DFS Pivot Plays week 14 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.



Philip Rivers $6,800 vs. Washington Redskins

Recency bias is a real thing and Rivers has been one of the hottest quarterbacks in the league in recent weeks. In his last three games, he has averaged 343 passing yards and 23.5 fantasy points per game, while throwing six touchdowns. He draws a decent matchup against the Redskins who are yielding 235.7 passing yards per game and have allowed 20 passing touchdowns. Rivers is averaging 35.9 pass attempts per game, which is a good indication that he slings the ball creating plenty of opportunities for him. He has displayed his 30+ fantasy point upside this season and has scored 20+ fantasy points several times. This is a big game for the Chargers as they are in a three way tie for first place in their division and a win would be huge for them. This is the Redskins second road game in back-to-back weeks and they are traveling to the west coast, so this bodes very well for the Chargers offense. There is a lot to like about Rivers and rightfully so, making him one of the more popular quarterbacks of the week.


Alex Smith $6,500 vs. Oakland Raiders

Smith erupted last week against the Jets for 366 yards and four touchdowns, scoring 40.6 fantasy points. It was a great way to snap out of his funk and get this offense going. In fact, that was the best performance of the season. This week he faces off against the Raiders, a team that he is familiar with and a team that he was successful against earlier this season, as he threw for 342 yards and three touchdowns against them in Week 7. Oakland struggles defensively, especially through the air. They rank dead last in DVOA against the pass and are allowing 251 passing yards per game, while surrendering 20 passing touchdowns. This game has a lot of implications as both teams are in a three way tie in their division for first place, so a win is huge in this spot. Smith should have his way against the weak defense once again and turn in another solid performance. I expect him to go somewhat overlooked this week compared to Rivers, making him a very nice pivot in tournaments, with just as much upside.

Running Backs


Todd Gurley $8,100 vs. Philadelphia Eagles

Let’s face it, Gio Bernard is going to be the most popular running back of the slate as he is $3,100 and will draw the start, essentially making him a free square. However, Gurley will likely be right behind him as far as ownership is concerned and rightfully so. The Eagles have been stout against the run, but have struggled against pass catching backs giving up 68 receptions for 499 yards and five receiving touchdowns (the second most in the league) to the position. Gurley has been peppered with 66 targets this season, averaging 5.5 per game, so this is certainly a smash spot for him. In addition, he is essentially matchup proof because of his role on this offense and his ability to be both an efficient runner and pass catcher out of the backfield. Vegas is projecting this to be a shootout and both teams have healthy implied totals, so this really shapes up to be a great situation for Gurley. He will be chalk, but I will have my shares of him because he continues to produce at a high level.


LeSean McCoy $7,200 vs. Indianapolis Colts

McCoy draws a very nice matchup this week against the Colts who are yielding the sixth most fantasy points per game to running back, while surrendering 10 rushing touchdowns which is tied for fifth most in the league. They are giving up a 51.83 receiving yards per game to backs, which bodes well for McCoy who is involved in the Bills passing game, averaging 5.2 targets per game. McCoy has played much better in Buffalo this season, scoring three of his four rushing touchdowns in home games, as well as averaging six more fantasy points per game. There is no line out for this game yet due to the uncertainty of Tyrod Taylor’s status, but regardless of who is under center for the Bills this week, I expect them to be home favorites. In addition, this should not affect McCoy as he will still receive plenty of touches. You save $900 by pivoting from Gurley to McCoy and get similar upside, while McCoy arguably has the better matchup.

Wide Receivers


Josh Gordon $5,500 vs. Green Bay Packers

The Browns wasted no time in getting Gordon involved in his first game back from suspension. He was targeted 11 times, coming down with four catches for 85 yards and that was against a tough Chargers secondary. This week he faces a much weaker opponent in the Packers who rank fourth worst in DVOA against WR1. In addition, he is set to see plenty of Kevin King, who grades out poorly on Pro Football Focus and a matchup that Gordon has a 62 percent advantage rating in, the highest of all receivers. I owned Gordon the year that he blew up and he led me to a championship fantasy season, so I am fully aware of his ability to be an elite receiver. He may not be that same receiver he was back then, but he is still well above average as we saw last week and is far too cheap. Even though he will be chalk, he makes for a good investment considering the price situation, therefore I will have my shares of him.


Sterling Shepard $5,300 vs. Dallas Cowboys

In the two games that Shepard played with Eli Manning under center and no Odell Beckham Jr., Shepard has 22 targets, 16 receptions, and 212 receiving yards, while averaging 20.1 fantasy points per game. He is dealing with a hamstring injury, but was able to practice on Thursday and Friday, which puts him in line to suit up on Sunday. This is a very good matchup for Shepard against a Dallas secondary that has been vulnerable against receivers. They are yielding the third most fantasy points per game and have allowed a league high 17 receiving touchdowns to opposing wide outs. In addition, they are surrendering 13 receptions and 155.4 receiving yards per game, with a 64 percent catch rate. Shepard could have himself a big day in this matchup and the volume should certainly be there. He will likely carry a fraction of Gordon’s ownership and offers similar upside in this matchup, making him a very nice pivot in tournaments.

Tight Ends


Travis Kelce $7,400 vs. Oakland Raiders

Kelce currently leads his team in targets, receptions, receiving touchdowns, and is second in receiving yards. He also leads all tight ends in receptions, receiving yards, and is tied for second in receiving touchdowns, so he is clearly amongst the league’s best tight ends. He averages 17.2 fantasy points per game, but has topped 20 fantasy points six times this season, including four times in his last five games. This is a very good matchup for him as the Raiders are sixth worst in DVOA against tight ends, allowing 5.3 receptions and 60.2 receiving yards per game to the position, with a 72 percent catch rate. He had a solid game against the Raiders earlier this season and I expect another strong performance out of him this week. There is a reason why he will be chalk.


Evan Engram $6,000 vs. Dallas Cowboys

Engram continues to see plenty of targets on a weekly basis and although he struggled in a couple of recent games, he did bounce back nicely in Week 13, catching 7-of-8 targets for 99 yards and a touchdown. Engram has become one of Eli Manning’s go-to pass catchers due to all of the injuries on this offense and has been very efficient for most of the season. The Cowboys have been generous to tight ends in recent weeks, allowing three touchdowns and over 18 fantasy points in three of their last five games. The Cowboys rank eighth worst in DVOA against tight ends, making this a favorable matchup for Engram. He faced them in Week 1 and even though the volume was not yet there, Engram did catch 4-of-5 targets for 44 yards. With an increased role now, he should have his way against this defense and a path for a good game is certainly there.

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