There are several reasons you might not want to roster a certain player in a given week of NFL DFS. 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 the Wild Card Round, I’m fading:
Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia
I’m not playing a ton of lineups this weekend, maybe three per site. So Wilson is a fade for me, but if you’re playing a lot more than I am, I’m fine with including him for diversification purposes. I have exposure to Travis Homer, Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, so it’s not like I don’t like the Seahawks here. In fact, they’re the only road favorite this weekend, and Wilson has had a spectacular season. One of his only blips, and in fact worst games of the year did come in Philadelphia not so long ago in Week 12. He didn’t travel well in general from a fantasy perspective, averaging about six fewer fantasy points on the road. Combined with the high price tag (most expensive on DraftKings), I’m prioritizing Drew Brees, Deshaun Watson, Josh Allen, Tom Brady or Carson Wentz over Wilson.
Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans
As I just outlined my QB strategy above, you won’t be surprised to see that I’m fading Cousins. The Vikings join the Bills and Titans with implied team totals under 22 points this weekend. Allen makes the cut thanks to his ability to rush in a touchdown and the Houston defense being among the best for fantasy QBs and RBs. Back to Cousins, though, I know that on paper the best way to beat the Saints is through the air. However, I don’t think the Vikings are the team to execute a good enough passing game to make it happen. They have been one of the lower volume passing teams (23rd), but ranked sixth in rushing yards. With both Dalvin Cook and Alexander Mattison healthy, I think they rely on what worked all season long, playing to their strengths rather than to their opponents ‘weakness’ (quotes because the New Orleans defense isn’t weak). I’m mixing Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs into a lineup or two, but I don’t want a sub-200 yard passing game with an interception by Cousins to tank an otherwise strong lineup. I can’t even use price to justify him, because Brady is cheaper on both sites.
Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans at New England
Henry is the lead rusher of the 2019 season, and also the most expensive back on the slate. Here’s why I’m leery of using him. He’s been fantastic, except in bad matchups. When facing the Bills, Buccaneers, or Broncos, Henry managed fewer than 10 fantasy points per game. Those are the best run defenses he faced, and New England is equal or better than any of them. I mentioned above that the Titans are the week’s second-biggest underdog in a should-be low scoring game. It’s not too hard to save at RB this week, and that’s another reason to fade Henry.
I strongly believe in Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins, and that’s where my belief in the Texans stops. All three of these guys might be active, in addition to two pass-catching TEs. Picking the one who could have the big play or multiple little TD grabs is far more luck than science.
Jacob Hollister, Seattle Seahawks at Philadelphia
There are only two tight ends I trust this week: Zach Ertz or Dallas Goedert and Jared Cook. My cheap flier is Dawson Knox, who I stubbornly believe is under-utilized and could be a key to the Bills sustaining drives this Saturday. Hollister showed flashes of usefulness, but they have faded. He’s been targeted a reasonable amount, but his catch rate isn’t great, and all of his good games have come against the standard great TE matchups (Arizona, Tampa Bay; San Francisco is an exception). He had only two catches for 22 yards against Philly earlier this season, and I just don’t think he’s a big part of the game plan with Lockett and Metcalf healthy.
In the first round of the playoffs, players with high expected ownership are Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Dalvin Cook, Devin Singletary, Zach Ertz/Dallas Goedert, Saints D/ST, Patriots 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.