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Week 13 Daily Fantasy Football Tournament Fades: Clicking the X on David Johnson

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Players to avoid in Week 13 DFS GPPs

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NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-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.

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 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 $12k tourney for $5 per entry and a $100k for $25.

Sign up right now for 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: David Johnson vs WAS ($9.2k/$9.5k/$18k)

Washington is 31st in fantasy points allowed to RBs and 32nd in DVOA against the run. Johnson is 2nd in touches+targets per game (26.73), has played at least 85% of the team’s offensive snaps every game since Week 5, and came into the week leading the league in total yards from scrimmage. Arizona's offensive line is 3rd in adjusted line yards (ALY) given to Johnson (4.29).

This is a lock, you say. And you are not alone. Everyone looked at this slate and saw this.

The reason to fade is that this reasoning with the unfadeable situation of Drew Brees ($9.3k/$7.6k/$14.3k) and the likely need to fit in one of the top-four WRs this week is going to depress the ownership of Le’Veon Bell ($9.3k/$9.2k/$17.3k). The matchup is tighter against the Giants, but you are not alone to see this and the field will heavily either-or Bell and Johnson and just easily break from Bell because of the paper matchup.

The Giants are 8th in DVOA against the run, but I don’t care. The Steelers OL is giving Bell 4.23 ALY, decimal points behind the Cardinals. The Giants are 4th in DVOA against RBs in the pass game, but Washington is 3rd.

And the 500-pound gorilla in the room: the market may like Bell more and is calling bullshit on the Giants defense. Vegas implies Pittsburgh’s total at a bit over 27 as 6-point favorites and Arizona’s a bit under 26 as only 2.5-point favorites, despite no Jordan Reed for Washington.

Sure, Johnson is 2nd in touches+targets per game. Bell is 1st (27.63). Before only five targets in an easy Week 12 blowout, Bell’s targets were 9, 10, 9, and 13 the prior four games. This week, his targets from Ben Roethlisberger are at home.

Big Ben has 31 TDs and 9 INTs in ten home games over the last two seasons, compared to 13 and 14 in 12 road games over that span. He’s averaging almost 337 yards per game this year at home to 233 on the road.

Do we really want Carson Palmer’s RB/WR1 in an elite matchup at double the ownership over Ben’s RB/WR1a? Gamescripts matter. QBs matter. Offensive efficiency, in general, matters.

Johnson has a ridiculously high floor and ceiling and no one should be shocked if he was the highest scoring player on the slate. But the 2.5-point spread with no Reed for Washington screams that Palmer is going to kill drives by not converting 3rd downs and by throwing picks, which gives Johnson’s volume more risk than Bell. I just don’t see the world where Johnson is under 30% owned and Bell is simultaneously over 25%. The difference in the production will fail in comparison to their difference in ownership.

The fade is admittedly harder where we can flex a TE and just play both, so get the exposure to Johnson there (and, yes, lock him into your cash lineups everywhere). There is a big enough range of these possibilities where Johnson is over 35% and Bell is under 20% while Bell outscores Johnson.


Matthew Stafford at NO ($8.3k/$7.0k/$13.3k)
Eli Manning at PIT ($7.9k/$5.9k/$11.0k)
Colin Kaepernick at CHI ($7.8k/$6.1k/$11.4k)

I try not to post guys I have hated all week in this post. When players are in this post, they are usually guys I really liked until I didn’t anymore and I tell you why.

I loved both Manning and Kaepernick until nothing ever got better for them as I looked deeper and now figure what's the point?

What’s the point of fading Brees in the Coors Field of the NFL against a Lions team which is 30th in fantasy points allowed to QBs and 32nd in DVOA against the pass? It would be too demeaning to call it too cute. The ownership validity is there and Ben is a great contrarian play a la Bell over Johnson at RB, but this is not the same.

There are two worlds which exist this weekend. One where the lineups which win all of the money have Brees and one where they don’t. The latter requires QB and an extra roster spot producing shockingly perfectly.

Kaepernick’s volume makes a good case, but he needs two rushing TDs for this to work against Brees’ production. Manning’s matchup in a shootout makes sense, but the Steelers defense is improving and the Eli hasn’t really been exploiting worse teams this season. More on that later.

I’m not even on the fence with Stafford. The Saints are 25th in DVOA against the pass, but have been improving. They’re 13th in fantasy points allowed to QBs because they are beginning to keep the ball in front of them more. The fade is risky, but I don’t see the world where we play Brees over Stafford and regret it. The easy fade comes from just getting exposure to the Lions offense in Theo Riddick ($6.5k/$5.8k/$11.0k) or Golden Tate ($5.9k/$6.2k/$11.7k). If the itch is too deep on Stafford, maybe play both with Brees PPR sites.

On the fence with Aaron Rodgers vs HOU ($8.5k/$6.7k/$12.6k)

Every week, I’m on the fence with Rodgers. Every week that I keep calm and back off, it’s fine. Brees is a fine distraction from the temptation to start Rodgers at home as a 7-point favorite with the 4th-highest implied total (26.25) and no running game at under 5% ownership—lower than Brees, Ben, Stafford, and maybe Kaepernick.

I just talked myself back onto Rodgers.

Running Back

Melvin Gordon vs TB ($8.0k/$7.2k/$13.6k)
Jordan Howard vs SF ($7.4k/$6.9k/$13.0k)
James Starks vs HOU ($5.8k/$4.4k/$8.7k)

Gordon and Howard are the tougher fades. Gordon is a tough fade because of volume and a bad Week 12 which may suppress ownership; Howard has an elite matchup and high expected volume alongside a third string QB.

Gordon has played at least 90% of snaps over the last two games, at least 80% since Week 6, at least 85% in six of the last nine games, and at least 75% in every game except for Week 1 in which the Ghost of Danny Woodhead made his season cameo. He has six straight games of 21 or more touches, averaging 142 yards on 28 touches, including five targets per game and 4.2 yards per carry (YPC). He leads the NFL in rushes inside the 20- (49) and inside the 5-yard lines (16), while tied for the lead in touches inside the 10 (26).

The reason to fade Gordon is that Tampa is no joke. Holding the Seahawks to five points in Week 12 was a display of a trend of their defensive improvements. They rank 20th in DVOA against the run, but have only allowed one 100-yard rusher all season and have not allowed a rushing TD to an RB since Week 7. The Chargers OL’s ALY has fallen from the low-fours in October to 3.88 going into Week 11 and is now down to 3.58 entering Week 13. Behind the 11 TDs, Gordon is only averaging 3.9 YPC after 3.41 over the last two games. This rushing attack has all of the signs of being in free fall.

Howard has the sexy external factors of a third string QB forcing his team to give him the ball all day in a paced-up game against a team ranked 30th in DVOA against the run. His price has risen, though. I would just rather spend down to value with Riddick or even lower.

Where I would not go when going cheap is chasing Starks’ volume in the hopes of something palatable. This cheap, Dion Lewis ($5.0k/$3.8k/$7.4k) just feels like the nuts. He is guaranteed six targets with a ceiling of ten and has ten-carry upside to boot because the Pats will not want to telegraph their run-pass calls and Lewis is that type of weapon. On full PPR sites like Draft and DK, Lewis’ floor may be Starks’ ceiling.

Wide Receiver

Antonio Brown vs NYG ($9.0k/$9.1k/$17.3k)

This fade is almost an addendum to my Johnson fade. I love Bell, and spending up at QB and RB anyway, so paying this much at WR just gets very difficult. In the case where this is happening, Brown is my least favorite of the tier containing Odell Beckham ($9.0k/$8.5k/$16.1k), Mike Evans ($8.5k/$8.6k/$16.2k), and Julio Jones ($8.3k/$8.7k/$16.3k).

And that FD price for Julio is not a typo, so, yeah, play him there. All of him.

Evans is matchup-proof with the most guaranteed volume in the league, Beckham’s team has no rushing game and is a 6-point dog to a Steelers team 30th in DVOA against WR1s, and Julio is Julio against a bum Chiefs secondary on turf.

Brown is an interesting play because of who he is, who his QB is, and where they are playing. What makes him a fade is not his projected success rate, but the losing proposition of having too little or too much exposure to him. Being underexposed relative to the field loses money when he is the nuts; being overexposed loses money two of the other three are on par with him at cheaper prices.

On the fence with Golden Tate at NO ($5.9k/$6.2k/$11.7k)

I hate this guy. From the Fail Mary to being a Niners and Packers fan to his punch-me-face to his silly short yardage game. But the guy runs solid routes and is always solid for yards after the catch. He is cheap across the industry, making him an automatic cash game play on DK and Draft for the full PPR scoring against a Saints D ranking 25th in DVOA against the slot and 22nd against passes in the middle of the field.

The concern is the upside. Other than Weeks 6 and 7—when Riddick was inactive—Tate has fewer than nine targets in six of nine games. And that nine-target mark is huge, as he has zero games of more than 77 yards and zero TDs in those games, and he had fewer than 43 yards in all but one of those games.

On FD, he is not a GPP fade, as his price so low and his ownership should be closer to 10% than 15%. But the fact that he cannot be stacked with Riddick makes me just want to take that price tag and roll with the cheaper and lower-owned Marvin Jones ($5.6k/$4.4k/$8.7k) in those lineups. And I want to fade Jones, so that should make me want to fade Tate.

What keeps me on the fence is that this all may just be overthinking a shootout in New Orleans, which is usually a fool’s errand.

Tight End

Eric Ebron at NO ($5.7k/$3.9k/$7.7k)
Coby Fleener vs DET ($5.5k/$3.5k/$7.0k)

Speaking of overthinking a shootout in New Orleans, we should not overthink ourselves into playing Ebron or Fleener. The brain-twisting to convince ourselves that they exist in their offenses consumes more energy that their team's to consider incorporating them into their offenses.

On the fence with Lance Kendricks at NE ($4.9k/$2.9k/$5.6k)

Kendricks has seven or more targets in five of their last six games. The Pats are 19th in DVOA against each of the outside WRs, 21st against the slot, but 29th against TEs and 26th in fantasy points allowed to TEs. On DK and Draft, flexing him is a way to play to load up on studs.


New England Patriots ($4.6k/$3.7k/$7.4k)

The Rams suck and have the lowest total implied by Vegas, but points allowed doesn’t really matter in DST fantasy scoring. Pressuring the QB is what produces the sacks and increase the likelihood of the turnovers which increase the likelihood of defensive TDs. The Pats are 3rd-to-last in adjusted sack rate (4.6%) and the Rams’ adjusted sack rate (6.5%) allowed is are only slightly below the league (6.1%).

I’m all about blindly targeting rookie QBs because they are usually turnover machines, but Jared Goff’s job is to not get delay of game penalties. That’s it. Seriously.

The Broncos are the obvious chalk because Blake Bortles, but the low 21.25 total for the Giants and the high-ish Steelers ($4.5k/$2.8k/$5.6k) total of 27.25 screams what the Vikings DST screamed at me when they pick-sixed the Cardinals twice. Ben’s three TDs are realistic against anyone, but so is Eli throwing three picks.

The Bengals went from being 2.5-point dogs to 1-point favorites for no real reason against a strong Eagles defense and no one to really do much offensively, so you have to believe in Jeremy Hill or the Bengals DST, I guess.

Now, Washington ($4.7k/$2.4k/$4.6k) implied at 23 points in Arizona without Reed really baffles the mind. That game’s over-under has fallen from 50.5 to 48.5, but not starting so low that it could fall closer to 40 tells me that some freakish Washington scoring is going to happen. This is usually funneled toward the DST. On DK and Draft, stacking them with two TEs is the only way to play Johnson because the differentiation is greatly built in. People hate playing DSTs against their own players.

Stats via and