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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. 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 ACO, 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 breakdown!
KC @ CIN
- Given the last 6 or so games by Mahomes, even at the elevated price tag, it’s a little puzzling to see my pOWN% for Mahomes around 6% and Burrow around 10%
- Both teams rank Top 3 this season in PROE, both rank in the Top 5 in EPA/Play and EPA/Drop Back on offense, and both offer similarly average (above-average maybe) EPA allowed on defense through the air and ground game
- Chase being back makes me like Tee Higgins even more than I do when Higgins is the de-facto WR1; during the 4 game stretch (Weeks 8/9/11/12) where Chase was out, Higgins averaged 9 targets per game/93 yards/0.5 TDs; with Chase on the field, Higgins averages 7.5-8 targets a game and will draw significantly worse coverage… in the 2 games vs. KC last year, Higgins had 15 targets for 165 yards
- Not that anyone needs another reason to play Kelce, but CIN has allowed just under 8 targets/game to TEs this year (4th most); also worth noting that Kelce has a 35% EZ target share this season and leads the entire NFL in EZ targets with 35
- I think taking a chance on either Mixon or Chase makes a ton of sense as we don’t know how much usage they’ll get/if they’re on a snap count, but Mixon had looked solid pre-injury and we know both carry mega upside
JAX @ DET
- I am surprised, to say the least, to see that Lawrence is currently projecting as the highest owned QB on DK (13-15%); not a “bad” play, in my opinion, as we’ve seen how bad the Lions defense has been all year (3rd worst defense in EPA/Drop Back and EPA/Rush allowed on defense)
- I DO have interest in Jared Goff who is only 5300, playing in a dome where his splits are very pronounced vs. playing away, and against a very beatable Jags secondary
- ARSB is shaping up to be chalk for the 19351385th week in a row but is still too cheap at 7100
- I have (probably too much) interest in Swift in GPPs at only 5600 and I would assume is well under 5% owned… the negatives are obvious: the snap share is too low (around 35% this season) and the rushing share is down below 20% for the season; however, Swift’s Targets/Route Run (per PFF) sits at 26%, which is 6th best among all NFL RBs, he ranks top 10 of all RBs in average yards after contact, average missed tackles forced per rush, and 10+ yard runs (Dwain MacFarland from PFF)
- My main dog Zay Jones had a career game last week (of course I was off him) and is now shaping up to be a chalky salary relief option at only 4900… if he’s going to come near 20% owned I’ll fade in GPPs (which stings)
LAC @ LV
- Before sitting down to write my article I expected Herbert’s ownership to be one of the higher projected on the slate for QBs… yet he sits at 5% pOWN as of Friday afternoon
- Austin Ekeler may be my favorite player on the entire slate at any position; the Raiders have surrendered nearly 60 receiving yards/8 targets per game to opposing RBs this season, nearly 90 rush yards/game, and facing a RB with 94 (!) targets through the first 12 weeks i.e. a player with potential to break the NFL record for receptions/receiving for an RB; over his last 6 games, Ekeler has seen 11+ targets in 4 of them
- In 3 games post Renfrow being sent to the IR, Mack Hollins has seen 20 targets (just under 7 per game), run a route on 95% of Carr’s drop backs (per PFF), and despite being a clear 2nd to the alpha Davante, Hollins currently has a higher aDOT than DA and is seeing a respectable 15% of the EZ targets over his last 3 and a 20+% Targets/Route Run in 2 of his last 4 games
GPP Leverage/Low Owned Plays
Christian McCaffrey: The only guy taking work from CMC was Eli Mitchell and he’s now back to the IR, leaving CMC as the undisputed bell cow yet he’s projecting for 5-6% ownership on DK… is he expensive? Yes. Does he have an ungodly ceiling and very high floor? Also yes. CMC has seen 27 targets in his 4 games with SF (removing the 1st game right after the trade), run a route on a whopping 80% (80!) of Jimmy G’s drop backs, and should now get just about all of the inside the 10/inside the 5 rush work with Mitchell out
Jaylen Waddle: The SF defense is very good and the matchup for the high-flying and explosive Dolphins offense isn’t as pristine as other weeks; however, Tua is also on another level right now and the SF secondary can certainly be beat by the likes of the 1A/1B duo of TyScum + Waddle; since he always appears overpriced, Waddle won’t rate out super well in models or optimal lineup generators, but it will keep his ownership (as always) low despite him averaging 7.6 targets per game, a 30% air yards share, a 22% EZ target share (higher than TyScum), and a ridiculous 2.68 yards/route run (per PFF; 3rd best in the NFL this year amongst WRs behind only Davante/TyScum)
Tyler Lockett: The Seahawks are facing a VERY depleted Rams defense (to say the least) and Lockett feels semi-overlooked this week at only 6k on DraftKings and currently <10% pOWN; 33% air yards share this season, 7.1 targets/game, and aside from EZ target share, where Metcalf has a monster edge, Lockett has been either similar/slightly better than his counterpart and should see significantly less coverage from Jalen Ramsey compared to Metcalf
Adam Thielen: Thielen has dropped down to just 5k and even though I’m normally on team “Thielen is dust,” he really hasn’t been with a near 27% air yards share, 7.1 targets/game, and has run a route on 94% of the team’s drop backs; if nothing else, it’s definitely a boost that Sauce Gardner should be primarily focused on JJ over anyone else this game
GPP and Ownership Overview
Overall, don’t fade someone just because of ownership and don’t try to make your whole roster contrarian. There’s a ton of value at all positions and I think the most likely route I’ll go is fading the super cheap RBs and maybe the chalk defenses, or only play one cheaper RB in one lineup and pivot elsewhere to not have a chalky lineup(s).
I think it always make sense to stack the popular games, but if playing 3-5 lineups, or even 20, try out a leverage stack. I think many, including myself, get caught up in trying to target games and stacks based on what “should” happen but rather what “could” happen that most of the public won’t target. There’s always an edge as 90+% of DFS players will base stacks off of Vegas totals and good/bad defenses, but always be looking for games with low combined ownership and grabbing pieces of a game that maybe don’t need a QB stack. If a game has a high Vegas total, sure the game can shootout, but not everyone can explode for 30+ fantasy points as there just isn’t enough plays and touchdowns so try to get different while still attacking the fast paced/high scoring matchups. As I always say, you don’t need to make your entire lineup contrarian, just a couple pieces that differentiate you but keep you in that average cumulative ownership range. Good luck this week!