DFS Pivot Plays week 12 2017

By Armando Marsal
Armando Marsal Focusing on ownership percentages is critical and finding players that have potential to produce similar numbers (or even better) than higher owned players will put you in a good position to leap frog in tournament standings and give you a better chance to have a unique lineup. Ultimately, that increases your chances for potentially higher finishes in tournaments. In cash games, focusing on ownership is not important. With that said, let’s jump right into some of this week’s pivot plays. Please note: I am only using players from the Sunday main slate.



Russell Wilson $7,000 at San Francisco 49ers

Both Russell Wilson and Matt Ryan will garner a ton of ownership this week, but considering how well Wilson has played since Week 2, I believe he will be a tad more popular this weekend. He has scored over 29 fantasy points in five of his last eight games and has scored below 25 fantasy points only twice during that span. In addition, he has thrown for two or more touchdown passes in five straight games and draws a very nice matchup against a 49ers defense who ranks third worst in DVOA against the pass. They have also given up 18 passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. The three rushing touchdowns are tied for most in the league. If you look at the track record here, Wilson has not played well against the 49ers throughout his career and even earlier this season he struggled against them. That said, this is just too good of a spot to ignore and at some point you would expect him to exploit this matchup.


Andy Dalton $6,000 vs. Cleveland Browns

It feels really odd suggesting to pivot off of Wilson to Dalton in tournaments, but when I dug into the numbers there is some merit to it. First, Dalton will likely carry a fraction of the ownership than Wilson and is $1,000 cheaper. Second he has a strong recent history against the Browns. In his last five games against them, he has thrown 13 touchdowns, rushed for one, and has not thrown any interceptions, while throwing two or more touchdowns in each of those games. Even if you look at this season, his best game of the year was against Cleveland as he threw for 286 yards and four touchdowns against them in Week 4, scoring 29.34 fantasy points. Lastly, the Browns struggle against the pass as they rank ninth worst in DVOA and have given up 20 passing touchdowns. They have actually been solid against the run this season and the Bengals are one of the worst run teams in the league, which is even more reason to think that the Bengals will rely on Dalton’s arm in this matchup. There is a lot of risk and downside when rostering Dalton, but in this matchup there is also a lot of upside.

Running Backs


Tevin Coleman $6,500 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Falcons have already announced that Devonta Freeman will not play this game, so Coleman will get the start. He draws a nice matchup against the Bucs who are giving up 90 rushing yards per game and have surrendered seven rushing touchdowns, as well as 56 receptions for 486 yards and two receiving touchdowns to opposing backs. Coleman has scored a touchdown in three straight games and has 20 carries in back-to-back weeks. The potential game script here is one that favors him as the Falcons are favored by 10 points and have one of the higher implied team totals of the slate, so this alone will draw plenty of ownership. He is also reasonably priced considering the situation and his role on this offense without Freeman. I like Coleman this week and will have exposure to him, but he will likely be the most popular back of the slate so there is merit in fading him in tournaments.


Christian McCaffrey $6,900 at New York Jets

McCaffrey is coming off of a bye week and typically players coming off of a bye will go overlooked. This could be a good week to target him as he is in a decent spot against a Jets defense that is giving up 91.7 rushing yards per game. The Jets have also allowed 47 receptions for 424 receiving yards to opposing backs and seven total touchdowns. McCaffrey remains a high volume back, as he accounts for 24 percent of the Panther’s target share, 29.7 percent of their red zone targets, and 24.4 percent of their red zone rushes. He is averaging 7.9 targets per game and has scored three touchdowns in his last two games. I am expecting McCaffrey to be far less owned than Coleman will be and he offers the same type of upside in this matchup. For $400 more, I really like the idea of pivoting to McCaffrey in tournaments this week.

Wide Receivers


Julio Jones $7,700 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jones is finally getting the volume we have been expecting all season as he has received 10 or more targets in three of his last five games. During that stretch, he has averaged 9.8 targets per game, compared to the 7.4 targets per game he averaged in his first five games of the season. Jones has done a lot of damage against the Bucs throughout his career, averaging 6.8 receptions and 110.6 receiving yards per game, while scoring eight touchdowns in 10 games and eclipsing 100 receiving yards in six of those matchups. In addition, he is projected to see plenty of coverage from Robert McClain, who has is one of the lowest graded defensive backs on Pro Football Focus. Jones has a 50 percent advantage rating over McClain, which is one of the highest of the week for a receiver. There is a reason why he will be popular and this is one of those cases where I am willing to eat the chalk and roster Jones.


A.J. Green $8,000 vs. Cleveland Browns

I expect Green to be somewhat popular this week, but I do not believe that he will be as popular as Julio Jones. Green has a good history against the Browns, scoring seven touchdowns in seven career games against them and going over 100 receiving yards in four of those matchups. He has scored in three of their last meetings, including in Week 4 of this season, where he caught five passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. Green has also played well in recent weeks, finding the pay dirt in three consecutive games. The Browns are ranked dead last in DVOA against opposing WR1, so this shapes up to be a favorable matchup for Green. This is another scenario that paying up to be contrarian makes sense.

Tight Ends


Jimmy Graham $5,800 at San Francisco 49ers

Graham has been one of the more efficient tight ends since Week 5, scoring seven touchdowns since then and not finding the end zone in only one game during that stretch. He accounts for 35.5 percent of the Seahawks red zone targets and 19 percent of their target share. The matchup against the 49ers is one that favors him as they have now allowed a touchdown in four straight games to tight ends. Although, tough matchups have not been an issue for him for most of the season. He remains reasonably priced and will likely be a part of many Russell Wilson stacks this weekend.


Jared Cook $4,600 vs. Denver Broncos

I consider Cook one of the top tight ends of this week. He draws a nice matchup against the Broncos who are yielding the second most fantasy points per game to tight ends, while giving up 57 receptions and 758 receiving yards this season. They have also allowed seven touchdowns to tight ends, including one in four consecutive games. Cook is averaging six targets per game, accounting for 16 percent of the team’s target share and also receives 17.1 of the red zone targets. The Broncos do a decent job against receivers which could force Derek Carr to look at Cook often on Sunday. Aside from the favorable situation, I like that you save $1,200 when you roster Cook over Graham. I really like the idea of moving off of Graham for Cook in tournaments this week at a reduced ownership.

Good luck to all this week. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me on the Twitter machine: @Armando_Marsal