway), but it’s very possible, even likely, that the Seahawks will lean on the running game to close this one out. Wilson will have a fine day, but we think the matchup actually limits his ceiling.

The strategy has been, and will be until the end of the season, to select whichever quarterback is facing the Saints. As you are well aware, New Orleans has allowed more touchdowns and fantasy points per game to quarterbacks than any other team. Enter Jameis Winston. He has been just a hair above mediocre finishing as QB2, QB21 and QB16 his last three weeks. In Week 11 he obliterated a bad Eagles defense with 246 yards and five touchdowns. Last week he saved what would have been a poor showing with a rushing touchdown. The Saints offer a whole other level of fantasy promises. They’re beatable at every angle, from tight ends to wide receivers to running backs. The Buccaneers offense is just getting healthy and features a trio of big receivers including Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who looks to see the most snaps yet this season. In short, Winston will have plenty of options and chances to put up huge numbers. But with the Saints offense losing two key players in practice this week, one has to wonder just how competitive this game will be. Let’s not forget that Doug Martin has been playing outstanding football and may end up being the one who benefits the most.

Priced just $100 less than Winston, and nearly as popular, is Blake Bortles. He is coming off of the best game of his career, albeit in a losing effort, in which he dumped 322 yards and five touchdowns on the Titans. This week he returns to Jacksonville to take on a Colts team that has allowed 12 passing touchdowns over their last five games and average of 284 passing yards per. Bortles benefits from having one of the best up-and-coming wide receivers in Allen Robinson who enters this week as WR5. The Jaguars will also get Allen Hurns back in the lineup after he missed last week’s game. Through Week 12, Hurns was WR14. All this is a long way of saying that Bortles has two top-15 wide receivers and competent running game at his disposal. The Colts have allowed the 12th most FanDuel points to quarterbacks, so it’s a decent matchup too. But like we warned with Wilson and Winston, the propensity for any of these games to turn into shootouts is low. The Seahawks are heavy favorites, the Saints offense is bad enough on the road and now is missing two key players, and the Colts offense looked terrible last week. The Jaguars/Colts tilt has an over/under of 46 with no clear favorite. So it’s possible this is the one to invest in if you’re taking a popular quarterback.

Running Backs

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Thomas Rawls $7400 SEA@BAL 21.6 Devonta Freeman $8700 ATL@CAR 1.8
LeSean McCoy $7900 BUF@PHI 17.4 Eddie Lacy $6200 DAL@GB 1.8
Doug Martin $8000 NO@TB 15.6 Ronnie Hillman $6400 OAK@DEN 1.7
Shaun Draughn $6500 SF@CLE 13.1 C.J. Spiller $4800 NO@TB 1.7
Lamar Miller $6600 NYG@MIA 10.7 Jeremy Hill $6400 PIT@CIN 1.4
DeAngelo Williams $7300 PIT@CIN 8.7 DeMarco Murray $6700 BUF@PHI 1.2
Jonathan Stewart $7200 ATL@CAR 8.1 LeGarrette Blount $6300 NE@HOU 1.1
T.J. Yeldon $6400 IND@JAC 7.3 Tim Hightower $4500 NO@TB 1.1
Matt Forte $7800 WAS@CHI 5.6 Darren McFadden $6700 DAL@GB 1
Todd Gurley $7900 DET@STL 5.2 Giovani Bernard $5700 PIT@CIN 1
Christopher Ivory $7100 TEN@NYJ 5 James Starks $5600 DAL@GB 0.8
Charcandrick West $5800 SD@KC 4 Latavius Murray $6200 OAK@DEN 0.7
James White $6300 NE@HOU 2.7 Theo Riddick $5500 DET@STL 0.6
Javorius Allen $7000 SEA@BAL 2.3 Charles Sims $4900 NO@TB 0.3
Frank Gore $6100 IND@JAC 2.3        

Since taking over for Marshawn Lynch in Week 11, Thomas Rawls is fantasy’s top scoring running back. The Seattle Seahawks’ offense is just finding its stride, and when they’ve faced mediocre talent, their defense has smothered the opposition. This week they take on the Ravens who are about to start their third-string quarterback. This game sets up as a total blowout in favor of the Seahawks. And even though the Ravens have been tough against running backs, having allowed the fifth fewest points per game, the game script will play out in Rawls favor. His $7,400 salary still gives us plenty of room to get a top tier receiver and not skimp elsewhere.

Yes, sir. LeSean McCoy is traveling back to his former home in Philadelphia to take on the head coach/general manager who so carelessly tossed him aside. There’s no love lost between these two either. Narrative aside, we like to base our roster decisions on facts rather than fan fiction. The Eagles have been terrorized by running backs of late, having allowed a combined 995 yards and five touchdowns over their last five games. This equates to 28.8 FanDuel points per. Meanwhile, McCoy has 614 combined yards and three total touchdowns during that same time span—RB3 numbers. He is a great play this week with or without the narrative. He should be the top ranked running back everywhere, and ranks as our top loss leader of Week 14.

For just $100 more, Doug Martin has a dream matchup at home against the Saints. The Saints, as mentioned, are good to fantasy production. They’ve allowed more total yards to running backs than any other team, and rank third in fantasy points per game. Martin is a boom/bust type, but he passes the eye test on the field. He is clicking with his offensive line, and with his quarterback settling into some consistency, the offense overall has been effective. Per Pro Football Reference, his 37 rushing attempts inside the 20 are tied as second most. Over the last three weeks he has a combined 14 red zone looks, the most of any Bucs player not named Winston. He’ll need to find the end zone at least once and pour a ton of yardage to justify his $8,000 salary (RB2), but opportunities and matchup suggest that won’t be a problem.

It’s difficult to recommend fading the top three most popular backs. Both Martin and McCoy are reasons to fade Rawls despite the cost of doing so. Looking down the list a little more, Lamar Miller stands out as a player to avoid. His price is fantastic but the Dolphins offense is a train wreck. He has scored a total of 19.6 FanDuel points over the last three games. The Giants are beatable with pass-catching backs, having allowed seventh most receiving yards, but Miller just hasn’t been used in the passing game.

It’s always difficult to not be exposed to someone like DeAngelo Williams. Anytime you can find a running back who plays for an elite offense and doesn’t have any competition for carries, you want him on your team. He’s still a great deal for $7,300. Unfortunately, he’s on the road to Cincinnati to face a team that has allowed just two rushing touchdowns all year. And even though their passing defense has been stellar as well, the Bengals secondary is banged up this week, which leads us to believe this game will feature more throwing than running.

Wide Receivers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Odell Beckham Jr. $9300 NYG@MIA 20.9 Markus Wheaton $6100 PIT@CIN 2.3
Allen Robinson $8500 IND@JAC 20.8 Emmanuel Sanders $7100 OAK@DEN 2
Sammy Watkins $7200 BUF@PHI 19.9 Golden Tate $6400 DET@STL 1.9
Doug Baldwin $6800 SEA@BAL 17.4 Anquan Boldin $5900 SF@CLE 1.8
Antonio Brown $9300 PIT@CIN 15.7 Vincent Jackson $6800 NO@TB 1.7
Brandon Marshall $8200 TEN@NYJ 13.9 Travis Benjamin $5700 SF@CLE 1.6
Mike Evans $8000 NO@TB 13.1 Michael Crabtree $6700 OAK@DEN 1.5
Martavis Bryant $7400 PIT@CIN 13.1 Marvin Jones $6200 PIT@CIN 1.4
Alshon Jeffery $7500 WAS@CHI 11.5 Brandon LaFell $6400 NE@HOU 1.2
Jeremy Maclin $6900 SD@KC 11.2 James Jones $5300 DAL@GB 1.2
A.J. Green $8500 PIT@CIN 10.2 Dorial Green-Beckham $5100 TEN@NYJ 1.2
Jarvis Landry $7100 NYG@MIA 8.6 Julio Jones $8800 ATL@CAR 1
Danny Amendola $7000 NE@HOU 6.4 Dez Bryant $7400 DAL@GB 1
DeAndre Hopkins $8700 NE@HOU 6.1 Jordan Matthews $6100 BUF@PHI 0.9
Eric Decker $7300 TEN@NYJ 5.5 Davante Adams $6300 DAL@GB 0.8
Allen Hurns $6600 IND@JAC 5.3 Amari Cooper $6900 OAK@DEN 0.8
Calvin Johnson $7900 DET@STL 5 Donte Moncrief $6100 IND@JAC 0.7
Brandin Cooks $7100 NO@TB 4.7 Brian Hartline $5300 SF@CLE 0.6
Demaryius Thomas $7700 OAK@DEN 4.4 Torrey Smith $6100 SF@CLE 0.5
Ted Ginn Jr. $6000 ATL@CAR 4.2 Brandon Coleman $4600 NO@TB 0.5
DeVante Parker $5900 NYG@MIA 4.1 Robert Woods $5100 BUF@PHI 0.2
Randall Cobb $7000 DAL@GB 2.9 Terrance Williams $5700 DAL@GB 0.2
T.Y. Hilton $7000 IND@JAC 2.6        

Our two most popular wide receivers this week currently rank as WR4 and WR5 in FanDuel scoring. The former being Odell Beckham Jr., who has seen 58 targets over the last five weeks—second most—of which he has converted into 28 receptions for 500 yards and three touchdowns. He’ll be on the road this week to Miami where he’ll face a secondary that has allowed the 11th most yards and seventh most touchdowns to wide receivers. But none of that matters. Beckham is as matchup proof as they come. The 5-7 Giants are tied for first place and are road favorites Monday night. If you’re paying up for a wide receiver, he’s your best option.

Allen Robinson, WR5 on the season, is our second most popular option. The last time he faced the Colts he was held to just four catches on 12 targets for 80 yards. But that was back in Week 4 before Bortles settled into competent quarterback play. As such, Robinson’s production has sky rocketed and his salary has increased in every single week since Week 5. He opened the season as a $6,100 receiver; he’ll now cost you $8,500—the most yet. The net result is high expectations: he’ll need 25.5 points to hit tournament value, which he has done only twice this season. The crowd is deep into recency bias thanks to his three-touchdown, 153-yard performance last week. And it’s possible he follows that up with a nice multi-score reprise against the Colts, who have allowed 303 yards and four touchdowns to Steelers’ receivers last week. But the Bortles isn’t Ben Roethlisberger and the Colts aren’t likely to force a lot of passing. Plus, the return of Allen Hurns is sure to cut into Robinson’s targets. That said, he is one of the best options at receiver. But given his cost we might be better off rostering his teammate.

Sammy Watkins is fool’s gold. Indeed, he is the fifth highest scoring receiver over the last three games. But his 20 targets over that timespan rank 36th and his 12 receptions rank 34th. His instability is catered by long catches. For example, 106 of 109 yards last week came on two catches. Back in Week 9 when he torched the Dolphins, 107 of his 168 yards came on two big plays. He’s basically Travis Benjamin with the benefit of an accurate quarterback. The good news is that the Eagles are susceptible to big plays and have been destroyed by No. 1 receivers all season long. They currently rank third in FanDuel points allowed and tie the Saints with 20 touchdowns. Pair the matchup with his affordable $7,200 salary and the fact that the Bills offense has averaged 365 yards and 24 points per game since their bye (five games), and you can see why the crowd is all over him. But we think they’re being shortsighted and are happy to fade them given Watkins inconsistency.

Tight Ends

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Greg Olsen $6600 ATL@CAR 18.2 Antonio Gates $5700 SD@KC 4.9
Delanie Walker $6100 TEN@NYJ 14.5 Scott Chandler $5800 NE@HOU 3.8
Austin Seferian-Jenkins $5500 NO@TB 10.7 Tyler Eifert $6300 PIT@CIN 3.6
Travis Kelce $6000 SD@KC 6.7 Gary Barnidge $6200 SF@CLE 1.7
Richard Rodgers $5600 DAL@GB 6.7 Zach Miller $4900 WAS@CHI 1.2
Benjamin Watson $5300 NO@TB 6.2 Jason Witten $5500 DAL@GB 1
Jordan Reed $5900 WAS@CHI 5.4 Eric Ebron $4900 DET@STL 0.6
Julius Thomas $5900 IND@JAC 5 Jordan Cameron $5000 NYG@MIA 0.3

For the second week in a row, Greg Olsen checks in as the most popular option at tight end. He had a dream matchup against the Saints last week and responded with nine catches for 129 yards. All that was missing was a trip to end zone. Per usual, he’s more of cheap wide receiver than an expensive tight end. This week he gets a Falcons’ defense that, despite hardly facing stiff competition, have allowed seven touchdowns to tight ends. But it’s not a no-brainer matchup, either. With how bad they are against running backs (most total touchdowns and eighth most total yards allowed to runners), we have to wonder how much Olsen will be needed.  

For $500 less we have Delanie Walker, who will definitely be needed against the Jets. This is especially true should Darrelle Revis return to action, which effectively shuts down one of Marcus Mariota’s options (not that Revis is the same player he once was but still better than most). We know the Titans can’t run the ball even against mediocre defenses. They have no shot of doing so in New York. Furthermore, Kendall Wright has been ruled out with a rib injury. All this points to Walker being, once again, the No. 1 target. He’s a fine tournament play this weekend.

Back in the lineup for the first time since Week 2, Austin Seferian-Jenkins was in on only 21 snaps—third among tight ends. But he saw six targets, which was second only to Mike Evans. There’s reason to believe he’ll see a lot more playing time against the Saints, who, as mentioned several times, are horrible at every level of defense. For $5,500, he might be the only reason to fade the likes of Olsen and Walker.

Kickers

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Graham Gano $4900 ATL@CAR 9.2 Mason Crosby $4700 DAL@GB 3.2
Cairo Santos $4700 SD@KC 8.1 Mike Nugent $4800 PIT@CIN 3
Stephen Gostkowski $5000 NE@HOU 7.6 Brandon McManus $5000 OAK@DEN 2.8
Chris Boswell $4700 PIT@CIN 6.7 Robbie Gould $4800 WAS@CHI 2.5
Matt Prater $4500 DET@STL 6.7 Dan Carpenter $4600 BUF@PHI 0.9
Connor Barth $4600 NO@TB 5.7 Randy Bullock $4700 TEN@NYJ 0.7
Steven Hauschka $5100 SEA@BAL 4.1 Ryan Succop $4500 TEN@NYJ 0.7
Josh Brown $4800 NYG@MIA 4.1 Caleb Sturgis $4600 BUF@PHI 0.4

There’s no reason to overthink this position this week. For $4,900, Graham Gano is a solid play on a high-functioning offense. But Cairo Santos is an even better play and saves you $200 should you need it. The Chiefs move the ball well but have also been known to stall, setting up Santos for multiple field goal opportunities. The Patriots offense hasn’t missed a beat despite all their injuries. We can fade Stephen Gostkowski and his $5,000 salary.

Defense

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Player

Salary

Game

Own %

Seattle Seahawks $5300 SEA@BAL 18.4 New England Patriots $4900 NE@HOU 1.6
Kansas City Chiefs $4800 SD@KC 15.1 Dallas Cowboys $4000 DAL@GB 1.6
Carolina Panthers $5000 ATL@CAR 9.4 St Louis Rams $4600 DET@STL 1.4
Denver Broncos $5400 OAK@DEN 9 Cleveland Browns $4300 SF@CLE 1.4
Green Bay Packers $4800 DAL@GB 5.2 New York Giants $4600 NYG@MIA 1.3
Detroit Lions $4700 DET@STL 3.6 Chicago Bears $4500 WAS@CHI 1.2
New York Jets $4800 TEN@NYJ 3.4 Cincinnati Bengals $4900 PIT@CIN 0.6
Buffalo Bills $4600 BUF@PHI 2 Miami Dolphins $4600 NYG@MIA 0.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers $4300 NO@TB 1.7        

The only reason to stay away from the Seahawks defense this week is because they’ll cost us $5,300 and the Chiefs are $500 cheaper. That same logic can be applied to the Broncos, who will set us back $5,400 and are playing against a capable offense. The Panthers are in the same situation. Even though the Falcons are coming to down with a sputtering offense, let’s not forget that Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman are good players even in tough matchups.