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 WR4 on the LA Rams. 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’t want to roster as well as whom you do makes navigating salary decisions in the lineup construction process a little bit easier.
FanDuel Fades Divisional Weekend
In the playoffs, all the teams are good and good teams generally are made up of good players, so there aren’t many ‘talent fades’. Teams have done their best to get key players healthy for this week and beyond, and no one will be half-assing it out there with the season on the line. So there aren’t many ‘injury fades’ either. With only four games on the docket, I will be making fewer lineups than normal. A case can be made for some of the players I’m fading, but I find that the more lineups you make, the more you deviate from optimality, and open yourself up to some very low floor players. Fewer games means less room for error in DFS contests. The players below are a few of those I think can derail your lineups, and if your only excuse for rostering them is to differentiate your lineups from the masses, I encourage you to think again.
Players who are questionable:
Jordy Nelson: With two broken ribs, I expect Nelson to be sidelined. I won’t be using him even if he does miraculously suit up on Sunday, because either he’ll be used solely as a decoy or he runs the risk of leaving the game in pain after one good hit. I prefer Davante Adams to Randall Cobb’s fluky TDs if you’re still looking to get a piece of this receiving game.
LeGarrette Blount: Not sure if Blount’s been hanging around the NBA too much, but he spent a good portion of the end of this week out of practice with flu symptoms and tonsillitis. This is one to monitor, because these illnesses can leave you lethargic and weak for a few days. Since the Patriots play Saturday night, we should have an answer about Blount’s availability before lock. If he improves and even practices Friday, he has a lot of upside in a matchup he dominated earlier in the season. Remember, aside from leading the league in touchdowns, Blount was eighth in rushing yards and second in carries.
Lamar Miller: Miller did what I expected last week more or less (slightly less, but it was still an okay fantasy performance), but I can’t justify using him this weekend. New England is not only expected to jump out to a huge lead—which would favor Brock Osweiler and the passing game if anything, they have allowed the third-fewest rushing yards per game (89), only four rushing touchdowns, and the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs. Those are dismal numbers for Miller to overcome given he plays for a team that has struggled to move the ball effectively most of the season.
Patriots Secondary Receivers: I love Tom Brady and the Patriots (see Blount, above) this week, but the love for the pass game stops with Julian Edelman. He’s the one guy I trust to reach value besides Blount. Any of Chris Hogan, Michael Floyd, Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola or Martellus Bennett could have either a huge day, zero targets, or a paltry 3/39 line. The range of possible outcomes, combined with the number of people competing for looks—I didn’t even mention James White or Dion Lewis, who can both be active in the pass game—makes all of them too risky for my taste. If you are set on getting some action here, the way to do it is to build a core lineup you trust and slot in Hogan, Floyd, Amendola or Mitchell (or Bennett) in what are essentially duplicate lineups in a multi-entry tournament.
And one dilemma that DFSers face if they go high at RB:
I expect both Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott to be popular plays this week, but if you can only go with one, who should it be? For one thing, it’s not an equal proposition; Bell is $1400 more than Elliott. So the question is whether his situation might be that much better than Elliott’s too…
Kansas City has allowed the seventh-most rushing yards per game (121) in the league this season, and Bell has averaged 110.4 rushing yards per game (including the wild card). He might be the only Steeler without significant declines in his performance on the road and I expect Pittsburgh to rely on him heavily. The biggest advantage he has over Elliott besides matchup is his role in the receiving game. With 95 receptions for 616 yards and two touchdowns in only 12 games, Bell’s fantasy floor gets a major boost.
Elliott on the other hand runs behind the league’s best offensive line, gets home field advantage (but doesn’t have significant splits), scored 16 touchdowns and led the league—by a wide margin—in rushing yards (1631). He had five multi-touchdown games, and at least managed over 100 total yards in every game in which he didn’t score. The discount on Elliott is significant but Green Bay ranked 21st in fantasy points allowed to running backs this season, while allowing the most passing yards per game.
I don’t think there is a wrong answer here—it’s likely Bell and Elliott both score right around 25 fantasy points this weekend. With that in mind, I’m either saving the $1400 with Elliott and pairing him with Devonta Freeman/Blount or going high with both RB spots.
In Divisional Round, players with high projected ownership are Dak Prescott, Dez Bryant, Le’Veon Bell, Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Patriots D/ST and Ezekiel Elliott. 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 chalk 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.