The first week of the NFL season went pretty much as expected regarding the popular plays. The obvious chalk of the week on DraftKings was Zach Ertz at his ridiculous salary of only $3500. As expected, he was the highest owned player in the Milly Maker coming in at 41%. Not only was he chalk, but he was what we call “good chalk”. He was mispriced, in a great spot against the Skins and was a must play in cash games. It paid off as he scored 17.3 DK points. Todd Gurley was another player I expected to be highly owned and to be paired with the Rams defense. This was the case as he came in at almost 31% and the Rams defense was 22%. Le’Veon Bell 34% and David Johnson 25% were the next two highest owned on DK and the two highest on Fanduel. It will be interesting to see what Bell’s ownership is going to be the rest of the year without D.J. playing. Does Johnson’s ownership get split up among the next best backs like Ezekiel Elliot and LeSean McCoy? Or more likely, depending on the slate, his ownership may get extremely high. To fade or not to fade Le’Veon may be the question we are asking ourselves the rest of the year.
Doug Baldwin at his reasonable price on DK was the highest owned wide receiver coming in at 22.5%. This eclipsed Antonio Brown 14% by quite a bit. Brown was the highest owned on Fanduel at 21%, one point ahead of Julio Jones. Other expected popular receivers; Larry Fitzgerald, Kelvin Benjamin, Terrelle Pryor, Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper were between 13% – 20%.
On the other end of the spectrum were two of my favorite plays of the week. I mentioned them on the podcast and on SiriusXM with Dr. Roto and Adam Ronis. They were Matthew Stafford and the Jacksonville Jaguars defense. Stafford was the highest scoring player on Fanduel and second highest on DK just below Brown. He was only rostered on 1%- 2% of all entries. I mentioned how the Jags would be contrarian on DK because of their high price but were in a great spot. To me, they were a lock on Fanduel at only $4100. They came through big time with 10 sacks and a defensive touchdown at less than 10% on Fanduel and only 1% on DK. Leonard Fournette had a great rookie debut rushing for 100 yards and scoring a touchdown. But no one, including myself, was going to pay up for him week one as he was less than 3% owned.
This week there are two games that should draw a lot of ownership. New England visits New Orleans in what is expected to be a high scoring game with an over/under that has gone up to 55.5 points. The Sunday night hammer game is the Packers at the Falcons with an O/U of 53.5 points. The four most popular QBs should come from these games. The night game is going to get the highest ownership of any game on the main slate. People love to have players left going in the night game to begin with. Add the highest total on the slate with two high-powered offenses and they will be chalk. Ty Montgomery and Devonta Freeman as well as Jordy Nelson and Julio Jones will be extremely popular. Check back later in the week to see where we can pivot if we choose to fade them.
Look for players that had a good week one to be somewhat popular as well. Players like Kareem Hunt, Stefon Diggs, Tarik Cohen (who I am staying away from), and Dalvin Cook will be chalky. One way to get lower ownership on players is to do the opposite. Roster players that were popular last week that didn’t perform. Kelvin Benjamin, Fitzgerald, and Martavis Bryant come to mind for example. The general public is much more likely to roster players that did well the week before, than did poorly. Especially if they burned them the week before. In fact, I wonder if we can get Lev Bell lower owned than he should be because of his subpar performance last week. He burned a lot of people as the chalk play, and with the rest being burned by D.J., maybe people will be scared to pay up this week.
I am hoping we get low ownership on the two teams that did not play last week, the Bucs and Dolphins. Not being on people’s minds, they may not gravitate to these players. I like Tampa Bay this week including Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers who is filling in for the suspended Doug Martin. I also like Jay Ajayi on Miami going against the Chargers. Another way we can get lower ownership is talented players that were not popular last week, but are in better spots week two. Players like Jordan Matthews or Greg Olsen may get overlooked but still have upside to get at low ownership.
Remember, not all chalk is bad chalk. The saying goes “chalk is chalk for a reason”. Players in good spots are naturally going to be higher owned than players in bad spots. Finding the players in perceived bad situations, but that could do well (like Stafford last week) is the key to pivoting off the chalk. Listen to the late week podcast and read the articles on dfs.scout.com to determine which popular players to roster and which are best to fade.