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Week 8 offered up some phenomenal fantasy performances. We saw five quarterbacks throw at least four touchdown passes, highlighted by Drew Brees and Eli Manning going touchdown for touchdown down in New Orleans. Five running backs and thirteen receivers topped the 100-yard plateau. Nine receivers and one running back found the end zone on multiple occasions. Finally, five receivers reached double-digits in receptions.
So what does that have to do with this week? For purposes of deciding which players to fade this week, actually quite a bit. In previous columns, we’ve touched on a basic tenet of where the masses will flock to on a weekly basis: Last week’s top producers quickly become next week’s fantasy darlings. We’ve seen several top producers from this year go on absolutely torrid runs, like Devonta Freeman from Weeks 3 through 6 and Julio Jones from Weeks 1 through 3 for example. We have also seen several one and done situations, like Carlos Hyde exploding in Week 1 and then apparently joining the witness protection program. Simply put, last week’s success does not guarantee fantasy goodness in the following week.
That being said, four of the aforementioned quarterbacks – Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Derek Carr and Eli Manning - look to have some potentially tasty matchups on their plates for this week. Games featuring these four quarterbacks are also among the games with the highest projected totals for the week. Could we see a repeat performance from any of these four quarterbacks? Quite possibly, but it’s probably asking a bit too much to expect it from all four. Can we expect these four quarterbacks to be popular selections this week? Absolutely. And by extension, they make outstanding candidates for the fade list.
We’ll consider those four quarterbacks to be at the top of the list for Week 9’s edition of The Fade, but we still have plenty of players to add to it. Let’s go position by position to determine this week’s top fade candidates, starting with the quarterback position.
Ben Roethlisberger, $6,600
We can expect Ben Roethlisberger to be one of the more popular quarterback selections for Week 9. The Steelers have lost Le’Veon Bell for the remainder of the season due to injury. While DeAngelo Williams is no slouch and should do an admirable job of assuming more responsibility, the fact remains that he is not Bell and will never be confused for him. The Steelers will start skewing more towards the passing game and they have the targets to execute that strategy successfully.
The Raiders have allowed five passing touchdowns over the past two games and at least two in seven of their eight games played this season. The game checks in with one of the higher-projected totals of the week at 48 points and is projected to be close, with the Steelers a 4 ½-point favorite. We could be looking at a little bit of a shootout between Roethlisberger and the up-and-coming Derek Carr.
Factoring all of this information together points to Roethlisberger being a quality selection for DFS purposes, but unfortunately his enticing prospects for the week will not be lost on many. We regretfully have to consider Roethlisberger as a candidate for the fade list and will instead look elsewhere on the Steelers – or perhaps even to the Raiders - for some exposure to this game.
Philip Rivers, $6,900
The Chargers have lost a key cog in their offensive machine for the season as Keenan Allen has headed to IR with a lacerated kidney. Thankfully, Allen is expected to make a full recovery and we wish him nothing but the best as he continues to heal up. Allen led the team in targets by a wide margin and his production will be missed. Can we expect the Chargers to start running the ball more to make up for the loss of Allen? That’s highly unlikely, unless there has been a miraculous improvement in their offensive line play that has amazingly gone unreported.
Quite simply, the Chargers run blocking is sub-par. No running back on the Chargers is averaging greater than 3.8 yards per carry. Philip Rivers is airing the ball out like crazy and on pace to post some historic numbers. That’s partially a testament to his substantial abilities and partially a nod to the team functioning out of necessity. For the Chargers to be able to move the chains, they need to air it out.
We’ll see an increased role for several players to make up for the loss of Allen. Rivers will continue to throw the ball a ton and by extension, continue to be a fantasy darling. Consider Rivers for the fade list, but keep the Monday Night Game with the Bears firmly on your radar as a potential source of fantasy goodness. There are several plays on both teams that look appealing, ranging all the way from value plays to mid-priced targets.
DeAngelo Williams, $5,500
We turn our attention back to the Steelers and the fallout from the Le’Veon Bell injury. Williams has earned himself the dreaded ‘must-start’ label for Week 9 and becomes an excellent candidate for the fade list. We can expect a pretty high ownership percentage for Williams, who may very well produce a nice return on his low salary of $5,500, but his expected popularity will offset the benefit. We can stay in the same neighborhood salary-wise and find similar – if not better – production from some candidates that may fly a little more under the radar. A little to the north at $5,700, Doug Martin has established himself as the clear lead back in Tampa Bay and is averaging 17.4 points per game. Further to the south at $4,800, Danny Woodhead offers up some very nice upside and should see a bump in reception opportunities in the absence of Keenan Allen.
Mark Ingram, $6,500
We can expect Mark Ingram to be on a lot of people’s radar this week, but we’ll have to wait and see if they actually pull the trigger. The Saints are favored by eight points for a matchup with the Titans that has one of the highest projected totals of the week at 47 ½ points, leading us to a game script that calls for a heavy dose of the Saints running game in the second half. To add to the intrigue, the Saints have lost Khiry Robinson for the season due to a leg injury, pointing to a possible bump to Ingram’s already heavy workload. Lurking in the shadows is C.J. Spiller – at the low, low price of $3,100 this week, by the way – just waiting for his opportunity to show off his explosiveness on the Superdome turf. Ingram’s in a pretty good spot this week, but we can find plenty of backs within $800 of his salary that may not have their thunder stolen by one of their teammates.
Odell Beckham Jr, $8,800
This is one of the classic cases of last week’s stud performers equals this week’s darlings. Odell Beckham Jr was en fuego last week with eight catches for 130 yards and three touchdowns. Don’t look now but he has another appealing matchup in front of him in the form of the Buccaneers, who have had their share of struggles against opposing wideouts this season. The price is pretty high but that will likely not scare many off, who will be banking on similar output from Beckham Jr. this week. There’s a pretty good chance he’ll catch around seven balls, break 100 yards receiving and find the end zone at least once – which would be a fine fantasy outing, but nowhere near last week’s stellar output of 42.0 points. Take a pass on Beckham Jr., save some salary and find yourself a lower-cost receiver with similar upside for this week.
Malcolm Floyd, $3,900
At the lower end of the salary scale, we have another Week 8 top performer in Malcolm Floyd. He found the end zone twice last week and should continue to see a larger role in the Chargers offense. Looks like a solid play at a low price, the problem is that the cat’s out of the bag. Floyd’s two touchdowns from last week have not gone unnoticed and the Chargers injury situation at wide receiver has been well-documented. The Chargers offense makes for a great target on Monday Night against the Bears, just look to find it at an even lower-cost or at a smaller ownership percentage. We covered Danny Woodhead as a solid way to gain some exposure to the offense, but there’s another name to add to the list. Stevie Johnson comes in at $3,200 and may assume the Keenan Allen role of target monster. Johnson should be pretty popular as well, but the $700 savings over Floyd and the very low-cost of $3,200 will provide you with a ton of flexibility for your lineups.
Greg Olsen, $6,500
Greg Olsen has had some brilliant games this season and is typically one of the more popular selections at tight end, but there’s a little secret that many people aren’t paying attention to: Olsen has only recorded double-digits in points on four occasions this season. As the second most expensive play of the week at the position, we need a little more security and at a minimum, be confident that we can expect at least double-digits in fantasy points. Olsen will remain on the short list for roster consideration on a weekly basis due to his upside, but for this week he’ll take up residence on the fade list. There are several less expensive tight ends in much more appealing matchups, we’ll look there to fill the position for this week.
Benjamin Watson, $4,000
Here we have another of Week 8’s standouts in the form of Benjamin Watson, who caught nine passes for 147 yards and a score. Week 8 was Watson’s second game in the past three weeks where he has scored more than 30 points – outstanding production from a tight end at any price point, but absolutely epic for Watson’s typically low price. Outside of Watson’s two breakout games, his highest total came in Week 5 when he scored 12.6 points against the Eagles. Look for Watson to produce something closer to that range this week, which would provide a solid 3x return on his salary, but pivot to another lower-owned tight end that can offer you the same for a little uniqueness.
Atlanta Falcons, $3,400
As we head into Week 9, there are several popular themes developing in the world of DFS roster construction. One of those themes revolves around the San Francisco 49ers – i.e. plug-and-play whatever defense is facing the 49ers. That strategy has proved fruitful on four occasions this season and Sunday looks like another game that it could pay off. By choosing the Falcons defense, you’ll be ebbing and flowing with plenty of other rosters if the expected breakout happens. While that may be tough to pass on, think of how good you’ll feel when the lower-owned hidden gem of a defense that you discovered produces a similar or better return.
Denver Broncos, $3,000
The Broncos defense has become a consistently popular choice for DFS and for good reason. They are averaging 16.0 points per game and just held one of the top offense in the league to 10 points. The Broncos defense is elite and may even get better as the season moves along but we’ll have to start looking elsewhere if we hope to gain some separation for our lineups. As tough as it may be, take a pass on the Broncos and find a lower-owned – and perhaps even lower-cost – defense to complete your roster.
That brings The Fade to a close for another week. We have compiled a solid list of players that deserve consideration for the list. You don’t have to fade all of them, but choosing the right few to take a pass on and instead choosing some lower-owned players with just as much upside can make a ton of difference to your positioning on the leaderboard. Best of luck this weekend!