There are several reasons you might not want to roster a certain player in a given week of NFL DFS. To truly be a “fade”, in my opinion the player has to be projected to have decent ownership, e.g. no one is “fading” a running back on the Philadelphia Eagles (or, rather, everyone is). I’ll always provide the argument for and against a player in this column.
Also, fading a player doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have zero exposure. If you’re a DFS player who plays on multiple sites with multiple lineups in various contests, fading might mean you use that player in just one or two tournament lineups while other DFS players are using him in a majority of their lineups.
In the case where you want to fade a player due to projected high ownership (see more on this below), perhaps you fade him in tournaments but continue to roster him in cash games. Having an idea of whom you don’twant to roster as well as whom you do makes navigating salary decisions in the lineup construction process a little bit easier.
So in the Super Bowl, I might be fading…
C.J. Anderson: So much has been written, spoken, whispered about the Todd Gurley situation. Is he healthy, is he in the dog house, why didn’t he play as much as Anderson the past two weeks? I have to believe that he isn’t hurt. He says he’s not hurt, he has a better yards per carry average than Anderson the past two weeks, he’s practiced normally. Anderson has looked great; what a pickup by Sean McVey and the Rams, really. But prior to his injury, Gurley was the league’s leading rusher and it wasn’t that close. I suspect that the playoff weirdness is McVey being smart and his team buying in to his game plans. Keep your opponent guessing, use some Game Theory…he’s not showing his hand.
Both of these defenses have stepped up and stopped their opponents’ top rushers, with the Patriots giving up just 60 yards on the ground the past two games. I think Gurley busts out in the big game as the more versatile Rams back, but also that Jared Goff will be forced to throw the ball more than he has been. That leaves Anderson on the outside looking in.
Quarterbacks: Some showdown slates beg for a 2-QB approach, but this isn’t that slate. Both teams have dominant skill players – Julian Edelman, Sony Michel, Gurley – and plenty of talent to keep us guessing – Brandin Cooks/Robert Woods/Josh Reynolds and James White/Rex Burkhead/Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots wild cards tip heavily toward the run game, which the Rams were susceptible to all season long, while the Rams’ tips toward the receivers. If I’m taking just one QB, then, it’s going to be Goff. This is no hate on Brady, either, but he had just one borderline tournament-winning performances this season (~30 fantasy points vs. Indianapolis). He exceeded 20 fantasy points just five times all season, including the playoffs. Goff isn’t a shoe-in to have a monster game either; he’s been up and down all season too (but does have three 30-plus fantasy point games), which is why I’m fine with building a QB-less roster this Sunday.
All defense: Though I’m not sold on either QB, I do see this game ending with at least 40 real points. Both defenses have stiffened up in the playoffs, but the Patriots allowed about 30 PPG, and the Rams have given up 22-23 PPG. Neither defense has made a fantasy impact aside from the points allowed either. The Rams have three sacks and one interception in two playoff games, while the Patriots have six sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery (both turnovers vs. the Chargers). Not exactly numbers that are going to help you climb the leaderboards this weekend. Furthermore, these were two of the least turnover-prone teams in the league.
Stephen Gostowski: As I wrote in the bargains article, kicker could be a nice way to save some salary this Sunday. If you go that route, though, it’s Greg Zuerlein that I’d prioritize. He’s simply had way more opportunities than Gostkowski and has been equally reliable, if not better. In the playoffs, Zuerlein is averaging 15 fantasy points per game while Gostkowski is at 9.5 fantasy points per game with just three field goal attempts in two games.
For the Super Bowl, players with high expected ownership are Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Julian Edelman, and Sony Michel. I think Game Theory is useful in DFS to an extent; obviously we can’t all win with the same players. But time and again it’s proven that big GPP winners can and do win with popular plays in their lineups. One or two highly owned players that live up to their expectations (e.g. score a ton of points) won’t hurt you nearly as much as fading those guys in favor of lower-owned, lesser-producing players will. The trick is to find the low-owned, productive guys to mix in around them, especially on a showdown slate.