Going against the grain can be tough, especially when you’re faced with the decision of whether or not to fade players in appealing matchups. Typically, these players will be at or near the top of the list for projected output at their respective positions for the week. Last week provided a perfect example of this with two of the running backs at the top of the charts. One of them had a very appealing salary while the other was a bit more expensive, presenting a perfect opportunity to fit both of them in your lineups with ease.
Devonta Freeman entered Week 7 on an absolute tear, having scored at least 35.7 fantasy points in each of the previous four games. The Falcons were set to face the Titans, a middle of the road defense that had just allowed Lamar Miller to run for 113 yards and a score in the previous game. As a 5.5-poiint favorite, it looked like the Falcons would build up a lead and then focus on running the ball to grind out some clock – two situations that would indicate Freeman had a great chance to continue on his hot streak. At a salary of $7,900, he was reasonably priced in relation to his potential output, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the masses as he was owned on 44.7% of all rosters in last week’s Millionaire Maker. Freeman had a solid day and contributed over 100 combined yards for the fifth consecutive game but failed to find the end zone in a low-scoring game, finishing with 18.0 points.
Todd Gurley was priced at $5,000 for a Week 7 matchup against the Browns, a team that has struggled against the run all season. The Rams were playing at home as a 7 ½-point favorite, adding to Gurley’s appeal. He entered the game coming off of two consecutive 140+ rushing yard performances, making his low price even more attractive. As expected, Gurley was one of the more popular selections in the Millionaire Maker and was owned on 67.1% of all rosters. He paid off his low salary and then some by scoring 35.3 points, a phenomenal return of more than 7x his salary.
Fading either of the running backs would have been a tough call heading into Week 7. With the benefit of hindsight, we see that we could have easily survived fading Freeman and his output of 18.0 points, but would have had a pretty hard time competing without Gurley and his 35.3 points at such a low salary. Rostering both of them would likely lead to mixed results, pointing us to making a decision between the two as the right course of action – again with the benefit of hindsight.
When faced with this situation going forward, we have to dig a little deeper to see which player makes the better fade candidate. Two tiebreakers to consider right away are price and location of the game. Freeman was more expensive and playing on the road, while Gurley was at a low price and suiting up in the comforts of home. Rostering Gurley with another lower-owned running back with upside would have been the optimal play in this situation.
On to Week 8, we have a new set of matchups to dig into and a new list of fade candidates to sort out. As with our running backs up above, we have several players that look pretty hard to pass up at first glance, but may be good candidates to take a pass on once we look a little closer. Coincidentally, Freeman and Gurley are again at the top of the charts and in appealing matchups to boot. Is this the week to fade one or both of them? Read on and find out as we begin our search with the quarterbacks.
Cam Newton, $6,800.
The Panthers have rolled to a 6-0 record to start the season and have a primetime game for the second consecutive week, this time a Monday Night affair at home against the Colts. The Colts have struggled to a mark of 3-4 and come in as a 7-point underdog. A triple threat of the Panthers strength, the Colts struggles and a primetime game will lead to Newton being a popular selection in Week 8 and a perfect candidate for the fade list.
Adding to Newton’s potential popularity, the Colts have struggled against opposing quarterbacks, although they did hold Drew Brees relatively in check last week, albeit in a losing effort. Newton looked to be in a good spot to produce last week, but produced a somewhat disappointing 16.88 points. Five picks over the last two games are a bit concerning as well.
The Panthers as a whole may be a little too much for the Colts to handle, but Newton is a strong candidate to fade. There are several ways to gain some exposure to the Panthers if you believe the matchup is too good to pass on, namely Greg Olsen at $6,500, Jonathan Stewart at $4,100 and Ted Ginn Jr. at $3,400.
Drew Brees, $6,700.
The Saints welcome the Giants to town for a game with one of the highest projected totals of the week at 49 points. There was a time when it would have been unthinkable to fade Drew Brees at home, but that time has passed. Brees is averaging 18.8 points per game and has exceeded 20 points only three times this season. He has thrown eight touchdowns versus four picks in 2015 and has thrown for two touchdowns only twice.
After allowing 300-yard passing games in each of their first three games, the Giants have settled in and not allowed a 300-yard passer since. They have allowed more than one touchdown pass only twice this season and with the Saints offense not resembling the juggernaut it once was, taking a pass on Brees becomes that much easier.
A projected total of 49 points is pretty hard to pass on for fantasy purposes, but as we did with the Panthers, we can look elsewhere on the Saints to gain some exposure. For $6,400, Mark Ingram is averaging 18.5 points per game and has scored three touchdowns over the past two games. At the lower end of the salary scale, Willie Snead and Ben Watson can provide some exposure to the Saints passing game just in case they do break out, at prices of $4,500 and $3,500 respectively.
Devonta Freeman, $8,000.
The Falcons are a 7-point favorite at home against the Buccaneers and Freeman is again one of the top running back options for the week. Freeman looks to be in a great spot and could put together his sixth consecutive 100+ combined yard performance, but he also checks in as the second most expensive running back this week. For price and popularity, we’ll consider Freeman a strong candidate for the fade list. While he has tremendous upside, he’ll likely be one of the higher-owned running backs this week. Although unlikely, if he fails to produce a solid return on his $8,000 salary, we’ll be putting ourselves behind the eight ball. Pass on Freeman and look a little further down on the salary chart to find a back with great upside.
Todd Gurley, $6,300.
Speaking of running backs that are a little further down the salary chart with great upside, Gurley again comes in at a very reasonable salary. Gurley finds himself in another great matchup as the Rams are an 8-point favorite at home against the 49ers. There’s a pretty good chance that he’ll produce his fourth consecutive game of 120+ yards rushing and also an outstanding chance that he’ll be one of the highest owned running backs this week. For ownership percentage alone, we have to consider Gurley a fade candidate. Fading both Gurley and Freeman may not be a wise choice, even though both will be among the most popular players this week. Select the one that you feel most comfortable with for both salary and potential output and look to a lower-owned back with high upside for your other running back spot.
Julio Jones, $9,200.
Jones is another attractive target form the Falcons that we should consider for the fade list. He’s the most expensive wide receiver this week and has only surpassed 20 points once in the last four weeks, which was last week’s 24.2-point output against the Titans. At a price of $9,200, a failure to produce 20+ points could be a roster killer. As one of the top receivers in the league, he can explode for a monster performance in virtually any game. That could very well happen this week against the Buccaneers, but his expected popularity may outweigh the benefits. There are several interesting targets that cost less than $8,000 that could provide similar output. Add it all up and we’ll take a pass on the most expensive wide receiver of the week.
DeAndre Hopkins, $8,700.
Hopkins had an absolutely stellar run from Week 3 through Week 6. Over the course of those four games, he scored at least 27.1 points in each of them and found the end zone three times. He caught 38 passes over that stretch and exceeded 100 yards receiving in each game. All good things must come to an end and the Dolphins put a stop to his ridiculous run, holding Hopkins to 11 points – coincidentally in the week that his salary finally rose above $8,000. His price actually increased by $100 for this week and he should still have plenty of DFSers in his corner. For these reasons, we’ll take a pass on Hopkins and look to a cheaper alternative with similar upside.
Gary Barnidge, $4,700.
Barnidge has been riding a hot streak of his own over the past five games. He has hauled in five touchdowns and scored at least 18.9 points during that stretch. Just in time for Halloween, the clock may strike twelve this week for Barnidge. The Browns face the Cardinals, a team that has not allowed a touchdown to a tight end so far this year. Add in the fact that Barnidge has become somewhat of a folk hero in the world of DFS and we have a great candidate for the fade list. Barnidge may very well be for real, but for this week at least, we’ll look elsewhere for our tight end spot.
Ladarius Green, $3,000.
If Antonio Gates misses Sunday’s game as expected, we can expect Green’s ownership percentage to be through the roof. He has a bargain basement price, has found the end zone in back-to-back weeks and is playing in a game with one of the highest projected totals of the week. The Ravens have actually been pretty tough against opposing tight ends, with the only blip coming in Week 5 when Gary Barnidge burned them for 139 yards and a touchdown. This is a tough price to pass on, but for the sake of some uniqueness, we’ll have to include Green on the fade list for Week 8.
St. Louis Rams, $3,200.
The Rams defense is averaging 12.2 points per game and coming off of a 25.0-point outing against the Browns last week. This week, they welcome the struggling 49ers to town and look to have some great upside. The Rams were one of the most popular choices last week with a 32.2% ownership percentage in last week’s Millionaire Maker. We can expect more of the same this week, making them a strong fade option. Although the Rams have great upside potential, we’ll look for a little uniqueness to separate our lineups from the pack.
Arizona Cardinals, $4,000.
The Cardinals make the list mainly for price, but they will also have their fair share of supporters as they face a Browns team that just gave up 25.0 points to the Rams defense. As the most expensive defense of the week, the Cardinals offer some solid upside. However, there look to be some lower cost options that can produce similar output and/or out produce them. Save some salary cap, take a pass on the Cardinals and provide your lineups with a chance for a little separation.
That’s a wrap for The Fade for Week 8. We have some tough choices to make as always, but the right fade choices can make a world of difference to our standings on the leader board when Week 8 comes to a close. Best of luck this weekend!