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
Tom Brady has a dominant edge in ownership leading up to Sunday’s FanDuel contest. After a week off, the Patriots are back as the top projected team point total and Dallas’ defense offers little resistance from a high-scoring game.
Matt Ryan commands the second-highest team point total by Vegas and the Atlanta offense is humming along with a home tilt against overmatched Washington. Leonard Hankerson is developing into a quality No.2 option and Devonta Freeman has solidified the run game. At nearly 9% Ryan’s ownership is a far cry from Brady’s 25%, but also comes at a $500 discount.
Devonta Freeman logged one of the highest ownership numbers since starting this article early in 2014 at north of 40%. Freeman is the hottest running back in fantasy of late and Atlanta is a hefty favorite at home against Washington. Finally, Freeman remains a savings of $1,000 or more from the top running back salaries of the week.
Le'Veon Bell: Michael Vick and the Steelers, if they have any chance of winning games in the absence of Ben Roethlisberger, will need a hefty dose of Bell. At 28% early ownership Bell is his own second tier between Freeman and the rest of the running backs.
Julian Edelman: In addition to Tom Brady ad Rob Gronkowski, Edelman leads his position in early FanDuel ownership. The Patriots have a team total of nearly 30 against Dallas and even three quarters of foot-on-the-gas New England offense can provide 2-3x value for Edelman at $7,700.
Larry Fitzgerald is the top-owned Cardinals player for Week 5. Arizona’s No.10 projected Vegas team total is a tepid endorsement for Fitzgerald against Detroit with a crowded depth chart.
Jeremy Maclin: Three receivers logged at least 20% ownership in Thursday contests with Maclin being the third. Stacking with Alex Smith makes sense in tournaments. The glaring concern would be a positive game script (as projected) against Chicago puts the Chiefs offense in run-heavy mode (read: Jamaal Charles) later in the game.
Rob Gronkowski is back, has a premium price point, and a sky-high ownership compared to the next tier of tight ends (Antonio Gates, Charles Clay, Martellus Bennett); All is right in the world. Reaching 3x value for a tournament is tough needing 25 points even for Gronkowski, but a quality cash game option any given week. The Cowboys have yet to face much in terms of opposing tight ends with Zach Ertz headlines their opening four games.
After a high-volume week, Cairo Santos remains on the lower band of salary ($4,600) and the Chiefs have a high team total and matchup (home vs. Chicago). At 17% Santos edges out Stephen Gostkowski at $5,000 and 14% ownership in the Dallas dome.
The Broncos are the clear top-owned option on defense. They have been lights out against opposing passing games and have at least four combined sacks and turnovers in every game this season.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
Alex Smith logged a low early ownership of 5% despite having a quality matchup (at home against Chicago), $6,900 salary, and value projection by Footballguys.com. Stacking with Travis Kelce or Jeremy Maclin (Kelce much more unique by ownership for tournament play) can take advantage of a shoddy Chicago defense.
In the same game, Jay Cutler is another quality GPP option as the Chiefs are allowing the most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks this season, including 250+ yards in each game. At 1% ownership and Alshon Jeffery potentially returning (monitor his status), Cutler is intriguing. *Saturday Update: Alshon Jeffery continued to miss practice on Friday and is looking highly likely to miss this week's game, taking Jay Cutler off this list*
Mark Ingram II has been one of the most consistent running backs in all of fantasy over the first month and the Saints-Eagles game has a Vegas total near 50 points. Ingram is sparsely owned at 3%.
Doug Martin: Tampa Bay will rarely be a favorite this season, but Week 5 is a quality matchup to roll with Martin, who has run well this season. At less than 5% ownership and $6,400 salary, Martin has an above-average shot to reach 3x value.
Kamar Aiken, Willie Snead IV: Some DFS weeks have easy calls in terms of a quality floor with a basement cost. Both Aiken and Snead are less than $6,000 – ideal for WR3 – with stable depth chart roles. Cleveland’s secondary is one of the worst in the NFL making Aiken a quality option with less than 5% ownership.
Derek Carrier: With Jordan Reed’s concussion, Career is the 2015 version of Niles Paul in Washington’s offense. Carrier has a bargain basement $4,500 salary, making an extra stud in lineups easy to manage with less than 1% early ownership.
While the Giants and Broncos are highly owned options this week, Tampa Bay is a sneaky tournament play against Jacksonville. They are at home and $4,000, plus 4% ownership.
EXAMPLE GPP ROSTER 1
|DST||New York Giants||4300||13.2|
This features the Alex Smith-Travis Kelce stack (far less ownership than going with Jeremy Maclin). Kelce is a high-touchdown projection for this week with a three-game and 15-reception streak without a score (since Week 1). Mike Evans is a high-volume option yet to find the end zone in two games since returning from injury. James Jones is always a strong touchdown bet with Aaron Rodgers and a depleted receiver corps.
EXAMPLE GPP ROSTER 2
Philip Rivers and Keenan Allen forms one of the more efficient stacks on an efficiency basis by Footballguys projections this week. The Broncos and Stephen Gostkowski are chalk picks, making this tourney lineup all about the Chargers passing game against a questionable-at-best Pittsubugh secondary and Kamar Aiken cashing in on a wide open depth chart. It is worth noting the Browns (Aiken's opponent) has allowed strong games to off-the-radar receivers Dontrelle Inman and Seth Roberts in successive weeks.
CASH GAMES: GO WITH THE HERD
This was a very rare week where all of the top-owned players could not fit into lineups. Rob Gronkowski was a glaring omission as adding him to the mix required multiple substitutions across the board and losing optimization from Footballguys projections.
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