DFS Pivot Plays week 9 2018

By Armando Marsal
Armando Marsal Determining ownership on a weekly basis can be challenging for the most part, but it is an important thing to consider when creating your lineups in tournaments. That said, in cash games, ownership does not play a big role in your decision making.

Popular plays are referred to as the chalk, which can be defined as a popular player that will be highly owned. Generally these players are considered must starts by the general consensus. A pivot play are players that will be less owned than the chalk, in a similar price range, and offering similar upside. These pivots are used to be contrarian and built unique lineups with differentiation. When you pivot to a player who is far less owned, the chances of leap frogging in tournament standings are higher, which increases your chances for potentially higher scores.

Each and every week, I will be identifying potential chalk and providing readers with a pivot play on the main slate. With that in mind, let’s not waste any more time and jump right into it.



Cam Newton $6,600 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Full disclosure, I really like Newton this week and this is chalk I am willing to eat. When you look at his play this season, it is surprising that he is not more popular each week. He has topped 24 DKFP in all but two games and never scoring fewer than 18 DKFP. This week he has a phenomenal matchup against a horrendous pass defense. The Bucs rank dead last in DVOA against the pass and is giving up the most DKFP per game to opposing signal callers. In addition, they have surrendered 2,330 passing yards (4th most) and 20 passing touchdowns (most in NFL) to the position. Newton’s ability to be an efficient passer and run the ball, makes him a high-floor/high-upside play just about every week, but when you take a matchup like this one into consideration, it makes him even more enticing.


Kirk Cousins $6,200 vs. Detroit Lions

Cousins is an intriguing tournament pivot off of Cam Newton if that is the direction you want to take, because he is almost certainly going to go overlooked this week and offers plenty of upside. Cousins faces off against a Lions defense that ranks 30th in DVOA against the pass. This unit is allowing 245 passing yards per game, while yielding 15 passing touchdowns (tied for 5th most). The Vikings are not shy about slinging the rock around, attempting the third most pass attempts per game this season (42.6), so Cousins should receive the opportunity to produce some fantasy points in this contest. This is a favorable matchup for him and one that he should be able to take advantage of. His ceiling is similar to that of Newton’s in this spot, making him a pivot option if you are looking for less ownership at this position.

Running Backs


Todd Gurley $9,500 at New Orleans Saints

Gurley offers the highest floor of any player at his position – scoring at least 25 DKFP in every single game this season – and it is not even that close. His usage is through the roof, as he accounts for 17 percent of the target share for Los Angeles, while also owning a league high 47 rush attempts in the red zone and leading the team with 13 red zone targets (26.5 percent). He has turned that opportunity into 1,151 total yards, 15 total touchdowns, 31 receptions, and 31.6 DKFP per game. There is a reason why he is among the top owned players every week, and I would never talk anyone off of him. That said, this is not an ideal matchup for Gurley as the Saints have been surprisingly tough against the run. They rank second overall in rush defense DVOA, have allowed the fewest rushing yards this season, and are surrendering the fourth fewest DKFP per game to opposing backs. A player like Gurley is matchup-proof, but when you are paying top dollar for a player, you want him in the best possible scenario, and that is not the case this week. I do not suggest a complete fade, but I am not opposed to being underweight on him this week.


Kareem Hunt $7,700 at Cleveland Browns

Hunt will draw ownership this week, but I am expecting him to be much less owned than Gurley and in a matchup where he can certainly compete with Gurley in fantasy points. The Browns have been generous to opposing running backs, allowing 30.5 DKFP per game (6th most), while giving up 10 rushing touchdowns (tied for most in the league), 385 receiving yards (12th most), and a healthy 4.6 YPC to the position. Hunt has really turned it up after a slow start to the season, scoring at least 19 DKFP in four of his last five games, with three 29+ DKFP performances during that stretch, displaying the nice upside. In addition, his role in the passing game has seen a major boost, averaging 4.8 targets per game in his last five, after receiving three total targets in the first three games combined. The game script should also play into his favor, as the Chiefs are expecting to be playing with a lead in this contest. All the boxes check off this week for Hunt, making him a core play for me this week in all formats.

Wide Receivers


Courtland Sutton $3,900 vs. Houston Texans

With Demaryius Thomas traded to Houston, Sutton should see more opportunities as a pass catcher and this week his price is not accounting for that, as the trade occurred after the salaries were already out. Sutton has scored a touchdown in two of his last three games and is averaging just over four targets per game in his last four. There was a lot of buzz surrounding him coming out of college and during training camp, there were a lot of positive reviews as well, so expectations are pretty high. The Broncos can now unleash their young talented receiver and see what he is made of. This is not the ideal matchup, as the Texans have been solid against the pass and his one-on-one matchup against Natrell Jamerson, is not one that favors him as he has a negative advantage rating in it. Therefore, I will temper expectations here, but still think that he is underpriced and warrants consideration.


Chris Godwin $4,400 at Carolina Panthers

Godwin let me down last week and messed up some of my lineups, but I am going back to the well this week. If you look at the first three games of the season with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, Godwin was averaging 6.7 targets and 15.7 DKFP per game, and scored a touchdown in each of those games. It is pretty clear that these two have a strong connection and that Fitzpatrick trusts Godwin. The Panthers should be playing with a lead here, so I fully expect this Bucs offense to rely on the pass a bit more this week, increasing the potential opportunity for Godwin to be targeted. His one-on-one matchup against Donte Jackson is not ideal, but Godwin is talented enough and should see enough targets to overcome that at this fair price. I would only recommend using him in tournaments this week, and he makes for an appealing pivot off of Sutton.

Tight Ends


O.J. Howard $4,300 at Carolina Panthers

Howard is likely going to be one of the higher owned tight ends this week, and rightfully so. He has been playing really well as of late, and although there is a quarterback change, I do not expect much of a dip in production this week. After all, he averaged over four targets per game the first three games when Ryan Fitzpatrick was under center. This is a favorable matchup for Howard, as the Panthers are ranked 28th in DVOA against tight ends. In addition, this unit is yielding the fourth most DKFP per game to tight ends, while allowing 45 receptions (4th most), 497 receiving yards (11th most), and four receiving touchdowns (tied 2nd most) to the position. I may not have as much exposure to him as I would like in tournaments due to my interest in Godwin on the Bucs offense, but think Howard is a strong play in all formats.


David Njoku $4,600 at Kansas City Chiefs

Zero point, zero targets is exactly what Njoku had last week and he was in a favorable matchup. That said, this is a nice bounce back spot for him against a Chiefs defense that ranks 27th in DVOA against tight ends. Kansas City is also yielding the fifth most DKFP per game (16), while surrendering 43 receptions (6th most), 596 receiving yards (2nd most), and three touchdowns (tied for 4th most) to the position. Before the last game, Njoku had been peppered with 31 targets in his prior four games, scoring double-digit fantasy points in each of those. In a game where the Browns should be chasing points and throwing the ball, I expect Njoku to come out with a nice performance.

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