DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports)

DFS Contrarian: Week 1 Low-Owned Plays and Stacks

This week I’m combining both my contrarian plays and my stacks article because of time constraints. The two will be back to their separate articles next week.

Here are the ground rules for my DFS contrarian picks:

  1. I will give at least one pick for QB, RB, WR, and TE.
  2. I can also include a D/ST when I believe they will be a good contrarian play.
  3. I will use the scoring from our Play of the Week contest that we used 2 years ago. It goes like this: When I take the average score of all DraftKings Millionaire Maker lineups that include my pick, if that pick ends up in the top 25 percent of all players when doing this then my pick counts as a hit. Otherwise it counts as a miss.
  4. A pick is also scored as a miss if it is above 10 percent owned in the Millionaire Maker. It’s not called DFS Contrarian for nothing.
  5. The goal is to have above a 20 percent hit ratio at the end of the year, which is roughly the percentage of lineups that cash in large-field, top-heavy GPPs like the Millionaire Maker.

Last year, my success rate exceeded the 20 percent mark, and almost met my stretch goal of 30 percent with a record of 21-52  for a 28.8 percent hit rate.

Let’s get to the Week 1 contrarian picks first, then I’ll get to the stacks.

Week 1 Contrarian Picks


Cam Newton – I originally wanted to write up Aaron Rodgers in this space, but I think he comes precariously close to the 10 percent threshold for this article after perusing the industry pulse on him this week. Instead, the concerns with Newton’s shoulder, plus the plethora of quality options at the QB position this week, should dampen Newton’s ownership. RotoViz Head of Analytics Josh Hermsmeyer has been developing a new tool for DFS, and here’s what we see with Newton:

2017-09-08 (1)

The yellow line on that graph is the average number of points scored by the QB position in winning Millionaire Maker lineups, and Newton has exceeded that number 14 percent of the time in his career. Another six instances have produced 30-plus DraftKings points, which gives him a 20 percent rate throughout his career. If we change the Home/Away dropdown to just Away, we see that 16 percent of his games have broken the threshold, with another three above 30 DK points. That puts his 30-point performance percentage on the road at 22.4 percent for his career.

Cam’s shoulder doesn’t affect his legs, and this shoulder deal could be much ado about nothing.

Running Back

Ty Montgomery – Running back is always the hardest position for me on this article, because you don’t necessarily need to be contrarian at the position to have success. But Montgomery will be in far too few Milly Maker lineups this weekend because of the “vaunted” Seattle defense. In games where Montgomery has at least 15 opportunities (targets+rushes), he has put up the following point totals: 19.4, 22.6, 33.3, 9.8, 26.1. Now he’s firmly entrenched in the RB role and can be expected to meet and exceed 15 opportunities. His price tag this weekend is a very palatable $5800 on DraftKings.

Wide Receiver

John Brown – I talked about Brown in my Play of the Week writeup, but here’s one more graph showing how bad Detroit is against the deep ball. Brown had an average depth of target of 14 yards last year, and 14.7 each of the prior two years. Expect shots deep to Brown.


Kenny Britt – Speaking of deep targets, Kenny Britt destroyed that same Lions defense last year to the tune of 35 DraftKings points. Compare Detroit’s profile above to that of Pittsburgh’s last year…

2017-09-09 (1)

Britt has an average depth of target of 13.9 yards for his career. Also consider that the Cleveland Browns were one of three teams to target their top two WRs with at least 22 percent of the total targets each (in games played, minimum six games played for each WR). Terrelle Pryor had 25 percent target share, while Corey Coleman had a 22 percent target share in games he played. Britt has never had more than 20.5 percent target share while playing under Jeff Fisher his whole career. Considering Britt and Coleman are essentially 1a and 1b, the higher target share Britt should get with the Browns, and the fact that the Browns threw over 30 more passes than the Rams did last year, it all add up to increased volume against a defense that should suit Britt’s strengths well. Volume + efficiency for $4800? Yes, please!

Tight End

Zach Miller – Here’s a player that’s legitimately going to go 1 percent owned, but in his two years with the Bears has broken 17.5 DraftKings points three out of 23 times, for a 13 percent rate. Now consider the Bears are missing Cameron Meredith and the departing Alshon Jeffery has also vacated targets. If we just look at games Miller has had at least two targets with the Bears, his upside percentage jumps to 17 percent. If he gets at least five targets, he’s broken the $2800 upside projection 23 percent of the time (3 out of 13 games). Now throw in Atlanta’s weakness against the TE position (sixth most DK points given up to the position last year) and you have the makings for an upside game well above Miller’s ownership projection, all while leveraging off the more chalky Kendall Wright. Bears QB Mike Glennon has targeted the TE position with 18.3 percent of his career pass attempts.


Week 1 Stacks

I mentioned how I like Aaron Rodgers above, and I think all options are on the table for stacking with Rodgers. Jordy Nelson should be the most heavily-owned Packer, but stacks with Montgomery, Davante Adams, and Martellus Bennett all make sense as well. Adams’ price tag of $5800 is just too low considering he put up 23-plus DK points in six of 19 games last year. Bennett has multi-touchdown upside, and I talked about Montgomery above. Of all of them, I like Adams’ upside and price combination the most.

If you want to continue in that same game with a correlation play, I certainly don’t mind bringing it back with Doug Baldwin. But the play that I think is better for large field GPPs is Jimmy Graham. I would have picked Graham in my TE section above, but I think he’s borderline to be about 10 percent owned. Still, that’s lower than Baldwin, and Graham excels in the areas of the field Baldwin does, and where the Packers are weakest. Approximately 30 percent of Graham’s targets as a Seahawk have come in the 10-20 yard range, where Green Bay is poor defensively.

2017-09-09 (11)


Finally, I love game stacking this Cardinals/Lions game. I’ve mentioned John Brown, but I also think David JohnsonLarry Fitzgerald, and Carson Palmer are all in play. On the Lions side, Ameer Abdullah is certainly in play at his $4300 price tag, and Arizona is missing several pieces from its run defense last year. Marvin Jones is healthy again, Eric Ebron is a nice pivot off of Zach Ertz, and Matthew Stafford could have to throw in bunches if Arizona does move the ball efficiently. There are multiple avenues to scoring on both sides of the ball, so I’m going to fire multiple stacks off from this game.


I want to give a big tip of the cap to RotoViz Head of Analytics Josh Hermsmeyer for all the cool graphics you can find at airyards.com. I’ll be using them all year…check it out!


Author Details
Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz
Co-Owner and Editor-in-Chief at RotoViz. Mathematics Ph.D. 3x qualifier for the DraftKings NASCAR Main Event.

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