NFL Week 9: DFS Contrarian Value

Two weeks ago we published an article that examined 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.

One of the keys to success in larger tournaments is taking productive players with a low ownership percentage. The actual value of this information has been disputed, but this discussion came to forefront several weeks ago when a DraftKings employee allegedly used ownership data before winning $350,000 in a FanDuel tournament.

Although it was alleged that the DraftKings employee was using insider information, there are actually many ways to determine player ownership without being employed by DraftKings or FanDuel. Every Thursday night, DFS players are able to view the ownership percentages for the $1 buy-in Mini Dive GPP at FanDuel. Obviously these numbers can change in the days leading up to kickoff on Sunday’s, but it gives us a solid sample as to which players are being highly owned.

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 FantasyWired.com.

“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 9 ownership percentages from FanDuel’s Week 9 Mini Dive and the tools over at Fantasy Labs, we determined the most undervalued tournament picks for DraftKings players.

Quarterback

Player Opponent Ownership % FD Salary DK Salary
Tom Brady Redskins 14.4 $9,500 $8,500
Drew Brees Titans 9.2 $8,500 $7,200
Philip Rivers Bears 7.9 $8,600 $6,900
Eli Manning @Buccaneers 7.3 $7,800 $6,900
Ben Roethlisberger Raiders 4.9 $8,300 $6,600
Matt Ryan @ 49ers 3.1 $8,000 $7,100
Tyrod Taylor Dolphins 2.9 $7,200 $5,300
Cam Newton Packers 2.0 $7,900 $6,900
Peyton Manning @ Colts 1.8 $7,700 $6,300
Aaron Rodgers @ Panthers 0.9 $8,900 $7,400

Bettors may be interested to know that Philip Rivers ($6,900) has the most Pro Trends at Fantasy Labs; however, he had the third highest ownership percentage in the Week 9 Mini Dive. For this reason he’s probably a better value for double-ups and small tournaments than for larger tourneys.

Perhaps the most interesting name listed is Aaron Rodgers ($7,400), who was owned in less than one percent of all rosters. Carolina’s defense has been terrific this season and Rodgers is coming off arguably the worst game of his career (77 yards passing at Denver) which makes him an excellent buy-low candidate. Rodgers has also triggered 7 Pro Trends — tied for the fourth most among quarterbacks.

Looking for a sneakier play? How about Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota. The rookie signal caller is expected to start despite a lingering knee injury, and has an excellent matchup against a New Orleans defense that gave up 350 yards and 6 touchdowns to Eli Manning last week. Mariota costs just $5,300 at DraftKings this week and has triggered 9 Pro Trends which ranks second among all quarterbacks. Considering that Mariota doesn’t even appear on this ownership chart, he could be an excellent Week 9 play.

Running Back

Player Opponent Ownership % FD Salary DK Salary
Devonta Freeman @ 49ers 25.7 $8,900 $8,000
DeAngelo Williams Raiders 23.8 $6,500 $5,500
Todd Gurley @ Vikings 13.8 $9,000 $6,900
Mark Ingram Titans 13.5 $7,700 $6,500
Doug Martin Giants 10.3 $7,100 $5,700
Chris Ivory Jaguars 10.2 $7,500 $5,900
Jeremy Langford @ Chargers 9.9 $6,400 $4,000
Darren McFadden Eagles 9.7 $6,500 $4,300
Dion Lewis Redskins 6.5 $7,400 $6,400
Lamar Miller @ Bills 4.2 $6,900 $5,000
LeGarrette Blount Redskins 4.1 $6,400 $4,800
Jonathan Stewart Packers 3.8 $6,600 $4,300
Ronnie Hillman @ Colts 3.8 $6,400 $4,600
DeMarco Murray @ Cowboys 3.5 $7,500 $6,400
LeSean McCoy Dolphins 3.0 $7,800 $5,500
Latavius Murray @ Steelers 2.5 $7,000 $6,000
Adrian Peterson Rams 2.3 $8,400 $7,300
C.J. Anderson @ Colts 1.1 $6,000 $4,100
Melvin Gordon Bears 1.1 $6,100 $4,000
T.J. Yeldon @ Jets 1.1 $6,400 $4,800

There have been 9 Pro Trends triggered on Devonta Freeman ($8,000), however, he’s the most owned running back this week. This means that Freeman is offering value, but should likely be avoided in larger tournaments. The same can be said about Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams who is underpriced at just $5,500.

One running back that I love is Eagles RB DeMarco Murray, who will return to Dallas this week to face his former team. There have been 8 Pro Trends triggered on Murray, who has picked up his production in recent weeks. Murray managed just 47 rushing yards in his first three games of the season but has totaled 260 rushing yards in his past three games. The 5th year running back is owned in just 3.5% of leagues which could make him an interesting play.

Wide Receiver

Player Opponent Ownership % FD Salary DK Salary
Alshon Jeffery @ Chargers 21.8 $7,900 $6,700
Odell Beckham Jr. @ Buccaneers 19.1 $9,000 $8,800
Malcom Floyd Bears 17.6 $6,100 $3,900
Antonio Brown Raiders 15.2 $8,700 $8,100
Julio Jones @ 49ers 14.2 $9,200 $9,300
Michael Crabtree @ Steelers 14.2 $5,800 $4,900
Steve Johnson Bears 14.0 $5,400 $3,200
Amari Cooper @ Steelers 13.4 $7,300 $6,700
Mike Evans Giants 10.4 $7,500 $6,800
Jarvis Landry @ Bills 9.5 $7,000 $6,300
Julian Edelman Redskins 9.5 $8,000 $8,200
Tavon Austin @ Vikings 9.1 $5,700 $4,800
Demaryius Thomas @ Colts 7.5 $8,400 $7,500
Brandin Cooks Titans 7.4 $7,100 $5,800
Martavis Bryant Raiders 7.0 $6,900 $5,500
Brandon LaFell Redskins 5.3 $5,200 $3,200
Allen Robinson @ Jets 4.9 $7,200 $6,400
Eric Decker Jaguars 3.8 $6,300 $5,300
Randall Cobb @ Panthers 3.8 $7,400 $6,800
Rishard Matthews @ Bills 3.6 $6,500 $4,500
Willie Snead Titans 3.4 $6,100 $4,800
Emmanuel Sanders @ Colts 3.3 $7,600 $7,300
Stefon Diggs Rams 2.6 $7,400 $5,300
Jordan Matthews @ Cowboys 1.8 $6,300 $6,400
Pierre Garcon @ Patriots 1.6 $6,300 $5,000
Allen Hurns @ Jets 1.5 $6,800 $5,300
Brandon Marshall Jaguars 1.5 $8,100 $7,600
Dez Bryant Eagles 1.4 $7,900 $7,900
Donte Moncrief Broncos 1.0 $6,400 $5,400
Sammy Watkins Dolphins 0.6 $6,200 $5,000

The most interesting deep sleeper this week is Marques Colston, who seems criminally underpriced at $3,100. Last week Colston hauled in 8 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown yet he doesn’t even appear on the ownership report. Although the Saints obviously won’t be able to repeat last week’s offensive output, oddsmakers are still anticipating a high-scoring game with an over/under of 48.

Another interesting name is Packers WR Randall Cobb ($6,800) who was owned by just 3.8% of all teams in last night’s tournament. After a blistering start to the season, Cobb has cooled off in recent weeks and could be an another excellent buy-low candidate. There have been a number of Pro Trends triggered on Cobb, so DFS players may want to consider stacking Rodgers and Cobb as two undervalued contrarian plays.

Tight End

Player Opponent Ownership % FD Salary DK Salary
Rob Gronkowski Redskins 13.0 $8,500 $8,000
Benjamin Watson Titans 12.2 $5,700 $4,000
Antonio Gates Bears 9.5 $6,000 $4,700
Greg Olsen Packers 6.1 $6,400 $6,500
Jordan Reed @ Patriots 5.6 $5,700 $4,500
Heath Miller Raiders 4.9 $5,800 $2,700
Martellus Bennett @ Chargers 3.4 $5,400 $4,900
Vernon Davis @ Colts 2.4 $4,900 N/A
Charles Clay Dolphins 1.8 $5,700 $4,200
Julius Thomas @ Jets 0.6 $5,600 $4,200

People seem to be forgetting that Ben Roethlisberger is back, because Steelers TE Heath Miller ($2,700) is both underpriced and underowned. The 11-year veteran has 20 receptions for 204 yards in the three games Big Ben has played from start to finish but just 7 receptions for 69 yards in the other five games. Miller was owned by just 4.9% of managers in the Mini Dive and fits 12 Pro Trends — the most among tight ends.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who did not appear in the ownership report, is another fantastic value at $2,800.

Defense/Special Teams

Team Opponent Ownership % FD Salary DK Salary
Broncos @ Colts 17.2 $5,300 $3,000
Falcons @ 49ers 10.9 $4,900 $3,400
Patriots Redskins 9.1 $4,900 $3,300
Jets Jaguars 8.6 $4,700 $3,100
Eagles @ Cowboys 4.4 $4,700 $2,700
Rams @ Vikings 4.2 $5,100 $3,500
Panthers Packers 2.4 $4,400 $3,200
Bills Dolphins 1.4 $4,700 $2,900
Packers @ Panthers 0.9 $4,800 $3,200
Vikings Rams 0.9 $4,700 $3,100

This week’s most popular play is the Broncos D/ST ($3,000) which was owned by nearly a fifth of managers in Thursday night’s Mini Dive. Denver ranks second in the league in takeaways while their opponent, Indianapolis, ranks second in giveaways. They have also triggered 6 Pro Trends, which makes them an excellent play in smaller tournaments and double ups.

Looking for more contrarian value? How about the Chargers? San Diego has a favorable matchup against a Bears offense that ranks 26th in points per game and will be playing without arguably their best player in running back Matt Forte. We have also seen the total drop from 52 to 49 at CRIS despite 72% of bettors taking the over. This indicates that sharp money loves the under, and there could be less scoring than originally anticipated. With a low ownership percentage and 6 Pro Trends, the Chargers D/ST looks like a fantastic play this week.

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 9 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 help@sportsinsights.com.

David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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