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
Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers highlight the quarterback position. Palmer lit up the Steelers defense for yardage, but touchdowns eluded the Arizona passing game from a truly dominant stat line last week. This week, Palmer returns to Arizona and gets the leaky Baltimore defense. Rivers is one of the hottest quarterbacks in all of fantasy with the most points over the past three weeks. Keenan Allen returning to practice on Friday only boosts Rivers' case against Oakland this weekend. Monitor Antonio Gates leading up to kickoff as he missed practice Wednesday through Friday this week.
Devonta Freeman has moved up to the elite tier of pricing with his historic run of recent production. The ownership levels have only strengthened at near 50% this week even at $8,700. Todd Gurley is the name in bright lights in terms of ownership and value for Week 7. Gurley logged 35% ownership in tournament action and I even saw a 50/50 FanDuel contest at 70% with a Thursday night lock. Gurley has a green light matchup against Cleveland and at $7,400 is a significant advantage as an RB2 and value play RB1 for the week.
Martavis Bryant leads the way at wide receiver at near 30% early ownership. His long catch-and-run score in Week 6 shows his upside even on tempered snaps. At $6,900 and against Kansas City's struggling secondary, Bryant slots as an upside WR2/3. Larry Fitzgerald is the Cardinals wide receiver of choice at $7,800 and a shade behind Bryant in ownership. John Brown is not far behind at 18% and $1,100 less. Both are quality options with Arizona's great matchup at home against Baltimore with the rebound factor following their road loss last week. *Friday Update* Brown missed practice with a hamstring injury. Monitor his status and favor Fitzgerald if things continue on this track through the weekend.
What ownership list of late would not be complete without DeAndre Hopkins? Even at a premium price, Hopkins has shades of 2014 Antonio Brown where his floor is so high, paying up makes plenty of sense. Finally Stefon Diggs has two strong games in a row, saves salary at $5,800, and Detroit's secondary has given up 147 yards and a score to Alshon Jeffery in his first game back from injury (and not 100% by my view) and a highly efficient day to Larry Fitzgerald and John Brown over the past two weeks.
Antonio Gates dominated tight end ownership for Thursday contest, but did not practice even on Friday. This is the gamble of early contest locks as Gates is on his way to a game-time decision. Monitor Gates leading up to kickoff, but the projected comfortable win against Oakland has me hedging away from Gates in my lineup decisions. Greg Olsen had the second-highest ownership at tight end, coming off a strong game and Week 7 matchup with Philadelphia.
At kicker, looking for a top-shelf team total by Vegas is a fast-track to finding a highly owned DFS play. Stephen Gostkowski is the clear top choice at 13% with $5,100. The Patriots are at home and the Jets are good enough on defense to force a few stops in scoring range.
The Rams are the perfect combination for a strong DFS defense play. They are a quality unit, playing at home this week, projected favorites (against Cleveland), and have a tempered salary of $4,500. Only Carolina (at home against Philadelphia) also surpassed 10% early ownreship at the position this week.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
Andrew Luck is a surprising low-ownership option in Week 7. At 4% Luck fits the unique criteria for GPP usage with the quality home matchup against New Orleans and as strong favorites. Pairing Luck with Donte Moncrief (11% ownership) is one of my favorite stacks. Landry Jones ($6,000) and Zach Mettenberger ($5,900) are value plays with low-ownership and advantageous matchups. Working for Jones is Kansas City's pass defense has allowed at least 249 passing yards in every game this season.
Dion Lewis was held in check, playing through an abdominal injury, in Week 6 as New England shifted to the LeGarrette Blount-fueled power run game. This week, Lewis is back and the Jets have a stingy run defense. Lewis allows the Patriots to play a spread concept and the Jets have shut down opposing interior run games outside of Ryan Mathews back in Week 3. Power runners like Alfred Morris (11-21-0), Isaiah Crowell (12-20-0), and Frank Gore (15-57-0) all had rough days thus far.
Of the 5% or lower early ownership group at wide receiver, Golden Tate, Mike Evans, and Vincent Jackson stand out for tournament play. Evans and Jackson get Washington's secondary, which has struggled against big-bodied receiver this season like Brandon Marshall (7-111-1), Eric Decker (4-59-1) and even Rueben Randle (7-116-1). Golden Tate as the secondary receiver against Minnesota's secondary continues the trend os success. Albert Wilson outproduced Jeremy Maclin against the Vikings (3-57-1), Malcom Floyd had 4-63-0 back in Week 3, plus Tate himself was successful against Minnesota earlier this season with 6-80-0 on 10 targets.
Rob Gronkowski has a rare week with low ownership (4%), making him a no-brainer GPP play. The Jets have been stingy against opposing tight ends to-date, but have yet to face much either with Gary Barnidge back in Week 1 (pre-breakout) and Jordan Cameron (dinged up) of note through six weeks.
While Stephen Gostkowski has high ownership this week, fellow high team total kickers Adam Vinatieri and Chandler Cantazaro are below 5%. If looking for a way to add uniqueness to a tournament lineup, substitute either in to save $100-200.
Washington has been an underrated defense in 2015, shadowed by their lackluster offense. They are at home and get Jameis Winston, who has thrown as many interceptions as touchdowns and Tampa Bay's offense is No.30 in the NFL by ProFootballReference.com's Expected Points metric.
EXAMPLE GPP ROSTER 1
Taking a shot on a passing offense with 3-4 touchdown potential is a quality play in tournaments. Palmer has two one-touchdown performances in the last three weeks despite strong yards-per-attempt numbers. I see a correction coming against Baltimore's pass defense in a 'get well' game at home for Arizona's passing game. Brown has one touchdown (29 receptions) since Week 1 as a touchdown regression candidate with his big play ability.
EXAMPLE GPP ROSTER 2
|DST||St Louis Rams||4500||14.4|
As discussed above, the Andrew Luck-Donte Moncrief stack has lower ownership than I would expect in a home game against a porous defense. Moncrief has more receiving touchdowns than T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson combined this season. Danny Woodhead and Travis Benjamin are high-leverage plays whose salaries allow for Luck and Rob Gronkowski in this lineup.
CASH GAMES: GO WITH THE HERD
|DST||St Louis Rams||4500||14.4|
Antonio Gates' status is a key variable, subbing out Gates for Greg Olsen means moving down at kicker to a sparsely-owned Andrew Franks. With Gates in the lineup, Chris Boswell (9%) fits into the budget as well as Carson Palmer over Rivers (both highly owned). Subbing in John Brown for Larry Fizgerald is another alternative to play around with for cash games in Week 7.
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