Knowing the expected ownership rates heading into a weekend of FanDuel contests is a powerful tool. Knowledge is power. There will be heavily-used players and underrated options from which to pick and choose quality lineups. Cash games are the perfect place for using a bevy of highly-owned options and playing it safe. The cash line is simply finishing above the average score (typically in 110-120 point range). In a tournament field (GPP), finishing in the money takes more risk and variance to achieve a high mark worthy of cashing. There is no prize difference between finishing middle of the pack or dead last in GPP contests. Here are the strategies centered around player ownership for FanDuel this week:
*Collected ownership data from Thursday Night locking contests*
CONSENSUS PLAYS OF WEEK
Tom Brady has been close to automatic this season and now gets struggling Washington as two-touchdown favorites in Foxboro. Brady's salary matches the projections at a gaudy $9,500 this week, but he still leads the position in ownership at more than 15%. Drew Brees and Eli Manning, coming off their historic shootout last week, round out the top-3 with optimistic passing matchups against Tennessee (in New Orleans) and Tampa Bay (on the road) respectively.
Now at a premium price, Todd Gurley sinks to the second-tier of early ownership at 14%. Devonta Freeman is a touchdown regression candidate with a lack of red zone cracks in recent weeks with a steady volume and playing the searching-for-answers 49ers where Atlanta's game script should be positive. DeAngelo Williams at 24% finishes the top tier of ownership at 24% at a trendy $6,500 as the Steelers offense is ripe to rebound following their road loss in Week 8 and returning home against Oakland. At his cost, Williams is an ideal high-floor RB2.
Alshon Jeffery and Odell Beckham Jr Jr. pace the wide receivers this week. Jeffery has been a target monster in his three active games and Chicago gets the generous San Diego defense. At $7,900 Jeffery slots as a quality WR2 with WR1 upside or a value WR2. In the same game, Malcom Floyd (18%) and Steve Johnson (9%) are both highly owned with Keenan Allen out for the season and the Chargers a pass-heavy team to-date. Julian Edelman and Julio Jones were also over 15% early ownership with strong Vegas team totals and matchups.
Benjamin Watson creates his own tier this week at 17% after a career day against the Giants. At $5,700 Watson is cap friendly and the Saints are at home. Rob Gronkowski ($8,500) and Antonio Gates ($6,000) round out the top-3, both over 10% early ownership. Gates is the best combination of ownership and Footballguys projections with Ladarius Green on the mend and Keenan Allen out against Chicago.
At kicker, Stephen Gostkowski leads the way at 12% and the Patriots are heavy favorites with an eye-popping 33-point Vegas team total.
The Broncos are a near 2-to-1 leader at defense with 18% ownership (Patriots are second at 11%). Denver gets the struggling Colts and a laboring Andrew Luck at $5,300.
AGAINST THE GRAIN
Big Roethlisberger is surprisingly low at 5% early ownership. He is a prime bounce-back candidate returning home with a game under his belt -- a humbling loss -- since returning from injury. The Steelers have a top-5 team total and Roethlisberger has been pedestrian in his last two games. Jameis Winston at $6,700 against the porous Giants defense in Tampa Bay, especially stacked with Mike Evans, is a quality play in tournaments at 4% ownership.
DeAngelo Williams has all the attention of the non-premium priced running backs, but Darren McFadden ($6,500) and Jeremy Langford ($6,400) also standout as quality combinations of projected usage and cost. McFadden performed admirably against Seattle in Week 8 and has little competition for touches. Langford fills in for Matt Forte against a San Diego defense who has allowed the most points to running backs this season.
Brandon LaFell has squandered quality volume (15 targets) in two games since returning to the lineup for New England, producing 6-72-0 in two games. This week the Patriots get the Washington defense where they can get LaFell on the right track. At an appealing WR3 price of $5,200 and 4% ownership, LaFell is the perfect combination of usage, matchup, ownership, and upside for tournament play. Randall Cobb has been in a touchdown drought of late and the Packers offense as a whole is primed for a bounce back. While Detroit is a juicy matchup in Week 10, Carolina is primed for a letdown after a short week and overtime win against the Colts. At $7,300 and 3% Randall Cobb creates variance.
Finally, Demaryius Thomas is on a career-long touchdown drought with a single score this season on more than 50 receptions. With typically a 10% or higher touchdown rate, Thomas is a touchdown regression dream the rest of the season, starting with Indianapolis' defense this week at $8,400.
Martellus Bennett is on a similar dry spell with the end zone as Demaryius Thomas, Bennett has a single score over his last 32 receptions with San Diego being a positive matchup this week plus 3% ownership.
Kai Forbath has the No. 3 team total this week and will be kicking the Saints' home dome at 2% ownership and a minimally-priced $4,600.
The Jaguars are allowing the second-most fantasy points to defenses and travel to the Jets this week. Blake Bortles has interceptions in 5-of-7 games this season and is 0-9 on the road in his career (0-3 this season). At 9% ownership, the Jets defense is outside the top-3 in ownership.
EXAMPLE GPP ROSTER 1
|DST||New York Jets||4700||8.9|
This lineup features the Pittsburgh passing game, stacking Roethlisberger with Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant. The Raiders are an underrated run defense, making a pass-focus by the Steelers offense a quality tourament game script bet. Alshon Jeffery and Antonio Gates are chalk picks, while fading Devonta Freeman and Todd Gurley at RB1 creates uniquenss with a solid floor of touches.
EXAMPLE GPP ROSTER 2
|DST||New England Patriots||4900||10.9|
This lineup features the Jameis Winston-Mike Evans stack against a struggling Giants secondary. Brandon LaFell and Chris Boswell are also sparsely-owned players on high Vegas team totals. With the extra salary available, Devonta Freeman and Rob Gronkowski are premium adds with a high floor.
CASH GAMES: GO WITH THE HERD
Malcom Floyd, not Steve Johnson, is the preferred San Diego wide receiver by consensus this week -- along with strong ownership of Antonio Gates. Drew Brees to Benjamin Watson was profilic in Week 8, but betting on them again in Week 9 is a tall order as Tennessee is middle-of-the-pack against tight ends, not allowing more than 51 yards to a tight end since Austin Seferian-Jenkins back in Week 1. Devonta Freeman and DeAngelo Williams will both be heavily-owned this weekend as unquestioned starters on strong offenses.