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NFL DFS Week 16 GPP Fades: Pray the Gurley Away

Players to avoid in Week 16 daily fantasy football tournaments.

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NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Be aware that the Week 16 Main Slate is Saturday Christmas Eve. FantasyDraft still includes the Sunday and Monday games in their Main Slate, making theirs the only main slate to play Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Ezekiel Elliott, and the Chiefs DST.

The scoring is full-PPR and the salary cap is roughly double that of DraftKings, with pricing to scale. My favorite element of FantasyDraft: you can play two flexes.

Where we prefer to play on a site where pros aren’t putting in a million different lineups, FantasyDraft tournaments and 50/50s have a 30-entry limit per user, compared to the government-imposed 150-entry limit on FanDuel and DraftKings. The volume is really nice there, too, with $6.5k tourney for $5 per entry and a $40k for $25.

Sign up right now for FantasyDraft.com using this link, receive a 100% bonus on your first deposit, play four RBs or three TEs, and experience the more leveled playing field we desire for GPPs.

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

Fade of the Week: Todd Gurley vs SF (7.9k/6.5k/12.3k)

Gurley is the 6th-most expensive RB on DK and 5th on FD’s Main Slates. He is 7th on Draft, but only because Bell (17.7k) and Elliot (15.0k) are included.

The Rams offensive line is 28th in adjusted line yards (3.43) and Gurley’s backfield is an even worse 30th in open field yards (0.34). Gurley is currently 7th in the NFL in carries (241), but 18th in rushing yards and tied for 25th in rushing TDs (5) because of his atrocious 3.2 yards per carry (YPC).

Gurley has no 100-yard games since Week 14 of last year and that was his only one since Week 7 of last year. In fact, after Gurley’s elite four-game breakout, he has been a whatever fantasy RB. Since Week 9 of 2015, Gurley’s 22-game log is a flaming log of another kind. Over that stretch, he has averaged only 59.5 yards per game and 3.48 per carry.

“Niners” is usually an elite one-word argument to start any running back, at the bottom of the league in YPC allowed (5.0) and DVOA against the run. But what is that ceiling? Gurley’s price tag requires multiple TDs or 125 yards. Too much to pay someone who has so few TDs and only broken 90 once in over a calendar year. The price tier just below him has safer plays and higher ceiling dice throws.

Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers vs MIN (8.6k/6.7k/12.6k)

I could invent hot takes to tell you that Matt Ryan carries more risk on the road, but the offense is so explosive that he makes for a strong contrarian play. I could tell you that Cam Newton is not running anymore, so his ceiling is too low, but you weren’t going to play him anyway. I could tell you that everyone except for Andrew Luck, Derek Carr, Drew Brees, and Jameis Winston are fades because of the safe, high totals over 50, but every time my tunnel vision is so strong with the top-priced QBs, I get ignorant of the cheaper options too fast.

Aaron Rodgers is an easy fade by default, as the case for those aforementioned get made. And I haven’t even named the QBs facing the two teams with the worst DVOA against the pass: Tom Brady and Philip Rivers. I just cannot look at all of those names and make a case for Rodgers.

The Vikings are also becoming something of a funnel run defense at the same time that the Packers discover they have a running game. Minnesota is 5th in DVOA against the pass, but 16th against the run, with two games against the Lions, one against the Jags, Eagles, Giants, Texans—all of whom have abysmal backfields—as well as the Panthers without Jonathan Stewart and Eddie Lacy playing terribly. That’s eight of their 14 games to look like a feared run D.

Meanwhile, in Vikings losses since their 5-0 start:

Frank Gore ran for 101 and Robert Turbin ran for two TDs last week;
David Johnson ran for 103 and a TD in Week 11;
Robert Kelley ran for 97 and 4.41 yards per carry (YPC) in Week 9;
Jordan Howard ran for 153 and a TD (5.88 YPC) in Week 8.

The way to beat Minnesota, offensively, is on the ground. Mike McCarthy bends over backward to make the case for “STABLISHIN THA RUN”, so #STABLISH is the case for fading Rodgers, given the wealth of options.

On the fence with Blake Bortles vs TEN (6.2k/5.0k/10.0k), Matt Moore at BUF (6.5k/5.2k/10.2k), and Jared Goff vs SF (6.2k/5.0k/10.0k)

Full disclosure, Bortles is my QB in Thursday-Monday contests and it feels stupid because Bortles is bad by every measurable. I am on the fence with these three, though, for this reason: the best roster construction may depend on saving everywhere we can to spend up at WR. None of these QBs are any damned good, but they are free and each has some merit.

Moore is a rare backup QB who has a legit place in the NFL and threw for four TDs last week. He gets a Bills team which is 19th in DVOA against the pass, but gambling on them quitting while the Dolphins are in the playoff fight is a tempting narrative. The whole offense is very stackable.

Goff (concussion) has shown some upside, throwing for three TDs in New Orleans when the Saints were improving, defensively. My Gurley hate leans toward Goff temptation, as the Niners are 29th in DVOA against the pass and this is a highly paced-up game for L.A. It could, literally, be like dominating a college game.

I went with Bortles because I saw the game log of QBs against the Titans. QBs have thrown for 249-plus yards in 11 of 14 games against the Titans, 300-plus in six of the last nine. Some recent highlights include:

Trevor Siemian - 334 and a TD in Week 14;
Matt Barkley - 316 and three TDs in Week 12;
Luck - 262 and two TDs in Week 11 and 353 and three in Week 7;
Rodgers - 371 and two TDs in Week 10;
Rivers - 275 and two TDs in Week 9;
Cody Frickin’ Kessler - 336 and two TDs in Week 6; and, uh, oh, I forgot

Bortles and his 337 and three TDs in Week 8.

Since Week 2, it is the only time Bortles has cracked 271 yards and that is his only three-TD game of the year. But Bortles for free and the ceiling of a top-5 QB tempts me most.

Running Back

David Johnson at SEA (8.7k/9.2k/17.3k)
LeGarrette Blount vs NYJ (7.2k/5.6k/10.5k)

Ownership is usually the final straw that makes me fade players in this post, but pricing and opportunity is a running theme this week. Where Gurley’s price was highly inflated by the sites to penalize you for a play based on nothing but matchup, the sites did not tempt us to embrace an elite player in a terrible matchup.

Johnson may be a top-2 RB and no one can make a semi-coherent case that Johnson isn’t matchup-proof. But Seattle is 2nd in DVOA against run he is priced like he is facing Jacksonville. Playing him doesn’t make any sense. It is just a futile attempt to avoid all of the players in the tier of Latavius Murray, Jordan Howard, and Doug Martin on top of having the money for LeSean McCoy and avoiding him. It feels like spending money for the sake of spending money. Like buying Tylenol over the generic store brand acetaminophen; buying the exact thing at a huge markup.

The high-priced tier is very small and the mid-tier is huge. For that reason, fading Blount is fine. The case for playing him is usually that he is guaranteed volume, on top of the red zone usage. This particular week is more the type of gamescript where he is used only near the goalline and to close out the 4th quarter. Otherwise, this is a Brady-Dion Lewis game. After playing snap counts in the 70-plus percent ranges, Blount is more of a 35-40% guy with Lewis back in the fold.

Moreover, this is more of a Brady Game because the Jets are as true a funnel pass defense as they come—3rd in DVOA against the run and dead-last against the pass. Bill Belichick is not one of the best of all time because he attacks defenses where they have elite strength, neglecting their most glaring weaknesses. And when the Pats are pass-heaviest, Blount’s fantasy production is the one most at risk.

On the fence with and Demarco Murray at JAC (8.4k/7.0k/13.3k)

The Jags are a decent run defense, judging on efficiency. But, adjusted for volume, the Titans should accumulate rushing yards. They are 5.0-point favorites, despite the game being in Jacksonville, expanding the range of outcomes to a double digit blowout. Derrick Henry is getting some run, but that is less of my concern than the overall pace of this game.

The Jags run a very high 66.3 plays per game and the Titans a below average 63.0. Where we are deciding to pass on Bortles, we are banking on the ball going back to Tennessee. Not banking on Bortles is a very strong case for Murray, who is averaging 4.6 YPC and 5th-highest 23.57 carries+targets per game, whose line is giving him an NFL-best 4.47 ALY.

The case for Murray is best in the consistency. The case against him in GPPs is the high pass volume for TEN in the red zone capping Murray’s upside. People speculate Elliott’s TD upside, despite a 63.8% red zone run usage. Murray’s is under 58%.

On DK and Draft, he really feels like an autoplay, where the only concern is relativity. On FD, the concern is a total package that even question the vacuum value.

Wide Receiver

Jordy Nelson vs MIN (7.8k/7.0k/13.3k)
Dez Bryant vs DET (Draft - 12.3k)
Robby Anderson at NE (5.5k/4.8k/9.4k)

Hedging the Rodgers fade by playing Nelson has some self-defeating measures. The primary one is that Nelson beating the higher-priced studs and T.Y. Hilton (7.6k/7.8k/14.7k) requires a multiple TD game. A multiple TD game which would likely elevate Rodgers to three.

On Draft, where Antonio is in play, the Jordy fade is clear. On FD and DK, Hilton stands alone in the highest over-under; then, we need exposure to the Tampa-New Orleans game through Mike Evans (8.9k/8.5k/16.0k), Michael Thomas (6.9k/6.0k/11.3k), or Brandin Cooks. After all of that, we get chalky by forcing Nelson in.

Nelson’s ownership will be high. He is Rodgers’ favorite target and the most dependable red zone threat in the league this year. Where we are going with Jordy, we have to stack him with Rodgers over Luck-Hilton or Carr-Michael Crabtree and the roster construction gets messy and lowers our ceiling.

Dez is similar, but with a QB far less likely to throw him a TD pass and in a neutral matchup with Darius Slay. The Detroit-Dallas game should be slow, but a Dak-Zeke or Zeke-Witten stack is a better way to capture the offense. The Lions are 14th against WR1s, compared to 20th in DVOA against the run and 29th against TEs.

Anderson is fun, but Bryce Petty less likely to start, the magic goes away. The chemistry between Anderson and Petty is real. It is Anderson’s only production this season. Ryan Fitzpatrick will make it disappear more magically than it appeared in the first place. And, let’s be real. The magic was minimal.

On the fence with Brandin Cooks vs TB (7.1k/6.8k/12.7k)

Brent Grimes started the season on a rough note, but has really improved. Tampa is 7th in DVOA against WR1s and Cooks’ inconsistencies do not need repeating. After a monster week, will Cooks’ production match an extremely high expected ownership?

But fading him is an all-or-nothing decision. It is the choice between winning all of the money when he busts or winning nothing when he hits because he hits so big. Cooks is Brees’ best deep shot and this is the case for going all-in on him because deep shots are the best shots against Tampa.

The Saints, Colts, and Falcons are all within a point of each other as the highest projected scoring teams by Vegas this weekend. TB is 23rd in DVOA against the run, 3rd in DVOA against short passes, and 25th against deep balls. This is either: all of the Mark Ingram; or Cooks requires high exposure for success.

Or Brees throws three TDs to Thomas, Willie Snead (6.0k/5.5k/10.3k), and Travaris Cadet while John Kuhn pounds one in and we are all screwed.

Tight End

Greg Olsen vs ATL (6.8k/5.2k/9.7k)

If Olsen plays, there is no reason to put him at high risk if the elbow would be put there. The coaching staff has jobs for which to fight and Cam has some pride, so using Olsen as a decoy is within the range of possibilities. At his price, easy fade, when we can get TB-NO exposure through Cameron Brate (5.6k/3.9k/7.7k) for pennies on the dollar.

On the fence with C.J. Fiedorowicz vs CIN (4.9k/3.7k/7.3k)

On the other hand, if Fiedorowicz plays and salary becomes an issue to fit someone in with whom I cannot part, pivoting from Brate down to C.J. is a play I want to make. CIN is 22nd in DVOA against TEs and have given up the most fantasy points to the position.

Flexing him on Draft is probably the way to go. The temptation to play this wrong is to have too much C.J. and not enough Brate on FD where we can only play one TE.

Stats via Pro-Football-Reference.com and FootballOutsiders.com.