I think a lot of people approach DFS tournaments and player exposure the wrong way. Sure, a guy might be projected for high ownership, but that’s just one piece of the puzzle. His range of outcomes is just as important. Imagine for a moment that a player with the slate’s highest projected ceiling was minimum-priced on DraftKings or FanDuel. Should you fade that player simply because he’s X-percent owned?
There’s definitely a line in which it is +EV to gain leverage on the field and fade that player. But GPP plays should always be about maximizing ceiling outcomes — after all, the point of GPPs is to win the whole thing. The players you want to avoid, therefore, are those who have high ownership rates and low ceilings. Wayne Gallman, for example, doesn’t have a super elite ceiling and is likely to be highly-owned. That’s an easier fade than, say, DeAndre Hopkins, who should be popular but also has a massive ceiling. Again, ownership matters, but so does range of outcomes. That combination is key to our proprietary Leverage score in our NFL Models.
Anyway, let’s discuss some players for Week 4. Using FantasyLabs’ Leverage score, I’ll dig through the data to identify those contrarian plays for tournaments.
Loaded Leverage: Week 4 GPP Targets
Despite facing maybe one of the worst NFL teams of all time in the Miami Dolphins, who through three weeks have an almost-impossible 84.9% pass defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders), Chargers QB Philip Rivers has the week’s highest Leverage Score at the position thanks to his high ceiling projection but 2-4% ownership expectation on DraftKings. In general, QBs have much flatter ownership, mostly because of the viability of options plus needing to roster just one.
It’s easy to understand: Russell Wilson, who put up 44.3 DraftKings points last week and now faces the fast-paced, bad Cardinals defense, is $100 cheaper than Rivers. Daniel Jones, impressive in his first NFL start, is nearly $1k cheaper down at $5,300 against a disaster of a Washington defense. Further, it’s possible the Chargers, 15-point favorites, take a more run-heavy approach and don’t need Rivers to throw.
Then again, it’s possible Rivers could have an uber-efficient outing, throwing for multiple touchdowns thanks to the Dolphins porous defense and his solid pass-catching options. This is an interesting spot for GPPs: How often will the highest Leverage play be a guy against one of the worst teams ever?
After putting up 24.3 DraftKings points in his NFL debut, Josh Jacobs has since disappointed, finishing with single digits in Weeks 2 and 3. That said, part of that could be due to an illness and minor injury he’s been dealing with, and he’s still projected to dominate touches for the Oakland backfield. He’ll look to get back on track against a Colts defense that ranks 30th in rush DVOA so far and has been vulnerable to pass-catching RBs. You won’t find many potential workhorse $5,100 running backs projected for 0-1% ownership.
On FanDuel, Nick Chubb stands out with a 95% Leverage Score. He’s had a strong start to the year, although he hasn’t yet flashed that huge GPP-winning upside with just one touchdown through three weeks. But he’s clearly getting the volume, especially in the red zone, where he has all but one rush for the Browns so far.
He’s also shown potential as a pass-catcher, reeling in 11 of his 15 targets. His opponent for Week 4, the Ravens, have struggled in that regard so far, ranking 30th in DVOA to pass-catching backs. Given his workload, 2-4% projected ownership will do just fine.
One of the more forgotten receivers so far this season, Robert Woods is really flying under the radar. The Rams pass offense will likely be popular in Week 4, especially against a Tampa Bay defense that last year finished 30th in pass DVOA and this year has been much weaker against the pass than rush. But most of the ownership is projected to go to Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp:
- Kupp in Week 4: 27.7 projected ceiling, 17-20% projected ownership
- Cooks in Week 4: 23.9 projected ceiling, 9-12% projected ownership
- Woods in Week 4: 22.8 projected ceiling, 2-4% projected ownership
That, my friends, is a high leverage spot.
Expectations were sky-high for D.J. Moore entering his sophomore campaign in Carolina. He hasn’t been a disappointment necessarily, but owners have yet to be treated to his high ceiling after three weeks. It was a little troubling that he received just two targets last week, but that’s absolutely priced into the market with his ownership projection of 2-4% on FanDuel. Against a Houston defense that has been mediocre against the pass and specifically No. 1 WRs, Moore could absolutely be a GPP winner.
The best way to gain leverage this weekend might be to target the Raiders-Colts game with Eric Ebron and Darren Waller, both of whom have high Leverage scores on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Ebron is a boom-or-bust option who will need to get into the end zone to be worth rostering, but he’s certainly capable, especially against an Oakland defense that has continuously struggled against TEs.
Waller has a high floor and high ceiling, exploding last week for a 13-134-0 line and 30.1 DraftKings points on 14 targets against a tough Minnesota unit. It’s possible he’ll go under-owned considering he’s sandwiched between Mark Andrews ($5,000) and Evan Engram ($5,700), both of whom are projected to be popular. I could see players electing to pay up for Travis Kelce or Engram — or else drop down to Will Dissly, who is projected for a position-high 17-20% ownership.
For projected ownership levels and Leverage scores for all Week 4 players, make sure to check out our NFL models.
Photo credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Pictured: Philip Rivers