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 WR3 on the Vikings. 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.
So, in Week 12 I’m fading:
Tom Brady, New England Patriots vs. Dallas
Shouldn’t this be Dak Prescott, on the road vs. New England’s stellar defense? It could be, and admittedly, I won’t have a lot of Prescott exposure either, but as good as Dak has played, I’m betting he outscores Brady this Sunday. Brady simply hasn’t needed or been able to put up the numbers his (at least, FanDuel) salary demands. In his last four games, including all ok-to-good matchups, he’s averaged just 13 fantasy points per game. He has one multi-touchdown game in the last four and hasn’t surpassed 300 passing yards in that span. Maybe playing a high caliber team like the Cowboys will inspire Brady to great things, but this year, his ceiling seems to be around 22-24 fantasy points, which I think you can find elsewhere.
Saquon Barkley, New York Giants at Chicago
I don’t want to say bad things about Barkley, I really don’t, but I won’t be rostering him this week against the Bears. Here are some nice things: Barkley’s salary has come down A LOT, he has a nice smile, and his best game of the season was on the road vs. another NFC North team, Detroit. On the flip side, he’s averaging just 57 yards per game on the ground with two rushing and one receiving touchdown. He’s not making up for it in the passing game either, as he has just 37 receiving yards per game. For all their offensive dysfunction, the Bears are still allowing the fifth-fewest points per game and only 95.6 rushing yards per game.
Brian Hill, Atlanta Falcons vs. Tampa Bay
I’ve seen a bunch of “don’t give up on Hill” storylines this week, but I am giving up, for now anyway. Although this should be a fantastic game environment for the Falcons passing/receiving options, the Bucs have steadfastly remained one of the toughest teams in the league to run on, allowing the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing backs. Hill isn’t some amazing talent that can overcome defensive scheme and may not even be featured as much as he was in Week 11 (18 touches) if Atlanta wants to get a better look at Quadree Ollison. He’s cheap, it’s true, but I think he’ll be higher-owned than warranted.
Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina
After really liking Cook in another tough TE decision-week and seeing him get just two targets last Sunday, though he caught both and salvaged his fantasy day because one was a three-yard TD, I’m no longer so trusting. The Saints will take what you give them and the Bucs were giving them Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas all day long, so there was really no need to look at Cook, I guess. Tampa Bay is also notoriously leaky across the board when it comes to pass defense. That’s not the case with the Panthers, who allow the third-fewest fantasy points to the position. Given where Cook’s salary is – sandwiched between Zach Ertz and Jacob Hollister – the only reason to roll with Cook is to go against the grain.
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia
Lockett is still limited in practice but fully expected to play Sunday in Philly. Maybe it’s the gruesome visions of his lower leg contusion and life-threatening swelling that forced him to be hospitalized for days guiding me here, but this seems like a risky play. Seattle has D.K. Metcalf, Hollister, and now Josh Gordon probably more up to speed than he was two weeks ago when he had two fairly critical catches vs. San Francisco. It’s a real possibility that Lockett plays more of a decoy role this week, and at his salary, it’s not a risk I’m willing to take. Add to the equation that Russell Wilson has been less effective on the road this season and I’m out when it comes to choosing Lockett over Chris Godwin, Mike Evans or Julio Jones.
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Detroit Lions D/ST at Washington
They’re priced like they’re some actually good defensive unit (most expensive on FanDuel), but on the road against Washington I’m not buying. Last week I suspected that Washington could get their stuff together offensively in Dwayne Haskins’ first home start against a mediocre defense, and they did so. It wasn’t like watching the Ravens or Chiefs, but it was more functional than the team had looked in the previous three brutal matchups. So I have the same hope that they’ll put some points on the board facing a Detroit team that ranks as the fourth-most generous to QB and second-most generous to RB.
In Week 12, players with high expected ownership are Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Drew Brees, Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr., Jacob Hollister, Alvin Kamara, Bo Scarbrough, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Zach Ertz, and Steelers, Bills or Bears D/ST. 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.