Acing Aces

A weekly guide to finding value in Fantasy Aces contests.

Welcome back to our FantasyAces feature article, wherein we identify value plays in both cash games and tournaments. The process we use starts with the statistical method described here, which results in a percentage that represents the likelihood a given player will achieve value based on his salary, his projection, and historical variation in scoring at his position. From there, we take a look at statistics related to his individual matchup, as well as any other situational factors that might affect his value likelihood (e.g., injuries, coaching tendencies, game scripts, ownership rates, etc.). This combination of stats and context allows us to narrow things down to a select group of players worth fully recommending.

Note: The value probability tables will be published on Thursday. Commentary based on the situational factors described above will be added on Friday.

QUARTERBACKS

Below are the quarterbacks with the highest (and lowest) probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:

MOST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Andrew Luck IND 7250 23.2 59.8% Robert Griffin III CLE 5100 17.6 31.4%
Blake Bortles JAX 5300 17.3 59.2% Blake Bortles JAX 5300 18.4 31.4%
Sam Bradford MIN 5200 16.8 57.9% Tom Savage HOU 4900 16.3 28.4%
Matt Ryan ATL 7200 22.6 56.5% Matt Ryan ATL 7200 24.9 25.0%
Tom Brady NE 7150 22.3 55.9% Sam Bradford MIN 5200 16.9 25.0%
Robert Griffin III CLE 5100 15.9 54.3% Andy Dalton CIN 6100 20.3 23.9%
Drew Brees NO 7650 23.5 53.9% Tom Brady NE 7150 24.3 22.9%
LEAST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Carson Palmer ARI 6350 16.1 30.4% Carson Palmer ARI 6350 17.3 8.1%
Bryce Petty NYJ 5000 13.3 38.6% Aaron Rodgers GB 7400 22.9 12.3%
Tyrod Taylor BUF 6300 17.3 38.8% Kirk Cousins WAS 6900 20.9 12.3%
Jared Goff LA 5100 14.2 42.6% Philip Rivers SD 6800 20.7 13.1%
Colin Kaepernick SF 6200 17.8 44.1% Drew Brees NO 7650 24.2 13.4%
Philip Rivers SD 6800 19.8 45.7% Marcus Mariota TEN 6400 19.2 13.4%
Marcus Mariota TEN 6400 18.6 46.0% Tyrod Taylor BUF 6300 18.8 13.4%

As the only quarterback in the top half of the table with a Top 8 matchup in all three stat categories I look at, Tom Brady is the clear "value" play this week. Brady will be facing a Jets defense that's allowed the seventh-most FantasyAces points to opposing quarterbacks, ranks 26th in overall defensive efficiency, and ranks 32nd against the pass (per DVOA). Two other things working in his favor are a) his modest projected ownership rate of only around 10 percent and b) the relatively mild weather forecast for Foxboro on Saturday.

Amazingly, only one other high-value quarterback faces a defense ranked in the Bottom 8 of even one stat category. That player is Blake Bortles, who will be facing a Titans defense that's allowed the sixth-most points to opposing quarterbacks. Bortles' projected ownership rate is around 15 percent, so he's a viable option in both formats.

Running Backs

Below are the running backs with the highest (and lowest) probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:

MOST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Jordan Howard CHI 5100 16.9 56.5% LeSean McCoy BUF 5900 20.3 40.0%
LeSean McCoy BUF 5900 18.6 53.4% Jordan Howard CHI 5100 17.2 38.7%
Bilal Powell NYJ 4800 14.9 52.4% Bilal Powell NYJ 4800 15.8 37.1%
Todd Gurley LA 4900 14.8 50.4% David Johnson ARI 6600 20.6 33.8%
David Johnson ARI 6600 19.9 50.2% Todd Gurley LA 4900 15.0 32.6%
Carlos Hyde SF 4900 14.0 46.5% Carlos Hyde SF 4900 14.7 31.4%
DeMarco Murray TEN 5600 15.8 45.7% Kenneth Farrow SD 4800 14.1 30.1%
Jay Ajayi MIA 4850 13.6 45.6% Jay Ajayi MIA 4850 14.2 29.9%
Ty Montgomery GB 4850 13.1 42.9% DeMarco Murray TEN 5600 16.3 29.6%
Jeremy Hill CIN 5000 13.5 42.9% Latavius Murray OAK 5150 14.8 28.8%
LEAST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Adrian Peterson MIN 4950 5.9 5.8% Mike Gillislee BUF 4000 5.5 3.6%
Charles Sims TB 4100 5.2 7.1% Chris Ivory JAX 4200 6.8 6.3%
Mike Gillislee BUF 4000 5.1 7.4% Travaris Cadet NO 3500 5.7 6.5%
Ronnie Hillman SD 4350 5.8 8.4% Chris Thompson WAS 4000 6.6 6.7%
Travaris Cadet NO 3500 4.7 8.5% Robert Turbin IND 3500 6.0 7.6%
Alfred Blue HOU 3900 5.8 11.8% Ronnie Hillman SD 4350 7.5 7.8%
Chris Thompson WAS 4000 6.0 12.3% James White NE 4000 7.0 8.1%
Chris Ivory JAX 4200 6.5 13.0% Adrian Peterson MIN 4950 8.7 8.3%
Robert Turbin IND 3500 5.7 14.8% Duke Johnson CLE 4300 7.7 8.7%
Duke Johnson CLE 4300 7.0 15.3% Alfred Blue HOU 3900 7.1 9.2%

There are five different running backs with high value probabilities and highly favorable matchups, so let's start with cash game-only options. Todd Gurley has the best matchup of the week, going up against a 49ers defense that's allowed the most FantasyAces points to opposing running backs, ranks 30th in run defense efficiency (per DVOA), and ranks 24th in pass defense efficiency on running back targets. Meanwhile, Jordan Howard will be facing a Redskins defense that's allowed the fourth-most points to opposing running backs and ranks 26th in run defense efficiency. Unfortunately, Howard has the highest projected ownership rate of the week (around 45 percent) and Gurley's is third-highest (around 35 percent).

Luckily, if we pivot away from this duo, we can replace them with perfectly viable tournament-only duo: Kenneth Farrow and Latavius Murray. Farrow's up against a Browns defense that's allowed the second-most FantasyAces points to opposing running backs and is actually beating out the historically bad 49ers for dead last in run defense efficiency. (They also rank 20th in pass defense efficiency on running back targets.) As for Murray, he'll be facing a Colts defense that's ranked 29th in run defense efficiency and 31st in pass defense efficiency on running back targets. (They also rank 22nd in points allowed to running backs.) With respect to projected ownership rates, Murray's ranks eighth among running backs (around 15 percent), while Farrow's ranks 14th (around 5 percent).

That's four of the five running backs I alluded to earlier, so who's the fifth? That would be Jay Ajayi, who's a viable value option in both fomats. Against the Bills, Ajayi will be up against a defense that's allowed the eighth-most points to opposing running backs and ranks 31st in efficiency against the run. To boot, this game will be played at near-freezing temperatures with wind in the 10-to-15 mile per four range, which favors a more run-heavy game plan. And finally, Ajayi's projected ownership rate ranks ninth at around 10 percent.

Wide Receivers

Below are the wide receivers with the highest (and lowest) probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:

MOST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Michael Crabtree OAK 4850 14.0 47.3% Tyler Lockett SEA 4100 12.5 32.4%
Jordy Nelson GB 5750 16.3 46.0% Michael Crabtree OAK 4850 14.5 31.2%
T.Y. Hilton IND 5600 15.4 44.0% DeSean Jackson WAS 4400 13.1 30.9%
Julian Edelman NE 4900 13.2 42.9% Jordy Nelson GB 5750 16.9 30.2%
Larry Fitzgerald ARI 4750 12.8 42.6% Larry Fitzgerald ARI 4750 13.9 29.9%
Mike Evans TB 5800 15.6 42.5% T.Y. Hilton IND 5600 16.3 29.6%
Robby Anderson NYJ 4250 11.2 41.5% Mike Evans TB 5800 16.7 29.0%
DeSean Jackson WAS 4400 11.6 41.1% Corey Coleman CLE 3900 11.2 28.8%
Brandin Cooks NO 5400 14.1 40.7% Robby Anderson NYJ 4250 12.2 28.8%
Doug Baldwin SEA 4800 12.3 39.5% Doug Baldwin SEA 4800 13.5 27.6%
Tyrell Williams SD 4650 11.7 38.5% Alshon Jeffery CHI 4700 13.2 27.6%
Willie Snead NO 4700 11.8 38.3% Ted Ginn CAR 4000 11.2 27.4%
Tyler Lockett SEA 4100 10.2 37.8% A.J. Green CIN 5700 15.8 26.8%
Ted Ginn CAR 4000 9.9 37.4% Julian Edelman NE 4900 13.5 26.5%
Pierre Garcon WAS 4400 10.9 37.3% Tyrell Williams SD 4650 12.7 26.0%
LEAST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Tyler Boyd CIN 4350 6.5 12.0% Tyler Boyd CIN 4350 7.2 6.8%
Travis Benjamin SD 4300 6.6 13.1% Brandon LaFell CIN 4500 7.7 7.6%
John Brown ARI 4200 6.5 13.2% Quincy Enunwa NYJ 4550 8.2 8.9%
Brandon LaFell CIN 4500 7.3 14.8% Kelvin Benjamin CAR 4550 8.3 9.3%
Brandon Marshall NYJ 4600 7.7 16.0% Brandon Marshall NYJ 4600 8.5 9.6%
Adam Thielen MIN 4400 7.4 16.2% Travis Benjamin SD 4300 8.0 9.8%
Quincy Enunwa NYJ 4550 7.6 16.3% Adam Humphries TB 4000 7.6 10.5%
DeVante Parker MIA 4200 7.1 16.8% Deonte Thompson CHI 3700 7.1 10.8%
Mohamed Sanu ATL 4250 7.2 16.9% Kenny Stills MIA 4150 8.0 10.9%
Donte Moncrief IND 4400 7.6 17.7% Tavon Austin LA 4200 8.1 10.9%
Kelvin Benjamin CAR 4550 7.9 18.0% DeVante Parker MIA 4200 8.3 11.7%
Cordarrelle Patterson MIN 3800 6.8 18.9% Will Fuller HOU 4200 8.4 12.1%
Will Fuller HOU 4200 7.6 19.4% Jeremy Kerley SF 3900 8.1 13.5%
Deonte Thompson CHI 3700 6.7 19.5% J.J. Nelson ARI 4350 9.8 16.7%
J.J. Nelson ARI 4350 8.2 21.4% Sammy Watkins BUF 4600 10.5 17.2%

Almost the entire top half of the table in both formats has a favorable matchup in at least one of the stat categories I use, so I'm going to do everyone a favor and quickly list the handful of high-value wide receivers that don't qualify: Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, Larry Fitzgerald, Brandin Cooks, Willie Snead, Corey Coleman, and A.J. Green. Hilton is especially important to mention for tournaments because, in addition to a not-particularly-favorable matchup, he's at the top of the charts this week when it comes to projected ownership rates.

Among the 10 high-value receivers in the table that I didn't mention above, only 1 has a favorable matchup in both stat categories: Ted Ginn. Against the Falcons, he'll be facing a pass defense that ranks 26th in efficiency (per DVOA) and has allowed the 11th-most FantasyAces points to opposing wide receivers. (Note: 11th ranks outside my typical Bottom 8, but it actually qualifies because three defenses worse than them -- Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Dallas -- aren't available to exploit in the Saturday-only main slate.) With respect to tournament viability, there's no worry as Ginn's projected ownership rate ranks seventh at around 10 percent.

Tight Ends

Below are the tight ends with the highest (and lowest) probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:

MOST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Greg Olsen CAR 4550 11.7 36.3% Greg Olsen CAR 4550 12.4 18.8%
Cameron Brate TB 4600 11.0 30.0% Levine Toilolo ATL 3000 7.7 15.3%
Kyle Rudolph MIN 4700 10.6 25.2% Cameron Brate TB 4600 11.3 13.0%
Jimmy Graham SEA 4800 10.1 20.8% Kyle Rudolph MIN 4700 11.5 12.8%
Delanie Walker TEN 4700 9.8 20.2% Martellus Bennett NE 4550 11.0 12.3%
LEAST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Dwayne Allen IND 3900 5.3 3.3% Jordan Reed WAS 5100 6.7 0.5%
Dion Sims MIA 3900 5.8 5.2% Hunter Henry SD 4250 7.0 2.0%
Hunter Henry SD 4250 6.4 5.6% Jermaine Gresham ARI 3900 6.7 2.6%
C.J. Fiedorowicz HOU 3800 5.9 6.6% Coby Fleener NO 3900 6.9 3.0%
Jermaine Gresham ARI 3900 6.1 6.6% Jack Doyle IND 4000 7.2 3.3%

In cash games, you have two prime value options this week: Greg Olsen and Cameron Brate. Regarding Olsen, he'll be facing a Falcons pass defense that allows the sixth-most FantasyAces points to opposing tight ends and ranks 26th in DVOA. (They also rank 20th in DVOA on tight end targets.) Regarding Brate, the Saints pass defense ranks 28th in overall efficiency and 25th in efficiency on tight end targets. Furthermore, it's worth noting that weather will not play a factor in either Charlotte or Tampa, which does play a factor in the two games ranking in the Top 3 this week with respect to the Vegas over-under.

Unfortunately, Olsen and Brate are projected to have the highest two ownership rates of the week, so it's advisable to pivot away from them in tournaments or use your other lineup spots to find value. The best alternative from a matchup perspective is Martellus Bennett, who'll be facing a Jets pass defense allowing the ninth-most points to opposing tight ends and ranks 32nd in efficiency. It also helps that his projected ownership rate (around 1 percent) is among the lowest of the week at tight end.

Defenses

Below are the defenses with the highest (and lowest) probabilities of achieving value in cash games and GPPs:

MOST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
New England Patriots NE 3400 14.2 79.5% New England Patriots NE 3400 14.5 57.4%
Seattle Seahawks SEA 3000 11.9 72.1% Seattle Seahawks SEA 3000 12.0 50.0%
Green Bay Packers GB 2700 10.6 69.3% Green Bay Packers GB 2700 10.6 48.4%
San Diego Chargers SD 3000 11.1 66.3% San Francisco 49ers SF 2500 9.5 45.9%
San Francisco 49ers SF 2500 9.5 65.6% San Diego Chargers SD 3000 11.1 42.6%
LEAST LIKELY TO ACHIEVE VALUE
NAME TM SALARY AVG P(CASH) NAME TM SALARY MAX P(GPP)
Arizona Cardinals ARI 2900 7.3 38.6% Arizona Cardinals ARI 2900 7.3 18.8%
Atlanta Falcons ATL 2850 7.6 41.8% Atlanta Falcons ATL 2850 7.6 21.7%
Minnesota Vikings MIN 2800 7.4 41.8% Miami Dolphins MIA 2850 7.7 22.3%
Miami Dolphins MIA 2850 7.7 42.6% Minnesota Vikings MIN 2800 7.5 22.3%
Chicago Bears CHI 2500 7.0 45.4% Chicago Bears CHI 2500 7.3 28.9%

As always, there's value everywhere at defense. What makes this week different, however, is that the five most valuable defenses also have favorable matchups:

  • New England -- The Jets allow the second-most FantasyAces points to opposing defenses and rank 30th in offensive efficiency.
  • Seattle -- The Cardinals allow the fourth-most points to opposing defenses and rank 24th in offensive efficiency.
  • San Diego -- The Browns allow the fifth-most points to opposing defenses and rank 29th in offensive efficiency.
  • San Francisco -- The Rams allow the third-most points to opposing defenses and rank 32nd in offensive efficiency
  • Green Bay -- The Vikings rank 27th in offensive efficiency.
In addition to good matchups, none of the five defenses have prohibitively high projected ownership rates, so you can freely use any of them in tournaments. But whichever format we're considering, the bottom line this week is to choose one of these defenses based on which one fits best into your salary cap because all five are viable.