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 Alex Smith at Raiders (1.6 percent) — In Smith’s last three starts — one in 2013 and two last season — against the Raiders, he’s put up 21.6, 17.9, and 31.2 FanDuel points. In tournaments, we’re looking for players to 2.5 or 3X their salary. And at $6,600, Smith is insanely cheap and has absolutely smashed value against Oakland. The Raiders have a very weak pass defense that is allowing 294.6 yards per game and the eighth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Smith is coming off arguably his best game of the season, throwing for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns against an above-average Bills pass defense. He challenged Buffalo vertically and hooked up with Jeremy Maclin for a number of lengthy gains. There will be opportunities to do the same again on Sunday. And Smith hasn’t been turning the ball over, as he hasn’t tossed an interception since Week 3. The Chiefs are a balanced, run-based offense, but Smith is doing enough the return value, especially with his legs. He’s rushed for at least 30 yards in four-straight games and 179 yards in total over that span with one touchdown. Smith is in play as a punt, allowing to load up at other positions.
QB Eli Manning vs. Jets (1.4 percent) — This is another contrarian, off-the-board play, but Manning is quietly in a really good spot coming off a disastrous Week 12 against the Redskins that saw him toss three interceptions. Week 13 isn’t loaded with projected high-scoring games. Jets-Giants has a Vegas total of 45 points, but this one could easily sneak into the fifties. The Giants don’t play sound defense against the pass or the run, and the Jets are going to be without arguably their two-best corners in Darrelle Revis (concussion) and Marcus Williams (knee). Revis shadows No. 1 receivers, and Williams leads the team in interceptions, despite being the dime corner. Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine are left outside and are followed up by Dexter McDougle, Darrin Walls, and Dee Milliner. It’s not a scary group, and Odell Beckham should go bananas. The Giants also don’t have a running game, and run defense is the strength of the Jets anyway, while the offensive line for the G-Men should be getting two starters back this week. This sets up well for Manning to have to throw the ball 40-50 times in a date between two higher-paced offenses. The quarterback on the other side, Ryan Fitzpatrick (3.2 percent) is also in play for this one.
RB David Johnson at Rams (12.2 percent) — It came as a bit of a surprise that Johnson’s ownership wasn’t higher, being that he’s so cheap and now locked into the starting job. Chris Johnson is done for the regular season and at least the first three rounds of the playoffs with a fractured tibia, and Andre Ellington is out with a case of turf toe. Johnson has already been pegged the new No. 1 running back by coach Bruce Arians. Johnson will get all he can handle as a legitimate playmaker who can take it to the house from anywhere on the field. On paper, this looks like a tough matchup for Johnson, as the Rams field Football Outsiders’ fifth-ranked run defense in DVOA. But with all of St. Louis’ offensive problems, the defense has been worn down of late. The Rams have allowed 324 yards and one touchdown on 86 carries to opposing running backs the past three games. With opposing teams building big leads against the Rams, running backs are getting a ton of volume. Johnson should be a lock for 15-plus touches at minimum. Despite his limited touches, Johnson still has eight all-purposes touchdowns — four rushing, three receiving, and one as a kick returner. The upside is there for a top-five week.
RB LeGarrette Blount vs. Eagles (5.5 percent) — Blount always makes for a strong tournament play because the Patriots often jump out to big leads and pound Blount in the second halves of games, giving him tons of carries and goal-line looks. He’s a weekly threat for multiple touchdowns. No Julian Edelman. No Rob Gronkowski. A less-than-100-percent Danny Amendola. This looks like a “Blount Game.” The big-bodied downhill runner has been quiet in recent weeks, averaging 3.39 YPC on 44 totes with just one touchdown, but this looks like a spot for him to potentially get right. The Eagles seem to have given up on their season and have been getting killed by running backs the past month-plus. Over the past six games, the Eagles have allowed monster rushing days to Doug Martin (27-235), Darren McFadden (27-117), and Jonathan Stewart (24-125). The Eagles are 18th against the run in Football Outsiders’ DVOA, while the Patriots field the No. 1 run-blocking offensive line. New England is favored by 10 points at home in a game that might be over by halftime. Blount has a chance to get 20-plus carries.
RB Todd Gurley vs. Cardinals (3.2 percent) — Gurley has been the victim of a brutal offense that fields the league’s worst offensive line. At least RT Rob Havenstein (calf) will be back this week, and the Rams have tended to get up for divisional games under coach Jeff Fisher. Gurley’s talent is on par with Adrian Peterson, and if the Rams can just keep this thing close, the rookie should pile up the touches. The Rams don’t want Nick Foles throwing the ball 30-40 times. Ideally, Gurley would have 22-25 carries per game. He got his first career start earlier this season on the road against this same Arizona team and scampered for 146 yards on 19 carries (7.7 YPC). The touchdown upside is there, too, as Gurley scored in five-straight games Weeks 7-11 before being held out of the end zone last week against the Bengals. At low ownership, Gurley makes a ton of sense as a GPP play.
RB Jeremy Hill at Browns (1.9 percent) — Hill is coming off maybe his best pure running game of the season last week against the Rams when he rumbled for 86 yards on 16 carries (5.4 YPC). He didn’t find pay dirt against St. Louis, but Hill has already scored multiple touchdowns in three games this year. He has the touchdown upside we’re looking for in tournaments. Hill flopped in the Week 9 tilt against the Browns with 52 scoreless yards on 15 carries, but this looks like a good spot to go back to the well. The Bengals are heavy 10-point favorites, which should translate to a heavy helping of carries in the second half. With Tyler Eifert (neck) out, Hill’s red-zone usage could see a bump. The Browns allow 4.82 YPC and the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs.
WR Martavis Bryant vs. Colts (8.7 percent) — Bryant will run most of his routes at Colts LCB Greg Toler on Sunday night. Toler is Pro Football Focus' No. 105-graded cornerback among 113 qualifiers this season. And Bryant, through 16 career games, has proven to be a monster touchdown-scorer with 13 already to his name. He’s a big play waiting to happen. Bryant’s upside is through the roof and should always be rostered in DFS tournaments if making multiple lineups.
WR DeAndre Hopkins at Bills (5.4 percent) — This is recency bias at its finest. Hopkins was the most-heavily owned receiver last week in a prime spot against the Saints’ league-worst defense. He posted a dud with a 5-36-0 receiving line. Owners hurt by Hopkins are off him this week in a below-average on-paper matchup against the Bills’ strong outside cornerback duo. But that duo showed cracks last week against Alex Smith and Jeremy Maclin when Maclin ripped them up for a 9-160-1 day, beating Bills corners for multiple long gains. Hopkins is the premier downfield, my-ball, high-pointer in the game at receiver. His price has come down as well.
WR DeVante Parker vs. Ravens (2.2 percent) — Rishard Matthews went down early last week with multiple fractured ribs and is likely done for the season. Parker has been handed a golden opportunity and will take over as the starting X receiver and play in two-wide sets opposite Jarvis Landry. Parker played a season-high 61-of-75 snaps last week against the Jets and reeled in 4-of-10 targets for 80 yards and his first career touchdown. Now he gets a Ravens pass defense that checks in at 26th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA and has allowed the third-most fantasy points and second-most touchdowns to wide receivers. Parker is a legitimate downfield playmaker and will run all of his routes at Ravens outside CBs Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright. Smith has been one of Pro Football Focus’ worst cover corners all season. Wright had a rough start with the Ravens, but has played better of late. He’s still a run-of-the-mill talent. Parker (6’3/218) has four inches and 36 pounds on Wright, who checks in at 5’11/182. The upside is there for a potential big game.
TE Gary Barnidge vs, Bengals (4.5 percent) — Greg Olsen (27.7 percent) is definitely the play at tight end this week, and he even makes sense in tournaments as a chalk play. But if not using Olsen, Barnidge is the preferred option when looking for touchdowns. The thought of Barnidge playing without Josh McCown is scary to some. The breakout tight end has struggled with Johnny Manziel under center, but Austin Davis is getting the nod at quarterback for the Browns this week. In Davis’ eight starts for the Rams last season, TE Jared Cook led the team in targets in five of them. Davis is popgun-armed quarterback who likes to hammer the middle of the field before taking shots downfield like he did to Travis Benjamin for a 42-yard touchdown last week. Barnidge will remain the preferred red-zone target and chain-mover for Cleveland with Benjamin as the deep threat.