Jonathan Bales is a DraftKings Pro and the author of the Fantasy Sports for Smart People book series, most recently Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Win at Daily Fantasy Sports.
Last week, I was all over Larry Fitzgerald in tournaments. I still like him this week in terms of value, but now I’m probably going to move away.
This is the life of a contrarian tournament player. I’m less concerned about what will happen on the football field than I am about what I think will happen versus what others believe will happen. And since public perception is heavily shaped by recent performance, I very often find myself fading “hot” players and instead rostering a ton of guys coming off of poor performances.
In addition to seeing lowered ownership, you can also often get these players at a reduced price. “Cold” players represent an opportunity to find value and be contrarian at the same time, which is really what we’re seeking in GPPs.
Carson Palmer, $6600 Okay, I know what I just said about recent performance, but my hope here is that Palmer’s ownership will dip somewhat because of a perceived poor matchup against a Niners defense that actually isn’t very good. I like Palmer to John Brown deep a lot in this game, especially given projected high ownership on a “revitalized” Fitzgerald.
Aaron Rodgers, $8000 The Chiefs’ pass defense is good. However, Vegas likes Green Bay to score 28 points this week, which is one of the highest numbers in the league. I’d bet the house that Rodgers will be in fewer than five percent of tournament lineups, which is almost auto-exposure for me given his upside in any matchup.
Nick Foles, $5200 I have an unusual amount of love for Nick Foles this week, which is never really a good idea. Here’s why I like him: only one team in the NFL has allowed more than 2.3 DraftKings points per game above salary-based expectation to quarterbacks. It’s the Steelers, and the number is 4.4 PPG. That’s a bananas stat and, given projected game flow, I love Foles to more than reach value given the price and workload.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Brandon Weeden, $5200 The Cowboys are going to be forced to throw in this game and, believe it or not, I don’t think Weeden is really that bad of a quarterback. We saw him hook up with Terrance Williams on a touchdown in Philly last week and I think he’s a very viable punt this week if you don’t want to be a complete moron like me and go all-in on Foles.
Adrian Peterson, $7500 Peterson and Le’Veon Bell are this week’s most expensive running backs at $7500. I think Bell is going to have higher ownership just because he won so many DraftKings users so much money last year; people stick with what has worked for them in the past. Marshawn Lynch is also $100 cheaper in a dream matchup against the Bears, so his ownership will probably trump both of them.
Matt Forte, $7300 Forte has 13 targets in two games, and I think this is the sort of game in which he could rack up double-digit targets. Jimmy Clausen isn’t going to want to throw the ball downfield, and it’s unlikely the Bears will be able to get anything going on the outside anyway. Seattle is much worse over the middle of the field, where I think Martellus Bennett and Forte could actually do a bit of damage at low ownership.
Melvin Gordon, $5000 With just 19.5 combined points in two games to start his career, Gordon hasn’t really rewarded DraftKings users who have rostered him so far. He looked really good last week, though, and he’s getting a decent workload, especially at the price. My only worry is he has just four targets this season—he’s going to lose work as a pass-catcher to Danny Woodhead—but I do think the risk is worth it in tournaments this week. My guess is he scores his first career touchdown on Sunday.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Jonathan Stewart, $4900 Over the past 12 months, the Saints have allowed 1.9 DraftKings points per game above expected to running backs based on their salaries. That’s the second-worst mark in the league. Stewart always needs to compete with his quarterback for goal-line carries, but the price is right to take on the risk in Week 3.
Demaryius Thomas, $8000 Thomas doesn’t have a red zone target all year. Who wants to bet that changes this week? He saw 14 targets last week and jumping on him now at a quality price might be the only time the rest of the year you can do it at relatively low ownership.
Mike Evans, $6600 Is Evans 100% healthy? I’m not sure. If he cost what he should if healthy—which might be $7500 or more—then I wouldn’t risk it. But at this discount, we can afford to take the chance that Evans isn’t ready to roll. The Texans have allowed 1.1 points per game above expectation to receivers over the past year.
John Brown, $5100 I do a podcast with former NFL safety Tank Williams and he loves John Brown this week. So now I love John Brown this week because Tank is the man and that’s that. But I do like the idea of getting him at reduced ownership from Weeks 1 and 2 with everyone else on Fitz.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Kenny Britt, $3800 I already told you the Steelers have been the worst defense on DraftKings versus quarterbacks over the past year. Well, they struggle on the outside, where they’re also the worst against wide receivers. Britt could be a complete bonehead and not catch a single pass. Or he could go for 6/120/2.
Jimmy Graham, $5800 Everyone is off him. The Seahawks are projected by Vegas to score the second-most points this weekend. The Bears are horrible against tight ends. This might be too narrative-driven, but he’s been complaining about not getting the ball and I do think there’s a chance Wilson really looks his way to shut him up.
Martellus Bennett, $4600 Like I said, Seattle is way worse over the middle of the field than on the outside. It isn’t like they’re poor—they’ve given up 0.2 points per game above expectation to tight ends over the past 12 months—but I think Bennett is going to be very low-owned. With Clausen at quarterback, we’re basically just hoping for a bunch of targets and maybe a late garbage score.
Delanie Walker, $3400 I don’t know if anyone noticed, but Walker is pretty freakin’ athletic. With the way the Colts play defense, they’re sometimes susceptible over the middle of the field.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Jared Cook, $2800 Is there enough upside in the Rams’ offense to double-stack Foles/Britt/Cook? While I do think they’re going to put up some fantasy points this weekend, I’d say not just because both Britt and Cook probably need to score to reach their upside, so they’ll sort of cannibalize each other’s fantasy ceilings.
Seattle, $3400 The Seahawks will probably be the highest-owned defense this week, and I just don’t care. They’re in such a good spot at home against Jimmy Clausen, favored by over two touchdowns. There’s a very high likelihood of a return touchdown of some sort in this game.
Houston, $3200 After Seattle, I think New England ($3100) will be the next most popular defense. Sandwiched between them is a Houston defense facing the Bucs that I think could be under-owned due to most wanting to save money on the Pats.
Arizona, $3100 I love to play defenses against quarterbacks who hold onto the ball and take a lot of sacks. Arizona will probably be unpopular given that they are the same price as New England.
VALUE OF THE WEEK
Tampa Bay, $2500 With the lack of deviation in pricing among defenses, I think it makes sense to pay up right now. If you are going to go low-priced, the Bucs are the cheapest option and face a quarterback in Ryan Mallett who can do some dumb crap.