Last week, The Fade presented an interesting problem at the quarterback position. Tom Brady was widely-regarded as a top play against the Jaguars and as such would surely have a high ownership percentage. As expected, the Patriots put a ton of points on the board - 51 to be exact - and Brady had a solid day en route to 25.72 points on DraftKings. Also as expected, for the $7M Millionaire Maker he was owned on 26.2% of all rosters.
While Brady produced more than 3x value, he did not deliver the earth-shattering numbers that you had to have in order to compete. The running game produced four of the Patriots touchdowns on the day, three of them by LeGarette Blount to the delight of Dion Lewis owners everywhere. Fading a top play can sometimes backfire, but in this case it turned out pretty well.
This week presents a similar dilemma as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers head to San Francisco to face the 49ers. Rodgers is expected to shred the 49ers and have his way with them while scoring as much as he pleases. So this week we’ll just fade Rodgers, right? Interesting debate, but in this case we may not want to automatically go there.
Rodgers threw for five touchdowns on Monday Night and could easily do the same this week. Four of those touchdown passes were for less than ten yards. And therein lays the difference between this week and last week. While the Patriots and Brady were content to ground and pound in the red zone, Rodgers and the Packers may continue throwing. Eddie Lacy may be closer to 100% this week which could throw a wrench into things, but Rodgers still seems like a pretty safe choice for multiple touchdowns.
For this week, Rodgers could definitely take up residence on the short list of players to fade, but we have a few different selections to consider. Some of these players look like surefire top producers and we again have some tough choices in front of us. We also have choices that seem tough at first glance, but actually aren’t that hard to pass up once we dig into them a little deeper.
Matt Ryan. $6,900
The Falcons are off to a 3-0 start and favored by 6 ½ points at home against the Texans in a game with one of the higher projected point totals of the week. Ryan and top target Julio Jones have been off to an explosive start, averaging 21.0 and 37.0 points on DraftKings respectively. For these reasons, we can expect Ryan to be one of the higher-owned quarterbacks this week and therefore a great candidate to fade.
With an O/U of 46 ½ points and the Falcons nearly a touchdown favorite, the game projects for the Falcons to be ahead and protecting the lead. Assuming this holds true, we can expect Ryan to do most of his damage early and then slow it down somewhat. By fading him, the hope is that the early damage is not too extensive and that the Texans hold the Falcons offense down a bit. After surrendering big games to Alex Smith and Cam Newton in Weeks 1 and 2, the Texans held Jameis Winston to 13.44 points last week. Expect Ryan to exceed those numbers and hover around his season average while you pivot to a less popular choice.
Cam Newton, $7,000
After a rough start to the season in Week 1, Cam Newton has really turned it on and delivered a strong fantasy performance in consecutive weeks. He scored 28.4 points on DraftKings in Week 2 against the Texans and followed that up with a 32.9 point performance last week against the Saints. The Buccaneers defense has been on a similar trajectory. After being torched by Marcus Mariota and the Titans in Week 1, they held the Saints and Texans offenses relatively in check. While we can expect Newton to perform better then the Buccaneers last two opponents, his production may take a dip just as his ownership percentage reaches a peak due to his recent performance. This week could be the perfect time to fade Cam Newton.
Adrian Peterson, $7,800
Week 1 is firmly in the rearview mirror for Peterson. After being nonexistent against the 49ers, Peterson has turned in two performances that are more in line with his lofty standards. Normally we would view Peterson as a set it and forget it option, but this week we may want to take a step back and look a little closer. The Vikings travel to Denver to face the Broncos, a historically strong offensive team whose biggest strength this year may be on the other side of the ball. Peterson is the most expensive running back this week on DraftKings. He can turn in an explosive performance virtually any week, but covering his $7,800 salary against a tough defense may be a little too much to ask in Week 4. Take a pass on Peterson and find a lower-cost back with a better matchup.
Jamaal Charles, $7,600
Charles scored three touchdowns last week in front of a national television audience. It’s pretty safe to say his normally high ownership percentage will stay up this week and maybe even increase. But if we dig a little deeper into last week’s game, we find that we may want to save a little salary at running back. All three of his touchdowns were for less than ten yards and two of them came when the game was well at hand. Although Charles contributed 82 combined yards, the game was devoid of any of his signature long runs with the longest play covering 13 yards. Looking beyond the recent performance of Charles, the Chiefs offense struggled mightily in the first half of last week’s game before coming to life in the second. The Bengals have looked like one of the better teams in the NFL though three weeks and are returning home after a huge win at Baltimore. Look for the Chiefs struggles to continue for another week and for Charles to have trouble covering his salary this week.
Julio Jones, $9,300
For the same reasons outlined for Matt Ryan above, we can expect Jones to be a popular selection this week. Fading him will be tough as he’s scored at least 29.5 points in each of the first three weeks. To make the decision a little bit easier we can simply glance at his price. At $9,300, Jones will need to produce 27.9 points to return 3x value and 37.2 points to return 4x value. Both totals are certainly possible for a player of his caliber that has been playing at an extremely high-level to start the season. But if we look a little bit down south on the list of wide receivers, we find a few in matchups this week that may provide them with a similar opportunity to provide 4x value. The salary saved from rostering Jones can be used to upgrade another position while we hope that his return for the week comes in closer to 3x value.
Randall Cobb, $7,400
Cobb is another player coming off a three touchdown performance on Monday Night Football. The difference from Charles is that Cobb plays for one of the top offenses in the league in a fantastic matchup for the Packers fantasy prospects. Cobb is one of the tougher decisions this week as we can expect him to find the end zone at least once and can’t rule out a multi-touchdown effort. This simply comes down to ownership percentage, to differentiate our lineups we need to find some hidden gems that just may have similar upside. By the way, we can still gain some exposure to the Packers passing game and save $2,100 by rostering James Jones instead. Jones is on a three-game touchdown scoring streak and obviously has strong chemistry with Aaron Rodgers. Save a little salary, roster another Packer and free up some salary to substantially upgrade another position.
Travis Kelce, $5,300
The Bengals have yet to allow a touchdown to an opposing tight end and that may continue for another week. As outlined in the notes about Jamaal Charles, the Chiefs offense just doesn’t look very good. After a monster Week 1 performance that saw Kelce score 31.6 points his production has dropped to 9.8 in Week 2 and 16.0 last week. Add in the fact that Kelce is the third-most expensive tight end and we have a good candidate for the fade list. Kelce is one of the best young tight ends in the game and a legitimate threat to explode for multiple touchdowns in any given week, but we may have to wait for the Chiefs offense to get more in sync before that becomes a more predictable occurrence. Save some salary and go with a cheaper tight end that has a better chance to return 3-4x value this week.
Martellus Bennett, $4,500
One of the early trends in fantasy this year is that the Raiders are dreadful at covering the tight end position. They have allowed 305 yards and five touchdowns to the position through three weeks. There is a pretty good chance that Bennett adds to those totals and also a pretty good chance that he will have an astronomical ownership percentage. The Bears welcome the Raiders to town and are underdogs. Allow that to sink in for a moment. The Raiders are trending up and the Bears have fallen on some hard times. They have already begun moving some assets to prepare for next year and may not be done yet on that front. While not quite a fire sale, a sense that the season is a lost cause can have an impact on team performance. Bennett’s production has been on the decline since Week 1 and we just may have a perfect storm for fading purposes – if the Raiders can figure out how to cover the tight end position.
Seattle Seahawks, $3,700
The Seahawks make their second consecutive appearance on the fade list and for similar reasons as last week. Although they are the most expensive defense, they will also likely be one of the highest-owned. The Seahawks defense produced last week to the tune of 18.0 points on DraftKings, a great return for a salary of $3,400. But they weren’t even the highest-scoring defense in the four o’clock hour. That honor belonged to the Arizona Cardinals, who scored 28.0 points at a salary of $3,100. There may not be another Cardinal-like performance out there this week, but we can surely save some salary and find a lower-owned option that just may help us creep up the leaderboard.
Arizona Cardinals, $3,400
Speaking of the Cardinals, we can expect the ‘last-week’s performance’ effect on their ownership percentage for this week. The Cardinals defense was one of the top fantasy performers in Week 3 and that’s an awesome feeling if you were prescient enough to have them on your roster. However, don’t chase a repeat. They could very well produce a nice return, but an exact replica of last week’s stellar effort may be a little too much to ask. With a big bump expected in ownership percentage and a price that comes in as the second most expensive for defenses, save a little salary and see if you can find this week’s under-owned 20+ point scorer.
That concludes The Fade for this week. Some tough choices as always, but we also have some choices that aren’t so tough when we examine them a little closer. For each player that you consider for your rosters, ask yourself a simple two-part question. Will this player be highly-owned and if so is there a player that has similar upside that may not be as popular? If the answer is yes and yes, you may have found yourself a player to consider fading for the week. Best of luck this weekend!