DFS Roundtable: Pretty Names, but Ugly Outlooks

Among the big, coveted names on the Week 4 board, who are your primary overall fades at QB, RB, and WR? Why?

Successfully identifying (and avoiding) the week's popular yet shaky plays is the primary avenue to GPP success. Those who side-stepped Cam Newton, Jay Ajayi, and Rashard Higgins in Week 3 can certainly attest to that. Among the big, coveted names on the Week 4 board, who are your primary overall fades at QB, RB, and WR? Why?

James Brimacombe: I had this exact experience last week about 15 minutes before lineup lock. I had Jay Ajayi listed as my top running back all week and he was my must-play, but after looking at David Dodds’ final rankings I saw that Kareem Hunt was his number-one RB, so I swapped him out. I was also nervous on Ajayi's potential workload and that he might see a decrease in work.

This week I might be looking to fade names like Melvin Gordon III against the Eagles and Matt Ryan against the Bills. The Eagles are the eighth-best team through three Weeks against opposing running backs, and Gordon looks to be somewhat banged-up and could see a reduction in touches. As for Ryan, the Bills are the third-best team against quarterbacks and have not allowed a passing touchdown on the season, having shut out the likes of Josh McCown, Cam Newton, and Trevor Siemian. I’ll also be off of Julio Jones due to matchup. This week offers us Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr Jr., and A.J. Green at the same price point but with better matchups. Jones’ week is coming, but it won’t be Week 4.

Jason Wood: I'm also avoiding Matt Ryan and Julio Jones this week. The Bills have yet to allow a touchdown pass as James noted, and the Falcons can win the game in other ways, namely by leaving Devonta Freeman to work his magic.

I'm less concerned about Melvin Gordon III because by all accounts his bone bruise is minor. He was eligible to return to the game last weekend and is practicing this week. The Eagles defense is overrated right now and I can see the Chargers moving the ball into the red zone plenty of times. Gordon's role as a safety valve receiver and goal-line finisher will create a compelling floor.

Chris Feery: I’ll respectfully disagree with my colleagues on the Falcons-Bills matchup. While it’s true that the Bills have been tough against the pass thus far, I have a hard time envisioning them shutting down Matt Ryan and Julio Jones at home. There’s room for both in my lineups, and a stack may prove to be fruitful for GPP purposes. For players to pass on, I’m looking at the pricey Steelers across the board. That’s a risk due to the upside that Ben Roethlisberger and company bring to the table, but I’m not getting the warm fuzzies about the Steelers offense at this juncture of the season.

Le'Veon Bell has yet to produce the monster game we’ve all been waiting for, and I’m not inclined to chase it. Antonio Brown has fared better, but he’s only found the end zone once. For Bell, this is further confirmation of the fact that players that miss a good portion of camp and preseason should have a warning label attached for the early part of the season. From a bottom line perspective, I’m enamored with enough cheaper options that I don’t feel the need to spend up for upside that may not materialize. The Ravens just got their clocks cleaned across the pond by the Jaguars, and I’m assuming they’ll be properly motivated to wipe that stench out of their noses in a home tilt against a hated division rival.

Justin Howe: I’m also off Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, but not due to the Buffalo defense, which has faced a who’s who of mediocre quarterback play. It’s strictly a salary thing there.

I won’t have much of the Steelers offense, either. Whether you believe in home/road splits or not, you can’t deny the night-and-day difference for Ben Roethlisberger. Over the last 3+ seasons, he’s simply two different QBs depending on the location, and it’s not luck; it’s a pretty clear trend. The Steelers passing game sees more opportunity and more efficiency at Heinz Field – and on the road, they’re in stay-away territory given their always-high salaries. There’s no way I’m paying up, up, up for their ceiling when we so rarely see it materialize on the road.

At running back, I’m also backing away (mostly) from Mike Gillislee. He just doesn’t offer the kind of floor you’d like for a guy with his RB2 salary, and the path to his ceiling is rocky. He catches no passes whatsoever (0 targets thus far) and has slogged to just 3.22 yards per rush thus far. In other words, to return GPP value, he’ll almost certainly need 100 yards and 2 touchdowns (or 40-50 yards and 3 scores). Multi-entry GPP construction is all about diversification and making room for suboptimal-looking plays, so mass-entry players shouldn’t just cross him off their lists. But I’d recommend limiting their exposure greatly. There are other backs in his pricing tier with more potential paths to value.

Justin Bonnema: I'm going to take the easy answer and nominate Cam Newton as an every-week fade until further notice. He has another great matchup this week that should push him into a high-volume situation, but the Panthers offense is just plain bad and I think it's because of him. Going back to Week 8 of 2016, Newton has scored 20 points or more only 3 times, and has scored fewer than 15 points 10 times. Easy fade.

For running back, I'm with Chris on Le'Veon Bell. Even though the volume is there for him (his 65 touches rank 5th among all players), he only has 236 total yards and 0 touchdowns to show for it. A big game is coming, but I'm betting against it this week in Baltimore. (Although this is a great time to get him while his ownership is down, especially with a suspension looming for Ezekiel Elliott, who will be one of the highest owned backs this week.)

Moderator: That’s some high-level thinking there, Bonnema. Great job of looking ahead to project the present.

Bonnema: For wide receivers, I'm off Mike Evans. He'll likely be shadowed by Janoris Jenkins, who so far this season has allowed 81 yards and 0 touchdowns. I think the Buccaneers take a home loss in a low-scoring game.

I don't necessarily have a tight end in mind as a fade. If I had things my way, this position would be eliminated or converted into a WR/TE flex spot. That said, Charles Clay strikes me as someone who will be popular this week in a high-volume situation, but I don't trust the Bills offense whatsoever and I don't think this matchup is all that great, even if Clay offers decent value.

Danny Tuccitto: As I've mentioned in previous roundtables, I generally don't fade players at the one-off positions, but this week I'll at least consider fading Matt Ryan because I've calculated his tournament value probability to be the lowest of the week (8%), yet he has the eighth-highest projected ownership according to our Steve Buzzard.

At running back, the clear tournament fade for me is Ezekiel Elliott. At 29%, he has far-and-away the highest projected ownership, yet only has a 12% chance of hitting 4x, according to my math. But even if my math is wrong, it's nevertheless true that Elliott has only achieved tournament value in 2 of his 18 career games. I get that even 3x gives you a healthy 24.6 points, but at that ownership, I'll look somewhere else for those points.

At wide receiver, I'm fading Mike Evans. That’s partially for the reason Bonnema mentioned, but also for value vs. ownership reasons: He has an 8% value probability, yet his projected ownership is 15%,

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