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.
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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.
Tom Brady at CLE (FD $8,700, DK $7,500, Draft $14,100)
The case for Brady is elite: Brady is mad, Brady is great, Mad Brady is 350 yards and four TDs in the bag. The case against him is simply: everyone is working off that logic.
That is not reason alone to fade him, but for that price range, Aaron Rodgers ($9,100/$7,700/$14,500) and Ben Roethlisberger ($8,600/$7,200/$13,600) have better matchups and are both at home, where they have the same potential at a fraction of the ownership. The range of outcomes are so much closer than the ownership, the only way we should consider playing Brady in GPPs is if we feel the next guy on this list takes enough ownership away.
Brian Hoyer at IND (FD $6,000, DK $5,500, Draft $10,900)
Hoyer is a more difficult fade than Brady because he is free. The professional cash players are pointing in this direction for the best value on the board and the struggle is such: (1) if there is better value at other positions, paying up at QB is better than paying down; (2) Hoyer in a dome against a Colts squad may be a free square and the best matchup, where too much is lost in fading him.
I lean toward (1) because Hoyer likes to force-feed one or two guys. Alshon Jeffery should be shadowed by Vontae Davis and Kevin White is on IR. There is only so much that Zach Miller, Eddie Royal, and Jordan Howard can do for yardage, so I feel like playing Hoyer is chasing TDs in GPPs, where the yardage and TDs have to coalesce.
There is also a lineup construction problem that has a limited ceiling. There is not enough sexiness in stacking Hoyer and Miller with T.Y. Hilton, let alone Hoyer-Howard-Miller-Hilton or Hoyer-Royal-Miller-Hilton. Stacking Steelers with Brandon Marshall, Packers with Odell Beckham, Jr, or Chargers with Amari Cooper give the boost for which I am seeking.
On the fence with:
Aaron Rodgers vs NYG (FD $9100, DK $7,700, Draft $14,500)
On FD, the price is very high for a site without bonuses; DK and Draft give yardage bonuses. Rodgers at home is a top-three play when there are no games in New Orleans, but Mike McCarthy’s playcalling when the Packers are up tends to lower Rodgers’ ceiling.
Since 2014, Rodgers has 46 TDs and only four INTs in 17 home games, compared to 30 and ten in 18 road games. The splits are very real. If the Packers are up big, Rodgers has thrown his three TDs. But as 7.5-point favorites, will the volume disappear for him, as it did two weeks ago, hosting the Lions?
Andrew Luck vs CHI (FD $8,600, DK $7,300, Draft $13,700)
Generic DFS logic says that this is a play. Luck is going to be under 3% owned, favored by over four points at home, which is in a dome, with an over-under in the high-40s, and his opponent is the chalky cheap QB. Everything in that sentence points to the shootout that makes me love, love, love T.Y. Hilton and should give the wink-wink-nudge-nudge toward Luck.
The problem here is the big pace hit the Colts are projected to take. The Bears’ 12th-ranked DVOA against the pass and 20th against the run can suggest a funnel defense, but they are so banged up that I want to side against the ownership and with the over-under to make Luck a strong play. I can’t do it over Ben at the same price, industry-wide, but I can understand 10% exposure, as long as we take a stand on only playing three QBs.
Taking a stand, one way or the other on how the gameflows of the Bears-Colts and Eagles-Lions matches could be what wins GPPs this weekend, so Carson Wentz ($7,500/$6,400/$12,100) and Matthew Stafford ($8,200/$6,600/$12,300) against each other in Detroit are on the periphery of my mind, as well.
Lamar Miller at MIN (FD $7,800, DK $6,300, Draft $11,900)
Miller leads the NFL with 106 touches. But he is also under 4.0 yards per carry and is on the road against the fourth-best DVOA against the run. The low-owned volume is tempting, but we would have to have more faith in the Texas line to consider this as a low-exposure contrarian play.
LeGarrette Blount at CLE (FD $7,500, DK $5,600, Draft $10,600)
Tom Brady is back and it isn’t cold yet. Even where I am pivoting off of Brady, it isn’t because this is a Blount game. It is where Brady dinks and dunks his to a game lesser than Ben and/or Rodgers. Blount can get 15 carries and a goalline score in a blowout, but he won’t get targets and there are too many outcomes where he simply runs 12 times for 45 yards with no TDs.
Bilal Powell at PIT (FD $5,100, DK $4,000, Draft $7,800)
FanDuel fade only here, as Powell’s greatest value will be as a pass-catcher. There is not really a doubt that the Jets will be playing from behind and throwing a good amount. Without Eric Decker and Matt Forte, the usage should trickle down to Powell.
But if this becomes a 15-to-18-target game for Brandon Marshall, as it should be, Powell’s ceiling is too low to not just add the same production with TD-upside in Darren Sproles for $300 more. Or Duke Johnson, Jr. in a bigger blowout—with worse options surrounding him—for $200 more. James White at $5,500 is also a great way to have Pats exposure for the cheapest price tag. We should probably note that Latavius Murray will not play and DeAndre Washington is a free square, industry-wide at $4,700/$3,400/$6,700.
Matt Jones vs BAL (FD $6,900, DK $4,500, Draft $8,800)
On DK, it is tempting to play Jones as free square because his touches go up every week and the Ravens are pushing through the most plays per minute on the slate. But Washington’s run defense is the worst, according to DVOA, and they are in the bottom-third against WRs, so Baltimore could have long drives with the fast volume. The Ravens also the best DVOA against the run, all of which eliminates Jones on FD for the price.
But this is where ownership, despite price is tempting on DK. I lean heavily toward this being a trap. In a neutral matchup Jones is a great play at the price, but no way he can be justified over Powell, let alone the steal of the slate, Jerick McKinnon (DK $4,000; Draft $7,800).
Julio Jones at DEN (FD $8,900, DK $9,600, $18,000)
First, there was a fantasy overreaction to Jones’ bad start. Then, he practiced all week before the facing a putrid Panthers secondary, went criminally low-owned, and lit up the world for 300-plus yards. Now, there will be a large portion of the fantasy community chasing points, despite the tough matchup against the Broncos.
Jones will be fine because he is Julio Jones and facing a team second-best in DVOA against WR1s does not mean that he won’t get his targets and catch them. Denver is great against every position on the field and the ball has to go somewhere. Atlanta won’t lean on Aldrick Robinson. Going back to Peak Roddy White, Matt Ryan forces the ball to his big dog.
But Jones not getting the near 30 points we need is the pill to swallow. The lower owned "big dog" is own for contrarian value is Devonta Freeman on Draft for under $10k, as a flex, maybe? Fading players against Denver is normally obvious, but Jones’ incredible Week 4 and the rollercoaster of his fantasy avatar bears discussion.
There are plenty of ways to get creative in the higher price tier. Antonio Brown’s ownership will be suppressed by Le’Veon Bell’s return, Jordy Nelson at home where the Packers should break 30 points, Odell Beckham, Jr. following the always interesting "disgruntled WR who isn’t getting the ball" narrative in the same game with no Sam Shields, and Alshon Jeffery as the big do with a QB who is even more prone than Ryan to force feeding his big dog (See 2013 Josh Gordon and 2015 DeAndre Hopkins).
Terrelle Pryor, Sr. vs NE (FD $7,200, DK $5,800, Draft $10,900)
Bill Belichick takes a lot of pride in his Jordan Rules approach to bad teams: make everyone but their best player beat you. Pryor is clearly the best Browns weapon and we should expect Belichickian wizardry here, which is why I mentioned Duke as a pivot off of Powell.
Pryor has entered mid-tier pricing across the industry, which could stifle some ownership, but the rest of his tier is shaky. On FD, Amari Cooper ($7,200) in a shootout against a Jason Verett-less Chargers team is a better play, Sterling Shepard is cheaper on DK and Draft ($5,500/$10,400) in a game where the Giants will be throwing a ton against a shaky secondary in a negative game script, and DeSean Jackson is in the same ballpark against a Ravens squad 27th in DVOA against WR1s.
Pryor is fun, but he is not productive enough to meet those standards.
Dontrelle Inman at OAK (FD $6,100, DK $4,100, Draft $8,100)
The tread of the early season across the industry has been chasing Chargers WRs, since Keenan Allen’s season-ending injury. Philip Rivers is a master at reading defenses and knowing where to go before the snap. His approach is not to get his talent in the optimal spot, but to get a guy in a perfect spot for a reception, no matter who it is. When there is talent like Allen, Peak Antonio Gates, or Peak Vincent Jackson, a large raidus is a perfect spot. When it is this collection of meh players, sure, someone will have a great game, but good luck guessing who it is.
That said, looking at spots is important because that is how a successful QB like Rivers is approaching the game. Oakland is 26th in DVOA against short passes, which Rivers loves to utilize. Without Danny Woodhead, this could be Inman, but it could also be Tyrell Williams. It could be Dexter McCluster. Not sure punting WR is the way to go on DK or Draft, let alone over $5,500 on FD.
Jordan Reed vs BAL (FD $7,800, DK $6,600, Draft $12,300)
Washington will get production somewhere and one has to think Reed first because of his elite market share. But we noted D-Jax earlier and a big game from him can hurt Reed, for the price.
If we are paying up at a position, getting Pats exposure with Gronk on FD ($7,200) against a Browns team allowing over 80 yards per game to TEs is fine. On DK and Draft, Delanie Walker ($4,700/$8,400) is free, so just play him if you have extra cash. I say "if you have extra cash" because there are multiple elite punts.
Where we are playing Brady, a good way to differentiate in our DK and Draft lineups is to play Martellus Bennett ($3,700/$7,400) in the same matchup as Gronk for about a 40% discount. Even better differentiation is playing Bennett at TE and flexing a second TE to cheapen the burden.
Eric Ebron vs Eagles (FD $5,900, DK $3,400, Draft $6,700)
The price is incredibly tempting, Golden Tate has been bad, the Lions have no rushing game. The problem here is that Ebron might not be that good, but when he talk about QBs force feeding their big dog, Matthew Stafford is on the Mt. Rushmore. Marvin Jones, Jr. and Theo Riddick are the Lions plays. Not Ebron. I do not understand why he gets discussed and played.
The price is also only tempting in a vacuum, but TEs only have 15.7 yards per game against the Eagles this year. The Lions, on the other hand, have the fourth-worst DVOA against TEs, making Zach Ertz ($5,600/$3,500/$7,000) the far better play. Zach Miller ($5,400/$3,600/$7,000) actually has a large market share in the Bears offense, facing a Colts team which has the worst DVOA against TEs. Did you know that Kyle Rudolph ($5,500/$3,600/$7,000) is second among all TEs this season in targets (33), only two behind Reed? Hunter Henry ($5,500, $3,300, $6,400) draws Oakland and we have already touched on short passes against Oakland.
Everyone but Minnesota seems like the fade. Miller is not improving the yards per carry this week, Brock Osweiler is second—only to Ryan Fitzpatrick’s 57 INTs—for the lowest ANY/A in the league, and the Vikings may be the best defense in the league. Houston line is shaky, so Osweiler will not have the time to improve that ANY/A. If there is a game that can shutout, it is this one, with the Pats shutting out Cleveland a distant second.
The Broncos may actually be the contrarian play if people are chasing Juilo’s Weeks 4. Ryan has 14 games of 350-plus passing yards in his career; seven were in the first four games of a season. Regression is his business and business should be good this week.
If the Vikings hype breakaway from the Patriots, where they are splitting ownership more than people think, pivoting to Denver is the leverage play, because Ryan has more a turnover history, despite the inexperience argument against the Texans and Browns QBs.
Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com and FootballOutsiders.com.