Clue us in on your most glaring QB/RB/WR/TE fade for Week 12. Why will you be so underweight on this guy? And who's your favorite contrarian pivot from him?
QB – Tom Brady. I love Brady, and would gladly consider him most weeks. But this week, as the most expensive quarterback and with word he's dealing with an unspecified “Achilles’ injury," I'm fading him hard as I think the Patriots could win this game by focusing on the ground game.
RB – Lamar Miller. I know Miller's price is right, but the matchup against Baltimore does him no favors. The Ravens defense, as good as it's been, may still be underrated by the DFS community. I expect the Texans offense to be stymied this week, and Miller won't get enough touches and/or red zone touches to deliver value.
WR – Alshon Jeffery. All of our DFS projectors (Dodds, Maurile, and Sigmund) have Jeffery as one of the top values at the position. I'm not buying it. He's been maddeningly inconsistent and there are so many other ways the Eagles can dominate the Bears. Could Jeffery deliver value? Sure. But the odds of that outcome are way too low to invest heavily.
TE – Rob Gronkowski. Much as I'm expecting Brady to disappoint this week, I can't invest in Gronkowski. This feels like a game the Patriots win on the ground. And Gronkowski's price is too steep to invest without a reasonably high expectation of eye-popping numbers.
QB – Alex Smith. The Kansas City Chiefs have gone from a team that looked like a Super Bowl contender to one with serious question marks. By extension, Smith has gone from an MVP contender to a quarterback on the hot seat. The Chiefs’ swoon has not been entirely Smith’s fault, but his two picks last week against a New York Giants defense that hasn’t been able to get out of its own way was quite telling. I’m passing on Smith and not chasing a bounce-back performance, even though he’s in a good spot on paper this week against the Buffalo Bills. I’ll look in the direction of Matt Ryan at a similar price point instead, as he could be in for a big day against a shaky Tampa Bay Buccaneers secondary.
RB – Carlos Hyde. Back in Week 2, Hyde had a productive day against the Seattle Seahawks. He’s not going to pull the same trick again, as the Seahawks run defense has shown marked improvement since that point. For another mid-priced back, I’ll look toward Tevin Coleman. The Atlanta Falcons should have little trouble putting points on the board against the Buccaneers, and Coleman will be a big part of the game plan if Devonta Freeman remains out.
WR – Tyreek Hill. I’m staying away from Hill for the same reasons as I’m passing on Smith. Hill remains a game-breaker, but that hasn’t been happening often enough to consider him a reliable DFS option. It’s a risk to pass on him, as the Chiefs could bounce back against a struggling Bills team. However, I’m not comfortable with the Chiefs offense until I see signs that the ship has been righted. Julio Jones can be had at a similar price point, and he’s a fine pivot in a potential blowup spot against the Buccaneers.
TE – Gronkowski. I’ll mostly be paying up at tight end this week, but I’m more intrigued by both Zach Ertz and Jimmy Graham. Gronkowski brings multiple-touchdown upside to the table every time he takes the field, but he also costs an arm and a leg. On the weeks that he doesn’t produce, that can amount to a lineup-killer. I’ll roll with Ertz and Graham and keep my fingers crossed that I’m not missing out on one of Gronkowski’s big days.
QB – Matt Ryan. He just appears almost devoid of upside – he’s only topped 255 yards 3 times this year – and I don’t feel like chasing the mystical Julio Jones breakout every single week. Jones just doesn’t profile for many touchdowns, and without him the Falcons offense simply lacks big-time capabilities. Steve Sarkisian would rather control games on the ground, and as heavy favorites, it’s what I expect he’ll aim for here.
RB – Christian McCaffrey. I wouldn’t call him a complete fade, but I’m very wary of using him, and he won’t sniff my cash roster. Greg Olsen’s return should put a bit of a damper on McCaffrey’s weekly nine-catch upside, and while there’s a chance he’s earned more of a rushing share going forward, are you willing to roll the dice that he’ll even approach 100 scrimmage yards this week? Me, I’m not.
WR – Mike Evans. Ryan Fitzpatrick is scattershot, and I’m not risking that connection this week, especially with so many attractive plays to pay up for. Evans doesn’t tower over his tier at all in targets, so why would I ascribe him any Fitzpatrick-related upside?
TE – Zach Ertz. He’s rapidly fading in volume prominence – just 21 over the last 4 games, fewer than Deonte Thompson, after 48 over his first 5. Rolling the dice on a touchdown is a technique that uses cheap tight ends, not the top tier. Pay up for volume, not the prayer of a touchdown.
Danny Tuccitto: I hardly, if ever, fade players at the one-off positions, so I'll give two running backs and two wide receivers:
McCaffrey – He has yet to hit 4x value on Draftkings in 10 games this season. The Jets give up the seventh-lowest running back production. This week sees his highest salary of the season ($6,900). I'd rather pay an extra $1,000 for Kamara.
Joe Mixon – He has yet to hit 4x value on Draftkings in 10 games this season. The Browns give up the 11th-lowest running back production and have the No. 1 run defense DVOA. Mixon scored 6.9 points against the No. 2 run defense last week. At $4,400, give me Rex Burkhead ($4,300) or Dion Lewis ($4,800) instead.
Jeffery – Ditto what Jason said, although, Jeffery (10%) isn't near the top of my tournament value probabilities, which are based on his salary and our projections. But Jason's general sour tone is correct, as Jeffery's only achieved 4x value in 1 of 10 games with the Eagles. I'll take T.Y. Hilton at $6,700 instead.
Larry Fitzgerald – I'm only including this one because my tournament value probabilities show Fitzgerald ranked fifth at wide receiver (21%), and I think that's a bit too optimistic given that he's going against Aaron Colvin, one of the best slot cornerbacks in the NFL. I do have doubts about this one, though, as Fitzgerald's $5,600 salary is the second-lowest it's been all season.
Dan Hindery: I will be fading both of the New Orleans backs. Mark Ingram II and Alvin Kamara are priced as top-six running backs despite a tough matchup on the road against the Los Angeles Rams. While both backs have been extremely productive in recent weeks despite splitting carries, it is tough for me to pay up for a running back on a road underdog who is splitting both touches and red zone carries. The fade also makes sense because both Ingram and Kamara are going to be very popular based upon their recent big games, and due to the high-profile matchup pitting two of the best teams in the league against each other.
I love Leonard Fournette as a contrarian pivot this week in the same price range as Ingram and Kamara. The matchup against Arizona doesn’t look great on paper and it’s been a long time since Fournette had a big fantasy day, so he will come with lower ownership. He missed time with an injured ankle, had a bye, was suspended for a game and hasn’t found the end zone in either of the last two weeks. However, his performance (and usage) against Cleveland’s first-ranked DVOA run defense last week was quietly impressive. Fournette had 28 carries for 111 yards and was also targeted three times in the passing game. He could see a similar workload this week. Plus, if the Jacksonville defense dominates Blaine Gabbert and the Arizona offense, Fournette could see some short fields and a great game script to pound away at an Arizona defense that gave up 163 yards and 2 touchdowns to Houston’s running backs last week.
Justin Bonnema: I'm going to pull out my super risky take of fading Le'Veon Bell on FanDuel. It's uncomfortable because nothing is worse than seeing a player of his caliber go off when he's not in your lineups, but here are three reasons why my exposure will be low to him this week:
1. There is a ton of running back value this week. Bell is the second-most expensive player on the slate, and even though he's more than capable of scoring the 28+ points needed to hit 3x value, it's not hard to find a cheaper player with similar projections. Bell has not been the automatic high-ceiling guy this year that he has been the last few seasons.
2. The Steelers passing attack is going to shred the Packers secondary. We finally saw Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown flex what they're capable of last week. I think we see more of that this week, and even though Bell will be a part of that passing attack (he had 11 targets against the Titans), I'd rather go with quarterbacks and wide receivers in this game.
3. The matchup isn't that great. The Packers have the eighth-ranked run DVOA and are ninth in stuffed rank, which is the percentage of runs where the running back is tackled at or behind the line of scrimmage. This is not say Bell won't flirt with a 100-yard game, but expecting tournament value seems like a lofty expectation.