Week 9 followed a fairly familiar pattern in the world of DFS. We had some games play out according to script, some games that failed to produce the amazing fantasy numbers that we were anticipating and some games that exceeded expectations.
For example, The Rams traveled to Minnesota last week to take on the Vikings for what was projected to be a close, low-scoring game. The Vikings won the game by a score of 21-18 in overtime. The Patriots were widely expected to take Washington to the woodshed last Sunday and produce a plethora of fantasy points in the process. While the Patriots handily won the game by a score of 27-10 and posted some decent fantasy numbers along the way, it wasn’t quite the windfall in points many were expecting.
Finally, the game between the Raiders and Steelers looked to be a close game and had one of the higher projected totals for the week. This game exceeded expectations as we were treated to a shootout that saw the Steelers walk away victorious by a score of 38-35. As the score would indicate, there were plenty of fantasy points littered across the box scores of both teams.
Deciding which players to fade each week follows a similar pattern. We can typically discern who will be the more popular selections each week by looking at the projected high-scoring games, finding the matchups that look exploitable and paying attention to which players are earning the ‘must-start’ and ‘can’t miss’ labels.
Last week, two players checked off all of the boxes. DeAngelo Williams entered last week at a salary of $5,500 as he assumed lead back duties for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. At such an affordable salary and with a matchup that projected to be relatively high-scoring, we could confidently assume Williams would be a popular selection. Our assumptions were correct and Williams proceeded to have a stellar game in which he produced 41.5 points.
Tom Brady was a popular selection last week as he was widely expected to light up Washington and produce a boatload of fantasy points in the process. He threw for 299 yards, two scores and one pick for a total of 18.86 points – solid output, but a far cry from the treasure trove many were anticipating. In short, sometimes our fade selections will produce an output we can live with – i.e. Brady – while other times our fade selections would certainly have been a welcome addition to our rosters – i.e. Williams.
This week presents a whole new puzzle to figure out with a whole new set of potentially high-scoring games, seemingly tasty matchups and the requisite ‘must-plays’ and ‘can’t miss’ selections. A lot of these players will be excellent candidates for the fade list as they will be among the most popular selections of the week. Some will produce an output we can live with while others may go on to be among the week’s top producers. We’ll begin this week’s hunt with the quarterback position.
Tom Brady, $8,600
Brady checks of all of the boxes again this week and will surely have his fair share of supporters. Adding to Brady’s appeal this week is that the matchup is with the Giants, who have played the role of kryptonite to the Patriots in recent years. We all know that Brady plays at his best when he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, as he has shown full well this season. He is in the midst of an MVP-caliber season at the age of 38 and shows no signs of slowing down. A matchup with the team who has impacted his collection of Super Bowl rings will surely bring out the best in Brady and could be a recipe for a big fantasy day.
Therein lies the risk with Brady as a fade candidate for this week. He could produce the kind of output we can’t live without that has us looking ahead to next week’s schedule at halftime, or he could be held somewhat in check and produce something similar to last week, which would lead us to chalk him up as a successful fade candidate. One thing is for certain, he will be among the most popular quarterbacks for this week. Can you build the perfect lineup with Brady at the helm or is your lineup better served by leaving him on the sidelines? Decide your comfort level, but be sure to have some exposure to the highest projected scoring game of the week.
Drew Brees, $7,400
With the way Brees has been rolling for the past few weeks, he’s pretty tough to take a pass on. Over the past two weeks, he has thrown for 892 yards and 10 touchdowns. Washington also offers up a favorable matchup as they have allowed two touchdown passes in each of their last three games. Add in a projected total of 50 points and we find ourselves staring at one of the most popular plays of the week.
For the case against Brees as a top producer, we can look to the fact that the game is away from the comforts of the Superdome and that he is one of the most expensive signal callers of the week. Can we save some salary and find similar upside? A little south on the salary charts we have Eli Manning at $6,700 in a potentially high-scoring game against the Patriots and MVP candidate Andy Dalton at $6,500 as he prepares for a Monday Night affair against the Texans. We could even gain some exposure to this game and go contrarian by selecting Kirk Cousins at $5,200. Brees is a great candidate for this week’s fade list as we can find similar upside at cheaper price points.
Adrian Peterson, $7,100
Last week, we saw DeAngelo Williams assault the Raiders to the tune of 41.5 fantasy points. All due respect to Williams, but he’s no Adrian Peterson, who conventional wisdom will point many DFSers to this week. Many players will ask themselves - If Williams can run roughshod over the Raiders, what do you suppose Peterson could do? The answer is he could do a lot of damage.
The caveat to that is that the Raiders have been a different team at home of late. They have held two strong running games in check in recent weeks at home: Week 5 against the Broncos and Week 8 against the Jets. A long trip out west may prove to be not too fruitful for the Vikings and we may find some better investments than Peterson this week.
DeAngelo Williams, $6,500
Speaking of Williams, he takes up residence on the fade list for the second consecutive week. This week sets up pretty well for Williams to be a big factor again as the Steelers are 5 ½-point favorites at home against the Browns. However, Ben Roethlisberger is officially questionable and likely sitting out this week’s game, leaving the offense in the hand of Landry Jones.
The Browns would be well-served by paying a little extra attention to Williams and forcing Jones to beat them through the air. Of course, Williams still has plenty of upside and is very reasonably priced, but we’ll jump off the bandwagon a week ahead of time and look for solid output form Williams, but not the kind we can’t live without.
Demaryius Thomas, $7,400
Fact: The numbers show that the Chiefs have been terrible against opposing wideouts this season. Also fact: Those numbers have been slightly inflated by Week 5’s five touchdowns allowed to opposing wide receivers in a Monday Night game against the Packers. Take that game out of the equation and we drop from a team that has allowed 13 touchdowns to opposing wideouts over eight games to a team that has allowed eight over seven games. That’s quite a difference.
That does not change the fact that the Chiefs can be beaten through the air and as a result, Thomas will attract a bunch of attention this week. In addition to the high ownership percentage, we have a Chiefs team that is coming in off of their bye week – which they went into on a very high note by destroying the Lions in London – and surely spent some time addressing their coverage issues from earlier this season. Thomas may very well find the end zone this week, but those expecting a monster fantasy outing may come away very disappointed.
Allen Robinson, $6,700
The Ravens are another team that has struggled against opposing wideouts and coming in off of a bye week. It was a much-needed break for the team’s secondary as the Ravens allowed seven touchdowns to opposing wide receivers over the previous three games. Could we see some improvement form the Ravens secondary? Possibly, but we’ll mainly look to fade Robinson due to his expected popularity.
Robinson has been a target monster for the Jaguars with 82 targets through eight games and we can expect him to see plenty more this week against a suspect secondary. He will be one of the tougher players to take a pass on this week as he has scored 20+ points for four consecutive games and remains reasonably priced. For the sake of uniqueness, consider Robinson as a candidate for the fade list.
Rob Gronkowski. $8,000
After finding the end zone for three consecutive weeks, Gronkowski failed to score a touchdown last week and only hauled in four passes for 47 yards. That works out to a paltry 8.7 points for an $8,000 salary and is a pretty quick way to destroy an otherwise promising lineup. Of course, Gronkowski can return to his dominant ways at a moment’s notice and put forth the kind of output that makes it tough to compete without employing his services.
For the season, he has produced four monster outings and five ho-hum performances. He is the most expensive tight end by a wide margin and typically among the most popular due to his tremendous upside. For both ownership percentage and price, Gronkowski is a strong fade target for this week.
Delanie Walker, $4,700
Walker is one of last week’s darlings that will attract a ton of interest this week. He had a fantastic game against the Saints as he caught seven passes for 95 yards and two scores for a total of 30.5 points. At a salary of less than $5,000, that’s a phenomenal return that will surely not go unnoticed. Could we see some similar output for this week’s matchup against the panthers? Possibly, just not likely.
Chasing the previous week’s performance can be a death trap for DFS. Some players can produce at a high-level for numerous weeks – see Todd Gurley – while others can have a nice outburst and then regress – see Ronnie Hillman Week 8 vs. Ronnie Hillman Week 9. Walker will remain a top target for Marcus Mariota this weekend, but let’s not suddenly expect two touchdowns on a weekly basis. Fade Walker and look for this week’s lower-owned tight end with good upside.
St. Louis Rams, $3,600
The Rams have become a plug-and-play choice for many DFSers and outside of last week’s disappointing return against the Vikings, they have delivered by scoring double-digit in points in five games. Coincidentally, the decrease in production coincided with an increase in salary. They’ve creeped up again this week and are getting a little too expensive to be a plug-and-play option, but many will still pull the trigger. Save some salary and find a lower-priced defense with a solid matchup.
Green Bay Packers, $3,200
The Packers will be a popular choice as they faceoff with a Lions team that has begun preparing for the 2016 draft and free agency. This will be one of the situations that are tough to pass on as the Packers have a decent price and nice upside. The Lions have allowed three big games to opposing defenses and could be in line to make it four this week, but to separate our lineups from the pack, we’ll look elsewhere for our defense this week.
That takes care of The Fade for Week 10 and our quest for fade candidates. You don’t have to fade all of them, but choosing the right few to take a pass on and choosing some lower-owned players with upside instead can make a ton of difference for your positioning on the leaderboard. Best of luck this weekend!