Note: All FanDuel ownership percentages in this article are publicly available. FanDuel currently displays the ownership percentages of any players in a user's lineup once a contest begins. This allows users to enter a variety of lineups in Thursday contests to record ownership percentages for the players that they selected in those contests. The percentages come from the big $2 Thursday NFL Snap. It’s a large-field tournament with thousands of entries. These numbers don’t have much meaning for cash games, but are a great tool for GPPs. Below, I noted a handful of players whose ownership stood out to me. You can access the full list in our Season Pass.
QB Josh McCown vs. Ravens (5.4 percent) — Johnny Manziel was benched and demoted to third-string on Tuesday after he was caught on video partying in bars over the Browns’ Week 11 bye. McCown has been reinserted as starter. McCown had one of his best games of the season Week 5 against this same Ravens team in Baltimore, going 36-of-51 for 457 yards and two touchdowns. That was the second-best fantasy game of his career. McCown is now rested after injuring his ribs a few weeks back and gets this awful pass defense at home. The Ravens field Football Outsiders’ 27th-ranked pass defense in DVOA. In six healthy starts, McCown has averaged 41 attempts per game and never attempted fewer than 32 passes. The Browns will also be up in pace with the Ravens running the fifth-fastest offense in the league. McCown’s insertion back under center boosts both Travis Benjamin and Gary Barnidge in the passing game. At such a low price ($6,300), there’s plenty of upside with McCown and allows you to load up at receiver and tight end.
QB Marcus Mariota vs. Raiders (2.2 percent) — Thirteen quarterbacks were more highly-owned than Mariota Thursday night. The Raiders are one of just three teams allowing 300-plus passing yards per game. They’ve allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Geno Smith threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns in Week 9 against Oakland, and Matthew Stafford went for nearly 21 fantasy points last week. Mariota has displayed time and again that he’s capable of taking advantage of a weak pass defense. And with the Titans not having much of a running game and getting slot WR Kendall Wright back from a multi-week MCL sprain, this sets up pretty well for Mariota to have success at home. The Raiders’ strength also happens to be their defense against running backs. Mariota will have had 10 days to prepare for the Raiders. Most signs point to this being a plus spot. According to Rich Hribar’s Week 12 Worksheet, the Raiders have allowed a top-12 quarterback 8-of-10 games. Mariota has week-winning upside.
RB Doug Martin at Colts (25.4 percent) — Martin was the highest-owned running back on the slate. Martin snapped a three-game streak of being held to 71 yards or fewer with a monster 235-yard rushing effort against the Eagles last Sunday. He’s been extremely up-and-down at times this season, but Martin is fifth in carries per game with an 18.8 mark. He’s seeing one of the heaviest workloads in the league, and this remains a run-first offense, even with Jameis Winston coming off a five-touchdown effort. The Colts have played strong run defense, allowing 3.97 YPC, and this looks like a spot to fade Martin in tournaments. Martin is looking to snap a five-game touchdown-less streak. It’s not a bad spot by any means, but will be an easy fade for me at high ownership.
RB Chris Ivory vs. Dolphins (10.3 percent) — At 10.3 percent, Ivory’s ownership is a bit higher than I expected coming off a bad month. But he’s still just the seventh-highest owned Sunday-Monday running back. Ivory has been dreadful four of the past five games, rushing for 41 yards or fewer four times since Week 7. He’s coming off an eight-carry, 36-yard performance against the Texans, a game that got away from the Jets and made Ivory a victim of game flow. Bilal Powell is the Jets’ pass-game back and gobbled up snaps in garbage time. The Jets are back at home this week as 3.5-point favorites. It sets up perfectly for Ivory to get back on track. Having C Nick Mangold (hand) in the lineup will be key, but signs point to him being available. Last time out against these Dolphins in Week 4 in London, Ivory piled up 166 yards and one touchdown on a season-high 29 carries. It was easily his best game of the season, and the Dolphins still can’t stop the run. They’re allowing 4.29 YPC on the year, and that number has swelled to 4.70 YPC the past four games, as they’ve allowed Darren McFadden, LeSean McCoy, and Karlos Williams to each run for 100-plus yards in that span. Only the Chargers have allowed more fantasy points to running backs through 11 weeks. The Jets need to focus more on running the ball, and Week 12 is a perfect opportunity.
RB Mark Ingram at Texans (1.9 percent) — Ingram only saw five carries last time out against the Redskins and is coming off the bye. Low volume plus Ingram not recently having a great game to have him stuck in our minds keeps him at extremely-low ownership. His 1.9-percent rate was 23rd among running backs on Thursday. The Texans defense has played better of late, but Ingram has been super consistent all season and gets goal-line work. Saints-Texans has the highest over-under of the week, and Ingram is as good of a bet as anyone in this game to score. He’s a great pivot off Doug Martin. Ingram sits at $7,400, while Martin is at $7,500.
WR Julio Jones vs. Vikings (12.9 percent) — Jones’ ownership was one of the more surprisingly-low ones on Thursday. Sandwiched between DeAndre Hopkins ($9,400) and Odell Beckham ($9,100), Jones ($9,300) is going overlooked in a plus draw with Vikings CB Xavier Rhodes. Rhodes has been dusted for several big games this season, and the Falcons are at home. While everyone is rostering Hopkins (42.6 percent) and Beckham (25.4 percent), I’ll gladly take Jones.
WR Travis Benjamin vs. Ravens (7.4 percent) — Benjamin didn’t struggle to find success with Johnny Manziel at quarterback, but his target totals have been a lot more comfortable with Josh McCown under center. In Manziel’s games, Benjamin has averaged six targets, as opposed to 9.7 with McCown. He’s scored three of his four touchdowns with Manziel, but the floor is much safer with McCown, and this matchup is a phenomenal on-paper one. The Ravens have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, third-most to receivers, and the most touchdowns to receivers. Baltimore checks in at 27th in Football Outsiders’ pass-defense DVOA. In the Week 5 tilt with the Ravens, Benjamin saw a dozen targets, and he continues to dominate looks outside the numbers. The weakness of the Ravens’ pass defense is at the boundary corner spots with Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright. The Browns have no running game whatsoever and will have to throw the ball Monday night. Smith and Wright have combined to allow seven touchdowns between them, and the Ravens have allowed the ninth-most (36) 20-plus yard pass plays. Benjamin is a threat to bust a long touchdown after dropping one last game and losing a shoe on another potential one.
WR Allen Hurns vs. Chagers (1.7 percent) — Hurns posted a disappointing 3-19-0 line on four targets last Thursday night against the Titans and snapped his seven-game touchdown streak, but that was on a short week with Hurns coming off multiple nagging injuries. Hurns is practicing this week and should draw the better matchup among he and Allen Robinson. Chargers No. 1 CB and Pro Football Focus’ No. 6-ranked cover corner out of 110 qualifiers Jason Verrett projects to shadow Robinson, leaving Hurns to work against Brandon Flowers. Flowers is Pro Football Focus’ 106th-ranked cover corner and has given up five touchdowns and 14.4 YPR. The Chargers have lost six-straight and pretty much mailed it in for the season. While everyone is chasing Robinson (15.4 percent), Hurns is a fine contrarian play in a better WR vs. CB matchup.
TE Rob Gronkowski at Broncos (5.1 percent) — Gronkowski’s price ($8,400) has become exorbitant, and there are far better per-dollar plays on the Week 12 slate. But with so many cheap options at quarterback and running back, it’s not impossible to fit Gronkowski’s salary into lineups. And nobody has a higher ceiling. The Broncos’ pass-defense strength is on the outside and in the slot against receivers, but they’re not great against tight ends. This game will probably be run-dominated, but Gronkowski should be the preferred pass-game target for Tom Brady with Julian Edelman (foot) out, Danny Amendola (knee) banged up and in a bad matchup if he plays, and Brandon LaFell making no noise since returning from reserve/PUP. We get Gronkowski at super-low ownership.
TE Jimmy Graham vs. Steelers (3.7 percent) — Graham draws a plus matchup. Only the Raiders and Saints have allowed more touchdowns to tight ends than the Steelers. Pittsburgh has also allowed the fourth-most catches to the position. Graham’s been an extreme disappointment in Seattle, but he’s at least seeing targets in the red zone when the Seahawks manage to get down there. He’s been targeted four times inside the 20-yard line the past six games, and his price continues to drop on FanDuel. He has touchdown upside in a game that could be shootout-ish.