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Sam’s Conviction Column – NFL Week 9

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!

Week 9 Position by Position Breakdown

Week 9 Cash Process

Projections Portal

NFL Game Theory

Ben’s Week 9 Breakdown! (Article)

Core Plays

 

QB

Lamar Jackson

Karma Position Rank: 2

DK Proj. OWN%            15.3%
FD Proj. OWN%            18.0%

Why? → It’s rare to have a player projected for such a massive/safe floor yet also carry the highest ceiling by several points, but Lamar brings 10+ rush attempts per game combined with nearly 40 drop backs per game and is only the 4th highest priced QB this week. The Ravens don’t pass a “ton” by the league standards, but they’re passing at just under a 55% clip in 2021 compared to 45% in 2020, their RB situation is a mess, and now Lamar is facing a Vikings team that just let Cooper Rush throw for 341 yards and over 400 yards of total offense… this spot is elite and the Ravens need a bounce back after getting killed by the Bengals 2 weeks ago.

Dak Prescott

Karma Position Rank: 5

DK Proj. OWN%            4.7%
FD Proj. OWN%            4.9%

Why? → Dak makes a great pivot off the expected Zeke chalk this week as the matchup isn’t a soft one against the Broncos, but the loss of Von Miller is significant and while Zeke is a strong play in his own right, I love the weekly Dak double stack. Dak has thrown for 300+ in 3 of his 6 games this year, is tied with Matt Ryan for most pass attempts per game of QBs on the slate and leads all QBs on the slate in Adj. Net yards per pass attempt (8.43). With an implied team total of 29.5, and the high-flying Cowboys offense, I love the potential for a ceiling game for Dak at what could be sub 5% ownership.

Justin Herbert

Karma Position Rank: 9

DK Proj. OWN%            5.4%
FD Proj. OWN%            7.7%

Why? → If we look just at the raw numbers, the Eagles haven’t given up a ton of PPR points this season to QBs/WRs; however, when we look at who they’ve faced and what they’ve done against good offenses, the D is bad. Real bad. Herbert is one of 5 QBs on the slate averaging 300+ air yards per game this season and after a poor game against the Patriots, who seem to have his number, his ownership should stay low despite a fast-paced game environment, high Vegas total, and 2 WRs who have huge mismatches with the Philly corners.

Joe Burrow

Karma Position Rank: 7

DK Proj. OWN%            2.5%
FD Proj. OWN%            2.3%

Why? → Division games can be weird, and we’re not used to a midseason game where the Bengals are favorites (and should be), but I thought more would be interested in Burrow given the disarray that is the Browns organization and not to mention, Burrow has thrown 2+ TDs in every single game this season. Cleveland has shown to be a bit of a run funnel as they’ve given up less than 20 fantasy points on average to RBs but have given up the 9th most points on average to QBs thus far in 2021. The Browns could be without Ward/Newsome and have been vulnerable to deep balls all season, which presents an issue for them because no one has thrown more 40+ yard TDs (6) or 50+ yard TDs (4) than Joe Burrow this season.

RB

Tier 1

Austin Ekeler

Karma Position Rank: 1

DK Proj. OWN%            19.9%
FD Proj. OWN%            18.4%

Why? → My number 1 rated RB on the main slate, Ekeler is averaging over 20 weighted opportunities per game and has the 2nd most High-Value Touches (“HVTs”; credit to Ben Gretch for this metric) of all RBs on the slate (44 total; 6.3 per game). What’s encouraging is Ekeler has seen 58% of the rush attempts inside the 10, 80% of the rushing work inside the 5, and an average of 6 targets a game to go along with it. It may come as a surprise, but the Eagles have given up the 2nd most points on average to RBs of all teams in the league this year (31.3 DK points; 26.7 FD points).

Ezekiel Elliott

Karma Position Rank: 3

DK Proj. OWN%            21.0%
FD Proj. OWN%            19.7%

Why? → I normally try to stay away from the super chalk in this article, but Zeke is projected to be the highest owned RB, and one of the highest players on the slate, for good reason. Despite constant talk about Pollard and Zeke losing touches, etc, Zeke is averaging 3-5 targets per game, 4-5 HVTs per game, and approximately 60% of rush attempts inside the five-yard line. Zeke should have a boost in matchup without Von Miller on the field as he’s quietly 6th in the NFL in yards after contact (for RBs).

Nick Chubb

Karma Position Rank: 7

DK Proj. OWN%            9.5%
FD Proj. OWN%            14.2%

Why? → When I updated ownership, I was surprised to see a decent amount of buzz around Nick Chubb since he hasn’t popped off in several weeks; nevertheless, Chubb is 4th in the league in yards after contact, the Bengals have given up the 6th most fantasy points on average to RBs, and without Hunt + a banged-up Baker, Chubb should see his usual 17-20 rush attempts and 3-5 targets per game. Per PFF, the Browns O-Line versus the Bengals D-Line is the 2nd best matchup of the week.

Tier 2

Cordarrelle Patterson

Karma Position Rank: 12

DK Proj. OWN%            12.7%
FD Proj. OWN%            11.9%

Why? → What a world 2021 is as I write up Cordarrelle Patterson at 6300 on DK (7000 on FD) as a strong GPP play this week. Patterson is a “RB” but is seeing nearly 6 targets per game, good for 15% of the team targets, as well as 5 HVTs per game this season. The Falcons are without Ridley again and while I like Pitts as a play this week, it’s very possible that he gets shut down by the Saints secondary and Patterson could see even more targets.

Chase Edmonds

Karma Position Rank: 13

DK Proj. OWN%            8.0%
FD Proj. OWN%            11.3%

Why? → Edmonds rarely comes through for me despite me rostering him near every week, but now that he got that elusive TD, Kyler is banged up and could actually miss this game, and although it doesn’t seem like it, Edmonds has out snapped James Conner with a 70/30 split in Week 7 and 60/40 split in Week 8. Conner is frustrating as he seems to get every TD possible, but Edmonds has consistently seen the valuable touches, ranking 4th in total HVTs this season (38) which is twenty more than Conner has gotten with 18. He’s a risky option, but with the Kyler uncertainty and only 5300 with a solid receiving floor, I think he’s a strong leverage option.

Tier 3

Devontae Booker

Karma Position Rank: 16

DK Proj. OWN%            3.5%
FD Proj. OWN%            5.6%

Why? → A lot of risk here because, well, it’s the Giants, but in Barkley’s absence, Booker has gotten a strong amount of usage. He’s seen targets of 4/4/3/6 over the last 4 weeks, just under 15 rush attempts per game over the last 4 weeks, and the Raiders have given up the 12th most fantasy points per game to RBs so far this season. The team total and projected game script may not be perfect, but as he’s priced right next to Gaskin/Eli Mitchell, we’re getting a huge ownership discount on a guy who has played 80+% of the RB snaps 3 of the last 4 weeks.

Chalk I’m On → Alvin Kamara // Myles Gaskin

Chalk I’m Off → Dalvin Cook // Josh Jacobs // Darrel Williams

WR

Tier 1

Tyreek Hill

Karma Position Rank: 3

DK Proj. OWN%            19.2%
FD Proj. OWN%            24.5%

Why? → Tyreek is an explosive, break the slate candidate every time he takes the field as he now leads the league in targets this season (88), which is good for 35% of Mahomes’ air yards, 25% of the team targets, and facing a Packers defense without their one star, Jaire Alexander. Per Ian Haritz of PFF, the Packers have given up the 7th most explosive plays thus far this season (allowed 33.3% of deep targets), which should be trouble with no one having near the speed that Tyreek brings to the table.

Stefon Diggs

Karma Position Rank: 1

DK Proj. OWN%            11.9%
FD Proj. OWN%            21.4%

Why? → Diggs is definitely having a down year compared to most people’s expectations, but the horrific Jags defense seems like a great way to bounce right back if you ask me. He hasn’t been all-world this season, but he’s still averaging nearly 9 targets per game, 32% of the team’s air yards, and while I expect Josh Allen to carry some decent chalk, I think Diggs’ ownership will be kept in check despite having one of the higher ceilings on the slate.

CeeDee Lamb

Karma Position Rank: 8

DK Proj. OWN%            8.3%
FD Proj. OWN%            14.2%

Why? → With Amari Cooper set to be heavily owned (as he should given that he’s for some reason 1600 cheaper than Lamb on DK (only 600 less on FD), Lamb could go under owned in tournaments. Lamb has averaged 8.3 targets per game over his last 4 weeks, 24 DK points on average over the last 4, and one of those was with Cooper Rush under center. Despite a tougher matchup with Denver, Lamb’s 11.1 YPT (yards per target) should give him plenty of separation as he’s always viable for a ceiling performance no matter what the matchup.

Tier 2

Marquise Brown

Karma Position Rank: 6

DK Proj. OWN%            7.7%
FD Proj. OWN%            4.1%

Why? → Marquise Brown had 330 air yards in their Week 7 game against the Bengals… that is outrageous. 250 of those were unrealized air yards. That is insane. I think Brown is an outstanding value this week at only 6000 on DK (7700 on FD) as he’s the clear #1 WR on the Ravens with 8.2 targets per game, 36% of the team’s air yards, 26% of the RZ targets, and an impressive 16.5 aDOT.

Tee Higgins

Karma Position Rank: 10

DK Proj. OWN%            14.6%
FD Proj. OWN%            7.2%

Why? → I could just copy and paste what I wrote about Higgins last week because the sentiment remains the same. Higgins is only 5300 and has run slightly more routes than both Chase and Boyd, he’s seeing 8.2 targets per game, 22% of the team’s RZ targets, 33% of the team’s air yards, and while Chase’s aDOT/usage is insane, Higgins himself has an aDOT of 10.7. Over his last 4 games he’s averaged 8.5 targets per game, 11-13 fantasy points per game, yet hasn’t scored a TD since Week 2.

Emmanuel Sanders

Karma Position Rank: 16

DK Proj. OWN%            3.7%
FD Proj. OWN%            3.9%

Why? → I always love going back to a WR who tossed a GUTTER BALL the week before as Manny saw 4 targets in Week 8, yet couldn’t haul any of them in. Before last week, Sanders saw 6 or more targets in 5 of his 6 games and over his last 4 weeks, he’s averaged 5.6 targets and 11.5 fantasy points. I love the leverage here as Sanders is $100 cheaper than a chalk Amari Cooper and with his outrageous aDOT of 19.5 (19.5!!!!!!!!), he has the ability to pay off and smash value in 2 or 3 plays. The Bills tend to smash bad teams and while some may chase the Beasley game from last week or just pay up to Diggs, Sanders is a tremendous pivot.

Tier 3

Jarvis Landry

Karma Position Rank: 22

DK Proj. OWN%            11.5%
FD Proj. OWN%            6.9%

Why? → This play doesn’t feel good even looking at it, but with most likely no Odell, no Kareem Hunt, and just the mess that is the Browns, Landry as the pseudo #1 WR at only 5100 is awfully appealing. Averaging 5.8 targets per game, 23% of the air yards, and running a route on nearly 97% of Baker’s drop backs (per PFF). After missing several games, Landry has 18 targets over the last 2 weeks and that was with Odell on the field.

Mecole Hardman

Karma Position Rank: 33

DK Proj. OWN%            8.4%
FD Proj. OWN%            3.7%

Why? → He’s hardly an alpha, but Hardman at only 3900 on DK (only 5400 on FD) seems much too cheap for his potential upside in this Chiefs offense. Yes, the Chiefs offense that isn’t bad at all despite a lot of media talk. Sure, TyScum and Kelce are the dominant players here, but Hardman has seen 5.6 targets per game, 18% of the red zone targets, and it’s very encouraging to see that he’s run a route on 94% of Mahomes’ drop backs this season, which is higher than both Tyreek and Kelce. Is he just running wind sprints? Sometimes, maybe, but I’ll take a 15% target share, at a cheap price point, on a team with the 4th highest implied team total.

Chalk I’m On → Amari Cooper // Davante Adams // Hunter Renfrow

Chalk I’m Off → Brandin Cooks // Jaylen Waddle // Kadarius Toney

TE

Kyle Pitts

Karma Position Rank: 5

DK Proj. OWN%            4.5%
FD Proj. OWN%            6.6%

Why? → I actually would prefer Pitts in games with Ridley playing as it would take some better coverage off him, and this matchup is certainly a difficult one, but as is the case with the TE below this, Pitts is a “TE” but he’s also not at all a TE. Again, per Ian Haritz of PFF, Pitts has lined up in the slot/out wide on 74% of his snaps and 83% of his routes. While the Saints have kept TEs in check (given up the 6th least pointss to TEs), Pitts is not a TE and is averaging 7 targets a game, 30% of the team’s air yards, and the highest aDOT of all TEs on the slate (at least those who are regular starters).

Mike Gesicki

Karma Position Rank: 2

DK Proj. OWN%            6.0%
FD Proj. OWN%            4.2%

Why? → Play Gesicki every week. He is literally a WR that has a TE designation. < That sentence was what I wrote last week and it’s still true! Yes, he takes a slight hit with Parker back and Tua doesn’t throw to him as much as Brissett did, but still seeing 6-8 targets per game, 23% of the team’s air yards, and ranks 2nd in Targets/Route of TEs on the slate (just behind Mark Andrews). The opportunities should be there this week as Tua continues to throw a ton (nearly 40 times per game) and the Texans have given up 31 or more points in 4 of their last 5 games.

Dallas Goedert

Karma Position Rank: 3

DK Proj. OWN%            12.5%
FD Proj. OWN%            9.4%

Why? → The marriage of Goedert without Zach Ertz + a matchup against the Chargers, who have given up the 3rd most points to TEs this season (17.2 DK Points/13.7 FD Points) is very enticing. Goedert should get some ownership, which isn’t ideal, but it’s warranted as he’s seen 12 targets over the last 2 games (without Ertz) to go with a 12.4 YPT, 16% of the red zone targets, and an impressive Yards/Route Run (per PFF) of 2.05, which trails only David Njoku and Mark Andrews of TEs on the slate.

Jared Cook

Karma Position Rank: 6

DK Proj. OWN%            6.2%
FD Proj. OWN%            3.2%

Why? → I haven’t really played Jared Cook ever until this year, yet I’ve found myself writing about him/playing him in over half the games this season. He’s only 3300 on DK/5200 on FD (13th highest priced on DK/12th highest priced on FD), yet is seeing a respectable 5-6 targets per game, 13% of the team targets, and 16% of the RZ targets. Cook has seen 5+ targets in 5 of his 7 games this season and while Parham has eaten some into snap share for the Chargers TEs, Cook has still run a route on 88% of Herbert’s drop backs (Parham 70%) and as said earlier, his RZ usage is strong, trailing only Keenan Allen on the team.

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 – See below for some of my favorite stack options (click on image to enlarge)

FanDuel Stacks – See below for some of my favorite stack options (click on image to enlarge)

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