Knowing the expected ownership rates heading into a weekend of FanDuel contests is a powerful tool. Knowledge is power. There will be heavily-used players and underrated options from which to pick and choose quality lineups. Cash games are the perfect place for using a bevy of highly-owned options and playing it safe. The cash line is simply finishing above the average score (typically in 110-120 point range). In a tournament field (GPP), finishing in the money takes more risk and variance to achieve a high mark worthy of cashing. There is no prize difference between finishing middle of the pack or dead last in GPP contests. Here are the strategies centered around player ownership for FanDuel this week:
*Collected ownership data from Thursday Night locking contests*
CONSENSUS PLAYS OF WEEK
Another week, another high Vegas team total for the Patriots and top ownership for Tom Brady. The 12% ownership from Thursday Night is a middling mark for the top quarterback in recent weeks. Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Drew Brees, and Blake Bortles all reside in the 9-11% range.
DeAngelo Williams was dealing with a foot injury early in the week, but appears on track to start without worries this weekend against the Browns. Still a reasonable cost at $7,600 based on his usage floor and clearly the top owned running back of the week at more than 30%. Todd Gurley, even at $9,200, is pushing 20% ownership. The Rams are at home against the Bears. LeGarrette Blount gets a boost with Dion Lewis out for the year at 16% ownership. James White and Brandon Bolden will attempt to patch together the pass-catching aspect of Lewis in the Patriots offense, but offer less elusiveness between the tackles.
Allen Robinson has the luxury of facing the favorable Baltimore secondary this week with a modest $7,500 salary. He is the clear top receiver in ownership at 26%. Allen Hurns has oscillated from iffy to confident with a foot issue for Week 10. If Hurns were out it would turn Robinson from an outstanding play to one of the best of the season. Michael Crabtree, Randall Cobb, and A.J. Green are the remaining receivers notching at least 15% ownership from Thursday. The Raiders are piping hot on offense and Crabtree has consistently been a tier cheaper than Amari Cooper along the way. Randall Cobb broke his touchdown drought in Week 9 with a stingy matchup against Carolina. This week is the ‘get well’ matchup Green Bay’s passing game has waited for with Detroit. Houston is a neutral matchup for wide receivers regarding A.J. Green at $8,300.
Tyler Eifert is coming off a three-touchdown game and firing on a Gronkowski-like pace for finding the end zone. Houston is a neutral matchup for tight ends and even with a strong 23% ownership, I would fade Eifert in cash games following such a game. The Bengals have a bevy of weapons, plus a likely positive game script against Houston. Jordan Reed is a solid green light at tight end with 17% ownership and the best matchup at the position with New Orleans coming to town. DeSean Jackson is fitting back into the offense and Washington’s run game has struggled. Reed at $5,800 is a salary saver with a high target floor.
The Panthers and Broncos are the clear preferred ownership options for Week 10. The Broncos are at home but cost an additional $500. Both are hovering around average in run defense (ProFootballReference Expected Points), while occupying No.1 and No.2 spots in pass defense. The Titans struggle in both categories on offense (Carolina’s matchup) plus the Panthers cost $500 less, making them the better matchup-based play of the week. Stephen Gostkowski and Brandon McManus have become regular mentions as high-ownership kickers with top-2 rates this week above 10%.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
I expected a higher ownership mark for Kirk Cousins than 7%. At $6,500 and at home against the struggling (to be kind) Saints defense is an ideal scenario. DeSean Jackson got his rusty post-injury debut out of the way in Week 9 as Cousins has a full complement of weapons for this week. Landry Jones showed competency last time filling in for Ben Roethlisberger. At $6,200 he offers a quality combination of price and pass-catcher acumen. The downside of Pittsburgh this week is getting up on Cleveland and taking the air out of the ball with a positive game script.
Matt Jones has seen growing pains with lower volume and fumbles since his early-season breakout performance. This week marks a quality opportunity for Jones to recapture the upside at home against a beatable Saints defense. Alfred Morris has shown nothing of note this season and Washington’s game script stands to be neutral or better. At $5,600 and less than 1% ownership, Jones has tournament appeal as an upside punt at RB2. Jeremy Langford showed well in his first NFL start last week. His 4% ownership shows the unappealing matchup against St.Louis. The good news is the Rams are unlikely to run away from Chicago unless Jay Cutler consistently turns the ball over. Langford saw a dominant share of the workload after Ka’Deem Carey was the on-paper starter early in the game. Doug Martin at 7% is a quality combination of a touch floor, a positive matchup against the Cowboys, and working on a 53-carry streak without a score.
Mike Evans is the Tampa Bay passing game without Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy. He has been peppered with targets of late and close on numerous big plays, touchdowns, and the benefactor of defensive pass interference penalties beyond the box score. Dallas is not a great matchup for receivers, but a very high target floor and $7,700 salary (6% ownership) is appealing for tournament WR2 play.
Kamar Aiken at $5,400 is an ideal WR3 this week in tournaments. Without Steve Smith late last game for Baltimore, Aiken saw most of the targets. Dorial Green-Beckham is of similar cost with low ownership as an upside play. Davante Adams has yet to find the end zone this season and this week’s matchup with Detroit is the golden opportunity for the Packers pass game to fit their stride from the outset. Adams at $5,800 has 5% ownership and only $100 more than the near-invisible James Jones.
Julius Thomas is intriguing this week at $5,400. Allen Hurns has been limited all week and Blake Bortles is one of the better values of the week against Baltimore. Thomas has seen 13 targets over the past two games with little to show for it. With consistent volume, a rebound game for Thomas is coming, including finding the end zone.
The Raiders stand out as the low-ownership (2%) DST play of Week 10. The Vikings are above-average on the ground, but struggle as a passing offense. The Raiders offense has been hot of late and a negative game script for Minnesota would be a major boon for Oakland’s defensive chances. In addition to the matchup, Oaklans at $4,300 offers more salary cap flexibility. Of the high-scoring team Vegas projections, Mason Crosby has the lowest ownership at kicker with 3% from Thursday. At $5,000, Crosby has a similar salary to much higher owned Stephen Gostkowski, Brandon McManus, and Justin Tucker.
EXAMPLE GPP ROSTER 1
|RB||Mark Ingram II||7500||11.5|
C.J. Spiller has not carved out a signficant snap role in the Saints backfield, making Mark Ingram II a value based on his run-pass involvement in the offense plus medium salary this week. Stacking Blake Bortles making plenty of sense with Baltimore's hurting secondary. Allen Robinson is the chalk play, but signs are pointing late in the week to Allen Hurns playing. The Jaguars passing game centers around the two 'Allens' making the superstack in play with a good matchup like this week.
EXAMPLE GPP ROSTER 2
|RB||Mark Ingram II||7500||11.5|
|WR||Odell Beckham Jr Jr.||8800||9.5|
|DST||Green Bay Packers||4900||7.2|
This lineup's risk is betting on Kirk Cousins. The rest is a healthy mix of high-floor usage, offensive centerpieces, and good matchups. Allen Robinson, Jordan Reed, and James Starks are favorites to hit 3x tournament value.
CASH GAMES: GO WITH THE HERD
As mentioned above, I would fade Tyler Eifert for Jordan Reed, but the above version maximizes ownership rates into the weekend.This roster has a healthy mix of the strong Vegas team totals and game scripts. Alternatives can be saving salary shifting to Cam Newton or Andy Dalton at quarterback and upgrading at wide receiver or running back. Any adjustments still make Todd Gurley a tough highly-owned player to fit under the cap and remain optimal in ownership.