FantasyLabs is a daily fantasy tools and real-time analytics platform that enables players to test theories, create and backtest models, and construct customized lineups. In this piece, Editor-in-Chief Matthew Freedman leverages the same Tools and Models used by co-founders Jonathan Bales and Peter Jennings (CSURAM88) for each slate.
In guaranteed prize pools, a player’s ownership rate is just as important as his expected production. At FantasyLabs, Adam Levitan and company work hard to project and update each player’s GPP ownership on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Here are five players we project early in the week to have significantly lower ownership than other players in their salary ranges.
QB Blaine Gabbert: $4,700 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel
Blaine Gabbert has been on a roll the past couple of weeks as the Cardinals starting quarterback, guiding the team to 24 points per game (PPG). He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s been good enough, throwing for 498 yards and five touchdowns (to three interceptions) on 44-of-72 passing and chipping in 30 yards on nine rushes. He’s made good decisions and hasn’t held the ball for too long, being sacked only three times even though he’s faced the Texans and Jaguars, who both have top-12 adjusted sack rates (Football Outsiders). His performance hasn’t gone unnoticed, but the daily fantasy community probably isn’t ready to roster him heavily. The wounds he inflicted upon investors during his Jacksonville days (2011-13) have hardened into the toughest of scars. In Week 11, he was owned at 3.42 and 3.08 percent in DraftKings and FanDuel guaranteed prize pools; last week, 0.18 and 0.10 percent.
His low ownership in Week 12 was partially due to his tough matchup against the Jags, who entered the game ranked first against the pass in FO’s Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA), but his matchup against the rejuvenated Rams defense should also depress his ownership: The Rams have held quarterbacks to bottom-five marks with 14.5 DraftKings and 13.9 FanDuel PPG. This week, though, the Rams are dealing with injury issues: Edge defender Connor Barwin (arm) is out, and slot cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman (thigh) is questionable after missing Week 12. The Cardinals are implied for only 19.25 points as +7.0 underdogs, but they are at home and should have a quarterback-friendly pass-heavy game script for much of the contest. Plus, the Cardinals have easily hit their implied Vegas totals in Gabbert’s two starts. It’s possible that Vegas is too low on the Cardinals offense.
RB Kareem Hunt: $6,900 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel
Kareem Hunt has been #notgood over the last two months. At FantasyLabs we have a proprietary Plus/Minus metric that measures actual vs. expected fantasy production based on the historical performances of previous players at comparable salaries. Hunt hasn’t had a positive Plus/Minus in any game since Week 3. After scoring six touchdowns in his first three games, he’s scored no touchdowns in his past eight. In Week 11 he had a great matchup against the Giants: He was owned at a slate-high 39.1 and 37.65 percent in DraftKings and FanDuel GPPs. He scored just 10.7 DraftKings and 9.2 FanDuel points. In Week 12 the fantasy community once again invested in him because of his tasty matchup against the Bills. He was owned at 25.37 and 29.53 percent. He scored just 3.6 DraftKings and 3.1 FanDuel points. In the immortal words of George W. Bush, “Fool me once . . .”
Because of how Hunt investors have been punished soundly and repeatedly, he’s unlikely to have high ownership this week, but the Chiefs are -3.0 road favorites against the Jets. Hunt could disappoint owners for the ninth game in a row, but he’s in a reasonable spot. On top of that, his price has dropped precipitously: He hasn’t been this cheap on DraftKings since Week 2 and on FanDuel since Week 1. As disappointing as Hunt has been for the majority of his rookie campaign, he’s still third in the league with 1,234 yards from scrimmage and fifth with 220 touches. Anytime you can get exposure to that type of production and volume at an ownership and salary discount, you have to consider it.
RB Duke Johnson: $4,800 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel
Duke Johnson is something of a pivot play on Kenyan Drake, who is $100 more expensive and likely to be highly owned given that he’s the only established player in the Dolphins backfield with Damien Williams (shoulder) expected to be out. Drake, however, has a tough matchup against the Broncos, who are top-three in rush DVOA, and he has been inconsistent with his opportunities. Johnson, though, will have much lower ownership. It seems stupid to highlight the change-of-pace back on the lowest-scoring team in the league (15.1 PPG) — but Johnson is playing 53.4 percent of Cleveland’s offensive snaps, and he leads the Browns with 65 targets, 50 receptions, 446 yards receiving, and four touchdowns from scrimmage. In terms of fantasy production, Johnson is actually Cleveland’s No. 1 back, not Isaiah Crowell. The Browns are +13.5 road dogs and should have a pass-heavy game script against the Chargers, who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to running backs with 27.6 DraftKings and 23.4 FanDuel PPG.
WR Jordy Nelson: $4,400 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel
Without quarterback Aaron Rodgers to throw him the ball, Jordy Nelson has been reduced to the saddest of specimens. Since his 2011 breakout, Nelson has been a quarterback-dependent player, but his splits weren’t atrocious prior to this year.
- With Rodgers: 7.9 targets for 5.2 receptions, 80.9 yards, and 0.78 touchdowns per game
- Without Rodgers: 7.9 targets for 5.1 receptions, 74.9 yards, and 0.5 touchdowns per game
This year, though, Nelson’s Rodgers splits have been horrible (minus the injury-shortened Week 2). Nelson has exhibited absolutely no chemistry with backup quarterback Brett Hundley.
- With Rodgers: 7 targets for 4.8 receptions, 57.5 yards, and 1.5 touchdowns per game
- With Hundley: 6 targets for 3.2 receptions, 27.2 yards, and 0 touchdowns per game
Nelson’s situation could improve this week. The Packers are hosting the Buccaneers, who have allowed the most fantasy points to opposing receiver units with 45.3 DraftKings and 36.0 FanDuel PPG. With a zero percent touchdown rate in Hundley’s games, Nelson at some point should enjoy scoring progression, and last week on Sunday Night Football he was rostered at just 0.57 percent in FanDuel GPPs. Even if Packers stacks are more popular this week because of the matchup against the Bucs, Nelson is still unlikely to have high ownership because of his lack of production with Hundley.
WR Kenny Stills: $4,700 DraftKings, $5,400 FanDuel
It’s dangerous to invest in an offense averaging just 15.8 PPG, but the Dolphins have a highly exploitable matchup. They’re at home against the Broncos, who have been absolutely atrocious on defense. They are dead last with a -4.77 Vegas Opponent Plus/Minus and have allowed opposing teams to hit their implied totals in a league-high eight of 11 games. Their secondary has held wide receiver units to the fourth-fewest fantasy points on the season with 26.6 DraftKings and 22.1 FanDuel PPG, but they are likely to be without No. 1 cornerback Aqib Talib (suspension). With no Talib in coverage, Stills will run many of his routes against backup cornerback Brendan Langley, who has a poor Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 40.9.
Stills is difficult to roster in cash games because he’s so inconsistent, but his volatility and big-play ability make him a desirable GPP option against a Broncos defense that has allowed an NFL-high 24 touchdowns receiving. Quarterback Jay Cutler (concussion) is uncertain to return this week, and even if he’s healthy he might not start, as he’s (arguably) been outplayed by backup Matt Moore. If Moore starts, that will be a boon for Stills. Over the past two years Moore has thrown the majority of the passes for the Dolphins in seven games. In those games, Stills has averaged 7.3 targets for 4.1 receptions, 72.1 yards, and 0.86 touchdowns. His ownership won’t be low, but it probably won’t be as high as his upside warrants, especially after he scored just 7.7 DraftKings and 6.2 FanDuel points last week at 18.84 and 11.77 percent ownership.