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NFL DFS Ownership: Wild-Card Round

Heath talks NFL DFS ownership levels ahead of the four-game Wild-Card slate.

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots
Tyrod Taylor is in the playoffs. You know what to do.
Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

I was all over that Tom Brady-Dion Lewis-Rob Gronkowski gambit in Week 17. In chess, a “gambit” is basically a sacrifice of some type that allows one to gain a future advantage. In my case, Week 17 turned into merely a sacrifice. Thanks for peppering Gronk with zero targets, New England.

The cool thing about daily fantasy is that we can get right back up on that proverbial horse, though. So here are Week 17’s ownership levels, including only the eight teams that will play this weekend.

These percentages were gleaned from the 1.2M NFL FanDuel Sunday Million ($250K to 1st). It is a $7 buy-in, so we aren’t talking about the lowest dregs of information available (i.e. more sharps than in a $1 GPP). I will share the chart and then see what little we can glean as we look ahead. It is way too early to be planting any sort of flags, but I think some of the information can be useful.

Ownership from Week 17

TEN @ KC (Sat 4:35pm)
TEN @ KC (Sat 4:35pm)
Marcus Mariota 0.8% Patrick Mahomes 2.9%
Derrick Henry 19.9% Kareem Hunt 1.0%
Rishard Matthews 1.2% Albert Wilson 0.5%
Eric Decker 0.6% Jehu Chesson < 0.1%
Delanie Walker 6.0% Demetrius Harris 0.7%
Ryan Succop 3.6% Harrison Butker 5.2%
Titans defense 0.7% Chiefs defense 1.5%
Corey Davis 0.4% Akeem Hunt 0.6%
ATL @ LAR (Sat 8:15pm)
Matt Ryan 5.7% Sean Mannion 0.3%
Devonta Freeman 6.3% Malcolm Brown 3.5%
Julio Jones 38.3% Josh Reynolds 0.6%
Mohamed Sanu 6.2% N/A
Austin Hooper 0.5% N/A
Tevin Coleman 0.6% N/A
Matt Bryant 6.8% Sam Ficken 0.9%
Falcons defense 0.3% Rams defense 1.1%
BUF @ JAC (Sun 1:05pm)
Tyrod Taylor 2.3% Blake Bortles 1.6%
LeSean McCoy 23.4% Leonard Fournette 1.6%
Kelvin Benjamin 2.8% Keelan Cole 9.0%
Zay Jones 0.1% Dede Westbrook 2.6%
Charles Clay 4.1% Marcedes Lewis ???
Steven Hauschka 1.8% Josh Lambo 1.2%
Bills defense 1.6% Jaguars defense 3.6%
D Thompson < 0.1% Allen Hurns 0.5%
N/A Jaydon Mickens 0.1%
CAR @ NO (Sun 4:40pm)
Cam Newton 8.7% Drew Brees 5.2%
Christian McCaffrey 8.0% Alvin Kamara 22.2%
Devin Funchess 3.9% Michael Thomas 14.8%
N/A Ted Ginn 5.5%
Greg Olsen 11.9% Josh Hill < 0.1%
Jonathan Stewart N/A Mark Ingram 8.4%
Graham Gano 4.0% Will Lutz 7.0%
Panthers defense 0.8% Saints defense 2.8%

For the life of me, I could not find a single person that rostered Marcedes Lewis. If I do find one throughout the week I will update the table. It is safe to assume he was barely owned, though.

It may sound taxing to scroll through hundreds of teams looking at ownership percentages, but it doesn’t take as long as you would think. It is also helpful to see other people’s roster constructions (i.e. what YOU may have missed when you built your own lineups). For instance, I didn’t even consider the Cowboys defense, and they were a solid play against a weakened Eagles team.

We can’t draw many conclusions from the Chiefs since key offensive guys were resting and we didn’t know for sure about Kareem Hunt in a game the Chiefs didn’t need. Derrick Henry paved the way for Tennessee like everyone suspected, and we can only hope that DeMarco Murray doesn’t return this weekend to siphon away Henry’s carries. My knee-jerk reaction from these two teams is that maybe Tyreek Hill won’t be as owned as he should be after a week off? I can hope, right? Also, the Kansas City defense has stiffened of late, but the larger sample size says that Rishard Matthews might make for a solid lower-owned play for the Wild-Card round.

Devonta Freeman should be more popular relative to his peers this weekend, as his 6.3% in Week 17 was due to a rough matchup against the Panthers. On a four-game slate, though, he will be up there. Julio Jones was a colossal letdown in a smash spot against Carolina, much like he has been all year when I have rostered him. Tevin Coleman (0.6%) seems far too good for less than 1% ownership. He is interesting to me for this weekend, based solely on talent level and the fact that no one is playing him.

It should go without saying, but Todd Gurley should lead the slate in ownership for this four-game slate. He gets a ton of receiving work anyway, so all the reasons people gave you to play Christian McCaffrey in Week 17 now apply to Gurley.

Given how low-owned Marcus Mariota was in Week 17 against the Jaguars, it may be safe to conclude that Tyrod Taylor is the way to go for this weekend (if you are trying to go against the grain). If I use Tyrod I will do so with Charles Clay and call it a day. You could run it back with Leonard Fournette, who played 87% of snaps in Week 17. We should all like him against that Bills run defense. Keelan Cole was the only Jaguars wideout that interested anyone in Week 17, so maybe it makes sense to look at Westbrook or Hurns for the wild-card round if trying to be contrarian. ***Addendum. My ever more astute cuz has pointed out that Marcus Murphy bears consideration if LeSean McCoy is out or limited. Stay tuned to that scenario this week, folks.***

Carolina at New Orleans seems like the red herring of the weekend. This should be a gritty, defensive game—one the Saints eventually win in the end. Like Tevin Coleman, Mark Ingram seems way too good to be only 8.4% owned. The disparity between he and Kamara (22.2%) is a mirage.

I thought it was noteworthy that Christian McCaffrey was still under 10% owned even with Jonathan Stewart out of a game. I guess FanDuelers are wise to his act. You can’t play many pieces of the Carolina offense right now, and McCaffrey just isn’t used enough as a runner to justify paying for him. Michael Thomas played 91% of snaps in Week 17, so we can take him off of our injury worry list for this weekend. He was a little banged up during the season, but that guy is a Top-10 wide receiver in the NFL and the only receiver of note at Drew Brees’ disposal.

That’s about it for me. Feel free to draw your own conclusions and tell me if I left out a player you are interested in. Let’s enjoy our four-game slate this weekend, ladies and gents!