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Sam’s Conviction Column – NFL Week 16

Intro

There are certain types of contests on both DraftKings and FanDuel (as well as other Daily Fantasy Sites) where ownership, across any sport, is not something to focus on, i.e. head to heads, double ups, 50/50s, or a contest with less than 20 entrants; however, when playing large field GPP tournaments and gunning for that $1 million prize, or even just a top 10 in a contest of 100k+ entrants, ownership is IMPERATIVE when constructing your rosters. While I would never make the argument that ownership is everything, or the most important aspect of playing/winning DFS, I think many more people than we think overlook it and fall into groupthink more often than they should as a fear of “a cheap guy going off” or playing someone at 50% or more projected ownership to ensure not getting dusted by the field. Again, in cash games or very small field tournaments, I get that idea, as playing an obvious backup RB who’s locked into an every down roll and 20+ touches and is the min $4,000 on DraftKings and is going to be owned by 45 of 50 players in a tournament… yes, I would probably play him since you have just about 0% chance of cashing if he goes off. The last thought to keep in mind, and perhaps the most important, is being contrarian does not mean making a lineup of 9 guys less than 5% owned… that is not by any means optimal and not a +EV strategy in any DFS sport. What I like to do each and every week is use a strategy by one of the pioneers of DFS Football, Adam Levitan (check out their stuff at EstablishTheRun because their team is very, very sharp), which is figure out my ACO, or “Average Cumulative Ownership,” on all my tournament teams. To calculate that is simple, add up all 9 players ownership, and divide by 9 and look to target somewhere in the range of 9-16% (16% is the absolute max that I will have) for your whole team. If CMC is going to be 35% owned, that doesn’t mean an auto fade, it just means you have to differentiate elsewhere because his ceiling is insane and he’s not someone to fade just because “he’s chalk.” That’s enough rambling, let’s get to the picks!

Links to other content!

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NFL Game Theory >>> Coming Soon

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Ben’s Week 16 Breakdown! (Article) >>> Coming Soon

Core Plays

 

QB

Jalen Hurts

Karma Position Rank: 3

DK Proj. OWN%            10.8%
FD Proj. OWN%            11.4%

Why? → I’m far too skeptical too often on rostering Hurts as I get caught up in my (likely wrong) thought process that his lackluster play as a real life QB vs. fantasy QB and because he’s not the typical QB like a Brady/Stafford/Mahomes, etc. that you look to double stack; however, his floor and subsequent upside is too massive to ignore each week. Hurts is averaging just over 10 rush attempts per game, the Giants are giving up about 125 rush yards per game, and they present a solid run funnel as a 13th ranked defense against the pass and 28th against the rush. When looking at OL vs. DL matchup and adjusted line yards (per FootballOutsiders), the Eagles have the top advantage which should give Hurts all day to throw and/or run out of the pocket. Hurts has put up 19+ fantasy points in 3 of his last 4 and scored 16+ fantasy points in 11 of 13 games this year.

Matthew Stafford

Karma Position Rank: 1

DK Proj. OWN%            13.2%
FD Proj. OWN%            12.9%

Why? → Coming off a solid, but not “blow up” performance against the Seahawks, Stafford now gets to face the piss-poor Vikings secondary that has given up the 2nd most fantasy points to QBs on average thus far and per PFF, has no CB inside the Top 60 in the league. Stafford ranks 4th among QBs on the slate in air yards per game (310), 3rd in points per drop back (per PFF), and the Vikings have given up 2+ passing TDs in 50% of their games this season.

Justin Herbert

Karma Position Rank: 2

DK Proj. OWN%            15.2%
FD Proj. OWN%            16.6%

Why? → Herbert is such a stud and is one of my favorite plays on the slate against an irrelevant Texans team that is bad (although quietly 10th in the league in Pass DVOA) basically everywhere on the field vs. a high-powered offense. Herbert has thrown 2+ TDs in his last 5 games, has scored 21+ fantasy points in 6 of his last 7 games, and has really started to show his rushing (scrambling) upside with 4 or more rush attempts in 4 of his last 5 games. No one is covering Keenan Allen, no one can matchup with Big Mike Williams, and if Ekeler can’t go, I expect an even heavier pass attack than usual (Chargers rank 3rd in Pass Rate over Expectation over the full season/4th over their last 4 games).

Joe Burrow

Karma Position Rank: 6

DK Proj. OWN%            3.2%
FD Proj. OWN%            2.8%

Why? → Since I love Joe Burrow, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that he is PFF’s highest-graded QB on the season. Burrow’s fantasy outputs are much more volatile than most as his coach decides on a run-heavy game script far too often; nevertheless, Burrow shredded the Ravens secondary for 416 yards and 3 TDs in Week and now faces the same team with an even more depleted secondary. The Ravens have been susceptible to deep balls all year on top of being a pass funnel, with a 5th ranked rush defense (per DVOA) and 29th against the pass.

RB

Tier 1

Cordarrelle Patterson

Karma Position Rank: 5

DK Proj. OWN%            7.7%
FD Proj. OWN%            9.8%

Why? → I’m hoping people are put off by Patterson’s bust last week (he had a TD called back and a potential 2nd one called back), but through the first 15 weeks, Patterson has the 4th most High Value Touches (“HVTs”) on the season (58), good for 4.5 per game and facing the lowly Lions, who are giving up 20+ fantasy points per game to RBs (4th most). CPat is averaging nearly 4.5 yards/attempt, 4-6 targets per game (13% target share), and 54% of the Falcons opportunities. I love the bounce back game and his massive upside in the run + pass game.

David Montgomery

Karma Position Rank: 3

DK Proj. OWN%            14.5%
FD Proj. OWN%            14.9%

Why? → I texted Ben (HOSSLER; GOAT) earlier this week and said “why not just steer into the skid of the pathetic Nagy play calling and fire up Monty” and although it seems I won’t be the only one on that play, it’s a great spot and too cheap of a price (13th most expensive on DK; 10th most expensive on FD) for someone getting just an 80% of the opportunities on the team, 41% of the RZ opportunities, and facing the Seahawks who quietly give up the 2nd most fantasy points to RBs on average. Further, no one has given up more RB receptions this season (per DVOA), with Seattle yielding nearly 67 yards per game to RBs (next closest is the Jets at 56). Montgomery is averaging 22 touches per game over his last 4, trailing only Dalvin and Mixon for RBs on the slate.

Tier 2

Alexander Mattison

Karma Position Rank: 9

DK Proj. OWN%            19.7%
FD Proj. OWN%            26.9%

Why? → I gave a similar sentiment earlier in the season when Cook was ruled out, but in the 3 games this season with Cook on the sidelines, Mattison is averaging 24.3 carries, 6 targets, and 149.3 scrimmage yards… yes, the matchup is much tougher than his previous (Lions), but I will always target Mattison with no competition because Zimmer has shown to give him massive usage and if the Vikings can stay competitive, you know they’ll feed it to him all game.

Josh Jacobs

Karma Position Rank: 6

DK Proj. OWN%            9.9%
FD Proj. OWN%            10.5%

Why? → I hate that I keep trusting Jacobs because by the numbers/usage, he is a strong play with upside, yet he never seems to capture any sort of ceiling (1 game this season of 20+ fantasy points). Jacobs is averaging 19.5 touches per game over his last 4 and has the 3rd most HVTs this season of RBs on the slate (61; 5.1 per game). I’ll go back to the well at what should be low pOWN% given the solid Broncos defense and hope that Jacobs can capitalize on his 72% opportunity share in the Raiders offense (4th highest of RBs on the slate).

Tier 3

Justin Jackson

Karma Position Rank: 27

DK Proj. OWN%            10.6%
FD Proj. OWN%            11.3%

Why? → Jackson as well as Robinson (below) are in the Tier 3 section because they’re super cheap, especially Jackson, but should be heavily owned as well. With Ekeler limited last week, Jackson led the backfield in snaps (54% vs. 34% for Ekeler and 16% for Kelley) and with Ekeler possibly missing due to COVID, Jackson could have a high usage role at near-min on DK (4200) and still quite cheap on FD (5400).

James Robinson

Karma Position Rank: 4

DK Proj. OWN%            14.7%
FD Proj. OWN%            10.2%

Why? → Most of the analysis here comes down to his matchup vs. the Jets who have been nothing short of decimated all season by RBs, giving up 36.3 DK Points on average (31.5 FD Points) and with Urban now gone, Robinson returned to a high-usage role last week, with an 84% snap share and 24 touches in a negative game script. He should be a heavy-owned cash play (for good reason) as he has the 7th highest opportunity share of RBs on the slate and is under 6k on DraftKings (pricier on FD at 8200).

Chalk I’m On → Ronald Jones II // Rhamondre Stevenson (if Harris out)

Chalk I’m Off → Miles Sanders // Michael Carter // Joe Mixon

WR

Tier 1

Keenan Allen

Karma Position Rank: 5

DK Proj. OWN%            15.4%
FD Proj. OWN%            18.7%

Why? → Since the Chargers’ bye (week 7), Keenan has seen 8+ targets in all 7 of those games and could get an even larger role if Ekeler is ultimately ruled out. Averaging just under 10 targets per game over the full season, 9.3 over his last 4, 30% of the air yards, and a 24% RZ target share, Keenan is in an all-time blow-up spot in a game the Chargers need to keep pace for the playoff race.

Diontae Johnson

Karma Position Rank: 4

DK Proj. OWN%            7.2%
FD Proj. OWN%            10.4%

Why? → Despite Big Ben being just about laid to rest in a graveyard of dust, Diontae has been insanely consistent and is one of only 7 (great stat per Ian Haritz of PFF) WRs this season who have seen a target on 27% or more of their routes. Averaging 10.2 targets per game over the full season and a 36% air yards share, Johnson has a massive ceiling in what should be a trailing Steelers team and a plus matchup against an improving, but still below average KC secondary.

Ja’Marr Chase

Karma Position Rank: 6

DK Proj. OWN%            7.7%
FD Proj. OWN%            12.8%

Why? → After cooling off from an insane start to his rookie season, Chase still presents one of the higher ceiling WRs with a 38% air yards share, 24% target share, an aDOT of over 12 and an insanely impressive Yards/Route Run of 2.14. Chase is perfect for tournaments, especially against a bad/injured Ravens secondary, as he has a huge ceiling with 5 games this season of 20+ fantasy points, including 25+ fantasy points in 3 of those 5 games.

Tier 2

Russell Gage

Karma Position Rank: 14

DK Proj. OWN%            7.4%
FD Proj. OWN%            6.2%

Why? → Writing up 2 Falcons players feels bad. It does. However, Russell Gage deserves some attention because not only is he facing a terrible Lions defense, but he’s seeing 6-8 targets per game in an offense still without Ridley, an up and down Kyle Pitts, and averaging 9 targets over his last 4 games. Gage has finished as a Top 15 WR in 3 of his last 4 weeks and while Matt Ryan may suck, similar to Big Ben, the volume he’s seeing should still overcome that and the Lions rank 30th in EPA/Drop Back and 29th in EPA/Pass.

Van Jefferson Jr.

Karma Position Rank: 23

DK Proj. OWN%            5.5%
FD Proj. OWN%            4.8%

Why? → Everyone is gonna play Kupp, and everyone should. That we know. However, facing a bad Vikings secondary and a high pass rate for the Rams (6th this season in PROE/7th over last 4 games), Jefferson has seen a solid number of targets in the 2nd half of the season. Van is seeing 6.7 targets per game over his last 4 (5.2 over the full season), which is good for a 25% air yards share while consistently out snapping OBJ and running more routes.

Tier 3

Jakobi Meyers

Karma Position Rank: 22

DK Proj. OWN%            5.3%
FD Proj. OWN%            4.8%

Tyler Johnson

Karma Position Rank: 58

DK Proj. OWN%            5.0%
FD Proj. OWN%            3.4%

Nico Collins

Karma Position Rank: 40

DK Proj. OWN%            5.6%
FD Proj. OWN%            2.2%

Why? → I’m grouping these 3 together as while different styles of player (Meyers = decent floor/limited upside; Johnson = high risk/reward; Collins is a bet on increased usage), they all should be relatively unowned and provide great pieces to stack with or as a one off with other game stacks. Jakobi Meyers is priced below Kendrick Bourne and the one spot where Buffalo is by far most vulnerable is their slot coverage (where Meyers plays nearly 70% of his snaps). Yes, we never know how the game script will go and yes, the Pats passed 3 times vs. Buffalo a few weeks ago, but Meyers has a 30% air yards share, is running a route on 94% of Jones’ drop backs, and is coming off a 12-target game vs. Indy (7 targets per game over his last 4). Tyler Johnson I like mainly as direct leverage off of what should be a mega-owned Antonio Brown since DK priced him under 5k for no reason (7k on FD). It’s worth noting that along with being very cheap/unowned, he can capture serious value in only a few plays and after Evans/Godwin went out last week, Johnson ran a route on 98% of Brady’s drop backs. Lastly, I know it feels gross, but Nico Collins is averaging 5 targets per game over his last 4 and now the target MONSTER that is Brandin Cooks is set to miss this game, meaning 40% of the team’s air yards are now to be distributed. It feels thin, and it may be, but he’s near the min price and Davis Mills has to throw to somebody… right?

Chalk I’m On → Cooper Kupp // Justin Jefferson // Antonio Brown

Chalk I’m Off → DJ Moore // Hunter Renfrow // Odell Beckham Jr.

TE

Mark Andrews

Karma Position Rank: 1

DK Proj. OWN%            8.4%
FD Proj. OWN%            8.3%

Why? → Mark Andrews has seen 24 targets over the last 2 weeks and has turned those into 21 catches, 251 yards, and 3 TDs. He officially has the “WR designated as TE” tag, at least by me, and he’s seeing 27% of the team air yards, 25% of the team targets, 29% of the RZ targets, and is running a route (per PFF) on 93% of Lamar/Huntley drop backs with a target on 23% of those routes. He’s a beast and if the Ravens want to be competitive, I expect him to be fed early and often.

Rob Gronkowski

Karma Position Rank: 6

DK Proj. OWN%            10.0%
FD Proj. OWN%            11.7%

Why? → It is staggering to look and see 1) how bad the Bucs played against the Saints and 2) that Gronk had 11 targets and turned that into 2 catches for 29 yards. LOL. That was the first week of the season that Gronk hadn’t finished as a Top 10 TE but now gets the Panthers without Fournette/Evans/Godwin. Taking those 3 players out leaves around 20-25 targets per game, on average, so I expect a HEAVY dose of Gronk in this one and it doesn’t hurt that the Panthers are tied for 5th most targets allowed to TEs this season.

Cole Kmet

Karma Position Rank: 7

DK Proj. OWN%            6.4%
FD Proj. OWN%            3.6%

Why? → Kmet still presents a very, very low floor in a horrendous offense (thanks, Nagy) but has seen an uptick in usage the last several weeks, averaging 5.4 targets per game over the full season and 8 targets per game over his last 4. With a decent enough secondary, the Seahawks should be focused on Mooney, but Kmet should see a solid target share against the 6th worst defense against TEs this season.

C.J. Uzomah

Karma Position Rank: 13

DK Proj. OWN%            2.9%
FD Proj. OWN%            2.2%

Why? → We close with Uzomah because 1) he’s a stud, 2) the Ravens have been dominated by TEs for the most part this season (given up 5th most fantasy points per game), and 3) he gives you a piece of the Bengals passing attack without spending up on both Higgins/Chase in the same lineup. Uzomah is TD dependent for a “slate winning” score most likely; however, he’s run a route on 88% of Burrow’s drop backs this season (per PFF) and has seen 3+ targets in his last 9 games and 6 targets in 2 of his last 3 games.

Stacks

Stacking has gotten increasingly popular each year as projections, correlations, and infinite amounts of information and stats available; however, in general, “the field” (large field GPPs) still don’t stack nearly enough. Per Mike Leone from EstablishTheRun, the field played double stacks approximately 29% of the time in the weekly milly maker, which double stacks finished in the Top 100 nearly 40% of the time. Going further, the field had a bring back opponent, i.e. QB + WR + WR + an opposing team’s WR/TE (mostly WR) approximately 35% of the time yet lineups with a bring back finished in the Top 100 53% of the time.

The left side of this table shows our 5 stacks and opponents with the Vegas total at open and the current Vegas total along with the team’s QB/RB and then Top 2 WRs (based on DK Price), TE, and the opposing team’s Top 2 WRs (again, based on DK price). On the right side, we can use the stack’s projected points, which for all players and positions can be found here, and provide how much of the salary cap is used, total projected ownership, and finally “OWN% Value”, which evaluates the projected points of the stack compared to the total ownership to see if there is leverage along with upside.

DraftKings Stacks –

Check back Friday for my STACKS/Team Matchups/Slate Simulations article!

FanDuel Stacks –

Check back Friday for my STACKS/Team Matchups/Slate Simulations article!

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