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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 @ HOU
- Only 10 games on the main slate and none have a Vegas Total of 50+ and some of the best teams are playing horrendous teams and/or defenses… such as the Chiefs who have the highest implied point total (31/32 depending on the book) which should give some of the field pause due to the possible “blow out” of KC over HOU… which is ridiculous because if a team is blowing another team out and, for example, sits their players in the 4th Quarter that “likely” would mean that the offense already smashed and also “likely” put up solid fantasy numbers
- Mahomes to Kelce is expensive (31.8% of your salary on DK) and will definitely be owned… but if we look at the slate and specifically at the QBs and TEs, would anyone be shocked if Mahomes and Kelce are the highest scoring at their position by a wide margin?
- I was one of the few beneficiaries of the 1% McKinnon (shout out to Matt for that call) who had a 99th percentile outcome last week but I have most interest in Pacheco this week who is definitely not a bell cow for KC but is serving as the RB1 over the last 3 games since CEH went to IR, handling 65% of the RB carries for KC, 58% of the RZ carries, and around 18.3 opportunities/game… he’s been mostly a non-factor in the passing game but at only 5900 and facing the HOU rush defense that’s surrendered 141.2 rush yards and 1.23 rush TDs per game this season, the spot is supreme
- It normally feels wrong to not double stack Mahomes given the Chiefs PROE (1st in the league) and talent but I don’t find myself with much interest in JuJu who’s low aDOT, low air yard share %, lack of big plays seems to put a pretty hard cap on his ceiling and I’m not sure this game environment is conducive to racking up shorter passes in the slot; MVS can always hit for a big play but is also obsessed with dropping the ball; Watson/Skyy are punts that are definitely viable on a Mahomes stacked roster but aside from that I won’t have any exposure to any of MVS/Watson/Skyy
- The Chris Moore chalk feels bad, like real bad, and even if I end up stacking this game on my main team in GPPs/SE, I don’t think I’ll have any interest in that bring-back; KC has been poor in coverage vs. slot WRs this season (allowed the third highest catch %, 80.3%, through their first 13 vs. slot WRs) but it’s hard to see the upside in the Texans’ 32nd (dead last) ranked EPA/Play on offense or 32nd EPA/Drop back either
- If Nico Collins were to suit up, I would have interest there and while I CERTAINLY don’t want to do double TE, and certainly not TE with Kelce and Jordan Akins, I think Akins is the only semi-interesting piece on the HOU side who before the Dallas game had target counts of 3/3/6/5 in his previous 4
TEN @ LAC
- All of us just watched Herbert throw all over the Miami defense in primetime and as such, and probably rightfully so, I think we can expect a decent pOWN% on several guys here, primarily Herbert/Keenan/Derrick Henry/Chig Okonkwo
- The Tennessee defense is such a pass funnel that they don’t even try to hide it… 1st on defense in EPA/Rush and 26th in EPA/Drop back; the Titans have allowed <65 yards on average to opposing RBs and only 3 rush TDs all season
- (2b) On the contrary, the defense has faced nearly 40 pass attempts/game, well above the league average of 32, and have given up 300 pass yards/game, which is second most to only the Vikings (301)
- The Chargers are not a perfect “opposite” because their defense as a whole stinks, but opposite of the Titans, they have zero ability to stop the run, yielding just under 130 rush yards/game to opposing RBs and now facing the guy with the most total carries and most carries/game in Derrick Henry (275 total; 21.2/game)
- All of this is to say I probably will not be running a stack of Herbert/Keenan/Derrick Henry because I think that will be very popular and gives you no leverage in the stack but you’re still absorbing the high ownership
- I like Henry this week, as most of the industry does, and while I am normally looking for a reason to fade him (currently projected around 25-30% on DK), it’s a nut matchup on top of only a 10-game slate with limited options… I mentioned on the pod that my other reason I don’t want to fade is because Henry’s backup, Hilliard, has already been ruled out for Week 15 leaving Henry is basically the only guy… could touch the ball 30+ times
- Treylon Burks has been ruled out again and so we should fire up some CHIG; over the last 2 weeks (Burks out), Chig has run a route on 50% of drop backs in back to back games for the first time; over the full season, he’s seeing a ridiculous 25% Targets/Route Run (per Dwain McFarland; PFF), a 2.48 Yards/Route Run (again, PFF), and has finished as the PPR TE8 and TE3 in 2 of the last 3 weeks… his opps. are limited but the upside is terrific
DAL @ JAX
- While these teams are definitely far apart in terms of talent/record/etc, etc, there are some interesting similarities that could make this game a great GPP spot… both teams rank Top 9 in pace of play (DAL 4th/JAX 9th), both rank Top 10 in EPA/Play on offense (DAL 8th/JAX 10th), and both Top 11 in EPA/Drop back (DAL 11th/JAX 7th)
- Now the defenses? Those are not the same.
- Although it still carries a lot of risk no matter what the roster, it’s worth noting that Dallas is VERY injured on defense with several key players on IR and while still elite, are nowhere near 80/90/100% on the defensive side; they don’t have a “vulnerable” piece of the defense, per say, such as a run or pass funnel, but Lawrence showed his upside last week, finishing as QB1 in fantasy and has now finished QB1 and QB5 in 2 of the last 3 weeks (QB5 by the way was against what has been a pretty improved BAL defense in the latter part of the season)
- One of my favorite pieces of this game is Christian Kirk who has had a great season, sucked last week, but should continue to run a high % of his routes from the slot, where the Cowboys have allowed the 10th highest catch rate (75.8%) and 10th most YAC (466) allowed to slot WRs so far this season
- Zay is interesting and can definitely be stacked with Lawrence and/or Kirk; Etienne I think will be very low owned and while the Cowboys have been beaten more on the ground vs. the pass, I’m not sure I want to pay $6000 on DK for him; Evan Engram has looked better but noooooo way after that performance last week do I go back… it’s still Evan Engram
- On the Cowboys side, I like playing the passing attack, which similar to JAX, I would not assume gets very popular and maybe in non-Dak teams using Zeke; Pollard feels just too expensive for not ever seeing more than 55-60% of the snaps and rarely more than 35-40% of the rush attempts… even with his explosive upside I’ll probably fade
- I likely will not use Lamb unless pairing with Dak as Lamb always gets steamed up in ownership, no matter the matchup or pOWN% (similar to Mixon); my favorite guy to stack with Dak + Lamb (or just Dak) is Dalton Schultz, who will be popular unfortunately, (15-20% maybe) but has a 22% Targets/Route Run (PFF) and 41% of the EZ Targets this season
GPP Leverage/Low Owned Plays
Miles Sanders: The Eagles are so hard to figure out on the ground because Hurts takes around 25% of the rush attempts and they rotate in a few backs behind Sanders; however, still getting about 50% of the rush attempts, 60-65% of the RB snaps, and facing the Bears porous defense that’s allowed 114 rush yards/game and as a defense overall ranks 32nd in EPA/Play; Sanders doesn’t get the RZ and/or inside the 10/5 work that many RBs do (and you want) as Hurts takes a lot of those, but the Eagles should run all over them and Sanders has already scored 11 TDs this season, Chicago has given up a comical 14 (tied for 2nd most behind HOU) thus far, and quietly Miles has finished as RB2 and RB3 in fantasy 2 of the last 3 weeks
Dallas Goedert (if active, obviously)
TBD – I may come back late Friday/Saturday to update as I finish up research for the week
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!