4 NFL FanDuel Tournament Pivots for Week 13
If you've played daily fantasy sports for a while, you realize by now the importance of being contrarian, especially in large-field tournaments. Being able to recognize which players are going to be owned by the majority of the field -- and to find players who you think have a similar point projection but will come at much lower ownership -- can help separate you from your opponents.
The purpose of this article will be to identify some players who will be the chalk at each position and how you can pivot off of them with high-upside options who could go overlooked.
Let's take a look at pivot options for Week 13.
Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers
FanDuel Salary: $8,500
Week 13's slate is a tough one for quarterbacks, as you can poke holes through pretty much all the top options.
Seattle's scaled back Russell Wilson's pass attempts in recent weeks, Kyler Murray has a brutal matchup versus the Rams, Deshaun Watson lost top weapon Will Fuller, and Justin Herbert faces a run-first Patriots team that's limited opponents to the fewest plays per game this season. Kirk Cousins project as a solid point-per-dollar play but is hard to trust for a tournament-winning score in a potential blowout against the Jaguars.
For all those reasons, we should feel more comfortable turning to Aaron Rodgers despite his lack of rushing upside that we often covet from signal-callers in this salary range. Rodgers has been the model of efficiency in 2020, trailing only Patrick Mahomes in Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per drop back, and frankly, those two are in a tier of their own.
Philadelphia aren't total pushovers on defense, but they rank 15th against the pass in our schedule-adjusted metrics, which isn't anything to shy away from. Between that and the Eagles' struggling offense, the Packers are 8.5-point home favorites with an appealing 28.50 implied team total. While that does bring about some blowout risk, all five of Rodgers' four-touchdown performances have come in what were effectively blowout wins, so that shouldn't necessarily put a damper on his upside.
Furthermore, Rodgers now has all his pass-catching weapons healthy these days, something he's had to overcome for much of the season. Rodgers' median projection isn't as good as others around his salary, but you could argue he has one of the easier paths to a spike week.
Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
FanDuel Salary: $8,700
I'm guessing that Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and Austin Ekeler will be the most popular running backs in some order, and guys like James Robinson and David Montgomery should garner their share of attention, too. Devontae Booker will presumably jump into the mix with Josh Jacobs unable to play this week.
But particularly due to the expected popularity of the high-salaried Cook and Henry, Nick Chubb probably won't be rostered in a lot of those builds at the third-highest salary among running backs.
Between his lack of passing-game work and the presence of Kareem Hunt, Chubb theoretically has a lower floor than we typically want from an expensive back. And yet, despite those hurdles, he's still managed to crack double-digit FanDuel points in five of his six healthy games, cracking 100 rushing yards in all five. His lone single-digit performance in those contests came in a difficult Week 1 matchup against the Ravens.
But it's the ceiling we're after in tournaments, and three of those games have exceeded 23 points with a season-high of 25.8. That's definitely in the realm of possibilities in a potential shootout against Tennessee. This game has a slate-high 53.5 total and is one of just three games above 50.0 points this week. The matchup checks out, too, as the Titans rank 25th in schedule-adjusted rush defense, per numberFire's metrics.
We also got a glimmer of hope in the receiving department for Chubb last week, as he notched a season-high three targets. His 61.2% snap rate was also his highest since Week 2, surpassing Hunt for the first time since returning from injury in Week 10. Chubb should flirt with his usual 20 or so carries in a fantasy-friendly game, and with the arrow pointing up, perhaps there's room for more if the passing-game work sticks.
A.J. Brown, WR, Tennessee Titans
FanDuel Salary: $8,200
If we go under the assumption that Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry will both see high roster percentages, then it stands to reason that lineups that roster one (or both) of them will need to find savings at other positions.
That could lead to decreased popularity for high-salaried wideouts, which includes A.J. Brown, who's a logical pivot away from Henry on this Titans offense. As noted before, this is the highest total on the board, so if Henry underperforms, those points have to come from somewhere, and Brown would be the next best possibility.
In his nine games, Brown is averaging 7.2 targets per game with a healthy 24.6% target share and 32.7% air yards share. His nine red-zone targets are second only to Jonnu Smith on the team, and Smith has already been ruled out this week.
Cleveland's defense presents a golden opportunity for Brown, too, as they rank 30th in adjusted pass defense and have allowed the 10th-most FanDuel points per game to wide receivers.
As of this writing, the sharp money appears to be on the over for this game, with 71% of the money backing the over compared to just 47% of the bets, per oddsFire. The is shaping up as one of the top game stacks of the slate, and Brown definitely deserves inclusion as a less chalky piece.
Austin Hooper, TE, Cleveland Browns
FanDuel Salary: $5,300
Darren Waller figures to be the highest rostered tight end on a slate with no Travis Kelce, and Jordan Akins should be a popular value play in a condensed target tree for Houston. Anthony Firkser and Kyle Rudolph could also rise up the ranks as punts with the starters ahead of them already ruled out.
But don't forget about Austin Hooper, who's yet another way to gain exposure to this Browns-Titans matchup. Although Hooper projects as one of the top values in numberFire's model, I'm not getting the sense he's going to be super popular after seeing a mere two targets in two of his last three games. That's certainly not what we want to see, but we have to remember that Baker Mayfield typically throws fewer than 30 passes per game, and one of those quiet performances came in a poor-weather week.
As a road underdog in a high-total matchup, Mayfield will likely be forced into airing it out to keep up with Tennessee, meaning more targets to go around beyond just Jarvis Landry. While Hooper has demonstrated that non-existent floor, he's also had games with 10, 7, and 6 targets, all of which came before Odell Beckham went down. Not surprisingly, that 10-target game came when Mayfield threw 37 passes, the second-most all season.
That's the type of game we're hoping for, and if that's the case, there's a good chance Hooper is more involved than we've seen in recent weeks. Tennessee ranks 24th in Target Success Rate allowed to tight ends, and Hooper also stands out in this week's range-of-outcome simulations.