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Week 6 NFL Daily Fantasy Football Picks: Tournment Fades—Avoid All Steelers

Players to avoid in your DFS GPP lineups.

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Washington Redskins Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

There are many elements to weigh when deciding to fade a player in GPPs. One is a bad matchup, one is a bad projected gameflow, another is when the rate of projected success does not surpass the projected ownership percentage.

In tournaments, having a 50% owned player who goes off and leads the position in scoring is a great guy to have in our lineups. But when our 8% owned player surpasses the value of the 50% player, we have an edge on 50% of the field.

FantasyDraft still includes the Monday Night Football game in their Main Slate, which FanDuel and DraftKings have excluded because they want us to get paid faster, which means we spend it faster. The scoring is full-PPR and salary cap is roughly double that of DraftKings, with pricing to scale. My favorite element of FantasyDraft: you can play two flexes.

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In this post are some simple assumptions on ownership and matchups to help you think about fading certain players in the FanDuel and DraftKings Sunday Main Slate.

Salaries noted are FanDuel/Draftkings/FantasyDraft.

Team Fade of the Week: Steelers at MIA

Ben Roethlisberger at MIA ($8.7k/$7.5k/$14.1k)
Le’Veon Bell at MIA ($9.3k/$7.9k/$14.9k)
Antonio Brown at MIA ($9.7k/$10k/$18.9k)
Sammie Coates at MIA ($6.4k/$4.7k/$9.2k)

The Steelers are going to put up points against a bad Miami defense. The Fins rank 30th in DVOA against WR1s, so Brown should put up points. They rank 27th against short passes and 30th on passes up the middle, which elevate Brown and Bell, and therefore elevate Ben.

But, dating back to last season, Ben averages almost 50 fewer yards per game on the road than at home. In 11 games at home, he has thrown 16 TDs to seven INTs; in eight on the road, five TDs and ten INTs. This hurts the entire offense. Bell is GPP playable on DK and Draft, but the prices on Pittsburgh’s Big Three are—otherwise—way too high to justify rostering on a point-per-dollar basis. In their ballparks, Cam Newton and Drew Brees are bad to avoid in a shootout; Demarco Murray is guaranteed the same volume behind an offensive line ranked third (4.4) in adjusted line yards (ALY), while LeSean McCoy has the textbook Revenge Game against Chip Kelly against a Niners team traveling from west to east; and game stacking CAR-NO with Kelvin Benjamin and Brandin Cooks is actually reasonably priced, not to mention Willie Snead, who is far cheaper to stack with Benjamin and Greg Olsen.

There are also the respective pivots to Ezekiel Elliott and Allen Robinson, who will both go criminally underowned. Elliott faces a Packers run D ranking 2nd in DVOA against the run, but they’ve faced the horrid offensive lines of Jacksonville and Minnesota, who both rank in the bottom three in ALY; as well as Lions and Giants teams with no run scheme in their offenses. The Cowboys have the best run blocking by any metric, notably their 4.5 ALY.

Robinson is going against a Bears team ranking 27 in DVOA against WR1s. Jacksonville’s horrid line is forcing more no-huddle, which means more plays, which guarantees double digit targets to Robinson. Robinson is out of the top-five most expensive on DK and Draft ($7.8k/$14.7k), but still $200 more than Cooks, which will lower his ownership there. Where he is really the GPP nuts play is FD, where he is the 2nd-highest priced WR ($8.6k) in a week where Bell, Murray, and McCoy are projected to be coupled everywhere, therefore suppressing the ownership of higher priced WRs.

Pairing a CAR-NO QB with Elliott and a sub-$7k RB with Robinson is a core with minimal risk, as they are all safe plays, but soaring reward because Elliott and Robinson may both be under 5% owned. The raw points of these two versus Bell and Brown may only be off by 5-10 points, but the savings should get those points back elsewhere in our lineups.

As for Coates, he blew up last week and is more expensive than Cameron Meredith on every site. Meredith has the far better matchup in what projects to be a more competitive game. Meredith may once again be Brian Hoyer’s biggest target. Everything works against Coates here, if we are going for cheap chalk.


Tyrod Taylor vs SF ($7.8k/$5.3k/$10.5k)
Alex Smith at OAK ($6.8k/$5.7k/$11.3k)

The game in New Orleans will bring down ownership across the board at the position. And I cannot really justify fading the chalk, as games in New Orleans always win all the money in tournaments from people who fade New Orleans.

But there is still a logic game to play out here:

  1. There is an obsession across the industry with pairing two of the three or four top-priced RBs.
  2. (1) leads people to choose between saving at QB or all WR positions.

There is a dominant narrative that spending down at WR will be the decision people make, but even if Cam and Brees are each 15% owned, that is still 70% of the field spreading ownership around at the position. I’m all for hot takes and contrarian play, but reaching down this far with New Orleans on the slate crosses the line.

The case for Taylor is great: SF is bad and he adds the rushing game to his points. Without a New Orleans game on the slate, I would have some TyGOD exposure, but closer to $7k than $8k is more what we want.

Smith is a weird play because Smith is always a weird play. He has no deep ball and the Jamaal Charles-Spencer Ware run game in effect cuts into volume. The Raiders defense has been among the worst in the league, but the pass rush is so strong that regression toward the mean is ripe against a quarterback like Smith, who is so dependent on the play action.

On the fence with:

Aaron Rodgers vs DAL ($8.8k/$7.3k/$13.7k)

If Eddie Lacy and James Starks are inactive on Sunday morning, Rodgers enters the conversation with Cam and Brees. He will be lower owned and always has a 350-yard, 4-TD ceiling at home, no matter what the situation. With only Don Jackson on their practice squad, Randall Cobb will likely lead the team in backfield snaps, meaning immense volume for Rodgers.

The Cowboys’ rank 25th in DVOA against the pass, this game projects to be paced up for GB, and their total is moving up in Vegas, so Rodgers looks good if Lacy or Starks are in, on paper. But the wider the Packers’ lead, the more run-heavy Mike McCarthy gets, no matter how many failed drives get created, capping Rodgers’ ceiling. The only assurance that Rodgers keeps throwing through the second half is no one to whom he can hand the ball off.

Running Backs

Todd Gurley at DET ($7.9k/$6.7k/$12.6k)
DeAndre Washington vs KC ($5.5k/$4.2k/$8.4k)
James Starks vs DAL ($4.5k/$3.4k/$6.6k)

The Lions are 28th in DVOA against the run and the Rams are going to be paced up in Detroit. A lot of plays against a bad run D looks great for Gurley to find his stride. The struggle here is that his line is boasting the 5th worst ALY in the league (3.37) and Gurley is averaging a worse 2.9 yards per carry, despite the line’s average success rate on power runs and getting stuffed.

The range of options favors Jordan Howard ($7.7k/$6.2k/$11.7k) much more in a more paced-up situation, facing a Jacksonville defense ranking 29th in DVOA against the run. Howard will have much higher ownership, but this should not have us getting fancy with Gurley.

Howard’s ownership is of less concern with so much pairing between Bell, Murray, and McCoy. If pivoting off of Howard, Ryan Mathews—at near-punt pricing ($6.5k/$4.9k/$9.8k)—should produce equal value in an even better matchup (Washington, 32nd in DVOA against the run); and Terrance West’s ($6.5k/$5.0k/9.8k) 5.0 yards per carry in what should be the run-heavy Baltimore attack they want and were not getting with now-former offensive coordinator Mark Trestman.

Washington and Starks just are not very good. Washington is in a timeshare with Jalen Richard and gets vultured by the fullback, with or without Latavius Murray. Starks may be an unavoidable block play in cash, but just is not very good. The floor is safe for yardage with Starks to hit “value”, but his ceiling is so capped that the points we lose by not just paying up to West or Mathews and saving the pennies at WR.

On the fence with:

LeSean McCoy vs SF ($8.2k/$6.9k/$12.9k)
Jamaal Charles at OAK ($7.1k/$5.1k/$10.1k)
Giovani Bernard at NE ($5.7k/$4.6k/$9.1k)

McCoy is the must-play in cash games. My earlier thoughts on Elliott have me thinking that their projected production is much closer than their ownership will be, so the small difference in salary can payout huge if Elliott just puts up the better game often enough. This is a simple game theory pivot.

No one will be on Charles and he is way too cheap. We have seen what he can do in 15 touches, let alone his activity in a paced-up receiving game with dink-dunker Alex Smith. Even if Ware is the 3rd down back, Charles can carve up the Raiders. If we cannot play Charles and have already ruled out Smith, the logical conclusion is to go cheap with the Raiders DST, right?

Bernard may be the only game in town. Even if Hill plays, Bernard should get 50% of the snaps against a Patriots team which will fixate on A.J. Green. He is so cheap for his snap count, targets, and red zone usage. A Mathews-Bernard backfield to pay up at WR and TE may be the ultimate contrarian GPP play on full PPR sites.

Wide Receivers

Doug Baldwin vs ATL ($7.6k/$6.5k/$12.3k)
Jeremy Maclin at OAK ($6.9k/$6.3k/$12k)

Love the Seahawks offense at home against such an exploitable Falcons defense. The price is too fair—in a vacuum—and star cornerback Desmond Trufant is better than everyone in the vacuum. We have seen Russell Wilson pepper Baldwin with targets when he wants to, but Wilson is too risk averse to not just treat Baldwin as a decoy to keep Trufant away from his real targets.

Really smart people keep talking about Maclin. The Raiders’ numbers against WR1s are bad, but they are still inflated by the Week 1 game in New Orleans. Maclin has only seen 8.3% of the Chiefs red zone targets and none inside the 10-yard line, so this eliminates him on FD where the TD is so important. On the full-PPR sites, there is non-sexy interest, but the Charles comeback has to eat up the volume he needs for 20 TD-less points.

On the fence with:

Eddie Royal vs JAC ($6.3k/$4.0k/$7.8k)
Ted Ginn, Jr. at NO ($5.9k/$3.9k/$7.7k)
Tavon Austin at DET ($5.7k/$3.9k/$7.7k)
Brice Butler at GB ($5.6k/$3.5k/$6.9k)

With Meredith as the mega-chalky-chalk and Royal in the same matchup, why not Royal? John Fox loves him, dating back to Denver—especially for screens near the goal line. If Royal is healthy, he could end up being Hoyer’s blankie. The problem, of course, is that we have two straight weeks of that being Meredith, and Hoyer does not deviate from what is working for him.

Oh, Ted Ginn... Other than Amari Cooper, the Saints really have not been blown up by WR1s. And that includes matchups against the dramatic Odell Beckham and ouchy Julio Jones. NO is 6th in DVOA against WR1s, but 28th versus WR2s and 24th versus tertiary targets. If we are playing Cam without Kelvin Benjamin, why not Ginn? If we are playing Cam with Cooks and paying up at RB, we need to save at WR, so why not Ginn? If we are stacking Brees with Cooks and playing up at RB, but cannot afford Benjamin or Olsen for correlation, why not Ginn? Because Ginn is not very good. That said, he can fly and Cam loves that about him.

Carolina is the highest-projected team on the slate in—by far—the highest scoring game on the slate. Those points are going to someone off the radar. Sigh. Why not Ginn?

The Austin or Butler plays are not sufficient pivots off of Meredith, but paying up at QB, RB, and TE, forces a second cheap WR. Austin faces the worst slot defense in the NFL and Butler faces a Packers team which ranks last in DVOA against WR1s. Both feel icky, but they are so cheap for their matchups. To find the next expensive guy on FD to match or surpass Austin’s 45 targets, you have to go all the way up to Jarvis Landry at $6900. Butler is just a pure 1% punt, and the price is about as tempting as it gets. I just cannot get myself to roster a Cowboy other than Elliott.

Tight End

Martellus Bennett vs CIN ($6.6k/$4.5k/$8.4k)
Zach Miller vs JAC ($5.8k/$3.8k/$7.4k)

These are pure chalk fades. Bennett’s 3-TD Week 5 will lower the ownership of the far better plays in Delanie Walker ($6.7k/$5.5k/$10.4k) against the Browns, who are 30th in DVOA against TEs and Bennett torched last week. And this still is not my favorite pivot.

In fading Baldwin and Christine Michael against a bad Atlanta defense and not justifying Wilson over Cam or Brees, getting Seahawks exposure in Jimmy Graham ($6.9k/$4.9k/$9.3k), while he is still under top-3 pricing is the play. Week-by-week, his volume is increasing, as it did with Baldwin last year, and we can see a similar bust out. Get him cheap while we still can.

Miller just has to share the ball more with the emergence of Meredith. If Royal is in, this is a complete fade. If no Royal, Howard and Meredith are still just going to usurp any fantasy goodness from the Bears.

On the fence with:

Greg Olsen at NO ($8.1k/$7.0k/$13.3k)

Travis Kelce at OAK ($6.4/$5.0k/$9.3k)

At first glance, Olsen’s price is obscene for a TE. That said, it is the best, by far, exposure to Carolina without rostering Cam. The price jump from Graham and Walker to him all that makes one hesitate.

Kelce goes back to my struggle with the Raiders DST. The Chiefs total is rising more than any team this week. It started at 22.5 and is up to 24. If we believe it, Charles or Kelce have to be believed by starting them at their bargains. If we don’t, the Raiders are in play at Defense. Fading that game altogether has to be missing on something Vegas is dangling right in our faces.


Will Lutz vs CAR ($4.5k)

FD is the only site for which this is relevant, but don’t play Saints kickers. People recommend this all the time, have done so for years, and it never works for the same reasons why Brees is elite at home: the Saints don’t kick field goals on drives where they score TDs. We need multiple FGs from our kicker, not four XPs and one FG. Nick Novak is also kicking indoors at the same price and Vegas has the Texans scoring about the same as New Orleans. The Texans offense sucks, so from where should those points be coming? Hmmm....

If you disagree on Novak, then put all the money on Brock Osweiler or Lamar Miller. Playing Novak feels easy now, huh?

Stats via