For those of us not lucky enough to be in the Bahamas this weekend or lucky enough to be getting ready to take a trip to Vegas next weekend, we can still take solace in knowing that there’s going to be over $13 million dollars switching hands this weekend playing daily fantasy across all sites. To help give us all the best chance to take home some of that money, we will be using the $1 NFL Dive #2 from Thursday evening to gauge FanDuel ownership rates. If you are looking for how to properly use these Player Percentage owned numbers please start with our primer article that can be found here. With Sunday Millions and Championship Q’s there is no need to worry about not having enough reasons to do your homework this weekend as plenty of chances to win life changing money still exist. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
High Owned Guys
There’s a few interesting things I noticed in the high ownership players this week. For starters there is a lot of points chasing going on. We have also seen a monumental shift in how people are building rosters. Paying up for TE has not been working the past few weeks with guys like Fleener and Walker being the top scorers, but the overall trend of TEs needing multiple scores or 100 yards and a score is still in tact. That means that if you do punt TE with someone other then one of the top guys you really need to nail it or you have a ton of ground to make up. Do we really expect that Jimmy Graham will have another catchless and targetless game? I know I do not. Do we really expect another 20-40 points out of guys like Deandre and Kenny this weekend? I mean it’s not like they do that every week. Let’s break it down by position and take a look at some of the top plays and top fades.
At QB we really have only four guys standing out above the others. Brees is the top owned guy and I’m very hesitant to use him this week. The spread in that game is now double digits and despite Vegas expecting 28 points out of New Orleans, I think at least one or more of those TDs come on the ground while they are running out the clock late in the second half. Carolina is a mess right now and playing the Saints at home is going to be no easy task. I like Brees for a good game, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t think he is the top scoring QB this weekend and at his price range you would really need him to be. Furthermore He has two pass catchers in Kenny Stills and Jimmy Graham on the top owned lists and that does not even include guys like Colston, Ingram, and Thomas who should all see a few touches as well. If you want to stack Brees and get the double points on a TD pass, there’s no clear cut person to use him with. In order to really cover yourself sufficiently you would need to enter quite a few rosters with different Saints pass catchers and that is an expensive way to go.
I do however really like Aaron Rodgers at his price tag and ownership. I have Rodgers as the top QB this week in his home game against Atlanta. Rodgers is a surgeon and he has been carving up defenses all season. He is not without some chinks in the armor as well though. For starters, he has two of the better WRs in the league at his disposal. Jordy is a monster and Randall Cobb does not suck either. Both of his targets are very expensive and recent trends have shown that double stacking pass catchers is no longer en vogue. It’s really tough to win one of these large field tourney’s without getting max points from every roster spot and there’s a lot of capping upside when you use two stud pass catchers from one team. Add in the fact that RB Eddie Lacy is highly owned and should be used often against a putrid Falcons run defense and there’s too many mouths to feed for all of them to go nuts. I will use Rodgers a little, but I could see him throwing a few first half TDs and then handing it to Lacy the whole 3rd quarter before giving way to back up Matt Flynn and enjoying a little fourth quarter rest. He could still get 3 TD passes before this happens, but I doubt this is a huge yardage game for him unless Atlanta’s D or Special teams gets a score to help keep it close.
The other two highly owned QBs do not really excite me much either. Stafford gets a horrendous TB secondary and Kaep gets a bad Oakland defense. Of the two I like Stafford more as Megatron seems to be beasting again and TB defense has given up some big games to lesser WRs all season long. Kap gets a bad Oakland team, but again here the top RB is Frank Gore and Carlos Hyde is even getting some love. SF does not have a very high powered offense so despite Kaep’s discount price, I do not think they will ask him to do enough to pay it off. Qbs do not get points for handoffs and I think Gore and Hyde are going to see a ton of those in an easy victory. I’m still debating sprinkling in a few Stafford teams, but I am totally off Kaep and not worried about that haunting me at all.
The RB list is interesting to me this weekend. I’m going to start with the two guys on it I do not like. First off is Dan BOOM Herron. He is the featured back in Indy now based on usage last week with Trent Richardson experiment basically over. I would not be surprised if they cut bait and move on from T. Rich as he just does not have the explosion we remember from his college days and rookie year anymore. Indy is still a pass first team and those red zone chances the TEs get are not going back to the RB anytime soon. The Indy game is expected to be close with Cleveland as Vegas has a 3 point spread on it, so I think they will still be leaning on Luck’s talented right arm well into the fourth quarter. I can see Herron having 50 or 60 yards and maybe even a score, but I just do not see the high upside game coming from him this week to pay off the salary and put you in a position to win a GPP. I like him for cash actually, but his upside is limited to me. The other back I’m not thrilled with is Frank Gore. I think San Fran is a very balanced offense when it wants to be and a lot of guys can contribute to the machine when it is working. Hyde has vultured some TDs from Gore recently and Gore is not exactly a huge pass game threat. That means that you need to rely on him to get you 100 yards and a TD on the ground, which is not unheard of, but not exactly common either. He could have a very nice game, or he could get vultured, injured, or Kaepernicked. Getting Kaepped is a nice way of saying his erratic QB could throw a few picks or fumble his way out of a red zone score and keep the game close. That would mean more passes and less Gore which has happened before. San Fran plays very low scoring and boring games, so I can not guarantee the run heavy second half most people are envisioning. Even if I could I can not guarantee the heaviest workload for Gore as Kap and Hyde both have a few carries every game as well. I understand the price saving has some people drooling, but if a guy gets you 10/11 points or less in 7 of the last 8 weeks it does not really inspire me to play him at $5700 hoping for 17 points or more to pay it off in a GPP.
This leaves us with Tre, Eddie, Arian, Joique, and CJ. I honestly like all 5 of these guys and will be using each of them a little bit on Sunday. Tre Mason is explosive and still underpriced so I will be rolling him out there. CJ Anderson and Eddie Lacy are both guys who play with insanely talented QBs and great passing offenses around them. They are often overlooked because of this, but that’s not really the case this week. I take one or both of them in good match ups when I can because they are often overlooked. The contrarian nature of doing so is much less this week, but both are still quality plays on their own. Joique is an interesting play He is a little more expensive than I thought he would be. Plus Reggie Bush is back this week. Now I am under no delusion that Reggie is going to take carries from Joique, but they will mix in a few plays to get him the ball in space and see if he can break something. Plus Theo Riddick is no slouch on 3rd downs either so Joique is probably looking at a 15 carry for 60 yard kind of day. If he does not find the endzone more than once I doubt he pays it off. That leaves us Arian Foster. I love him this week and have been using him a bunch in my Thursday start games. I was hoping you guys were all going to forget about him due in large part to his perceived underperformance last week. Unfortunately he is going off with double digit ownership and that really leads me to think that maybe I should limit exposure to him a little bit as his price is high and he needs to do a bunch to pay it off.
At WR and TE this week I don’t know what you guys are all smoking. KENNY STILLS is on 1 out of 3 rosters. A guy who was a bench player two weeks ago and got lucky to put up the numbers he did last week. I say lucky, because he had a 50 something yard TD on a play the CB fell down. Take that off his stat line and he had 4 catches for 100 yards. A nice 10-12 point day, but no where near something that deserves this level of ownership. I know many of you are grumbling about this, so let me take it a step further. Stills played 25 of 56 snaps. So he was only on the field for 45% of the offensive plays. Now here is the knock your socks off stat that will surprise you. That meant he was only the third most used WR on his own team last week as Marquis Colston and Nick Toon both outsnapped him. At $5100 last week he was a great flyer to take on the chance he catches a big long TD like he did, but at $6400? You need him to get 20 points to pay that off. Last week was his best game of the season and it took a CB slip and fall for him to even come close to that. Do you think another DB is going to let that happen this week again? I don’t see it and definitely not at 33% ownership. I think Stills has way less then a 1 in 3 chance of being the top WR scorer this weekend and I will be fading him all day across all sites.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is definitely good for DeAndre Hopkins. The problem I have this week is that last week he got a plum match up against a guy he always burns. This week he gets a Jags defense that is playing much better then they had been recently. They did not stop a guy like Odell Beckham last week, but they did keep the Giants offense in check for the second half of that game. I expect Houston to lean heavily on the run this weekend and that is going to mean less chances for Hopkins to put up anywhere near the numbers he did last week. I hate chasing points and despite knowing that Fitz and Hopkins have a connection, I am still comfortable limiting my exposure. Kenny Stills is an outright fade to me, but I will still use some Hopkins in spots. I’m justy not using him anywhere near as much as some of you guys think he deserves to be rostered. The other two guys here are Jordy Nelson and Josh Gordon. I would probably take Josh over Jordy which might not make sense to most of you, but let me explain. Jordy is in the game most think will see a lot of points, but most also think they will have a comfortable lead in it. We already talked about Rodgers spreading the wealth to Cobb, Nelson, and even Davante Adams as well as my thoughts on Lacy pounding out the clock in the second half. None of those things make a compelling game script for Nelson as a top play. At his price and position he is not an easy guy to use and work around, especially if you pair him with Rodgers. I’m not saying I do not like Jordy, but I just do not like Jordy to be the top scorer on the week. If you want to win a GPP, I think he is probably a limit or maybe even a fade. Josh Gordon though I think could be a little sneaky. Cameron is banged up and probably out. Rumblings are Crowell is banged up and may be limited too. Either way though I do not see this being a game Cleveland tries to go heavy on the ground. Indy can score and Vegas expects 50 points from this one. It’s expecting to stay close too, but you don’t get to a 50 point O/U by trading four yard runs with your opponents all day. Luck is going to be throwing and if Hoyer can’t do the same than this is not going to get anywhere near that total. I’m also thinking Hoyer is gonna have a fire lit under him after the benching and Johnny Football sighting last week. Gordon has 2 games under his belt with 25+ total targets and 15 catches for almost 200 yards. He has yet to find the end zone which I think changes Sunday. Add in the reports that Vontae Davis is out and their is no one in my opinion that stops Gordon except for his QB/Offensive Coordinator. This guy was a top 3 WR in the league last year on his production and I’m ready for him to fully shake off the rust and go BIG this week. I’d go so far as to predict he wins someone in the Bahama’s a Million this weekend and probably helps get a few people here some very expensive $1500 Q tickets for the big tourney in a few weeks.
TE is where I think people are off the rails a bit. Jordan Reed and Antonio Gates? Really, I mean really? I get that Colt McCoy loves his TE and I get that WRs of San Diego have a very tough match up against NE, but really? Listen we said before you need 2 TDs or a TD and 100 yards from your TE to keep pace. That is because there will at least be one TE every week who gets that and if you do not have him you will be at a big disadvantage, but I don’t see this at all. I prefer the third and fourth options at TE by a mile or more this weekend. Delanie Walker costs a mere $200 more than Reed. His WR2 is out for the year with Justin Hunter on IR and word broke yesterday that his WR1 Kendall Wright has probably a broken hand and is DTD. Hands are a big thing for a WR to have working and this could limit or force Wright to miss the game. Either way it lightens his workload. With Nate Washington as the only other trustworthy pass catcher, I can see Walker having a big day with a few extra looks. As for Graham, well we have to have a short memory to play this game. If I said I did not like Stills and Hopkins because it was points chasing than I would be a hypocrite to not like guys who are underowned because of bad performances last week. Graham had about the worst one to be honest. He had no catches on no targets for no yards and no TD’s. I guess he caught have made one catch behind the line of scrimmage and fumbled to truely have a worse day, but abig fat zero from an expensive TE definitely brings out the NEVER AGAIN crowd. I hope you guys Never do roster Jimmy again, because it’s ony a matter of time before he explodes for a 7-10 catch 100-125 yard and 2 td performance. Go ahead and shy away, but you don’t think Brees did not miss this fact either? You don’t think a top 5 QB is going to go back to the well that has brought so much success for him? Graham had a bad game. Maybe it was the defensive scheme, maybe it was his offense’s game plan, or maybe it was just that other guys were open this week. I’m not going to let one game change my opinion of a guy I have watched and used in fantasy for years with a high rate of success. Jimmy will be back and those who use him will be overjoyed when he performs at lower ownership.
LOW OWNED GUYS
San Fran 7.2%
I hate to sound like a broken record but If you guys still refuse to listen then I will will ram this down your throats until you guys get it. Peyton Manning is 2.2% and Demaryius Thomas is 1.6%. That means you are getting 50 to 1 odds that they will be the best pass catching combo this weekend. 50-1 odds on arguably the best WR in the game right now and the best QB of our lifetime. A pass catching combo that has won the Millions on FanDuel and DraftKings more than once already. By my calculations they have already won backers close to $4 MILLION this year just in the Sunday Millions tourney’s on DraftKings and FanDuel. There’s a few new member to the young money Millionaire’s club that has these guys to thank. I understand that Buffalo has a pretty good pass rush, but that does not deter my love for these two. If you do not read Bryan Fontaine @rookieblitz and his work then let me summarize his argument as we are in complete agreement. Basically this Buffalo D has a great pass rush. Well Peyton has been given the most time of any QB to throw the ball per Pro Football Focus numbers. Brady and Rivers have beaten this defense for a combined 600 yards and 6 TDs, so it not only is possible, but it’s been done. Denver plays even more up tempo at home as well which tires out defenses and then there’s one other thing that has me loving them. When Aaron Rodgers gets a big lead he tends to hand it to Lacy and sit the fourth quarter out. When Peyton gets a lead, they tend to keep the pace high. Peyton is a master at picking apart defenses and taking what the defense gives them. When they go run heavy with a lead in the second half and teams start cheating up in the box, Peyton is the king of recognition and audibles. He sees an 8 man front even with a 24 -7 score and it’s green light on the fade to Thomas. He don’t care if it’s the first or last play of the game, he puts his team in the right position to gain the most yards on every single snap. Fade him if you want, but I like money so you will not find me doing that this week.
If you want another QB to use, I think Wilson is that other sneaky guy this week. Philly puts up points and gives the other team more plays to have the chance to do the same. Chip Kelly’s game plan is predicated on scoring points and then getting a turnover or two to force teams into one dimensional passing teams to catch up. It works often and the Eagles are doing well because of it. My problem here though is that Wilson really does not turn the ball over. Giving more plays to an efficient QB is like taking matches from a kid and handing him a blowtorch. You are all but expecting an explosion at this point. I think a conservative estimate is 250 passing with a score and 50 rushing with a score. That would be 25 FD points and 3 times his $8500 salary. Again here I said that is a conservative estimate. They are expecting 4 Seahawks scores in Vegas on Sunday, so if Marshawn gets only one then it is plausible that Wilson not only reaches two but maybe adds a third. If he does that he will blow through his value and make his backers very happy at his low ownership rate.
I’ll make RB easy for you guys. Barring the injury concerns a few of these guys have, I think all are in play this weekend. If you want me to choose the top targets I would put Lev Bell and Lamar Miller on top of the list. You really can not go wrong with any of those guys to differentiate yourself and keep in mind that I was not a huge fan of most of the highly owned guys. RB this week feels like one of those times when the top scorer comes out of no where so be weary of the chalk, but play them and mix in these guys as well. I will have some very similar cores at WR and QB this week, so I am banking on some craziness at RB and a few low owned guys plowing the way. Last week was Chalk city at the position as Bell/Mason were the combo to have and the highest owned cheap and expensive guy. I don’t see Frank Gore and Arian Foster being the combo that wins all the money this week, so you are free to mix and match to try to get the top combo and should be rewarded with low ownership and a big move on the leaderboards if you can nail it right.
WR I like every single player I outlined on the list above. You can see all the ownership percentages below in the chart we included, but if you want a short list of guys to run through an optimizer I would take the low owned list here and not think twice about any of them. The one sneaky play I want to mention is Nate Washington. Justin Hunter is on IR and Kendall Wright had a late breaking news story about his broken hand. Hands are important to WR as mentioned, so without him it’s going to be all the Washington. If you want to put some Washington’s in your wallet this weekend, then put a Washington on your roster. Unfortunately I can not say the same thing if you want to put Benjamins in your wallet to use Kelvin Benjamin, so be careful as I think he has a below average chance to shine this week which really kills me cause I normally like him and he is normally high owned.
At TE I think you basically have to use Delanie Walker, Jimmy Graham or one of the names below Coby Fleener on this list. Rumblings of Dwayne Allen playing are being heard and if he does I think neither him nor Fleener are usable. If Allen is out then Fleener also gets my blessing, but I would still rather save on Walker or even Jordan Reed if I absolutely had to.
Both of the low owned defenses here are ones I really like. That Detroit D line is nasty and that TB O line is suspect. That’s as far as I need to go on that one. As for San Fran, I think they are the sneaky good defense this week. Oakland has no running game. Maybe a Latavius Murray changes that a little, but coming off the concussion they are already talking about limiting him. San Fran has been better and most of their games tend to be lower scoring. I think they dominate this one and force the Raiders to play catch up which plays right into that narrative we spoke about with teams having to drop back and that leading to sacks, picks, and fantasy points.
Good Luck to those lucky enough to be able to spend this weekend in the warm climate at Atlantis. I said good luck now, but we all know this is a skill game, so it might be better to just wish you all the best of luck in being on the right side of variance.