Last week, we opened things up by discussing the difficulty of fading a ‘must-play’ quarterback in a great situation. To briefly recap, the matchup against the 49ers for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers looked like it was too good to pass up. The 49ers had just been torched by the Arizona Cardinals and Rodgers was coming off of a five touchdown performance on Monday Night Football. We were confident Rodgers would be a popular choice in the $7M Millionaire Maker and that turned out to be correct as he appeared on 22.8% of rosters. However, the ‘can’t miss’ production aspect failed to materialize during the Packers 17-3 victory and Rodgers produced a pedestrian 16.26 points on DraftKings.
Each week, we have several players that get labeled with the must-play and can’t miss designations. When you hear the same player described this way by virtually every analyst and source you hear that week, you have found yourself a great candidate for the fade list. This does not mean that they are all necessarily wrong about a player’s expected output for the week. Quite the contrary, this player is often in a fantastic matchup on paper and should light things up if everything breaks right and the game goes according to script. However, this player will almost certainly be among the highest-owned players for the week. When this situation presents itself, it’s good practice to find other options at the position that have similar upside but are flying a little under the radar for that week. You’ll gain some uniqueness for your lineup that can really help set you apart. Besides, as Aaron Rodgers demonstrated – the must-play doesn’t always pan out.
On to Week 5 for The Fade, we have some more tough decisions in front of us. There are several matchups that look very appealing on paper and will certainly capture the attention of many. There are some players that will almost definitely produce, but salary concerns may point us in another direction. Finally, we have some players in situations that we would normally want to jump on, but this week it may not be such a good idea. We’ll start our list of fade candidates for Week 5 with the quarterback position.
Aaron Rodgers, $7,900
As we covered earlier, Rodgers disappointed last week in his must-start spot against the 49ers. The Packers return home this week to face the Rams and Rodgers looks like a prime bounce back candidate. During his last game at the friendly confines of Lambeau Field he threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns. The game line and total line up well for Rodgers to have a productive day, as the Packers are a nine-point favorite with an over/under of 46. He should be a popular selection this week and as a result, a prime candidate for the fade list.
This is one of those difficult decisions that we often talk through. Rodgers typically plays lights-out at home. He was undoubtedly disappointed with last week’s offensive performance despite walking away with the win and will certainly be looking to deliver a performance that lives up to his incredibly high standards. The Rams passing defense has been pretty decent this year while allowing only three passing touchdowns, but there may be no slowing down Rodgers and the Packers in Lambeau this week. Despite all of these reasons, we’ll consider Rodgers a fade as his ownership percentage will likely be high.
Each week, there’s plenty of value to be found at the quarterback position and this week is no exception as there are several quarterbacks in great spots that will cost you less than $7,000. As always, fading Rodgers does not mean you have to fade the entire Packers offense. You can select the higher-end target of Randall Cobb for $7,500 or really save some cap space and roll with Richard Rodgers for $2,900. Save some salary and build a lineup that could really stand out.
Tom Brady, $7,800
This one might be even tougher. It’s pretty hard to take a pass on Brady this week. The Patriots are coming in off of their bye week for a late afternoon tilt with the Dallas Cowboys. All eyes will be on the Patriots as they continue their mission of dropping as many points as possible on whoever crosses their path. This game has one of the highest totals of the week at 49 ½ points and the Patriots are an 8 ½-point road favorite. Tough call, but Brady finds himself on the list of fade candidates for Week 5.
Brady’s ownership percentage will be high this week and may push the levels he reached in Week 3. Let’s rewind to Week 3 for a moment. The Patriots were preparing to welcome the Jaguars to town and widely expected to destroy them. We knew going into the game that Brady would be a popular choice and included him in The Fade for Week 3. Brady proceeded to produce 25.72 points and was owned on 26.2% of all rosters in the $7M Millionaire Maker. He delivered more than 3x value, a solid day but not the epic day that many were forecasting.
By fading Brady this week, we’re hoping that this game works out in a similar manner and the Brady has similar production – 358 yards and two touchdowns. The Patriots scored 51 points in that game, but were content to score their touchdowns later in the game on the ground. If the same thing comes to pass this week, we can gain a leg up on a bunch of rosters if we can find a lower-owned quarterback that produces at a higher-level. As we mentioned with Aaron Rodgers, fading Brady does not mean passing on the whole Patriots offense. They will score points and you’ll want some exposure to that, perhaps in the form of Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman or Dion Lewis.
Le’Veon Bell, $8,500
Bell makes the fade list for two reasons: ownership percentage and price. He will be highly-owned as it’s no secret that the Steelers offense will run through Bell until Ben Roethlisberger returns. Bell is also the most expensive running back this week by $700. While Bell is certainly capable of producing the return to justify that cost, that’s still a lot of salary to have wrapped up in a player on a team that is rolling out their backup quarterback. I will not suggest that the Chargers can contain Bell completely, but you would have to think that limiting him has been a focus during team meetings this week. Fade Bell, save some salary and find a running back a little south on the salary chart that may have better production this week.
Devonta Freeman, $6,300
Freeman has been on an epic tear, delivering 45.3 points in Week 4 and 37.9 points last week. His salary remains extremely reasonable for that level of production and we can be confident that he’ll show up on a ton of rosters this week. For the ownership percentage alone, we’ll consider Freeman a solid fade candidate. Additionally, his level of production has to level off at some point or we’re looking at a back that will smash the single-season touchdown record. Possible? Sure, just not very likely. It’s also worth mentioning that Washington has been pretty stout against the run. Some have translated that to mean that the clock will strike 12 for Freeman this week. I am in the opposite camp as I think he will produce, just at a lower-level than he has the past two weeks. Look for Freeman to have a solid day but not another superhuman effort. You might even be able to find this week’s Freeman-like production at a different price point from a lower-owned back, outweighing the benefit of including him on your roster.
Demaryius Thomas, $8,100
It’s no secret that the Broncos offense has changed. As a result, the output of Thomas on a weekly basis has gone down. He’s averaging 19.3 points per game on DraftKings – decent production, but not enough to justify a price tag of $8,100. I won’t go as far as to say that the days of elite production for Thomas are over, just that the expectations have to be lowered on a week-to-week basis. This week, the Broncos face an improved Raiders team that has to be itching to show the kings of the division that although they may have not fully arrived, they are at least on their way. Thomas is a good candidate to fade this week and may remain that way until his salary lines up closer to his expected output.
Amari Cooper, $6,600
From that same game we have another wide receiver to consider fading. Cooper has been a big part of the Raiders improved play and has averaged 18.7 points per game so far. The Raiders are a 3 ½-point underdog and normally that would point to a receiver of Cooper’s caliber being a solid call, but the Broncos pass defense just might be too tough. They have allowed only one touchdown to opposing wide receivers so far and have held opposing quarterbacks in check. Take a pass on Cooper for this week, there will be plenty of weeks where the talented rookie has a better matchup to consider.
Rob Gronkowski, $7,500
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Gronkowski finds his way into the end zone this week. As outlined in our notes on Tom Brady, the Patriots will score points this week. Gronkowski will have a hand in that, but his high-ownership percentage may not justify his output. If you factor in a salary that is $1,400 more expensive than the next tight end (for very good reason, I might add), we have a great candidate for the fade list. Gronkowski was also expected to have a stellar day back in Week 3 but similar to Brady, it was good but nothing to write home about. We’ll hope for similar this week and take the risk that he has a Gronk-like day of multiple touchdowns. Fade Gronkowski and use the salary savings to upgrade another position.
Antonio Gates, $4,200
Gates returns after four weeks off for a Monday Night affair with the Steelers. Perhaps if the game was buried on Sunday he would fly under the radar a little bit more more, but with a return in a spotlight game he will surely capture a lot of interest. The Chargers offense as a whole figures to be pretty popular this week as Philip Rivers is coming off of a three touchdown performance. Gates could very well step in like he hasn’t missed a beat and even find the end zone, but the high-ownership percentage will likely outweigh the benefit. Pass on Gates and find some uniqueness for your rosters.
Denver Broncos, $3,600
The Broncos salary is finally beginning to catch-up to their potential on a weekly basis. The unit as a whole has been dynamite and for DFS purposes have continually delivered as they are averaging 16.0 points per game. It was fun while it lasted Broncos, the cats out of the bag and you’re getting too expensive. The Broncos have gone from a lower-cost defense that slightly flew under the radar in relation to defenses like the Seahawks to a defense that is expected to produce and has the price tag to match it. Take a pass on the Broncos and begin your search for another low-cost defense to fall in love with.
Atlanta Falcons, $3,200
The price of the Falcons has ballooned after last week’s exceptional output against the Texans. On top of that, we’ll have many people who will chase last week’s numbers and push their ownership percentages up pretty high. The team is in a similar spot this week – playing at home as a big favorite against an offensively challenged opponent. Matching last week’s output might be a little too much to ask for but the potential for another good week is there. However, we’ll take a pass and search for another under-owned defense that could turn out to be this week’s Falcons.
That concludes The Fade for Week 5. Some tough choices are in front of us again this week, but the more times you pass on the highly-owned player at a specific position, the easier it gets. Also, we don’t have to fade every single position. We can mix some chalk plays in with our lower-owned selections as we search for the right balance for our rosters. A lineup of all chalk probably won’t make too much noise and a lineup consisting of all under-owned players is a little too much of a boom-bust strategy. The sweet spot is somewhere in the middle. Best of luck this weekend!