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 Bengals. 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 16 I’m fading:
D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers at Indianapolis
The Panthers are starting Will Grier, a move I’m excited about because I own him in a season-long dynasty league, but not one that appeals to me in DFS. He didn’t have a great pre-season, with little in the way of yardage and a couple turnovers. Moore has been coming on strong and his salary shows it. With multiple double-digit target games down the stretch, he has been regularly scoring and/or exceeding 100 yards. He’s the fifth-most expensive receiver on DraftKings, and I don’t trust Grier to keep him afloat at that price, even if the Colts’ pass defense isn’t so great.
Kerryon Johnson, Detroit Lions at Denver
As of now, Johnson is still on IR, but he is minimum salary (on FanDuel) and reports out of the Lions practice this week say that he looks ready for game action. Should he be active, he’ll face two obstacles to fantasy value: the Broncos run defense and a backfield time share with one or more of Bo Scarbrough, Ty Johnson, or J.D. McKissic.
Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints at Tennessee
My guess is that this is a bit of a let-down game for the Saints after the big record-breaking MNF heroics. It’s not that it’s a bad matchup, but Brees’ salary is high coming off the near perfect 4-TD game and I still have a healthy fear of Brees on the road in non-primetime games. If I’m spending up, I’ll go all the way up to Lamar Jackson. In all likelihood, Brees will be fine, but fine isn’t what I’m looking for in someone so costly.
Zach Pascal, Indianapolis Colts vs. Carolina
Carolina is a better matchup for running backs than receivers, but this is still a good spot for Jacoby Brissett, as a touchdown favorite at home. Pascal finds himself on the fade list just because his salary has come up, and for whatever reason, the team keeps talking about getting T.Y. Hilton more involved. If Hilton is the focal point, Pascal will be the one to suffer, and at over $6K on both sites, I want more than 4-5 targets.
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Amari Cooper, Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia
This could be a trap fade, as the Cowboys have as much to play for as anyone this week, but with Dak Prescott not touching a football until Saturday, I’m nervous. The Eagles aren’t as great a passing matchup as they were (15th in passing yards allowed per game), though WRs facing them still rank third in fantasy points. On the one hand, I trust Prescott to manage his shoulder effectively and give it his all on Sunday, but on the other, I don’t want to tank a perfectly good lineup with Cooper (or Michael Gallup) if it turns out that he’s less accurate or can’t finish the game.
In Week 16, players with high expected ownership are Ryan Tannehill, Lamar Jackson, Chris Carson, Christian McCafrrey, Kenyon Drake, Michael Thomas, Greg Ward, Tyler Lockett, Zach Ertz, Mark Andrews, Steelers D/ST, Colts 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.