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Sam’s Week 12 NFL Ownership and Leverage Report

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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. 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!

Below is just a quick table I made of the Top 10 projected, by ownership, plays by each position for both DraftKings and FanDuel. I have listed next to their name as well what is called “Ownership Value,” or OWNV, which is just something interesting to look at that divides a players projected points by their projected ownership to see where you can differentiate in GPPs to find players that may be something like sub 5% owned but projected to be a Top 10 or Top 15 scoring player on the slate.

Week 11 Slate Review

I hope any and all readers of this had a nice Thanksgiving despite the tough restrictions this year and many not able to be with their extended families. Secondly, I really hope some of you were able to win some Thanksgiving money, as I did not, and you are ready for the quick turnaround for the Sunday slate that has so many unknowns with injuries, Covid-19, and some interesting/high total games that we did not have in Week 11. Last week was interesting in which similar to a lot of weeks this season, I felt like a bunch of my pivots were strong in Derrick Henry, Zeke, and Damien Harris while a lot of chalk failed again as Lamar let me down, Joe Burrow got hurt (that was so sad), and the Taysom Hill chalk succeeded with him throwing for over 200 yards and scoring 2 rushing TDs. In general, I think I have started to ramble too much in this article so I will do my best to shorten it this week and moving forward.

Quarterbacks

In general, I think the position that I’m most willing to eat the chalk is at QB. Why? For the most part, no QB ever reaches insane ownership like CMC or a cheap backup RB who’s named the starter where we’re talking 40% or higher ownership, as most QBs never reach above the 20% mark, or even 15%.

As mentioned above with all the value presented to us on both sites, I think there a ton of viable QB options both as a pay up and for value that have similar ceilings that we want to win a tournament.

Chalk I’ll Eat in GPPs: Josh Allen/Justin Herbert/Derek Carr – I have been hard on Josh Allen this year as I felt like he started off hot and then really cooled off but was still being touted each and every week. Allen currently ranks 6th among all QBs in points per drop back, is dropping back over 40 times a game, and is facing an average, but definitely susceptible Chargers defense at home in Buffalo. The Chargers haven’t been torched all season, but against stronger QBs, they are very vulnerable to big plays as Brady/Brees went over 300 pass yards against them, Mahomes just under 300, and with how great Herbert has looked and a poor Bills defense, I think we have a definite shootout on our hands here. Allen has big play upside with his arm but also has 5 rushing TDs this season, 22% of the red zone rushes, and 8 rush attempts inside the 5 yard line. On the other side of the ball, Herbert has been a star in his rookie season, throwing for over 300 yards in 5 of 9 games, ranking 9th in points per drop back, and faces the Bills D that has given up the 5th most fantasy points to QBs on average this season. Lastly, I am a huge critic of Derek Carr as I don’t think he’s very clutch and isn’t great under pressure, but this Raiders offense is definitely good, as we just watched them stand toe to toe with the Chiefs. The Falcons give up nearly 30 points on average to QBs, the worst in the league, and give up the 2nd most total fantasy points to teams this season, at around 120, second to only the Seahawks. Carr doesn’t have the massive drop backs per game that a lot of top tier QBs do, however, he’s sporting an adjusted competition percentage of over 80%, has a superb 19/3 TD/INT ratio, and should be able to shred the Falcons bottom 5 pass DVOA defense.

Favorite Leverage Options: Teddy Bridgewater (1.9% on DK, 3.7% on FD)/Cam Newton (4.2% on DK, 3.6% on FD) – Assuming he’s healthy, Teddy has a great matchup against the Vikings as that defense has slightly improved throughout the season, but are still massively overrated as they just got 30 points dropped on them by Andy Dalton and the lowly Cowboys. Teddy doesn’t have the explosive upside of a QB like Mahomes/Allen/Kyler, but he is very consistent and has hit 2x value on DK in 90% of his games this season, has hit 3x in 60% of his games, and as Jefferson/Dalvin probably crush, the game script should be such that the Panthers are forced to air it out more than usual. Lastly, Cam is incredibly volatile and difficult to trust, he does rank tied for 6th in points per drop back, has tremendous rush upside and goal line TD upside and while the Cardinals have had strong games, over their last 4 weeks they’ve given up nearly 27 points on average to QBs. Kyler and company should be handling business against what is a terrible Patriots D this season and Newton should be forced, similar to last week, to air it out and play catch up (threw for over 350 yards when trailing against the Texans).

Running Backs

Chalk I’ll Eat in GPPs: Dalvin Cook/Nick Chubb/Wayne Gallman – Dalvin is officially getting the CMAC and Davante Adams treatment… he’s insanely good, gets insane volume, and is basically a massively owned, high ceiling, high floor, smash spot each week. Nick Chubb is back from his injury and now gets to face a Jaguars D that has given up 80 or more rush yards in every game this season, over 100 in 8 of 10 games, and can barely put together a defensive roster with all their injuries. The Browns are running A LOT, as in the most in the league and at nearly a 60% rate over their last 3 games. Hunt is a definite threat to leech TDs and the pass game work, but Chubb has shown he’s so explosive, is still getting 16-18 rush attempts per game, and can easily blow up in what is one of the better spots of the week. Lastly, Gallman is very risky to be the cheap chalk bomb, but he’s the lone man left standing in this Giants offense and they get to face a horrific Bengals rush defense this week. Gallman has scored 13 or more fantasy points in 4 straight games and that’s against the Eagles twice (decent defensive line) and Washington/Tampa Bay, 2 of the best rush defenses in the NFL. I wish he was more involved in the passing game, but 15-18 touches per game against a Bengals team that gives up 21-25 fantasy points to RBs per game at this price is strong chalk.

Favorite Leverage Options: James Robinson (13.8% on DK, 13.7% on FD)/Ronald Jones (2.6% on DK, 3.6% on FD)/Mike Davis (10.3% on DK, 8.8% on FD) – It doesn’t really matter the game script or matchup, James Robinson continues to get the ball a TON and I don’t see that changing as the Jaguars throw in Mike Glennon this week. Robinson is rushing the ball 17-20 times per game, seeing 3-5 targets, and almost 4 High Value Touches (“HVT”) per game. The browns rush defense is about average but with a below average QB at the helm and a lost season for the Jags, I assume Robinson will continue to see 20+ touches per game and provide a massive ceiling based on volume alone. Ronald Jones was thought by many, including myself, to lose a lot of rushing and receiving upside to Fournette but Arians has stayed committed to Jones who now gets a sneaky good matchup this week if the Bucs don’t get down too early. The Chiefs pass D is strong, but they’ve given up almost 25 points on average to RBs on both a full season and last 4 week basis. In fact, their pass defense ranks Top 10 but they are the 3rd to last ranked team in Rush DVOA, giving up over 100 rush yards in 7 of 10 games this season. Jones quietly has 42 HVTs this season, over 4 per game, and is getting 14-16 rush attempts and 3-6 targets per game at what I think is going to be VERY low ownership this week. Lastly, I will continue to write up Mike Davis each week as people continue to not want to play him. Davis is averaging over SIX HVTs per game this season, over 60 on the season, and the Vikings have been smoked by RBs all season. Second in RB targets only to Kamara and facing a defense that’s giving up 23-25 fantasy points on average to RBs, I think this is another awesome spot for Davis.

Wide Receivers

Chalk I’ll Eat in GPPs: Justin Jefferson/Stefon Diggs/Keenan Allen/Michael Pittman Jr. – Although not officially out yet, I don’t expect Thielen to play and Jefferson, even with Thielen on the field, has already been a breakout star. Sporting an amazing 3.16 yards per route run (#1 among NFL WRs), a 14.4 YPT (Yards per Target), 5-7 targets per game, and 10 red zone targets a game makes him elite cash and tournament play this week. Stefon Diggs and Keenan Allen can be written up together because they’re the #1 and #2 in total WR targets this year, about 10-11 per game each, 41 red zone targets between the 2 of them, and both top 10 in yards per route run. Diggs should be able to easily beat Casey Heyward, Allen should be able to avoid a lot of Tre’ White and if you have the money, and although it’ll be very popular, it’s hard to ask for more volume than these 2 playing in the same game. Lastly, I expect Pittman to get popular at his price tag, but he has 30 targets in 7 games this season, which includes 18 over his last 3 games, and Tennessee has given up the 4th most fantasy points to QBs this season.

Favorite Leverage Options: Robby Anderson (7.2% on DK, 8.3% on FD)/Jakobi Meyers (5.9% on DK, 7.7% on FD)/Jamison Crowder (2.5% on DK, 2.6% on FD)/Tyreek Hill (11.1% on DK, 12.1% on FD) – With Teddy most likely back under center, I love Robby Anderson in this spot after a huge game from Moore last week. Anderson quietly has the 3rd most WR targets this season, with 94, which is good for 8.5 targets per game, has 17 red zone targets, and has one of the higher ceilings of any WR due to his speed. Meyers pretty much failed as mega chalk last week so now I’ll go back to him at what should be almost no ownership and an extremely winnable matchup against Byron Murphy. Now, if I look later in the week and he’s against Patrick Peterson, it’s a definite downgrade, but while his target share coming into last week was unsustainable, I think he’s more consistent than that of Harry/Byrd and he still ranks 3rd among all WRs in yards per route run with 5-6 targets per game. Darnold is back this week and I fully expect him to get right back into the groove of feeding Crowder who has seen his targets per game drop the last few weeks, but is still getting 7.8 targets per game and although the Dolphins outside CBs are strong, their slot CB Nik Needham, is awful. Lastly, when Tyreek Hill is gonna be low owned… you play him. I don’t think Hill is gonna be over 10-12% owned because there is still the perception that the Bucs defense is unbeatable; however, they’ve given up over 350 yards of offense in 4 of their last 5 games and over 400 yards in 2 of their last 3, which includes the Giants. Hill is averaging almost 9 targets per game, an easily beat Sean Murphy-Bunting, and if the Bucs are throwing all game, and the Chiefs remain a very “pass-happy” team, Hill once again has one of the highest, if not THE highest, ceiling of any WR on the slate.

Tight Ends

Chalk I’ll Eat in GPPs: Travis Kelce/Darren Waller – Tight End continues to be gross and I expect these 2 guys to be the highest owned by far. Kelce is matchup proof and the Bucs haven’t covered TEs well this season, giving up nearly 16 fantasy points per game to the position, the 5th most in the league over the last 4 weeks. Waller faces a horrific Atlanta defense that has given nearly 17 points per game to TEs, which is the most of any team in the league this season. Kelce/Waller have been the most targeted tight ends in the league this season, by a lot, both with around 8-9 per game, and both rank top 5 in targets per route.

Favorite Leverage Options: Rob Gronkowski (5.0% on DK, 4.8% on FD)/Austin Hooper (7.8% on DK, 3.8% on FD)/Evan Engram (7.9% on DK, 6.8% on FD) – I liked the spot a lot for Gronk last week and he didn’t do much with Brady making a ton of mistakes. Gronk is still averaging about 5 targets per game even with all the Bucs weapons and the Chiefs have given up around 12-14 fantasy points per game to the position. Austin Hooper has seen 6 or more targets in 4 of his last 5 games but hasn’t caught a TD and ranks 11th among all TEs in the targets per route. The Browns quietly have the 4th highest implied team total on the week, the Jags rank as the 7th worst against TEs in both the full season and last 4 weeks, making Hooper a definite threat for multi-TD upside. Although a largely disappointing season for Engram, he is averaging 6.1 targets per game, is 3rd in % of his team targets behind Waller/Kelce and has 12 total red zone targets through the Giants’ first 10 games. He hasn’t been scoring TDs, but has one of the better matchups of the week against the Bengals, who have been shredded by TEs, giving up 13-17 points on average to the position.

Final Thoughts

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, this week being TB/KC or BUF/LAC, 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!

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