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 Cam Newton vs. Redskins (11.7 percent) — Not many quarterbacks have the upside of Newton, and he also maintains a high floor thanks to his dynamic rushing ability. The Panthers’ team total of 26.25 is the fifth-highest of the week in a game they’re favored by 7.5 points. The Redskins don’t rush the passer, can’t cover, and don’t stop the run. They’ve been shredded by opposing quarterbacks in recent weeks and gashed on the ground in the same span. This is a recipe for success for Newton, who’s always tended to play better at home than on the road. Newton has overall QB1 upside.
QB Matthew Stafford vs. Raiders (4.7 percent) — Stafford has faced one of the toughest schedules through 10 weeks. Oakland ranks 26th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks and will be, by far, Stafford’s easiest test to date, and he gets them at home. Raiders-Lions has the highest over-under of the week at 48.5 points. Oakland is favored by one, but both clubs have respectable team totals, with the Lions checking in at 23.75 points. The Raiders face the most pass attempts per game (42.6). In two games with new OC Jim Bob Cooter, Stafford has attempted 36 and 38 passes. With no running game to speak of, the offense operates through Stafford. At a 69.39-percent clip, no team is more pass-heavy than the Lions. And Stafford is much better at home. In four starts at Ford Field, Stafford is averaging 282.75 yards, two touchdowns, 1.5 interceptions, and 7.8 YPA on 36.25 attempts per game. Stafford is scoring 21.7 fantasy points per game at home this season. If we’re to factor in the Raiders’ horrific pass defense, Stafford’s ceiling is probably around 30. Oakland also just lost one of its top edge rushers, Aldon Smith, to a one-year suspension. He was having a fine season with 36 combined sacks, hits, and hurries. Stafford is a phenomenal play at his cheap price.
RB Adrian Peterson vs. Packers (11.7 percent) — It’s close between Devonta Freeman and Peterson for top overall running back play of the week. Freeman was 25-percent owned Thursday night. Peterson appears to be heating up as a runner as the season progresses and has scored a touchdown in his last five games against the Packers. Peterson is getting the heaviest workload of any running back in the league this season and will again be leaned on heavily in a pivotal division game. He’s the league’s leading rusher and can’t be stopped at the moment. The last time the Packers faced a good running back, Todd Gurley shredded them for 159 yards and 5.3 YPC in their own yard. In tournaments, we want skill players with multi-touchdown upside. A.D. has that.
RB Marshawn Lynch vs. 49ers (4.8 percent) — Lynch is another strong running back with big-time upside. He’s only rushed for 100 yards in a game one time this season, but it was Week 7 against these 49ers when he piled up 122 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries. The Seahawks are the biggest favorites of the week, giving the 49ers 13 points, so by the time the second quarter rolls around, this one could already be comfortably in hand for Seattle. As long as Lynch’s abdominal injury isn’t serious — which we don’t think it is — Lynch should be a shoo-in for 20-plus carries and multiple red-zone carries. If he can go for 100 yards and a couple scores, he’s money.
RB James Starks at Vikings (2.2 percent) — Obviously, not many are on Starks, and the on-paper matchup isn’t great for him. But in a cold, windy environment Sunday afternoon and the Packers’ pass offense just a tad “off” in recent weeks, Starks could be leaned on heavily after piling up the yards late in the fourth quarter last week. Eddie Lacy is still battling a groin issue, and coach Mike McCarthy confirmed Starks remains the starter. At his $6,200 price, all Starks needs is 100 total yards, a couple catches, and one touchdown to absolutely crush value. It’s something he’s already done multiple times this season against Seattle, San Diego, and Carolina.
WR Danny Amendola vs. Bills (27.1 percent) — This is probably the easiest fade on the slate, as Amendola was the highest-owned Sunday-Monday receiver on Thursday night. On a half-PPR site like FanDuel, Amendola racking up catches doesn’t really do the trick for us. He has to score a touchdown, in addition to catching several passes for 80-plus yards. If we want to 3X his $6,100 salary, we’d like to get around 18 points. If Amendola were to catch 10 passes for 120 scoreless yards, that’d be 17 points. More than likely, he’d turn 10 grabs into somewhere around 90 yards as a short-field route runner. Amendola isn’t the touchdown-scorer Julian Edelman (foot surgery) is, therefore I’ll be completely fading Amendola in tournaments.
WR Amari Cooper at Lions (22.9 percent) — Right behind Amendola in terms of high ownership Thursday night was Cooper. All the Raiders and Lions are great plays in the game with the highest over-under of Week 11. But Cooper is going to be shadowed by Lions No. 1 CB Darius Slay, who’s graded out as Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 cover man over the past five weeks. Cooper has already proven himself to be basically matchup-proof as a rookie, but at high ownership, it might make more sense to fade Cooper in the hopes Slay locks him down. Cooper’s teammate, Michael Crabtree, is a more interesting play at $700 cheaper in a much better matchup against backup-type CBs Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs. He was still highly owned at 19.8 percent, and I’d expect that to rise after DFS players go through their final lineup tinkers over the weekend.
WR Demaryius Thomas at Bears (6.5 percent) — Thomas was having a horrific afternoon last Sunday with Peyton Manning throwing four interceptions before ultimately being replaced by Brock Osweiler. Manning (foot) will miss Week 11 and may not regain his job. As soon as Osweiler came in last week, he targeted Thomas relentlessly. Thomas reeled in 6-of-7 targets from Osweiler for 54 yards. Expect the young quarterback to lean heavily on Thomas as sort of a safety net on the outside and as a chain mover. The Bears’ secondary has played over its head as a whole, but outside CBs Kyle Fuller and Tracy Porter have allowed six combined touchdowns between them. Thomas is seeing so many red-zone looks that he’s well past due for some positive regression. Maybe the switch to Osweiler will kickstart him. Thomas has multi-touchdown upside.
TE Rob Gronkowski vs. Bills (14.4 percent) — The strength of the Bills’ defense is their outside cornerbacks, Stephon Gilmore and Ronald Darby. The way to beat Buffalo is through the middle of the field. Allegedly, the Bills have a “plan” to stop Gronkowski, but whatever that plan was in Week 2, it didn’t work. Gronkowski went 7-113-1 on 13 targets. If you can make it work, Gronkowski should be in lineups. No tight end has the ceiling of Gronkowski, and with Julian Edelman out of the picture, his targets should see an uptick. The Patriots always try to embarrass the Bills.
TE Eric Ebron vs. Raiders (3.9 percent) — In the six games Ebron’s been healthy, he’s averaged 6.3 targets and seen no fewer than five. He had a horrific Week 10 against the Packers, dropping three passes, but the good sign is that he was targeted on 25 percent of his snaps in a close game. The drops are worrisome after Ebron really struggled in that department at North Carolina and as a rookie last season. But prior to last Sunday, he’d dropped just three passes total on 29 targets. Ebron has been making big plays when given an opportunity, as his 6.0 yards after catch per reception is sixth among tight ends with at least 20 targets. The Raiders have allowed the most touchdowns to tight ends (10), and only the Saints have surrendered more fantasy points to the position. Ebron may be too boom-or-bust for some peoples’ stomachs, but that’s kind of what we like in tournaments. Ebron has as high an upside as any tight end not named Rob Gronkowski.