We have a lot of pieces on numberFire geared toward helping you figure out which players you should roster in your DFS contests on FanDuel, but an important aspect of the DFS process is figuring out who you shouldn’t play.
Narrowing down your list of potential plays by avoiding those who are destined to underwhelm can go a long way toward helping you create winning lineups.
Zigging when the masses zag is part of giving yourself an edge in DFS, so you’ll sometimes be able to make a case for using a player in this piece in an effort to be contrarian — especially if said player is really good. Inevitably, some of the players I feature in this article will blow up and pop for a big game, but that just comes with the territory of doing a piece like this one — unless I’m just going to tell you to avoid playing dudes like Jared Goff. I’m not going to do that. I want this piece to be useful.
Here are four players I’m avoiding this week.
Sam Darnold, QB, Panthers
FanDuel Salary: $7,500
A few weeks ago, a matchup between the Carolina Panthers and Minnesota Vikings would’ve been a game I expected to be a fairly fantasy-friendly affair with a total near or above 50 points. But with both of these defenses looking legit and the offenses slowing down, we’ve got a game with a blah 46.5-point total, just the seventh-highest total of the week. That makes Sam Darnold a no-go for me.
Minnesota wasn’t expected to be really good on D coming into this season, but they currently rank fifth-best in defense, per our schedule-adjusted metrics, including fourth-best against the pass. They’ve held the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns to an average of 16.0 points per game over the last three weeks. They’re allowing the 10th-fewest (17.1) FanDuel points per game to quarterbacks this season.
While the Panthers’ offense should get a boost from the expected return of Christian McCaffrey, Darnold won’t be in my quarterback pool this weekend. He’s shown improvement with Carolina, but he’s yet to throw for more than 305 yards in a game this year, and his overall fantasy numbers are skewed by his back-to-back games with two rushing touchdowns. The ceiling just isn’t there.
Nick Chubb, RB, Browns
FanDuel Salary: $8,100
Nick Chubb is coming off a huge game, and he’s in what should be a pretty good fantasy environment versus the Arizona Cardinals. But with some of the other running backs available to us, Chubb isn’t someone I’ll have much of this week.
Chubb is always a tough sell for me because he doesn’t play a ton of snaps (single-game high of 57%) and is usually not much of a factor as a receiver (five total targets). If he was lower in salary, that would be easier to handle, but Chubb is typically salaried around other backs who play more snaps and aren’t as much of a risk of being game-scripted to the sideline. That’s certainly the case on this slate as guys like Jonathan Taylor ($7,500), Joe Mixon ($7,000), Austin Ekeler ($8,400), Darrell Henderson ($7,300) and Ezekiel Elliott ($8,300) have better roles at similar or lower salaries.
On top of that, the matchup isn’t all that fun, as Arizona’s run D has been stout, holding running backs to the seventh-fewest (17.2) FanDuel points per game. While the Browns are 3.0-point home favorites, Arizona is certainly capable of winning this game, and if the Cards are leading in the second half, that won’t be good for Chubb.
Given Chubb’s big-play chops, a big day is always within his range of outcomes, but I can’t really behind him this week at his $8,100 salary. Our projections have him as the slate’s eighth-best running back (15.0 FanDuel points) and slot him as the worst point-per-dollar value among our top 11 at the position.
Aaron Jones, RB, Packers
FanDuel Salary: $8,000
Dillon has played at least 28% of the snaps in every game this year, including snap rates of 40% and 33% in the last two weeks. Dillon handled eight carries to Jones’ 14 a week ago, with each hauling in four passes. And then coach Matt LaFleur said he wished he’d gotten Dillon even more touches.
This has nothing to do with Jones’ ability; I think he’s an incredible running back. It’s all about volume, and as is the case with Chubb above, when I’m dropping top dollar for a running back, I don’t want to worry about volume.
To make things worse, Chicago owns the 9th-best run defense by our numbers and is permitting the 10th-fewest (18.2) FanDuel points per game to running backs.
I’m just not seeing any reason to roster Jones outside of using him as a bet-on-talent contrarian play. We have him projected for 15.2 FanDuel points, and Chubb is the only top-11 back — per our model — who is a worse point-per-dollar option.
Mike Williams, WR, Chargers
FanDuel Salary: $8,100
Mike Williams is having a breakout campaign through five weeks and posted a massive 32.5 FanDuel points in Week 5. That outburst coupled with the 52.0-point total in the Los Angeles Chargers–Baltimore Ravens game should make him fairly popular, but I’ll be staying away.
There’s so much to like about Williams right now, as he’s seeing a 24% target share and 37% air yards share from one of the best quarterbacks in the game in a pass-happy Bolts offense. This is just a tough road matchup against Baltimore, and Williams has probably been a little fortunate in the touchdown department.
The Ravens’ defense is giving up the ninth-fewest (27.2) FanDuel points per game to wideouts. They’ve held Courtland Sutton to three grabs for 47 yards and Tyreek Hill to three receptions for 14 yards (plus a 15-yard carry).
While the game total is the slate’s second-highest, the Chargers are 3.0-point ‘dogs, so their implied total of 24.75 is only the ninth-best. And Williams is benefitting from some touchdown luck. He’s got six scores on 31 catches and 471 yards, scoring once every 5.2 catches and 78.5 yards. Coming into 2020, he had scored once every 8.9 catches and 148.0 yards for his career.
We also gotta mention his salary. Williams was $6,000 back in Week 3, and he’s all the way up to $8,000 now, which is fourth among main-slate receivers. Despite that salary, our algorithm ranks him as the slate’s WR11 and has him as the worst point-per-dollar value among the 15 highest-salaried wideouts.