NFL Week 14: DFS Contrarian Value

NFL Week 14: DFS Contrarian Value

Daily fantasy sports were dealt devastating news on Friday morning when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was granted a preliminary injunction to stop DraftKings and FanDuel from doing business in the Big Apple. Although much of the debate leading up to this decision centered on whether daily fantasy was a game of skill or a game of luck, ultimately that distinction was a moot point.

In his ruling, N.Y. Supreme Court justice Manuel Mendez wrote, “New York State penal law does not refer to ‘wagering’ or ‘betting,’ rather it states that a person, ‘risks something of value. The payment of an ‘entry fee’ as high as $10,600 on one or more contests daily could certainly be deemed risking ‘something of value.'”

DraftKings responded immediately, with Attorney David Boies issuing the following statement: “We are disappointed with the Court’s decision, and will immediately file an emergency notice of appeal in order to preserve the status quo. Daily Fantasy Sports contests have been played legally by New Yorkers for the past seven years and we believe this status quo should be maintained while the litigation plays out.”

This was a massive blow since New York accounts for an enormous part of the daily fantasy sports market:

Many states, including Massachusetts, Illinois and Florida, have taken a different approach and have strongly supported regulation. Several members of Congress are hoping to hold hearings about daily fantasy sports, but nothing has been scheduled at the time of publication. As more details are released and this story unfolds, we will be sure to bring you the latest news.

In recent weeks, we have started to explain how daily fantasy players could utilize contrarian strategies for tournament play. The basic idea was to highlight players that were not only being undervalued by DraftKings pricing, but were also owned in a very low percentage of leagues.

We should note that low ownership percentages alone don’t mean that a player is offering value; however, if you’re comparing two players with similar expected value you should always select the player with a lower ownership percentage. Perhaps the best explanation of how DFS players can utilize these ownership percentages comes from Brett Collson; the editor-in-chief at

“In big DFS tournaments, knowing ownership percentages in advance would be far more beneficial in a sport like hockey or baseball, because the stats are far less predictive from night to night. If game results are more difficult to predict, there’s added incentive in creating a unique lineup with less popular players to separate yourself from the herd. Knowing the ownership percentages ahead of time would create a huge advantage in building these contrarian lineups.”

Using the Week 14 ownership percentages from FanDuel’s Week 14 Mini Dive and the tools over at Fantasy Labs, we determined the most undervalued tournament picks for DraftKings players.


PlayerDraftKings PriceOwnership Rate
Russell Wilson$630010.0%
Jameis Winston$55009.6%
Blake Bortles$60009.4%
Cam Newton$75008.9%
Ben Roethlisberger$68006.7%
Tyrod Taylor$54006.6%
Drew Brees$68003.3%
Ryan Fitzpatrick$54003.1%
Eli Manning$61002.7%
Andy Dalton$66002.4%
Aaron Rodgers$70002.3%
Tom Brady$78002.3%
Johnny Manziel$50001.5%
Marcus Mariota$57001.4%
Ryan Tannehill$52001.4%
Blaine Gabbert$51001.4%
Kirk Cousins$51000.6%
Philip Rivers$60000.2%

Although Russell Wilson has the highest ownership rate among this weekend’s players, it’s interesting to note that Carson Palmer — who played in the Thursday night game — was owned by 18.4% of managers. Palmer was actually rated as my number one quarterback, and he delivered with 310 passing yards and two touchdowns.

If you weren’t able to work Palmer into your lineup, Ryan Tannehill and Brian Hoyer are both priced at $5200 and offer substantial contrarian value. There have been 6 Pro Trends triggered on Tannehill and 8 Pro Trends triggered on Hoyer — the most among quarterbacks. We should also point out that the Giants defense has allowed a league-high 314.5 passing yards per game, which should mean big things for Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins offense.

Jameis Winston ($5500) is also underpriced against an atrocious Saints defense, but his high ownership rate means that he is a stronger play in cash games than tournaments.

Other potential values include: Eli Manning ($6100) and Andy Dalton ($6600)

Running Backs

PlayerDraftKings PriceOwnership Rate
Thomas Rawls$580021.6%
LeSean McCoy$610017.4%
Doug Martin$620015.6%
Shaun Draughn$480013.1%
Lamar Miller$570010.7%
DeAngelo Williams$60008.7%
Jonathan Stewart$58008.1%
T.J. Yeldon$49007.3%
Matt Forte$68005.6%
Todd Gurley$68005.2%
Chris Ivory$50005.0%
James White$41002.7%
Javorius Allen$53002.3%
Frank Gore$43002.3%
Devonta Freeman$77001.8%
Ronnie Hillman$47001.7%
C.J. Spiller$30001.7%
DeMarco Murray$50001.2%
Giovani Bernard$41001.0%
Darren McFadden$50001.0%
Latavius Murray$50000.7%
Jeremy Langford$44000.5%

My highest ranked Week 14 running back is Frank Gore ($4300), who was owned by just 2.3% of managers last night. That makes him an excellent play for both tournaments and head-to-head contests. With Colts quarterback Matt Hasselbeck dealing with a neck injury and the Jaguars allowing the ninth most fantasy points to opposing running backs, expect Gore to carry a heavy workload on Sunday.

Thomas Rawls and David Johnson led running backs with 9 Pro Trends this week; however, daily fantasy managers are clearly aware that these players are offering value. Johnson, who played in the Thursday night game, had the highest ownership rate of any Week 14 player. Rawls, who continues to be underpriced despite rushing for nearly 400 yards in his past three games, is the most owned player in Sunday’s games.

On Wednesday it was announced that running back Mark Ingram would miss the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury, which creates a massive hole in the Saints backfield. C.J. Spiller, who is vastly underpriced at $3000, could be one of the main beneficiaries. Despite this low cost, Spiller was owned by just 1.7% of managers on Thursday night.

Other potential values include: Chris Ivory ($5000), Charles Sims ($3400) and DeMarco Murray ($5000)

Wide Receivers

PlayerDraftKings PriceOwnership Rate
Odell Beckham$910020.9%
Allen Robinson$800020.8%
Sammy Watkins$610019.9%
Doug Baldwin$450017.4%
Antonio Brown$890015.7%
Brandon Marshall$760013.9%
Mike Evans$720013.1%
Martavis Bryant$570013.1%
Alshon Jeffery$690011.5%
Jeremy Maclin$550011.2%
A.J. Green$790010.2%
Jarvis Landry$63008.6%
Danny Amendola$52006.4%
DeAndre Hopkins$85006.1%
Eric Decker$64005.5%
Allen Hurns$55005.3%
Calvin Johnson$74005.0%
Demaryius Thomas$68004.4%
DeVante Parker$40004.1%
Randall Cobb$63002.9%
DeSean Jackson$48002.8%
T.Y. Hilton$59002.6%
Emmanuel Sanders$59002.0%
Golden Tate$45001.9%
Anquan Boldin$40001.8%
Vincent Jackson$45001.7%
Travis Benjamin$50001.6%
Michael Crabtree$59001.5%
Marvin Jones$42001.4%
Brandon LaFell$47001.2%
Dorial Green-Beckham$37001.2%
Julio Jones$89001.0%
Dez Bryant$68001.0%
Jordan Matthews$55000.9%
Davante Adams$42000.8%
Amari Cooper$62000.8%
Cecil Shorts$36000.6%
Torrey Smith$35000.5%
Steve Johnson$46000.1%

Doug Baldwin ($4500) leads all Week 14 wide receivers with 9 Pro Trends, but he’s the fourth most popular selection this week at 17.4%. Once again, this makes him a far better play in cash games than large tournaments.

In terms of contrarian value, Marvin Jones ($4200) is one of the more intriguing options. The Steelers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, and Jones has been a model of consistency this season. The four-year veteran has hauled in at least five receptions in every game dating back to Week 5.

We previously mentioned that Ryan Tannehill could be an excellent pick this weekend, and managers may want to consider stacking his number one wide receiver: Jarvis Landry. His 8.6% ownership rate is slightly above the optimal threshold for contrarian betting, but I love this matchup against an awful Giants secondary.

Other potential values include: Reuben Randle ($3500), DeSean Jackson ($4800) and Willie Snead ($4400)

Tight Ends

PlayerDraftKings PriceOwnership Rate
Greg Olsen$690018.2%
Delanie Walker$560014.5%
Austin Seferian-Jenkins$270010.7%
Travis Kelce$47006.7%
Richard Rodgers$39006.7%
Ben Watson$44006.2%
Jordan Reed$51005.4%
Julius Thomas$42005.0%
Antonio Gates$46004.9%
Scott Chandler$38003.8%
Tyler Eifert$56003.6%
Gary Barnidge$50001.7%
Jason Witten$45001.0%

With Rob Gronkowski listed as doubtful, the tight end position becomes wide open this week. One particularly intriguing buy-low candidate is Zach Ertz ($2600), who has managed just 21 receiving yards over his past two games. There have been 9 Pro Trends triggered on Ertz and our point projections are more than double his implied points based on salary.

Ertz doesn’t necessarily have a high ceiling this week, so managers looking for a potential upside play should consider Jacob Tamme ($3400). There have been 9 Pro Trends triggered on the Falcons tight end, who has posted hauled in 47 catches for 541 yards this season.

Other potential values include: Jordan Cameron ($2500) and Charles Clay ($3500),

Defense/Special Teams

TeamDraftKings PriceOwnership Rate
Seattle Seahawks$350018.4%
Kansas City Chiefs$320015.1%
Carolina Panthers $34009.4%
Denver Broncos$34009.0%
Green Bay Packers$32005.2%
San Francisco 49ers $21004.1%
Detroit Lions $27003.6%
New York Jets $32003.4%
Buffalo Bills$28002.0%
New England Patriots $35001.6%
St. Louis Rams $28001.4%
Jacksonville Jaguars $23001.4%
Philadelphia Eagles $25001.4%
New York Giants $25001.3%
Washington Redskins $26001.0%
Cincinnati Bengals $33000.6%

Last Sunday against the Patriots, the Eagles defense/special teams were phenomenal. They had a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown, a blocked punt which they returned for a touchdown and an 83-yard punt return touchdown. Despite this performance and their low price tag, the Eagles are being significantly underowned against the Bills.

There have been 7 Pro Trends triggered on the Jets, Broncos, Chiefs and Panthers. Unfortunately, all of these teams are among the most owned defenses. That makes them excellent value for cash games, but a poor choice for larger tournaments.

Other potential values include: Tampa Bay ($2200) and San Francisco ($2100)

We stress that contrarian value is only one factor to consider, and it’s significantly more important in tournaments than cash games. We also want to remind players that variances in pricing between DraftKings and FanDuel can also skew these ownership rates.

Daily Fantasy players looking for additional information and advice should make sure to check out Fantasy Labs for access to Pro Models, Lineup Optimizer and other unique data for your Week 14 lineup.

Have any questions for the staff at Sports Insights? Utilize our live chat to speak with a customer service representative or e-mail us at

David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at

David Solar

David was the Content Manager at Sports Insights. He has since moved on to greener pastures.

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