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 WR4 on the LA Rams. 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.
In Week 4, I’m fading Mike Evans, Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Christine Michael, and Brandon Marshall due to tough matchups. This is a week where there is a ton of wide receiver potential but you’ll want to pick your studs carefully. On the other hand, there are very few running backs I trust completely this week.
Mike Evans faces a Denver secondary that is no joke. I’ve written a lot about Adam Humphries this week because I think Evans is going to be the target the Broncos defensive backs key in on. Because Jameis Winston leads the league in passing attempts, I want some piece of this offense, but have a hard time trusting Evans to be a high scoring guy this week.
The same is true of Julio Jones, who faces a Panthers defense that Vegas may not respect (Falcons have an okay 23.5 point implied team total), but that has allowed the fourth-fewest passing yards per game this season. With Atlanta presenting a dangerously balanced offensive attack so far this season, I find it hard to rely on Jones too much this weekend. That said, I do have him in at least one tournament lineup so far.
Brandon Marshall is not only dealing with lingering injuries, he’s coming off an awful game that also one of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s worst. The sledding doesn’t get any easier as the Jets host Seattle this weekend. Seattle may not be the optimal fantasy defense this year, but they are a solid football defense and all of the Jets should be off your radar. The attraction with Marshall lies not only in his own immense talent but the fact that Eric Decker is dealing with some shoulder pain and hasn’t practiced this week. A bounce-back for Marshall isn’t out of the question, but he’s #5-6 on my list in that category.
The Chargers-Saints game is one we’re all salivating over for DFS purposes, but I’m pumping the brakes on Mark Ingram. He finally scored last week after seeing his highest rushing and passing volume of the season against the Falcons and while I think the Saints will be wise to continue feeding him, the Chargers have been extremely effective against opposing running backs. They’ve allowed just 81.7 rushing yards per game. I also worry that the targets will decline if Willie Snead makes it back on the field (still truly questionable). For obvious reasons, I prefer the San Diego side of this game for DFS purposes.
Christine Michael was a cornerstone of winning lineups in Week 3, but faces an ugly Jets defense on the road this coming Sunday. Now the 10th-most expensive running back on FanDuel, I approach Michael and this potentially low scoring game with a lot of caution. Russell Wilson is for sure less than 100%, which is going to enable the Jets to focus even more on stopping the run. For those tempted to look back to find success instead of ahead, try Isaiah Crowell, LeGarrette Blount, Melvin Gordon or DeMarco Murray instead of Michael at similar price points this week.
In Week 4, I’m also fading the:
Tennessee Titans pass game because the lack of J.J. Watt, while extremely sad for football fans, doesn’t make Marcus Mariota, Tajae Sharpe, Delanie Walker, or especially Rishard Matthews good plays. I believe(d) in Sharpe wholeheartedly to start the season, but the volume is too low to yield week-to-week trustworthy fantasy production. His and Walker’s hamstrings are a concern as well. Houston has allowed the fewest passing yards per game and the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, so the Titans (outside of Murray) lack the upside in my opinion even for tournaments.
Jacksonville run game because it hasn’t been very good and weird things tend to happen in London games. Now you could interpret that as maybe the Jags run game will stun the fantasy world, but T.J. Yeldon’s statistics are horrible—for instance in Week 1, his best game, it took him 21 carries to gain 39 rushing yards. A touchdown and 30 receiving yards saved the day, but those numbers have gone down. In fact, with Chris Ivory finally taking the field in Week 3, Yeldon saw just six carries to Ivory’s 12. Neither reached 20 rushing yards. Indianapolis is a great matchup, so if you are playing the Sunday-Monday slate and want to take advantage, at least go with the far cheaper Ivory, who looks like the higher volume play after seeing one week of this time share.
Giants-Minnesota game because both of these defenses have been trouble for fantasy. The Giants are average in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing QB and WR, but have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to running backs so far. The Vikings are a bottom-10 matchup for every position and have shown that they’ll take advantage of any mistake. News flash: Eli Manning sometimes makes mistakes. There could be value in Kyle Rudolph if you seek lower ownership in the Hunter Henry-Zach Miller-Cameron Brate tier of tight ends.
In Week 4, players with high projected ownership are Cam Newton, Melvin Gordon, Marvin Jones Jr. (watch the hamstring injury but I think he’s fine), Terrell Pryor, Philip Rivers, Jordan Howard, and Zach Miller. 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 chalk 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. I won’t be explicitly fading any of the players listed above.