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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. This article will be focused around listing the Top 10 projected owned guys by each position on both DraftKings and FanDuel and weighing what chalk I will be eating, my general thoughts on the slate, and listing my leverage/pivots by position as to where we can differentiate ourselves on the main slate. 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!
BUF @ KC
- The only reason to fade this game is probably the projected ownership on a lot of the big guys, i.e. Diggs/Kelce/Allen, etc… BUF is 1st in PROE, KC is 2nd… fireworks?
- Diggs is the clear alpha of Buffalo, but note that Gabe Davis (seems) to be fully recovered from his ankle injury and has run a route on 98.4% of Allen’s drop backs this season (run a route on 182 of 185 drop backs he’s been on the field)
- Devin Singletary has run the 3rd most routes on the offense and KC has given up a (by far) league worst 11.5 targets per game to opposing RBs
- If Dawson Knox misses again, Quintin Morris becomes a great punt in the best game environment with the best QB in the league; with Knox out last week, Morris ran a route on 84% of his drop backs and garnered nine (9!!!) targets, which he converted a TD and saw an EZ target
- On the KC side, Mahomes may come in 5% or less owned… which makes sense with Allen only $200 more, but is tremendous leverage in the same game environment and the same big play (or many big plays) ability
- JuJu Smith-Schuster hasn’t caught a TD on his new team yet but has seen 7+ targets in 4 of 5 games this season including 7 RZ targets (no TDs)
- My preferred way to stack this game is Allen with 2 pass catchers (neither have to be Diggs) or playing Mahomes with JuJu and 2 bills on the other side (i.e. Mahomes/Juju +McKenzie/Singletary)
ARI @ SEA
- Through the first 5 weeks, SEA is the #1 scoring offense in the NFL (yikes!)
- DraftKings left Lockett at $5,600 for some reason and he’s therefore shaping up to be mega chalk (25+%) owned again
- Zach Ertz has seen targets of 11/10/6/10 in his last 4 games, 12 total RZ targets through 5 weeks (3rd amongst TEs), 4 EZ targets (tied for 2nd for TEs), yet remains a low ceiling option due to his propensity to catch the ball and fall down for what appears to be NEGATIVE YAC
- (3a) Ertz has a comically high 42% target share in the RZ
- Kenneth Walker III, Lockett, and Eno Benjamin should all garner double digit ownership in a game that looks great on paper with 2 (so far) strong offenses, terrible defenses, and cheap DraftKings price tags
- If attacking this game, I think Eno is almost too cheap to avoid (certainly in cash and probably in GPPs) and I love going back to DK Metcalf who has seen 6+ targets in every game this year and 8/10/12 in his last 3
- Despite a terrible D-Line (bottom 5 in the league), the Cardinals rank 7th in the league in EPA/Rush allowed on defense
- If the Cardinals dial up the blitz/pressure, Geno goes from 1st in PFF passer rating when kept clean to 16th when under pressure… Geno has been great, but would we be surprised by a bad game?
NYJ @ GB
- In this writer’s opinion, Breece Hall remains underpriced at only $5,800 facing a Packers defense that’s 3rd to last in Rush DVOA combined with Hall ranking 7th amongst RBs on the slate in Weighted Opportunities per game (16.6)
- Always a boom or bust option, Robert Tonyan provides decent leverage off what should be a very popular Romeo Doubs, seeing 4-6 targets per game combined with the Jets allowing 25% of their targets to TEs thus far (7.5 per game)
- This game seems like a great one to target for “secondary stacks” i.e. a WR/RB, WR/WR, etc. from each team as Rodgers does have a reasonable ceiling but other options around him at similar prices seem better
- Romeo Doubs does seem to have taken (or soon to take over) the WR1 role, seeing more targets than Lazard and running more routes
- It could be a one week thing, but worth noting that Aaron Jones played on 73% of the snaps last week vs. Dillon 32%, where as it was close to a 50/50, 60/40 split in the prior 4 weeks
MIN @ MIA
- Raheem Mostert has played on 72%/69% (nice) of the snaps over the last 2 weeks and appears to have (for the moment, at least) taken over the RB1 role in Miami; Mostert has seen 53% of the rush attempts for the season (68% over last 2 weeks), has run a route on 50% of the MIA QB drop backs; Mostert has also seen 90+% of the 2 minutes or less work over the last 2 games
- Jaylen Waddle has been battling an ankle injury the last few weeks but has still sustained a 23% market share, run a route on 81% of drop backs, 20% of the EZ targets, and is 4th among all WRs in Yards/Route Run (per PFF) at 2.71 (his counterpart TyScum hill is #1 at 3.49 Yards/Route Run
- Justin Jefferson remains an unreal alpha in this offense (and the NFL) and will most likely go overlooked again this week as most flock to Kupp or Diggs; JJ’s last 2 weekly finishes in PPR leagues? WR1/WR2… seems pretty good!
- Irv Smith has run more routes in each of the last 3 weeks: 55% > 64% > 71% (per PFF) and has the second highest Targets/Route Run (behind JJ) on the Vikings with a 13% target share (about 5 per game); Miami has yielded nearly 8 targets a game/60 yards receiving to TEs this season
- Dalvin is in a decent bounce back spot as the MIA rush defense ranks 21st in EPA/Rush Allowed and despite no “blow up” games per say this year, Dalvin sees the 5th most rush attempts/game of RBs on the slate, ranks 9th in Wtg. Opps. per game of RBs on the slate (14.3)
TB @ PIT
- I heard on a podcast this past week that on Wednesday/Thursday, the Steelers entire (or most of) secondary was injured and not practicing… this certainly feels like one of those couple games a season where Brady just destroys
- The Bucs rank 3rd in PROE this season and the Steelers have given up the most points on average to opposing WRs through the first 5 games
- With the multitude of injuries across the Bucs, Mike Evans has been the clear alpha WR1 with a 27% air yards share, 40% of the EZ targets, and a huge aDOT of 14.1
- Leonard Fournette is a wagon and here to say; however, Rachaad White’s role in the offense is definitely increasing with a 41% snap share in Week 4, 39% in Week 5 while previously playing on 10% or less in the first 3 games
- (4a) Lenny has seen 75% of the snaps, run a route on 61% of Brady’s drop backs, and is tied on the team for 2nd in target share at 15%; Lenny ranks 2nd of RBs on the slate in HVTs per game (6) and 6th in Wtg. Opps/Game (17.8)
- I believe George Pickens has taken over the WR2 role in PIT; targets of 7/8/8 over his last 3 games, a large aDOT of 16.7, and running a route on nearly 94% of drop backs
- If Pat Freiermuth suits up, he’s my biggest interest on the PIT side as TB has given up 8.2 targets per game to TEs (3rd highest in the league) and Patty F has maintained a lower aDOT (7.7) that could see a lot of looks when Pickett is presumably under pressure most of the game (PIT bottom 3 OL in the league)
GPP Leverage/Low Owned Plays
Lamar Jackson: The pricing is such that it seems Lamar could get squeezed (yet again) despite putting up 40+ DK points twice in 5 games this season, leading all QBs on the slate in rush attempts/game, a #1 rank in Fantasy Points per Drop back (PFF), and an unmatched ceiling compared to any QB that isn’t Josh Allen
Alvin Kamara: Not that I should be complaining about Kamara’s output last week, but he did kind of “run bad” because of Taysom (****ing) Hill who scored 3 (smh) TDs; nevertheless, Kamara played on 73% of the snaps in his return after missing Week 4, ran a route on 69% (nice) of Dalton’s drop backs and saw a 25% target share; not sure why DK kept his price basically the same, but he ranks 5th amongst RBs on the slate in Wtg. Opps/Game (18.1) and despite a crowded/weird backfield, is still seeing the lion’s share of the team’s rushing attempts
Travis Etienne: Over the last 4 games Etienne’s snap share has gone 37% > 43% > 51% > 55%, % of team rush attempts has gone 21% > 37% > 42% > 43%, and route participation 45% > 34% > 50% > 57%; Robinson has done the complete opposite, going from 63% of the snaps in Week 2 to 41% in Week 5 and % of rush attempts from 61% in Week 2 to 43% in Week 5… all this to say, I think Etienne is going to take over the backfield as many predicted before his injury last week and he’s 5k on DK and should be well under 5-10% owned… if the game remains competitive (it should as the Colts suck), Etienne could continue to see the same or increased involvement (and he still hasn’t scored a TD this season)
Amari Cooper: Don’t look now, but Jacoby Brissett is helping Amari to a (thus far) career season… 28% target share, 25% targets/route run, 39% of the Air Yards, and 36% of the EZ targets; the Patriots play the 2nd most man coverage of any defense this season and Amari has crushed that coverage vs. zone the entire year… of note, Amari has finished WR9/WR7/WR10 in PPR scoring fantasy leagues in 3 of the last 4 weeks
Isaiah McKenzie: McKenzie missed Week 5, allowing Khalil Shakir to thrive, but after practicing all week in full he should resume his full-time slot role where he was seeing 5-6 targets a game prior to injury and while not the “mega upside” play of someone like Diggs or Davis, we’re still getting access to the best game environment with the best QB/highest implied team total at most likely 5-7% ownership MAX… good GPP shot in my opinion
Darius Slayton: A definite punt here and I’m probably being suckered in my stats over actual ability, but Slayton has been thrust into a starting role with all the NYG injuries and has run a route on 60%/70% of drop backs over the last 2 weeks and seen a whopping 48% of the team’s air yards over those 2 weeks; the return of Wan’Dale Robinson is an unknown for Slayton’s role moving forward, but only 3800, should be 1-2% owned, and the Ravens have been shredded by WRs this season, giving up the 2nd most targets/2nd most yards per game to the position (behind PIT)
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!