Adam Levitan projects ownership for every NFL DFS player each week in the FantasyLabs Player Models. Gauging ownership is important when it comes to tournaments so you can try to gain leverage on the field. You don’t need a team of 1%-owned players to win a tournament, but it’s also unlikely you’ll win a tournament with an abundance of highly-owned players.
The goal of this article is to give a brief rundown of the players we project to be the highest owned heading into the week, along with how they can affect roster construction.
Be sure to check the ownership projections throughout the week, as breaking news can cause these to fluctuate.
Note: Ownership percentages as of Friday morning.
As in most weeks, quarterback ownership looks similar with Kyler Murray, Jameis Winston and Lamar Jackson projected for 13-16% ownership. I’d expect a mix of this trio and maybe Drew Brees to be the most owned in cash games and tournaments.
Patrick Mahomes looks to be a spot where you could go contrarian as he’s projected for 5-8% ownership on DraftKings. His +3.0 Leverage Plus/Minus is the second-highest mark among quarterbacks.
Both sites have comparable ownership projections with Christian McCaffrey, Devin Singletary, Ronald Jones and Jaylen Samuels projected for anywhere between 21-40% ownership. Most DFS players will be deciding again whether to pay the hefty price tag for CMC. If they don’t decide to do so in tournaments, their rosters will have a much different build than those who decide to pay for him.
A total fade on CMC is always a scary proposition, it may be a better idea to just be underweight relative to the field if looking to go against the grain.
Singletary and Jones will offer little leverage in tournaments given their massive projected ownership. That doesn’t mean you should all-out fade them, because they’re still good plays, but it’ll be easy to figure out how to differentiate if you’re looking to pivot off those players.
Le’Veon Bell has a top-five Leverage Plus/Minus with his solid projection and middling ownership. The scare around his knee may depress his ownership in even more, especially since he didn’t get in full practice all week.
On DraftKings, Saquon Barkley boasts a +5.0 Leverage Rating and higher ceiling projection than CMC, suggesting he could be an excellent target to go overweight relative to the field to go along with his $1,700 savings.
There’s an absurd amount of great receiving plays this week. Let’s start with Micheal Thomas, who has a 31-40% projected ownership on both sites. He’s my favorite play on the slate as the Saints have a massive implied team total and Thomas is the only player in the league averaging over 11 targets per game.
I’d expect a fair amount of DFS players to start their rosters with CMC and Thomas and building out from there. This will likely force them to target similar value plays. The most reasonable scenario is them starting with CMC, Thomas and then a combination of Jones, Singletary and Samuels. So, we essentially know 40% of their roster.
Mike Evans is the next-highest after Thomas. Evans has been on a wild run, posting a 32-474-3 line on 45 targets over the past three weeks. Chris Godwin could be the perfect pivot since they’re priced similar. The Cardinals have been gashed in the slot and that’s where Godwin runs 65% of his routes.
After them, ownership looks fairly spread out between Christian Kirk, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams, Curtis Samuel and D.J. Moore. Possible pivots of guys who stand out in terms of their projected ceiling, ownership projection and in Leverage Plus/Minus in our models include Cooper Kupp, Julio Jones, Tyreek Hill, Zach Pascal and Marquise Brown.
The most popular tight end plays appear to be Travis Kelce, Jack Doyle, Mark Andrews, Austin Hooper and Gerald Everett as they’re all projected for anywhere between 9-21% depending on the site.
Doyle is projected to be the highest owned on DraftKings, while Kelce leads the way on FanDuel. Both are projected for 17-20% on those respective sites. Kelce is probably my favorite play of the bunch since he’s priced as if Matt Moore is playing at quarterback. He’s at his lowest price point on DraftKings since Week 5 of 2018.
On DraftKings, I’d expect Doyle and Mike Gesicki to push for the most popular value plays. Hilton out frees up a good amount of target share, and with Preston Williams (knee) out, that leaves 21.5% target share that needs to be spread throughout.
Kelce is the only tight end of these popular plays that offers a positive Leverage Plus/Minus on DraftKings.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers currently have the highest ownership projections in our models. Both make sense since the Ravens are 10.5-point home favorite which should present plenty of sack and interception opportunities for their defense.
Meanwhile, the Steelers rank in the top four in pressure rate, sacks per game and sack rate this season. They’ll square off against Jared Goff, who struggles on the road and under pressure. While facing pressure this season, Goff is averaging just 4.9 yards per attempt, per Sports Info Solutions.
As usual, I wouldn’t expect defenses to be much of a difference-maker. They usually aren’t unless a chalk defense goes off for a score or two.
Pictured above: Michael Thomas
Photo Credit: USA Today